FLOW JOB: Carol Zimmerman, one of five Democrats
vying to replace retiring Ward 6 Councilwoman Molly McKasson,
has a bit of campaign rhetoric she uses in speeches and campaign
Zimmerman likes to run through a list of special interests that try to influence water policy, from the state Department of Water Resources to the Tucson City Council, and then she adds the tag line, "On the other hand, there's you and me."
While it makes for good populist politics, perhaps Zimmerman shouldn't be so quick to separate herself from certain special interests who want to direct water policy. After all, her husband, Pete Zimmerman, is on the payroll of one of the biggest special interests this year. So far, Pete's made nearly $24,000 working for the Safe and Sensible Water committee.
A thin disguise for the Growth Lobby, Safe and Sensible Water--an ironic name, if ever there was one--recently filed petitions to overturn Prop 200, the 1995 citizen's initiative that prohibited direct delivery of CAP water for five years. The new initiative will be on the November ballot; be sure to vote against it.
The Safe and Sensible folks have narrow financial support, but it runs plenty deep. They raised $25,100 from just three contributors: Broadway Realty and Trust ($15,000), Fairfield Green Valley ($10,000) and Falcon Pools, $100. Falcon Pools also loaned the committee its initial start-up money--another $15,000, which was repaid on April 15, just six days after the Broadway Realty contribution was received.
Broadway Realty is owned by almost-legendary second-string land speculator Joe Cesare, whose interest in water resources is fueled by his spectacularly greedy attempts to build the CAP terminal storage facility on land he and some cronies own. Cesare's made no secret of the fact that he wants to create a recreational lake at taxpayer expense. The water-quality issue, in his case, is secondary to his own personal lust for the big bucks.
Likewise, Fairfield Green Valley is not exactly acting from public spirit, but from a need to maintain that assurance of a 100-year water supply the state requires for big, ugly, desert-raping stuccobox developments and their attendant golf courses. The allocation of the water, even if it tastes and smells like crap, is clearly of more interest to this outfit than the quality of what you and your children might be forced to drink.
And then there's Falcon Pools, which is owned by that lovable and wacky Chuck Freitas, a defeated candidate for the Water Conservation District Board who has strong ties to the Growth Lobby on this and other endeavors. Yeah, we gotta make the world safe for pool-builders, Chuckles. And what the hell--the water's heavily chlorinated anyway, right?
Now, we think Pete Zimmerman is a great guy and a competent political operative, but he's also a longtime running dog for the Growth Lobby. Given that--and the fact that Carol Zimmerman supports direct delivery of CAP water and the city's continued efforts to annex ever-outward--we're concerned that should she win the Democratic primary, voters will have traded the independent representation of Molly McKasson for a council member who will do all the showcase liberal stuff and, when the moment of truth comes, roll over for the big guys.
Remember that the next time Carol talks about "you and me."
COUNCIL-CANDIDATE BUMS: All candidates for the September city council primary signed contracts making them eligible for matching funds once they have received 200 contributions of at least $10 each from city residents. So how many of them have contributed to that fund by checking off the contribution block on their water bills?
Incidentally, three Democrats from Ward 6--Alison Hughes, Carol Zimmerman and Leo Pilachowski--have officially applied for matching funds, as has Ward 5 Councilman Steve Leal, who faces no opposition in the primary or general election this year.
PERHAPS IT WAS MERELY AN OPTICAL ILLUSION: For some inexplicable reason, The Arizona Daily Star this past weekend managed to move beyond its usual Sunday morning monopoly on pointless drivel to achieve a refreshing--to those of us who are regular subscribers, anyway--degree of adequacy.
Besides real reporting, some of Sunday's articles featured evidence of actual independent thought by the writers, instead of the mere parroting of government and corporate handouts the Star usually shovels at us. Amazing. And it was about the second time this year the normally moribund Sunday Star, as a whole, has risen well above our low expectations. Do we sense a positive trend here? We can only hope.
But the Star's Sunday's story mix did include at least one major piece of crap--namely editorial page editor Jim Kiser's elitist lament that business "leadership" is lacking in our community.
"It is not," Kiser wrote, "that anybody thinks business has all the solutions to Tucson's problems. But it's certain that neither do city or county government. And community decision-making is harmed when some of the most influential, capable and accomplished of Tucson's residents tend primarily to the more narrow concerns of the corporations..."
Hey, Jimbo, the influence of selfish business interests is already pernicious enough in this growth-addled town--do you really need to promote more of the same? Why not simply encourage all citizens, not just business types, to become more involved in politics and government--or do you think democracy is best left only to relatively well-off white guys you euphemistically label "consensus builders?"
Apparently so. Kiser proceeds to offer tepid praise for something called the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, currently composed of the usual suspects--Growth Lobby heavies Charles Bayless, of Tucson Electric Power; David Mehl, a major land rapist whose contempt for the average citizen is clearly on exhibit in Marana; David Wright, an Arizona Bank bigwig (what? Jim Click was too busy?); Greg Shelton, of Hughes' Death From The Skies, Inc.; Hank Amos III, a real estate sharpie and Don Diamond running dog; Si Schorr, a behind-the-scenes political mug and developer-licking lawyer; and last and certainly least, Larry Adlrich, the big Tucson Newspapers kahuna, who works under the same roof as Kiser.
Yeah, these guys will sure help fix things around here. In fairness, Kiser did point out this crew represents growth-happy companies; and, in his own weak-tea way, seemed to imply that many of us think these sorts of self-appointed "leadership" efforts are a crock.
But come on: Under all his blather about "consensus-building" and the need for a "broad" vision of our collective future, what Kiser is really advocating is some sort of "guidance" by latter-day business technocrats, who supposedly know better than the rest of us what it takes to make society work. And never mind that in their heart of hearts these guys would cream their jeans to see Tucson's population explode even beyond the current crazy growth rate.
However vague and benign, plutocracy still plutocracy. And you don't have to be a communist to find it repugnant--some Americans still believe in democracy. If The Arizona Daily Star really had our community's best interests at heart, Kiser would be pushing for stronger political parties here, rather than brown-nosing, however timidly, these relatively rich and powerful men.
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