Sunday, June 29, 2008

Star Story Comment Thread Breaks Skin

Tucson, Arizona. I usually stay away from these things, but this one caught my attention. The following thread follows yesterday's Rob O'Dell AZ Daily Star story about Leal's letter calling for City Manager Hein's resignation and Council Member Unlich's call for outside auditing and investigation. The growing frustrations are not fiction and continue to escalate. Skip to the red if you're in a hurry. Obviously the views expressed below belong to those expressing them.

I don't know if all of the assertions are accurate, but they smell of truth.

1. Bobby J. (Heckyeah) 5:38AM
Leal is right, we don't trust Hein, no matter what, he has lost the public trust and he lost trust by his employees long time ago.
The Auditor portion of the idea I do like. But the question is: Uhlich's proposal left many unanswered questions about the auditor position: salary, the powers the position would have and exactly how the position would interact with the council and the city manager/ A lot will depend if this person will be truly given independent powers or be a YES person with just a sign on the door.

2. Merle S. (#5415) 6:01AM
We are governed by buffoons.

3. Nicolas R. (Nick R) 6:03AM
Speak for yourself, bro. Not all city staff think that Mike Hein is a bad manager. He has the respect of key city staff, as well as leaders outside the city. Let's work out the problems and move forward.

4. David B. (DavidB) 6:07AM
When the city is facing serious budget problems, the only way council members can see out of their petty bickering is another bureaucratic layer? This show lack of willingness to work together, short-sightedness, a lack of concern for taxpayers, and a refusal to take responsibility for their actions.

5. C B. (Pwho) 6:22AM
The City Administrator is supposed to be the "go between" between City Council members and city staff. Now they are suggesting they need a "go between" to deal with their "go between?"

6. Wayne M. (redrag) 6:25AM
Yep, it's now have your people call my people's people and lets see if we can all get along. Leal leads the buffoons, glad I don't live in the city. The county buffoons are just as useful.

7. gilbert s. (#2495)6:40AM
Who is watching the watcher? More crap layers of watching the watcher. People get a life, you can't do squat.

8. Comment by Jake S. (JakeStargazer) 6:43AM
Nicolas R. (Nick R) "Not all city staff think that Mike Hein is a bad manager. He has the respect of key city staff". That is probably a true statement. Not “all” city staff think he is a bad manager. The "key" (aka those making major $$$) may think he is a great manager. But the vast majority of city grunts I’ve spoken to, those on the front lines (not the "key"s) do not respect him. Morale is low and getting lower.

9. David H. (DABears) 6:55AM
Who ever they hire to do this he or she should wear a referees jacket, it sounds like that will be what takes up most of their time.
Rio nowhere is such a joke. It just gets more stupid as the years go by.
What an appropriate bridge they built downtown "the snake", it's a snake pit down town.

10. Ricardo F. (ricky9) 6:58AM
The City Auditor idea is practical if it is professionally performed. This city needs an Internal Audit Department headed by a "Certified" Internal Auditor and is a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. They should report to the Council and internal audit reports should be provided to the Council, City Manager and the public, via the internet. This is a standard practice among professionally run cities and is has been for years. Use Albuquerque as a guideline. This is NOT another layer of bureaucracy - it is a professional service -- long needed in this unprofessionally managed city. The longtime council members should be removed for not having this in-place decades ago.

11. Roger D. (truthsayer) 6:59AM
"Much of the friction between Hein and four council members who have been critical of him — Uhlich, Trasoff, Leal and fellow Democrat Shirley Scott — has been over his management of that $500 million project, and the slow pace at which development is happening"
This statement is incorrect in that it is not Trasoff but Romero who has been critical. See the ADS article on bus fare from 6/22.

12. Gayle C. (GayleC) 7:01AM
Yeah just what we need....another bureaucrat. The council needs to get real or be disbanded period.

13. Ricardo F. (ricky9) 7:12AM
The City really needs a professional Internal Audit Department. The Internal Audit Director is not a referee but signs off on independent audit reports. If he or she is Certified and a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors, anyone can get a copy of their internal audit written report and file a complaint with the IIA if they think the report is flawed or not objective. Then the IIA investigates, not some clown in the city of tucson. Excellent management tool and if done right, the audit reports can be avialable on the internet. Its about a 1000% improvement from the lemon-aide stand management we have now.

14. Larry R. (LarryRichardIVI) 8:00AM
$250,000!!! WOW! Great, more government waste. Are you aware that we are running at a deficit??
Are you sure this wasn’t Leal’s idea? He is good at wasting tax payer money. He will just give this job to some of his cronies.
A special auditor should be assigned to investigate Leal for his “email lies,” tax payer money waste, under the table dealings with developers, lavish parties, and other corruption.

15. Jesse C. (SpdwSwanGuy) 8:00AM
The City "grunts" or "front line staff" are pissed off because they aren't getting a raise - irregardless of the fact that the "economy" dictates whether or not we are swimming in tax funds or not.
Cementing the reason they are still stupid grunts, they dont pay attention and dont have any idea how City government works.
The highly paid managers didnt get a "pay cut", so of course theyre happy.
Hein couldnt very well "dock pay" to those that already are high up on the food chain, that wouldve been illegal.
As for Rio Nuevo; its a mess that our Council cant navigate, havent been able to for years, and when they tie Heins' hands by waffling every two months - whats left to do but blame someone else!
Believe it or not City Council, we Tucsonans arent stupid. We can see how indecisive and weak willed you are, lets not try to blame someone else. Grow a pair, make the hard decisions and then stand by them.
And, spending $250 G's for yet another "committee" is wasteful and reinforces your positions as spendthrifts with OUR money. STOP blaming someone else for your own issues - face up to them, conquer them, and lets move on!

