Scottsdale Controversy Continues With Latest Allegation Of Intimidation


Fallout continues in the wake of allegations by Scottsdale Planning Commissioner Christian Serena that he has been pressured to approve a controversial rezoning request to build 1,975 apartments and a 425-room hotel on land in North Scottsdale.

Scottsdale resident and candidate for Scottsdale City Council, Jan Dubauskas, is calling for the Scottsdale Mayor, City Council members, and candidates who have received contributions from the developer of the land, Axon, manufacturer of Taser brand stun guns, to return or refuse its money.

“On February 14, I called for all Scottsdale Mayor, City Council Members, and candidates to return or refuse contributions from any employee or consultant to a business that could reasonably be expected to have business before the Council. Today’s reporting by Scottsdale EDGE demonstrates exactly why our Mayor and all Council Members must hold the highest ethical standards where money is involved. And this EDGE report follows on the heels of AZ Central’s reporting on financial conflicts of interest in the Riot Hospitality case,” said Dubauskas.

“In this case, Axon stands to gain financially from its application. Whether or not the report of political pressure from Axon leadership is substantiated,” said Dubauskas referring to a story in the Scottsdale Edge, a blog popular with Scottsdale residents and City insiders, “the message is clear: Scottsdale’s Mayor and City Council must conduct itself with integrity that is beyond reproach. There can be no question of impropriety or even a whisper that our votes are for sale. Residents of Scottsdale deserve to know that their Council is transparent and only votes in residents’ interests.”

Campaign finance reporting shows that Council Member Tammy Caputi accepted donations from Axon employees and consultants.

The zoning request by Axon, a stun gun manufacturer, is part of its effort to build a “corporate campus” in North Scottsdale that area residents fear will drop property values and is unnecessary.

Serena has emphasized in the past that the state “prohibited” residential development when it sold the 74 acres zoned for industrial use to Axon in 2020 for $49 million.

The land is zoned for industrial use. Some of the controversy arises because when Axon purchased the parcel from the state land trust, which funds public education in Arizona, Axon did not disclose that its intended use would include apartments which would have significantly raised the purchase price. Axon is currently in negotiations with the state land trust to increase the price it paid, if granted a variance to build the apartments.

During the January 24th, meeting of the Planning Commission, Serena voted against allowing Axon to fix major problems with its plan and return for consideration.

According to numerous sources, Serena notified Scottsdale’s City Attorney that a person who said they were a member of “Axon’s leadership“ contacted his employer in an apparent attempt to influence his vote on the Axon case.

Serena claimed in his statement that he was informed by his employer that the incident happened the morning after he was the only planning commissioner to vote “no” on letting Axon continue it case to build up to 2,000 apartments and a 425-room hotel during the Planning Commission’s, January 24th meeting. The Commissioner’s statement did not identify his employer, according to the Scottsdale Edge. “I was told that a person with an Axon’s leadership had contacted my employer to discuss my public comments about the applicant’s case during the course of the Commission meeting.”

Axon has denied the allegation.

Scottsdale has come under scrutiny and harsh criticism over the past few years due to a series of missteps and what residents say are “managerial miscalculations,” from the introduction of “road diets,” to housing illegal immigrants and other houseless people in hotels near family neighborhoods.

The City stunned residents last week when it announced the hiring of Greg Caton as Scottsdale’s newest assistant city manager. Caton left his job as the Town Manager for Oro Valley in March 2016 to take a job in Grand Junction, Colorado.

At the time, Caton had been looking to leave Oro Valley due to its descent into debt after the sweetheart purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club and golf courses. The deal benefitted developer Humberto Lopez’s company HSL, who did not want the financial responsibility of golf courses, as part of its purchase of the El Conquistador Hotel and Resort.

RELATED ARTICLE: Oro Valley Mayor, Town Council Rely On Developer, Special Interest Cash

Caton was in the running for the Sedona City Manager spot but reportedly removed himself from consideration after being named one of the two finalists for the position.

Caton has served in Oro Valley during volatile times. The purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club was considered reckless and prompted a recall of three members of the Town Council and the Mayor. Those members narrowly kept their seats, but the losses experienced by the Town had grown as well as the public’s dissatisfaction due to $2 million dollars in golf losses since the acquisition.

“I look forward to joining the Scottsdale team,” said Caton in a press release. “Scottsdale is an organization with an excellent reputation, and I have family who reside there, so it it’s a perfect alignment for personal and professional interests. I could not be more excited.”

After Disastrous Run Caton Set To Leave Oro Valley

Oro Valley Golf Course Purchase Not Paying Off

El Conquistador Golf Acquisition Is Oro Valley’s Money Pit