At the 2004 launch party for my novel Dry Heat, I'm with Jack August, center, and his wife Kathy Flower August. Jack passed away on Friday.
When I was a popular columnist at the Arizona Republic, it felt as if everyone outside of the Kookocracy (I coined the term), including many of the most prominent people in Phoenix, became my friend. "I never thought I'd read this in the Republic!" they would say about my writing, truth-telling about the Ponzi-scheme economy, the crash to come, the lost beauty, policy blunders, and Phoenix's forgotten and ignored past. "Don't worry, you'll have a place with us" if you get fired, some promised. I was not fooled.
When the pressure became too much and the Republic kicked me out as a columnist, they almost all melted away. Instantly. Like drops of water on a high-summer sidewalk. I was not only dropped but shunned. Later, some would resurface if they needed something, but that's human nature not friendship. I can count the genuine friends who stuck with me on two hands. Jack August stuck. He was that kind of man. Crisis reveals character.
His death at age 63 is a staggering loss for Arizona, for all who knew him. He was a towering figure as a historian of a state that suppresses its past, where so many newcomers keep the home of their heart in the Midwest and crow, "There's no history here." He was an irreplaceable counterweight to these toxins. He was a mensch who gave full measure to the term "a gentleman and a scholar."
I first ran across Jack long before, in an appropriate way, pulling one of his books out of the shelves at Flagstaff's sadly lost McGaugh's bookstore and newsstand downtown. This was on a visit, showing my girlfriend my home state with no expectation I would ever live here again. A title caught my eye, Vision in the Desert, by Jack L. August Jr. The book chronicled Carl Hayden's leading role in the long fight for the Central Arizona Project. Susan bought it for me and I read it on the plane as we crossed the country.
My mother had spent a decade working on the Arizona v. California lawsuit and the CAP, mostly for the Arizona Interstate Stream Commission but also for the lead attorneys, Mark Wilmer and Charlie Reed. I knew my water history. One of my dreams was to write a history of Arizona's fight for the Colorado River, especially the outsized personalities, back stories, and intense days-and-nights of work fueled by uppers and booze as David took down Goliath. Vision was impressive and I wondered: Who is this Jack August?
The City of Phoenix has smartly engaged Mary Jo Waits to help craft an innovation district plan for downtown. For newcomers, Waits was the driving force behind the Morrison Institute's most consequential reports in the late 1990s and 2000s, especially 2001's Five Shoes Waiting to Drop. It was prophetic. So was her warning that Arizona would become the "Appalachia of the 21st century" if it didn't change course. I collaborated with her in the "meds and eds" strategy to build off TGen, and later did some work for her when she was at the Pew Center on the States. The city could not have chosen a better, more knowledgeable and visionary person.
She asked me to write a case study on the innovation district in South Lake Union, adjacent to downtown Seattle. So this is what follows, with some parting observations for Phoenix.
When I first started coming to Seattle in the early 1990s, the South Lake Union neighborhood was a run-down collection of low-rise commercial buildings and the remnants of industrial structures from when it was laced with railroad tracks. This was once a gritty maritime district — logging, ship repair, canneries — around the south edge of the lake, which was connected to Puget Sound by the ship canal.
Aside from having the headquarters of the Seattle Times, SLU as it became known, had little to recommend it. The area had been wounded in the 1960s when Interstate 5 was rammed through, tearing it apart from Capitol Hill. And blocks of car dealerships, parking lots, and the occasional seedy bar separated it from the downtown core.
In the early 1990s, Seattle Times columnist John Hinterberger suggested turning part of SLU into a large central park, something the city's core lacked since voters had rejected a visionary 1911 civic plan. The 60-acre "civic lawn" would be framed by high-tech companies, condos, and restaurants. The Seattle Commons attracted widespread business support, including from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who was accumulating property there. But the famous "Seattle Process" intervened. Many feared it was a giveaway to Allen. Voters rejected the Commons in 1995 and 1996.
The framers of the Constitution put three roadblocks in place to prevent a demagogue from assuming or discharging the office of President. One, the Electoral College, has already fallen. The courts, packed with Republican-appointed judges and Supreme Court mini-me Scalias, will also fail to stop the descent into an authoritarian kleptocracy.
That leaves the Congress. Unfortunately for the future of the republic, this Congress is, if anything, a greater threat than the showman-stooge-traitor Donald J. Trump.
Under Republican control, it waged a scorched-earth campaign to undercut President Obama at every juncture. His well-qualified, centrist nominee to the high court was blocked for nearly a year, an unprecedented act. Efforts to build infrastructure and create jobs, to fill the hole in demand caused by the Great Recession, were victims of needless "austerity." Republicans threatened to default on U.S. debt, one of their many hostage-takings to ensure that they "broke him," in the pungent words of former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (now head of the premier right-wing "think tank," the Heritage Foundation).
Now, even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and more people voted for Democrats than Republicans, this minority has total control of the national government. They represent the New Confederacy in our Cold Civil War. The beneficiaries of the vicious backlash to a black president. And they intend to use this power to the fullest.
In the near future, I will examine the Obama presidency. But one thing is certain: For the past eight years, I have slept well knowing this fine, scandal-free man was in the White House. No Drama Obama. History will be very kind to him. He may well be remembered as the last president of the United States.
Now we're headed into an ominous "experiment."
Donald Trump enters the White House with less legitimacy than any president in history. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote by the largest margin ever (tying Obama in 2012). Trump's approval rating is the lowest for an incoming chief executive in history. His Electoral College victory will forever be tainted by the tilting of the election in his favor by Russian intelligence, FBI Director James Comey, and media malpractice — manically overplaying fake Clinton scandals while downplaying or ignoring Trump's massive real scandals and conflicts of interest. And never forget voter suppression. This was the first presidential election after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
Nevertheless, Trump and the Republicans are claiming a mandate to undertake a massive shift in our nation's life and trajectory. Taking health care away from 30 million Americans — at least half of whom are in the vaunted white working class — is Job No. 1. But the damage won't stop there.
The Republicans are hot to cut taxes on the rich and eviscerate "entitlements" (read the earned benefits of Social Security and Medicare). To roll back regulations protecting the environment and holding back the looting from anti-competitive mergers, too big to fail banks, and the oligarchs. The latter, along with a proto-junta of generals, stuff his cabinet nominees. If we only see America turned into a banana republic kleptocracy, we'll be lucky.
Back in the 2000s, Phoenix was always at or near the top of the Milken Institute's list of best-performing cities. The local-yokel boosters made much of this. In reality, the metric was based on job growth and Phoenix looked pretty good, powered by the housing boom.
What a difference does the housing crash, Great Recession, and better measurements make. A few years ago, Milken retooled its survey. Now Milken uses a wide variety of yardsticks to present a more accurate and comprehensive look at how metropolitan areas are doing. In the new 2016 Best Performing Cities, metro Phoenix comes in at 46th.
Going deeper, Phoenix's five-year job growth ranked 40th; five-year wage and salary growth 63rd; short-term growth 76th; five-year high-tech GDP growth 56th (one-year was 110th); high-tech location quotient 56th, and the number of highly concentrated tech industries 63rd. It's not a pretty picture, especially when we're talking about the sixth-largest city and 13th most populous metropolitan area
At the top were Silicon Valley, Provo-Orem, Utah, Austin, San Francisco and Dallas. Among other Western peers was Seattle No. 10, Denver No. 13, and Portland No. 14. Blue "socialist" California won six of the top 25 spots among major metros. By comparison, Tucson was No. 155. Among small metros, Prescott was No. 33, Flagstaff 81, and Yuma 146. Bend, Ore., led the small metros.
If this photo shows a busy little city from the Roaring Twenties, that's exactly what you found in Phoenix during this transformative decade. Town to city, horses to cars, less Wild West and more sophistication — Phoenix had been moving this way for years. But in the 1920s, they became solidly entrenched — even Town Ditch was covered. The first "skyscraper," the seven-story Heard Building, right, opened in 1920. By the end of the decade, it had several taller and more impressive siblings that remain some of the city's most treasured and beautiful buildings. Central Methodist Church (ME South) on the near right would move to a handsome new structure at Central and Pierce.
The nation entered the decade with Woodrow Wilson as president. But he was incapacitated by a stroke and his wife, Edith, was protecting him from most visitors and essentially carrying out most of his executive duties. America was disillusioned by the outcome of the Great War, the Palmer Raids and the "Red Scare," what was seen as Wilson's overreaching, and two decades of the Progressive Era. Voters (including women, for the first time) eagerly embraced Ohio's Warren G. Harding as the next president. He promised a "return to normalcy," forever wrecking the correct word "normality." Harding freed the Socialist Eugene Debs, who Wilson had imprisoned for opposing American involvement in the war.
The Great War had brought changes to the Salt River Valley, especially with the booming demand for cotton. By 1920, it had turned into a bust and Phoenix was suffering through the national recession. Things would soon turn around as the economy expanded and America embarked on, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, "the greatest, gaudiest spree in history." It was the Jazz Age, with the experiment of Prohibition sidestepped with speakeasies. Prohibition was hardly observed at all in the non-Mormon towns of the West. In Phoenix, bars, borthels, and gambling dens operated in the open, sometimes making payoffs to the city. This wide-open environment soon attracted the Mafia, including Al Capone.
