Simple Justice

Pima County Must Continue The Fight To Preserve The New Towns Of Casas Adobes And Tortolita.

By Emil Franzi

WE HAVE A terrible piece of news for The Tucson City Council, Mayor George Miller, the editorial boards of Tucson's two lousy daily newspapers, as well as a few air-heads in local TV newsrooms:

Casas Adobes and Tortolita are still towns.

Of course you wouldn't know that by the biased and convoluted comments and coverage floating around these days. But no court has yet issued an order for disincorporation. And it won't--until those two communities get a hearing on the constitutionality of the original 1961 law that disenfranchised anybody living within six miles of an already-incorporated community.

Currents What the Arizona Supreme Court did recently was refuse to hear an appeal on the state Appellate Court's ruling that a 1997 law was unconstitutional. The 1997 law purported to repeal a 1961 law which makes it all but impossible for those living near an existing incorporated community to incorporate themselves without the permission of the existing town.

The Supremes also decided against ruling on the original 1961 law, but have sent it back down through the court system to be heard at the Superior Court level.

Miller and his cohorts at the daily newspapers claim the towns can't exist because the law they used to incorporate is invalid. Meanwhile, Casas Adobes and Tortolita officials say: So what? The law that stopped us from incorporating in the first place is invalid, and we should be allowed to proceed.

Seems pretty simple to us.

But it's clearly over the heads of the Tucsoncentrics who are whining about all the money these lawsuits are costing. Excuse us, but the $240,000 these two towns have spent trying to defend themselves was incurred because the City of Tucson sued them. No one over at the Star/Citizen or Tucson City Hall seems to care how much it has cost Tucson taxpayers to challenge those incorporations.

Nor does anybody over there seem to give a rat's ass that while Tucson's petty turf-grabbing was going on, Pima County (where we all live and pay taxes) has lost millions in revenue-sharing funds to protect the mere fraction of those millions the City of Tucson would receive if the two towns are killed. Think about that next time one of those dorks belches a platitude about "intergovernmental co-operation."

Simply put, the incorporation foes' whining about all the money this court battle is costing are merely waiving a red herring. If Tortolita and Casas Adobes win their suits, they'll collect much more in state funds than either have spent trying to exist.

The real issue, of course, is control and power, and which property owners influence certain public officials. The real money-related questions Tucson residents should ask narrow-minded, mean-spirited power-happy pols like Miller are these:

  • Why are you spending so much of our tax money to keep these towns from determining their own future?

  • Why are you fighting so hard to keep a few state revenue-sharing bucks under your control, when so many more are being lost to Scottsdale, Tempe and elsewhere that could come into Pima County?

The net result of a Tucson victory in the courts will not accrue to Tucson, but to Marana and Oro Valley, which have already announced even more annexation plans for bleeding chunks of Tortolita and Casas Adobes. In fact Marana and Oro Valley bureaucrats have already unofficially divided between them everything north of Ina Road, on a line running down Shannon Road.

How helping these vultures accomplish their grandiose sprawl plans benefits Tucsonans is another question those opposing new incorporations have never answered. Certainly it clearly benefits the Growth Lobby, which owns the governments of both Marana and Oro Valley.

BOTH OF THE challenged towns have a good case based on the simple American constitutional principle of Due Process. The 1961 law that chains them barely has a process. Under that law, an existing community not only may reject another community's incorporation request for any reason, but doesn't even have to respond or give a reason when so requested. That's not only highly unfair but probably unconstitutional in itself.

Both Casas Adobes and Tortolita have been practically disarmed in their fight because the law does not allow them to raise tax money to pay their lawyers; nor are they currently eligible for state funds. Thus, it's clearly Pima County's duty to continue the lawsuit started last year and to challenge the ridiculous 1961 law.

For the county to take a dive now, as the two dailies are encouraging, would be most unseemly and not good public policy. There are millions of revenue-sharing dollars at stake for Pima County. Another $50,000 to continue the fight seems like a damn good gamble to us.

And there's one more thing that seems to have been forgotten in all of Miller's petty wrangling, and the daily papers' bigoted, ignorant and spiteful editorials against self-determination:

Simple justice.

Emil Franzi served on the Tortolita Incorporation Steering Committee. His wife Kathy is a member of the Tortolita Town Council.

You can hear Franzi's radio rage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday on KTKT-990 AM. TW

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