Here’s a text book example from the Arizona Daily Star. In fact, the example is so good that I will translate the first half of the Star editorial in its entirety.
We have editorialized in the past about the need for a nonpartisan City Council system to replace Tucson’s deeply partisan government, but so far voters have disagreed.
The Star sees a problem; they have opined against the problem, but to no avail.
The most recent vote was in 1993. Since then, proposals for a nonpartisan council system have failed to make it to the ballot, including an initiative drive in 1998 and lobbying campaigns to get the council to put a measure to the voters in 2001 and 2003.
They are actually losing ground and it’s clear that a local solution isn’t possible.
We hope such efforts will continue, because we think reform is necessary.
It’s still a problem. Of course, we’ve had 15 years to fix it…We believe a council that is not mired in political party obligations and is not straitjacketed into partisan ideological positions would be acting more often for the general good. Furthermore, as we’ve noted before, most of the time the city government deals with issues that are neither Republican nor Democrat.
In fact, it’s still a serious problem.Someone from Tucson has the power to fix the problem. He’s not from Mars, or Phoenix, he’s a Tucson native who agrees with the Star on this critical issue.Under a nonpartisan council system, he told the Star’s Rob O’Dell, “You get more people who are interested in getting things done than they are in party politics. It would be harder for interest groups around parties to control the process.”Wow, this Tucson native is exactly right about the issues. Finally, someone local who is now saying the same thing that we have been saying for years.But Paton, a Republican, is planning to introduce legislation in the Legislature to to impose a nonpartisan City Council system on Tucson, according to a story Monday by O’Dell. Please note: In January, this body will be dominated by Maricopa County and by highly partisan Republicans.
Que the scary music. Paton may be a Tucson native who agrees with the Star, but we learn that Paton is…a Republican and he’s part of a body that dominated by…Maricopa County Republicans. After all, non-partisanship is a good thing unless it’s pushed by Republicans…not that we are partisan or anything.
Well, don’t tread on us, Phoenix.
That’s right. Just because it’s a good idea and we support it and the local officials have proven incapable of implementing it, and it’s being pushed by one of our own elected representatives…don’t tread on us. We’ve had 15 years to fix this but by golly, you people from north of the Gila were made part of the United States via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo while we were admitted via the (sniff) Gadsden Purchase.
You think I’m kidding, but the editorial writer chose that phrase “Don’t tread on us” intentionally. The “Don’t Tread On Me” flag is actually the Gadsden family flag. Phoenix was acquired by war, Tucson was purchased from Mexico. Growing up in Tucson I was taught that distinction from pre-school. I don’t know how many book reports I’ve turned in with the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on the cover, but it was a lot. Just ask Mr. Petri at Townsend Junior High.
If Tucson’s City Council system is to be reformed, the changes must flow up to the ballot from local citizens and must be accepted or rejected by Tucson voters. Our local governance choices are none of the Legislature’s business, nor Paton’s.
We hold these truths to be self evident that Tucson must govern itself.
It appears, based on O’Dell’s research, that if Paton were to compose such a bill carefully, the Legislature could, in fact, legally impose a new governmental system upon Tucson.
Dang, Paton is smarter than he looks. (That’s nice of the reporter to check up on the attorneys at Legislative Counsel. I look forward to reading his memo.)
There you have it. The only thing the Star values over bipartisan ship is parochialism. The Star offers no legitimate reason not to support the bill. They obviously can’t disagree with the issue. They can’t even complain about Paton as the sponsor. But the Tribe of Pima has counted the Tribe of Maricopa its enemy for many moons. Arguments that are usually the last bastion of fools have become official policy of the Star.
The only thing more troubling than the people of Tucson being the last city to tolerate partisan elections is their toleration of such a weak third-tier newspaper.
Posts Tagged ‘non-partisan elections’
You’ve quietly mumbled under your breath while watching the evening news. You’ve commiserated with colleagues at lunch. You may have even taken the time to write an e-mail or call the office of one of our elected officials. A handful of you may have even showed up at a city council meeting, taken your three minutes of fame at the podium delivering a speech that would make Jimmy Stewart proud. Or maybe you rationalized that you’re too busy. That someone else will carry the load. You wrote a check to a business association or chamber of commerce so your work is done.
What have your efforts accomplished?
Try higher property taxes, increased bed taxes, taxes on tanning salons, ballooning utility costs, more regulations and red tape, a rotting city core, larger pot holes, scarier streets, more graffiti, less baseball and a whole lot more vacancies. As business people, we want to believe Tucson welcomes our entrepreneurial spirit. We tuck in each night dreaming of a community that wants us to succeed. They appreciate the hard work and risks we take. After all small business is the economic engine the politicians all love to brag about. Dream’s over – time to wake up!
