Jim Lane’s experience as an accountant, business owner and financial consultant have taught him not to let complicated situations cloud the path to straightforward solutions.
It’s a lesson sorely needed in Scottsdale, a city overwhelmed by the complexities spawned from its rapid growth, Lane said.
"In a way, we’re a victim of our own success,’’ said the candidate for City Council who turns 53 today.
The widespread recognition Scottsdale gained over the past 20 years lured waves of new residents and development "that we weren’t entirely prepared to deal with,’’ he said.
In Lane’s view, the inability to cope with growth is why the city is struggling to provide adequate police and fire service, why redevelopment of downtown and older neighborhoods is lagging and the local economy still is on shaky ground.
The city is on the wrong course in trying to spend its way out of such problems, raising taxes and granting subsidies to attract business, he said.
"We are a bit out of control, the way we’re just throwing money at everything. . . . and Scottsdale is selling itself short’’ with its lack of faith in basic free enterprise, he said.
Lane got a crash course in Scottsdale’s fiscal issues as a member of the city’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee in 2002.
That led him to head a push for Scottsdale to retain a private fire service contract with Rural/Metro Corp. rather than establish a municipal fire department. Voters sided with his group’s Know Enough to Vote No campaign last spring, but Rural/Metro announced several months later it would end its service to the city in 2005.
The experience "was an awakening for me’’ on a variety of issues, leading him to conclude "there were actions (by city leaders) that are contrary to the best interests of the citizens,’’ Lane said.
Specifically things such as the proposed $36.75 million subsidy to the Ellman Cos. to redevelop the former Los Arcos Mall site.
Lane has lived in Scottsdale for 30 years, spending most of his time immersed in multiple business ventures, from construction to computer technology and telecommunications, while raising three children with his wife, Joanne.
He served on the board of the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley YMCA for several years and headed its fund-raising campaign in 1999.
A friend urged Lane to lend his expertise to the city, prompting Lane to join the fire services committee and begin studying Scottsdale’s finances.
Despite a firm stand for fiscal conservatism, Lane emphasizes he’s not inflexible.
He sees potential for divisiveness in the proposal to elect City Council members from geographic districts rather than at-large, but also envisions a compromise — letting three of six council seats remain at-large.
Differing views can lead to progress, he said, "because there’s never any innovation if everyone has to march in lockstep.’’
Feb. 17: Henry Becker
Feb. 18: Steve Capobres
Feb. 19: Bill Crawford
Feb. 20: Betty Drake
Saturday: Merlin Gindlesperger
Today: Jim Lane
Tuesday: Ron McCullagh
Wednesday: Tony Nelssen
Thursday: Kevin Osterman