Computer nerd, Democrat, volunteer, news junkie, blogger, creator / "editor" of PocoBravo.com
Researching a story about you.
Right on, Mari.
Is Mr. Ortega employed by a community organization that involves itself in local politics? Also, is he affiliated with any of the current local political campaigns, TUSD or otherwise? It's fine if he is, but things like this should be disclosed.
I'm not sure any mix of legislative appointees is going to lead to a more confident public, or more satisfactory outcomes. Remember, the district's current governance configuration isn't what the voters approved. As for McCusker, his Rio Nuevo related actions thus far haven't demonstrated much regard for the city's fiscal well-being as a whole. In particular, his recent support for legislation to give away certain sales tax revenues generated within the district is wrongheaded: we're already planning property tax revenue giveaways through the city's new Central Business District GPLET, and may well find ourselves giving away some of our state shared revenue against our will, if the next legislature decides—as some have feared—to use a little-known provision in Rio Nuevo's enabling legislation authorizing it to withhold monies owed to Tucson if it deems the district isn't properly performing.
Bottom line: we can't afford to give away any more of our revenue, or any more of our land, or any more of our anything... and the community won't be well-served by a Phoenix-appointed, right-wing Rio Nuevo board, invariably determined to use Tucson's public treasure to feather the nests of their business associates. That's what we had with Jodi Bain, and that's what we'll get with Fletcher McCusker. It's not what voters want, and it's not what they voted for.
It's cool. We're all about civility around here. :)
Thanks replying to my comment. As to your remark "one would hope the head of a state party would have a bit more integrity than that," keep in mind that Mr. Heredia is not the head of of Arizona's (or anyone else's) state party. He's simply its lead operational staffer, and he serves at the pleasure of the party's officers.
The "head" of the Arizona Democratic Party is Chairman Bill Roe. You can learn more about the ADP's leadership here:
Lots of confusing stuff here. A few points of clarification, if I may: the parties do not, as is claimed above, maintain their own voter databases. The Arizona Democratic Party uses a commercial, web-based service called NGP VAN (or just "The VAN"), which provides publicly available voter data to campaigns through a highly configurable interface, making it easy to design lists for canvassing and other outreach efforts. But the information availed to campaigns via this system is not maintained by the parties, nor is it, as stated above, "proprietary" in any sense of the word. It's just public voter data obtained through county recorders' offices, packaged and formatted by a commercial system designed to facilitate campaigns. (In other words: the VAN system itself is proprietary, but the data it handles is not.)
Anyone can learn more about the VAN here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGP_VAN
Also, the Arizona Secretary of State is not the custodian of voter data. (e.g. who's registered where, their party affiliations, how often they vote, etc.) That's the responsibility of County Recorders, and the data is public record. They'll happily provide it, usually for a small fee, upon receiving the appropriate type of written request.
I hadn't heard anything about the Arizona Democratic Party's Executive Committee denying Arreguin access to the VAN prior to reading this post, but if such a decision was made, this should be reflected in the committee's meeting minutes—something I'd certainly ask, if I were a journalist covering this story, to take a look at. The ADP's meetings are public, so I'd also ask Aguirre and Arreguin whether they attended, or even asked to. I'd also be inclined to ask the Arreguin campaign just what "paperwork," exactly, they provided the Secretary of State's office in hopes of obtaining "voter files," whatever they may have meant by that.
To be sure, however: neither the ADP, nor any of its affiliates, are exclusive gatekeepers of voter data. While they may, at their own discretion and expense, subscribe to a fancy service that formats and manipulates this data for their purposes, anyone can obtain any of the data from the appropriate County Recorder.
The false choice between towering apartment buildings such as those at the center of this proposal, and the mini-dorms we've been fussing over for years now, raises an important question about the supposed shortage of student housing we keep hearing about: what, exactly, do they mean by "student housing" anyway? Because really, we're talking about private, off-campus apartments. Of a particular kind.
There is certainly not a shortage of residential rental vacancies in Tucson. What distinguishes the modern, purpose-built student developments from ordinary-folk rental accommodations (like what I and probably you lived in in college) is, to be quite frank, luxury. We could, if we wanted to be painfully honest, just say there's a shortage of teen-oriented luxury/party rentals around the university, and that's getting in the way of the Board of Regents' growth strategy. There's just not enough swank living around the campus for kids from households that can afford $25,494 in annual tuition (that's what it is for non-resident undergrads this year, and it'll soon go up) and would happily shell out that much, or even more, on posh digs for their wayward Wildcats.
At a crowded public hearing on January 26, Stephen Bus of Campus Acquisitions (the slated to build the 14-story mega-dorm with a rooftop swimming pool at Speedway and Tyndall) told the audience this:
"We do student housing nationwide. And one of the key factors that goes into a parent's and a student's decision on what school to attend is availability of new, upscale housing with nice finishes, amenities and located close to campus."
That's right: new, upscale housing with nice finishes and amenities. (You know, like a rooftop pool and hot tub. If you check the website you can also read about the steam rooms, tanning beds and more.) Anyhow, Mr. Bus went on:
"And when it comes down to the decision of that parent to decide if they want to go to the University of Arizona or some other school, that's a factor that weighs in heavily. And so we think it's important for the long term competitiveness of the University of Arizona."
So there you have it. He's probably telling us more than he even should.
It would all be good and fine if the long-term competitiveness of the University of Arizona could painlessly be prioritized above all else for City of Tucson taxpayers, whose scarce public funds are already financing a modern streetcar project that will heavily subsidize the university's growth at the expense of taxpayers miles beyond its periphery, and whose roads are crumbling with no real remedy in sight. The university, after all, is an enormously important entity. But it's not more important than the city itself, or the interests of the folks who live and vote in it. And that seems to be what's gotten lost in this conversation.
The City Council's historic deference to neighborhoods has long been an angle of political attack for regional growth lobbies, and sometimes it's easy to forget that the university itself is among them. We go out of our way to do right by our beloved U of A—in this case, going so far as to play Punch the Hippie with the West University Neighborhood Association. But to do wrong by our neighborhoods, regardless of how tantalizing the hors d'oeuvres might be on the other end of the discussion, is to do wrong by our voters and taxpayers. And it appears this council, minus Karin Uhlich much to her credit, did just that.
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