Monday, May 13, 2013

Slamming Hillary

American Crossroads has an attack ad attempting to use the Benghazi kerfuffle to hurt Hillary Clinton, apparently thinking that a hit piece in May of 2013 will have an impact on the 2016 presidential election.  Well, we know who Karl Rove thinks is running.

Time will tell how well this works for Karl and his ilk. After all, he spent upwards of $104 million dollars on the 2012 election and had virtually nothing to show for it.

What I suspected during the fall of 2012, in particular when the floodgates opened in October, was that the public ear had been deafened by the non-stop screaming on both sides. The material fell flat before minds already made up, and methinks Hillary Clinton in 2016 will enjoy an "already known" factor exceeding what Obama had in 2012.

Hillary Clinton is a household name dating back to 1992.  That's over 20 years with eight of them in the White House.  Some folks believe they can tell the public what to think of her?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Conservative Entertainment Complex

The 2012 election will go down in history as a major turning point in American politics that shattered many points of view and vindicated the ideas of many Americans frustrated with what appeared to be a country having no grasp of reality. For four years, many of us have been scratching our heads, “How can anyone possibly believe this $#%^&!”

From the birther nonsense to Obama being a socialist or a Muslim or an alien from outer space, pick your conspiracy, . . Who are these people? Four years ago I used the phrase “choir blogging” for the blogs preaching to their own choirs. Who was reading that crap?

Now we have a far superior distinction – the conservative entertainment complex. Yes, the left has Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, Inc., but their rather well grounded fabrications pale in comparison to the sheer fantasy worlds created at Fox News. While democrats may watch MSNBC, they also remained grounded in the reality provided by professionals.

The GOP, however, drinks deep from the Foxiverse and buys the charade whole hog including the postage. When highly refined, expert developed scientific polls repeatedly showed an electorate favoring Obama by a few points, GOP pundits vilified the lot as biased. Conservatives wailed that the New York Times and statistician Nate Silver were “hopelessly in the can” for Obama. They even created their own polls, adjusting the numbers as they wished. They really did that. A legion of mouthpieces called for Romney's landslide.  Romney and his entire campaign bought it all, hook, line, sinker, and fishing pole.

I've taught statistics at a university. A real class with real students learning material that can be proven / refuted by these things called textbooks. Nate Silver nailed the election with the laser precision that well conducted polls with 1000+ sample sizes can provide. I know the math, and clearly Nate Silver does. He batted 50 out of 50 in calling the states.

Perhaps the GOP bubble was best crystallized for all to see when Karl Rove's Ohio meltdown showed a goon so saturated in his own juices that he foamed and flailed when Fox News called the state for Obama. Methinks Karl's orgy may have to trim its budget in future elections.

We've sensed it, smelled it, and talked about it, but now it is truly exposed for all to see. The conservative entertainment complex is just that, entertainment for an aging and dying set of white folks increasingly outnumbered by a growing set of people with more advanced ideas about the well being of a nation. We may or may not see setbacks, but the day is coming when those entertained by the circus lack the numbers to win elections. The day may also be coming when enough of them have expired that Fox viewership no longer sustains its existence.

The sooner the better.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A Thousand Words



Sometimes a photograph just says it all.  (Hint: Carefully examine each of the employees posing with Romney at a Chipotle Restaurant in Denver).


This is hysterical.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tax Folly

Folks do realize Romney gamed his 2011 tax return so it would climb over 14%.  He did this by leaving some deductions unclaimed.

Everyone also knows that after the election, win or lose, he'll simply file an amendment and grab back every thin red cent.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

City Funding of TREO Eliminated

At long last the City of Tucson will stop funding the grotesque waste of resources known as Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), an agency that is supposed to be enhancing the attraction and retention of high wage paying companies in the local community.

