The Wall Street Journal gives Phoenix some of the prominence it deserves today, and sorry to say the stories are not about golf, how the city doesn't have Buffalo's snowfall in winter, or the latest stripmall in Su-prise.
The Journal looks at Phoenix for the perfect example of the disastrous tenant-in-common investments, focusing on the misbegotten Le Nature headquarters and bottling plant on the site of the old East High. The company went into bankruptcy soon after the building was completed -- such is the vibrant economy set up by Arizona's "low taxes and regulation." And investors were screwed.
The bottling company went bankrupt, leaving 35 real-estate investors in a bind. To come up with a solution, all 35 of them had to agree -- no dissenters. None of them could be in charge while they discussed what to do. And, for most of them, their life savings were at stake.
Then there's a fascinating look at the high hidden cost communities pay for a high incarceration rate. So of course the Journal went to that mecca of civic dysfunction, Phoenix.
Here in South Mountain, a district in south Phoenix, more than 3,800 residents are displaced, serving time in prison or the county jail. For every 100 adults, 6.1 are behind bars. That's more than five times the national average of 1.09 per 100, according to a report by the Pew Center, a nonpartisan research group. Arizona has the fastest-growing prison population of the Western states, having increased 5.3% in 2007 to more than 38,000.
Behind those figures are many hidden, related costs -- financial burdens that communities are often left to manage. For every person who goes to jail, businesses lose either a potential employee or customer. Inmates' children often depend on extended families, rather than a parent, to raise them. With only so many government resources to go around, churches, volunteer programs and other groups must often step in to help.
In one nine-block stretch of central South Mountain, nearly 500 out of 16,000 residents are in the state system either as prisoners or as probationers who return regularly to jail. Prison costs associated with this nine-block area amount to roughly $11 million annually, according to an estimate from the Justice Mapping Center, a New York organization that examines crime patterns.
Way to score with the most influential set of readers in the world! The readers who will decide not to put quality investments anywhere near Arizona, the Appalachia of the 21st century. Of course more bottom feeders and right-wing thugs will say coooool! and move there. Also kudos to the Journal for not using the idiotic city hall jargon of "South Mountain Village." Villages don't have a hundred thousand or more people. Cities have districts. Oh, I forgot, Phoenix isn't really a city.
There's also a journalism lesson here, re yesterday's post. These two stories represent the essential relevance, meaning and sophistication that come from veteran journalists at the top of their game. These can't be done by low-wage cubs chasing features as "mo-jos."