Our current flock of elected officials seem to have little interest in supporting you or making your road to riches any easier. You’re in this community to be taxed, regulated and demonized. If you’ve made a business career here you’ve really done something special.
Want to know how we got here? Take a look around. How many of our local politicos have ever owned their own business? How many have built a successful career in the private sector? How many have spent their careers in nonprofit or government jobs? Most have risen from the ranks of the progressive party machines. Are there exceptions? We guess so.
Let us share the real problem the business community has in our region. Our politicians don’t get us. They don’t respect us. And they certainly don’t fear us.
Since the dawn of the democracy, when elections come around politicians count votes. Environmental lobbies, neighborhood associations, unions and university and government employees vote. When a politician’s primary goal is to get re-elected or move to a higher office, catering to the groups that walk the streets, pick up the phones and show up at rallies is perceived as essential to future success.
What are we as a business community to do? For starters, we need to identify strong pro-business candidates then truly support them. The heat will get turned up on you or your business but you must take a stand. A trite chamber of commerce endorsement isn’t going to cut it.
We must ensure that our elected officials are true friends of business. If they aren’t we must take them out of office in a strong and swift show of force. When we do win a seat, the business community needs to remind the other sitting officials that we have the power to influence an election. Once they fear us, they will respect us. Once they fear us, they will listen to us. Once they fear us, things will change.
Don’t fall back on your indifference. Don’t go back to watching “Dancing With The Stars” or “The Biggest Loser.” Sure, we can continue to wait and hope someone else will carry the load but how’s that worked out for us so far?
Wake up business community. Wake up Tucson.
Early ballots will be arriving in mailboxes Oct. 8. If you haven’t requested an early ballot, call (520) 740-4330. Any registered voter in the city of Tucson can vote for any of the six council candidates running. This is a partisan race — for now — and it’s not limited to individual ward-only voting. Inform your employees, family and friends of what is at stake in this election. Research the candidates and measure results.
Contact Joe Higgins at email@example.com or Chris DiSimone at firstname.lastname@example.org. They’re the hosts of “Wake Up Tucson,” which airs 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Information about the show is online at WakeUpTucson.net
Published on Friday, July 10, 2009
Think about it: The Tucson City Council’s inability to make tough decisions on big issues actually results in better solutions — by someone else.
Take Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment. Slow action by the city forced state lawmakers to come up with new controls over the city. It was part of the budget package that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed but legislators are still hopeful of getting something approved. But the bottom line, is that after all these years, downtown may finally get its much-needed convention hotel. More HERE.
Our fellow blogger over at Blog For Arizona took aim at the Republican legislators for using end around to take control of Rio Nuevo from the City of Tucson and to institute non-partisan elections. Safier even goes as far as to rally the democrats in Southern Arizona over these issues in the 2010 elections;
Target every Republican who votes to allow Maricopa to dictate to Southern Arizona about local matters. Let them defend turning us into a colony of our imperial Maricopa overlords, or a wholly owned subsidiary of Maricopa, Inc.
News flash, Maricopa doesn’t care. We aren’t taken serious. We are tolerated and thrown a bone once in a while to keep us happy. Just like cousin Eddy from Vacation. We show up, drink all the beer, empty the sewer tanks on the RV and act like we own the place.
How about taking aim at the complete incompetence surrounding Rio Nuevo from the ruling city council (all Democrats – I did say ALL because we aren’t claiming the Mayor anymore). The miss steps, inside deals, starts and stops and choice in people to run the various programs are absolutely, unequivocally a direct sign of TERRIBLE leadership. Blame Maricopa, blame Republicans, blame their mothers for not cuddling them enough but don’t ever take personal responsibility.
As for non-partisan elections; Tucson has been Democratically controlled for decades – take a look around……how’s that working out for us? Take the politics out of the equation (we all know it’s not possible but maybe, just maybe this is a step in the positive direction) and focus on the basics of local government.
Thanks for doing what you do Blog For Arizona. The different views are always appreciated.
This blog was created as a way to let some of those voices be heard. The traditional media has strong voices as well, the challenge is finding those messages in a crowded world is sometimes difficult. The goal of this blog is to bring those voices front and center.
Published on Friday, August 08, 2008
TO: The Editor
FROM: M. L. Ebert
RE: Steve Emerine’s column “Politicians’ failure to act may have already doomed Tucson’s future,” July 28 issue
Steve Emerine again is “spot on” regarding our city government. I remember seeing a computer-generated presentation of the makeup of Tucson’s demographics including political affiliation many years ago. I said then (1980s) that this town did not have the stomach for the diversity an annexation of those folks living north of River Road would give to our community.
We truly are destined to be guided into the future by people with little understanding or appreciation for free enterprise or the importance of protecting property rights.