What led to this development is the increasing insistence (and the fact that these demands would only grow louder until satisfied) on the part of city officials that TREO demonstrate in clear, factual terms the tangible results of its efforts in terms of jobs created, wealth produced, and dollars generated.  Real data - that means names and dates and numbers.

Well, TREO just doesn't do that.  Never has, never will.  Instead, since its inception it has relied upon invented estimates, sheer fabrication (i.e. Cloth), and good old fashioned taking credit for events that would have occurred anyway, results produced by others (those who produce).

So, rather than continue to face the badgering for specific, measurable outcomes that can be verified by someone other than a suit in the overpaid goon squad, TREO CEO Snell decided to fold the city cards.

The move makes a lot of sense.  Now the likes of Raytheon, Honeywell, Wells Fargo, TEP, and the rest can pay TREO the sums of their choice for the organization to do what it actually does - cheer leading.

There's nothing wrong with cheerleaders on the sidelines.  They look good and jump around in cute costumes, cheering for the folks on the field.  At salaries well over a hundred grand, it's not a bad gig.

Now that their role is honestly distinguished, the guys in the skirts can stop trying to convince everyone they scored all the touchdowns.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Painfully Obvious

ABC News’ David Muir:  Let's clear this up, was there ever a year when you paid less than 13.9 percent?
Romney: I haven’t calculated that.  I’m happy to go back and look.

Romney never got back to ABC News.

At risk of stating the painfully obvious, everyone here is clear that Mitt Romney knows precisely what he pays in taxes every year.

In dollars and cents.
As a percentage of gross income.
In 25+ other weird combinations and calculations none of us normal folk have ever seen.

For every year of the last 20 years.

Equally obvious is the fact that he is hiding something.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hot Coffee

Susan Saladoff's Hot Coffee (2011) starts with the "infamous" lawsuit where a 79 year old woman, Stella Liebeck, successfully sued McDonald's for serving coffee that was "too hot" because she suffered severe burns when she accidentally spilled it on her lap.

Corporations seized upon this development and produced a PR bonanza that fooled most of the country including yours truly. At the time, I bought everything served by the mass media about the frivolous nature of this suit and the greed behind its motivation. Learn the truth, and well, not exactly.

Myth: The woman carelessly spilled her coffee while driving. Fact: The woman was a passenger and the car was parked, not moving.


Myth: The coffee was served at a standard serving temperature for coffee.
Fact: At the time, McDonald's procedure specified a serving pot temperature of 180-190 F. Your home machine will serve your cup at 145-155 F. Premium coffee shops do serve hotter, with Starbucks at 170 or so. A cup of coffee at 190 F is 20-30 degrees or more hotter than what most would reasonably expect.

Myth: The woman was greedy and out to make an easy fortune.
Fact:  Liebeck sought to settle with McDonald's for $20,000 to cover her actual and anticipated expenses. Her past medical expenses were $10,500; her anticipated future medical expenses were approximately $2,500; and her loss of income was approximately $5,000 for a total of approximately $18,000.  With this information, the company offered her $800.

Myth:  She was the first person to ever complain of the hot temperature.
Fact: From McDonald's own documents that emerged in the case, from 1982 to 1992 McDonald's received over 700 formal written complaints from customers with scalded lips or tongues, mouth blisters, as well as spill induced burns very similar to those in the lawsuit. McDonald's took no action to address the complaints.

Note: For every formal, written complaint, consider how many customers (including myself) just swore when they accidentally burned themselves with a sip, not recognizing that the coffee was 30 degrees hotter than normal.

Myth: The burns were not that severe.
Fact: The woman suffered severe 3rd degree burns requiring skin grafting and surgeries.

The film uses the McDonald's coffee case as a launch point to expose and illustrate the organized effort on the part of corporations to thwart the ability of anyone to hold them to account for injuries or deaths that occur due to negligence or other malfeasance.