16. Larry R. (LarryRichardIVI) 8:02AM
"I do" still want to fire Hein, Leal said. Leal is acting like a stupid, stubborn child. If he is fired, then will you be happy? What goes around, comes around... Right?

17. Larry R. (LarryRichardIVI) 8:05AM
First, it was James Keene. Now Leal’s problem is with Mike Hein.
Leal, who cares about your “comfort level,” and your other personal emotional issues. For pete's sake, you don’t have to sleep with the man. Did he reject your advances?
What is this “Comfort Level” that Leal keeps on nagging about? Could Leal be more specific as to what he means by “comfort?” Did Hein forget to fluff Leal’s pillow? Did he not want to snuggle with him? Or he didn’t want to spoon with him the other night?
Is Leal the one with a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a successful record as Marana’s former Cit Manager?
Do you think its time for Leal to stop playing the blame game?
Leal should step back, and finally realize that maybe it is he who needs to leave office.

18. Sean C. (Vailien) 8:08AM
All we've heard from Hein and council members is that he City of Tucson is broke. Where will the money to pay a new auditor's salary come from? What about the hiring freeze?

19. C B. (Pwho) 8:09AM
Hein will likely leave anyway. In situations like this, the city staff usually already have several resumes out to look for work elsewhere rather than be thrown under the bus repeatedly by your elected officials.
The sad part though is that two years from now the same city council members will be griping about how ineffective Hein's successor is. Someone needs to hand them all a mirror.

20. fernando s. (mando1) 8:09AM
Can’t people see what a bunch of idiots we have as elected officials? the city is above budget and they want to waste 250? what a bunch of LOSERS!!! THEY VE GOTTA GO!!!!!!

21. Larry R. (LarryRichardIVI) 8:10AM
Yup, LEAL is in bed with developers:
Six months after the dinner and one day after the Star contacted him about it, Leal delivered a $550 check from developer Richard Price to City Hall. Even though Price wasn't at the dinner, Leal said he always intended for Price to pick up half the tab, including all the alcohol.
STEVE LEAL should be in the federal pen for his actions and accepting bribe money from greedy developers that rape our beautiful Sonoran environment and use up our precious water supply!
Hein is a visionary and took preemptive measures to protect our water supply for our future and our environment. Sleazy Leal is probably stabbing Hein in the back for this, at the instruction of greedy developers.
READ about the bribe money here:

22. Sarah C. (Arlington) 8:27AM
There is a bigger problem of lack of trust which goes beyond the budget. An auditor can't fix that. It's not going to work. Time to do a nationwhide search for a new City Manager that is reviewed by a citizen committee. Do things the right way this time.

23. cher d. (cher d) 8:46AM
"Morale is low."
Morale is always low when the economy is bad and no raises. Every one is concerned with "Me, Myself, & I". The "Grunts" should take a look around, at least they have a job to put food on the table, and should forget about the boat in the driveway!
Hein inherited "Rio", which the Community did not want and was on the table nearly 10 yrs ago. The Council was sold a bill of goods by "Developers" seeing a profit. This has been a lost cause since the beginning.

24. Sean C. (Vailien) 8:54AM
How many times have we heard Hein say there is no money? Why isn't he saying it now, when a council member suggests creating a new position that will cost $250,000 that has not been budgeted? Could it be that he was lying all along?

25. Ricardo F. (ricky9) 9:10AM
Well folks, let's learn the facts. The Internal Audit group has been buried in the Finance Department for decades. So you have had an "uncertified" baffoon reporting to an "uncertified" incompetent Finance Director. You already have a skeleton of the Internal Audit Department - but it is buried under the Finance Department. Unprofessional!! Just extact the internal auditors out of the Finance Department and find a "Certified" Internal Audit Director that will work for $80,000 to $90,000 a year, not $250,000 -- that should pay for two or three "professional" internal auditors - all must be certified and accountable to the Institute of Internal Auditors. The council needs to contact the Institute of Internal Auditors quick with the Mayor apologizing to the city for not doing this the second day he came into office.

26. Bill B. (#4485) 9:52AM
Get rid of the entire pack of them.. remember it was Leal that played a huge role in getting TEP built where it is.. the 2 elephant within one mile.. maybe they should change the name of street along that stretch to "White Elephant Row" KINO/TEP/UHP/Juvie Jail/Impound Lot/Flood control basin.. the only thing there worth anything.. oh that and the burrito stand they made move used to be really good.

27. Robert S. (handslikeclouds) 9:55AM
MR. Hein's Nonfeasance merits removal...

28. adman s. (adman) 9:57AM
This is one of the most ridiculous proposals to come out since the last ridiculous proposal. This is like saying a company Chief Operating Officer or CEO needs to have a person between he/she and the Board of Directors. And they wonder why outlying entities fight annexation when Tucson comes calling.

29. Bruce B. (#4262) 10:04AM
City Council, show the voters you can work together and save money. Vote to get rid of Hein and save the 250,000. Then find a good manager without outside interference.

