Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Race about Race

Tucson, Arizona. Liza posted Race and the Swiftboating of Obama over six weeks ago, and back then, she placed her focus on the GOP as those writing the script. At the time I thought: 1) the Democrats could not possibly be stupid enough to give the nomination to HRC, and 2) The GOP would defer the carnage until Obama got the nomination. A John Dixon piece reinforces Liza's remarks as well as the ones I'm about to make.

We can only speculate what the Reverend Jeremiah Wright sought to accomplish earlier this week. Perhaps Texpatriot is correct that Obama endorsed Wright's making statements strong enough to create the opportunity to conduct a split inoculating Obama from the GOP association assault. I don't think so. At present, I think Sunday (NAACP) and Monday (National Press) are distinct events with different dynamics. Although intense, Sunday was polished and frankly moving, a powerful performance I found inspiring but perhaps ahead of its time for today's audience. My current speculation, subject to revision, is that Monday was a slip.

Without blinking about the color of his skin, the students across the college campuses of the country (she won Pennsylvania, but look at its colleges) overwhelmingly embrace Obama. Older white America that came of age at a time when few attended college have fears about what a "black man in the White House" means. We see racism distilled, concern shifting from an assessment of the individual's character and capabilities to nothing but the color of his skin and what that might mean.

The advertisements Clinton is running against Obama are so disgusting and repulsive that my ability to vote for her, already tenuous, has been annihilated. The recent events put a Hillary nomination in the context of race, at worst racism on the part of the party itself and at best the racism the party anticipates among general election voters. Either inflicts massive damage, and the belief spreads among the African American community that Hillary's campaign is deliberately undermining Obama (knowing she cannot win) so he will fail and give her a shot in 2012. Correct or not (I think not), the view points to growing cynicism regarding Clinton's motivation and character.

If by fluke the Democrats cave and nominate Clinton, the flag of racism flies over their ship. If they nominate Obama, we can safely conclude the GOP will fly the flag of racism without shame. They haven't hesitated in the past.

Clinton's shift from theme to theme to theme (now she's a working girl) show a frantic search for message and marketing, not authenticity. McCain has nothing to add. The candidate with soul, a fresh perspective, and remarkable courage walks into the lion's den facing likely annihilation. If a young African American with Obama's character wins the presidency of the United States, a shock wave will inspire the world about what is possible. He tells us that yes, we can. Can we? If this nation can elect as its president a young African American over establishment insiders with lifetime political careers and connections, what else can it do?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wright Right and Wrong

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, despite what Fox News wishes the public to believe, is no idiot. Inspired by JFK's "Ask not" speech, the man joined the Marines, transferred to the Navy, and graduated valedictorian from the naval training center. He became a cardiopulmonary technician who treated president Lyndon Johnson before getting all of his college degrees including a doctorate, since then receiving seven honorary doctorates and a Carver Medal from Simpson College as "an outstanding individual whose life exemplifies the commitment and vision of the service of George Washington Carver."

The press has gone nuts over the guy. With full awareness the media would open their veins and inject the entire syringe, Wright gave a speech to the NAACP on Sunday, cameras and microphones running full steam. From Wikipedia:

Wright argued that Americans were beginning to change their attitudes and perceptions about differences among societal groups. Citing linguistic, pedagogical, hermeneutic, and other differences, and contrasting varied musicologies, he sought to show how Black culture is "different" but not "deficient", while pointing out how European-American culture has historically held it to be deficient, and punctuating his speech at numerous times with the dinners' annual theme "A Change is going to come".

As CNN continued to play the speech, I became increasingly uncomfortable, even though I in principle agreed with just about all he was saying. Thinking of CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC and the current reality of the country, I had a sinking sensation and my gut said, "We're not ready for this."

I doubt anyone working at Fox News has heard the word "pedagogy" let alone Fox viewers. When was the last time you heard Bill O'Reilly discuss the hermeneutics of African American sermons? This post has more questions than assertions. How significant was the Sunday, April 28, 2008 speech by Jeremiah Wright? What was the objective of the speech, clearly the result of extraordinary time and effort? Was it about the country, religion, the election, or simply about Wright himself? Was it delivered in the spirit of a profound contribution to the country (succeeding or not), in the spirit of helping a presidential candidate (succeeding or not), or delivered with the objective of telling a bunch of white folks to F themselves? On Sunday, I wondered if Wright was acting with Obama's prior knowledge and approval. Subsequent events answered that question.

NAACP Speech Full Transcript. One excerpt:

It's going to take people of all faiths including the nation of Islam, but we can do it. It's going to take people of all races, but we can do it. It's going to take Republicans and Democrats, but we can do it. It's going to take the wisdom of the old and the energy of the young, but we can do it. It's going to take politicians and preachers, the government and NGOs, but we can do it. It's going to take educators and legislatures, but we can do it. If I were in a Christian Church, I would say we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. If I were in a Jewish synagogue, I would say is anything too hard for Elohim. If I were in a Muslim mosque, I would say Sha Allah we can do it. If I were pushing one particular candidate, I would say yes, we can.

On Monday, Wright addressed The National Press Club in the morning (full transcript) and the conversation got testy as Wright's frustration with the limitations of the awareness and intellect of others got the best of him, allowing toxic sound bites to erupt forth. I am angry with what angers Jeremiah Wright. I am outraged at what outrages him. Anyone that becomes knowledgeable of his history and accomplishments knows that he has made a huge contribution to this country. Still, his tactics of the last few days overstep what the country can handle and represent the wrong strategy in an insane campaign with its obscene politics by association.

Don't people know that Hillary's parents' gardener exposed himself to third grade girls at a Catholic school? Why doesn't the press tell us how McCain's uncle's football coach was caught with child pornography?

Now would be a good time for Reverend Wright to take that long deserved vacation in the wilderness of New Zealand.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

TIF for TAT 2007 Part I

Tucson, AZ. The map shown here is not perfect, showing the parking lot across from El Charro as included (no), but it is a close enough illustration of the Rio Nuevo district, minus sprout eastward to capture taxes from the El Con and Park Place Malls. Those in the know examining the situation would turn their noses. Let's discuss Rio Nuevo for the first half of 2007, a beacon of productivity and accomplishment.

Housekeeping note: Italicized content usually represents material produced by others.

November 7, 2006: 2007 Will Be a Banner Year for Rio Nuevo (Tucson Citizen). Seven years ago this week Tucson voters said "yes" to the ambitious Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment project. It appears 2007 will be the year work shifts into high gear.

December 9, 2006: The Post will bring residents to downtown. (Tucson Citizen). Bourn Partners hopes to start construction in April. I invite the reader to visit the site.

January 3, 2007: Alexander Danehy lists as one of things he hopes happens in 2007: Millions of words on Rio Nuevo morph into at least one action on Rio Nuevo.

January 22, 2007: Business operators drawing plan for downtown (Citizen Teya Vitu). Teya refers to the Friday morning stakeholder group. The stakeholders wanted to give top priority to projects that generated additional tax revenue. The group produced one success – $100M in TIF funding allocated to infrastructure (underground water, sewer, fiber, electric as well as some sidewalks, lighting, and above ground improvements).

February 24, 2007: Time to commit to a new arena for Tucson (AZ Daily Star) TCC Director Rich Singer claims to have turned away five sports teams, three hockey, a minor league basketball team, and an arena football team, in the last four years because he thought they could not be successful in an aging arena. Tucsonans have been hearing about an arena for years. It is time to take the first step (huh?) and make the commitment.

March 15, 2007: (Andrea Kelly, AZ Daily Star) The city’s Rio Nuevo team is disbanded and sent to different city departments. City Manager Mike Hein states that he wishes to "institutionalize Rio Nuevo efforts" rather than have them in a single office. As part of the move, Rio Nuevo Director Greg Shelko as well as staff member Bill O’Malley moves to the TCC to hang out with Rich Singer.

April 15, 2007: The Bloated Burrito The AZ Daily Star publishes the names submitted by readers for the new downtown arena. They include: Payday Loans Arena, Rich Singer Arena, No Science Center Arena, Arena de Sol, The Bloated Burrito, Barrel Cactus Palace, E-Z Cash Auto Title Loan Arena, Tucson Turtle Dome.

