Bizarro Ballot

Who Ya Gonna Call To Handle This Mess?

By The Staff And Friends Of The Tucson Weekly

SOMETIMES IT SEEMS we've fallen into some kind of Bizarro Universe--a wonderland where up is down, left is right, and back is front.

How else can you explain the lies and deception we'll be facing at the voting booth next Tuesday, November 3?

Consider, for example, the campaign for Prop 303, the so-called Growing Smarter initiative. This is ostensibly a referendum to preserve our desert from the rampant development that swallows an acre an hour in Arizona.

Currents But guess who put it on the ballot: The Arizona Legislature, at the request of Gov. Jane Dee Hull. Pardon our skepticism, but the Arizona Legislature has never struck us as a hotbed of progressive environmental thought.

Guess who wrote the proposition: One key author was Steve Betts, a clever attorney from Phoenix who represents developers and lobbies for legendary land speculator Don Diamond.

Guess who's paying for those commercials that pan across Arizona's majestic vistas as you're urged support Growing Smarter: It's the Growth Lobby, pure and simple. Take a look "Bulldozer Bucks" on page 22, which reveals the top donors for the campaign. You've got $10,000 from a senior VP at homebuilder Del Webb; you've got $50,000 from Bank of America; you've got $50,000 from Bank One; you've got Jerry Colangelo, spreading the wealth from the Arizona Diamondbacks ($12,500) and the Phoenix Suns ($12.500). You've got Circle K throwing in $50,000, for God's sake. Don't know about you, but we've never regarded Circle K as a big player in the environmental community.

Yet here they are, urging us to support Growing Smarter. Why?

Because, in a nutshell, there are provisions that would derail the state's accelerating environmental express. Under Growing Smarter, as attorney David Baron has pointed out, the state would be prevented from requiring mandatory impact fees from developers, air- and water-quality controls or environmental reviews of road projects. Worse, it would ban state requirements that growth plans be approved by voters. And it would prohibit the use of urban growth boundaries.

The only reason Growing Smarter is on the ballot at all is because the Sierra Club tried to put many of those provisions into an initiative that would have really restrained growth in our rapidly urbanizing state.

And why would the Growth Lobby and its corrupt toadies in state government put something like Growing Smarter on the ballot?

Because then, next year, when the environmentalist start talking about urban growth boundaries and voter approval and comprehensive plans, lawmakers can say We the People of Arizona have given them a mandate: We don't want those things.

Growing Smarter is a cynical fraud. Vote No.

SPEAKING OF CYNICAL frauds: The Amphi School Board has its brain trust up for re-election. Incumbent Board members Mike Bernal and Gary Woodard, who are facing challenger Ken Smith, are among the hoaxsters on this year's ballot.

As we recount in "Amphi Theatrics" (page 18), the Amphi School Board has made mistake after mistake after mistake over the last few years. From cutting careless land deals to stonewalling requests for public records, the Board and administration have shown a shocking contempt for the public they serve.

Contempt, for example, has driven the incumbents' crusade against the simple practice of allowing Amphi taxpayers to address the Board in an open call-to-the-audience before its meetings. Despite a courageous lobbying effort by parents in the district, both Woodard and Bernal recently voted to "streamline" Amphi's policies and do away with the call-to-the-audience.

Soon after voting to flush call-to-the-audience, Woodard and Bernal both boasted in a campaign flyer that they both supported "Open Communication: Call to the Audience provides public input on all agenda items before votes are taken."

Supporting, opposing--what's the difference in the Bizarro Universe?

At the start of the race, Woodard promised he would take no PAC money. On October 5, however, he took $100 from the Tucson Chamber Committee For Responsive Government. Seems Gary's campaign staff talked about it and decided it was okay for him to break his word for a measly hundred bucks.


AND THE STRANGEST corner of Wonderland these days has to be Washington, where the truth spins back on itself and the tiniest events have the greatest import, while the big issues shrink smaller and smaller with each passing day.

Congressman Jim Kolbe, who is facing Tom Volgy, his first credible challenger since 1984, came under fire from environmental groups during his campaign. They complained that Kolbe voted to weaken the Clean Water Act. He's voted to decrease funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. He couldn't even bring himself to oppose a land swap that would have allowed mining giant ASARCO to lay the groundwork to rape the scenic Santa Rita Mountains. He's voted to increase logging on public lands--and even voted to force taxpayers to build the roads those loggers need to decimate public forests.

But, like the gang backing that Growing Smarter proposition, Kolbe insists he's a friend of the environment--after all, he helped close down a smelter in Douglas back in the mid-'80s. And he worked to expand Saguaro National Park, which coincidentally enriched his financial benefactor, legendary land speculator Don Diamond.

Crazy how things work out that way....

WE COULD GO on. We could talk about Proposition 101, which takes away your right to decide if state lawmakers should get a pay raise and puts the power in the hands of a commission appointed by the Legislature.

The supporters of this plan argue that "Arizona's elected officials and judges are servants of the people. The people should decide their compensation." And then they encourage you to vote to give away that right.

And so it goes in Bizarro World. Up is down. Black is white. Front is back. Left is right. Of course, it all depends on what your definition of "is" is.

There's lots on the ballot: state offices like governor, attorney general, secretary of state; more than a dozen propositions; state legislative races; school board contests; and a few county races besides. But most of you out there are so tired of being bombarded with these wretched lies and cheap tricks that you won't even bother to vote. And somewhere around one-fifth of you have already cast a ballot in the county's early voting program.

But if you haven't voted yet, and still plan to, we offer this guide to your backwards ballot. It's not comprehensive, but we've tried to hit the hot spots, and we've even included a clip-out guide on this page.

Thanks for caring, and may God bless America. TW

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