The Phoenix of the 1920s was expanding out of the half-mile footprint of the original township. In the previous decade, the city had surpassed Tucson to become the most populous place in Arizona. With more than 29,000 people in 1920, Phoenix would grow nearly 66 percent over the next 10 years. Residential neighborhoods expanded a half mile north of McDowell, west of the Santa Fe tracks at 19th Avenue, and east as far as 16th Street. These were gradually incorporated into the city limits, which expanded from five square miles in 1920 to 6.5 square miles a decade later.
The mansions of "Millionaire's Row" still graced Monroe Street, but the central business district was moving north. Elegant bungalows lined the streets north of Van Buren into the fancy new Kenilworth District north of Roosevelt Street and eventually the Period Revival neighborhoods just beyond McDowell, including Palmcroft. Many of these were reachable by the streetcars.
"We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst." — C.S. Lewis
I'm old enough to remember Republicans continually warning that Democrats would surrender our country to the Russians.
It's funny how things turn out.
The news broke late Friday, a Washington Post story headlined, "Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win the White House." It said in part:
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
As I have long contended: crisis reveals character. As in when Phoenix Bishop Thomas O'Brien hit a 43-year-old man with his Buick. Had O'Brien stopped and rendered first aid, called 911, administered last rites, he would have been a hero. Instead, he fled and the next morning called his secretary to arrange for his windshield to be replaced. But another driver got his license tag after the hit-and-run. He became the first Roman Catholic bishop to be convicted of a felony.
Faced with the Washington Post story, President-elect Trump had the opportunity to immediately call for an independent investigation into the Russian penetration of the American election. Instead, he berated the agency and defended Russia. He prepared to name Vladimir Putin's close confident and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Crisis reveals.
Ah, I remember those palmy days when Hillary was going to win Arizona, when Donald Trump's vicious attacks on Mexicans would awaken the sleeping giant of the Hispanic vote. I was skeptical and shamed for that thoughtcrime on Facebook (from which I am taking a holiday).
Reality shows that Trump won 49.5 percent of the vote in Arizona vs. 45.4 percent for Clinton. She won only four counties (Apache, Coconino, Pima, and Santa Cruz). Significantly, Trump carried Maricopa County, the state's most populous and, after its fashion, urbanized. Trump won nearly 6 percent fewer votes here compared with Mitt Romney in 2012, but metro Phoenix was one of very few major metropolitan areas that went plurality red. Most went resoundingly majority blue. The New Confederacy is solidly anchored in Arizona.
Now it's time to pay the piper. Will America merely come to be more like Arizona over the next four, eight, or unlimited number of years? No the consequences will be more serious and disastrous than most can imagine, certainly not those living in Brightsideistan. So, some early looks at Arizona vulnerabilities:
• The Affordable Care Act. Trump and, especially, the Republican Congress have vowed to repeal Obamacare without an immediate replacement. Arizona was one of the few red states to take part. As a result, nearly 180,000 Arizonans were covered by the ACA in 2016. If repeal happens, they will have no health insurance.
• Universities. If Trump carries out his consistent campaign promises to severely curtail immigration and slap big tariffs on Chinese goods, the results could be catastrophic for Arizona universities. Thousands of foreign students could stop coming here, with the loss of tens of millions of dollars in tuition. In addition, austerity from the GOP Congress has been hurting research funding for universities. Only President Obama has kept university R&D money coming. With Republicans completely in control, universities — already starved of state funding — could see a huge loss of money from Washington.
After the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton, progressive mandarins are calling for a complete rebuilding of the Democratic Party. Here, for example, is Robert Reich's eight-step program. Unlike the Republicans after defeat, who double down on their ideological convictions and nihilistic congressional maneuvers, it may well happen. And it may be for the good. I don't know.
One thing I doubt is that the Democrats can win back the vaunted white working class. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, who is challenging Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader, said, “We need to speak to their economic interests, that we get it, that we understand, that we talk about those things and we try to fight hard for those things.”
Well, how? President Obama saved General Motors, including the Lordstown, Ohio, assembly. Yet that county supported Trump over Clinton by six points. Obamacare provided more health insurance for whites than for blacks and Hispanics combined. Yet exit polls show whites voted 58 percent for Trump vs. 37 percent for Clinton, who had detailed policy proposals to help working Americans. As you can see from the map above, the Rust Belt states that went for Trump have plenty of counties that were doing well. The same thing with the hard-red South. (Although, as I wrote in the Seattle Times, blue states are the economic superstars for reasons that most red states shun).
Perspective is important. Hillary Clinton has won a larger majority of the popular vote than any candidate in modern history who did not also win the Electoral College. We vote by states, but even here it was a near-run thing. Trump won Michigan's 16 electoral votes by two-tenths of a percentage point (how'd that protest vote work out for you?). In the end, she couldn't get the low-single-digit additional points in key states that Obama had previously won.
The common narrative is that Phoenix's spectacular growth was made possible by air conditioning. But that's only partly true.
Some of the hottest places in America were big cities in 1930, when air-conditioning units were large and expensive, confined to the largest buildings with money to spend. Among them were New Orleans (458,762), Dallas (269,475) Houston (292,352), and Atlanta (270,366). These cities suffered not only very hot, but also humid, summers. Phoenix, by contrast, had a population of only a little more than 48,000 that year. Even El Paso, the city that Phoenix leaders aspired to surpass as the business capital of the Southwest, held 102,421 people.
Before the beginning of the great post-war migration to the yet-to-be-named Sunbelt, the Intermountain West was lightly populated and a magical place unknown to most Americans outside of movies. The entire state of Arizona had a population of fewer than 436,000. The Intermountain West population was about 3.7 million out of a total U.S. population of 123 million. In other words, those seven states had fewer people than today's metropolitan Phoenix.
The great impediment to Phoenix's growth was not as much heat — note the cities above — as isolation. Cut off from the east and north by nearly impenetrable mountains, and from the west by forbidding desert, Phoenix was far from natural routes of commerce or travel. This began to change as branch lines of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads reached the emerging agricultural empire of the Salt River Valley in the late 19th century (the railroads' main lines had been built through northern and southern Arizona). This changed dramatically with the completion of SP northern main line through the city in 1926. Along with new highways, this forever broke through Phoenix's seclusion.
If you want to argue about who or what is to blame for this catastrophe, I direct you to The Best of the Front Page, where the articles are as definitive as we can be at this point. I suspect much, much more will emerge in the coming months and years about Russian intelligence, Wikileaks, media malpractice, and the shenanigans of the FBI.
To the white working class voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan who went for Trump: Fuck you. I refrain from profanity on this site, which has been overused to the point of being trivial, but how else to put it? Your situation is going to be so much worse as a result of what you did. I just wish you weren't taking the rest of us — those who made the majority of the popular vote that went to Hillary Clinton — and the planet down, too. My hope in this election was to avoid national suicide, not make any grand progressive gains which are impossible in this Cold Civil War. Even that modest aim proved impossible. I didn't sign up for this murder-suicide, but here I am.
If I were 30 and in better condition, I'd move to Scandinavia in a heartbeat. If I had been more careful in picking my parents, I'd drop out, go off the grid, keep subscribing to newspapers but not read them, read the great books and history, listen to classical music, opera, and jazz, be thankful for every day. I'd go back to school, learn a foreign language, become an amateur botanist, build a model railroad, re-read everything Shakespeare wrote, vote for what it's worth. I'd write my memoir, even if nobody would publish it.
Unfortunately, I have to work as long as I can, and do so in a calling that requires me to deeply immersed in the news. First as tragedy and then as farce? No, Karl. We're going to get both at the same time, good and hard.
President-elect Trump. Roll that around in your mouth for awhile, see how it tastes.
This is what we get after the most portentous election in American history. The office of what was once quaintly called chief magistrate will be occupied by a temperamental narcissist hustler with no knowledge of statecraft, history, the world, or the Constitution. The republic is over, baby. You just need to decide how you'll live with it.
The pundits and pollsters were surprised. I was not.
For months, I've had a nagging worry. The cultural left grabbed the public square. Gay marriage, now accepted by most Americans, was not enough. We had Black Lives Matter shouting down opposing views and even taking the microphone from Bernie Sanders, whether a police shooting was uncalled for or righteous. The LGBTQI activists pushed into mainstream media to the point of a New York Times story on gender identity change in the first grade. The left weaponized language, such as "white privilege." As if all white people are the same and similarly "privileged." It celebrated the coming minority status of white people, demonized "white American history" through the lens of presentism as a cavalcade of nothing but genocide and oppression. Wrong-thinking academicians were badgered into silence or out of a job. The thought police aggressively patrolled social media.
And through all this, I thought: an increasingly angry number of whites were keeping eerily silent. Until they didn't on election day.
Yes, "fear of losing white privilege," "white nationalism," and no small amount of Obama Derangement Syndrome led to Trump's victory. It wasn't about the economy. But overreaching by the left was perhaps most consequential. And that kills the idea that Bernie Sanders would have been the better candidate. First, he would have been savaged by the right as SOCIALIST! (He was their preferred opponent). But like Hillary Clinton, he would have necessarily been the tribune of a changing country where the opponents of that change get a vote, too.
