Guest Commentary

The fiscal conservative must wonder: Is this the era of the Old Pueblo Politburo?

Many moons ago, I watched a Tucson City Council meeting on television. At the time, the proceedings consisted of Tom Volgy engaging in wild rants about how Mayor Lew Murphy was the villain, while Lew Murphy placidly accommodated him. I could stomach little more than 10-minute doses of that circus.

Nowadays, I am much older and mellower, and I can actually sit through things as appalling as Fahrenheit 911. Yet, it was with some trepidation that I hit the "PLAY" button, launching the Tucson City Council meeting of Dec. 13.

Mayor "Uncle Bob" Walkup began the proceedings by turning them over to Councilman-for-Life Steve Leal. Steve introduced a well-choreographed show organized by the Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC). The show opened with some guy listing all of PCIC's affiliate churches. As they were named, people in the audience would stand and hold up signs.

The guy stressed that the needs of "our children and youth" were of utmost importance.

I figured he must have a huge family to resort to begging the council; then I realized that he was actually laying claim to all the children and youth in Tucson! Had I any children, I would have been deeply offended by his laying claim to my kids without even talking to me about it.

If you get a chance, go to the PCIC Web site and click the "issues" button. The list of issues is little different than that which you might find on the ACORN Web site--or any other leftist front-group's, for that matter. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

A string of guys went to the microphone and offered encouragement, and anecdotes that supported the idea that "our children and youth" would be saved if huge sums of tax money were dumped into PCIC social programs and KIDCO.

At first, I felt rather sorry for these guys, who were reduced to begging the City Council for money. It makes one wonder about the quality of their programs. Then I noticed that they were exhibiting no shame whatsoever. In fact, on more than one occasion, they made reference to "this council" with gleams in their eyes. It was as if they were saying, "We know you guys will reach into other people's pockets for us!"

The council tossed $500,000 to PCIC for Jobpath. Next came a discussion of KIDCO. What the acronym represents, I have no idea, but I do know that KIDCO is the city of Tucson's after-school child-care service. During the election, the Democrats expressed disgust over the fact that it was nearly free to poor people, and rich people had to pay a token fee.

I think it was during the KIDCO discussion that Nina Trasoff said, "I want to change the vocabulary. I don't see local law enforcement as the Tucson Police Department. I see it as the Ministry of Love."

Just kidding. I made that up. She really said, "... change the vocabulary. ... I don't see Jobpath, or KIDCO, or other programs we're discussing right now as social service projects. I see them as investments in our future."

Cheers erupted from the PCIC peeps. Note to Nina: The campaign's over!

All agreed that, without expanding KIDCO, the youth of today would develop into unemployed criminals, because they would be aimlessly wandering the streets after school. Frankly, I had no idea that there were so many parentless children in Tucson, but that would explain why the city does not simply give parents vouchers to use at the child-care center of their choice. After all, it's not the job of the city to crush the local day-care industry.

In the end, they voted to eliminate the KIDCO waiting lists. I'm not sure what that means, but I don't think it simply means that the lists are headed for the shredder.

At this point, I was beginning to experience a significant increase in my respiration, and a tightening in my stomach. I kept telling myself, "This is not political payoffs; this is not the beginning of an orgy of inappropriate municipal spending; this is not a vanguard of churches that have abandoned the transforming power of Christ for the transforming power of socialism." But the gut was not buying it.

I reached out and punched the button that read "STOP."