‘Ugly politics’ and the ABM election
Commentary by Sal DiCiccio
Special to Ahwatukee Foothill News
12 March 2015

David Jolkovski/AFN

Many of you remember the very caustic campaign that the unions ran against me. The worst part was when they went after my family.

The Ahwatukee Board of Management, using our HOA monies, hired the very same political consultant to run a campaign against the Save The Lakes volunteers.

To add insult to injury, some on the board then raised our HOA dues.

I don’t usually involve myself in homeowner association business; my work on the Phoenix City Council keeps me focused on the city. But I can’t let slide an item for which the board leadership of the Ahwatukee Board of Management HOA needs to answer, especially as homeowners start casting ballots by mail or bring them to the ABM annual meeting April 1.

The item: Late last year, after it increased its budget by 5 percent and raised our assessment, ABM hired a political operative. You read that right — our HOA hired a political consultant who has a reputation as a political hit man.

According to the Phoenix Business Journal, the political consultant who was hired by ABM is David Leibowitz. Among the area’s leading political consultants, Leibowitz has a reputation for carving out a “damage-control niche among the high-profile.”

The debate over the Ahwatukee golf course has divided our community. There are those who want to see it developed and there are those who want to preserve it as open space. That is a valid debate. The Save The Lakes volunteers have been working diligently with my office to come up with a solution. For the management company to hire a political operative to further their agenda while using our HOA monies to do so is not only unfair it’s downright unethical. This has gone too far.

I want to commend board members Jeff Hall, Pete Meier and Bill Israel who fought to overturn the decision to hire the political operative with our money. This decision should have been paid for from personal monies of the other board members…not ours. They need to pay back our fund.
The Save the Lakes volunteers see the bigger picture here. They know that whatever happens on this one golf course could happen to other neighborhoods. The same owner owns every other single golf course in our Ahwatukee Foothills community. That means the Ahwatukee Country Club, Club West and the Foothills golf course could be facing the same threat.

I feel saddened for our community when it feels it has to bring Washington-style dirty politics to our community.

I feel bad for the Save The Lakes volunteers who have worked so hard not just to save their own neighborhood, but to protect the quality of life of all the Ahwatukee foothills communities. Those volunteers are about to see the same style of personal attacks that my family had to endure throughout the last campaign.

To be absolutely clear, there will be no development on the golf course until the Save the Lakes volunteers sit at the same table as the developers and come up with a mutually agreeable position — a position that protects their neighborhood.

I am an Ahwatukee homeowner, I pay the annual assessment to the Ahwatukee Board of Management, and I always seek value for residents by watchdogging public expenses. I think people running for re-election need to explain, and to be held to account.

In the meantime, be prepared for very ugly politics and a campaign based on personal attacks.

• Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at council.district.6@phoenix.gov or (602) 262-7491.

Read more about Save The Lakes at their website.

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