April 18, 2007: $130 M latest price tag for UA science center (Tucson Citizen Teya Vitu) By this time the construction of Cleveland on top of I-10 has been handily dismissed. No bridge. Before the science center can be constructed, the infrastructure to support it has to be completed. Is this occurring? No. Why? Why does anything happen (or not)?

Approval to spend and the money to spend are not the same.

April 19, 2007: As Rio Nuevo flows along, public is left high and dry (Tucson Citizen). Assuming the public will have its say, we can measure Rio Nuevo progress on three fronts by the city:

1) Working with the UA on the science center
2) The new arena
3) A first class convention center area hotel

Today’s date is April 27, 2008.

April 19, 2007: Lawmakers happy to see movement on Rio Nuevo (Arizona Daily Star Daniel Scarpinato). The council voted unanimously to approve the $130 M arena and a $60 M expansion of the TCC. Rep. Steve Farley states, "The biggest thing I’ve learned from public opinion on Rio Nuevo is: Get it moving."

April 27, 2007: Transparency is apparently inconvenient (AZ Daily Star)
With council’s nod, the tenth floor circumvents all opportunities for the public to have input on the Rio Nuevo plan, voting on half a billion dollars without any real discussion of the subject. Ordinarily, the matter would have been discussed by Nina Trasoff’s Rio Nuevo sub-committee, a citizen’s advisory committee, and Rio Nuevo’s own board. None of the three were presented with the plan. Hein presents the plan to the council, skipping all the steps, and the council votes for it at once without public discussion.

Bottom line: Seven to eight years of frustration lead to a rushed vote of a problematic nature about to unfold.

May 7, 2007: Rio Nuevo is out – project is rebranded (AZ Daily Star Rob O’Dell). Rio Nuevo is renamed "Downtown Redevelopment" having something to do with encouraging the private sector to be involved (uh, who were the Friday AM stakeholders?). O’Dell concludes, "Does the name change illustrate a step forward for Downtown?"

May 19, 2007: Development: two viewpoints (Tucson Citizen Guest Writer Ralph Applebaum and Associates, Inc). $581 M dollars of TIF cash. But how to spend?

Don Martin submits intelligent remarks about leveraging the funding. The Friday AM stakeholders produce plans and numbers and projections, emphasizing the use of early money on commercial development. Most of their recommendations are discarded. In fact, it’s time to "consolidate" and create a larger group called the "Downtown Tucson Partnership" with a new board and new connections. The stakeholders, realizing their votes just got cancelled, disband. Exit Friday AM stakeholders, Enter Downtown Tucson Partnership, the Tucson Regional Downtown Authority, TRDA.

TIP: How not to win private sector involvement.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stinging the Frog

Tucson, Arizona. The Citizen has a story on Arizona’s funding reduction for its three universities as a means to help balance its budget, a well documented phenomenon across the country in the last thirty years. University presidents tend to be rather sharp individuals, so the administrations of the University of Arizona, Arizona State, and Northern Arizona University anticipated the development. They will do their best, but ultimately education suffers. In the case of the U of A, an $875,000 rollback of funding for the Math & Science Teacher Initiative Loan program is just the beginning of the impact.

Public support for higher education has stagnated in the last thirty years. From WWII through the 70s, the US endorsed an educated society as the key to military and economic supremacy. Few realize how marginal the United States international standing was prior to WWII. Neither the atom bomb nor GI’s having a lot of kids propelled this nation to the pinnacle of economic and military might. What launched us ahead of everyone was sending our young to college in numbers previously inconceivable, first with the GI bill and later with the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965. Cold war fears and Johnson’s war on poverty fostered a culture that viewed a well educated population as benefiting society.

Then we elected an actor of marginal intellect who made no connection between an educated population and prosperity, no sense of societal benefit from an electorate armed with a solid education, critical thinking skills, and the ability to engage in informed discourse. Forget all that. Education didn’t help society. It only helped students get better jobs, so the varmints should pay for their owned damned education. It frees up funds for elected officials to give to their friends, and to say that public schools have simply raised tuition to make up for declining government support oversimplifies the complexity of the system’s response.

What Reagan started, GHW Bush continued, and Clinton stalled, W (the cerebral equivalent of a tuna sandwich) exacerbated dramatically and lobotomized half the nation. Somehow, the power structure rejected knowledge, education, and intelligence to embrace the suppression of progress and the domination of dogma and dumb. O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Robertson, Savage, and a sea of religious kooks seek an anti-learning oppressive system that promotes the persistence of ignorance. The White House dropped $1.3 B to tell teenagers not to have sex. Think about that.

Those familiar with this blog can perhaps appreciate my frustration when here in Tucson, a tiny training institute helping local workers increase their skills and wages was destroyed solely to pad the coffers of a corrupt agency that accomplishes nothing. The institute was not replaced with a superior design. They just killed it because they wanted its money. Occam’s Razor.

At the local, state, and federal levels, education increasingly incurs in spite of, not because of, the increasingly dimwitted and self-serving elected officials who seem to lack an understanding of what government is supposed to do. We are on a path towards a system where elected officials represent only a small number of rich pals sitting on the boards of soulless corporations that will do anything for short term gain. What neither the elected officials nor their wealthy supporters understand is that they, no exaggeration, sting the frog that keeps them afloat.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Some Arizona Campaign Web Sites

Tucson, Arizona. Naturally the reader can find these easily, but I considered it useful to call attention to the web sites of those in the upcoming elections covered by this blog. Please consult other blogs for material on the other districts.

When I say a candidate or official does not have a campaign web site, it obviously means as of the time of this story. Corrections are most welcome if I missed anyone.

Arizona Congressional District Five
The GOP perceives Harry Mitchell as vulnerable given the demographics of CD 5, which is typically GOP turf. Harry definitely has a fight on his hands. At the risk of offending the reader, remember that Harry faces not all those below, but the one GOP contender that emerges from the primary.

Freshman Incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell
GOP Candidate Mark Anderson
GOP Candidate Laura Knaperek
GOP Candidate Jim Ogsbury
GOP Candidate David Schweikert
GOP Exploring Candidacy Susan Bitter Smith

Arizona Congressional District Eight
This interesting district, just slightly tilted to the right with rural rancher and military conservatism balanced by urban and Hispanic liberalism, is no place for novices. Those too far to the left or right will be handed their hats. Jim Kolbe, the only openly gay GOP Congressman in history, held the seat for over 20 years. When he announced he would not run again, the GOP fell apart. In 2008 the Republicans are aligned. Their presidential candidate is an Arizonan, and the Democrats are conducting a presidential circus. Giffords faces a real race.

Freshman Incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords
GOP Candidate Tim Bee
Independent Candidate Derek Tidball

Pima County Supervisor District 2
Ramon has the South Tucson Eckstrom machine behind him. Robuck is opposed to the Rosemont Mine, correctly observing that it is a water fiasco waiting to happen.

Incumbent Democrat Ramon Valadez
Democrat Primary Challenger Robert G. Robuck (Star 4/23/08 article)
Neither have campaign web sites.

Pima County Supervisor District 3
My heart's in this one. I wholeheartedly endorse Donna Branch-Gilby as terrific people running because she sees that she must. Think election integrity and integrity in general. I know Ray Carroll is seeking to get that 3-2 GOP lead he needs to perform some badly needed house cleaning. Ray is smart, so he will know that if Donna prevails over both Sharon and Barney, he will still have an ally on all matters regarding integrity and responsible government.

When I talk about the tipping point and the new standing up to the corrupt old regime, Ray Carroll and Bruce Ash are part of the solution coming from the right. Donna Branch-Gilby (best of luck, Donna!) is part of the solution on the left. The cloth is bi-partisan.

Incumbent Democrat Sharon Bronson (no campaign web site)
Democrat Primary Challenger Donna Branch-Gilby
GOP Candidate Barney Brenner

Pima County Supervisor District 5
Incumbent Democrat Richard Elias
Possible challenger Bruce Wheeler
Neither have campaign web sites.

District 26
District 26 is like a miniature CD-8 (except for all the LD26 wealth), tilting right of center but not right enough for easy GOP wins. The sharp blue enjoying a challenge can win here. In 2006 the GOP ousted solid candidates for right wing kooks. Can Melvin defeat Hershberger? The House race is quite the treat.

