Lamar Whitmer says he has been filing Scottsdale political gossip away in the back of his mind for years. Now he files it into the e-mail inboxes of the city’s business owners, elected leaders and, well, gossips.
Whitmer, a political consultant and lawyer in Scottsdale, put out an electronic newsletter on Wednesday titled "Heard on the Street." It is a collection of sarcastic observations, commentary and rumors Scottsdale City Hall has not seen in print in recent memory.
"We want people to read it and say, ‘What?’ " Whitmer said. While the newsletter is credited to the Fulcrum Group, his Scottsdale consulting firm, Whitmer said it is not meant to serve as an advertisement for his services.
"I’m not certain there really is a connection, other than showing we’re a little bit more informed on the street and we’re willing to take a — I don’t want to say adversarial position — an aggressive position," he said. The newsletter, which Whitmer writes with his business partner, Julie Jasper, should start dialogue about issues and make people laugh at the often absurd nature of government.
So far, not everyone is laughing.
In Whitmer’s first edition, he handicaps the candidates for next year’s City Council election and hands out nicknames. Councilman Wayne Ecton, who speaks with a drawl and sports a white goatee and mustache, is dubbed the "Kentucky Colonel." Councilman Kevin Osterman’s clean-cut look and good manners have landed him the label "Boy Scout."
But Mike Merrill, a south Scottsdale activist, is not thrilled with his inclusion, as he is not a candidate, or with his odds of winning a council seat: 56-1.
"Lamar’s an idiot," Merrill said.
Months ago, Whitmer said he was talking with an acquaintance at City Hall who noted that Merrill had stopped wearing a baseball cap to council meetings. To them, this was a sign that the outspoken activist, known for sometimes haranguing city officials over lackadaisical code enforcement, was attempting to look more professional in preparation for a council campaign.
Merrill said the write-up is little more than a personal attack.
It is a tricky business publishing something that pokes fun at people, especially politicians, without offending, said Stan Barnes, editor of the state Capitol newsletter West Washington.
But "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about," Barnes said. "If I counted all the folks that were mad at me, it would mostly be — in fact it would almost entirely be — people that I left out."
Whitmer’s e-mail newsletter will be sent monthly and free to all interested, he said.