30. Ralph A. (#6505) 10:22AM
As for Rio Nuevo, this should be dissolve/stopped. It has created way too many problems and thus far no one can run it. Way too much time and money has been wasted on this. As for Hein, most good managers usually have a job in their pocket just in case.

31. cher d. (cher d) 10:41AM
Hire Another person for the CM office? Can anyone please explain what The so-called Assistant City Managers are doing besides sitting on their duffs and collecting high salaries?

32. I V. (TypicalBitterWhitePerson) 10:50AM
City weighs referee to head off disputes. So.... how much does the referee weigh?

33. jon c. (zonafan1111) 10:55AM
Just fire Hein so we can move on!!!!

34. Penelope J. (Penny J.) 10:56AM
This story ran yesterday, in the hourly update. Below is a link to the comments.
Tucson might hire auditor to referee council, manager disputes
Would you want your bank or accountant giving you wrong figures -- figures you must take into consideration to make big financial decisions?

35. Penelope J. (Penny J.) 10:58AM
Some commenting are criticizing people trying to make Mike Hein accountable with YOUR money. Do you even have a clue what has been going on?

36. Dirigo M. (Dirigo) 11:02AM
Hey Karin, You're going to be hearing from me, a constituent, and my message is can this guy! Get rid of him. Hasta la vista. Adios.

37. Dirigo M. (Dirigo) 11:03AM
PS -- China has prepared for the Olympics faster than Tucson has flubbed up Rio Nuevo.

38. Comment by Penelope J. (Penny J.) 11:16AM
Yep, more people need to call Karen and let her know, you can't make an honest man out of one person, even if you hire an independent auditor. This type of person will find a way to beat the system, they like their control, especially over the money.

39. Jefferson S. (jefferson smith) 11:19AM
I heard a very disturbing rumor yesterday. The rumor was that Larry Hecker, the "civic activist" that the Star keeps quoting in support of Hein, is actually Hein's personal attorney.
Perhaps O'Dell could check into this rumor and either confirm or deny it, since he's the one who keeps going to this source.
We know that Hecker was the front man for the developers in fighting Kromko's water initiative last year. These are the same guys who leveraged the Council into hiring Hein as manager, even though he hadn't even applied for the job. Makes you wonder, doesn't it, just why he supports Hein so adamantly. Oh, I forgot, just connect the dots.

40. Penelope J. (Penny J.) 11:20AM
City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich has the right idea to hire an INDEPENDENT auditor, a "Certified" Auditor. TIME FOR PIMA COUNTY TO DO THE SAME.
Huckelberry has been allowed to do 'a Hein' for years, and gets ticked off if anyone wants to look over his 'kingly' shoulders. Wonder who Hein learned those figure tricks from? Mmmmm......... guess I should call it 'a Huck' move. Since Hein was Huck's right hand man for a number of years before he became the City Manager.

41. Gayle C. (GayleC) 11:46AM
We (those that are inclined to agree) are calling for Leals resignation. It is long long past due. Our comfort level is nonexistent.

42. Gayle C. (GayleC) 11:59AM
I don't care who the city manager is....the misfits on the city council are not going to let him/her manage especially if he/she puts a stop to anything that involves nepotism or crony-ism with the council. Get rid of the council.

43. t r. ( 12:42PM

This comment has been reported as possibly being in violation of the StarNet User Guidelines and is under review.

44. George C. (georgec2) @ 1:01PM

OMG, this sounds like divorce court - a mediator?! How much more will THAT cost the taxpayers, you know - The People!

45. j s. (#4857) 1:07PM
The suggestion that a referee should be hired is so ridiculous, its beyond comprehension how these folks can call themselves "leaders"! The Council needs to figure out real fast that hiring and firing of the City Manager is their job! Stop passing the buck and take responsibility. OMG! Take a stand. Make a decision. If they are concerned about violating some legal precedent, consult the City Attorney. The Council is elected to weigh their decisions based on what is best for Tucson and their constituents, not their personal preferences. If they can't make this decision themselves with the existing resources at hand, then they should resign! What we have here is a failure of leadership!

46. Gabriel H. (izzyeddy) 1:09PM
I got a better idea: instead of firing Hein, why not the whole bloody council? Especially Leal, who should have been fired yesterday.

47. George C. (georgec2) 1:11PM
David H has it right! What an appropriate bridge they built downtown "the snake", it's a snake pit down town.

48. Comment by George C. (georgec2) 1:25PM
It gets worse, Read this article. Wasting our money on things some taxpayers can't afford. Un *ing believable! We need to start over in this City and State. Top to bottom, preferably starting middle on up. Your taxes paid for it
Local politicians rack up some eye-opening bills for the public to pay
By Rob O'Dell and Erica Meltzer
Pub: 09.03.2006
Out out all of you! Out!

49. R L. (#2467) 2:20PM
Hey, don't feel bad for Mike. If he gets fired he'll just go back to the County where he came from and everything will be alright. I'm sure that Huckelberry will make another deputy administrator position to fit him in. Maybe he'll go back to the county and "detail" into Huckelberry's position. You know that Mike will be very well taken care of.

