Archive for August, 2011

31st August
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Hey Tucson and Pima County how about you come up with one of these – HERE.

28th August
2011
written by Nelli Machi
27th August
2011
written by Land Lawyer

Looks like Pima County is having some issues in the local paper again. This time it’s over road projects, ADA requirements and most importantly projects that the voters bonded for in 1997 finally getting built under a new pot of voter approved money, the $2.1 billion RTA project.

The investigative reporters and community at large are starting to catch on to the Pima County shell game around waste water, road projects, bonds that aren’t spent on projects the voters told Pima County to spend them on and a general hubris to do whatever the County administration wants to do right before your eyes.

Here’s a few choice comments with O’Dell article to follow:

2 hours, 22 minutes ago
QuotePima County officials at first said they weren’t  responsible for the crosswalk, contending the work was done as much as six years  ago. After being shown evidence that they were, indeed, responsible for building  the crosswalk signals, Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio and Project  Management Office Manager Nancy Cole said it was an oversight and should be  fixed.

On one hand, credit goes to these ladies for being  presented with evidence and recognizing that Pima County is, indeed, responsible  for building the crosswalk signals. Too often folks are presented with evidence  about something and refuse to budge from their original position on an  issue.

Lets see: project started design in 1997, takes over 14 years to complete, has  design, admin and construction managment that =100% of the true construction  cost (at a time when construction costs are down due to the economy).   Sounds  like it is time to get rid of the Director of Transportation, whom should be  held accountable for this mess!
If this happened in any other agency around  the country, a demotion would be in order…what gives???

We, the voters, voted for this as part of a bond package, and we, the residents  paid for this project.  Then we, the voters, voted for the RTA sales tax, and  then we, the residents paid for this project AGAIN.

Between the county  bonds and the RTA we are paying double for projects that should have been paid  for and completed a long time ago.

And now King Chuck wants to float  hundreds of millions of dollars in more bonds (debt)?

When will we ever  learn?

Well, well. The county strikes again. 7 million in soft costs for a 14 million  project? Are you kidding me? And to top if off this project was promised to the  voters in 97 and the Huckster and his cronies simply shifted money to other  projects and didn’t even attempt to start this one. Just more bait and switch  from the county.

Wonder how Chuckles will spin this one? Its the states  fault or we have to meet federal specks. It will be one of the two but as usual  the taxpayer will foot the bill for the f(*k up by county personnel and their  consultants one more time. Just business as usual in the most dysfunctional city  and county that I have ever seen.

We need one more vote desperately in  12 to rid ourselves of the King. Without that vote we are powerless to bring  some kind of sanity to the BOS and their tax and spend ways. Its not even funny  now, its simply in your face. We are going to raise your property taxes and what  are you going to do about it? Had enough of Chuck and his court yet.

Despite spending more than $14 million to widen a stretch of East Tanque Verde Road – with half the money going for design and management – Pima County put in a major intersection that doesn’t comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The crosswalk signals at Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway can’t be properly accessed by people in wheelchairs and scooters. They would have to roll over curbs or through dirt to reach them, contend several government officials and a disability expert who looked at the conditions at the intersection.

The project, which was built with a mix of county and Regional Transportation Authority funds, has been singled out by the RTA as the “poster child” for excessive soft costs, such as design and management rather than actual construction or property acquisition. For Tanque Verde, the $7 million-plus in soft costs was more than the $7 million to build the road.

“For the construction on Tanque Verde, there’s been a considerable amount of soft costs,” said RTA Transportation Director Jim DeGrood, who noted the project was done before the RTA started putting a limit on spending its money on soft costs.

“We would not consider them very accessible,” Dave Yanchulis, an accessibility specialist with U.S. Access Board, said of the Tanque Verde pedestrian signal buttons. The board maintains accessibility guidelines and is developing new ones for public rights of way, including pedestrian signals.

Pima County officials at first said they weren’t responsible for the crosswalk, contending the work was done as much as six years ago. After being shown evidence that they were, indeed, responsible for building the crosswalk signals, Transportation Director Priscilla Cornelio and Project Management Office Manager Nancy Cole said it was an oversight and should be fixed.

Cole said the cost to fix the intersection could range from $7,000 to $40,000.

“It doesn’t look so good,” Cornelio said. “Sometimes things slip through the cracks.”