Incumbent Democrat Charlene Pesquira is not running
Democrat Candidate Cheryl Cage
GOP Candidate Fred Hershberger (no campaign web site)
GOP Candidate Al Melvin

Incumbent Democrat Nancy Young Wright
Democrat Candidate Don Jorgensen
GOP Candidate Trent Humphries
GOP Candidate Vic Williams
GOP Candidate Marilyn Zerull

District 30
District 30 is as red as District 28 is blue. I only mention LD30 because I'm interested to see if Frank can do this. I am probably missing a candidate or two for the house seats. In the senate Paton has a cakewalk.

GOP Candidate Jonathan Paton (no campaign web site)

Democratic Candidate Andrea Dalessandro
GOP Candidate Frank Antenori
GOP Candidate David Gowan
GOP Candidate Doug Sposito

I cannot imagine running for any office without a web site. Some of the above have no need for one, but I would say the sun is setting on winning elections without effective online functionality.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TIF for TAT 2006

Tucson, Arizona. The original TIF district was created in 1999, a ten year State sales tax increment financing project expected to generate $60 million (matched equally by local money) to generate $120 million in public money for downtown development projects. City manager James Keene’s "pal" Karen Thoreson became downright giddy with the influx of cash to serve as "seed money" to attract something like a billion dollars in development.

Before seeing a cent of TIF funds, the city paid $600,000 to consultants to create a master plan. Talk spiraled upon talk (cloth) and the projected figures kept escalating. In July 2003 they got the faucet running, and it was a nice faucet quickly reaching $600,000 per month. As an increment over the July 1999 base, each year produced additional revenue to create an estimated $124 M over the ten years, an opportunity for the well meaning, but also one sweet trough for the swine. One might imagine the cloth frenzy that ensued regarding all that was about to occur.

To get the thing "kick started" (don’t ask), they had to spend some money on a key component (don’t ask either) and selected the TCC Box Office. For $800,000 they built it with some signage you can’t see from the road. Before we get into the cloth, let’s acknowledge the purchase and refurbishment of the Rialto Theater. Dollar figures coming soon, but the Rialto was solid bang for the buck that put the facility on public turf and produced a viable venue that generates multiple events every week and adds to downtown value. For things Rio Nuevo, we just noted as good as it gets. In fact, The Rialto Block Project continues.

While spectacular, The Fox Theater ran $13 million dollars! The city used federal tax credits to LOAN the theater $5.6 million, strapping Executive Director Herb Stratford with massive debt, That’s how you kill an Executive Director, and sure enough, Herb announced his resignation recently. His inferior replacement yet to be announced will probably be another suit already in the mix.

The first TIF phase, "the Thoreson era," consisted of hyper-cloth nonsense of little substance. Remember the Rainbow Bridge? In December of 2005, ConsultEcon (bet that's a productive bunch!) said Rio Nuevo needed a feature on par with the St. Louis Arch or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (Tucson Citizen, August 2, 2006). We were going to put Cleveland on top of I-10.

The community responded with a noble effort on the part of a group of developers, downtown agencies, and other business interests. They called themselves THE CONGRESS STREET STAKEHOLDERS and met every Friday morning (Tucson Citizen, Teya Vitu, July 18, 2006). The article listed names:

Don Martin, Competitive Engineering
Donovan Durband, Tucson Downtown Alliance
Roger Karber, Hotel Arizona
Doug Biggers and Tom Powers, Rialto block and Depot Plaza
Jim Campbell, Plaza Centro
Richard Oseran, Hotel Congress
Ross Rulney, Julian Drew Building and Tiburon Apartments
Peggy Noonan, Presidio Terrace
Bob Vint, architect for Presidio Terrace and Plaza San Agustin
Evelyn Alvarez, Long Realty
Brian Corbell and Maurice Destouet, Riverpark Inn
Jerry Dixon and Adam Weinstein, Mercado District of Menlo Park
Michael Keith, Franklin Court
Ron Schwabe, 44 Broadway Lofts
Oscar Turner, The Post
April Ortiz, Santa Rita Hotel
Phil Lipman, Ice House Lofts
Steve Farley, trolley and downtown advocate
Diana Rhoades, Sonoran Institute

To pay the $350+ million for the colossus over the freeway, Thoreson sought a 30 year extension of the legislation. One might imagine the enthusiasm in Phoenix. Well, it did get through the House at 12 years but stalled in the Senate. The Stakeholders did agree an extension was required to reach critical mass, and they used their own money to hire a lobbyist. In May 2006 they headed to Phoenix, and asserted that despite the lack of progress so far, Tucson now had a new city manager (Mike Hein) who would get things done. The "Thoreson era" was over. They convinced AZ Senate President Ken Bennett that the "cloth" would not squander the funds on trips to Sweden, consultants in Ohio, or Cleveland on I-10. They would not shut down productive agencies, squash noble efforts, or spend six figure sums to produce glossy documents stating the obvious. In sum, the stakeholders convinced Phoenix that they would insure rationality of the expenditures. Bye bye, bridge. Bye bye, Karen.

The time had come for intelligence to prevail, and it suggested the acceleration of projects that generated economic returns (commercial development). There’s spending money that makes money, and there’s spending money. Well, as above so below. The Bush administration has no interest in what the nation thinks, and our tenth floors have similar dispositions. Don Rumsfeld captured it perfectly, "The president was correct, whatever it was he said."

The tenth floors (add cloth and you more or less have the SG) had little enthusiasm for the intellect of the Friday morning group. Egos didn't help. How does one squash a group? Create another one on top of it and use the word "consolidate." Create the other group to get the contract, public funding, and political support. That’s how the assassination works. Bye bye, stakeholders. Bye bye, transparency.

Looking at TIF reality we see nothing close to a billion dollars. Through FY 2007 (all figures are in millions) we have:

-TIF Sales Tax Revenue: $41.6
-Bond Proceeds: $5.6
-TCC Games (don’t ask): $24.1
-Other: $2.3
Total Revenue: $73.4

-Staff: $3.3
-Consultants: $9.3
-TCC Games (ties to $24.1 revenue save a $3.3 loss, leave it): $27.4
-Other Administration: $1.3
Total Overhead: $41.3

Projects (green means completed):
-The Fox Theater: $11.6
-Mission Site/Origins Park: $5.6
-Merc/Avenid: $4.2
-Presidio Stabilization / Heritage Park: $4.1
-Citizen Auto Exchange Property: $3.1
-Rialto Theater: $2.2
-Mission Landfill: $1.6
-TCC Box Office: $0.79
-Northwest Lots-Church/Stone: $0.75
-Civic Plaza: $0.73
-The Post: $0.69
-Civic Parking Garage: $0.66
-Congress Streetscape: $0.34
-Drilltrack Improvements: $0.24
-U of A Science Center: $0.23
-Other Projects: $0.17
Total Projects: $37

Extracting the TCC, we get revenue of $49.3 M and expenditures of $50.9 M. Of the expenditures, we have $13.9 M in overhead and $37 M in projects. After almost a decade and five years since the faucet started flowing, we have four completed projects.

The Press Headline for November 7, 2006:


We'll get to 2007.

Policon and The Associate

Tucson, Arizona. Bruce Ash, Arizona GOP Committee Man, is using both a radio address as well as email to blow the horn rallying the community to rise up against the status quo that serves "cloth" interests, meaning those that draw handsome public dole with no requirement to earn their keep. The movement is growing as Tucson's population reaches a point where the good old boys and their worn out bag of tricks ceases to work.

From The Associate, a very successful, respectable Tucson professional that produces real product:

I feel that the people of the Cloth have no real interest for the economic development of Tucson. Where one's interests lies, so does their values, and if they have no value associated with Tucson’s development, then they are just leaches sucking the life out of our city, while maintaining their pathetic existence getting fat on our tax dollars, leaving us nothing but a hickey, of our crappy downtown that is an embarrassment to all the citizens that live here.

I have been recently educated by a fellow blogger on what and how the TIF program works (thank you). X4mr’s post shows all of the programs that are going nowhere. I would like to know what has been done with all of the money. More importantly how much money has the Rio Nuevo already received in TIF money, and how much has been spent. Who has accountability for all of the money, and are the records made public. It would be great to post the Rio Nuevo financial report here on this Blog, it would be a great resource to reference.