A version of the Bradley effect was surely at work here, too, where white likely voters told pollsters they were voting for Hillary — but when it came time to vote, the marked Trump. I warned about that, too. At the same time, years of Republican vote suppression efforts came together in this election, with results that were no doubt substantial and perhaps even decisive. As to this latter, most of the media will be so busy "normalizing" Trump that it will go unexamined.
With Donald Trump, the most extreme and unqualified candidate of a major party, in striking distance of winning the presidency, we stand on the edge of the abyss. This election shouldn't be this close. You can use the comments section as an open thread as the next few days unspool. For my contribution, here are a dozen of the most consequential elections, nationally and in Arizona. At the least, they show that elections do indeed matter.
1828: John Quincy Adams vs. Andrew Jackson. Adams, the sitting Whig president, was defeated by war hero Jackson. The Whigs stood for the "American System" of internal improvements (infrastructure), a national bank and limiting the spread of slavery. Jackson was just the opposite. Jackson's victory led to the breaking of solemn treaties with the Five Civilized Tribes and their brutal relocation west (denounced by Adams) to open land for slaveholders, among many other ills.
1844: James K. Polk vs. Henry Clay. The defeat of "Harry of the West" not only doomed the American System but eliminated the last chance that the Civil War might have been postponed or avoided. One reason was the familiar partisan circular firing squad. Clay lost votes in New York and Pennsylvania to the abolitionist Liberty Party. It was the death of the Whigs.
With Polk, the nation again had a Southerner determined to extend slavery, including by prosecuting the highly unpopular Mexican War. At one point, Polk considered demanding all the territory to Tampico, but didn't want so many Mexicans brought into the union (they automatically became U.S. citizens with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war). On the other hand, in settling the Oregon Country dispute with Great Britain, he would have settled for the Columbia River as the northern border (in other words, Seattle would be in British Columbia). With Polk, the Civil War became inevitable.
I've heard this expression from so many people over the past two weeks, including some who are politically savvy. What world are you living in?
If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, it's not going to end. Donald Trump might refuse to accept the results of the election. Although this might lack any foundation in law — unless the Republican Party had ground to challenge specific state results — it would embolden his hardcore, alt-right supporters. To do...well, they have the guns, don't they?
If she wins but Democrats fail to gain a majority in the Senate, it's not going to end. Republicans have stated explicitly that they will refuse to approve any Supreme Court nominee she puts before the upper house. President Obama's highly qualified, centrist-to-a-fault nominee Merrick Garland has not even been granted a hearing before the Senate.
This is only the beginning. The scorched-earth nihilism shown by a disciplined Republican Congress will only intensify if the party loses the White House yet again. Clinton's cabinet and agency nominees could conceivable be blocked for the next four years. The GOP will stop at nothing, because its members believe only they have the right to rule. This was the party willing to default on U.S. debt and bring on world depression to stick it to That (Black) Man in the White House. Its austerity has prolonged the suffering of millions.
In the elevator, a veteran politician said that Hillary had the ability to get things done LBJ-style. With all due respect, LBJ had solid Democratic majorities in Congress, a mass Republican party with plenty of liberals and centrists, the American liberal consensus still intact, and the nation's sympathy for the martyred John F. Kennedy. None of those things appertain today.
The national progressive echo chamber had quite a fit last week when former Gov. Jan Brewer brushed off the suggestion that Hispanics would cause Hillary Clinton to win Arizona. "Nah," she told the Boston Globe, "They don't get out and vote. They don't vote." The thought police pounced, condemnations flooded Facebook, and a Twitter lynch mob gathered at such a racist statement.
But she told the truth. Rare for her, perhaps unprecedented, but accurate for once.
Hispanics made up 30 percent of the population of Maricopa County in 2014, compared with only 16 percent in 1990. Yet in that critical election, their voter participation rate was in the single digits. And it can't be explained away by saying that low-income people vote less. The low-income Anglos vote religiously and conservatively.
Brewer, an accidental governor when St. Janet read the future and decamped for D.C. and then California, did much to help ensure this. As Secretary of State, charged with overseeing elections, she was also chair of the state Bush re-election committee in 2004. I'm sure polling locations were abundant and well handled in majority Latino precincts. Then, running on her own, she defeated the eminently better-qualified Terry Goddard on the strength of her backing the anti-immigrant SB 1070.
As I have written before, SB 1070 had little to do with illegal immigration and everything to do with ginning up the old Midwestern-immigrant Anglo GOP base and intimidating Mexican-American citizens. And one of the dirty secrets was that not a few older Mexican-Americans, who had seen their neighborhoods, schools, and culture most destabilized by the wave of illegals in the 2000s, quietly supported the bill, too.
But the problem of low Hispanic turnout predates the embarrassing, finger-in-the-face-of-the-president Jan Brewer, a woman who would drive down the class level of the trashiest trailer park.
In an interview today with a Philadelphia radio station, wealthy Republican Sen. John Sidney McCain III said, "I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up. I promise you. This is where we need the majority."
Later, according to Talking Points Memo, McCain's office appeared to back slightly away from the statement, saying, "Sen. McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees. That being said, Sen. McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career."
Trust the original blurt as the truth. Trust it, too, because of the unprecedented refusal of the Republican-controlled Senate to even give a hearing to President Obama's nominee, the distinguished federal Judge Merrick Garland, as moderate as they get and recipient of the highest rating from the American Bar Association. It's 215 days and counting
Before we examine the implications of McCain's statement and the behavior of the Republican Senate, it's worth reminding Arizonans exactly who John McCain is.
A confession: Almost all my close friends as an adult have been women. I haven't spent much time in locker rooms, much less engaged in "locker-room talk," as the Republican presidential nominee excused his language about grabbing pussies. On the ambulance, contrary to the dialogue on the television series Emergency, we talked about only two things: calls and sex. This was even true of the female paramedics. Get two guys as partners and the talk could turn quite bawdy in assessing our lusts-of-the-moment. But it was never what Trump was saying, which was about sexual assault. It gives a sinister meaning to "binders full of women."
Anyone with a passing knowledge of Donald Trump knows he's a pig. If it takes the now infamous tape to bring him down, so be it. So many other statements, actions, and positions should have already done this, including his pledge to imprison his opponent if elected. Like so much else, it is unprecedented in American presidential politics. We're way beyond the need for a Godwin's Law warning when discussing Trump — he is on a Hitlerian path.
It's important to understand that little of the recent Republican abandonment of Trump is based on principle. Wealthy Republican John Sidney McCain III was apparently fine with draft-dodger Trump calling him a coward for being imprisoned and tortured by the North Vietnamese. With the primary behind him and Hillary Clinton potentially winning Arizona, suddenly it's OK for McCain to denounce him. And so it goes. They are acting strategically, to prevent losing control of the Senate or even the House.
Another critical fact is that Trump now embodies the GOP after decades of drift into extremism, slaughter of RINOs, and flight from reality ("We create our own reality."). With or without Trump, the party denies mainstream science on climate change, wants to privatize or give to the states our public lands, privatize Social Security and destroy the social safety net, pursue ruinous austerity, appoint activist judges and Supreme Court justices, suppress voting rights, carry on a war against cities, deny women reproductive choice, cut taxes on the richest, "starve the beast" to show "gub'ment is the problem," turn us into a fascist theocracy. Behold the Party of Lincoln. The basic policies would have been the same under nominees Rubio, Kasich, Cruz, Fiorina, Carson, Bush, Jindal, Graham, Perry, Walker, or the strangely still respected Paul Ryan. Remember this. Burn it in your brain.
Today's Papago Park is full of delights and history, from the Desert Botanical Garden to the Phoenix Zoo, Hole-in-the-Rock, hiking, baseball, and Hunt's Tomb. As the official website says, "Its massive, otherworldly sandstone buttes set Papago Park apart, even in a city and state filled with world-class natural attractions."
But Papago Park almost didn't happen.
For those of you who don't venture south of Bell, north of "south Chandler," or are out-of-town readers, I'm writing about land that sits in east Phoenix and north Tempe. Technically, the boundaries run from McDowell on the north to Tempe Town Lake on the south, and 52nd Street and the Crosscut Canal/College Avenue to the west and east respectively. The park could have been much larger.
These magical uplands were five-and-a-half miles from the original Phoenix townsite when they were included in the reservation for the Pima and Maricopa tribes by President Rutherford B. Hayes. This was 1879, when the biggest concerns of the hardscrabble settlements of Phoenix and Tempe were reclaiming the Hohokam canals for agriculture. The National Park Service claims the Hohokam used Hole-in-the-Rock to mark the solstice. Early American settlers also appreciated the beauty of the ancient rock formations, including Carl Hayden (born in 1877) growing up across the river in Tempe.
Later in the 19th century, the reservation was contracted to the present-day borders of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Some desultory mining activity took place around the buttes and they became more popular as exotic destinations for visitors. In 1914, a grown up Hayden, the new state's only representative in the U.S. House lobbied his friend, President Woodrow Wilson, to make the area a National Park. Wilson declined, but using the presidential powers of the Antiquities Act, declared it the Papago Saguaro National Monument. At the time, it stretched from the Salt River to Thomas Road.
I am writing this before the first presidential debate. I don't plan to watch. Too much brain damage. Nothing that would be said could change my vote for Hillary Clinton. The alternative is national suicide.
