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May 26, 2010


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When I was a kid a very long time ago, the "destiny" factor had already craned its smiley face above the serrated horizon. Phoenix was a great place and it was going to keep getting better and better. I recall those first moments of doubt in the late 60s when the growth began to seem more like a machine chewing up everything in its path. At that time, Tucson was the counterargument. It still had an intact downtown, a sense of history and tradition, and all those mountains - the "sky islands" - on its flanks. It was heaven.

Tucson relieved itself of much of its charm in the following decades. Today, it might as well be South Gilbert given its pastel stucco skin and suburban crudscape. But the locals fought for it despite the long odds. They even elected a slow-growth majority on the Tucson City Council in the 70s. But the growth machine outlasted them, and the rest is our all-too predictable history.

The counterfactuals are torture to ponder. They were never a real possibility given the obscene ease with which we threw it all away. I still have a few mementos from that time. My father tore down some of those Central Avenue mansions for the salvage rights. One of them was the Heard residence, Casa Blanca. Its replacement, Phoenix Towers, is an artifact itself. Those of us who care to remember should be on the historic registry, along with the quaint dreams of manifest destiny circa 1957.

History is exasperating because its lessons arrive after we broke the heirloom china in a drunken bacchanal. I still drive myself crazy thinking about losses that will always be losses. It's too late and always has been. We remember less to prevent future horrors than to console ourselves with imagination. It's not much but it's the best we can do.

This is Jon Talton at his best, in my opinion . . . and I've followed him for quite a while.
Now, what if each of us took on ONE of the initiatives he recommends?
For me, its electing Terry Goddard to put an adult in control and at least partially neutralize the Kookocracy. I promise to work hard for this.
Anybody else like this idea? There are many talkers but fewer do-ers out there.

Is it just me, or does Mary Rose Wilcox make Bernie Madoff seem like a real nice, trustworthy guy? I pose this question here, because, with "leaders" like her in place here in the Valley of the Sun, I don't see much forward progress being made in Maricopa county. You can have a dozen baker's dozen of hopeful ideas to improve our valley, but it just seems to me that we have way more than our fair share of village idiots running this place. Tomorrow is my birthday and I should be looking forward to a happy day, but I have to be honest with all of you, I'm thinking of spending the day with my good friend Jack Daniels, and trying to forget that I live in this Godforsaken place. Jim, I was a "do-er" for twenty years. I tried, I really tried to convince all of South Phoenix that the key to the future of their youth was education and becoming a part of the new bilingual economy. Instead, they chose pregnancy, guns, Spanish only, isolation and Mary Rose Wilcox. I didn't give up. I was pushed out. Now, in a couple of years I will move up to my place in the mountains and I will spend my remaining years dreaming of what could have been. Happy Birthday to me.

I have a feed to Jon's blog on my desktop but I cannot always bear to read him. He is an old testament prophet in a city burning for new testament redemption. I hesitate to hope for a good candidate who will stand up to the nut cases and the greedy, because with the exception of the emergency sales tax election (IV fluids for the terminal patient, not a cure), I wind up with hot tears in my eyes every time. Our future? The Sal Di Ciccios who hold a sly hand of real estate cards, who gouge as much self gain as possible out of every issue, and wait alertly for their moment to spring. And an equally self-interested electorate who will happily put them where they will do the most harm. Will your place up north be the heaven you hope for, AZREBEL? I hear they're going to master plan the mountains as soon as the economy tips up ...


To me, a do-er might be an activist and an advocate for (preferably) a focused cause. For me, the last 10 years has been devoted to shining the light on the Valley's air quality. Some think I've made a difference. Jon would know better than I, but I banged away on the legislature and the media . . and don't intend to quit . . no matter what! Giving up would mean giving in and letting the bastards win!

A tip of my glass to "pointless, counterfactual flings" and to clarity through the after-hours fog.

Neither Terry Goddard, "a good candidate", nor any other hoped-for messiah can bring redemption to what was long imagined to be an exponentional equation, but is now exposed by the economics of depletion, complexity, and social division as being something akin to a sharp gaussian function. Phoenix, as it is, can now serve only as a warning and a salvage yard.

Taxes are inevitably levied in one way or another.

No regrets.

AXREBEL - Wilcox is right up there with DiCiccio. Never have trusted her and never will.

I'm not crazy about the Goddards either, its' like they think its Terry's birthright to be governor. Last time he ran we ended up with Ev Mecham. We were better off with Mofford (bless her beehive!).

That's an accurate, if horrifying, list of our woes. But I do have one quibble. Preserving the old agricultural industry, whatever its other merits, would have been water-intensive itself. Ag places more demands on water supplies that does residential development. One of the theories of the groundwater code was essentially that farmers would be pushed out in order to divert water supplies to residential use. I'm not a fan of sprawl, but the old ag regime wasn't easy on the water supply, either.

There's no question that there were limits to how much of the Salt River Valley could be cultivated before the benefits were offset by the costs. But at a certain level, agriculture was very beneficial to the region. It was also the natural human footprint in this fertile river valley (i.e., Phoenix was never like Tucson).

The Newlands Act and the CAP were intended and sold for agriculture. Sprawl was a bait-and-switch. The oft-used pitch that houses use less water than agriculture is misguided on many levels. For one thing, it doesn't take into account pools, lakes, golf courses, etc. Secondly, it doesn't account for the many environmental consequences of sprawl. Third, it doesn't account for the cost of losing agriculture, both on the heat island (which adds costs from increased air-conditioning use as well as loss of livability) and the national/regional food security issue.

Another excellent article on Phoenix. Well done. This needs to be shared with everyone who lives here.

A friend of mine and I were talking a few years ago about Phoenix and how it should be seen as the front lines for liberal/progressive people. If we really want to make a change in the US then we need to start by changing the worst places such as Phoenix. By moving to Portland or Austin we only add to the status quo's strength by removing our voices and votes.

It is a grim and daunting task but so is Global Recession, Global Warming, and countless other issues. You can move to a more progressive state and in essence hide your head in the sand, or you can speak up and engage people. I truly think we can make a change for the better here. People are fed up with the status quo, the racism, the opportuinists, and most of all Scottsdale.

Rant over, once again great reading.

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