This effort includes the likes of Karl Rove electioneering the defeat of judges sympathetic to injured plaintiffs as well as the proliferation of small print language in just about every contract that waives the right to sue and requires the use of arbitration where the "third party" arbitrator is paid by the corporation involved and faces termination with any judgement in favor of the injured party.

By the way, after the case, McDonald's reduced the temperature of its coffee into the 170s.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What Romney Could Never Do

Friday, January 27, 2012

Embrace

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Re-Election Committee

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gabrielle Giffords Resignation Video

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What We Can't Imagine

Excerpts from Gabby:

She was sitting in speech therapy holding a photo of a wooden chair and staring intently at it. She was trying, almost desperately, to describe what she was looking at.

"Spoon," she said again.
Angie Glenn, her speech therapist, a young woman of good humor and great patience, corrected her, "No, Gabby, not a spoon," she said, "It's something you sit in. You sit in a . . ."
"Spoon," Gabby said.


The next photo in Angie's pile was of a lamp.

"Yes, yes, yes," Gabby recognized it, but couldn't produce the word.
Angie provided a hint, "You turn on the . ."
Gabby stared at the picture on the table in front of her.
"Cheeseburger," she said, finally.  She knew that wasn't it.

That's about when I entered the room, bearing tulips, which I presented to Gabby with a light kiss.  It was the eve of Valentine's Day.
I asked her, "What kind of flowers are these?"
"Chicken," she told me.

In case any of you thought 2011 was a tough year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Face I Would Never See

Words fail me in capturing what I wish to say about the volumes spoken by this recent TIME magazine photograph of Congresswoman Giffords, taken eleven months after she was shot in the head at point blank range. Sparing you the perhaps futile effort to describe why or how, I'll just state that this is a face I thought I would never see. When I look at the photo and construct for myself what I see behind the eyes, I see what I would have not thought possible for this person prior to last year. It is not about "better or worse" or "wise or unwise." Closer to the mark involves the experience of suffering and mortality. Not surprisingly, Gabrielle and her husband Mark put forward a positive image of hope and courage, but it shows a certain honestly to allow television programs to broadcast the brutal, gut-wrenching photographs of her shortly after she was shot. The approval and publication of this photograph is also an act of communication, however conscious or intentional, and anyone interested in food for thought is invited to contrast this photograph with those of the Congresswoman prior to 2011. In the world that existed then, it is a face I would never see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Media's Anti-Obama Bias

Anyone reading the press over the past few years with the slightest interest in discerning the way in which the events and outcomes are framed cannot help but notice the hostility towards the current President of the United States. We can argue about the reasons why this may be the case, but that it's the case is beyond dispute.

An analysis focused on the tone of news coverage of the GOP primary for president examined the treatment of the different candidates, finding that Rick Perry received the most favorable treatment of the candidates, while Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty received the least favorable. (The study took place while Perry was the front runner.) For comparative purposes, the analysis included Barack Obama, and surprise, surprise:

One man running for president has suffered the most unrelentingly negative
treatment of all, the study found: Barack Obama. Though covered largely as president rather than a candidate, negative assessments of Obama have outweighed positive by a ratio of almost 4-1. Those assessments of the president have also been substantially more negative than positive every one of the 23 weeks studied. And in no week during these five months was more than 10% of the coverage about the president positive in tone.


At least someone noticed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Who's Funding Whom?

BARACK OBAMA CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS ($46.3 M)

The New York Times notes the following in its coverage of the latest FEC reports for the 2012 presidential election.

Mitt Romney's $18.4 million dwarfs all of his primary challengers, with the next closest candidates (Paul and Pawlenty) at $4.5 M. All fall short of Obama's $46 M war chest, but more far more interesting than the total funds raised are the nature of the contributions themselves.

MITT ROMNEY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS ($18.4 M)

We've been treated to ample assertions about class warfare, which is probably a good thing, since most metrics (take your pick) show it's been happening since the 1980s and started in earnest with Bush's election in 2000.