So far, the election is playing out pretty much as I suspected. Republicans, even the #NeverTrump crowd such as Sen. Ted Cruz, will dutifully line up and vote for Trump. If the GOP candidate were Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, or George H.W. Bush, I would give him a hearing. But one of our two great mass political parties has gone insane. Donald Trump is not an anomaly. He is the natural outcome of the paranoid style in American politics that long ago took over the Republicans. Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater could not win a GOP school-board primary today.
It doesn't matter that Trump is a serial liar, totally unqualified for national office, temperamentally unfit on a frightening level, the most dangerous candidate ever put forward by a major party. They will vote for him.
I don't want to hear about how things would have been different with Bernie. Had he won the nomination and been subjected to months of SOCIALIST!, he would be losing badly in the polls already. To me, your protest votes for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson are just short of treason. And if Trump wins, which he may well do, Mencken's quote that "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard" will offer no comfort.
While I was in Phoenix last week, the Census Bureau released news showing the biggest annual jump in median household income since 1967 and poverty falling the most in 50 years. Nationally, incomes jumped 5.2 percent from 2014 to last year, to $56,516. The numbers are adjusted for inflation. Thanks, Obama.
The data are more complicated for Phoenix and low-tax/light-regulation Arizona. Income statewide rose 2.8 percent to $51,492. Yet it was down 9.7 percent compared with 2007. Metropolitan Phoenix median household income increased 3.9 percent to $55,547.
In other words, the state and metro area trailed a nation that includes Alabama, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Phoenix was No. 25 among the largest metros, with Nashville and Birmingham in the lead in percentage increase.
Drilling down to the city level is even more sobering. Seattle, which is undertaking numerous progressive policies that would supposedly kill business, led the nation with a total increase of $9,374 to $80,349. Blue Portland jumped $6,268 to $60,892. Denver, another blue city, saw incomes rise $3,062 to $58,003. And Phoenix? Its income struggled up $523 to $48,452. (No, that's not a misprint).
If any comfort can be had, San Diego's median household income rose a mere $72 to $67,871. But metro Phoenix's underperforming is a serious problem. The city's poor showing is even more troubling, the "hole in the doughnut" effect. More than 23 percent of the city's residents are below the federal poverty line, compared with 13.5 percent nationally and 17.4 percent for Arizona. The state's poverty rate fell 0.9 percent from 2014 to 2015, but had risen 3.2 percent since 2007.
No, purchasing power doesn't cut it as an excuse. The conservative Tax Foundation used federal Bureau of Economic Analysis stats to calculate the real value of $100 in each state. Statewide in Arizona you get $103.73, but that's not much, and I wonder how much it translates to more expensive metro Phoenix. The bottom line is that Arizona's conservative policies have not yielded a strong economy, especially one required for such a populous state.
The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll has Hillary Clinton within one point of Donald Trump in Arizona. You read that right. This is in line with a polling average from Real Clear Politics, which even had Clinton slightly ahead during and after both parties' conventions.
Is it possible that Hillary could flip Arizona to the Democrats? After all, her husband won the state in 1996. I am skeptical.
Bill Clinton won in a very different Arizona. The state was still competitive for Democrats and "experts" predicted that continued population growth would favor the party. Arizona's population expanded by 40 percent in that decade, but it was the "big sort," where people came seeking ideological co-religionists. It was almost entirely on the right. With the exception of the surprise election of St. Janet in 2002 and hopes for her "sensible center," Arizona politics trended ever more rightward. Today not a single statewide office is held by a Democrat.
From the 1980s on, Republicans patiently took control of school boards, municipal offices, tightened their control of the Legislature and Corporation Commission, built a massive infrastructure including fake "think tanks," the charter school racket, private prison racket, and the aid of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The Democrats never knew what hit 'em. The best Napolitano could do was play defense.
In our Cold Civil War, with the nation more divided than any time since the eve of the Civil War, Arizona sits comfortably in the New Confederacy. I can still start a fight on Facebook by praising light rail (WBIYB).
I'm gradually going back through Phoenix 101 columns and fleshing them out with more serious scholarship. This is a crazy week, so I may or may not get to a new column. In the meantime, enjoy this expanded column that first appeared in 2009:
Earlier this month, the New York Times published a story, most of which could have been written by the chamber of commerce, under the headline, "Bay Area Start-Ups Find Low-Cost Outposts in Arizona."
It rubbed me the wrong way from the start, because the story is not about Show Low or Why, Kingman, or even Tucson, but metropolitan Phoenix. I will never understand why one of the most magical city names in America is banished for the amorphous and sometimes inaccurate "Arizona." Anyway, riding with that burr under my saddle, I tried to approach the article with an open mind.
Unfortunately, it had all of the weaknesses of "parachute journalism." The writer, based in the Bay Area, parachutes into a little-known burg with an angle, assembles a few anecdotes, talks to a local economic development expert, adds some data from Moody's, widens the lens a bit to make the story about a broader trend, and presto! This is not easy stuff, particularly if you're not armed with history and skepticism. The only good parachute journalist I ever personally knew was Leah Beth Ward, my colleague from the Cincinnati Enquirer and Charlotte Observer.
It's not that I don't want success for Phoenix. Far from it. I was the Arizona Republic columnist who wiped out forests and digital space writing about Michael Crow and ASU, Jeff Trent and T-Gen, and Bill Harris and Science Foundation Arizona, the efforts to elevate the economy under Gov. Janet Napolitano and Phoenix Mayors Skip Rimsza, Phil Gordon, and Greg Stanton. I rarely felt that the brightsiders had my back. It is about time to see some payoff.
The story had none of this context and lacked much more. The reporter did not even avail himself of the readily available journalism about Arizona's crippling problems. Which is too bad for those of us who want to know the real score. So Homey did some digging.
Apparently, most Americans learned about the death spiral of metropolitan newspapers and the consequences from watching John Oliver. Then they went back to kitten videos on social media. None of this is new to readers of Rogue Columnist (see here and here). My aim today is more modest.
As Oliver's well-worth-watching segment was going viral, a few of us were following the demolition of the Charlotte Observer building in downtown (or as the boosters insist ahistorically, Uptown) Charlotte. The photo above shows the work about half done a few weeks ago. The building, which took up a city block, was once as substantial on the Tryon Street side (left) as it remained on the Stonewall Street side in the top photo. Below is the site as of August 29th — all gone.
During my 30 years (!) in the working press, I have been employed by 10 newspapers across the country. I never made it to the New York Times, but I was fortunate to work at some of the finest metro papers in America, among some of the best journalists. The Knight Ridder-owned Observer was one. It was here that I was able to hit my zenith of business-section turnarounds — and the credit goes to my gifted colleagues, I only pointed the way. If I live long enough, I'll tell some of the stories. Unlike the Rocky Mountain News, the Observer is still going, in much more modest leased space (the name isn't even on the building).
But today I mostly want to meditate on the building and its meaning. This classic piece of Knight Ridder hulking architecture was no beauty. But it symbolized the importance and power of the newspaper, which not only committed great journalism but was a large employer. Before the collapse, the typical metro daily could employ 1,500 people or more in real jobs, not "gigs," in a multitude of departments from advertising and dispatch to platemaking and the press room. In the lobby, through large windows, you could watch the massive presses run. From college graduates and creative bohemians to skilled blue-collar workers and high-school dropouts — a major newspaper offered secure work and paths up.
If you had paid your dues at little papers, if you earned a reporting or editing job at a well-respected metro, you knew you had arrived and had much proving to do in order to remain — the imposing building alone told you. The building housed not only a newsroom, but a sizeable manufacturing, advertising, marketing, and distribution center. At one time, trucks from here took bundles of the Charlotte Observer to places across the Carolinas every night. It was a major civic institution — Observer Publisher Rolfe Neill was one of the four or five titans who turned Charlotte from a middling Southern big town into a major metropolis of national consequence, and who revived downtown.
On the night in 1968 after President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill authorizing construction of the Central Arizona Project., my mother took me on a long drive. We went through the citrus groves, the empty farmlands between the towns, the enchanting oasis that was Phoenix. Like many who had dedicated a good part of their lives to win the CAP, she had deep misgivings. She wanted me to see the place, burn it in my brain, and remember. "It will be gone," she said. She didn't live to see her prediction come true. But the ferocious transformation of Phoenix from my beloved old city to the nearly unrecognizable concrete desert of today largely happened during the last two decades of the twentieth century. The big changes began in the 1980s.
In 1980, Phoenix's population was nearly 790,000, up 36 percent from 1970. The city would grow slower in the 1980s — up 25 percent. But Maricopa County grew almost 41 percent. Yesterday's small communities began to become today's mega-suburbs as sprawl took off as never before. For example, Glendale, which had grown by 168 percent in the 1970s, added another 52 percent in the eighties. It would hold nearly 148,000 people by 1990. Arrowhead Ranch, the citrus groves owned by the Goldwater and Martori families, was being developed into subdivisions, one of the largest new "master planned communities" in the state. Phoenix remained the power center of the state and county through the decade, but its hold began to slip.
