SOLAR SNAKE OIL: The Tucson City Council last week voted to dump another $250,000 on Civano, the so-called "solar village" to be built on the far, far southeast side.
That's on top of the $3 million in hard-earned taxpayer money the Council has already blithely agreed to fork over for water and sewer lines, and another $4 million for parks and even a satellite city hall, for this unmitigated piece of feel-good crap.
Don't get us wrong--we're all for solar energy, sustainability and warm, fuzzy pajamas with little bunny feet. We just think if Tucson taxpayers are footing the bill, it ought to be done in town, where people live, instead of way the hell out there. How, precisely, does encouraging urban sprawl--not to mention killing even more saguaros--contribute to our town's sustainability, anyway?
Arizona Daily Star reporter Joe Burchell last week noticed the folks promoting this project have of late been calling it "Civano, Arizona" in their literature. What form of madness it is that would allow Mayor George Miller and his majority on the council to attack the formation of new communities in this valley as a possible threat to Tucson's future--as they did recently--while giving money to a development group that clearly thinks its baby should be a separate community?
The majority council clowns--Miller, Michael Crawford, Janet Marcus and Shirley Scott--backed down somewhat on the satellite city hall deal--but only after Burchell revealed they'd voted to approve it. Oh, we didn't know it was there, they whined. Uh, just because they approved it doesn't mean we really have to buy it, said City Manager Luis Gutierrez. Yeah, right. This embarrassing little episode prompts us to wonder how often the Growth Lobby sharks get what they want simply by bribing city staffers to slip one over on an ignorant city council.
And where's Ward 4 City Councilwoman Shirley Scott on this thing? Looking forward to moving out to her new solar-powered office in the sticks, no doubt. (Memo to Shirley: Take plenty of toilet paper--the nearest decent shopping is miles away.) Of course, before she moves way the hell out there, Shirley will be moving into a "temporary" east side council office, which is being prepared for her--at a cost of $200,000. Temporary!
But then Shirley's a gal who thinks nothing of spending $3,000 or more of taxpayer money--or did the Growth Lobby foot the bill, Shirley?--on an all-expense-paid trip to Australia to study "sustainability," so that she can better understand Civano's goals. Yeah, we believe that, just like we believe Shirley's always got the best interests of her ward at heart, and nevermind that the growth sharks might buy more nuts and bolts from her family-owned fastener business if she votes the way they want her to.
Meanwhile, people in Shirley's ward are wondering when the crappily-built roads will be repaired. And they'd still like workable mass transit, decent parks and a whole bunch of other stuff. Guess that'll all have to wait until Civano--where nobody is living right now--gets its oversized sewer lines at taxpayer expense.
And why are we not surprised those oversized lines will also help out legendary land speculator Don Diamond's crime against nature and our community, otherwise known as Rocking K?
Ya wanna get rich in America? Just make everybody think you're giving 'em what they want--and then you can drive the whole mooing lot of 'em to the meat-packing plant.
BUSINESS AS USUAL: The City of Tucson had an experienced, knowledgeable hand in Film Office Director Tom Hilderbrand. He always did a professional and impartial job of smoothing the way for Hollywood types and other production outfits wishing to take advantage of our town's scenic splendors. But then City Councilman Michael Crawford, apparently sucking up to the good ol' boys who once ruled the movie business in this town--while enriching themselves and excluding others, we might add--got involved in the act, pushing hard for his own candidate to replace Hilderbrand, who hadn't been planning on leaving.
However, once Crawford's sleazy little scheme was exposed (See "Disquiet On The Set," Tucson Weekly, February 27), the poster boy for the local power structure appeared to back off, spreading a line of bullshit that he never really wanted to replace Hilderbrand. Hard to believe, when Crawford's staff of young lawyers were bad-mouthing Hilderbrand to his fellow municipal film officers all over the country.
