David Ortega voted last week for the approved plan for the rebirth of the former Los Arcos Mall, not because he liked it, but because he didn’t.
The Scottsdale city councilman’s actions are understandable, given parliamentary procedure: Only someone who voted on the prevailing side of an issue is allowed to ask that it be voted on again, otherwise those in the losing minority would be constantly asking for revotes to overturn the decision.
So on Monday Ortega plans to ask his fellow council members — all seven of them voted for the plan — to reconsider. It’s likely that on Monday his motion to reconsider will die without a second councilman to support it, though Councilman Bob Littlefield has teased that he might just to have the council revisit a deal he still has many qualms about.
Other council members don’t like Ortega’s about-face, although he is entitled to it. Parliamentary maneuvering is a part of our representative system of government. But it is only effective when it accomplishes something.
Ortega voiced his displeasure for the plan at the Feb. 18 meeting where the initial vote was taken and in the days afterward. He criticized the lack of review either by an outside consultant or by certain city staffers as well as what he termed last-minute changes in developer Steve Ellman’s share of sales taxes generated at the site.
But Ortega’s 13th-hour machinations are just another example of Scottsdale’s nearly five-year funk: Too little, too late.
To this day Mayor Mary Manross maintains that in the spring of 2001 she had four votes on the council of people who wanted to work out Ellman’s original hockey arena/upscale retail project with him. But Ellman either didn’t believe that or, if he did, was too exhausted by the interminable number of unproductive, unnecessary hoops the part-timid, part-hostile council was making him jump through to want to deal with Scottsdale any longer.
Ellman found a Glendale City Council willing to approve his arena — unwisely with no scrutiny at all — at a meeting where the consideration and voting took place in less than 30 seconds.
Ortega’s concerns may be valid, but the council’s inaction or weak action on so many concerns has likewise worn out the electorate, which now seems satisfied taking just about anything at Los Arcos. Ortega’s colleagues have heard these loud sighs of resignation from the public. Ortega should, too.