In 1980, Phoenix still enjoyed a robust base of major headquarters. By most measures it was never stronger and almost all were located in the Central Corridor. Among them were the three big banks, Valley National, First National, and the Arizona Bank; Greyhound; Arizona Public Service; American Fence; Central Newspapers; Western Savings, and Del Webb Co. Karl Eller's Combined Communications had been purchased by Gannett in 1978 but Eller remained active, taking control of Circle K in 1983 and making it the nation's second-largest convenience store chain.
APS formed a holding company, Pinnacle West Capital, that was not regulated like the utility by the Corporation Commission. Among its ventures was the S&L Merabank. Taking advantage of airline deregulation, America West Airlines was formed by local investors in 1983 — it would go on to merge with USAirways and take over American Airlines. And Phelps-Dodge, which for a century controlled much of Arizona's destiny as the world's leading copper company, moved its headquarters from New York City to a new tower in Midtown Phoenix.
After three weeks of commenting on national politics, it's time to return to Phoenix. This was once the time of year to stay inside with the air conditioning and wait for the oven to ease up in September. Now it's snake removal calls in north Scottsdale, idiots hiking in the middle of the day and often putting first responders at risk to rescue them, and an oven that doesn't shut off until close to Thanksgiving. But..."everything's fine!," with championship golf!
• Phoenix rejected a tax break for a developer that partially demolished the historic Circles Records building under the pretext of erecting a 19-story residential tower. The Resistance, which was sandbagged by the tear-down, reacted by a range of "Hell, no!" to quiet negotiations with crisis-management duo Jordan and Jason Rose, brought in to salvage the deal.
Unfortunately, I fear the result will be complete demolition and another surface parking lot to the flipped and reflipped until the day, decades hence, when the property ends up on the books of a REIT in Tel Aviv. It's unclear that the developer ever really had the capitalization to do the mid-rise, and lack of tax incentives makes it even more unlikely. State law gives enormous protection to property owners. So defeating the tax break doesn't mean saving what's left of the former Stewart Motors at McKinley and Central (technically just north of downtown).
It can't be said enough: Downtown Phoenix needs more than ASU, government, and a few modest headquarters. It needs a robust and diverse economy — very much at odds with the spec sprawl model at work elsewhere in "the Valley." Until then, Phoenix will be the only major city in the nation missing out on the "back to downtown" phenomenon you can read about here. It is an astonishing, heartbreaking failure, and saying that downtown Phoenix is better than 20 years ago doesn't cut it.
Clowns who say outrageous things, who are completely unqualified for office, are very capable of being elected in America. They are entertaining, underestimated, and disasters in office. The highest office reached so far has been governor — think Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Lester Maddox in Georgia. Closer to home was Evan Mecham, the governor of Arizona from 1987 until he was impeached and removed from office less than 15 tumultuous months later.
Mecham was a clown, given to conspiracy theories and outrageous statements — his "pickanniny" comment and blaming working women for high divorce rates were only two. But he had support from the state's right wing, especially John Birchers and fellow Mormons. He was a populist, after his fashion. In Mecham's world, the government was the enemy and cause of all ills. He wanted to eliminate income taxes and turn over the public's lands to state interests. A theocrat, Mecham wanted to have prayer in public schools. Threats were everywhere, out to destroy real Americans and the real America.
The toupee'd Glendale car dealer and serially failed newspaper publisher gave Carl Hayden a scare in the 1962 U.S. Senate race. Among his issues was a demand that the United States withdraw from the United Nations. Hayden's longtime aide Roy Elson organized a campaign to "reintroduce" the senator to a state he had served in Washington since 1912, but had attracted large numbers of newcomers since 1956. Hayden won comfortably, but many old Arizonans were unsettled. That anyone could get 45 percent of the vote against the state's indispensable man in the fight for the Central Arizona Project was astounding and deeply disturbing.
Mecham ran outsider campaigns for governor again four times before winning. As in 1962, each election he explicitly ran an insurgent campaign against elites and "the establishment."
His election was a fluke. In the 1986 Republican primary, he faced the respected state House leader Burton Barr, who was supported by the establishment, from Barry Goldwater to the Pulliam press. But Barr, a legislative wizard, ran a sluggish campaign. Turnout was the lowest in 40 years. And Mecham cleverly exploited the grievances and paranoia of newcomer retirees, adding to his Bircher and LDS base — people who did vote. On the Democratic side, and back then Arizona was a competitive state, Carolyn Warner was sandbagged by apartment magnate Bill Schultz, who got out of the race only to reemerge as an independent.
A failed one-term congressman, wishy-washy on his party's most important moral issue, no executive experience, too homely for television — and despite the media campaign to make him out as a simple, honest frontiersman, in reality he was a highly successful lawyer for the nation's most powerful industry. His own law partner noted, "his ambition was a little engine that knew no rest." You know him as Abraham Lincoln.
An elitist intellectual, hotheaded, jingoist warmonger, impetuous and too young to be even vice president. Otherwise known as Theodore Roosevelt. The white privilege dandy who concealed his crushing disability and constant pain, running on a balanced-budget promise but in reality holding no fixed ideology and depending on a coalition that included Southern segregationists. That was TR's cousin, Franklin Roosevelt.
On the other hand, there was "the great engineer," a self-made man, the rightly lionized savior of refugees in World War I — the only man who came out of the Paris peace conference of 1919 with his reputation enhanced, according to John Maynard Keynes. This progressive and pragmatic man seemed ideally cut for his time. Yet Herbert Hoover as president was overwhelmed by catastrophe.
You see how it goes. How the digital age distorts. How contingency and crisis reveal character. Now, with the republic facing its greatest danger since the eve of the Civil War, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton steps forward to claim the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.
Twenty years before the "San Francisco Democrats" were reviled with such devastating gusto by Jeane Kirkpatrick, there were the San Francisco Republicans. The Grand Old Party held its 1964 national convention in the cavernous Cow Palace that July. The nominee was Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater. While Barry was no [real-estate developer], the party's path to Cleveland arguably began in San Francisco 52 years ago.
The Republican Party then was still a mass American political party, with conservatives, centrists, and liberals. As the Party of Lincoln, it retained the remnant of decades of support by African-Americans. In 1960, Richard Nixon, with a strong civil rights record and the initial backing of Daddy King, neglected to call Martin Luther King Jr. in jail (John F. Kennedy did), a blunder that some scholars have said cost him the presidency. Even so, Republicans, including conservatives from the Midwest, had been essential to enacting the 1964 Civil Rights Act and, a year later, the Voting Rights Act. Without them, Lyndon Johnson would never have been able to overpower the segregationist Southern wing of his own party.
But Goldwater and his supporters staged a revolution in the run-up to the convention, with conservatives capturing the party machinery for the first time since the 1930s. These were not conservatives such as Ohio Rep. William McCullough, a key leader in passage of the Civil Rights Act. Instead, their lineage went back to the reaction against the New Deal, Sen. Joe McCarthy, and "the paranoid style in American politics," a term coined by the political scientist Richard J. Hofstadter in his famous 1964 essay.
It had received little traction with Republican presidential candidates Wendell Willkie, Thomas Dewey, Dwight Eisenhower, or even anti-communist Dick Nixon. But thanks to William F. Buckley's National Review (founded in 1955) and Goldwater's 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative, ghostwritten by Brent Bozell, the movement had received new life. It was conservatism 2.0. Behind its appeal were more than anti-communism, a call for low taxes and smaller government, and the perennial claim of Democratic foreign-policy weakness. A special magnet for many disaffected white voters was the right's opposition to the civil rights gains of the era.
For the Sunday Seattle Times, I wrote on whether Seattle's smokin' hot real-estate sector is in a bubble. My answer is, not yet. It seemed like a good time to check in on Phoenix, using gold-standard metrics instead of the local-yoken cheerleading. Here we go:
Prices are definitely up. They're not in 2000s territory and that's a good thing:
However, permits for single-family houses are still way down by historic standards. This is especially true so far (seven years) into a recovery. While good news for the environment and understandable with such a huge inventory from the bubble, it undercuts the prime mover of the metro area's economy:
As a result, construction employment is depressed. Not only has it not returned to 2000s levels, but it is lower than in the late 1990s, when the metro population was far smaller:
Sixty years ago last month, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal Highway Act of 1956. It marked the beginning of the Interstate Highway System, which now bear's Ike's name. It was completed 35 years later and now totals 47,835 miles. The cost: more than $506 billion in today's dollars.
In this era of austerity and gridlock, the Interstate System is like Project Apollo, the discoveries out of Bell Labs, the infrastructure built by the New Deal, and victory ensured by the Arsenal of Democracy and American armies and fleets triumphing in World War II. It was a model of what we could do together, before we became a venal and wicked people, paralyzed by greed, bigotry, and right-wing extremism.
But the Interstates came with a cost, some of it known at the time by a few forward or skeptical thinkers, more of it obvious today.
Wal-Mart is often cast as the force that destroyed Main Street. But before the Beast of Bentonville were the Interstates. By taking traffic out of small towns, they deprived merchants of much-needed customers. As a result, those towns were dying long before Sam Walton's store became a monopolistic empire. You don't have to look far to see the consequences. Downtown Mesa was thriving before U.S. 60 diverted traffic to the Superstition Freeway. Although not officially part of the Interstate system, this showed the results. Mesa is still trying to recover the dense, authentic downtown that once existed. Downtown Kingman, Williams, and Winslow were all dealt death blows by Interstate 40. Flagstaff was a rare exception. Why did Prescott and Wickenburg keep lively, diverse cores? The lack of Interstates, and for many years even multi-lane highways.