Cole originally said the county didn’t touch the intersection as part of the widening, but later acknowledged that the county moved some traffic poles in the intersection and put up the crosswalk buttons.

“I think it was an oversight,” Cole said.

Given that the county is going over the final issues with the construction because it is winding down the project, Cole said it’s a “great time” to figure out how to properly finish the intersection to make it ADA compliant.

County officials didn’t oversee the work themselves. A consultant, Arcadis, was hired to oversee the construction. In all, three consultants on the project earned more than $1 million.

Arcadis earned $2.1 million, consultants RS Engineering earned $2.7 million and construction surveyor Urban Engineering earned $1 million. Southern Arizona Paving was awarded a $7 million contract in January 2010 to actually build the road.

The Tanque Verde project was administered in an unconventional manner. Instead of the Department of Transportation being responsible, it was managed by the Project Management Office, which was set up by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry in 2006.

Assistant County Administrator Nanette Slusser said the Project Management Office “essentially provides additional project management resources to all county capital departments. It is a small tactical department that provides the county resource flexibility.” She estimated the project has overseen two to three dozen projects over the past five years.

Huckelberry is on vacation in California and could not be reached for comment.

“The county administrator set up the office to try to streamline the way projects were administered,” Cornelio said. “He suggested they do this job. … They were trying a new process.”

RTA Spokesman David Joseph said the work at the Tanque Verde-Catalina Highway intersection is obviously not compliant with the ADA and must be fixed.

The project was originally supposed to built with money from a Pima County bond issue passed by voters in 1997, but it never got done at that time. The county continued to work on the design of the project over the course of several years until voters passed the $2 billion 20-year RTA plan in 2006, giving the county the money to complete design and construction.

Contact reporter Rob O’Dell at 573-4346 orrodell@azstarnet.com

Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_0976f054-1991-5ed1-afb1-71aba98c7b7b.html?mode=story#ixzz1WF2be7tR

27th August
2011
written by Arizona Kid

By Inside Tucson Business staff | 0 comments

There’s been chatter lately over Republicans ceding this year’s Tucson city elections to the Democrats. While that may be unfair to council challengers Jennifer Rawson in eastside Ward 2 and Tyler Vogt in southeast side Ward 4, the fact is the Republican effort is weak.

What makes this year’s situation especially noticeable is the success Republicans had in the last two city elections. In 2009, Steve Kozachik knocked out incumbent Nina Trasoff and Ben Beuhler-Garcia came within a razor-close 176 votes to beating Karin Uhlich. Then last year, Republicans were a driving force behind the 20 percentage point margin that defeated the city’s half-cent sales tax increase.

Those campaigns generated excitement, money and laser-focused attention on overcoming the 2-1 Democratic voter margin in Tucson.

Perhaps the answer can be found in research done by about another city that preceded Tucson facing many of the same issues. The phenomenon is called “Detroitification.”

It happens when a government “takes money from the private sector, in numerous ways like taxes and over-regulation,” according to the man who coined the phrase, Jack McHugh, a senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a nonpartisan think tank devoted to improving the quality of life in Michigan. Despite its name, McHugh says it’s not unique to Detroit and happens in other cities.

In Detroit, it started out when their city leaders took their economic base – the auto industry – for granted. According to James Hohman, fiscal policy analyst for the Mackinac Center, the city set out to control unusually large amounts of money for projects that should have been in the hands of private developers. That brought on layers of regulations and fees that made Detroit the most-regulated city in Michigan.

That leads to what McHugh calls the “death-spiral” that forces the private sector to get smaller. Population gets smaller and those who stay tend to be the kinds of people who need services rather than provide services, thus costing government even more money that at some point cannot be sustained.

Detroit’s population, which in the 1950s was 1.9 million, is down to 713,777, according to the 2010 Census.

Being in Arizona, where the population has grown 24.6 percent over the past 10 years – the second fastest growing state in the nation – it would be nearly impossible for Tucson not to see at least some growth.

But the fact is a population shift took place over the last 10 years, diminishing the city’s influence within the region. Tucson’s population of 520,116, according to the 2010 Census, makes up 53 percent of the region’s total population of 980,263. A decade ago, Tucson accounted for 58 percent of the region’s population. For every four people added to the region’s population in the last 10 years, only one was added inside the Tucson city limits.