50. Kyle P. (kp116) 2:26PM
Hiring an independent auditor does makes sense after reading the comments above (and thanks for additional information). However, if the city does plan to hire an 'independent' auditor, this auditor needs to be really independent, which is difficult if not impossible. Let me explain by example.
Way back around 1999, a guy named John Moffatt Phd. was hired by the county to 'independently' fix Pima County's Information Technology departments. To make the story short, he kiss a%% his was to a $168,818.30 to oversee the management of Pima County's I.T. departments (a failure after all these years). At the same time, the county hired a Chief Information Officer ($153,624.58). Now ya think, that the Chief Information Officer could do the job of overseeing the County's I.T. departments. Nope, John Moffatt Phd is still working for the county wasting tax payers money.
Forget the auditor, fire any administrator or recall any politician who's doing a horrible job. It's not a question of reducing or increasing the power of government...but it's a question of hiring the right one. First, let's start recalling Leal.

51. Ken O. (#3143) 2:29PM
If Hein isn't doing his job, then the council should fire him and find a new city manager. Don't hire an "auditor" (just another name for a babysitter). If they don't fire him and nothing continues to get done in Tucson, then the council has no one to blame but themselves. Then it is the voters' responsibility to vote out the entire council and start over. Tucson local government is a total joke!

52. Grant19 K. (Grant19) 3:30PM
The independent auditor idea is a professional method employed by many cities and counties. It is presented wrongly as a "referee" and that isn't the job. See the IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors) website and give your councilperson a copy of the Standards on the website. For example, Attributes Standard 1110 - "The Chief Audit Executive should report to a level within the organization that allows internal audit activity to fulfill its responsibilities." There is also a Code of Ethics, that is enforced on "Certified" Internal Auditors. Pinal County finally established this office when their County Manager went to prison. The City of Albuquerque's website contains numerous audit reports performed by their Internal Audit Department. This is a method for citizens to obtain (easily) copies of audit reports. Tucson and Pima County need "professionally" managed Internal Audit Departments that have a "Charter" and report to the highest level of government - the council, board of supervisors and the people. It is an excellent tool to assist the City Manager in keeping an eye on the other departments.

53. Bobh H. (azdocholliday) 4:35PM
I have a hard time seeing how the deterioration of the city police department School Resource Officer Program program that have received national recognition as model programs and have been shown to be "Best Practices" and "Evidenced Based" programs by the National School Safety Center, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education can just be eliminated without somebody recognizing there is either total ignorance to what has been shown to work best OR total mismanagement. And the direction comes from the city manager's office. Hmmmm... Somebody independent has got to see there is a problem because Mr. Hein does not and his misguided direction rolls downhill

54. Dirigo M. (Dirigo) 4:43PM
#39 Jeff, you are on to something.

55. Cris F. (getacluetucson) 5:32PM
(sarcasm)The is a very serious matter and should be studied further. Another .05 cent sales tax out to cover it.
56. Repeats #55

57. Penelope J. (Penny J.) 5:46PM
The term "referee" is ill chosen. All an independent auditor will due is give the Council, Mayor, City Manager..... and most importantly THE PUBLIC....... accountable, accurate figures, something Mike Hein is currently and purposefully making impossible.

58. Penelope J. (Penny J.) 5:50PM
Anyone remember Miranda is, or soon will be, the assistant City Manager.
WE DON'T WANT TO MOVE HIM INTO HEIN'S PLACE. HE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN HIRED TO BEGIN WITH. They should have let him retire and get a job outside of government.

59. Troy D H. (horatiotdh) 6:28PM
We Can NOT afford to fix the streets but we can aford $250K to hire someome to act as a "go between" the city manager and the city council. What is wrong with the folks we elected and someone "they" hired being able to communicate. This is just wrong... Grow up folks and do your jobs. Get on with it. Make a Decision for once without acting like a children!!!!!

60. Ken O. (#3143) 6:32PM
Hein is a good ol' boy who hob knobs with the developers on the golf course. That's why he was installed in the city manager position by the developers and power brokers that run the city and the citizens committee that was supposed to vet city manager candidates was disbanded before they even had a chance to do their job.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the city council is NOT getting the information they need and that when Hein provides information it is not accurate.
Make no mistake, Hein works for Don Diamond, Jim Click, and Bob McMahon. He is the stooge of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
The council is just stupid if they waste their time (and our money) with hiring an auditor (or whatever you want to call it). Just fire Hein and hire someone responsive who is not beholden to the special interests - just then something positive might actually be accomplished in Tucson!

61. Grant19 K. (Grant19) 6:35PM
The City has more then lost $250k a year by not having an internal audit department professionally managed. Last I heard, Hein isn't a member of ICMA - a professional management group for city and county managers. Wonder why he isn't a member? You do have to be accountable for ethics in that organization. Walkup seems pretty dense too when he can figure out that internal auditors (already on the city's payroll) shouldnt be buried in the Finance Department.

62. Grant19 (Grant19) 6:37PM
#61 Sorry, I meant Walkup can't figure it out (or maybe he can and doesn't want departmental accountability).

63. Steve P. (sjponzolycoscom) 6:38PM
That this city/county needs are outsiders. so what happens after the city gets audited? the busy public are too busy with their lives, last thing they want to do is look at the audited numbers. the public voted and hired people to do that kind of auditing. doesn't the city have a finance dept?. the solution to me is VOTE OUT and FIRE the goons that started this in the first place! Corporations hire independent accountants, they're not as honest as some people think! Remember Arthur Andersen?
Here's a simple auditing solution for the public...if they don't see Rio Nuevo improvements, FIRE or VOTE the people responsible OUT!!!! it's simple and cheap.