Interstates, and freeways in general, did nothing but destroy big cities. In Seattle, for example, Interstate 5 severed Capitol Hill from downtown, causing hundreds of historic buildings to be demolished. As with cities across the country, it made flight from the city to new suburbs easy. The damage from the unnecessary Papago Freeway Inner Loop, Interstate 10, to central Phoenix has been well-documented in these columns. More often than not, these urban freeways became congestion generators — every widening only made traffic worse.
It's rich that star columnist George "Chickenlips" Will has left the Republican Party because of the likely nomination of Donald Trump. He told the Federalist Society on Friday that he would change his registration to unaffiliated because the party that would have such a standard-bearer "is not my party." In a later interview, he said, "Make sure he loses. Grit (your) teeth for four years and win the White House."
I usually decline to extend [the real-estate developer's] brand by calling him by name, but here I am making an exception for clarity and economy of writing.
Beyond the unseemliness of a working journalist being registered as anything but an independent, Will's statement and even its forum tell us much — but not as he intended.
Columnists such as Will and the vast right-wing infrastructure that includes the Federalist Society (its specialty is the law and courts) have spent decades creating this moment. Decades of seeding the politics of racial antipathy through the Southern Strategy. Decades of teaching Americans to hate their government and be misinformed about its essential place in our society, history, and economy. Decades of creating devils (Hillary!) — and, yes, the left is capable of this, but doesn't have the reach of right-wing media. Decades of pushing policies that defunded schools, ruined our infrastructure, destroyed the middle class. All this was funded by a dark conspiracy of billionaires intent on repealing everything from the New Deal through the Nixon administration.
And this was mere prelude to the actions of the Republican Party in the Obama years. Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, we saw the frightening Nuremberg-lite rallies ginned up by Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Things got so bad that an embarrassed John McCain was forced to contradict an old bat who kept saying Obama was a Muslim terrorist. Palin led the party's final exodus from knowledge ("elitism!"), history, common sense. George Will didn't disown any of this; none of it offended his bow-tied Tory sensibility.
Then seven-and-a-half years of scorched-earth policy, where the GOP Congress regularly held the nation's economy and government hostage, even threatening default. Even minor appointments by the president were held up for years. The GOP-controlled House voted at least 60 times to repeal Obamacare, offering no alternative for uninsured Americans. Mr. Obama faced the unprecedented situation where his nominee to the Supreme Court could not even get a hearing. The party bigs and their puppetmasters helped fund the creation of the Tea Party — giving voice to an eager cohort of angry whites — ensuring a GOP so extreme that today Ronald Reagan couldn't win a Republican school-board primary. Not a peep from George Will. He was out to the ballgame.
Somebody on Facebook posted a T-shirt that said, "If you can't handle Phoenix at 122 degrees, you don't deserve Phoenix at 78 degrees." OK, then. Nothing to see here, move along.
When you're forced to rip off majestic cataclysm Detroit's mordant humor ("Detroit: Where the weak are killed and eaten"), you have issues as a city. The biggest one, climate change, is getting the least attention.
As day after day was hitting record high temperatures and at least four hikers were killed by the heat in Arizona, and untold numbers needing rescue that endangered the lives of first responders (been there, done that, and no, the view doesn't offer comfort when you're lugging some tenderfoot down a mountainside in a Stokes basket), when the heat was so severe it prompted an airliner to turn back because of fears of its tires blowing out on the broiling runway at Sky Harbor, with a possible serial killer on the loose in Maryvale... Amid all this, Phoenix received an unexpected gift.
It came in the form of a New York Times story headlined, "Phoenix focuses on rebuilding its downtown, wooing Silicon Valley."
Here was a godsend that none of the usual it's a dry heat, you don't have to shovel sunshine, I hike Camelback on the hottest days (moron), championship golf local-yokel booster Pravda propaganda could never match. The Newspaper of Record gave us a (if one didn't look too closely) glowing vote of confidence. What climate change? We're gonna be a tech hotspot!
My policy is to never make sport of a person's religion, however fanciful I may find it. So to the extent that Arizona's Republican leaders and their mouthpieces believe, as an article of faith, that tax cuts have made the state economy stronger...as Pope Francis would say, who am I to judge?
Now, if we're going to move beyond religion to facts, the story is different. The Arizona Republic reported that two decades of tax cuts will cost the state's general fund $4 billion this year. This comes from economists at ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business, hardly a hotbed of socialism or "you hate Arizona!"
This is a useful departure point to a deeper examination. Have tax cuts been good for Arizona's economy? Have they been good for Arizona?
In general, the most authoritative study yet, published late last year by William Gale, Kim Rueben, and Aaron Krupkin at the Tax Policy Center, found no connection between cutting top income-tax rates and state growth.
The three researchers hone in on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's "real life experiment" in supply side economics for the Milken Institute. The Brownback cuts, enacted four years ago, have been a template for other Republican governors. But they have been a disaster and Kansas' economy is suffering. These GOP cuts also typically result in regressive sales taxes that fall heaviest on the working poor, widening inequality.
Now let's look at Arizona specifically:
"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads."
The South Central line is one of the most promising additions to the Phoenix light-rail system (WBIYB). City Council has approved a plan to fast-track the five-mile extension to Baseline Road by 2023. But a crucial piece of the project isn't on the table, and as far as I know nobody is discussing it.
This line needs a slight rerouting: It needs to jog over the Third Avenue on Washington, then run south to Lincoln Street before moving back to Central for the journey south. This would provide two big benefits, one immediate and the other long term.
By shifting west, it would pick up large numbers of riders at the government centers of the city and county. But the big enchilada is that the line would pass just to the east of Union Station, which was Phoenix's intercity passenger rail depot until the 1990s.
Light rail might need a tunnel under the current Union Pacific line, but it would be worth it. The payoff would be connecting light rail with a reborn Union Station as the hub for a region-wide commuter train system as well as the return of Amtrak to Tucson and Los Angeles.
If Phoenix fails to do this, it will be a blunder to be regretted for decades to come.
I've had a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that I'm not as fast as I used to be. Part of it is me, and part the deluge from our hyper-connected society. The bottom line is that I will be writing less often. Once a week will be the norm, occasionally twice, especially if the news demands it.
My day job at the Seattle Times requires four or five columns per week. Then there's the "constituent service" of responding to readers and dealing with the stunningly large number of "pitches" from flacks. I'm a regular on Seattle's NPR station, KUOW. Staying informed requires an enormous amount of research.
Then there are the novels. I have started a new Mapstone Mystery — and I can't make serious progress on it with the current workload. All of these are paying gigs and I was very careless in choosing my parents. So I have to bring money in the door.
Arizona's Continuing Crisis will be updated every Wednesday and I will do the other In-Depth Reports as I can. And the site has plenty to read, especially if your jones is Phoenix history. Also, the Front Page is freshly posted with some of the best journalism every day. But the columns will likely come only weekly. Thanks for your understanding and for continuing to read Rogue. And spread the word — plenty of former fans of my Republic columns don't realize I still write on Arizona.
In an otherwise interesting essay entitled, "The Price of Perpetual War," we find this perplexing paragraph:
The United States did not choose this era of perpetual war. It is the price of living in a world where, for the first time, terrorist groups and malevolent individuals can reach the United States and wreak havoc from virtually any corner of the world. That threat was literally brought home by al Qaeda on 9/11 and reinforced all too recently by the terror attacks in Paris, Brussels, and San Bernardino.
Does anyone believe this is so? Alas, millions of Americans. But to make a quick list...
...We chose to give a blank check to Saudi Arabia to run one of the world's most repressive regimes while spreading extremist war-on-the-infidels Islam throughout the Middle East and beyond. One doesn't have to subscribe to conspiracy theories to acknowledge that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens. And what has our kowtowing to the kingdom given us? The House of Saud's oil, to fuel our "non-negotiable" (and already heavily subsidized) car-based sprawl lifestyle. Most oil needs to stay in the ground if we are to avoid destroying the planet even more — and between "making different arrangements" and domestic oil, we don't need OPEC anymore. ...
...We chose an even closer connection to Israel, Riyadh's quiet ally, whether this was in America's national interest or not. And with the oppressive and increasingly extremist regime of Benjamin Netanyahu is it increasingly not. Indeed, increasing Jewish settlements on Palestinian land and injustices against the Palestinian people committed by Israel blow back on the United States, which has long ago lost its credibility as an honest broker in the Middle East. It has inflamed Islamic and Arabic anger against us. And for what? To please the powerful donors of AIPAC and older Jewish voters in the swing state of Florida?...
On June 2, 1976, a bomb detonated under the car of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles in Midtown Phoenix. He survived an agonizing 11 days before he died. A recent article by Bolles' colleague John Winters lays out the basics. I've written about the case before here, as well as the Phoenix underworld. The closest assassins went to prison. Yet full justice was never served. The real puppetmasters got away with it. Many in high positions wanted it to go away.
