Bulldozer Bucks

The Growth Lobby Raises Plenty Of Stuccodollars For Growing Smarter.

By Chris Limberis

DON'T YOU JUST love grassroots politics? The folks at Preserve Arizona do.
Backers of Proposition 303, a piece of the Growing Smarter plan created to derail the poorly run Citizens Growth Management Act, know all about the little guy. Why just look at the group's campaign finance reports. For example, for the period between August 20 and September 28, Preserve Arizona collected 36 contributions of $10 or less. Included in that were six $1 donations. The first few pages of that disclosure are downright heartwarming.

But then we get serious. Happy with your gas bill? There's a nifty $15,000 from Southwest Gas. Pleased with your check charges and ATM fees? Here's $50,000 each from Bank of America and Bank One. Want another Circle K on your way? Here's another $50,000. Like Jerry's Kids? As in Colangelo. Here's $12,500 apiece from your Phoenix Suns and your Arizona Diamondbacks. And the good people at St. Joseph's Hospital are interested in environmental preservation. It shows with St. Joe's $10,000 contribution. The pro-development Southern Arizona Leadership Council of Tucson gave $5,000.

Currents The Neighbors for Planning and Preservation, another shell for Growing Smarter's Proposition 303, reported $60,000 in the previous reporting period. That came from the $25,000 from Tom Browning, executive director of the Greater Phoenix Leadership; $25,000 from Steve Roman, senior vice president of marketing from Bank One and the treasurer of the whole pro-Prop. 303 effort; and $10,000 from Rob Jones, the senior vice president/ general counsel at mega builder Del Webb.

The beauty of this campaign is that through September 28 the pro-Prop 303 people had raised $406,801 compared to the $200--that's two hundred dollars--raised by the environmentalist opposition to Prop 303.

In the next finance period, ending October 14, the big boys raised another $126,000 to bring the total to $532,000. Included was $5,000 from Steve Betts, the smart lawyer who represents Tucson's legendary land speculator Don Diamond and an author of the Growing Smarter plan. Another $25,000 each came from U S West, Norwest Bank and Suncor Development.

Opponents reported raising $25,000. The Sierra Club is spending $20,000 on radio ads.

Proposition 303's centerpiece is the $220 million to be spent on open space acquisition and preservation over the next 11 years. The annual $20 million still must be authorized by the Legislature. There are no guarantees, which is why environmentalists are more than suspicious. Speculators could easily benefit from public acquisition.

Proposition 303 also forbids growth boundaries and impact fees.

You could believe that the Growth Lobby has finally realized that rampant growth is eroding our quality of life. Or you could believe the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, who say Growing Smarter is just a Trojan horse designed to derail real environmental reform.

Our money's on the latter. Vote NO. TW

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