August 10 - August 16, 1995

Don Diamond Gets To The Root Of The Problem.

B y  J i m  W r i g h t

WHO SAYS GREAT big developers aren't sensitive to the needs of itty-bitty endangered species?

Certainly Don Diamond is. Tucson's legendary land speculator has gone out of his way to aid in the survival of the Pima Pineapple Cactus, a rare species growing only in eastern Pima and Santa Cruz counties at an elevation of 2,200 to 4,500 feet.

Of course, we're sure the ton of money the already mega-wealthy Diamond stands to make in a related land deal had nothing to do with his concern for the pineapple cactus.

Also, the state scientists we contacted say pressure from humanity's encroachment is so severe the plant isn't expected to make it through the next century--so it certainly makes a lot of sense for Diamond's associates to arrange to dig up hundreds of the prickly little buggers and transplant them. Hey, it's for science, so it must be OK: A Diamond-controlled company gave the Arizona Board of Regents $51,124 to study how well the cactus does when it's, well, transplanted.

Gee, how convenient, you say? Don't be so negative, we reply. Diamond is a great man, a major community leader.

Why, just last week he won approval to put 950 apartments and 160 homes on 94 acres at West River Road and North La Cholla Boulevard. We bet the folks in that neighborhood are sure grateful, as are the teachers at Lulu Walker Elementary School, which is just a teensy bit crowded already, but which can easily make room for all those wonderful new students simply by enlarging the class sizes and teaching more things at night, when it's much cooler, by the way.

But we digress.

The pineapple cacti were taken from a 430-acre parcel being developed by Diamond's Continental Foothills Estates, a limited liabity company now known as Madera Reserve. The parcel is located west of the Santa Rita Experimental Road fronting on the road to Madera Canyon. Diamond and his charming business family of accountants and bulldozer drivers plan to do a few "improvements" and then sell sites to other developers, a productive and worthwhile endeavor if ever there was one.

It's a typically Diamond move--buying something, adding all that wonderful value, and then selling it for a whole lot more, because, of course, it's worth it. Just ask the merchants at Foothills Mall how much value Diamond added to their place of business before he sold it to some deserving car dealer from out of town.

Personally, we're hoping the Diamond-financed cactus study can find a cozy permanent home for all those endangered little plants around Diamond's Old Tucson, so all of us can enjoy them.

Of course, we're assuming they rebuild the authentic, western-themed tourist trap after that unfortunate and disastrous blaze--hey, it wasn't Diamond's fault they didn't have any real fire defenses out there. Who could have known wood burns like that?

And besides, running Old Tucson was expensive enough, even without a bunch of firefighting toys. It's not like Diamond and partners were paying only a few bucks a year to lease Southern Arizona's most-visited tourist site from Pima County. Nor, we're sure, were they putting that already paltry lease money into a Diamond-controlled, interest-earning account, or anything. And, what's more, it's not like they were paying most of their Old Tucson employees minimum wage or anything.

No, siree, those little cacti should be proud--damn proud--to be working for someone as caring and amazingly wealthy as Don Diamond. They should be happy they've been given the opportunity to do their pointy little thing in those neat rows at the UA School of Renewable Natural Resources, rather than leading some pointless, prickly existence out there in the stinking desert, which, we might add, is rapidly shrinking and which soon will be paved to create ample parking for many more apartment dwellers.

Yes, we're sure the Pima Pineapple Cactus has a great future ahead, thanks in no small part to Don Diamond, a great human being who, through some inexplicable quirk of fate, just happens to be richer than shit.

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August 10 - August 16, 1995

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