But what exactly was it? The case has been extensively covered over the years, from the Arizona Project of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and contemporary, dogged reporting, by Republic and Phoenix Gazette reporters, including Al Sitter, Paul Dean, and Charles Kelly. New Times ran the IRE series and kept digging over the following decades, especially with Jana Bommersbach, John Dougherty, Tom Fitzpatrick and Paul Rubin. The Republic continues with retrospectives. Don Devereux, who worked for the Scottsdale Progress, still writes a blog about the case. A fascinating new book by Dave Wagner, an R&G city editor, The Politics of Murder: Organized Crime in Barry Goldwater's Arizona, makes an important contribution.
With so much having been written, so many characters and theories, one danger is becoming lost in a house of mirrors. The Bolles case would be the ultimate test of a mystery writer, were he foolish enough to try to make it into popular crime fiction. That's because in real life, the case was complex and shaded. It involved journalism and supposition, not all of the latter ultimately true. Carl Bernstein said that good journalism is the best available truth at that moment. But journalists write on history's leading edge and history is an argument without end. Law enforcement continues to debate the case, too. Files were lost or misplaced, perhaps deliberately. Among them, Phoenix Police file No. 851. In addition to the missing file, index cards for the files were also removed from the records room. Did it contain inconvenient information about Adamson, Emprise and Kemper Marley? Or more? Self-serving narratives, hidden agendas, and bad memories further blur the trail. Many questions remain.
So my modest attempt for the 40th anniversary of the bombing is a list of the actual major players and their connection with the most notorious assassination of a reporter on American soil:
John Adamson: Don Bolles left his post covering the state Legislature to meet Adamson at the Clarendon House Hotel on June 2nd. Adamson promised a juicy tip on a land fraud involving Barry Goldwater, Harry Rosenzweig, Sam Steiger, and Kemper Marley. In reality, while Bolles waited for him in the lobby, Adamson planted the dynamite device under the driver's side of Bolles' new Datsun 710. After giving up on the meeting, Bolles returned to the parking lot, started his car, and pulled out when the bomb went off.
Usually portrayed as a small-time but menacing hood, Adamson hung out on the Central Avenue bars and the dog track. But he actually had worked his way up to being chief enforcer for land-fraud kingpin Ned Warren and had been retained by associates of Barry Goldwater for dirty business in a Navajo power struggle. He also worked as a confidential informant for someone in the Phoenix Police. Bolles identified Adamson in his famous last words. In exchange for cooperation, Adamson was given a 20-year sentence. When convictions from his testimony were thrown out, prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder. This conviction didn't stick. So after serving 20 years, Adamson entered federal witness protection, then voluntarily left it, dying in 2002. Some retired cops and journalists suspect that Adamson protected the true source of the death warrant on Bolles. In a jailhouse interview with Bommersbach and Rubin, Adamson said chillingly, "I didn't kill him for a story he'd written. I killed him for a story he was going to write."
In 1941, Arthur Horton, a professor at Arizona State Teachers College, the precursor of ASU, published a remarkable Survey of Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. What makes it still valuable is that it provides us with the most authoritative examination of Phoenix in that decade, or at any time until perhaps the 1960s.
The exhaustive report is also helpful in understanding a decade that meant far more than American involvement in World War II and its effects on Phoenix (which I wrote about here). That lasted less than four years out of 10. Much more was going on.
The decade began with a strong local economy, almost entirely thanks to the New Deal’s enormous largesse toward Phoenix and Arizona. The stimulus spending worked and helped pull Phoenix out of the Great Depression. By 1940, Americans were doing better and traveling, including visiting the mostly new resorts including the Arizona Biltmore, Camelback Inn, Jokake Inn, Adobe House, Ingleside Inn, Wigwam Guest Ranch and San Marcos at Chandler, as well as Phoenix’s premier hotels. The “Valley of the Sun” tourist promotion launched by the Chamber of Commerce and the railroads was paying off. To be sure, not everyone was doing better: 10,000 in the county (population 186,000) were on relief.
Agriculture remained the mainstay of the Salt River Valley’s economy. According to Horton, Arizona had 1.1 million grapefruit trees, 625,000 orange trees; 17,000 lemon trees; 5,000 tangerine trees, and 2,675 lime trees. Most of these were in the American Eden in and around Phoenix.
Matt Taibbi's column entitled "RIP, GOP: How Trump is Killing the Republican Party" is a compelling, entertaining read. He writes:
After 9/11, it felt like the Republicans would reign in America for a thousand years. Only a year ago, this was still a party that appeared to be on the rise nationally, having gained 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats, 11 governorships and 913 state legislative seats during the Obama presidency.
Now the party was effectively dead as a modern political force, doomed to go the way of the Whigs or the Free-Soilers.
But I'm not sure his argument here ultimately holds up. Nor does his premise that the Republican base has finally awoken from its trance, realized they have been sold down the river by the GOP, and are finally ready to "fight for their economic lives," if even with the incoherent [real-estate developer].
My sense of the base is that its rage is driven by that (Black) Man in the White House, people of color allegedly getting free things they don't deserve, Hispanics illegal and legal, SOCIALISM, and the usual culture war tropes from guns to, now, transgender bathrooms. And come November, every Republican from David Brooks and Paul Ryan to the red suburban precincts of Phoenix will dutifully cast their ballots for [the real-estate developer].
With Arizona ending live greyhound racing, it's the end of an era long coming. Where the state once had five tracks, the only one left was in poor Tucson, which couldn't even keep a slice of Spring Training. The track in Phoenix closed to live racing in 2009. Changing tastes, animal activists and, especially, the proliferation of tribal casinos did in the pastime.
But once upon a time, it was a big deal. Before Phoenix Greyhound Park became a swap meet and was painted, like so much of the town, brown, it was one of the city's premier entertainment attractions. The golden age was from the 1950s through the 1970s. Opening in 1954, Phoenix Greyhound Park at 40th Street and Washington was a neon-lit palace where middle-class couples and compulsive gamblers mixed with the city's elite — and members of its extensive population of mobsters. Betting was legal. And a pre-video-device audience thrilled to dogs racing chasing a mechanical "lure" around the track. The park promised glamor, excitement, and was highly advertised ("there goes the rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!").
The extent of organized crime's penetration of dog racing in Phoenix remains an important, and controversial, element of the mystery of the 1976 assassination of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles. After the blast and before he passed out, first responders heard Bolles say (a version of) "they finally got me...Adamson, Emprise, Mafia...find John Adamson..." Emprise was a sports conglomerate headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y. and controlled by the Jacobs family. It held a controlling interest in Arizona dog tracks.
Emprise was found to be associated with organized crime figures and convicted in Los Angeles of racketeering in 1972. The allegations involved taking a hidden interest in a Las Vegas casino to skim the profits. In Phoenix, Emprise had been a target of Bolles' investigative reporting and focus of a crackdown by the state Racing Commission in the early 1970s. Even so, the state allowed the company to keep its concessions, including at Phoenix Greyhound Park. Emprise's Phoenix partner was the Funk family And it had friendly ties to Kemper Marley, the powerful land-and-booze baron always lurking at the edge of the Bolles murder.
May 4th marked the centennial of the birth of seminal urbanist Jane Jacobs. It has been marked by numerous articles. Some of the better ones are here, here, here, and, for a contemporary piece of revisionist iconoclasm, here. The latter aside, Jacobs remains an important figure, perhaps the most influential voice, in explaining the value of cities, how they really worked, and the damage of the planning elite. She begins her most famous work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, bluntly: "This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding."
Written in 1961, the book was the first major refutation of the ideas that had brought urban renewal, dead housing projects, dull suburbia. Her great nemesis was Robert Moses, the powerful city planner and master builder of mid-century New York City. His hubris and the damage he did to New York are masterfully plumbed in Robert Caro's The Power Broker. Entire neighborhoods were bulldozed to make way for his freeways and his influence spread nationwide. She led the crusade that stopped Moses' Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have gutted Geenwich Village, SoHo, and Little Italy. At one point in the battle, she was accused of inciting a riot (talk about the Resistance).
Jacobs was not an ideologue. To her, ideology was poison, offering "pre-fabricated answers" that adherents always fall back on. Instead, she was an observer of cities, a chronicler of what worked and what didn't.
Not once is Phoenix mentioned in Jacobs' first book, even though it was a big city by 1961. Still, I suspect she would have found much to like in the old Phoenix, where there was a "ballet of the streets" downtown and much of the city was focused on use by people instead of automobiles. This was before the freeways, before the teardowns. If she were alive today (she died in 2006), Phoenix would represent every horror she could imaging befalling a city. The Papago Freeway inner loop is classic Robert Moses vandalism. Her critique would include a lack of safety, for she documented how much more crime occurred in "thinned out" Los Angeles than in dense New York.
With Circles partially demolished and tagged and being held hostage by the developer comes news of another Central Avenue icon facing the bulldozer.
The Macayo's restaurant that has stood for decades at Central and Indianola is facing demolition. In its place would be some 225 "residential units" in 65-foot building (this being Phoenix, of course, that is a big maybe). The developer is requesting a zoning change to "walkable urban."
One astounding thing is that "walkable urban" would require "only" 256 parking spaces (!). But the developer wants 369. "Free" parking is never free and Phoenix has way too much of it. Real urbanism would take down the number of spaces substantially. But, hey, WBIYB and the project (if it really happens) would be on light rail.
The really good news is that Macayo's intends to move to the south and stay in business.