Half of the contributions for President Obama are less than $200. For those contributing to Mitt Romney, 70% are the maximum legal limit.

The reader does realize that this is small change compared to the now unregulated billions in PAC electioneering unleashed by the Supreme Court, but it's enough to make it all too clear who is behind whom.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Occupy Why?

It's Personal: Corporate profits are at an all-time high, but corporations are paying lower taxes than ever before. Some aren't paying any at all...Executive pay is now about five times higher than it was in 1980, adjusted for inflation. The average salary for the rank-and-file American worker, however, is about the same as it was in 1980.

Increased Support: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told CBS News, "They are basically sending us a message that says, 'Don't create a society where one percent basically has all the wealth.'"

Occupy Wall St Quiz: Who said each of the following? (Answers at the link.)

1. I for one am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and the other cities across the country.
2. I think it expresses the frustration the American people feel.
3. They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they’re dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington. And at some level, I can’t blame them.
4. Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!
5. We are the 1 percent.
6. God bless them for their spontaneity. It’s young, it’s spontaneous, it’s focused and it’s going to be effective.
7. This is like the Tea Party — only it’s real. By the time this is over, it will make the Tea Party look like … a tea party.
8. I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare.
9. What they’re trying to do is take away the jobs of people working in the city, take away the tax base that we have.
10. I’m very, very understanding of where they’re coming from.

By the way, care to venture a guess as to the income and net worth of those voicing criticisms of this "mob"?

Consider that this is just beginning and will get interesting.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Fox News Distorts Occupy Wall St. Information

Fox News and others have jumped on an individual's Proposed List of Demands posted at the Occupy Wall Street Website as if it were the finalized, official document of an organization. It is not.

They are ideas submitted by a single individual, Lloyd J Hart, whose name and phone number appear at the bottom of his list. Another individual has also posted a Demand and Action List for Congress to be considered by others associating themselves with the movement.

Of course the corporate controlled media will subtly or not so subtly place its slant on the events as they unfold. We can anticipate that Fox News, which has no problem doctoring photographs and editing videos to mislead its viewers, will present the most glaring distortions.

I have already encountered individuals who think Occupy Wall St. is calling for completely open borders, a mandatory minimum wage of $20, and the forgiveness of all debt.

This is going to get ugly.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

99 and 1

The 99% and 1% distinction currently deployed by the escalating Occupy Wall Street demonstrations offers a compelling and easily understood concept that has the makings to gain considerable traction.

First, let's note that the 99% and the 1% can refer to two separate financial measures, wealth and income. One could argue that the two are so closely related that either measure points to the same realities.

Starting with income distribution, to get straight with some of the figures, the Wealth and Want Website has sound statistics regarding the facts of income distribution in the United States including links to additional references allowing one to dive as deep as desired into the data.

As they list there, summarizing for the key 8 groups:

P0-89 (bottom 90%)
9/10 households — income below $104,696

P90-100 (top 10%)
1/10 households — income above $104,696

P90-95 (next 5%)
1/20 households — income between $104,696 and $148,423

P95-99 (next 4%)
4/100 households — income between $148,423 and $382,593

P99-100 (top 1%)
1/100 households — income above $382,593

P99.5-100 (top 0.5%)
1/200 households — income above $597,584

P99.9-100 (top 0.1%)
1/1,000 households — income above $1,898,200

P99.99-100 (top .01%)
1/10,000 households — income above $10,659,283

Putting the above into some simple sentences, you are in the 1% club for income if you gross over $382,593 per year in 2006 dollars, or $430,000 in 2011 dollars.

Make less than $430,000 / year, and you are in the 99% group.

When examining wealth, the inequality is far worse, with the richest 20% owning over 4/5 (84%) of EVERYTHING. The richest 1% own almost half the country, and we wonder why they control everything, including our media, and virtually run the country to serve their own interests.

