Double Take

Our business leaders have our best interests at heart. If you don't believe us, just read the 'Star.'

Ah, the Star. If there's one thing we all appreciate, it's a paper that arrives sometime before noon almost every day and openly kowtows to its major advertisers. Media that cleverly manipulate consumers, plumping for the interests of the powerful while appearing to report the news without bias--well, I think we all despise those scoundrels with every iota of the temporizing judiciousness and antique prose style we've garnered while perusing the Star for something to read besides house ads and stories about pets.

By contrast with those slick operators in big-time markets, the folks at the Arizona Daily Star reassure us, come rain or come shine, come drought, by Gosh, or come flood, that they'll keep plugging whatever Don Diamond and Jim Click want, and they'll do it with a transparency that's heart-warmingly and traditionally Southern Arizonan. Here in the Old Pueblo, we've got news professionals who don't even need a payoff to sell out: They repeat what they're told because they really believe plutocracy is the best form of government.

51 business leaders surveyed by Morrison Institute express preference for continuing to make big bags of money without annoying rules, Star reports.

So, you no doubt shared our confusion when, mid-April, we were stunned by this above-the-fold headline: "2 studies receive skeptical reviews." Good (pardon our language) Lord! Since the Morrison Institute study primarily under discussion was an analysis of the doubts, concerns and trepidations of "51 (unnamed) business leaders," we were stymied, not to say dismayed. How could the suits who rule us be skeptical about their own opinions? And so soon? It was goosebump time over the old muesli and java, we don't mind admitting.

Fortunately, all was clarified the next day, again on the front page ("Desert plan's effectiveness questioned") and, for good measure, also in the Corrections. There we learned that "A headline Thursday incorrectly described local reaction to two studies. ... The skepticism was directed at the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, not at the Morrison studies."

It was all the fault of a silly headline writer, and, boy, we bet he got sent to the woodshed! When we saw the editors back at it, quietly finessing the views of 51 persons into "local reaction," our breath ceased bate: The paper that torpedoed the Citizens Growth Management Initiative, backed Fred Ronstadt and belittles anyone opposed to the city's transportation plan was back on track. The Star was still taking orders from on high, and the wishes of the other residents of the area remained comfortingly irrelevant. Whew.

However, the day before--we revert that aforementioned, anxiety-fraught Thursday morning--relief was still 24 anxious hours away, more or less.

Soaring value of home stuns homeowners not interviewed by Institute

"A majority" of our leaders, we read, "believe that the proposed Sonoran Desert Protection Plan will raise home prices." All equanimity fell by the wayside, and an appalled hush, broken only by the sirens on Broadway and the somewhat nearer yapping of small dogs, descended on our "inner-city" 1950s brick ranch-style home--which, we had been devastated to read just two days before ("Trend hits Tucson: Tearing down to build anew"), has been appreciating rapidly and will almost certainly continue to do so. We were still trying to come to terms with this distressing rise in our real worth--not to mention the news that Tucson had taken a direct hit by a trend. Now this.

"What about 'affordable housing' for newcomers?" we queried, with understandable consternation. "Where will all the Iowans go if Pima County isn't the cheapest place in the Western world to move to? Where else could they find such lovely weather, botanical marvels and an indigenous population eager to pave roads and build sewers for them, free of charge?"

As you can imagine, perplexing issues kept arising over a domestic scene characterized by gradually desiccating grapefruit halves and proliferating doubts. "Won't high property values turn Tucson into a veritable ghost town--like Manhattan, San Francisco, San Diego and Portland? My heavens! Look at London and Tokyo! Haven't we all learned anything at all?"

The prospect of the urban annihilation threatened by the Protection Plan forced us to take a deep, calming drink of bottled water--delivered in quantity every two weeks, and, we believe, TCE-free--and to check the lock on the security door after allowing one dachshund to saunter in while the other mosied out.

"And what if we were to lose the irreplaceable charm of shade-free, gray-graveled swathes of post-war tract houses knee-deep in dried Bermuda grass? What would Tucson be without wretched little termite-riddled, electricity-guzzling boxes stretching as far as the eye can see? Could we really carry on if the expense and inconvenience of building in virgin desert led to the ticky-tack houses, around say, 22nd and Swan, being torn down and rebuilt with something pretty and solid and energy-efficient?"

Finally, we contemplated the most pause-giving eventuality of all: "Might we, ourselves, forgetting that we live in paradise, be tempted to sell our irksomely appreciated property, and, leaving behind the unique desert whose incessant improvement by backhoes refreshes and inspires us on a daily basis, move to the beach? Or maybe Tuscany--with or without these awful little dogs?"

Don! Jim! Could we get a major ad campaign here? A farmhouse near Siena is calling our names.