A friend passed along a blog essay entitled "Has the Arizona Republic gone rogue?" It goes on to catalogue a variety of "negative" news stories, concluding: "It is time for a leadership change at the Republic; Publisher John Zidich of Fiesta Bowl board fame and his executive editor Randy Lovely need to go. Let’s get someone in over there who knows and loves Arizona and wants us to become the state we are destined to become. We don’t need a daily rag of negativism and half assed reporting; I can get that from any blog out there. We deserve better. The Republic has gone rogue and it needs correcting."
The writer is one Charles Coughlin, who, in addition to sharing the name of the infamous demagogue "radio priest" of the Depression era, is a flack for the Real Estate Industrial Complex, the right and all-things status quo. See, reporting on such as Gov. Jan Brewer's shameful attempt to sack the head of the independent redistricting commission because it didn't skew politics even further to the right is "not loving Arizona." Payback is indeed a bitch. I was run out of the Republic by Zidich and Lovely because the paper could no longer stand the seven years of heat it had taken because my column didn't "love" Arizona enough. (When someone else talked about offering me a job, another big intervened: "Talton hates Arizona.") Now the same thugs are after Lovely and Zidich. (Funny, Father Coughlin doesn't offer his appreciation to the newspaper for unearthing the Fiesta Board scandal, which didn't really involve Zidich aside from his sitting on boards, which publishers should not do.)
Let it be said that the state's largest newspaper soft-pedals most of the pressing issues, from water resources to the economic calamity, climate change, white-right extremism, the depredations of the Badged Ego and thoroughgoing political corruption, much of which traces back to the Real Estate Industrial Complex. It pulls its punches and seeks out "positive news about the community." The editorial page is reliably right wing, with the only columnist being the "Goldwater" Institute's boy, Robert Robb (or William Bill, as he is known here). But even committing real journalism part-time, accidentally or when, well, news happens is enough that heads must roll. Imagine the fantods he would get if the state had some real kick-ass newspapers. Here is Phoenix and Arizona's pathology in a nutshell.
Witless boosterism is hardly confined to Arizona. I created a hell of a Twitter-storm this week when I commented on Chiquita's sleazy abandonment of Cincinnati, moving its headquarters to Charlotte. I tweeted: "Chiquita: Say goodbye to world-class symphony, museums, architecture in Cincinnati. Say hello to Waffle House." This unleashed a hail of outrage from Charlotteans. How could I say such a thing? Had I ever even been there. Well, yes, I spent five years in Charlotte. A few fools actually wanted to argue that the orchestra in Charlotte was comparable to the world-class Cincinnati Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, May Festival and College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. When the Charlotte Observer's fine columnist Tommy Tomlinson, who got the joke, tweeted that I was the newspaper's former business editor, this only added to the indignation. I was bitter. Charlotte was lucky to lose me. From one sweet young thing: "I worked as (sic) said newspaper too. I'm just a nicer person when I left." No doubt.
Meanwhile, a Cincinnati media type tweeted that "finally" I said something good about the city, where I was also business editor and columnist. They really don't get the job of the serious press or a columnist.
At least Charlotte's boosterism has some cred behind it. The city and state pursued an aggressive strategy, including $24 million to get Chiquita. The city won the Democratic National Convention. Can anyone even imagine Phoenix attempting such a thing? Thanks to being the place where a couple of middling institutions built themselves into two of the largest money-center banks in the country, and especially because retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. "got" urban, Charlotte built a glittering downtown nearly from scratch. It also opened the first light-rail line in the South and, thanks to state funding, has multiple train service to Raleigh. Phoenix has nothing to match it, even though in the end Charlotte still can't compare in beauty, urban stateliness and cultural assets to Cincinnati. But don't you dare criticize! Back in the 1990s, I wrote a column in Charlotte warning about over-dependence on banking and urging just the strategy that was employed with Chiquita. This brought down incensed condemnation from the local chamber of commerce. Now Charlotte unemployment is more than 10 percent, one bank is gone and the other is ailing. Homey's advice doesn't seem so awful.
For Arizona, however, the boosterism is just empty sloganeering and thuggish censorship. It doesn't motivate people to seek out real solutions, because that would mean a searching, serious conversation about the state's monumental problems. To the Arizona booster's mind, those problems either don't exist, they are some natural disaster unconnected with the behavior of state elites, residents and policies, or they are actually caused by reporting on them. This even seeps out into supposedly serious institutions. Thus, we still have people who know better pimping the "Sun Corridor" and similar nonsense.
This helps give credence to Koreyel's shake-some-sense-into-me comment on the previous post:
Jon, Jon, Jon....
Even if they build it, it ain't gonna happen. Young people don't want Arizona. The mold for this state has been long poured: old and mean not young and green.
Seattle, the Portlands, San Francisco, Denver...
Cool places. Cool people. Cool things to do.
Good coffee. Bicycles. Organics. Urban urbanity.
Young people have the image of Gov. Brewer's fright mask burned into their frontal lobes. That bumbling creature's debate video went viral. Brewer *is* the face of Arizona now. Who, young and smart, would condescend to allow *that uneducated old thing* govern them? Imagine you are young and idealistic again. Are you going to want to take your marching orders from a sagging global warming denialist with a sub-100 IQ?
I mean really Jon...
It's the Big Sort.
And who can blame the shuffling around?
Hipster programmers and college geneticists don't want to be around old white racists waving automatic weapons around while posing with Santa. That's a turn off to everything smart and good in the world. Do the math: Arizona = Young. Brain. Drain.
What's stopping you from being a reformed realist about AZ future is the fact that you grew up here. I know that sensation. Locality burns itself into our memories. It is very human of you to care so much. It is very large of you. I can honor that in you and the other homies here.
But the reality on the ground is something else...
Point taken. Yes, I do love Arizona. I also see the stakes there having national importance. And the purpose of this blog is to be an antidote to the toxic fantasies of the ones who claim love means blindness and continued destruction. As I have written before, these brightsiders actually hate Arizona with a vengeance. Even Father Coughlin's screed starts out talking about "his" Michigan Wolverines. So one can assume 1) He's not from Arizona and 2) He didn't adopt it as his real home. Too many like this have come to profane the Sonoran Desert and destroy my magical garden city with their real-estate hustles, use it up, throw it away, hey, you don't have to shovel sunshine and shut up.
The real "gone rogue" is here and you're not fooling anyone.