Bond Grifters

by John Washington on June 7, 2019

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In a recent comment appended to an article in the Scottsdale Trough Feeders newsletter (aka the Scottsdale Independent), village idiot (and muni bond huckster) Mike Norton claimed (among other things) that the assertion that Scottsdale has the “Most Debt Per Capita” is a lie. I’m the only guy who’s been saying that, so I guess Norton is calling me a liar.

With what I’ve been told about Norton’s personal and business finances, he’s not someone in whom I’d put a lot of stock when it comes to money management.

Clearly Norton is also having some trouble in his position as co-chair of the effort to get Scottsdale citizens to vote to raise their own taxes. The developers and construction companies behind this effort have decided to load up the committee with more recognizable and (barely) more credible names like former (defeated) council member Dennis Robbins. Dennis is now with the Charros, who have a no-bid contract to operate the city’s municipal spring training operations, and recently received double-digit millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded improvements.

Another prominent name on the list of bond grifters is Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as the Scottsdale Cultural Council). That entity is a private business organized as an ostensible non-profit, which receives free rent in taxpayer owned facilities, AND a $4+ million taxpayer-funded CASH subsidy every year via no-bid city contract. And which, I might add, has almost no cultural value to the citizens whatsoever. But they are angling hard for their piece of the muni bond pie.

Circling back to Norton’s claim: The poor guy is just too dumb to realize that the per-capita debt status wasn’t just something I estimated for lack of available information (like the overall debt, and the true infrastructure backlog). No, that fact came straight from a May 2013 Beth Duckett article in the Arizona Republic, leading up to THAT year’s bond election.

Duckett’s article is interesting for other reasons, not the least of which is some commentary on the issue by then-treasurer, now-former-councilmember David Smith (also recently defeated). And, as I read down the article, I realize that yours truly is quoted, too:)

Sadly, 2013 was well-past the peak of the Republic’s involvement in local issues like this.

But as I scrolled back through my 1000+ articles on these and other Scottsdale and Arizona issues while looking for that link, I ran across a few more interesting links that are worth reading:

Sean McCarthy’s The growing debt you probably didn’t know existed.

Russ Wiles’s Scottsdale and Chandler both placed among the top 20 nationally for combined taxes.

And Arizona state and local debt: $6,522 per person, also from Russ, which touches on school district debt.

So, I’d advise you to take anything Mike Norton has to say with a healthy dose of margarita salt.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Giller June 8, 2019 at 8:27 am

Well said commentary and spot on analysis as usual. In the 25 years that I’ve followed Scottsdale politics our City Council has been controlled by a Chamber of Commerce majority. Every conflict between citizens, neighborhoods and developers…developers have won.

The Chamber of Corruption have a bevy of allies and related organizations. The Cultural Council, Charros, Tourism any democratically avoided club who were hoping to take over the Preserve are all part of the same process…growth for profit at the expense of Scottsdale residents who want an affordable and livable community that works for them, not the new millennial refugees of Silicon Valley who will settle for over priced high density developments.

Thanks John for standing up, speaking out and telling the truth about the systemic corruption of Scottsdale politics.

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Michael Norton June 8, 2019 at 5:28 pm

From the poor guy who’s so dumb I can’t read a six year old Republic article.

I read the source documents. Not someone who’s telling me what someone else told them they heard someplace.

Meaning I’m not full of six year old warmed over bullshit.

Doubling down on this bet, John. You’re not only a liar, you’re bold enough to repeat your bullshit, which makes you a very weird kind of guy. Try reading the Department of Revenue Bond and Debt Reports for 2014 and 2018 then get back to me on who’s a liar.

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John Washington June 14, 2019 at 7:08 am

Mike, I don’t mind you being drunk or dumb. But for being profane, you earned yourself blocked status.

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John Washington June 14, 2019 at 7:16 am

And BTW Mr. Village Idiot, looking at the State Comptroller’s report for 2018: Scottsdale still has the highest per-capita debt of any city in the metro area…and, I might add, the third highest in the whole state. So, your vodka goggles aren’t working. You need bottles with thicker bottoms.

https://openbooks.az.gov/sites/default/files/FY2018%20Report%20of%20Bonded%20Indebtedness%20%282%29.pdf

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