With those kinds of numbers, Tucson is on its way to becoming the Detroit of the Desert.

While the mindset that led to “Detroitification” takes hold, it’s not hard to understand why Republicans are losing interest in Tucson elections this year. Instead, they’re off focusing their sights on campaigns in areas where there is hope – Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita and even the efforts to incorporate Vail. All five seats on the Pima County Board of Supervisors are up for re-election next year. Not to mention state offices.

This isn’t about Republicans failing to field candidates in Tucson. The failure is Tucson. Republicans may have simply moved on.

27th August
2011
written by Arizona Kid

The Tucson Unified School District Governing Board ousted Mark Stegeman from the president’s role on Tuesday night and installed Miguel Cuevas as a replacement. The move was met as a victory in some quarters, because Stegeman has not been unilaterally supportive of the district’s Mexican American Studies program as it exists today.

But ousting Stegeman as president is only a victory over free speech and freedom of thought – the very things the MAS program prides itself for instilling in its students. Getting rid of Stegeman as president doesn’t protect the MAS program, it doesn’t keep the state Department of Education from investigating the MAS classes for allegedly violating a state law and – most importantly – it does nothing to educate the roughly 53,500 students in TUSD schools.

All it proved is that an elected official can be targeted and demonized by his fellow Democrats because he formed and stuck to a different opinion than the one they wanted him to have.

This should give pause to everyone with a stake in TUSD. That’s because if Cuevas runs afoul of a line that’s been drawn, or if the board takes actions that anger MAS supporters, there is nothing to stop this from happening again. And again.

Now, there is no doubt Stegeman did not always do a good job managing Governing Board meetings where supporters and opponents of MAS spoke out during the call to the audience, interrupted each other or board members and prevented elected officials from doing their jobs.

Stegeman has not been adroit at reading fluid situations and responding on the fly, and has said as much. TUSD is no stranger to protests, and we’ve seen board meetings over the years where speakers got out of hand – although nothing close to the degree of what has happened since the spring, when the MAS situation flared up.

We wonder how other board members would have handled the angry, emotional and vocal crowds that have packed Governing Board meetings since the spring, when Stegeman raised his proposal to keep MAS classes but make them electives rather than classes that fill graduation requirements. That notion is on hold while TUSD appeals a decision by state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal that its MAS program violates a state law that prohibits courses that promote overthrowing the U.S. government; promote resentment toward a race or class of people; are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group; or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of students as individuals.

Stegeman said he put forward the proposal to try to keep Huppenthal from acting to eliminate MAS outright. His plan was seen as an attack on MAS – even though the most serious threat comes from elected officials in Phoenix – and supporters mobilized to protect their program.

Here again, the focus should be on Phoenix. For example, Huppenthal sought bids to conduct an outside audit of MAS, and only one company, Cambium Learning, responded. The resulting audit report – which contains multiple incomplete sentences and refers to Tucson as “the City of Tracy” and “the Yaki” (instead of Yaqui) – includes results from classroom visits and came to the conclusion that MAS is a solid program that should be replicated, and that it does not violate state law.

Yet Huppenthal is now saying he is not using that audit in the state’s case against TUSD because the work was biased and flawed – a claim that rings hollow at this point because, according to his spokesman, there were only a few minor wording changes made between the draft and the final report.

Also, the state education department paid the $110,000 invoice for the audit. If the quality of the work was so shoddy as to render it worthless, Huppenthal should not have paid the bill without demanding the problems he now cites be fixed. The main problem, however, may just be that the audit did not come to the conclusion he wanted.

But again, TUSD is in the middle of a bigger mess. If TUSD is ultimately found to be in violation of the law, HB 2281 – a law we still maintain is unnecessary, a violation of local control and anti-Latino – then it could lose millions of dollars for the entire district. The price is high, and this is the environment board members must operate in – for the benefit of all students, not only one program.

So it’s a safe bet the raucous meetings will continue, because supporters and opponents of MAS have disrupted the Governing Board proceedings and made hostile statements about each other. Once distortions and emotions reach this pitch, it’s hard to pull them back.

In this environment, Cuevas will have to decide if he is his own man, and if he is willing to pay the price for that. He has been denigrated publicly for being a Latino who has not pledged to support the MAS program without question and at any cost – and he has also been labeled a puppet of MAS supporters and board members Judy Burns and Adelita Grijalva.