64. cher d. (cher d) 7:10PM
#53, the decision to eliminate the SRO Program came from MIranda at TPD. This happed also about 8 - 10 yrs ago, when Miranda was in command.
Miranda presented the package to the Mayor & Council Meeting and it was voted on as a way to reduce the budget. And Miranda was promoted! ! !

65. R C. (rclarkaz) 7:38PM
If you're going to get an auditor (mediator is more of what it sounds like), the only man for the job is Rick Myers.

66. Penelope J. (Penny J.) 7:56PM
COT auditing and accountability intentionally became secretive, buried and clouded years back, when the old AZ D. Star would do an intensive audit of City (and County) books each year.
The City became angry with having their dirty laundry exposed annually, so they 'redid' how they kept the records, and where the bean counters could be found. Wa-la -- the really big spending gaffs are now hidden, and we really don't know how our money is being spent for the most part. An independent auditor would hopefully open the local government books again. That is an important part of needed change. The County needs to do the same.

67. mike l. (mike lane) 8:11PM
Yes they need an independent audit. No, they do not need a mediator.
If the city manager can not communicate with his employers (the council) he needs to go. Mike Hein was city manager for Marana when mayor Bobby Sutton was pulling his illegal scams around Waste Management. (What did Hein know? who knows. He was only MARANA CITY MANAGER after all).
Mike Hein was working for Chuck Huckelberry when it was exposed that the county was fixing road contracts as political favors. (Was Hein implicated? Who knows. The only result of that investigation was Dan Eckstrom -- Hein's protector -- stepping down in mid-term).
Mike Hein worked for South Tucson, which has been a pit of crooked vipers for as long as anyone can remember.
Mike Hein worked for Nogales -- need I say more?
Everyplace Hein has worked has ended up in scandal.
Hein was put in at the City of Tucson at the behest of Don Diamond, Larry Hecker, Bob McMahon, Larry Hecker, and other big-time elites that run this town like their own personal feifdom. Included then were Fred Ronstadt, Jose Ibarra, and Kathleen Dunbar supported his coronation without a process. Their replacements (Ulich, Romero and Trasoff) should know better than to continue with this sleeze-bag.
The only way the council can regain any credibility with the public is to fire Hein and start a real public process to replace him -- UNLIKE THE CLOSED DOOR, BACK-ROOM DEALING THAT HIRED HIM TO BEGIN WITH.
After the Council shows us they are serious about cleaning up the mess at city hall by firing this bum, then have an audit. Maybe then, and only then, we will believe what you say.

68. Christie D. (just thefacts) 8:21PM
Oh that's BS!! I wrote to Uhlich to push for Hein's termination (I guess she already forgot about the people who wrote to say fire Hein) and furthermore, why waste City money to pay another salary when they could just get rid of the actual problem - FIRE MIKE HEIN. And for Ulich to say she's not decided on how she'll vote regarding Hein - is BS. she's already sent out replies saying that she doesn't suport Leal's demands for Hein to resign. "that she feels they could work to overcome these problems with Hein and his staff". She's not going to solve this problem. typical crappy politician - can't get a straight answer from her. Hein and his staff are incompetent, lying, mis-managers scoundrels.

69. Steve P. (sjponzolycoscom) 8:23PM
It's interesting that the city/county was audited by Star way back and still the city/county HASN'T seen much improvement. so, I doubt that an audit would help.
Just fire or vote out the corrupt snakes out of local politics!! this certainly would make a good segment from 60 Minutes.

70. Christie D. (just thefacts) 9:38PM
#24 - that's exactly it - he's been lying about the how short of funds they are. on more than one occasion The Police assoc. has found funds that supposedly were not there according to Hein. And the sheepish Council people used to just go with along with it.
#23 - I don't typically support the Council members but on this one Leal is right. no matter what bones you want to pick with leal or other council members - for right now Hein needs to go. you say the council bought into "developers" plans but that's also in large part who got Hein his job. SOme of the biggest developers (a.k.a Southern Arizona leadership Council) did LOTS of work and persuading the City Council and Mayor to skip the search for a City manager and just hire Hein. there was never a fair or ethical process for picking this guy. The big influential money makers of Tucson (SALC) pushed and pushed and had private meetings - the only question is why they wanted Hein? so while you may not support the Council members, you can vote them out next election, Mike hein is a lying, manipulative scoundrel who refuses to acknowledge the need for more cops. He'd rather put the public at more risk than admit the police assoc. is right and needs more funding.

71. fernando s. (mando1) 9:38PM
penny for mayor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

72. Christie D. (just thefacts) 9:50PM
#45 and #53 - right on! I couldn't say it any better :) for those calling for Leal to get out - hey, let's wait until he helps get Mike Hein out before you get Leal out. First things first.

73. Christie D. (just thefacts) 10:15PM
1. #53 - Miranda already turned his back toward the best interest of public safety and our officers, he's already a puppet to Mike Hein.
#65 - Are you kidding me? Rick Myers was President of Southern Arizona Leadership Council when he and all the profit-minded members of SALC (Don diamond, Larry Hecker is just a close ally to them, Jim Click, Don Bourn, Ken Abrahams) led the effort (very persistently might I add) to skip any fair and public hiring process and put in Mike Hein. I can say this as a witness - I was working at SALC at that time and watched it happen. I know and actually respect Rick Myers but I disagree with what took place and having him as the auditor would be a colossal conflict of interest. and...
2. #67 - you are exactly right.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Tipping Point – A Systemic Perspective

Tucson, Arizona. Anyone paying attention to local politics, even just the mainstream media, knows that Tucson is struggling on many fronts which always include financial affairs. Council Member Leal with a fair shot of having the required votes (Romero, Uhlich, and Scott) has called for City Manager Mike Hein’s resignation. Hein's supporters, which include the Mayor, argue Hein is trying to get things done without subjecting himself to paralyzing micromanagement by a council that takes forever to make a decision.

