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November 15, 2010


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Given the economic and political realities of Phoenix, I'm not sure if there could be any miracle worker/mayor. I generally ignored Gordon because I didn't trust the millenialist real-estate fervor that enveloped him. He was a lightning rod for the anti-mass transit, anti-urban right. As much as anything, that largely ginned-up hostility blighted his own aura. As the biggest Democrat "on the bench", his name ID and reputation have been effectively neutered.

We used to resent the "bigs" here like the Phoenix Forty. Now we miss them because we know that it was people like Richard Mallery, James Simmons, and Jerry Colangelo who could pick up the phone and make things happen. In that void a few public officials wander about but no one can galvanize a non-existent power structure. Something happened here and phantoms now preside where the local elite governed.

We can speculate whether the suddenly globalized economy has untethered powerful elites from the cities they once ruled. Now, many could relocate and no one would really notice. When Dial decamped to Scottsdale, it was barely lamented since John Teets had already been forced out. While we mourn the loss, the break-up was ordained by outside financial sharpies, not our local rajahs.

So, who will rule? Central Phoenix is blue but much of the north and Ahwatukee might as well be suburban parasites. Look for their city councilmen to begin reflecting the dissociated politics of right-wing culture warriors. In the absence of authority and felt command, the chaos shall churn up the muck. We inherited a city but it's the fragments that shall create the future.

There are managers, there are politicians, and there are leaders. Unfortunately, the leaders are a rarity.

Leaders are visionary and are able to communicate their vision which inspires people. Phil Gordon has never been able to do that.

Then he gets a big head and thinks he is above everyone else, so its OK for him to create a sexual controversy, create ethics issues in his city business duties, and shut out the press that asks tough questions.

In other words, just another average politician that will be quickly forgotten.

Skip Rimsza was a pretty effective mayor. I never understood why he was maligned at the time.

Phil is a good guy and I think he may run in 2012 in hopes of sending John Kyl packing.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm heading for the hills tomorrow and will be off line until Dec. Please don't solve any world problems until I get back.



P.S. We haven't had an effective mayor since Margaret Hance, so quit trying to inflate the memories of all the sissy-men we've had since then.

Quite right about the closing lines Jon ... hate seems to be the first thing that comes to mind when I think of several of our leading public officials. My understanding is that 50%+ of our citizens under 18 are non-white ... yet our leaders (nearly all white and old) do not have a clue how to engage their spirit, energy, intellect, and passion for our state and country. Shame.

The fact that the 'North Scottsdalers' refer to Phoenix as 'the Hispanic Detroit' says a lot more about them than it does about Phoenix. Does anyone, other than them, really care what they think? I know I don't.

Not very well written - full of grammatical mistakes - and replete with self loathing. How is it this "author" is provided a venue to publish such nonsense?

First off Jackisback, it's a free publishing venue. If you want grammatically perfect prose go elsewhere. Like many people in Phoenix/Arizona, you're caught up in the mechanics and not the message. Jon, yours is a much needed voice at this point in Maricopa County's evolution. We've backed ourselves into an ideological corner with this past election. If we get a hard right mayor, the damage will be devastating. As for your top three, I agree with you (unfortunately) on Pearce. He will be drunk with power by the second week in January. I'll bet he becomes a Fox darling in no time. Arpaio is becoming an angry old man yelling at the neighborhood kids and at nothing at all. With Henderschott's departure, Joe seems unfocused and unhinged. But for the sake of argument, I'll put him at No. 2. No. 3? Hmm. I wish it was a charasmatic, get-things-done business leader, but I fear it's one of Brewer's behind-the-secenes guys.

I don't completely agree with Jackisback...what Jon writes isn't all nonsense but it does make me wonder (without sounding as racist as this comes off) what the hell happened to White America??? I was so looking forward to growing up and working with whites like no other generation in the past.

To an extent it has happened but there does seem to be much more self-loathing from white people these days and an attitude of defeatism. It is kind of annoying. I am of course Hispanic, as I've noted before, and feel a great sense of hope and optimism for the future. This is America after all people. Wake up from your false nightmares and start acting like it!

