Distant View

Hot Air On The Recent Election.

By Jeff Smith

TUCSON MIGHT TURN out to be a pretty decent place to live after all.

Smith After all the snowbirds, Tourons, sissies and failed Californios dry up and blow away. And the day-laborers ride their thumbs to Florida to pick fruit and scrub toilets for retired Republicans. And the retired Republicans from The Village of Casas Adobes awake to the shock of having to pay for their cute, Land's End-sounding municipal nickname, and the sudden exodus of their domestics (see preceding sentence).

All things considered, last week's election bodes well for the future of the Old Pueblo. The long-term future. In my opinion.

Bear in mind, however, that I have morphed into something of a contrarian in my second half-century, and that I take what might be considered an apocalyptic approach toward progress. Likewise be mindful of the fact that when I use the term "long-term" I am thinking geologic time, or at the very briefest, glacial. But hey, what's the rush?

By purest intellectual standards I'd have to concede that the voting on November 4 ran counter to voter self-interest, in all but a few issues, in all but the cosmic perspective. Let's take, as a for-instance, Prop 201, the anti-Prop 200/pro-CAP water question:

It failed. Thus, the City of Tucson will not be able to use most of its allotment of Central Arizona Project water. What little can be recharged into the underground aquifer will trickle down, theoretically, but the law (Prop 200 from 1995) prohibits accelerated recharge, and the cost of scattering gravity-powered recharge to enough places to get it all soaked-up is astronomical, so most of this expensive and caustic water--that never should have been taken out of the Colorado River in the first place--probably will be lost to evaporation or golf courses or pragmatists from California and Nevada.

Which is just ducky, in my book.

Ironically, many of the people who spearheaded the campaign against 201 are the very sorts of mercantile minds who favor a booming, growth-driven local economy. The kind that needs every drop of drinking water, no matter how brown and unpalatable. But these self-same folks also hate government in general and the City of Tucson water utility in specific, and were pushed over the edge when the CAP water came out of their taps in 1993 and brought a good bit of their rusty plumbing with it.

So they shot themselves in the foot. The water Tucson needs to sustain its unhealthy rate of growth will not be available. Continued groundwater pumping at present rates will suck the aquifer dry, and cause Tucson to become a big sinkhole. I think it's just wonderful. I may even move back one day. When the population sinks back to where it was when I was born there. About 40,000 hardy souls.

But it's a dry hardy.

Those of a nostalgic bent should feel quite comfortable in the Tucson of this backward future the voters have mapped out. Thanks to rejection of the minimum wage initiative, Prop 202, peonage will be as much a part of Tucson's (metaphorically) rich cultural tradition as it was in 1946.

Or 1746. Coupled with voter rejection of Prop 200, the city employees collective-bargaining issue, this reaffirms the world order as we have known it since before the Magna Carta. You start with your Kings and Queens and work your way down the food-chain through your bosses (who have most of the money as most of the say) to your workers (who serve at the pleasure of their lordships and cannot gang up and demand more money or walk off the job) to your serfs, who can't make even $7 an hour.

Truth be told, there were factors both tangential and central, that made both 200 and 202 doomed from the jump, but I don't believe Arizona voters will be ready to approve anything pro-union or pro-peon this side of Judgment Day. Even with the endorsement of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Even in the certain knowledge that the world ends tomorrow, so we won't have to pay higher taxes to cover it.

It's going to be sort of a sentimental journey as well, to have a guy named Fred Ronstadt once more a pillar of the community. Frederick O. Ronstadt was the founder of the hardware store, and the whole singing, policing, iron-mongering Ronstadt dynasty in Tucson, back in the middle of the last century.

Of course few of you are old enough to remember Tucson at 40,000 souls or F.O. Ronstadt before his soul flew away, and fewer still are young enough to be here when we get back to 40,000 and the current Fred Ronstadt goes to his reward, whenever and wherever and whatever that might be. (Maybe he'll serve 15 terms on the City Council and retire to the Village of Casas Adobes where he'll be granted a sinecure by Ed Moore, who'll pay him minimum wage--$5.15, not $7--to cut the grass.)

Apropos of which--The Village of Casas Adobes--at least the recent election provided those of us short on attention-span, or longevitically challenged, with one diversion we can enjoy before the next ice age. It should be hugely amusing to watch those smug, self-satisfied, and in many instances self-made men and women unmake and generally discomfort themselves over the harsh reality of self-supporting self-governance.

I'm glad to see at least one of the many bruited-about larval municipalities enter its pupae stage, both to entertain the rest of us and to offer example and instruction to those other nimrods in the instant-city racket. Will it be a butterfly or a mere moth? Surely you can divine how I feel.

And I surely am glad that the Tucson Foothills didn't fall for the same scam, because Katherine and Art Jacobson live there, and they worked real hard to pound a little sense into the collective head of the electorate, and it would have made their lives considerably more costly and complicated, had their neighborhood incorporation passed.

And on account of they're my pals and I wish them only the best. TW

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