Without getting into specific complaints, one should know the context that Hein was more or less anointed after circumventing the usual process of a wide search carefully narrowed down over successive events leading to a selection. Instead, rich folks well acquainted with Cloth (e.g. McMahon, Click) or Cloth incarnate (e.g. Hecker, Snell, Myers, Walker, ..) just declared Hein should be the guy, and so he was, just like that, even though he didn’t apply for the job (sort of).

At risk of oversimplifying, are we not witnessing a council increasingly impatient with the expectation that they collect their tiny stipends, stay mostly in the dark, and vote on something now and then, letting the "strong manager manage" without too much interference? Why are they impatient? Why are council members experiencing pressure to interfere? Think. Rising over the fray, we could ask that as Tucson grows, are we facing a system of governance increasingly ineffective no matter what cast of characters occupy what slots?

Jumping to extremes has pitfalls, but it can elucidate concepts. Consider huge cities with enormous populations and their governments. How are New York City or Philadelphia or Chicago governed? In a sentence, they use a strong Mayor and strong council populated by full time people respectfully compensated. Departments report to this Mayor.

I grow increasingly skeptical of the weak Mayor and strong City Manager model as a community’s population grows. While a fully paid city manager with marginally paid mayor/councils might make sense for Snowflake or Show Low, does it really continue to work for Phoenix or Tucson? Phoenix (and perhaps all towns in Arizona) continues to use the strong city manager approach with weak Mayors and councils paid next to nothing.

Of course I don’t know how this summer will shake out, and folks that just dismiss Leal’s letter and the sentiments behind it do not understand the frustrations brewing in this town. Rio Nuevo is a farce. Economic Development is past pathetic, and Workforce Development is even worse. Will Tucson ever see the day when it has full time, well compensated elected officials (who must face the polls regularly) given the authority and the responsibility to govern and manage? Would such a system produce superior results?

I don’t know, but the fire is growing and getting hotter, and so long as corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and all things "cloth" funnel millions to do nothing suits in do nothing agencies, the noise will continue.

People don’t like it when others drink their milk shake.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cloth Cuts Another Throat

Tucson, Arizona. Teya Vitu has an article in yesterday's Citizen sharing the withdrawal of $100K in funding from the Downtown Tucson Partnership, the cloth bloated organization produced when the perfectly functional Tucson Downtown Alliance was expanded to serve local cloth meisters.

With smiles and fanfare, the Cloth inflate organizations (and their boards) with clothophiles. Then, a year or two later budgets are cut and instead of ousting the fat cats in the suits, they shoot the worker bees actually doing something. That happened this week.

A good person who worked hard to serve this community well got tossed in the street this week.

My prayers are with the honest and decent woman who now finds herself out of a job courtesy of swine. Unless CEO Glenn Lyons enjoys the taste of blood, he should rehire her and tender his own resignation. He doesn't need the money. If he stays, we witness greed.

Some CEOs conduct controlled burns and craft their own resignations when Cloth torpedoes their organizations. Of course, a soul is required.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tucson Bifurcation

Tucson, Arizona. Anyone following the local scene knows about Council Member Steve Leal’s letter to City Manager Mike Hein calling for his resignation. Some have complained about the letter’s timing at or near the beginning of Hein’s vacation. So what? I recall a terrifying phone call at 9 PM the night before a supposed five day paradise trip with my daughter. Business doesn’t care about your personal life and never has. The phone call significantly damaged my ability to enjoy the trip. The reader can imagine the chorus of sympathy singing on my behalf.

My criticism of Leal’s letter is its lack of specificity regarding concerns, but this could be a protocol matter, where such material is delivered separately. At any rate, what’s really going on? The general theme involves the poor release of requested information and taking action without council input.

One view is that the council would like to hang the whole Rio Nuevo meltdown on Hein, an assertion with enough citable events (arena, hotel, failure to bond, expansion of DTA into DTP) to gain traction. Speaking of Rio Never, for completion I have to note that deeper discussion has clarified that AZ Senate President Tim Bee, currently running against incumbent Gabrielle Giffords (D) for AZ CD 8, and Toni Hellon, both state senators at the time, are better classified as cheerleaders after the fact regarding the TIF extension, not factors at all (save that Bee, under pressure, did call a meeting).

An amateur blogger, I cannot discern the true fire under this smoke, but it is not bus fares. The unilateral announcement about the Hotel Arizona had a foul stench, perhaps a fat stick on the camel’s TIF back. Can Leal count to four? I would not have written that letter without four solid, locked, loaded, and verified votes. I speculate he has Romero, Glassman, and Scott. He does not require Rio Never Chair Trasoff.