As far as Phoenix being a "Hispanic Detroit" I say kiss my ass to anyone who so believes that. If Phoenix is like Detroit in anyway then Detroit must be a pretty nice place to live. We've experienced a tumbling in criminal activity, especially murder despite recent cases and from all reputable sources Phoenix job market is one of the healthiest in terms of growth this year and last. I've posted the reports on earlier conversation.

There is no rebuke of facts from people on this site or Jon but instead we get "feelings" and "a sense" that things might be bad in Phoenix (which is absolutely true for real estate especially in the hard hit fringes). However, feelings are not facts nor statistics. And don't preach to me about statistics with quotes like "I can prove anything by statistics except the truth." A sentiment usually only relevant when stats don't go one's way.

As for North Scottsdalers weighing in on their opinion of the city; please I've been up there it is just Palm Valley (Goodyear, Avondale) on a little more "juice" and without the mix of races and elasticities. Houses in N. Scottsdale look like my families' houses in Palm Valley only slightly larger for the most part. Most N. Scottsdalers couldn't afford to live in many Center City neighborhoods much less the real affluent areas of North Central Phoenix, Biltmore, Camelback, Arcadia, hell even parts of Sunnyslope!

As far as Phoenix being a city with problems, which doesn't? A few things Jon can write about his adopted home town: The Alaskan Way Viaduct and political impotence with its safety, especially in the event of an earthquake, most of downtown Seattle is built on unstable soils that are very susceptible to liquefaction, political wrangles that consumes mass transit issues which is why Seattle has a woefully underdeveloped light rail (rail in general) system for a city of its density and size (even Phoenix' light rail is much larger and many times higher in ridership), corporate exodus (Boeing, Amazon, Washington Mutual, Safeco to name a few), and the fact that Seattle's (not Phoenix') population has actually shrunk some. The old saying (popularized in the 70's and 80's, even showing up on billboards) "Will the Last Person Leaving Seattle Turn Out the Lights" is still a haunting prospect in the very gray, very gloomy corner of the Northwest.

Correction on Goodyear/Avondale: please repalce "elasticities" with ethnicities.

I would agree that Phoenix is on a Detroit tragectory. We have a one-trick pony economy and we're not doing nearly enough to diversify or to invest strategically.

Andres Duany recently gave a lecture in Phoenix and warned us not to be so smug in thinking that ending up like Detroit is impossible. Detroit was once a truly Great American City - and it lost everything. Phoenix isn't, and never has been, a Great American City so it's just as plausible - if not more so.

Somethings to consider as well that I wish would happen much more quickly in this country: Phoenix and Arizona for that matter are now on the map for high speed rail.

Jon reported before that Phoenix was overlooked by Federal officials in studying corridors for possible construction. The federal government has funded a study that would connect Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Prior studies, which include a Portland-Seattle link show that Phoenix/L.A. would be one of the busiest lines in the nation, surpassing a Portland-Seattle line. It has the PHX/LA route as 15th busiest and Seattle/Portland near 30th.


I do wish that we could build rail as fast as the Chinese, but I would not give up living in the U.S. for China. I've seen first hand the destruction of Chinese history and cultural institutions and fabric due to the "new" China. Including the pollution that has contributed to a 70% rise in cancer rates and some of the world's most polluted fresh water (greater than 25%).

In fact, most of China's 1.4 billion citizens don't even get to see, much less ride the rails and cities that they connect. Most of the roads in China (seen estimates greater than 80%) are unpaved and most Chinese lack basic infrastructure. Jon's love affair with China is greatly misplaced.

Might as well feel the same about Mexico; my feeling is that due to the smog in Mexico City and Beijing one wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

Kevin, please save your unsupported rantings for the zealots. You have no supporting evidence only more "feelings". I usually don't take such a hard stance, but this is just getting old.

If you knew the history of Detroit's decline you'd have a very different opinion. First, yes Detroit has a special place in America's industrial past but it was much more of a "one trick pony" compared to Phoenix. Their only industry was the automotive industrail complex; which once faced with hardship completely sunk the city into decade after decade of decline and unparalleled loss of diversity and investment.