I would bet, just like everything else that goes on, that millions have been spent with nothing tangible to show for it. I have also heard through the grape-blog, that some good citizens of Tucson were instrumental in extending the time period for receiving the TIF funds, I would like to congratulate them for what they did for Tucson, I just hope that the morons utilize this once in a lifetime opportunity, and do something productive that we can all be proud of.

The "tipper" Policon suggests this blog really go for the specifics regarding certain individuals. My two cents are that neither the Associate nor Policon are lightweight buffoons angry because they didn't get their way about buying ice cream the other day. Both are real players, real business forces with real money and a growing resentment towards cloth and nonsense. I would imagine both are Republican and ripe for Bruce Ash's call for a new reality in Tucson politics.

Policon casts the net wide. To adhere to my own moral standards, I must emphasize his list has a lot of names. Policon knowingly includes admirable and honorable professionals of extraordinary value to the community. He also knowingly includes those who are not. I believe that like myself and the Associate, Policon comes from a commitment to what is right. The reader should understand that the terrific and the very un-terrific appear on Policon's list.

From Policon:
x4mr- What's say we put a spot light on the naked emperor? Pull back the drape while he's talking in his big-voice microphone. No conspiracy theories, just facts about past behaviors, current alliances, and predictors of pending community harm.

As a nearly self-taught Java script-master, can you invent a means to add a section (or link) to your website where tipper bloggers can create a WIKIPEDIA describing the backgrounds of members of the cloth (TREO) and supergroup (DTP)? Besides describing members, can we score them on a local POLItical and eCONomic toxicity scale of our own creation? (1 to 10 Index: He/she regularly puts self-interest ahead of community; Profound history of back-room power grabs; Past efforts/ideas proved successes/failures, etc.)

Below is the list of board members of the "Supergroup" to which Rob O'Dell referred, taken right from their Downtown Tucson Partnership's web site. And below that, TREO's board, from its website.

Is it possible to begin filling in an involuntary resume for each member, using our collective knowledge to create mosaics for each individual.. relevant information about their history, affiliations, ambitions, political contributions, etc, etc? Objective and subjective information, corrected and revised by constant peer review?

If knowledge is power, it would seem that concentrated knowledge of these individuals, exposed to the light of day, would be very powerful indeed. Let's get a few more "something else" expose's into the public record, shall we?

If "PowerPedia" works, and we eventually add in the other major power elite groups (SALC SoAz Leadership Council, PCIC PimaCo Interfaith Council, PCDP PimaCo Democratic Party, etc), and then cross-sort for multiple hits, and darken the lines between the most toxic power connections, would we not be literally mapping the source of our miseries? Wouldn't cutting the supply lines at just the right spots be a whole lot easier with a clear map?

Downtown Tucson Partnership
Board of Directors

Merchants/Retail Council:
Bob Wadlow, Subway
Carlotta Flores, El Charro Café, Stillwell House
Beth Dell, Beowulf Alley Theatre Company

Neighborhoods/Residents Council:
Jeff DiGregorio, Iron Horse Neighborhood, Armory Park Neighborhood
Mac Hudson, Menlo Park Neighborhood
Rick Luyties, El Presidio Neighborhood

Arts, Culture & History Council:
Nancy Lutz, Tucson Pima Arts Council
Bill Ponder, Arizona Historical Society
Susan Gamble, Santa Theresa Tile Works, Warehouse Arts Management Organization

Office/Employers Council:
Steve Lynn, Tucson Electric Power Co., UniSource Energy Corp.
Larry Finuf, Wells Fargo Bank
Michael Crawford, Mesch, Clark & Rothschild

Property Owners Council:
Mike Kasser, Holualoa Company, Pioneer Bldg. & 1 E. Congress
Ron Schwabe, Peach Properties, Williams & Dame Development
Richard Oseran, Hotel Congress
Tucson Heritage: Bob Vint, Vint & Associates Architects

University of Arizona: Leslie Tolbert, University of Arizona
City of Tucson: Mike Hein, Tucson City Manager
Pima County: Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County Administrator
Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities: Larry Hecker, Hecker & Muehlebach
Downtown Development Corp.: Doug Kennedy, Downtown Development Corporation

Community Directors:
Michael Keith, Contemporary West Development
Michael Chihak, Tucson Citizen
Roger Karber, Centro Nuevo Partners, TDA Outgoing Chair
John Humenik, Arizona Daily Star
Don Bourn, Bourn Partners
Rick Myers, Retired; Southern Arizona Leadership Council
Kanella Conklin, Kanella’s
Renee Morton, Home Style Galleries
Steve Quinlan, Long Realty
Colleen Niccum, Raytheon
Jerry Dixon, Rio Development, Mercado District at Menlo Park

TREO Board of Directors
Honorable Robert E. Walkup, Co-Chair, Mayor, City of Tucson
Represents: The City of Tucson
Honorable Sharon Bronson, Co-Chair, Acting Chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors, District 3
Represents: Pima County

Representing Private Sector:
Frances McLane Merryman, Vice President, Wealth Strategies Group, Northern Trust, NA
Daisy Jenkins, Vice President, Human Resources, Raytheon Missile Systems
Steve Christy, Chair, Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Richard F. Imwalle, Chairman, Bank of Tucson
Robert E. Cashdollar Jr., President & CEO, Apache Nitrogen Products, Inc.

Representing Education:
Dr. Robert Shelton, President, University of Arizona
Dr. Roy Flores, Chancellor, Pima Community College

Honorable Paul H. Loomis, Mayor, Town of Oro Valley
Represents: PAG Appointment - Small Jurisdictions

Jim Kolbe: Member of Congress, 8th District of Arizona (Retired)

Counsel: Larry Hecker, Attorney, Hecker & Muehlebach, PLLC

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Old, the New, and the Ugly

Many have noted that the 2008 election will go down as one of the most significant in the history of the country, selecting the successor to the most grotesque abomination of a presidency the nation has ever experienced. We face a situation where a fed up population is screaming for change, and most interestingly, we witness the inertia of a huge political machine and the momentum of all of its parts. A new voice is emerging that operates according to new ideas and new principles. The nation is responding, but it's response is meeting resistance from those gaining most handsomely from the status quo.

Most vested in the status quo, of course, are the Republicans. Naturally their nominee is firmly rooted in the old accepted paradigms, a McBush puppet that will change nothing, address nothing, and at best, leave everything the same. At worst, he will inflict further damage to the already crumbling systems of health care, education, finance, transportation, world reputation, military, middle class (let's face it, everything). All infrastructures crumble under the brutal incompetence of the current regime. If John McCain has any new ideas regarding how this nation should address its disintegration, they are not showing up in the press. He is more of the same on a path in the wrong direction.

The Democratic race for the nomination offers far richer distinctions. Here the collision between old and new shows simultaneously entertaining and infuriating exchanges as the old machinery finds itself shocked and frustrated by something that it cannot grasp, understand, or address. The press itself is caught off guard and continues to downplay the phenomena. In 2008, we indeed witness the birth of a new possibility and the semi-organized and somewhat panicked response of those deeply invested in the establishment remaining as it is.

The astute, the intelligent, and I would argue, the "living" who can think and process information for themselves, those who break from the herd, those with a measure of courage and conviction, those who can take a stand against the grain, were the first to see the spark for what it was, responding to a young candidate who speaks from a place we've not heard from in far too long. Consider the title of his book, "The Audacity of Hope." Given the American Holocaust of the Bush Administration, the choice of the word "audacity" could not be improved. What can a President Barack Obama truly accomplish? No one, and I emphasize NO ONE, including Obama himself, knows the answer to that question. What anyone of even marginal intellect can discern without doubt is that President Obama will be a distinct departure from the current excremental excuse of a president.

Against the voice of audacity Hillary sounds like an obsolete answering machine playing an over worn stretch of tape. "Clinging" to old campaign methods and tactics, her increasingly shrill panic attacks grate on the open minds of those not firmly entrenched in the Democratic Party's apparatus. Polls show declining trust in her honesty and integrity. The reason is clear: she is not honest. When I heard Hillary Clinton accuse Barack Obama of "elitism" I almost wretched. Our nation has been brought dangerously close to a precipice on literally over a half dozen fronts, and we are supposed to vote for Hillary because when Obama was twelve years old he played basketball with some guy who got a speeding ticket in 1995.

