Posts Tagged ‘Don Diamond’

13th April
2009
written by JHiggins

Az Star ran a story on the business communities interpretation of the Hein firing. HERE- Don Diamond, Tucson’s large developer was quoted as was select Southern Arizona legislators.  As is usually the case, the online comments are often times better than the story themselves. Here are a few opposing sides of the debate about the role of business and the business leaders in our community.  Both raise interesting points and are worth a read:

58. Comment - April 12,2009 @ 12:41PM

State Sen. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican, has a bill lined up to mandate non-partisan elections in Tucson, but he said it won’t get introduced until a budget is passed.

They don’t lead, they take, and can never get enough for themselves — Diamond and Click, the most visible examples, that clean-up their image with what are small contributions compared to their enormous worth.

Isn’t this constitutionally illegal by State statutes, besides being ‘not their call?’

The State can’t dictate voting rules to just one district. They have no business micro-managing COT. Ir’a more coercion, to try and force us to obey their demands. They are truly out of control with their power.

Since almost every government entity is in the red — last thing we need is the ‘need’ for a law suit, to prevent the neocons in the Arizona Legislature imposing their will on COT voters.

Not all that long ago, Republicans had a majority on the COTCity Council — and they got themselves voted out. Walkup is the last vestige of their stupidity and even worse management. Can you imagine if Hein had been around then? They would have ‘spent’ the projected $600 million projected funds, instead of just the $100 million Hein helped to blow in the last 4 years. All the neocons, and 2 bad democrat Council members are supporting Hein — what does that tell you?

Until Republicans aren’t run by the neocons — they ruin their own chances of winning anywhere, other than in their stronghold areas. I’ll vote either party — for the best, which is sadly often for who will do the least harm, and won’t blow off the taxpayers.

Ha, ha, Diamond, and buddies, your public-taxpayer-funded gravy train is over for now — and I hpoe forever.

“Business Leaders’ = oxymoron

And….

36. Comment - April 12,2009 @ 8:07AM

Ratings: -13 +12

How long will this community continue to demonize the business leaders and enterprise?
Are there bad apples? Yes. But how do you think we generate the money to do all your little pet projects? The majority of the money brought into our city government for; graffiti classes, after school rap lessons, artist warehouse districts, Rio Nuevo, presidio walls, department of neighborhood resources and on and on comes from the 2% sales tax collected on car dealers, retail stores, construction materials and license fees paid by over 25,000 businesses in Tucson alone.
The culture that has been created in our region is one of fear and ‘get in line to get along’. Business leaders know how to get projects done and work the system just like everyone else. We know that if we take a stand, use the court systems or the media to expose the insanity that we live in every day we stand the greatest lash back ever seen. Every once in a while an individual will rise up and challenge the status quo. Their future opportunities are in jeopardy.
I speak with business people every day that give example after example of unfair treatment, intentional stalls of projects, unbelievable and out of line requests from elected officials or bureaucrats because of some agenda (like low income housing trusts funds or open space to name a few). I know of major firms that WILL NEVER DO ANOTHER PROJECT in our region again. La Encantada ring a bell?
So all of you above that keep commenting on how selfish the business community is, how if Hein is supported by the business community he should be fired, how much money a Diamond make and how he’s the problem open the budget, visit a web site, look at what we are experiencing as a community right now. The business sector is hurting, due to national economic issues and guess what……government tax collections are down and services have to be cut. See the connection?
Phoenix looks at our situation down here as a back woods community that is a joke. They throw us a bone like Rio Nuevo and host Superbowls and create $650 million convention centers while we can’t get out of our own way.
When a savvy national business looks at coming to our region they look at the education system, crime rate, regulatory environment, political culture, skilled and educated work force and quality of life. Doing OK in only one of 6 of these categories just isn’t going to cut it.
We need better leadership, we need an active business community that can and will make a stand for what is right; we need TUSD to get its act together. Vail, Flowing Wells, Amphi and many other districts are doing a great job at educating our kids. You don’t hear about their dirty laundry every day in the paper.
We need elected officials that lead, that has been in private industry and understand what it takes to make a healthy business community. If you continue to load stake holder groups with neighborhood activists, NIMBY loud mouths, you won’t get progress or change. Elected officials, please please please – educate yourself, pick business leaders you trust as advisors, chose a direction and stick to your path. You will take arrows from every special interest out there. But the path you are on is driving us off a cliff.

