Thank You, Judge Brown

His Recent Superior Court Ruling Boldly Reveals Just Who's In Charge Here In Arizona.

By Emil Franzi

THE RECENT DECISION by Michael Brown, Pima County Superior Court's presiding judge, enjoining the Tortolita Town Council from contracting, spending any money, or otherwise defending itself, illustrates major principles that apply to all Arizonans.

Brown justified his ruling on grounds that Tortolita otherwise might force out-of-town land owners, who are "unrepresented," to actually pay a few taxes. But the importance of his ruling extends way beyond Tortolita, and all citizens should thank him for clarifying the rules.

One of the long-standing bitches in this state is that regular folks just can't seem to discover once and for all who's really in charge of the political structure. This situation compares disfavorably to Illinois, a state where the most casual observer can easily note where the real power lies.

Currents Some think Illinois, and particularly Chicago, is one of the most politically corrupt places in America. But unlike Arizonans, Illinois citizens know it, because their media regularly report it and the feds regularly pursue it. Too many naive Arizonans believe our game is actually on the level.

So Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods sues a group of people who've formed a town--not over the constitutionality of the town's formation, mind you, but because the townsfolks' collective attitude could injure out-of-state developers. We're not making this up--it's in the suit. The AG wants the town enjoined from legal self-defense because those out-of-state land owners could be "irreparably harmed."

Brown, in granting the injunction, not only agreed, but jumped over the issues presented in that suit, second-guessed the actions of the higher-ranking court of appeals concerning another suit, and opined that ultimately the unconstitutionality of the original incorporation will probably be upheld. In doing so he clearly spelled out the real pecking order of legal rights in Arizona:

First, certain governments have more rights than not only their own citizens and residents, but also more rights than other citizens who live up to six miles away, a throwback to the middle ages where neighboring serfs farmed for the town.

Second highest in the rights hierarchy are land owners, regardless of residence, whose privileges grow proportionately with the size of their holdings, including built-in tax dodges--another ancient colonial concept.

Finally, there are mere citizens and homeowners who are allowed some privileges, as long as they don't get too uppity.

Putting aside that our forebears shot at redcoats for less, at least Tortolita residents probably will not face mass deportation to New Mexico, which was the plight of dissident Bisbee miners who attempted to assert their rights in 1918.

Some critics are disappointed that Judge Brown didn't look at this hoary compilation of questionable privileges and proclaim it in clear violation of the basic principles of a free and democratic society. In his defense, Superior Court judges don't do that. They're as prone to political pressure from the establishment media and ruling elite as any other pol, as well as those higher in the judicial pecking order. They just like to pretend they aren't.

Which is how Arizona really differs from a state like Illinois--it comes down to pretense. We all know how crooked Chicago is--you can tell by the annual indictments. Part of that is due to journalists who actually report on government corruption in the present tense. The late Mike Royko regularly revealed what Mayor Richard J. Daley and others were doing. Of course, Daley never broke any laws--like our development establishment, he wrote 'em, leaving it to others to break 'em.

This explains Chicagoans' realistic attitude toward government. It's hard for them to respect their learned judiciary when 18 of them were hauled to jail in one day by the feds. They judge their pols not on what they grab or fix, but on what they leave on the table for the community. Chicago told the Bears to stuff it when they wanted city taxpayers to build them a new stadium. The people of Chicago wouldn't buy that big a fix, and Daley's son, the current mayor of Chicago, knew it.

Meanwhile, guys like Jerry Coangelo love Arizona's bush-league politicians and brown-nosing media. A sports columnist like The Arizona Daily Star's Greg Hanson would've been laughed into Wisconsin for proclaiming someone like Coangelo the greatest sports figure in Illinois history.

So we thank Michael Brown. He clearly explained that here those who hold property come ahead of mere citizens, that when it comes to basic rights governments stand well above their subjects and even neighboring subjects, and that non-resident property owners cannot be threatened with taxation without representation, a perversion of our founding national principles that sent absentee land owners packing with King George.

If nothing else, Brown's decision is proof that some government officials are still honest some of the time. TW

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