By Mike Davis, Class 28
DMB Associates, Inc.
Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.
On City Government Day, I certainly did not expect to find myself entertained while learning how Scottsdale’s city government works – but that is just what happened. With each Scottsdale Leadership class, I start the day thinking I have a good idea of how the day will unfold, yet in each class I continue to be pleasantly surprised… and City Government Day was no different.
To start the day, we were fortunate to have an intimate conversation with Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane, and learn how important reforms and government transparency are to him in his term as Mayor. This was followed by a presentation from City Manager, Fritz Behring who explained how Scottsdale’s particular form of government works.
Now it is one thing to listen to a lecture on how city government works, but it is another thing entirely to experience it. After our overview of Scottsdale’s city government structure, we went to small presentations that focused on code enforcement, city financials and boards and commissions. These presentations tied city government to tangible scenarios, such as enforcing noise ordinances or settling residential disputes.
Next, the class witnessed a panel discussion with the Scottsdale City Council, answering various questions. Our panelists included Councilmembers Robert Littlefield, Virginia Korte, Dennis Robbins, and was moderated by Councilmember Linda Milhaven. Each councilmember participated in the discussion and answered questions based on their view of how the City Council is supposed to work. We learned that members of the council often do not agree, and can have very spirited debates about topics that have a significant impact on the City of Scottsdale.
One such topic is the General Plan, which the class staged a mock vote. The class was divided into supporters, opponents, decision makers, and drafters. The culmination of the exercise was the mock City Council vote on the Scottsdale General Plan – but only after hearing from people in favor of and opposed to the Plan. This exercise was both humorous and valuable in that it demonstrated how a City Council meeting is run and how Scottsdale citizens can make their voice heard.
If this class day inspired you to get involved, whether it is simply to let your opinion be heard before a City Council meeting, or to run for a position within city government, then the class accomplished more than its objectives.