UPDATE: Leal does NOT have Glassman, which means that if this is going to fly, he requires Romero, Uhlich, and Scott.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Long Awaited Death

At long, long last, in a development that may require decades to complete, although as Policon points out, sometimes progress can occur in breathtaking spurts, we see the beginning of the inevitable demise of religion as closed minded, self-righteous dogma that glorifies one’s own views and condemns all those that differ. That I will live long enough to see the day when it dissipates into history (like the belief that the earth is flat) remains unknown, but I have confidence that by the end of the century humanity en masse will grasp that the divine does not limit its expression to a single religious institution or even what is known as religion. The rising omnivores increasingly embrace this view. The political implications are profound and the death sentence has already been written and published. For many, it remains to be read or acknowledged. The "Jesus Freak" vote has all but been cancelled, and the likes of Dobson and his ilk have been relegated to noisy mouthpieces no longer a factor in elections.

Far from declaring the "God is Dead" depravity of the 70s, a moral bankruptcy well captured in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm, which gave rise to the Moral Majority backlash of the 80s, I declare the impending end of intolerant religion in large numbers. We already see it occurring in churches throughout the country if not the world. What is the message of the enormously popular Joel Osteen ministries? Why is he so popular? Look at the rise of the evangelical churches that emphasize love, worship, service, and tolerance? They don’t scream hell fire and damnation. Those that hate and condemn are dying on the vine and quickly. Christianity in America is (imagine) starting to become more like the message Christ taught. Expressions like "Let he who is perfect cast the first stone" come to mind.

MSNBC has a story based on a Pew Research US Religious Landscape Survey also cited in this Newsweek article showing that religious congregations are dramatically shifting from fixed, dogmatic orientations to more fluid and flexible sets of convictions that embrace a higher and inspirational power but reject micromanagement commands and rules not consistent with the common sense of the Golden Rule.

America’s demographics support the findings of the study as older dogmatic dogs die off to be replaced by hyper-connected omnivores whose eyes glaze over with a certain "What the ?" when told that one sexual preference is "good" while another is "evil" with nothing to support the assertion but "the Bible says" to which to the omnivore asks, "So?"

Explanations that a supreme being authored the text fall as flat as a steamrolled paper bag, and the political implications run deep and powerful as a growing population considers global warming, hunger, health insurance, poverty, energy, terrorism, education, job security, and other matters that effect their lives and the lives of their peers as the factors on which to judge a candidate. Candidates running on a "pro-life" platform better be prepared to address issues facing the lives of those already born. Republican candidates that run to the right on gay marriage and sexual preference might squeak through a victory in a primary this year, but it will be for the last time, and with the exception of a decreasing number of isolated districts in fewer areas, in November they will be soundly, resolutely, and convincingly crucified so badly no candidate in any party will ever again run on such stupidity.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heat on Hein

Tucson, Arizona. Yesterday’s Star had an article that speaks of a growing rift between council members and City Manager Mike Hein that could lead him to quit or be fired. As the article notes, the rift has to do with a lot more than bus fares. Either the paper misquoted the Mayor, or the Mayor misspoke (either are possible) in defending Hein as obtaining the extension of the TIF funding for the downtown projects. Hein had positively nothing to do with the extension of the funding, save that those who chose to trust him (now regretting this move), The Congress Street Stakeholders relied heavily on the new manager's name in 2005 as someone who could get things done and make the TIF money produce solid results and quickly.

Well, that sure came up roses and peaches galore.

CORRECTION 6/24/08: My mistake. I have from a reliable source that in fact Hein did participate in obtaining the extension, as an anonymous comment (#5) below notes.

Since then, the self-serving cloth meisters packed their fancy suits into a room and decided to disband the Stakeholders and expand the perfectly functional Tucson Downtown Alliance into the completely dysfunctional cloth infested Downtown Tucson Partnership, adding more do nothing suits and high paid white guys to sit around and stroke each other at taxpayer expense while nothing gets accomplished. Earlier promises get broken and clothophiles get first take at the trough.

In the meantime, frustration with the tenth floor's "leave us alone and let us do whatever we want" style of times past is wearing thin. Naturally, I did not create the expression "tipping point" but it appears to have caught on at least by GOP Committee Man Bruce Ash (told me to my face he got it here) and Pima Board of Supervisor challenger Joe Higgins (ditto) who also posted a piece from here at his own blog. Summarizing, The Tipping Point talks about the shifting political dynamics that occur as a community's population surpasses one million, and Tippers and Change talks about the beginnings of this as local citizens start to run for office to do something about it. The Tippers talks about those not ready to run for office or even speak without anonymity, but nonetheless come forward with information regarding local shenanigans by the status quo cloth.

Well, the cloth meisters can expect the temperature in the kitchen to continue to rise. Cheerleader Mayors who state that companies needing customized training can just "go to the community college" and a city manager who thinks he can unilaterally nix multi-million dollar Rio Nuevo commitments without consulting the council are in for some feedback (regarding lack of performance) such as:

"(I don't know if it is) deceit, incompetence or just being overwhelmed."
Councilwoman Karin Uhlich

If the city is so tight on funds that it is seriously looking at raising bus fares on the poor in the community, why can it continue to stuff the coffers of a do nothing organization like the distilled cloth of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, which produces nothing that would not happen anyway? If nothing else, the city could have trimmed its funding 15% to free up funds for more useful endeavors like helping citizens get to work. Consider the Metro Tucson Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Shaving their budget 10% would free up over $400K, and our Food Bank, one of the most productive places a person can put a dollar, is in serious trouble and needs help.

