By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
If you ask The Bird, such "I'll scratch your back" crap is bad government, even if it's not necessarily unusual. Hey, you give 'em the taxpayers' money, and then they give you back a chunk of it to get reelected! Just like a good old-fashioned kickback, except legal.
And that's exactly what went down in Snottsdale last week.
As The Bird went to press, the runoff for a Scottsdale City Council seat that pitted incumbents Bob Littlefield and Kevin Osterman against each other was still being decided at the polls. What wasn't a matter of dispute was just who was buttering Osterman's bread.
Littlefield gleefully squawked to this curmudgeonly crow that Osterman, who voted in favor of the city's contribution of $1.5 million to help auto dealers in the Motor Mile district, was feted by those same dealers in a 7 a.m. fund raiser May 11. Alas, receipts from the event won't be public record until after the election, but this pissy pigeon's pretty sure he collected a good haul.
As for Littlefield, The Bird failed to mention in a recent article about the tax-dollar giveaway that Littlefield actually voted against the Motor Mile giveaway -- which means no kickback for him!
"They know if I get reelected, I'll try to get rid of that expenditure," Littlefield chirped. "These guys have a lot of money on the line. They'll do what they can to defeat me."
Littlefield may win that election yet. Because while Osterman had a bevy of wheeler-dealers in bright-plaid blazers on his side, Littlefield also has a core group of supporters: firefighters.
The councilman's campaign records show that Littlefield's campaign accepted $6,064 from firefighters and their spouses since January 2005, a good haul by anyone's standards, and more than one-eighth of the councilman's total coffers.
The reason for the firefighters' largess? Let's just say that, like the car dealers, our fine firemen aren't in this solely for the sake of good government. (Although that's gotta be part of it, right?) Their generosity may have something to do with the fact that Littlefield was the first -- and most outspoken -- Scottsdale official to support the firefighters' 2003 quest to break with Rural/Metro and form a municipal department. That change netted hefty pay increases for many local firefighters.
What does all this boil down to? Well, there's certainly a whole lot of back-scratching going on in Scottsdale. But there's a bigger context here. After all, MTV's My Super Sweet 16 recently documented the $150,000 birthday party of Marissa Leigh Dubowy, the Scottsdale brat whose dad Mark Dubowy, owner of Mark Mitsubishi, is one of the recipients of the taxpayers' munificence. Outcry over that combination of corporate welfare and conspicuous consumption makes the dealers' fund raiser seem much worse than, say, being in bed with firefighters.
Says Littlefield, "It's unfair to the poor girl to make her the subject of this. But that party was wretched excess -- kind of a Marie Antoinette 'Let them eat cake!' sort of thing. [That Sweet 16 party has] become one of those symbolic things for people."
Will the dealers' dirty money be enough to propel Osterman to victory anyway over his firefighter-backed opponent? Stay tuned.
The Bird's been thinking lately about investing in a good Kevlar flak jacket or maybe a nice bulletproof vest, especially since it's apparently become open season on winged wordsmiths. In the past few weeks, many a perturbed peep has taken aim at The Bird and the content of its column.
Take the Arizona Republic's Dan Nowicki, for instance, who sniped at The Bird in "Plugged In," his AZCentral.com blog. There, Nowicki pooh-poohed this faux falcon's "profanity-laced screeching about last week's news stories." The Bird admits that Nowicki is undoubtedly an expert on rehashing old news, especially since his waste-of-cyberspace essentially amounts to offering pithy commentary on the political issue du jour before cutting and pasting bits of better writing from other scribes. Hell, in the same space where he blasts The Bird, Nowicki speculates on whether recent Arizona Cardinals draftee Matt Leinart (the ex-USC quarterback who lost the national championship to Texas last season) did the nasty with Paris Hilton. Talk about old news!
At least Nowicki has company. Another snooty sniper who went bird hunting was pissed-off painter Bobby Castaneda, whom this pretend pigeon outed last month as the infamous RESIST tagger, the guy who'd been decorating Roosevelt Row with anti-gentrification graffiti ("Tagger Tagged," April 6). The Bird also reported how Bobby's brother Eddie Castaneda unsuccessfully attempted to solicit money from local gallery owners and artists to help bail out Bobby during his recent visit to the poky on traffic charges unrelated to his tagging shenanigans.
But instead of getting revenge by sabotaging New Times' printing presses or hijacking delivery trucks (two options he claimed he'd considered), Castaneda struck back by inserting (he claims) more than 500 propaganda-style posters into copies of the May 4 issue of New Times all over downtown Phoenix.
The Bird did see more than a few of these around town. The glossy 11-by-17-inch placard, bursting with typos and spelling errors and made possible through Castaneda's job at a local Kinko's, slammed The Bird and New Times for what he called "continuing to misquote and misrepresent the arts in Phoenix." He also spewed, "Your blatant disreguards for the truth and wild story telling must be prevented."