Hilderbrand quit in disgust anyway, after City Manager Luis Gutierrez, in an attack of--what? fuzzy thinking? or an overwhelming compulsion to ass kiss the powers behind Crawford's assault on Hilderbrand?--announced the need for yet another study of the Film Office. Gutierrez made this odd announcement hard on the heels of an extensive city audit which recommend Hilderbrand be given another staffer and even more money to woo the L.A. film companies.
All of which is old news.
But now we hear Hilderbrand's young assistant, Suzanne Dhruv, who'd been running the office for the month or so since Hilderbrand quit, is also bailing out.
Perhaps Dhruv became discouraged when Gutierrez moved the Film Office to a closet at the awful City Hall annex downtown, in preparation for its absorption into the city's crack Office of Economic Development.
The Economic Development folks should do a great job attracting the giants of the film industry to our town--they've certainly pulled in a plethora of telemarketing firms in the last few years. Telemarketing, show biz--it's all the same, right? Anybody with an MBA from a third-rate business school--or better yet, a law degree--should be able to handle those Hollywood dudes.
This one's gonna be real fun to watch, people.
(Note to the Economic Development nerds: No, you can't keep those fancy Film Office movie posters.)
MINOR ERUPTION OF MT. CARROLL: Local Republican leaders know as little about newly appointed supervisor Ray Carroll as he does about them. GOP County Chair Toni Hellon tried to remedy the problem by setting up a meeting with a group of GOP precinct types. General consensus is the meeting was a disaster.
Carroll was hammered from the beginning over his choice of staff, specifically aide Scott Egan, whose background as a one-time commie is hardly reassuring to the blue-hair set. And Carroll, defending his friend, reacted by telling his critics to stuff it. This, in turn, offended some others who were still neutral about him. Not an auspicious start for a new GOP office holder.
But in fairness to Carroll, there are a number of folks who've been planning to ambush him since the day he was sworn in. They include the supporters of Brenda Even, widow of the late District 4 Supervisor John Even, the man Carroll was appointed to replace. Many of these folks are offended that anyone other than Brenda applied.
Apparently some Republicans believe there's an arcane variation on the law of primogeniture that requires granting offices held by someone who dies to the surviving spouse. And cementheads and the Growth Lobby are pissed at Carroll for voting against that environmental nightmare known as the ASARCO mining company, as well as stating he'd vote against further rezonings of the historic Canoa Ranch south of Tucson.
Meanwhile, Even has all but publicly announced her candidacy. We predict she won't be the only one to jump into the GOP primary. At any rate, Carroll's opponents have found out they can get him to blow his cool with the right provocation.
FORKED TONGUES: City of Tucson leaders have sounded the alarm against new incorporations in this valley, and they're warning folks about the high cost of creating cities. They're telling would-be incorporaters (while they simultaneously threaten to sue them to end any attempt they might make for genuine self-determination) that it's really expensive and can't be done on revenue sharing alone.
Councilman Steve Leal, who generally opposes annexation, says it costs five to seven times the $259 per year available in state funds to service the average resident, and Councilwoman Janet Marcus, who supports the current annexation policy, was quoted as saying, "There's a need to get real about the cost of servicing urban areas."
Well, OK gang, but pardon us if that leads to a simple question: If it costs so damn much to service urban residents, why does the city council keep annexing more of them? And, more importantly, as Leal often asks, how does that benefit current residents?
The answer to that last question is, it doesn't.
PROOF THAT CRAP IS KING: The Pima County Republican Club always has a tough time finding speakers in the summer, particularly in odd-numbered years when the GOP has all but given up promoting candidates for city council.
But their July 15 guest indicates just how barren the fields have become: The scheduled speaker is KTUC's Tom Hassey.
What makes this one fun is that Hassey is billed as KTUC's "news director."
Excuse us, but the station that is billed as "news-talk-sports" doesn't subscribe to a wire service, has no one assigned to gathering news, and doesn't even subscribe to a daily newspaper. The only news the station carries is the CBS hourly satellite feed acquired by turning a switch, when the minimum-wage board op doesn't muff it.
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