Cuevas, the board’s youngest member, is going into the president’s seat with his eyes open.

Cuevas cannot do the job in isolation, and neither could Stegeman. As long as the primary mission on all sides is to punish people who think differently, then everyone loses. The MAS program has some fine qualities, as we have noted myriad times before, but teaching students that it’s acceptable to demote people who disagree with you is not responsible education.

If board members, MAS supporters and opponents actually care about the students, they will remember that this is all supposed to be about the 53,500 kids who call TUSD schools their own.

Arizona Daily Star

Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_1021b4b8-66c6-5a89-8bb7-065ecfb28c4f.html#ixzz1WExhUL7Y

25th August
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 8:00 am | Updated: 10:57 am, Mon Aug 15, 2011.

Pima Board of Supervisors need to reign in Chuck HuckelberryBy Hugh Holub, Inside Tucson BusinessInside Tucson Business | 0 comments

Recently Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry stuck his nose into a proposed annexation by the City of Tucson at River and Craycroft roads.

The Arizona Daily Star reported: City studies annexation at River, Craycroft

“Neighbors might be surprised,” Huckelberry says of 40-acre project

In the real world counties are happy to see cities annex territory because the county can keep taxing the land and provide virtually no service.

But Pima County’s Huckelberry has appointed himself the guardian of growth and development all over the region.

Pima County is the only county in Arizona that has authority to be in the wastewater collection and treatment business thanks to a deal cut between Tucson and Pima back in 1979.

Pima is using its control over wastewater, via Huckleberry, to try and thwart growth in places like Marana.

By being able to insert itself into local land use decisions in the area cities and towns, Huckelberry can kill an economic development project in those jurisdictions if he doesn’t like what the cities or towns are doing.

He has become the number one obstacle to job creation in the region.

Pima constantly sticks its nose into local government issues because Huckelberry is the self-appointed grand nanny of the valley.

The Rosemont Copper mine fight is another example of Pima going way beyond a normal role for a county government.

The county, through Huckelberry, has joined opponents such as Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, Center for Biological Diversity and pecan growers Farmers Investment Co. (Fico) to fight the mine on the east side of the Santa Ritas.

Pima is spending lots of taxpayer money in the fight.

It is now the largest owner or lessee of ranch lands in the county. Another Huckelberry initiative.

Originally, the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan was intended to eliminate all the fights involving endangered species and habitat conservation plans in the region to facilitate growth.

But there is no tie between Pima’s land holdings, habitat conservation plans, any approvals one could get from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service or any other federal agency involved in Endangered Species Act compliance.

In the real world developers pay for a share of a habitat conservation plan, so they can go forward with their projects. Huckelberry has not followed that path which is very effective around the rest of the country in creating win-win environmental solutions.

Just by way of example, in any other area where one had both a mine project and a public ownership effort to preserve habitats for endangered species, that habitat owner would tap the mine for money to buy more significant environmentally sensitive lands.

Pima actually passed up the opportunity to buy the Rosemont property because it was not significant in the grand scheme of things.

Now suddenly that has changed due to lobbying from opponents of Rosemont and Huckelberry’s decision to jump into the fight against the company.

Huckelberry has stuck his nose into a proposed Central Arizona Project (CAP) water recharge project that is being proposed by Community Water Company of Green Valley. Huckelberry opposes that project because Rosemont Copper is involved.

In the real world the elected county supervisors would be taking a hard look at all the tangents their county administrator has taken their government into and rein the guy in.

Maybe come 2012, Pima County voters will have to decide whether they want supervisors who rubber stamp Huckelberry’s agendas or would rather refocus county resources back to where a county government really belongs.

24th August
2011
written by Cactus Bill

Forum to show art ideas for streetcar stops

Read more: http://azstarnet.com/article_24e3c053-3403-5fa1-a7d8-af7811782b66.html#ixzz1VyCYtmts

I don’t know what the latest ‘transportation corridor enhancements’ look like on the Road to Hell, but the Modern Streetcar might give you a close-up view.

Please note that the article does not have ANY costs for the actual building of the stops, JUST the design phase. I’m curious how much a big sign that reads ‘GOVERNMENT WASTE’ costs to put up in place of the stops?