A good beginning would be to declare city council positions full-time and to pay them enough to attract caring citizens from the private sector. Secondly, move away from partisan elections and look to actual leadership credentials, instead of party affiliations, of individuals running for office.
Regarding annexation: We need to stop the annexation of land; that is gutless. This city needs people to join the municipal government process. Most living in the outlying areas are affected by decisions made by our city council yet have no voice. To entice them, we may have to give them their own seats on the council. If we want to stop the anti-business spirit of this city government and stop the decay, we need to do all of the above.
But an Arizona Daily Star news story on the bill two weeks later showed most of our six Democratic councilmembers have been thinking about Paton’s idea for Tucson to join the rest of Arizona’s municipal governments, which already hold nonpartisan votes.
They don’t like it. Southside Councilman Steve Leal said Paton and others “want nonpartisan elections for partisan reasons.”
Partisanship was apparently all right earlier in Leal’s 19-year council career when he opposed annexations of urban areas immediately north or east of Tucson.
Democrats lead in city registrations, with independents second and Republicans third. Leal warned fellow Democrats that annexations in the foothills or the far eastside would strengthen Republican numbers in the city.
His registration argument hasn’t surfaced recently because hardly anyone to the north or east of the city limits wants to be governed by this mayor and council.
They’d rather spend August pulling a steamboat upstream in the sand of the “navigable” Santa Cruz River.
Nevertheless, switching to nonpartisan government might lead to the eventual annexation of some of our neighbors’ children or grandchildren.
Future generations might forget today’s countless council schemes to toughen city development regulations when no one can afford to develop anyway.
Democratic Council members Rodney Glassman of eastside Ward 2, Karin Uhlich of the north-central Ward 3 and Nina Trasoff of university-area’s Ward 6 told the Star they want city voters to approve any proposal to adopt nonpartisan elections.
“It is something city voters should decide rather than Phoenix dictating how we operate,” Uhlich said, suggesting the council could refer the idea to a citizens committee looking at city charter changes.
Oh boy! We all know how helpful city committees are in Tucson.
Where would our downtown be if we hadn’t referred Rio Nuevo, the Barraza-Aviation Parkway, a new convention center and the proposed Nimbus Brewery to committees and neighborhood groups?
Nevertheless, council Democrats are right when they say Tucson voters should decide on city charter amendments.
The charter says it very specifically, but that isn’t the issue. I doubt that Paton’s bill will mention our city at all.
It probably will say that all Arizona cities and towns, plus those that haven’t been incorporated or even thought of, must have nonpartisan elections. That’s a statewide issue and therefore a suitable topic for the legislature.
If Tucson’s Democratic council members and their allies lead a fight against that kind of bill, they will surely lose. The Arizona House and Senate are dominated by Republicans, most of whom represent Maricopa County.
And Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, who will resign early next year to become the Obama administration’s director of Homeland Security, won’t be here to consider vetoing the bill.
Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer, who will succeed Napolitano, is already upset with Tucson Democrats whose vote-tabulating dispute with Pima County indirectly challenged her authority as Arizona’s chief election officer.
Brewer probably will sign Paton’s bill if the Legislature adopts it.
Nonpartisan elections would attract more business and professional candidates who have leadership skills and good, practical ideas for running a city.
Their campaigns probably would deal more with what’s best for Tucson, business growth and good-paying jobs and less with abortion, guns, the Iraq war, stopping growth near the Grand Canyon or plastic grocery bags.
For five decades, Tucsonans have elected a number of pleasant or well-meaning folks with little business or administrative experience, plus a few who may not have meant so well.
Given the shape of our city, it’s time to try something new.
More discussion from Sonoran Alliance (an Arizona political blog) about Paton’s Non Partisan Elections – HERE.
The problem comes into play during the general election. All primary candidate winners (mayoral and councilmen) move on to the general election but instead of the voters in each ward electing their own councilman, the rest of the city gets to vote in the ward elections. (Tucson City Charter, Chapter XVI, Section 9) This means that the voters of one ward may overwhelmingly elect a councilman who is rejected by all the other wards voting. The best example would be akin to having Arizona nominating its two US Senate candidates only to have the rest of the states gang up and vote for the candidate who would have received the lesser votes by Arizona voters.
Sec. 9. Mayor nominated and elected at large; councilmen nominated from wards, elected at large.
Beginning in the year 1930, and continuing thereafter, the mayor shall be nominated from and elected by the voters of the city at large, and the councilmen shall be nominated each from, and by the respective voters of, the ward in which he resides, and shall be elected by the voters of the city at large.
It’s completely unfair to the voters of each ward.
And from Espresso Pundit a blow by blow look at our local papers biased view that serves our community so well;
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