We are told that states voting for Obama "don't count." We are told that Michigan and Florida are being "disenfranchised" when the rules of the game were widely published front and center for all to see. The press continues to tout Hillary as if she were running even. They tell us she is more electable because she has more experience. No she doesn't.

Months ago I said the 2008 election would be one where the country gets to see its ass. The Ugly reached a new level for this cycle last Wednesday night in the ABC News meltdown of a debate. The event crystallized and painfully illustrated the bankruptcy of the most inane, insulting effort to trash a candidate. In the most watched debate so far, the nation groaned, and for George Stephanopoulos, the evening was a career changer. He will remain highly paid and highly successful, but the entire country will never look at him the same way again. The backlash against ABC was swift and severe.

Obama's growing strength is as underreported as Hillary's hemorrhaging support. By the way, on Friday President Clinton's former labor secretary, Robert Reich, formally endorsed Barack Obama, as have former Democratic Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma. Super delegates originally behind Clinton are shifting to Obama, including Cameron Kerry (John Kerry's younger brother) and Nancy Larson (Minnesota DNC activist). How many do you think have shifted from Obama to Hillary?

The race for the presidency currently consists of the old, the new, and the ugly. It's time to get the ugly out of the way so the new and the old can enter the ring, and then it will get really ugly.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bruce Ash Radio Address

Tucson, Arizona. While we have corresponded via email, I have not yet met Bruce, but I have every expectation that when we do meet, he will confirm the positive remarks I have received from sources I trust. Those on the left will perhaps object to his GOP stature, but as an Independent, I find people to admire and despise in both parties. The following is a direct translation of a recent radio piece by Bruce Ash, GOP committee man. Those following this blog can note that on many issues at the national level involving health care, the war, taxation, and others, we may have profound differences. Here in Tucson, Bruce and I have some common ground. The following italics are Bruce's words verbatim:

Tip O”Neill said, "All Politics is local."

Despite this being a presidential election year, we must not lose sight of politics in our own back yard. Have you noticed Tucson is at a tipping point? Will this be the City Council that blows Rio Nuevo, loses the gem show, and chases off major league baseball? Probably, plus the U of A bio science research facility to boot. Will we allow Bob Walkup and his city council to sell us down the river, to the enviros and neighborhood factions while our city burns? Losing jobs, tax revenue and prestige to others, I pray not.

The city council has been flailing and failing at Rio Neuvo. How long before the gem show says good bye? The same way professional baseball has. Why has business rejected Tucson? No leadership and no guts from a mayor who lacks the constitution to perform the job we elected him to do. Shortsighted council members unable to even fix the potholes and unwilling to see Tucson’s potential because they are too busy fussing with Kidco and rainwater retention. How much more must Tucson suffer these fools before we rise up and challenge our elected leaders to lead? My name is Bruce Ash, and this is what I believe.

Downtown TIF for TAT

Tucson, Arizona. Tossed for dead down a hole by a roach, I learned on the descent and encountered an October 2004 piece featuring an excited Karen Thoreson about a project called Rio Nuevo, "We’re getting messy here, and it’s a great feeling!"


The reader can read the piece that discusses numerous projects now to be funded by the exciting Tax Increment Financing, except for the odd circumstance that Arizona was the only state without a tax increment financing law.

Step forward a year to November 2005, and we have Karen's update on what has occurred. A few months later, on 4/12/2006 Rob O’Dell starts scratching his head with Rare funding method sets Rio Nuevo tax area apart noting that across the nation the TIF idea is to use funds from increases in property taxes from new development to fuel improvements in the area where those developments are taking place.

Well, it appears that our very unique system involves not property taxes, but sales taxes, and not from areas in close proximity, but from a rather tentacle like set of paws stretching across the community. Sales taxes at Park Place Mall head downtown for the fabulous new arena, hotel, and enhanced convention center we now enjoy.

Oh, wait.

Those fine developments coming soon in Downtown TIF for TAT - The Sequel.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trusting Hillary

A year ago many including Hillary Clinton saw her as the strong front runner virtually assured the Democratic nomination for president. Many including myself had a certain excitement about the first female president being elected. Six months ago as Barack Obama occurred stronger and stronger, Sirocco and myself and others spoke of a "dream ticket" of Clinton-Obama. I fantasized about a "blue tsunami" that swept away old WWII thinking. Then Iowa happened, and not Iowa, but Clinton and her campaign's reaction to Iowa, turned our heads and started triggering alarm after alarm after alarm.

Instead of responding like a grown up, congratulating Obama, and moving on, she appeared to throw a tantrum. One could almost hear a "What is wrong with Iowa? Don't they get it?" They were shocked.

She won New Hampshire, but as additional losses mounted, state after state going for Obama, she and her campaign entered a state of hysteria, denial, anger, and resentment. Talk of changing the rules in the middle of the game surfaced in January. Statements emerged about twisting the arms of super delegates. Hillary and her campaign staff started suggesting that certain states "didn't count." She mocked Obama as good at "making speeches" and of course the "3 AM" ad suggesting that for some reason (none I can figure) she will fare better in the situation.

Blips exist in the trend, and of course all candidates have ups and downs along the trail, but the trend is clear. She is slipping. Might it possibly be that while they both speak to a vision, his is simply more authentic and heartfelt, while hers is more designed and constructed, and many of us feel the difference?

The poll discussed at Raw Story and also at The Washington Post suggests the twists and turns, as well as the Bosnia sniper story and the increasingly negative attacks on Obama are taking a toll on Hillary's credibility. I think this will accelerate as her efforts occur further in the context of someone who will do what she thinks it takes to win, period.

At Wednesday's debate, the first 40 minutes involved a disgusting turkey shoot where all took shots at Obama in a grotesque display of tabloid "debating" almost certain to infuriate Obama supporters. He held up fairly well but of course had to be a little shaken. The reader can access the abundance of content on the debate, but I considered it one of the most pathetic ever, something one might expect from People Magazine.

The next few days will tell, but this Michael Tomasky story captures my sentiments. They keep hitting and hitting, but they only wound what they cannot kill.

Machiavelli had some thoughts about that.

Elizabeth Celenia-Fagan visits TUSD

(Dr. Elizabeth Celenia-Fagan) Tucson, Arizona. Readers can believe whatever they wish regarding the selection of Elizabeth Celania-Fagen as the next Superintendent of Tucson Unified School District over SG insider and President of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Rick Myers. Rick has never served as principal of a school, has no education credentials whatsoever, but hey, he knows how to butcher a spreadsheet. Maybe he's a great guy. Still, I am inclined to believe that the individual walking into an extraordinarily challenging school district facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties should be someone with experience and extensive certifications in education, one who has served as the principal of a school, stood at the front of the classroom, one who understands schools, school districts, and has spent time in one of the best school systems in the country.

She visited Tucson, an event covered by the Star as well as the Citizen. The following video shows footage of Celania-Fagan discussing her initial thoughts after a short visit. I ask the reader. Would the Supergroup insider and SALC king pin speak the words you hear at this link?

Notice the lack of discussion about "cultural groups" that don't value education.

I wish Dr. Celania-Fagan the best and hope that this community can put aside the nonsense and come together under her leadership. She faces a tough task to arrive at optimal solutions for educating our students inside one of the most difficult states in the country regarding the education and well being of its children.

Godspeed, Elizabeth, and good luck.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Century Tower

Tucson, Arizona. I will say up front that as we venture into terrain where we start publishing real names of wealthy and powerful individuals many of whom do a lot of good for the community, it is necessary to be rigorous regarding what we are alleging. For all I know The Century Tower was a brilliant idea. For all I know it was a self serving scheme that would allow insiders to rake it in. Frankly, I'm inclined towards the former.

A blog can correct its content and acknowledge mistakes. The following is quite rigorous. I consider it safe to assert that a group of people created the appearance that they hijacked the process to select the next city manager, one that would green light projects in their favor. Here's the rub: the project didn't happen. This story contains nothing not already published in the press, and remember, the press is quite entangled in "Supergroup" itself.

The following represents old news in a developing lens that wonders if a point needs tipping.