23rd August
2011
written by Land Lawyer

………It’s difficult to catalog all of the problems with this nonsense. For starters, the mission keeps changing. Is the green energy revolution about energy independence? Or is it about fighting global warming? Or is it about jobs?

For most of the last few years the White House and its supporters have been saying it’s about all three. But that’s never been true. If we want energy independence (and I’m not sure why we would) or if we want to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil (a marginally better proposition, given that Canada and often Mexico supply the U.S. with more oil than Saudi Arabia), we would massively expand our domestic drilling for oil and gas and our use of coal or carbon-free nuclear. That would also create lots of jobs that can’t be exported (you can’t drill for American oil in China, but we can, and do, buy lots of Chinese-made solar panels).

As for the windfall in green jobs, that has always been a con job.

For instance, Barack Obama came into office insisting that Spain was beating the U.S. in the rush for green jobs. Never mind that in Spain — where unemployment is now at 21% — the green jobs boom has been a bust. One major 2009 study by researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that the country destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it created, and the Spanish government has spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000. Wind industry jobs cost a cool $1 million euros apiece.

The record in America has been no better, Obama’s campaign stump speeches notwithstanding. The New York Times, which has been touting the green agenda in its news pages for years, admitted last week that “federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show.” Even Obama’s former green jobs czar concedes the point, as do other leading Democrats, including Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles.

Perhaps the most pathetic part of the war to green America is how unwarlike it really is. The New York Times also reported that California’s “weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the federal Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry,” a direct sop to labor unions. And afterward, the inflated costs made the program too expensive for homeowners.

Green jobs, like shovel-ready jobs, proved a myth in no small part because Obama is eager to talk as if this green stuff was the moral equivalent of war, but he’s not willing or able to do things a real war requires.

What we’re left with is not the moral equivalent of war but the moral equivalent of a quagmire. A very expensive quagmire.

jgoldberg@latimescolumnists.com

22nd August
2011
written by JHiggins

Why is Pima County’s tax rate nearly three times Maricopa’s?

Rhonda Bodfield Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Monday, August 22, 2011 12:00 am

Pima County residents pay a primary property tax rate that’s nearly three times that of taxpayers living in Maricopa County.

It’s a comparison that has long attracted notice, particularly for folks in Phoenix who like to hold it up as an example of Southern Arizona’s out-of-control spending.

Deciding whether the difference is out of whack, however, requires making sure there aren’t some oranges mixed in with the apples.

Pima County taxpayers in fiscal year 2012 will pay a primary tax rate of $3.41 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Maricopa County taxpayers will pay $1.24.

Kevin McCarthy, the president of the fiscally conservative and business-oriented Arizona Tax Research Association, was part of a working committee cobbled together by Gov. Fife Symington, back in the 1990s, to ferret out the difference.

Ultimately, he recalled, the group identified a host of reasons, but essentially concluded one primary thing: “Historically, it’s just been the case that Pima County spends more.”

That’s the kind of talk that gets County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry agitated.

“That’s the historic misconception,” he said. “Because the board majority has been Democrats, there’s this impression that they’re a bunch of ultraliberals. That is a misinformed, stereotypical Maricopa County reaction.”

values and taxes

Huckelberry said there are good reasons that Pima’s primary tax rate is higher.

First of all, he notes, Maricopa has higher property values. Take into account its corporate headquarters and major utilities, such as the Palo Verde Nuclear Power plant, and it’s higher by a tune of about 19 percent overall.

Maricopa County also has a separate jail tax, while Pima County doesn’t, forcing those expenses onto the primary rate.

Maricopa County pays for its indigent health-care costs on the secondary property tax. Pima, meanwhile, is spending $15 million this year for UA Healthcare, which took over operation of the county’s former Kino hospital. That, too, is supported by the primary rate.

He also notes that while 94 percent of Maricopa County residents live in an incorporated city or town, that number is only 64 percent in Pima County. And while critics will say a county generally has a fixed set of things it must do, regardless of how many people live in it, Huckelberry said it’s indisputable that the large number of people outside of cities triggers higher costs for law enforcement and parks, for example.

Pima County is also the only one of the 15 that has no sales tax.

