Posts Tagged ‘Steve Emerine’

19th April
2009
written by JHiggins

I look forward to Inside Tucson Business each Sunday. If you do business in this community you should be reading it.

I especially miss Steve Emerine’s column.  Steve wasn’t afraid to shake up the local powers. He had a straight forward yet polite way to praise and poke our elected officals. With Emerine’s passing Tucson and Inside Tucson Business lost a strong voice.  Dave, who I know personally, tends to take a safer road in his editorials. I suppose he has to given his position and balancing advertisers.  Well looks like Hatfield is getting fed up too.

ITB would be remiss if they didn’t take a few jabs at the Tucson City Council and the insanity that’s going on over there.  As the voice of business ITB should be out front, offering solutions and educating their readers.

As the Tucson  business community circles the drain, don’t expect the Star to give any constructive solutions. The Star’s ad revenue dives and yet their editorial board continues to ignore the sad climate created by our local government.  Great job on this one Dave, keep em coming. 

Reaction to
Tucson being pathetic

By Dave Hatfield – Click HERE for full story.
Published on Friday, April 17, 2009

OK, OK, OK. Talk about getting reaction. Last week’s column headlined “What a pathetic city Tucson is becoming” got plenty of it. 

I heard from natives and other long-time residents, high-ranking executives including CEOs of businesses employing hundreds of people as well as people who run small businesses, representatives of biotech and other industries targeted in Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities’ economic development blueprint, representatives of the financial sector, real estate, tourism and the arts. I even heard from a couple of politicians. Some were frustrated and others ashamed but all agreed with the sentiment.

Tucson is losing population in relation to what’s happening elsewhere in Arizona and that means it’s losing political clout. The lack of direction being shown by the current Tucson City Council members will come back to haunt their successors. This will start to manifest itself after the next census numbers come out when the region loses one, possibly two, legislative districts. And when those district boundaries are drawn, no amount of gerrymandering will keep much of a voice in the Legislature Within the region, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, Marana and unincorporated metro areas are literally running circles around Tucson…….MORE

22nd February
2009
written by JHiggins

(Editor’s Note: This was veteran newsman Steve Emerine’s first column for Inside Tucson Business. It appeared in the June 20, 2005, issue and dealt with an idea at the time to build a 27-story high-raise in downtown Tucson called the Century Tower. Estimates were that it would cost $60 million to $70 million. That week, the Tucson City Council decided against giving Bob McMahon, owner of Metro Restaurants, and Don Martin, owner of Competitive Engineering, their requested exclusive negotiating rights to buy the city-owned property for the tower. As a result McMahon and Martin never pursued the idea.

We reprint the column in tribute to Steve Emerine and as an example of the knowledge and institutional memory he brought to local issues.)

So where in the world did restaurant owner Bob McMahon and manufacturer Don Martin get that idea of building a 27-story high-rise next to the Joel Valdez Library in the middle of downtown Tucson? Are they crazy? Well, it wasn’t their idea. And no, they’re not crazy.

For 40-plus years, experts have told officials in cities whose downtowns have crumbled because of outlying shopping centers with plenty of free parking to do exactly what McMahon and Martin are proposing.

They told Tucson to do it. I wrote stories mentioning buildings like the McMahon-Martin proposal when I covered City Hall in the 1960s for the Tucson Daily Citizen (the afternoon paper’s official name when it was owned by the William A. Small family.)

In those days, urban experts were urging cities to let the private sector build tall structures with underground parking, retail stores at street level, several floors of office space, upscale residential units above the offices, and a restaurant or night-club on the top floor.

The last idea was the only one Tucson adopted then. We had the Skyroom, which later became the Tucson Press Club, at the top of the nine-story Arizona Land Title Building at the northwest corner of Stone Avenue and Alameda Street, and the posh Old Pueblo Club later took over the top two floors of the Tucson Federal Savings Tower south of Pennington Street on the east side of Stone.

Buildings at those locations are now owned by Pima County. The title building was gutted and rebuilt to house development services. The former savings tower is mostly occupied by county lawyers. And the night-clubs and restaurants in both buildings are gone.

Tucson finally jumped on the national urban renewal bandwagon, but it followed advice from other urban planners to pursue the tourism and convention business. Once historial neighborhoods that had been taken over by sleazy bars, flop houses, prostitutes, drug dealers and other frowned-upon uses were condemned.

They were replaced by the Tucson Convention Center Arena, Music Hall and Leo Rich Theatre, the hotel currently known as the Radisson City Center (Editor’s note: now the Hotel Arizona), and the rambling multi-colored La Placita complex. Recommendations to build a building like McMahon and Martin have suggested were put on hold.

City officials were told that the Diamonds department store chain would anchor La Placita. When Diamonds decided to go to shopping centers and not downtown, the promoters swore La Placita would thrive anyway with restaurants and lots of small shops and offices on all levels.

That didn’t work. In hindsight, it might have if they had let people live on upper floors of La Placita so the ground-floor businesses could have some customers within walking distance. When that idea was proposed later, the cost of adding adequate plumbing for residential uses was too high.

So La Placita joined the title building and the savings tower building to house more offices for government workers to hang out in from 8 to 5, five days a week.