August 4, 2003: Pima County hires Marana City Manager Mike Hein to be Deputy County Administrator for Chuck Huckelberry. Hein’s focus will be community and economic development.
October 13, 2004: City Manager James Keene announces his resignation.
October 21, 2004: Council Members Kathleen Dunbar and Jose Ibarra suggest County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry would be a good choice to replace Keene.
October 2004: In a tiny little world miles to the south, after sustaining losses of $360,000 due to funding cuts, SAIAT operates in the black for the first time in 15 months.
November 1, 2004: The City Council unanimously votes to establish a 15 member citizens committee to interview finalists recommended by a headhunter through a nationwide search.
November 15, 2004: The City Council votes to delay hiring a city manager for 13 months because Leal, Ronstadt, and Dunbar are up for re-election in a year.
November 23, 2004: The Star reports that city bureaucrats believe 13 months is too long. Council members Ibarra, West, Scott, and Ronstadt voice desire to hire one by April.
December 2004: Council votes against hiring a "temporary" manager. Cigar Man confronts Foraker at the cigar shop, "You’re already dead. You have a year. You might have two. You do not have four."
January 23, 2005: The Star publishes "Together at last for jobs" about the formation of the Regional Economic Development Council, REDC, which will absorb GTEC. Why this effort will produce good jobs where prior efforts have failed is asked. Sharon Bronson replies, "We're not going to have overlap, and we're going to have accountability in this process."
January 24, 2005: The Star reports that The Mercer Group, a national headhunter, is performing a national search for Tucson’s next city manager.
January 2005: A group about as close to the "Supergroup" being distinguished at this blog meets at McMahon’s Steakhouse to discuss the future city manager.
February 3, 2005: The Star publishes a letter to the editor from restaurant mogul Bob McMahon declaring that the city should stop its national search and select County Deputy Administrator Mike Hein.
February 8, 2005: The Star publishes an article stating that McMahon, David Mehl, Yoram Levy, SL Schorr, Larry Hecker, and Dan Eckstrom all support the idea of Hein becoming the city manager.
February 8, 2005: Fred Ronstadt makes the motion that Mike Hein be the sole candidate for city manager. It passes 6-1. Carol West is the only vote AGAINST stopping the national search. Mayor Walkup denies allegations that the council caved into pressure from a group of "influential developers and business leaders."

Carol West declares, "I’m embarrassed to be sitting at this table."

After the council vote, four members of the 15 member citizen committee quit in protest. Five other members state that they will not attend the interview arranged between them and sole candidate Hein. Former City Councilman Chuck Ford, one of those on the committee who quit, calls the scheduled interview "a charade."

February 12, 2005: Ernest Portello Jr. writes "Tucson seems headed for another fine mess" and declares "the fix is in."
March 16, 2005: The Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDC) formally changes its name to Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO).
May 10, 2005: Joe Burchell writes "Tucson May Get a New High Rise."
An investment group...wants the city to give it exclusive no-bid rights to buy land at the Main Library Downtown, where it hopes to build Tucson's tallest high-rise…they would open a restaurant on the 27th floor of the 350-foot Century Tower building, which would have commercial tenants on the ground floor and about 160 condos on the floors in between.
May 22, 2005: The Star writes "Private Downtown Investment, Jump at It."
Dozens of local business people are interested in investing millions of dollars in Downtown redevelopment, city officials were told, in return for the certainty that they can buy a parcel of city land there without engaging in a competition for it.

The new proposal put up Tucson's tallest building on land adjacent to the main library Downtown. They are calling it Century Tower.

June 25, 2005: Joe Snell is selected to become the new CEO of TREO.

The Century Tower was never built. I smell frustration. Please get that the Century Tower is a metaphor for the X building and the Y complex and the W initiative, all components (Rio Nuevo or not) of efforts stymied (for good reason or not). In a tiny little world, a greedy cockroach pads his account taking funding allotted to other non-profits.

Of course I only scratch the surface.

Monday, April 14, 2008

ABD: Borders and Sticks

Tucson, Arizona. Pardon the self indulgent post, but a certain blogger is pleased to announce his doctoral committee passed him on the oral exam and endorsed his research proposal. Naturally they grilled me proper. The last time I was here occurred in 1993 in mathematics.


Back then, I studied probability theory as the values shrink to the border between possible and impossible. Convention says that non-zero implies possibility. I can call a coin toss and have the predicted event occur. People win the lottery (odds usually 150-250 million to one).

I am asking whether two distinct events can co-exist: 1) the prediction, and 2) the event predicted. The lottery shows at 250 million to one, the answer is yes. The odds against everything happening tomorrow as they will are beyond comprehension. That they will occur is beyond dispute. Can the prediction in fact exist? If not, where is the border? The framing twists the semantics of possibility in rich and fascinating ways.

The most traumatic and psychologically challenging event of my life (so far) occurred at a different border regarding a wager with extreme probabilities. The experience involved unspeakable terror where one's psyche is pure fear, not even having thoughts.

Twenty years later in 1993, I met the other side of the stick, and she asked me to give her a word. I did, and she returned it to me. I quit the math program at once.

No sticks this time. The hat, ass, farm, and overcoat have been tossed over the wall. Now the dissertation afterburners fire.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Policon Points

Tucson, Arizona. To think I forgot Policon as one of the tippers at the prior post. Well, at the "Tipping Point" story Policon's comment (#16) warrants publication as a story. For now, I will note his remark about the advocacy of SAIAT by "nice, smart people," which precisely replicates Cigar Man's assertions. One afternoon CM and I got into a rather heated exchange. He raised his voice, "YOU COULD TRAIN A MILLION!!" and it would make no difference at all. Now, I can see that he was 100 percent accurate.

From Policon:
Navigator, you sell yourself short. Can you really not describe the Beast? I'm guessing that most everyone posting here is actually a member of the Beast, the SUPERORGANISM that rules our town. If not, why would we not use our real names?

The Beast is the government-based economy of Tucson. Our politics follow our economy. Tucson has an inordinately high number of core jobs in Big G: local, county, state, fed. We also have a very high number of Little "g" jobs: Raytheon, UofA, Pima College, TUSD, Tohono, TREO, COPE, CEBUS, MTCVB, IDA, (groups whose funding comes primarily from govt).

The old "Five C's", cattle, cotton, copper, climate, and citrus, have been replaced by G,C&E (govt, climate, and education). Our largest "private" employer is a bomb factory for the government. This makes us somewhat unusual by US standards. If we want to affect change, we must understand and deal with the actual battlefield. As Howard Bloom describes in "The Lucifer Principal:"

"SUPERORGANISMS, IDEAS, and the PECKING ORDER -- the triad of human evil -- are not recent inventions "programmed into us by Western society, consumerism, capitalism, television violence, blood-and-guts films or rock and roll. They are built into our physiology. They have been with us since the dawn of the human race."

We aren't going to get anywhere with this blog without recognizing that the SUPERORGANISM ruling Tucson is in place because we are a government town. The forces that caused TREO to consolidate power in itself are the kind of self-protecting activities that all SUPERORGANISMS engage in.

Who was championing the SAIAT cause? Were they high in the PECKING ORDER, or just nice, smart people? Nice people don't wield power. People high up in the PECKING ORDER do. This blog needs to embrace the regime as it exists.

x4mr, will you make a side-bar link to an org chart displaying the names, bios, email, and phone numbers of the Supergroup and the hot staffers who are actually controlling decisions this week and next month? If a few calls and letters have profound effects on electeds, you wouldn't believe what it does to non-electeds.

This blog should also articulate the IDEA it promotes. x4mr, can you honestly say your ideal is "Meritocracy, and Anti-Bureaucracy?" Are you pissed that the feisty, nimble, cost-effective training program you ran on near-passion alone was crushed for no good reason? Will we rail against the machine even when it pits us against other political philosophies we do embrace?

Everything I'm learning about you says you will. You respect political philosophies, but you respect your innate common sense even more so. I think you hate the Nanny state and Liberal Fascism.

There is a wind blowing down I-10 as our Tucson liberal government based SUPERORGANISM collides with a conservative free economy SUPERORGANISM that is steadily making us into a suburb of Metro-Phoenix. We may not like it, but this is the battlefield where we stand.