By the time all that subtraction is done, Huckelberry said the tax rates are far more comparable, saying the rates would have translated into a $1.57 tax rate for Pima County compared with a tax rate of $1.24 for the larger county.

Joe Higgins, a former supervisor candidate who has a morning radio talk show, questions whether Pima County taxpayers are really getting that much more than Maricopa’s, given the difference. He said he’s not convinced the county is as lean as Huckelberry says.

Even using Huckelberry’s math comparing the two county tax rates, he notes, the county is still spending some 26 percent more. He said the bureaucracy is too big, and the county is doing too much.

“They can dump data on you to death, but the fact remains the tax rate is far higher,” he said.

The money pot

The levy – essentially the pot of money taxes bring in – has also swelled.

In 2002, the county collected about $257 million.

For this fiscal year, the levy is expected to be about $402 million.

That’s about a 57 percent increase – even though the population growth over that time hovers at about 12 percent, nudging up from about 850,000 residents to roughly 1 million, according to census figures.

Huckelberry, not surprisingly, trots out more math.

The county inherited the library system from the city, he notes, and voters authorized bonds over that time as well. By the time those new responsibilities are removed, he said, the levy increase is really only 38 percent. Factor in the population growth and inflation costs, and the levy isn’t out of whack, he said.

Much of the county’s spending is funneled to law enforcement and criminal justice. Of the $94 million in growth on the primary levy, law enforcement and criminal justice expanded by $79 million. If you then factor out state-costs shifts and health-care payments, he argues that despite what seems a gargantuan number, the levy is actually less than it was in previous years.

The Deal

So is he arguing county taxpayers are getting a good deal?

“I’m arguing that they’re not getting as bad a deal as they think and that they have to compare apples and apples when they make these comparisons.”

Both Higgins and the association’s McCarthy maintain the county’s large number of unincorporated residents is self-inflicted, since the county didn’t enthusiastically embrace some incorporation efforts in the 1990s. Most recently, county officials have raised questions about a possible city of Tucson annexation at East River and North Craycroft roads, where a boutique hotel could be in the works.

Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll said he isn’t buying Huckelberry’s math either. “I think it just comes down to the fact that Pima County is a top-heavy, large government that has fiefdoms to protect – and it has the tax rate to go along with them.”

On StarNet: Read more about local, state and national political news at azstarnet.com/politics

Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at rbodfield@azstarnet.com or 573-4243.

(293) Comments

Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_2d2c52eb-f606-576c-9280-47715314b8c7.html#ixzz1VotuIQrm

18th August
2011
written by madge

Now this is funny. Pam Powers over at TucsonCitizen.com tries to explain Tucson’s poverty epidemic (200,000 out of 1 million of us live below the poverty line).

Warning before reading, Powers  uses quotes and arguments from Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky so read at your own risk.  Powers attempts to blame  everyone BUT the local Democratic leaders that have steered us off a cliff for the past 30 years.
Let’s respond to Pam’s assumptions;

1. Pam blames the five US Congressional leaders north of the Gila and forgets to mention the two down here (Grijalva and Giffords). If Pima County’s problem is truly rooted in federal policy decisions,  then dozens of other cities and markets would be beating Tucson to the bottom. New Mexico, our neighbor to the east isn’t in an economic free fall and they have less congressional seats in and therefore less influence in D.C. Albuquerque has a revitalized downtown, an engaged university, a diversified economy and a strong business sector. Pam would be better to draw a distinction and blame our two ‘no pork’ Senators for Arizona’s ‘donor state’ status. Kyle and McCain philosophically refuse to play the ‘bridge to no where game’.  The tide is turning on how money is being sloshed around Washington and the wave of new tea party officials are part of that wave.

2. Pam points out that “Repeatedly, the Tucson City Council has bowed to local business interests, at the expense of citizens and workers. The City’s budget– like the state’s and the nation’s– has been cut by cutting jobs, thus worsening our economy by increasing unemployment.” First I’m not seeing much bowing to business. I see lots and lots of picking favorites, deals going to business folk that cut the right checks and show up at Hotel Congress for the right Democratic fundraisers. I’m not seeing a systematic bowing to business interests. In fact if local governments bowed towards business more we wouldn’t be scraping the bottom nationally. Here’s a note to Pam, attorney’s from two or three named firms aren’t friends of business. All too often lawyers are self serving gadflys that mess business up for all of us.

