Conservatives for Congress Group Doesn't Understand Energy Dependence

I am a Gabrielle Giffords contributor and volunteer, and I'd like to thank to Jim Nintzel for printing retired Lt. Gen. Norman Seip's reply to the cheap shot taken by Conservatives for Congress ("Drilling Down in CD 8," The Skinny, Sept. 9.)

Gen. Seip should have set Steve Christy and his fellow "conservatives" straight on the importance of energy dependence and climate change as national and international security issues, but they just don't get it. Christy thinks alternative energy might be "a nice discussion after a dozen or two other issues are addressed." Presumably, those issues would include the abolition of Social Security, Medicare, and all regulation of Wall Street.

It's understandable that Christy would view a call for fuel conservation as blasphemous. As an auto dealer, he lived well off the formula that more cars driving more miles equals bigger profits—human, social and environmental costs notwithstanding. It seems like there's not much conserve in Steve Christy's brand of "conservatism."

William C. Thornton

Jesse Kelly Doesn't Understand Giffords' Medicare Vote

Jesse Kelly evidently can't handle the truth. He unfairly maligns Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for her vote "to cut $500 billion from Medicare" ("CD 8: A Toss-up?" The Skinny, Sept. 16).

What Kelly tries to hide from the voters is the fact that the $500 billion cut applied to overpayments of taxpayer money to private insurance companies. Private insurance companies will still make a profit, but will receive payments at the same rate as traditional Medicare. Not a penny of the $500 billion was taken from the benefits to seniors. So Kelly is actually complaining about Giffords saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Grant Winston

Ignore the Oil-Funded Cato Institute; the Streetcar Is Worth Celebrating

C'mon powers that be, do we really have to go after each other and tear down the big community victories we have in our town?

The Rialto Theatre has been bringing thousands of people downtown on a regular basis, boosting business along Congress Street at night. How do we reward these good deeds by a dedicated nonprofit community board?

First, the city of Tucson sign commission goes after their vibrant and artistic sign murals, and then the newly Phoenix-appointed Rio Nuevo board threatens to force the Rialto into bankruptcy.

Now the Tucson Weekly wades into the muck with a cover story on our proposed modern streetcar system, which earlier this year won $63 million in federal money, jumpstarting construction and paving the way for hundreds of good jobs this year, and thousands more in coming years, as higher-density, mixed-use, environmentally friendly and community-oriented projects spring up along its tracks ("A Streetcar Named Development," Sept. 16).

Dave Devine and Molly McKasson start off the article by giving paragraph after paragraph to unsourced sewage spouted by libertarian Cato Institute economist Randal O'Toole, who would likely show up first on a Google search for "debunked Big Oil-funded huckster." O'Toole has made a cottage industry out of creating faked statistics with artfully chosen baselines in order to back up the arguments that his funders want him to make: Any investment in any public transit is a waste of money.

Then we finally get to actual quotes from actual Tucsonans who are actually building new, mixed-use, community-oriented projects along the route, creating tons of construction jobs in the middle of our recession. We read that the streetcar is the reason. Hmm.

We further read that the UA is planning to expand along the route, taking pressure off of near-campus neighborhoods and bringing thousands of students and scores of classrooms downtown. Hmm. Also sounds pretty good.

Not included in the article are huge additional streetcar-influenced projects such as the new Tucson Electric Power headquarters and the move of Providence Corporation to downtown, along with new restaurants, including the return of Janos Wilder. Hmm. Looks like the streetcar is working.

Strangely, in between the quotes from real Tucsonans, the writers throw in more off-base O'Toole quotes for the purpose of trying to contradict Tucson's truth with false insinuations.

The authors also quote someone from Tacoma, Wash., whose streetcar line is only one-quarter the length of ours, and some other folks talking about how the recession has slowed down development in other parts of the country. They do not point out that Tucson's downtown development is cranking up in spite of the recession—because of the streetcar.

I'm perplexed as to why Devine and McKasson insisted on such contortions to try to cast aspersions upon such an important tool in our smart-growth toolbox, given that they have in the past expressed such passion for reducing sprawl, increasing transportation options and increasing the quality of life in our urban core—especially since their own evidence indicates the streetcar is already working!

This common-sense investment is what works, and has been proven to work all over the country, including in Phoenix, where the article admits that their light-rail line caused more than $6 billion in private development. That's more jobs, more business, more housing and a stronger community.

And we're making it happen here, for us. This is something to celebrate!

District 28 state Rep. Steve Farley

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