August 17 - August 23, 1995


Heated Debate

To the Editor,
Regarding Dave Devine's "Alarming Developments" (Tucson Weekly, July 27): There are a few relevant pieces of information about the Rita Ranch fire station that need to be known.

1) For each annexation district, city departments that provide district service to the public are requested to analyze what the impact of the annexation will be on their workload. These departments include Fire, Police, Solid Waste Management, Parks and Recreation, Water, Transportation, and Development Services.

2) In December of 1984, the Tucson Fire Department presented an impact statement to the Tucson City Council detailing what effect the annexation of Rita Ranch would have upon this department. Included in the statement was a long-term projection concerning the engine, ladder, paramedic and tanker companies and additional personnel that would be required to provide adequate fire protection services to the residents of this part of Tucson. On January 17, 1985, the Mayor and Council approved the annexation of Rita Ranch (Resolution 6142).

3) Part of the Tucson Fire Department's impact statement also included the projection (based on an estimate that the population of Rita Ranch would be about 3,500 people) that a fire station would need to be built by 1990. It just never developed.

4) The response time of Fire Station No. 17 to Rita Ranch is currently averaging 14 minutes. They should be responding in five minutes or less.

Simply, the City of Tucson and the Tucson Fire Department want to provide satisfactory fire protection to the people of Rita Ranch. We want to meet the needs of these residents and the development of Rocking K has nothing to do with this issue. Safety is the fundamental factor that shaped the decision to build a fire station at the Rita Ranch location. And again, let us remember that that suggestion came to the attention of the Tucson City Council over 10 years ago.
--Mayor George Miller

Dave Devine replies: As usual, George Miller conveniently omits facts that disagree with his personal bias. In this case, City Manager Michael Brown and the Mayor's "Annexation-At-Any-Cost" philosophy meant that Miller didn't mention:

• When he and a majority of the city council adopted this fiscal year's budget on June 12, they also approved a five-year capital improvement program (C.I.P.). This expenditure plan contained funds for two new fire stations, one on the southwest side, the other on the northwest. There was no mention of building a new fire station at Rita Ranch in the next five years--and George Miller voted for the program.

• The C.I.P. was in keeping with the bonds which voters approved in May 1994. The voters were told before the election that new fire stations would be built on the southwest and northwest sides of town. Miller was one of those who led the public campaign that promised there wouldn't be changes made to the bond projects without substantial public input first.

• In 1990, the population of Rita Ranch was a few hundred people. It began to develop significantly only in 1992.

• George Miller has been on the city council since Rita Ranch was annexed, yet he did nothing in those 10-plus years about a fire station there until now. Why?

The reality is that City of Tucson staff has decided a new fire station needs to be built at Rita Ranch. It wants one to serve the IBM site, to show that the City of Tucson can keep its annexation promises, even if somewhat late, to spur more development at Rita Ranch and to make it easier to annex large tracts of vacant land southeast of the city.

But how will this new fire station be paid for? According to Brown, "The Fire Department will ask mayor and council to reallocate bond funds designated for a northwest or southwest fire station for a fire station in Rita Ranch." In other words, the proceeds from the voter-approved 1994 bond election.

So there goes another promise, George.

This case shows once again that, in Tucson at least, a politician's promises and explanations aren't worth squat.

Wary Of Jonestown

To the Editor,
Residents of unincorporated areas are continually subjected to annexation blitzkriegs by annexation obercommandant John Jones. So, I think being annexed by somebody, and getting it over with, is more desirable than the continual fight against such dedicated "take-over" efforts by these Jones towners.

I don't want to be taken into Tucson because the Water Department has mismanaged the CAP so badly. I don't want any possibility of contaminating my house with CAP water and I'm certainly not drinking anything anyone with the name of Jones gives me.

According the "Drawing The Line" (Tucson Weekly, August 10), the Vail incorporation effort appears to have failed. That's too bad. Maybe the next move is to get Sahuarita to annex at least the same area...for starters. My hope was that a new City of Vail would have annexed a good portion of the Rincon Valley to prevent Tucson's acquisition.
--Ricardo Small

Bad Penmanship

To the Editor,
Note to Greg McNamee: Sure is a shame to see you have sucked up to the rest of the crowd fawning over Chuck Bowden and his true crime exploits ("Unnatural History," Tucson Weekly, August 10). But to call him an heir to Jack Kerouac is to sell your soul down the San Pedro, buddy. The only thing Bowden has in common with Kerouac, as Norman Mailer would say, is that he doesn't write books, he types them.

And then you go on, Greg, like some bad publicist for Ann Rule or Jack Olsen. Wow, Bowden pulls into a truck stop, chats up the waitress and then writes her life story. Then he gets drunk and makes lists about the mongrel, the mestizo, himself. You're right: This is an incredibly new way to look at our region. Sorry, bub, we've been there a zillion times. John Nichols did it best with American Blood. Bernard DeVoto made it historic. Ed Abbey made it poetic. Leslie Silko made it mysterious. They all knew what self-deprecating humor was about. Even Russ Meyer's pussycats have more depth and drama.

In fact, let's be frank. Bowden is just a glutinous bantamweight, a wanna-be white-trash poster child in middle class denial, who had discovered that Vincent Bugliosi books with saguaros and banditos sell. He's one of the barking dogs Abbey warned you about, writing sycophantic Hard Copy for the politically correct, who hover over their true crime pages in air-conditioned bathrooms.

And yet you lick along like the rest, despite your literary erudition. Man, read Ursula LeGuin's admonition to the writer: The treason of the artist is to refuse to admit the banality of crime and evil. It's been done. It's boring. Spend a day with a public defender. Write something original.

How about excerpts from new writers who have wandered through the real tierra of Southwestern literature, and who know what style, originality, language and vocabulary mean--namely Alfredo Vea in La Maravilla, Denise Chavez in Face of an Angel and Ben Saenz in Carry Me Like Water?

And to mention Wallace Stegner in the same article--you're going to hell for that one, Greg.

One last note: "lamented" City Magazine? C. Jethro Bowdeen burned untold thousands on that one, wrote unread and pretentious copy, tried to snub The Weekly in the process and wound up on his ass, back in the bar, molesting chicks with his dog breath.
--Jeff Biggers

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August 17 - August 23, 1995

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