As you can see, our Front Page Editor is not shy about his opinions as we head into the general election race. I don't share them but he takes a better photo than your humble columnist. He also represents a not insubstantial portion of Bernie-struck progressives. Now that [the real-estate developer] has made his nomination virtually inevitable, I do have a few observations.
1. It's amusing seeing the pearl-clutching, "how could we have been so wrong?" musings of the pundit class. See the New York Times' Nate Cohn here. If you want further laughs, there's always Thomas Friedman, sans taxi driver. As someone rightly tweeted, "@tomfriedman wrong on every single thing he writes, every day of his life, & it will not in any way jeopardize him."
Even a simple, small-town boy from Phoenix could tell that Trump was formidable from the get-go. He is a reality TV star in Moronistan. He doesn't give a damn about "conservative" dogma, but knows how to push just the right buttons with the real conservative base in today's America. He was facing nullities as opponents. Time magazine anointed Marco Rubio as "the Republican savior," among a host of covers crowning Chris Christie, Rand Paul et al. As commenter Concern Troll would say, "lol lol."
2. Neither "conservatism" nor the Republican Party are dead. They have merely taken off their human suits, shucked off the last of William F. Buckley intellectual respectability, seen their Gingrich Revolutionaries tote each other to the guillotine, and found their true north in [the real-estate developer].
There was not, as George Wallace would say, a dime's bit of difference between the creepy Ted Cruz and the pleasant John Kasich. All were in thrall of the nostrums of The Party That Wrecked America. The Party of Lincoln and TR, even a mass American political party, had been dying for some time. But don't be under any delusions.
The same political savants now predicting mass defections are wrong. When they get to the polling place, they will vote for [the real-estate developer]. Unlike the most fervent backers of Sen. Sanders, they know there's a huuuuge! difference between him and Hillary. More significantly, they will continue to vote Republican down-ticket. This will especially matter if Democratic fratricide continues.
I don't want to be too hard on Banner Health considering the outfit placed its headquarters in a Midtown skyscraper. But a year after it changed the nearly century-old name of Good Samaritan Hospital to Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix, I am still thinking, huh?
There's no university there on east McDowell. Indeed, it was Banner and CEO Peter Fine that torpedoed plans to relocate the county hospital to a new building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, with the medical and nursing schools, where the "bench-to-bedside" vision of T-Gen's Jeff Trent could have been realized. This action in the 2000s showed Banner at its very worst.
The "university" part comes from Banner's $1 billion takeover of the University of Arizona's medical center and a satellite clinic in Tucson. More about that in a moment.
To be sure, names change. The old Scottsdale Baptist Hospital changed its affiliation and became Scottsdale Memorial Hospital in the 1970s. It was where I trained to be a paramedic. When I returned in 2000, it was something called Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, sounding more like a doctor's office than a hospital, much less a Level 1 trauma center. Now it's HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center (how much did some consultant get paid to slam the two words together?).
St. Joe's has somehow kept its original, historic name even if it was excommunicated by the bishop, so to speak. Smaller St. Luke's is still there, too, under control of the unfortunately named IASIS Healthcare (when acronyms go bad!). John C. Lincoln Hospital also has the HonorHealth mashup in front of its name but at least kept its identity.
[The real-estate developer] gave a "serious foreign policy speech" this week and it actually had much to recommend it. To be sure, it had contradictions. He channeled John Quincy Adams when he said that under his administration, "The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies." He savagely critiqued the Cheney Doctrine. Thoughtful people would be unsettled by "America First," because that echoes the isolationism of Charles Lindbergh. And while he challenged free-rider allies to do more, he said, "We’re going to finally have a coherent foreign policy based upon American interests, and the shared interests of our allies." Perhaps the key word is shared. Because many interests of our allies, especially Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel, do not serve our national interest.
But overall, it was a serious and compelling address, one to make the foreign policy elites squirm. Things such as this make him a very dangerous opponent for the Democrats in the fall.
He has already found the sweet spot for Republican voters, a combination of economic nationalism and xenophobia on Muslims and Mexicans. Most average conservative voters don't really care about the dogma peddled by Ted Cruz and the right-wing elites. Jim Kunstler is willing to write what is forbidden in liberal circles but widely felt elsewhere:
In terms of sheer persona on persona, Trump is not much better (than Hillary Clinton), a walking hood ornament on the faltering beater car that America has become. But at least he recognizes that the beater beneath him needs a complete overhaul, even if he can barely cobble up a coherent list of particulars, or name the mechanics who might be able to fix the damn thing. And, of course, a broad swathe of Americans whose lives have also come to resemble beater cars are very sympathetic to the impulses Trump radiates.
For example, I happen to agree that the nation needs to act on immigration, both on the problem of illegal immigrants and on limiting the quotas of legally admitted newcomers. The Left, sunk in its sentimental sob stories of “dreamers,” and its nostalgia for the Ellis Island romance of 1904, can’t conceive of any reason why the nation might benefit from, at least, a time-out on invitations. The idea undermines their world-saving fantasies. In my little corner of America, the computer chip factory run by Global Foundries (owned by the Emirate of Dubai) has just laid off the majority of its homegrown American technical labor force and replaced them with foreign technicians on H1B visas, thus creating x-number of new Trump voters among the laid-off, and rightfully so, I think.
The number of foreign-born Americans is at a record, higher than even the enormous wave of immigrants from the 1890s to 1920, after which the nation implemented just such a time-out.
Stewart Motor Co., the Studebaker dealership, in the 1950s.
I knew they would do it, only when and whom the "they" would be. After Circles Records closed in 2010, I worried every time I passed the empty building. The only surprise was the speed with which much of the cherished former Stewart Motor/Circles Records, built in 1947, was demolished.
Aspirant Development, a unit of Scottsdale-based Empire Group, says it wants to build apartments on the site at Central and McKinley. It bought the parcel for $2.65 million. The company had even scheduled a meeting with the Roosevelt Action Association neighborhood groups on the Monday when...ooops!...two-thirds (or less) of the streamline moderne structure was torn down.
In a way, it's a salutary development that there was enough outrage to stop the tear-down and cause Aspirant to hire the ubiquitous Jason and Jordan Rose to handle damage control. Mayor Greg Stanton had this to say on Facebook:
I am angry that in the middle of negotiating a plan to save the iconic Stewart Motor Company building, the developer began demolition. After my office participated in discussions between the developer and neighborhood leaders, I was confident that a resolution would be found. However, sadly, it appears that the developer was acting in bad faith.
The City’s Community and Economic Development Department was in the middle of discussions with the developer, Empire Group. Some of the agreed terms of the discussion stated that the developer would not demolish or remove any portion of the existing building on the Site prior to submitting for construction permits. Empire has plans to build a 19-story apartment building on the 1.24-acre site.
If only such consciousness had been around when hundreds of irreplaceable buildings were bulldozed in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet even now, the unofficial Preservation Police can't be everywhere at once, particularly when so much of the deck is stacked against them.
The developer even apologized. But here's the rub: Aspirant appears to be holding the remains — basically the facade — hostage in order to secure a tax break from the city. Something like a 25-year moratorium on property taxes. In exchange, it would build the 19-story apartment tower with pieces of the old building incorporated into a boring new glass lookalike design. After the developer's behavior, this will be a tough sell to Council.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton gave a fine State of the City speech this week (you can watch it here). One could quibble with his "Not even a decade after the Great Recession shook us to our knees, Phoenix has emerged stronger and more resilient than ever before with an economy that is breaking free from the chains of the boom-then-bust cycle." Phoenix has far under-performed its peer cities in this recovery. But Stanton is an upbeat guy and Phoenicians have a hard time with reality.
He deserves credit for the courage to call out the Kookocracy's war on cities.
Now, the hard stuff. Outside the prepared remarks, the mayor supports building a new arena to be shared by the Suns and Coyotes, with at least some taxpayer money involved. The Arizona Republic reported, "Phoenix already has a permanent tourism tax on hotel and motel stays and car rentals. It is in the process of selling the city-owned Sheraton hotel and the Translational Genomics Research Institute building downtown, projects supported by the tourism tax. By getting those buildings off its books, the city could potentially free up revenue to help pay for a new stadium."
Not surprisingly, this produced its share of criticism. For example, E.J. Montini columnized about rich team owners asking for welfare:
So, politely as possible, I would suggest that all of us collectively send a little note to these guys:
"Dear Suns, Coyotes (and Diamondbacks),
"Build your own damn sports complex.
A restroom sign at Safeco Field in progressive Seattle. You won't find this in Red America.
Living on the ring of fire, I think of earthquakes, try to prepare for them. The U.S. Geological Survey explains their cause, “The tectonic plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy…”
Our whole country consists of tectonic plates that have been stressing against each other for decades, ready to let loose The Big One.
The last time we were this divided was the eve of the Civil War. This time, the sectionalism remains — it has even grown — but there’s little chance of secession. So we will grind on until some event precipitates the big break.
I think of this watching the controversy over North Carolina's House Bill 2, otherwise known as the “bathroom bill.”
The Republican governor, Pat McCrory, was Charlotte’s mayor when I was business editor of the Charlotte Observer. I knew him as a not-very-useful source. He was good looking, one lapel shy of being an empty suit, no Rhodes Scholar.