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15th March
2009
written by JHiggins

I had the opportunity to be in the audience at last weeks commercial real estate industries annual meeting.  The news wasn’t good George Larson’s but the delivery was hilarious! 

From Sunday’s Star – HERE

Larsen, co-owner of Larsen Baker Commercial Realty, rocked the crowd of commercial brokers at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Thursday by imitating Mayor Bob Walkup in a mock state of the city speech.

Here are some of Larsen’s zingers …

The economy:

“Tucson’s economy has been thrown around like a drunken dwarf at a biker’s rally.”

City Council:

“We’re a tightknit group in City Hall. You scratch my back, and I’ll stab yours.”

Rio Nuevo:

“I’ve got to hand it to that Greg Shelko(Rio Nuevo director); he is always stirring up apathy.”

Larsen also suggested Rio Nuevo’s new slogan should be “where fun goes to die.”

Mayor Walkup:

“I want to be known as a green mayor. No one loves this planet more than I do. I live here most of the time.”

In a telephone interview Friday, Larsen said no one should take his comments too seriously. He’s a supporter of Rio Nuevo and the mayor. He was just trying to lighten up the conference.

“It was done in fun,” he said. “I don’t mind that you want to put a couple jokes in there. I was just trying to add a little lightening to what I thought was going to be a fairly somber outlook on commercial real estate.”

He then said the comments were nothing compared with the cracks he makes about the Star.

Oh, really?

So, Larsen served up this one: “I heard you had to sell your corporate jet. It’s difficult to sell, though, because it only has a left wing.”

For those wondering, Larsen did say he expects retail vacancies to hit 12.55 percent this year.

Economic recovery will take 2-3 years, says Diamond

When developer Don Diamond speaks, Tucson’s business community listens.

Diamond of Diamond Ventures Inc. gave the keynote speech at the Certified Commercial Investment Members Southern Arizona forecast competition.

He said it will take at least two to three years for the economy to recover — and that’s just getting back to normal, not back to what he described as the “euphoria” of the housing boom.

“This one is different. It’s not just a recession. It’s just a deep, deep feeling all over the world,” he said to the group. “I don’t think it’s down at the bottom because we are all trying to figure a way out of it.”

In an interview Friday, just before he headed off for a fishing trip, Diamond said Tucson is going to learn real quick how dependent it is on real estate and development.

“What this entire community is about to realize is that real estate is the driver for Tucson,” he said. “Now that our industry is totally depressed, we, being the entire community, should rethink and realize that we have to do some very innovative things to help our real estate industry recover.”

It’s too hard to get projects done in Southern Arizona, he said, and this downturn represents an opportunity to change that. Otherwise, when the bottom shakes out, Tucson will continue to lose business to other desert cities.

Diamond has some ideas — he didn’t want to share them — that he plans to pitch to CCIM’s executive committee and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

Meanwhile, he didn’t have kind things to say about our elected leadership, particularly the City Council.

“Perhaps in this dull period, a period where we have a little more time, we can straighten out our local politics. … We have terrible people representing us,” he said during his speech.

He didn’t back down over the phone Friday.

“You get in representation and politics what you deserve,” he said. “It doesn’t say much for us.”

26th February
2009
written by Arizona Kid

Twenty-five years back, there were a clutch of prime mantras among the activist set: Growth could be stopped. Cattle-grazing was archaic. Mining was a goner. Developers could be battled to a standstill, and the Pusch Ridge bighorns would tough it out.Today, folks who built below Pusch Ridge adore the foothills wildlife–until it nibbles their bougainvillea. More habitat has vanished from this county than perhaps ever existed in some states. Cows are now seen as bulwarks against bulldozers. As for bighorn sheep, well, somebody figures they might have seen a footprint up beyond those pretty cul-de-sacs sometime back.

Growth has continued at freakish levels, although a crashing real estate market offers some hope. Still, even wayward water supplies haven’t truly threatened this juggernaut; the housing industry, along with local government, still huddles under the Central Arizona Project’s rippling chimera.

Yet time marches on. And some iconic battles from those days–stopping the UA telescopes on Mount Graham, for example, or blocking developer Don Diamond’s Rocking K Ranch exurb–weren’t exactly won, but they weren’t totally lost, either.

The Mount Graham mountaintop telescopes are nearly due for review by the Coronado National Forest, and UA astronomers may lack the political muscle of yesteryear. Diamond did toss a few acreage bones to Saguaro National Park East, and bankrolled the Rincon Institute to cope with what his avarice had wrought.