Sorry, but it is not the same and can never be compared to Phoenix. The largest employers in Phoenix are in medicine and related research. Banner Health being Phoenix' largest private employer followed by companies like Honeywell, Apollo (mostly higher ed), Wells Fargo, and Pinnacle West...all very different industries with significant employment numbers in the city. Time to do your homework.

I know most people write of the harsh landscape of the beautiful Sonoran Desert, many do not like it and wish for the destruction of Phoenix citing the aridity of the region as unsustainable for city life.

But I beg to differ. Some of the oldest civilizations and cultures to this day are found in such regions: Southern and Central Spain, Morocco, and regions of "Babylonia and Mesopotamia" and the cradle of civilization itself.

Granted it could not support population the size of New York in the Sonoran without massive desalination projects (unlikely creations in my lifetime), but there are far worse situated regions of humanity. Namely, Seattle:


And with sound simulation (kind of mocks the seriousness of the situation):


If water is an issue for Phoenix in the distant future and is catastrophic but only implied and no real data exists that shows Phoenix running out of water anytime soon, then these stabilization projects that are always held up due to political impotence are apocolytpic.

Underground stabilization would need to be constructed, starting today, on the scale of Tokyo's infrastructure to make Seattle a livable and survivable city.

oops, posted to many of the same link; meant to have this one on my post:


The largest employer in Phoenix is Wal-Mart. When analyzing the economic base of Phoenix, real estate quickly appears as the foundation of the economy. It contained the majority of blue collar and white collar jobs. Everything from tradesmen, to brokers, to engineers to truckers.

One trick pony.

Kevin, I would implore you to analyze your data with much more purpose and educate yourself before making statements. Walmart is NOT Phoenix' largest employer BUT Arizona's largest private employer.

Indeed, Banner Health is Phoenix' single largest private employer. Furthermore, most of the jobs in Phoenix are blue collar or white connected to medical, financial services (outside of real estate as well as within), educational, and governmental. Real estate accounting for roughly 35% of the states economy and less of Phoenix'.

Sorry to disappoint...

As for Walmart, it is the nation's largest private employer and corporation! Very sad in my opinion and is, of course, the largest retailer in the world and nation. It is the largest employer in 25 states with over 1 million employees nationwide (UGH):


I see you didn't post your source.

Here's one source:

and it's published by your booster bretheren. Wal-Mart is PHOENIX'S largest employer.

Sad indeed. Pop Quiz - what happens when your economy is dependent on one sector (say, real estate) and that sector tanks? Answer: you get the largest absolute job loss in the nation.

One trick pony.

Kevin, this is from the link you posted:

The state of Arizona has 49,958 employees making them the largest employer in Greater Phoenix. Other
major employers in Phoenix include:
• Wal-Mart Stores Inc. employs 30,174
• Banner Health Systems employs 17,020
• City of Phoenix employs 14,553
• Maricopa County employs 14,057
• Wells Fargo employs 14,000
• Arizona State University employs 12,727
• Fry’s Food & Drug Stores employs 11,780
• U.S. Postal Service employs 11,000

The 30,000 Walmart employees is statewide...again STATEWIDE. Banner is the largest employer in Phoenix. Most of the companies employees are in Phoenix, whereas most Walmarts and therefore Walmart employees are not in Phoenix but scattered throughout.

Kevin, also Phoenix has among the strongest growth in jobs this year and last and has for much of the decade. Our unemployment rate is lower than most metro areas and cities outside of Texas (still similar nonetheless). All this was posted in recent comments in other conversations. I'm not a Phoenix booster, but I found a home here and love. So I'm passionate about my city. A booster gets paid, I just like my home.

I'm looking for more precise Phoenix data, but I maybe wrong in that after 2009, Honeywell (Aeronautical) may be Phoenix' largest private employer and not Banner Health (these two companies switch back and forth):

"The high technology and aerospace industries also have a strong presence in Phoenix. High-tech companies alone employ 56 percent of all manufacturing jobs statewide. Honeywell is the region's largest private employer, with nearly 12,000 workers. Other similar-type employers include Intel, Avnet, Honeywell, Bull Worldwide Information Systems, AT&T, Sumitomo Sitix Corp., STMicroelectronics and Boeing Helicopter Company."


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