That brings us back to McMahon and Martin, who want a six-month option to buy land next to the library at its appraised market value so they can study the feasibility of their tower idea. If it will work, they would buy the land and go ahead. If not, the city would keep the land.

Some opponents decry the loss of a grassy patch next to the library and say the tower would block their views of the mountains and the old Pima County Courthouse.

But the grass is relatively new, replacing what was an old green-colored office building and a parking garage. And some of the views have already been blocked by other things.

At least the tower would help hide that ugly red cockroach statue at the library.

13th February
2009
written by JHiggins

I just got word that Steve Emerine has passed after a medical procedure. Steve was a voice in Tucson that will be difficult if not impossible to duplicate. Steve brought so many perspectives to an issue. He was a newspaper man, elected county assessor, political consultant and radio/TV personality. 

I met Steve a few years ago. He was one of the first few calls I made when I was contemplating a run for office. He was candid and open and gave me some great advice.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading his weekly column in Inside Tucson Business and often referenced his posts HERE, HERE and HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE.

The last correspondence I had with Steve was an email, which I was telling him about Facebook as a way for him to promote his column. Here is Steve’s reply;

Sorry, Joe, but my antiquated computer can't access Facebook, U-Tube, etc. -- steve
10th January
2009
written by JHiggins

People have asked me why we reprint Emerine’s articles in their entirety here on our blog. My simple answer is that Steve speaks truth to power. His institutional knowledge of our region makes his opinion’s especially pointed. In our world of 24 hour news cycles and spin induced smoke and mirrors, Steve sums up the issues presented to our community in about a clear as way possible. We are glad he has a platform to preach from, we hope to give him another pulpit with our blog.

This weeks article opinion is addressing the our local governments approach towards funding of our law enforcement agencies. FBI statistics show violent crime and murder decreasing all over the county. Locally we had a record breaking year in homicides. What’s governments core function again?

 While crime rises, local politicos look to spend money elsewhere

Published on Saturday, January 10, 2009

Only Tucson and Pima County would insist on doing more crazy things than a columnist could comment on 52 times in a year.

Republican Mayor Bob Walkup and Democratic Council members Regina Romero, Rodney Glassman, Karin Uhlich, Shirley Scott, Steve Leal and Nina Trasoff use every opportunity they get to profess their undying support for Tucson police.

The men and women in blue need that backing. Tucson just experienced 74 murders in 2008 – more than in any year in history.

But the mayor and council are about to cut three proposed police academy classes to only one, knowing that it won’t produce enough new officers to replace those the department will lose through retirements and resignations.

Yet the mayor and council are also about to approve $7.6 million in bonds to build new solar panels on seven city buildings.

Why? Because they want some “free” federal money and solar power is a cool topic.

The federal government would pay part of the interest on the bonds, leaving the principal and up to 2 percent of the interest for the city to pay.

Think of when your supermarket cashier announced you’d saved more than $20 on your last grocery shopping trip. It may have cost you $80, but look what that plastic store card did for you!

Are you tempted to come back after lunch to double your savings or do you realize you can’t afford to spend another $80?

Solar panels aren’t groceries, but we’re constantly bombarded by messages extolling the virtues of anything “green” or “sustainable.”

Most products using those words cost more, but we’re told that if we use them long enough, we’ll eventually save money.

That’s probably true. But it doesn’t mean a family whose breadwinner has just been laid off should rush to buy a green gizmo before their savings account is exhausted.

Richard Elías, the Democratic chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, and his colleagues (Democrats Ramón Valadez and Sharon Bronson and Republicans Ann Day and Ray Carroll) also have problems.

They must also reduce their current budget and make more cuts or raise taxes in 2009-2010. They’ll probably have to do both.

They’ve told Sheriff Clarence Dupnik they’ll try not to cut his current budget if he agrees to not replace any deputies he loses between now and June 30.

You can see that the supervisors, like the council members, also favor law enforcement and oppose crime. Unless it costs money.

Solar panels aren’t the supervisors’ addiction. They’re hooked on vacant land.

They’ve bought 159,000 acres of ranch land and acquired 127,280 acres of leased land in recent years, but it isn’t enough. Nearly 12 percent of Pima County land is still privately owned. Until last year, it was 13 percent.

The supervisors are about to adopt their fifth draft habitat conservation plan for their Sonoran Desert Conservation project. They’ll submit it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approval, then hold a bond election to raise more money for their addiction to dirt.

They plan to spend $324,000 a year from 2009 to 2011 and $568,000 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year to monitor and study their vacant land. The total cost for the next decade would be more than $40 million.

Despite a tight budget, they say they must ensure they own enough land and have enough rules in place to guarantee survival of their favorite critters.

Surely you’ve also been worried about the Huachuca water umbel, the lesser long-nosed bat, the Marana piranha, the southwestern willow flycatcher, the western yellow-billed cuckoo, the Gila chub and Mexican garter snake.

But neither you nor the supervisors have seen all of them or discussed their status with anyone.

I made up the third one on that list because I just might apply for a county grant of a couple of million bucks to keep writing about the Marana piranha.

Frankly, though, I’d really rather have a few more deputy sheriffs.

Contact Steve Emerine or e-mail comments for publication to editor@azbiz.com. This column appears weekly in Inside Tucson Business.

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