One of the ways they do this is to dramatically understate and effectively obfuscate the reality of poverty and its existence in the United States. The national psyche simply does not get how poor we are. Andrew Price at Good Politics wrote Americans Are Horribly Misinformed About Who Has Money last month.

Helping illuminate the situation is an excellent paper, Building a Better America One Quintile at a Time [PDF], by Michael I. Norton (Harvard Business School) and Dan Ariely (Duke University).

Price in his post notes that the nation is becoming a a plutocracy.

Becoming?

We're already there.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

American Spring


This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing c2anycga@gmail.com.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

They've Got Tickets to Hell, but They Don't Care

The Pima County GOP has garnered national attention for selling raffle tickets at $10 to win a Glock 23 semi-automatic pistol and three 12-round clips. The Glock 23 is essentially the same pistol as the Glock 19 that Jared Loughner used on January 8th to gun down Congresswoman Giffords, killing six and wounding 14.

(The Glock 19 with the 30 round clip used at the Safeway at Oracle and Ina) What is it with these people? The Republicans have become a damned confusing set of folks. Why aren't the sound thinking business oriented components reacting to the fact hating, science rejecting schizoid hysteria that cheers when a candidate for president declares that hurricanes are a sign from God to control federal spending, or that the USSR is the number one concern among Americans today, or that global warming is fiction as heat records burst like Jiffy Pop and Greenland breaks in half, or that raffling in Giffords district essentially the same damned gun used in that massacre is perfectly reasonable?

(The Glock 23 with the 12 round clip being raffled by the Pima GOP) As the photos show, these are completely different handguns, and the outrage over such a raffle in Giffords district is just nonsense.

Well, it appears there's no shortage of nonsense these days. A former vice-president of this country, one that will go down in history as a war criminal, has all but declared he was the acting president during his boss's first term, and now, the current GOP front runner for president has a book, Fed Up!, that reads more like Mein Kampf than Dreams from my Father.

Whether their tickets are for a ride to, at best, a world that no longer exists, or worse, to Hell itself, or their tickets raffle off a gun that butchered many including a Congresswoman in her own district, they simply don't care.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bachmann Wants $2 gas / Warns of Soviet Union

Supporting limited government and lower taxes, GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has called for government price controls to insure that gasoline stays at $2 / gallon, “If we get government out of the way and support the free market, supply and demand will reduce costs for everything.”

Bachmann also asserted that the most serious concern on the minds of Americans today is the resurgence of the former Soviet Union and its quest for world domination. Leaders in the various 15 individual sovereign nations that used to comprise the former USSR voiced confusion at Bachmann's assertion, “We remain very unclear as to how such a unification could proceed if in fact we could find anyone that wants to do it.”

In a Kazakhstan restaurant, former soldier Aleksei Stronokov choked on his vodka when asked about Bachmann's statement, “What a fu**ing idiot!”

Princeton Identifies Most/Least Religious Universities

Princeton University has conducted research to produce a ranking of the nation's universities by the prevalance and significance of religion in the students' lives. Not surprisingly, Brigham Young University topped the list of most religious, followed by Hillsdale College, Thomas Aquinas College (Catholic), Wheaton (evangelical) and Grove City (evangelical).

The least religious universities? Bennington College, Reed College, Bard College, Vassar College and Sarah Lawrence College. Three of the top five for least religious are in New York.

Some noted that the students at Oral Roberts evangelical university failed to make the top ten, but a recent ORU graduate clarified, “We're not really religious. At ORU we learn how to form a church and fleece the gullible."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Giffords Returns for Debt Vote

Everyone knows that Congresswoman Giffords returned to the House yesterday in what became a poignant display of genuine interest in serving her country against the backdrop of the self-righteous rancor the Tea Party has unleashed against the nation.

This Huffington Post piece and Peter Poyer's article discuss it better than any remarks I could have.

I've said little about the debt debacle because my spiritual fuse flames out every time I consider a remark. Let's hope this circus marks the beginning of the exposure of the truth regarding the lunatic fringe that has all but usurped the Republican Party.

