This is turning out to be a really bad month for Phoenix residents and it looks like a radical agenda is now being moved forward. First, Phoenix is selling its citizens on “pension reform,” but the reality is, it is anything but reform.
Second, it clearly appears Mayor Greg Stanton is going back on his word to abolish the food tax “by April 2013” as he promised.
Finally, and this is a big one, the mayor is pushing through an ordinance that will subject every single business in Phoenix with criminal penalties and open the door to civil litigation. This ordinance will require all business to accommodate gender identity and gender expression — or face criminal penalties and civil lawsuits. Keep reading.
Criminal penalties coming to your small business
If you own a business, please be sitting down when you read the latest proposal. The new ordinance being fast-tracked by Mayor Stanton is a disaster for local small businesses in the city of Phoenix. For the first time, any business with one or more employee will be subject to criminal penalties of up to a Class 1 misdemeanor, the highest misdemeanor one can receive.
The proposal requires all businesses that operate in Phoenix to accommodate any individual that wants to express their personal gender or identity. If for example, a man wanted to use the woman’s bathroom in order to express himself then the business owner will be required to allow him to do that or face a criminal penalty and civil litigation. A criminal penalty that will be enforced by the city of Phoenix.
This is a difficult thing to discuss. It opens the door to individuals claiming you are a bigot, old-fashioned and someone who condones discrimination. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe in full transparency and you, the citizens, have every right to know what your leaders are up to. And, you need to know about it before it passes next week.
The language of the ordinance is so broad; the floodgates of litigation against businesses will be opened. What’s worse, the business community has not even been made aware of this and almost all of the elected leaders in the city were unaware of these proposed changes until last week. This tactic of ramming through such dramatic changes without input from community that will be impacted the most, our local small businesses, shows a total disregard for our business community. This lack of transparency must stop immediately. I have sent a letter and called on the city manager to immediately notify all businesses in the city of Phoenix of these changes-before the vote next week.
This proposed ordinance should be continued to allow all affected parties an opportunity to comment and have their voices heard. Discrimination is deplorable and we should not stand for it. However, the proposed changes are poorly crafted and go after a non-existent problem.
If this ordinance passes, as it is expected to do, business will be forced to hire more lawyers than employees.
The ballot measure is not about reform as you are being sold. All it does is copy the state pension plan — the same one people are crying to reform. From worst to bad and the same one Arizona citizens have said is unsustainable. Some of us on the City Council tried to limit the taxpayer exposure, but in the end the government unions won the battle. Real reform will only happen when the voters take this into their own hands through an initiative.
Food tax repeal
As you know, Mayor Stanton made a commitment, a promise to remove the food tax by April 1, 2013. We found out last week he did not even ask staff to come up with a plan that fit his promise and his timeline. We still do not have a commitment from him if and when he will vote for the repeal. Once again, those most impacted by the food tax, the working class and the poorest in our communities, are again going to be let down by unfulfilled promises.
• Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at email@example.com or (602) 262-7491.