The Tucson Liberal Voter SUPERORGANISM is also under attack from balkanizing communities (Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, etc.) which is exacerbating the collision with Phoenix. Employees of the UofA, TUSD, Raytheon, etc., worry about their government jobs. Are they safe? Are they meaningful? They vote to keep power in the hands of their SUPERORGANISM leaders (think of the union influence in Tucson city council elections).

If we want to stampede the herd, we'd better truly understand the motivations of the average cow, not just their current leaders. Are we stampeding them out of fear or greed? Are they supposed to recoil from the SAIAT and Rio Nuevo Bridge follies, or embrace the greener pasture of Phoenix's plutocracy? More to come.
4/13/2008 9:21 AM

A published author from London contacted me to discuss Magma Copper Company. We spoke for an hour about Magma, CEO Burgess Winter, my mentors Craig Steinke, Bob Mueller, and Errol Anderson. I told him about the Harvard Business Review material, KCB, Landmark Education, Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and the Voice of Magma.

Australian giant BHP bought the jewel for $2.4 billion and shut it down, displacing 2600 workers. They would not sell, mothball, or run at reduced operations. San Manuel could produce billions of pounds for less than $1 per pound. Copper now costs $4 a pound. BHP deliberately flooded the mine so it could never operate again. They dismantled the smelter completely.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Tippers

Tucson, Arizona. New blogger James submitted the following comment (#16) at the SuperGroup Story published here last Sunday. At the Tipping Point Story published Wednesday I speculated that the rise of Tucson's population as well as Web 2.0 (including blogging) and other items (please see the story) are fueling an upcoming avalanche of change on many levels.

Directly from James:
Rob O'Dell is a shill for the Manager's office. They point out what records to request and he does it. Hein skips off scot free while a city bureaucrat is thrown under the bus-this time Rick Singer. The unreported story is that the RFP for the arena construction was approved by the Mayor and Council on January 26, 2004, and Team Zocalo selected that summer. And since then NOTHING has happened other than a few hundred grand being spent for a "feasibility study" and schematic of the tortoise shell design.

Here's a 2004 article from the Weekly describing the arena proposal.

His link needs repaired, but I found the following TW articles:

Margaret Regan, 11/23/2006
Dave Devine 4/26/07

In January 2006, Hein put out a memo taking personal leadership of Rio Nuevo but has not been held responsible for anything! Of course construction costs are going up! You don't need to do a public records request to figure that out. But perhaps if the brain trust that inhabits the 10th floor actually began construction back in 2005 we'd be discussing opening day events and not escalating construction costs.

I believe the back story is that the 10th floor cut a deal with some folks involved in the hotel proposal that was approved by the mayor and council back in November. That deal, which includes folks like Alan Norville and Humberto Lopez, has probably fallen apart so Hein needs to scuttle the whole thing. What better way than to point out how much costs are going up and that we'll have to rethink the whole thing. And some how moving the Greyhound Bus terminal fits in this but I just can't figure out why. The Star reports that it has to be moved to make room for the arena-as if the bulldozers are parked out front ready to start construction. The only thing being built in downtown Tucson is a Potemkin Village.
4/09/2008 2:10 PM

James represents one of what I call the "Tippers." The Tippers are distinct from the "Supergroup" and by SG I do not refer to O'Dell's reference to a downtown group. At this blog SG refers to the status quo movers and shakers that stroke each other in back room deals, some of it good work, some of it self-serving corruption uncovered by a press whose owners sit on the boards (er, council of trustees) of the organizations they are supposed to be holding to account. Keep in mind game theory is involved. People in the SG could "tip" against fellow SGer's.

The content is not abstract blogger BS, but real material that impacts real people with real lives that bleed real blood. For those new to the blog, one example of the SG at work is Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc (TREO) pocketing the funding allocated to other non profit agencies in the community. TREO took $132,500 from a training institute that barely broke even, destroying it. It took $60,000 from the Microbusiness Advancement Center and forced the MAC Executive Director to resign. It took $30,000 from Goodwill Industries. It pocketed all this money and bragged of "improved financial performance" in its annual report. TREO also destroyed the Inland Port development efforts of Augie Garcia, throwing him out of work. Setting Herb up at the Fox Theater smells of SG antics. The press mentioned the demise of Augie and Herb. Do you think they said anything about the funding taken from MAC, Goodwill, or SAIAT?

Cigar Man is the original tipper, approaching me in late 2004. More recently, others have come forward with blog comments including Travis, Robish, The Associate, Thelma, Commenter #29 and others that post anonymously because they would be fired for speaking out. What most tippers share is anger with the the SG's: 1) arrogance 2) incompetence 3) corruption.

James suggests the newspapers report as instructed regarding SG affairs. Remember, matters are not black and white. The SG could not care less about a Daniel Scarpinato piece on the race heating up in LD 26 or CD 8. The SG cares about TCC, MTCVB, TREO, downtown, and the trough of public monies for development in various areas. Regarding workforce development, TREO shut down an entire training institute, pocketing 100% of its support, with nary a peep of discussion. The following stories at this blog (in particular the comments that follow them) contain Tipper information some readers might find interesting. You won't find this material in the SG owned Tucson Newspapers.

The Tucson Regional Supergroup Authority
The Tipping Point
Shovel Ready
Inland Empire
Build It and They Will Leave
Comment #29
Crashing Cloth
Letter to Mayor and Council

For the record, I did not invent the word "tipper" as one who helps "tip the scale." I also did not invent other upcoming distinctions like "cat's meow" (retiring from the city or county and then being re-hired to double dip a fortune) or the "Shah of Iran" (tenth floor). It is feasible I forge new turf with "SGD" (SG fattened developers).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Tipping Point

Tucson, Arizona. After some reflection regarding events local and national I have a theory I will call "The Tipping Point" regarding the transformation of governance as populations, technologies, or administrations cross certain thresholds. For a metropolis, one such threshold occurs when the population surpasses a million. Nationally, a threshold can occur when an administration drifts too far from the will of the citizens it is supposed to represent.

When this occurs, the ability of the old dogs to run the show with their old tricks starts to slip. More than birth rate, migration fuels the population growth of Tucson and the state of Arizona. When those that arrive settle in, a small percentage start to pay attention and ask questions. They are not part of the old dog network or "Supergroup" (SG). They are not served by the status quo.

The process starts with observation and criticism, and the Robert Nordmeyer opinion piece, It’s past time for Tucson to Grow Up in the Star Tuesday is a perfect example. Unfortunately, the process is painfully slow. Nordmeyer wrote about Tucson corruption and incompetence in May 2007, the same month I resigned from SAIAT and Tucson had a town hall.

The SG is not an extraordinary conspiracy or organized crime syndicate masterfully designed to make a couple dozen guys rich. I can appreciate Econ Guy’s assertion that certain components are quite successfully producing desired ends for those with wealth and influence. Cigar Man hits closer to the truth with his image of the sloppier, less organized combination of the noble and adept, the well meaning but inept, the arrogant, the hard working, the greedy, and the corrupt. Some of the well connected make extraordinary sums through sweet deals or automated faucets that flow unabated, unchecked, and unwatched. I wish I had a gig where the city cut me a check for $16 grand a month for doing positively nothing.

The process is slow, but an increasing number of intelligent individuals are scratching their heads and asking questions about governance at all levels. Here in Tucson, what arena makes sense? Who gets to design it and why? Who was given what land and why? The SG let a lying thief shut down a training organization so he could take its funding. Was there any debate? Any discussion? Any assessment of value vs. cost? None. Never mind SAIAT. Let the cockroach explain why $30,000 better serves Tucson sitting in his bank than spent by Goodwill Industries to help the less fortunate. What filth.

The tipping point is about information. Good governance has little to hide and shares information. Bad governance hides and withholds information. The model of bad governance, the Bush Administration is the Satan of information and the worst presidency in the history of the nation. Its arrogance, incompetence, and moral bankruptcy are so staggering we are in denial. They laugh at the constitution and the law. They destroy documents, ignore subpoenas, imprison the innocent (even governors), suppress scientific research, give unspeakable fortunes to corporate pals, and exhibit outrageous contempt of Congress.

As above so below. Does not Tucson have its Halliburtons?