Great job, Gabby. Way to go.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brodesky Highlights Cloth Machine

(Tucson, Arizona) Star reporter Josh Brodesky has an excellent piece in today's paper that hits the nail as squarely on the head as any piece you'll find on the Clothmeisters. I really don't have anything to add and encourage folks to take a look.

In this case, the aficionado is former Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis, who lost his re-election effort last year. Since then, he's raked in $150,000+ in no-bid RTA consulting fees for "engineering oversight" on the trolley car. Over two years ago, I said the RTA would become a Clothfest. Think orgy. This trough will feature the likes of Larry/Dan and the whole fam damily in spades including aunts, nephews, cousins, in-laws, the neighbor's dog and Uncle Bob's ocotillo.

Quoting directly from Brodesky:

Since the RTA's inception, Hayes has doled out more than $3.6 million in small, no-bid contracts. The thinking is these contracts save money because the RTA doesn't have to hire any salaried staffers. But it's also led to some strange contracts.

(Paul Loomis) The RTA can tap Sheila Storm, the communications director for Pima Association of Governments, for some public relations help. Still Hayes has doubled up on help for her, inking David Joseph (whose wife Michele is the spokeswoman for Sun Tran) and former Tucson Citizen transportation reporter Garry Duffy, for additional PR.

Hayes also gave nearly $89,000 in contracts to a firm led by his daughter-in-law's brother.


Yes, you did just read that. I am not making this stuff up.

And now we have Loomis and his engineering skills. He studied ocean engineering in college.


Brodesky wrote in the piece, "This is so Tucson," which is exactly what Cigar Man wrote in a comment at the previous post about the Rio Nuevo fiasco.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Rio Nuevo Cloth Antics Continue

(Tucson, Arizona) Late last May we were led to believe that Donovan Durband, former Director of the Tucson Downtown Alliance, would be tapped to take the helm of the fledgling and sadly Cloth infested Rio Nuevo project, an enterprise that has managed to squander hundreds of millions of dollars to pay various characters to plan to study, study to plan, plan to pretend to study, create nice drawings of colorful bridges half a mile into the air over a wash, renderings of a new arena, a godawful effort to build a financial nightmare of a hotel near the TCC, and other shenanigans. Numerous blogs including this one as well as Star reporter Rob O'Dell have documented in considerable detail the embarrassing excuse for what a TIF district is supposed to be.

A few years ago, after then Rio Nuevo Director Greg Shelko went before the state legislature and acknowledged that $9 million had been spent which accomplished nothing (except stuffing certain coffers) for the community, the state came within a hair's breath of pulling the plug and shutting the whole mess down. It was THAT close, but alas, some well wishing individuals eager to salvage the effort from its corruption, suggested the entire board be replaced with individuals selected by the state, individuals who did not consider stuffing the pockets of well connected Clothmeisters as the prerequisite to scoring gigs for Rio Nuevo projects.

Their efforts worked, and a new board was established, minus Larry/Dan and their groupies - or so we had hoped.

Before we continue that path, flashback to 2007 or so when we had Durband running the Tucson Downtown Alliance. Briefly, businesses in a certain downtown area must pay an extra tax, the Business Improvement District (BID), whose funds are collected by the city and used to fund the Alliance. With these funds, Donovan most adeptly provided various services including the washing of the streets, security, marketing, Downtown Saturday Night, and other advocacy for the businesses paying this tax. These employers loved the Alliance and the work it performed to help them prosper.

The well functioning Alliance proved irresistible to Clothmeisters noted for their eagerness to take over or destroy anything that's working. (A training institute comes to mind.) So they usurped the Alliance, put Larry/Lynn, Inc. on its board, changed its name to the Tucson Downtown Partnership, and brought in Certified Cloth Aficionado Glen Lyons as the new director, bumping Durband to #2 briefly before booting him to give a sweet gig ($60K for a few hours a week) to Cara Rene, the wife of Nina Trasoff's chief of staff. Clothmeisters serve themselves, handing Lyons a $120+K salary to schmooze and provide downtown businesses positively nothing that could remotely occur as tangible. Need one ask what happened to the services formerly provided by the Alliance?

