To community mediator Frank McConky, the Scottsdale man facing a disorderly conduct charge for his garish holiday display is indicative of a larger problem plaguing neighborhoods.
McConky is a volunteer for Solve-It!, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping neighbors work out their differences by talking to each other and reaching a mutual understanding.
He said most disputes could be resolved peacefully and to everyone’s satisfaction if people would learn to communicate more effectively.
"The parties weren’t talking to each other," McConky said. "That could have resolved this issue in Scottsdale before it went to the city."
Although the holiday enthusiast, Chris Birkett, agreed to tone down his Christmas display and removed some of the decorations on his property Saturday, McConky said it is troubling that police had to get involved.
But it’s not surprising. Since 1998, Solve-It! has helped end feuds sparked by barking dogs, overgrown plants, unsightly vehicles and other common annoyances. The group’s success rate is 98 percent, he said.
The group’s 50 volunteers prefer to get involved before disagreements find their way into courts or a police report, but that’s often not the case.
During a training session Saturday at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, one of several classes Solve-It! offers each year, McConky advised attendees to discuss problems calmly with neighbors and focus on finding solutions, not finger-pointing or name-calling.
"Your neighbor may be totally unaware, up until that time, of your feelings," he said.
Solve-It! community mediation service charges disputing parties $25 each to cover administrative costs and can be reached at (480) 732-7296, or at