3. Connecting Dots – what kills me be about the Pam Powers of Tucson or the Council that has run this place for 3 decades is that they don’t equate cutting local government employees to a struggling business sector. Tucson has less revenue because of policies like big box ordinances draconian sign code laws, challenges with opening a business, excessive fees and permit requirements and a complicated time consuming regulatory environment. Pima County and Tucson didn’t earn this reputation overnight, our policies have been anti business, anti growth, anti mini dorm, anti cross town roadway, anti infill, anti you name for a long long time. If you’re a union member that is worried about your job….start electing people that will create private sector jobs.

4. The Citizen Commission Suggestion: Pam suggests the solution: A citizens’ commission focusing on poverty, the local economy, and jobs should be created to study the data and make recommendations based upon economic research and best practices from other cities. Anyone want to guess how this one will end up? Tucson is littered with plans, visions, programs, economic development agencies and consultant reports on the path to fix our wayward ways.  We don’t lack reports or plans we lack leadership to execute them and courage to stand up to a vocal minority for the good of the community as a whole. Second point on the commission, the Council appoints commission members, the Council will appoint the same nut balls they’ve appointed to the Sign Code Committee, Land Use Code Review Committee, The Gay Lesbian Bi Sexual and Transgender Commission, Small, Minority and Women Owned Business Commission, Greens Committee, Landscape Advisory Commission, Transit Task Force, West University Historic Zone Advisory Board or any number of dozens of other stacked boards and commissions. So in the Progressive Utopia, keep playing in your commissions while communities like Portland, Albuquerque or any of the hundreds of competitors keep targeting  Tucson to poach our tourist  and large employers like Raytheon…..goodbye Tucson, hello Huntsville.

Pam is well intended but sadly shares a common misconception that is far too prevalent in Tucson. Liberal, verging on Socialist, Tucson believes business is bad. Even socialist utopia’s like Germany, or Portland or San Francisco have survived and prospered because they’ve struck a balance between progressive and capitalistic ideas. As Illinois or California or Greece or Detroit and recently Italy has found out the hard way, years of taking and ignoring the financial engines of a community lead to a dead end street. When a community goes too far one way or another it’s lights out time.

Power’s original post in it’s entirety.

Is Tucson the new ‘Hooverville’?
Homeless shanty towns– Hoovervilles– sprang up during the Great Depression. (Photo Credit: Dorthea Lange for the Farm Security Administration.)
What has all of this got to do with life here in Tucson? Plenty. Two recent studies show that: 1) Tucson has the highest rate of poverty of any major city in the sunbelt and 2) Tucson has the “sickest” housing market in the US.

These statistics– coupled with Arizona’s Starve-the-Beast-Feed-the-Capitalists state government and Teapublican Congressional representatives–Gosar (CD1), Franks (CD2), Quayle (CD3, Schweikert (CD5), and Flake (CD6)– paint a pretty bleak future for the Old Pueblo.
What can we do about it? A few weeks ago at a City Council meeting, political activist Jim Hannley suggested that the Tucson Mayor and Council set up a citizens’ commission to study local poverty. In 2007, then Tucson City Councilman Steve Leal’s office compiled a “Poverty and Urban Stress” report. With dozens of statistical graphics, the 90+ page document details poverty, educational attainment, crime, and other urban stress indicators citywide and by Council ward. At the time, the Arizona Daily Star lauded the report and the City Council agreed to revisit the report annually… but didn’t. That was 2007– before the market crash of 2008 and the ensuing recession. Obviously Tucson’s economy– as well as the state’s and the nation’s– has slid since the report was created.

Repeatedly, the Tucson City Council has bowed to local business interests, at the expense of citizens and workers. The City’s budget– like the state’s and the nation’s– has been cut by cutting jobs, thus worsening our economy by increasing unemployment.

It’s time for Tucson’s Mayor and Council to take the long view on our economy. Leal’s report should be updated and expanded to include multi-year trend data. After the update, a citizens’ commission focusing on poverty, the local economy, and jobs should be created to study the data and make recommendations based upon economic research and best practices from other cities.

As Tucson celebrates its 236th birthday this month, t’s time for Tucsonans to stop grumbling, to start fighting for economic and social justice, and to take a lesson from The Little Engine that Could: I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

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