B y J i m W r i g h t
TUCSON'S BUSINESS AND political leaders spared little effort or expense in their unsuccessful attempt to sink Prop 200, the initiative that would effectively force Tucson Water to recharge the city's CAP water allotment.
Several anti-Prop 200 campaigns flowed through Tucson over the last few months. The most expensive effort was the lawsuit filed to knock the initiative off the ballot. It lost, and it cost nearly $175,000, with the loser paying attorney's fees.
So who's paying? We don't know. Andy Federhar, the attorney for the anti-200 lawsuit, refuses to reveal the names of the folks who popped, or who will be popping for the legal fees.
We do know the names of the people who filed the lawsuit--and they all have one thing in common: membership in the Tucson 30, a self-appointed group of business and community leaders.
When the lawsuit proved unsuccessful, the Tucson 30 mounted a new effort to defeat Prop 200 at the ballot box. Forming a group called Tucsonans for Safe Water, the Tucson 30 began its campaign to convince us all that Prop 200 would result in poisoned groundwater and skyrocketing water bills.
Members of the Tucson 30 chaired the Tucsonans for Safe Water meetings, as well as hosting the fund-raising events, providing legal advice and serving as fiduciary officers for TSW. The Tucson 30 also contracted Lesher/Wilson Communications to perform a public opinion poll.
And who was paying for all of this? Again, we're not really sure. Tucsonans for Safe Water was less than forthcoming about its financial supporters in a report to the City Clerk, in which the contributors to the anti-200 campaign were not fully identified.
But we do know Mayor George Miller did his best to slow the flood of popular support for the initiative. Miller warned it would tie the hands of elected officials, and he whined to the morning daily the best way to stop growth in Tucson was to pass Prop 200--ironically, something many environmentally-minded residents would love to see.
He also used his mayoral campaign's bulk-mailing permit to send a scathing letter by former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini and car dealer Buck O'Rielly denouncing Prop 200 .
But Miller's biggest scare tactic was announcing that passage of Prop 200 would dry up Tucson's chances for a federally funded lake.
Terry Pollock, the advertising executive who acted as spokesman for the pro-200 forces, questioned Miller's use of the lake as an effective campaign tool.
"Does he think people are going to choose a lake over stinky CAP water for their family?" Pollock asked. "I don't get it."
Now that the measure has passed, it will be interesting to watch our community's self-appointed "leaders" working behind the scenes to ensure its failure.
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