Returning to Rio Nuevo, the new board started trying to repair the damage and stop the incompetence, corruption, fuzzy bookkeeping, shady arrangements, and other FUBAR. New board member Alan Willenbrock, a razor sharp finance guy who calls a thing for what it is, choked on the $200M hotel being rammed down their throats, and loudly voiced his opposition to the fiasco, stating with conviction that it would hemorrhage profusely.

Well, this was inconvenient, so Clothmeisters had conflict of interest hound, Lewis&Roca/Rio Nuevo attorney Keri Silvyn write a letter asserting that Willenbrock had a conflict of interest. A decent person, Keri had spearheaded the Imagine Greater Tucson effort with the best of intentions. Anyway, key voices cited her letter to raise fears of legal action, and guess who was ousted from the board? For those who could see, the hypocrisy of those behind the assertion produced an involuntary retch. Key take away - "We may not be on the board, but we still want control, and those who don't do what we want will be removed."

So, who wanted that hotel so bad and why? Answer - Who would get a lot of money if it happened? Who serves those who would get a lot of money? Did anyone pay anyone for the privilege?

IMPORTANT POINT: If Donovan Durband were beholden to this cast of characters I loosely tag as "Cloth," they would have had no need for Glen Lyons. They would have used Durband and the Alliance for their greedy objectives and rewarded him handsomely. They brought in Lyons because Durband actually does serve the community and its best interests, not the greed of the well connected. Anyone with a sound mind and a conscience knows that Durband is part of the solution.

Regarding the 5-4 board vote to make him the Executive Director of Rio Nuevo, who were the five in favor and who were the four against? Those in the know can cite legions of material to support him. What do the four say about their votes? Not that it matters, for since when did a silly vote get in the way of Cloth objectives? After the board voted to give Durband the position, guess what?

Now it's time to bring in the big gun, Maestro Lewis&Roca attorney Si Schorr, operating at the level of no less than Lord Larry and Godfather Dan. Rio Nuevo Chairperson Jodi Bain calls for help, and soon enough Bain and new Rio Nuevo attorney Mark Collins get to chat with Keri, who (drum roll) opines that Donovan Durband might be perceived as having a conflict of interest. Jodi does not want Donovan to get that job, adamanti! Why? Is this really about a conflict of interest? What about Vice-Chair Mark Irvin's vote for $18 million in contracts that included Sundt Construction? Oh, Jodi Bain works for Town West, and who did she want to get the Rio Nuevo Director position instead of Durband? Larry Lewis.

This Larry Lewis (investment adviser for whom?). Anyone else notice that Town West has been buying up properties near downtown, say close to Stone and the railroad tracks? Any of that going on recently? Now why might Jodi want Larry so bad? Remember when I mentioned retching when certain characters allege a conflict of interest?

Anyone else curious that through the entire grueling process of vetting and screening the candidates, no one said a thing about this conflict of interest? Only after the board approved him, then and only then, did Jodi raise her concerns. Do you smell what I smell, "You mean I didn't get my guy?!!! F$%k!! Sh&%!! #&@#@$%!!!! Donovan%#$&Durband!! Get me Si Schorr NOW!!!"

Occam's Razor. This is a blatant attempt by Jodi (and the Cloth behind her) to overturn the vote of the board and keep Durband from getting the position. They want someone they can control. On a perhaps unrelated topic, why did attorney Gugino (chummy with Eckstrom, Hein, etc.) suddenly resign last March?

You do realize the FBI is investigating Rio Nuevo.

One can't imagine why.


SOMETHING ELSE