An influential journalist endorsed one of my opponents yesterday and I’m feeling a little crushed. Like I just got rejected by a prospective prom date.
Becky Fenger, whose column “Fenger Pointing” runs in the ultra-right-wing Sonoran News, is a long-time acquaintance. In spite of the venue, most of the time there’s an appealing thread of common sense through Becky’s writing and she’s just mercurial enough to be charming without being kooky.
Friends of my campaign have told me that I shouldn’t care about an “opinion columnist” who lives in Phoenix and writes for a free newsletter in Cave Creek. Maybe my friends are right, but here’s why I DO care:
Becky and I worked together years ago on the No Rail for Scottsdale effort (Scottsdale Citizens Transportation Study Committee) to inform residents about the pitfalls of Light Rail. I was the guy who translated the data into understandable language (yes, a guy with a degree in aerospace engineering can do that). Becky had the platform from which to broadcast it.
So, you can see why I’d be disappointed. Here’s someone who knows me, and has seen me in action on the right side of a serious issue. But, as author Mason Cooley once said, “Even the most fickle are faithful to a few bad habits.”
One of Becky’s few bad habits is that she thinks public service is a beauty contest, where if you say the right things (according to her sense of right-and-wrong) and you look the part, you get the job. Never mind your work history or lack thereof.
My interpretation of her endorsement is that someone who SAYS “Over my dead body!” about light rail is more credible than someone who has actually DONE something about it.
According to her article, Becky’s sole objection to me as a mayoral candidate is a comment I posted a few months ago regarding a topic that has about as much to do with the Scottsdale mayoral campaign as whether I like motorcycles (I do) or eat York Peppermint Patties (yes, whenever I see them).
For the record, you can read the article and my comment for yourself on the Minnesota Public Radio site. From reading Becky’s article where she endorses my opponent, I wonder if SHE read the article in question rather than just my comment, which was undoubtedly printed out and handed to her by the opposition camp.
I’m a numbers guy. I’m not a rhetoric guy. Numbers are why I chose to oppose light rail in Scottsdale. Data-deficient rhetoric from the pro-rail lobby pushed me to do it more vigorously.
Becky’s out-of-context quote actually demonstrates clearly that’s why I posted the comment she criticizes. Do I think climate change is caused by humans? Frankly, I don’t know.
However, I do think we are seeing evidence (based on statistical data, which has been abused by many folks involved in this non-Scottsdale issue) that we are experiencing some deviations from our expected weather patterns. I think that’s the point of the article and it was the point of my comment on it. Does anyone still deny that humans can have unwanted effects on their surroundings?
Ironically, even Fenger friend (and former friend of mine) Sam West has argued vigorously against high density development right here in Scottsdale because of the “urban heat island” effect.
The notion of the UHI effect is that by disturbing natural land forms which otherwise buffer temperatures and replacing them with concrete thermal mass which absorbs thermal energy and re-radiates it to the local environment at night, we (humans, who do the terraforming) raise average temperatures in the local area.
Urban heat islands are also said to affect local rainfall patterns by blocking and dissipating rain-bearing clouds with local “thermals” or updrafts. If you watch the radar when we are having monsoon thunderstorm activity, you can frequently observe that bands of showers moving into the Scottsdale from the mostly-open areas southeast of us (normal monsoon direction of motion) seem to shrivel when they arrive over us.
Does that make the UHI effect real? Are there other factors which could explain it? I don’t know. Sam West seems to think so, and presumably Becky shares his opinion just as she shares his support for my opponent. I think you only have to watch the TV weather report a few days to see that certainly temps are higher in urban areas than in surroundings.
Intuitively, the UHI theory makes sense and the unscientific data I have seen (radar indicates where the rain is falling, but not necessarily why) would seem to point in that direction. I need to see more data, and shrill denial without data to the contrary isn’t going to get more data. Neither will bikini-clad babes on Bultacos, even though I love that story and the image it evokes.
And that brings me back to the topic of beauty contest politics.
Becky likes soon-to-be-former-mayor Jim Lane even though she says, “I question Lane’s ability to say “No” to developers…”
I don’t question it. Lane doesn’t HAVE the ability to say “No!” When has he EVER said, “No!”?
I’m only aware of once in recent history, but it occurred only after Lane got embarrassed by the FAA and the Arizona Republic over granting residential rezonings for apartments by Scottsdale Airport.
And the other guy? The one Becky endorses? As far as Scottsdale is concerned, he was born on March 26, 2012. That’s when he filed to run for mayor. That’s when community leaders across the city collectively asked,
But I’m getting a little off the topic. I’ll save that for another day.
Becky, as a resident, a voter, and a passionate advocate for li’l ole Scottsdale for over a decade, I’m disappointed. But I want you to know I still love you as a friend, fickle or not.