From the Scottsdale Independent

It seems that in Scottsdale common decency may not be so common.

As a community, we should stand for civil dialogue and debate issues based on the facts. In my two terms Scottsdale City Council, I have held to that principle. Even opponents take note that I never make the dialogue personal. Until today.

At a recent city council work study session, I called out the abhorrent behavior of some who oppose the Desert EDGE. I noted there are two categories of opponents.

The first group have made constructive contributions to the discussion. In fact, I have heard from many people who expressed concerns and shared great ideas. They have influenced the project and it is infinitely better thanks to their suggestions.

Others, however, have crossed a line and I feel compelled to speak out against it.

In a social media post last month, opponents made references to Nazis. There is no place in our community for Nazi references. There are no words adequate to condemn trivializing this horrific period in the world’s history.

Opponents placed false reviews on YELP and TripAdvisor of resorts where management supports the project. The hoteliers were able to prove these persons never visited their properties and had their reviews removed. They accuse proponents of being immoral. Really? As a community, consideration of an educational center in the Preserve is a matter of morality?

It seems that opponents think I am painting all opponents with one broad stroke. I am not.
To those who have contributed to the constructive conversation: thank you! I will continue to reach out, listen and respond to your suggestions to make this project better.

To those who engage in personal attacks: stop it! I have been criticized for calling out bad behavior. I have been called immoral for supporting an educational center in the Preserve. I will not be bullied. I will not be silenced.

I will continue to speak out in the name of decency. I call on everyone to do the same.
Onto the subject of the Desert EDGE. About a vote, the people have already voted on the taxes and allowable uses in the Preserve — seven times. The proposed project complies with all of these votes. We don’t have automatic “do overs” just because we don’t like the outcome of a vote.

I have a responsibility to uphold the will of the people as expressed in previous votes. If folks want to vote again, they have recourse through a citizens’ initiative. Demonstrate support for a vote by collecting enough signatures and we will vote again.

The folks discussing a vote have made many suggestions. There is one suggestion that I support. The mayor recommends a vote to include operations and maintenance as allowable uses of the Preserve tax. It will reduce the financial burden of ongoing expenses. I think this is a good idea.

On the subject of the Desert EDGE, if we move forward it will use:

No new taxes. It would use existing taxes that are restricted to support tourism and/or the Preserve.
Less than 6, already disturbed, acres out of the 30,000-plus acre Preserve; less than the size of the new trailhead being planned for the area near Pima and Dynamite.
I am an enthusiastic advocate for this project but think we have more work to do before we make a final go, no-go decision on this project. We must get more reliable construction costs. The only way to do that is to move the design process forward. If we move forward with a vote, then it will also provide voters with better information.

In the meantime, I welcome the constructive dialogue and debate on the facts.

Editor’s note: Ms. Milhaven is a member of Scottsdale City Council