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October 23, 2009

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A city like Phoenix would be hostile to any visionary and given its current struggles, hostile to anyone who hopes to stem the city's bleeding. There isn't much else going on except perpetuating a myth that Phoenix is a "winner" city. Right-wing media like Forbes Magazine and The Wall St Journal will do their part but it's probable this cheerleading will sound a little tinny when the growth slows to a crawl.

We've defied gravity for a couple of decades now and a peek downward will not comfort the faint of heart. Pessimism isn't a strategy but it does afford striking vistas as the mirage dissipates.

Managing our civic retrenchment will be the leading task of the next City Manager. There will be disappointed citizens and municipal employees. The worst thing will be the gradual realization that this new state of affairs could become chronic, that Phoenix's onward-and-upward trajectory has now become a snail's random travels around a shrinking garden. Nostalgia for the boom years will slowly replace the boom itself as our default social reality. Remember when? Yes, we do and it doesn't change a damn thing.

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