Tough Love

Men's Journal magazine just named Tucson as one of its five Best Places to Live (along with Portland, Ore., San Diego, Seattle and Memphis, Tenn.). I have to ask: How idiotic are the Men's Journal staffers who decided this?

I haven't had a chance to get my hands on a print copy of the latest Men's Journal, so I don't know what criteria they used--all I've seen is a very abbreviated online version of the "Best Places to Live" feature, which didn't list said criteria. But no matter what the criteria are ... what were they thinking?

Now, to all of you civic boosters preparing to write screeds accusing me of being an unloyal, Tucson-hating bastard: Calm down. I love Tucson. If I didn't love this city, I wouldn't have bought my first house here. I wouldn't be here anymore if I didn't love it. But I also have my eyes open, and therefore realize that this city has much room to improve.

Our largest school district is a cash-strapped, dysfunctional mess. The Tucson Police Department is either so overwhelmed with crime, understaffed or incompetent--take your pick--that it doesn't even bother to send out officers to investigate crimes like car break-ins. Our downtown is lacking (thank God for the Rialto, Hotel Congress, the Fox Tucson Theatre and the other successful businesses and venues that give our central city some vibrancy); our region has no unified growth or water plan; and residents don't turn out to support teams like the Tucson Sidewinders.

Could Tucson one day be one of the nation's best places to live? Heck yeah. In some ways, it already is--but overall, Tucson is not there, yet. You'd have to be a complete idiot to objectively think it is.

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