The United States, Arizona, Tucson, and Tucson Newspapers all approach tipping points. The systems persist until forced to change. Will the owners and editors of Tucson Newspapers continue to sit on the SG boards and publish SG favorable content? Will Tucson continue to tolerate the SG’s hanky panky? Will Arizona continue to neglect its education system and water fiasco? Will the United States tolerate the same disastrous policies with the next administration? At all levels the inertia is great. Still, the pool of those paying attention is growing. Dissatisfaction and frustration continue to mount. If the spread between the journalism of Web 2.0 and that of the regular press spreads too wide, the community will alter where it gets its information.

Inside Tucson Business sits on TREO’s council of Trustees and paid for the seat, a glaring conflict of interest. ITB’s material on TREO is school girl cheerleading, not journalism. The metropolitan Tucson community now exceeds a million people. It’s time for Tucson’s press to toss the pom poms and buy a pair of pants.

The bigger the rock, the harder and slower goes the trek up the hill. At the peak we reach the tipping point, at which point the size of the rock acquires completely different semantics.

Arizona Star Notices Political Blogs

Tucson, Arizona. The Arizona Daily Star gave Daniel Scarpinato the green light to write Bloggers becoming a potent force in politics. The press has been rather slow to acknowledge the blogs, but this is a start. The article mentions Tedski's RRR, Michael's Blog for Arizona, Espresso Pundit, this blog, Daniel Patterson's place, and a little later Trent Humphries and Arizona Eighth. The Bee campaign hardly has cause for celebration with an article on political blogs hitting right as half of those mentioned criticize an ad he ran apparently at the expense of school districts.

I consider it ironic that Scarpinato chose my words "I am not at all complaining against" mainstream media (did I really speak like that?) and the different roles the press and the blogosphere play. His story comes just before my highly critical "The Tipping Point." Still, Daniel correctly noted my sentiments. Mainstream media and blogs play a different game with different rules. "The Tipping Point" involves other distinctions.

Daniel avoided the details of our conversation in his piece. I noted that a blog can correct content if an error is made. Readers correct bloggers. Threads can spiral into unanticipated territory. Blogs have different rules, but the rules are just as potent. I would say assistant professor Kemper put it mildly when he states "Readers tire of crap." I would replace "tire" with "immediately dismiss." Blogs do not enjoy the infrastructure of news stands, stacks in coffee shops, the morning toss onto someone's porch, the presence on your local TV station, or any advertising at all. The fuse is short, and most blogs are never read.

I hadn't thought about the blogosphere and university journalism departments. That's the subject of another post.

Thanks to Daniel Scarpinato for noticing.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Tucson Regional Supergroup Authority

Tucson, Arizona. Rob O'Dell of the Arizona Daily Star published an interesting article yesterday titled, Price tag for a new Downtown arena soars.

The cost of a new Downtown arena has risen more than 50 percent.

Prices increase all the time, but 50 percent? Last year almost to the day the City Council approved a new arena near the TCC provided costs remained under $130M. Well, now we’re being told it will run almost $200M. The article starts to flex the forehead here:

The new arena's projected price tag was uncovered by a public-records request by the Arizona Daily Star that was released Friday.

We learned of the new price because the Star requested public records?

After the information was released, Tucson Convention Center Director Rich Singer released a memo to the City Council saying the costs of the new arena had increased to $166 million.

It gets better.

Other e-mails obtained by the Star showed infrastructure and other costs such as furniture would raise the arena's price tag another $25 million to $30 million, to as much as $196 million.

Singer said he informed the council of the cost increases after learning from the city attorney that the e-mails would be released to the Star. He said he didn't plan to tell council members otherwise, although he had known of the new cost estimate since at least March 19, e-mails show.

Council Member Nina Trasoff sent the plans to an outside architecture firm for review, and Architect Murray Beynon trashed the design of the arena, saying it was "one of the worst designs that I have ever seen."

Them’s fightin’ words. Something’s going on.

Until shown otherwise, I am inclined to consider GOP operative and Tucson businessman Bruce Ash a good guy. Word on the street and in the blogs is that Bruce has integrity and a good heart, so I consider his remarks credible and coming from an ethical place. An Independent, I recognize good GOP folk, and Bruce, along with Supervisor Ray Carroll, are among them. Bruce notes that the initial figures were not realistic.

The city shouldn't be surprised at the new costs said Bruce Ash, a Tucson businessman. "This should not have been a surprise. I think they have been low balling it all along," Ash said. "That kind of number is what I always expected it to be."

What's going on here? Why were they low balling?

Now we come to the main course:

Attorney Larry Hecker, a member of the new supergroup of public and private interests trying to redevelop Downtown..


Cloth Alert!!

Ahh, Supergroup. I should have known given the egos involved that "club" was entirely too mundane. A blogger can be taught. I won’t go back to prior posts, but "club" has now been supplanted by "Supergroup." Or is it the Regional Supergroup? Oh, wait, it’s the Tucson Regional Supergroup Authority (TRSA). Is the TRSA funded? Of course we already know who's on TRSA's board. Just look at TREO's board, but who’s the $200+ K salaried CEO of the TRSA? Did it drop $400 grand on furniture, fly to Portland, and steal funding from other agencies? How many vice-presidents work for the TRSA?

The article reeks, and I do not refer to Rob’s journalism. Something is afoul with this whole arena/hotel/convention thing. I don’t profess to know what, and clearly some of those involved are perfectly good citizens trying to do what is right. Some of those involved are not.

It is interesting that the Star printed this piece. Perhaps Jameson is considering allowing the press to cover what is actually happening in this town. Wouldn’t that be something?

My "Tucson Tipping Point" piece should be finished by the end of the week. As above, so below. The new are replacing the old. The new dogs grow weary of the same old tricks by the same old dogs. The old dogs have not realized that there are a LOT of new dogs with new tricks, like Web 2.0. The old dogs are mighty wealthy, but the new dogs, well, there's just so many of them, and their awareness grows each day. They have some money, and they're losing patience. When the balance tips and they bite, the pent up energy they unleash rushing to their side will shock even them.

Like Water for Copper

(Photo - Augusta Resources mining materials. Other photos are available at Hilton Road) Tucson, Arizona. I wasn't able to attend the public meeting in Vail yesterday regarding the Rosemont Mine, but many did and the Star's Josh Brodesky has an article about the meeting that has generated a comment thread fifty deep and continuing. One of the comments mentioned the closure of the San Manuel mine, an event of profound financial consequence for a certain blogger, producing scar tissue I will have for the rest of my life. Australian giant BHP bought Magma for $2.5 B, and it never occurred to me that the morons in Melbourne would shut down the best (and freshly rebuilt) copper smelter in the world. Prior to that event, I had the naive view that competence and merit climbed the ladder. The shutdown occurred in 1999, and the election of Eggplant proved a vegetable could be president and ignore the constitution, lying with immunity. Locally, TREO proved that incompetence and arrogance could rule, lying with immunity.

The bad guys win on many occasions. The actual significance of Augusta Resources being a foreign company (Canadian) is not clear to me. BHP's mean spirited flooding of the San Manuel mine and dismantling of the smelter for scrap defy comprehension. They threw 2600 workers in the street as casually as tossing a beer can in the trash. We will never know, but I think an American company would have mothballed the place until copper prices restored acceptable cash flow. I cannot bear to think of what San Manuel could make at $3.75 copper. It makes me sick.

As I wrote last Thursday the Rosemont Mine has profound water consequences for the entire region including the city of Tucson. The experts can get technical, but even if the physics of consumption and contamination can be resolved, what about the economics? Is the mine really asserting that its water needs are not going to impact water rates for the entire region? Even without the mine, Arizona is heading for a water fiasco. (Maricopa is in it as deep as any of us.) The mine dramatically exacerbates an already difficult scenario. I offer the following warning: Barring the most aggressive effort to prevent it, taxpayers will subsidize the cost the mine incurs to obtain the water it needs. Just watch.

Readers against the mine may wish to consider that only legislation can stop the mine. The money in the ground is too powerful to defeat with existing law, and eventually Rosemont Copper will prevail. Congressmen Grijalva and Congresswoman Giffords have sponsored HB 4228. Minus this kind of horsepower (and is it already too late?), the community should recognize we face a when, not an if. One way or another, the community should insure the company handles the total, TRUE impact it has on an already looming water cost escalation we are going to incur, one way or another.

The days of cheap water are rapidly coming to a close, mine or no mine.