by John Washington on June 26, 2018

It’s more of the tired old sentiment that those in power can do whatever they want, and we mere peasants can only object via “civil dialog.” Plus, “gadfly” is easier to spell than “concerned citizen and taxpayer.”


Why does the Scottsdale Independent constantly refer to those opposed to the Desert Edge [formerly known as “Desert Discovery Center, or “DDC”] as “local gadflies?”

The core group behind organizing Scottsdale citizens in opposition to the Desert Edge project consists of engineers, lawyers, MBAs, marketing specialists, tax attorneys, pediatric surgeons, options traders, esteemed teachers, private wealth managers, and many more … who have spent their careers with such notable companies as Leo Burnett, the Chicago Board of Trade, Kraft, The NutraSweet Company, Mayer, Brown and Platt to name just a few.

I’m sure I’m missing many others!

We have successfully organized hundreds of volunteers across the city who have collected over 30,000 signatures from concerned Scottsdale residents; have filed legal action(s); and filed a complaint with the IRS, which in my estimation is hardly insignificant accomplishments; and ones likely not possible to have been achieved by a bunch of kooks or amateurs, as you imply.

According to Webster’s Dictionary a gadfly is “one who irritates others.” Please stop using this demeaning term to describe Protect Our Preserve and NoDDC.

Perhaps it is more rightly appropriated to our city council members who have definitely irritated others — at least 32,000 of their constituents — and still counting. Calling them elected “leaders” is also a misnomer.

Please get your adjectives aligned properly.

Andrea Keck


Public Education: Don’t forget the taxpayers

by John Washington on May 16, 2018

The scandal-plagued Scottsdale Unified School District just hired an interim superintendent, Dr. John Kriekard.

Dr. Kriekard was a longtime educator, principal, and assistant superintendent within our district, and served as superintendent of the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Kriekard sent out an encouraging communication today:

May 16, 2018

Good Afternoon, SUSD Family,

Today marks my third day on the job as your new Acting Superintendent. This has been a homecoming for me, and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have already extended such a warm welcome back.

As we approach the end of the school year next week, all of our focus is on a successful home stretch for our students. However, before we break, I want to share with you some of the work that will be underway this summer.

My first priority will be to restore mutual trust and confidence at all levels and among all stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, staff, administration and Governing Board. Rebuilding trust takes time, and this will be an ongoing commitment.

Additionally, SUSD will need to examine, and possibly audit, our Human Resources and Purchasing/Procurement practices. In conjunction with those reviews, it is one of my top priorities to oversee the selection and hiring of some critical personnel, including an exemplary Chief Financial Officer.

I believe successful schools and districts do three things:

  1. Treat students with respect
  2. Treat staff as professional colleagues
  3. Treat parents as partners in their students’ education

These three things are our way forward to rebuilding respect and professionalism – two words you will hear me say often. I look forward to the work ahead and to serving your students.


Dr. John Kriekard
Acting Superintendent

I replied:

Dr. Kriekard,

I humbly suggest a small addition to your messaging today.

Students, staff, and parents all deserve the respect you offer. However, in today’s  environment, it’s important to remember another group of SUSD clients: Taxpayers who may not fall into one of the three aforementioned categories.

There was a time when taxpayers with no other direct involvement in public schools appreciated the benefits of good public education. Today, those benefits are increasingly esoteric to the masses.

I suggest we all adopt a mindset and language to help remind them–and us–of the mission of public education. To that end, a fourth point:

4. Treat taxpayers of the district with respect for the funding they provide. In return, we will strive do our best to shape future generations of productive, thoughtful, fellow citizens, neighbors, and community leaders; who will help maintain and enhance our property values and our quality of life.

Good luck to you, sir. You have a big job ahead of you, and many in the community are very hopeful you will succeed!


John Washington


Accounting is Complicated, Accountability is Not

May 15, 2018

Former SUSD CFO Laura Smith The latest shoe to drop in the ongoing Scottsdale Unified School District fraud carnival is the criminal indictment of former CFO Laura Smith. As the person most directly responsible for the financial health of the 23,000-student district and its $170+ million budget, Smith was simultaneously on the payroll of a […]

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Developer Dishonesty? Say it isn’t so!

May 14, 2018

Vicki Falen and her husband Dana live in the Montana Ranch community south of Shea Boulevard at roughly 117th Street. Late last year an adjoining parcel which was similarly-designated as rural residential, was rezoned via “major general plan amendment,” by mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale city council to commercial use, for a developer who […]

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Quote of the Day: Confident Ignorance

April 16, 2018

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. Charles Darwin (1809–1882), English naturalist who authored the unifying theory of the life sciences.

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What the public isn’t told about high-performing charter schools in Arizona – The Washington Post

April 2, 2018

“In 2015-16, only 1.23 percent of the students at BASIS charter schools had a learning disability, as compared to 11.3 percent of students in the state. BASIS schools had no English Language Learners. And in a state in which over 47 percent of all students received free or reduced- priced lunch, BASIS had none. Although […]

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Quote of the Day: Action

March 30, 2018

Action is the only Truth. Marcus Aurelius, 121 AD to 180 AD, the last of the so-called Five Good Emperors of Rome. His death marked the end of the Pax Romana and the beginning of the eventual fall of the Western Roman Empire. (via John Groseclose)

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Charter school real estate

March 27, 2018

McCarty said she is in the process of selling the school buildings to another charter school operator.

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Scottsdale proposes 35 year/$35 mil lease of Papago complex from Phoenix, to keep Giants in the Valley (no cost to Phoenix) – Story | KSAZ

March 26, 2018

One of the most ridiculous proposals I’ve heard from a city full of ridiculousness. The proposed plan involves the City of Scottsdale leasing the complex for 35 years and spending $35 million along with the Giants to upgrade the facility, adding a parking lot and also improving hiking trails in the area.”The Giants will have […]

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Scottsdale schools chief Denise Birdwell hired friend’s family in Higley

February 26, 2018

Among criticisms of Scottsdale schools chief Denise Birdwell is that she hired the brother of a close friend. In Higley, she hired the friend’s son. — Read on

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