Meanwhile, some things have actually improved. Though our fair city has plumped beyond reason, one recent UA analysis reveals that Arizona’s population grew by a measly 1.6 percent in the last year, the lowest rate since the blistering recession in the 1990s.

And although we’ve had decades to ponder the mine tailings south of Tucson (“Manmade Mountains!” one real estate brochure enthused), citizens are tightly organized against a new mine proposed for Rosemont Valley in the Santa Rita Mountains.

So there is reason to hope. Indeed, tempered optimism is raison d’ètre among most conservationists. Among them is Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Campbell’s coalition has been knee-deep in prodding Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (one true victory-in-progress) down the road to reality.

Since its late 1990s inception as a wildlife-protection blueprint, the project has spent roughly $120 million from a voter-approved bond to purchase or lease more than 160,000 acres.

To Campbell, that 2004 bond–when citizens earmarked nearly $175 million to buy open space–was a turning point. “In Pima County, people have always been working on protecting open space,” she says, “and we’ve had open-space bonds for the last 20 years. But the big difference is the planning and scientific effort that went into this endangered-species project. The open space we targeted was key habitat for particular species, along with connectivity between some of the already preserved areas. So there was a little bit of method to the madness.

“It’s why there’s still a lot of support from the conservation community, and, I believe, the community at large,” Campbell says. “We’ve had the best available science behind the plan, and not politics. But what is different now is that we have the political will among citizens. Before, it was like beating our heads against the wall.”

Gayle Hartmann has also been in the trenches for eons, including a stint on the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission. She now heads Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a group fighting the proposed Rosemont mine. Hartmann heralds the addition of Sharon Bronson and Ray Carroll to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Bronson was elected to the board in 1996, representing District 3; Carroll was appointed to represent District 4 a year later, and formally elected in 1998. Finally, says Hartmann, “there was a majority on the board that was really interested in conservation.”

Both supervisors championed open-space preservation, and Carroll has fought the proposed Rosemont mine with a notable vengeance. In 2007, he garnered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Outstanding Achievement award.

Equally notable is a shift among Green Valley constituents in District 4 who support him. “Twenty years ago, Green Valley was always against any type of open space,” says Hartmann, “and that’s completely changed. I don’t know if it’s because there are more people there, or if the people there are somewhat different. But his district–although they may be politically conservative in some ways–now seems very concerned about environmental issues.”

That concern has been critical in efforts to limit Santa Cruz Valley growth, including the vastly scaled-down Canoa Ranch development. Many Green Valley dwellers have also been bare-knuckle opponents of the Augusta mine.

Another positive change, says Hartmann, “is that we don’t have quite as nasty a war between the pro-growth and no-growth sides. To some degree, I guess the pro-growthers won. But at the same time, I think there’s a much better understanding of the need to do preservation and see that we have enough water.”

Roger Featherstone, a longtime anti-mining activist, has likewise been in the fray for years. Today, he relishes the heat generated against Canadian-owned Augusta Resource Corp., the mining company hoping to gut Rosemont Valley. He’s also guardedly cheered about legislation sifting through Congress to reform the despised 1872 Mining Act. This antiquated law gives mining companies such as Augusta near carte blanche in laying claim to public lands.

“Tucson has become a lot more conservation-minded in the last 20 years,” Featherstone says, “and I think that really shows in the Rosemont fight. You now have to look long and hard to find anybody who’s in favor of that mine.

“People understand,” he says, “that Tucson has different values now when it comes to raping and pillaging the land than they did 20 years ago.”

Despite that positive shift, says Featherstone, conservationists now face an unexpected foe: themselves. “Twenty-five years ago, when we were all here fighting, we worked really hard, and we had some successes and some real disappointments. But the pace wasn’t nearly so frenetic. We had time to sit on a porch at night with buddies and drink beer.

“But now we’ve really gotten into this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ syndrome, where we’re running twice as fast, and we’re still falling behind. I think the conservation community has to take a serious look at the fact that they’re working twice as hard and getting a lot less done–with a lot more stress and a lot more unhappiness.

“If I could start a new environmental trend,” he half-chuckles, “it would be modeled on the slow-food movement.”

So does long and languid dining offer any tantalizing hints for Tucson’s environmental future? We’ll pop a beer, gnaw a few pretzels and get back to you on that in about 25 years.

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