Can someone name ONE productive result of expanding the Alliance into the cloth bloated DTP? At what temperature does cloth catch fire and burn?

It's hot in Tucson, but apparently still not hot enough.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

There Will Be Blood II

The first instance of the use of oil dates back thousands of years to polishing weapons and armor. It lubricated axles, and resisting water, its thicker form (tar) was used to caulk ships. China saw that it easily burned and used it for cooking and lamps. The desire for artificial light exploded with the population, and we slaughtered whales to the brink of extinction for lamps and other applications. One could also squeeze various oils out of nuts, and in the 1300’s (with some earlier but rare instances) oil painting started. Leonardo Da Vinci improved oil paint by adding beeswax to the mixture.

The modern state of affairs more or less began on Aug. 27, 1859 when Edwin L. Drake struck oil near Titusville, Pennsylvania. Now we were into the ability to produce quantities dwarfing that of whaling vessels and consisting of a rich mixture of many lengths of hydro-carbon chains which could be isolated to sizes with the desired properties. In a process called cracking, the bigger chains were broken into smaller ones, producing kerosene, diesel fuel, heating oil, and another new invention came along, the automobile, that liked a particular flavor, gasoline.

Naturally or not this happened during the late 1800s when the country was at great risk of being completely usurped by robber baron corporations that formed trusts and monopolies colluding together to wrestle the last thin red cent from anything that moved, breathed, walked, or crawled on the planet. The oil industry was born in a world where prisoners were slaughtered for their assets and politicians were whores that bent over for the biggest bundle. Standard Oil Corporation showed no restraint in accelerating a positive feedback loop where profits bought competitors and non-competitors alike in a greed fest that would eventually own the entire country, an eventuality halted by the Sherman Act of 1890 which was then fortified by the Taylor Act of 1914.

Despite these efforts, oil remained an anomaly and exhibited remarkable resilience against efforts to curb its power and influence. Oil enjoys a "national security" status not only for its economic importance as it fuels transportation, industrial/farm equipment, heats many buildings, and provides critical input for plastics, paint, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and other products, but more so, for its role in warfare. The entire military apparatus runs on oil.

Like alcoholics or addicts securing their supply throughout the house, powerful nations seek to ensure a steady supply of oil. Sharing sleeping bags, countries either nationalize their oil production or view their oil companies as crucial friends, viewing their global reserves and production as synonymous with the national interest. Governments support their companies’ efforts to obtain rights to new production sources and the most favorable distribution channels. Oil itself is war, and during WWII the Allies gave the restriction of access to oil to the Axes the highest of priorities. In almost every respect, oil is the heroin of nations and its producers the pushers of a narcotic without which the junkies cannot survive. We will do whatever it takes.

In this context we see Lord Cheney’s 2003 invasion of Iraq as pure exploitation of a pretense that did not exist to accomplish the real objective of establishing a foothold before the next superpower, be it China or India, invades the Middle East. Watch the news, and you will soon learn of contracts and deals granting US corporations (or at least US sympathetic corporations) the rights to explore, secure, drill, and extract sweet Iraqi crude for consumption in the United States.

When these deals and contracts are solidly in place and enforced by military units of the US, Iraq, or otherwise, then Eggplant can stand on a boat beneath a banner that reads, "Mission Accomplished."

The reader is aware that Dick Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton (nation’s largest oil-services company) and Condolezza Rice is a former director of Chevron Texaco, after whom the company named one of its supertankers.

The lack of discussion regarding Bush's utterly inane, vacuous, and idiotic address regarding offshore drilling is most intentional.

Friday, June 20, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Tucson, Arizona. Both GOP presidential candidate John McCain as well as Bush have called for an end to legislation on the books for over a quarter of a century banning off shore drilling for oil. They argue that lifting such a ban will result in exploration and oil extraction that will help alleviate demand for oil and result in price relief for oil consumers. Only blind followers of such characters or individuals favoring the oil industry will buy into the inane and severely flawed thinking behind such an approach.

First of all, the quantities involved as well as the timing associated with any result from off shore drilling render it irrelevant to today's situation. Second (further details coming) and even more significant is the fact that leasing property to oil corporations and granting them the right to drill for oil does not result in oil production. As noted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), oil corporations already sit on 68 million acres of public land currently sitting entirely dormant. The corporations do not drill on land once granted the rights. They hoard it in accordance with self-serving calculations that have nothing to do with the welfare of the American consumer (or any consumer world wide) and conduct their affairs entirely in service of what they perceive to be their own best interests. No one loves the oil companies like themselves, and the industry is rich with a tradition of corruption, blood lust, betrayal, and financial rape. They don't even restrict themselves to the tactics of producing and selling oil. Think Enron and electricity in California. Think the suppression of scientific research on global warming. Think death threats and a myriad of efforts including sabotage to develop alternate energy sources. Make no mistake, the oil industry has blood all over it.

If humanity as a whole has heroin, nothing would come closer to pure cash than oil itself, and across the globe we don't manage the consumption of oil with any policies remotely approaching rationality. The laws of supply and demand have been prostituted in the service of the powerful and connected. I don't shed one microscope drop of moisture regarding the price of gasoline for all but a few of the less fortunate gouged because they lack the sophistication to steer clear of the trap. Throughout the globe, more in some countries than others, the consumption of oil is subsidized. While slightly dated, the following represent the price of a gallon of gas in various countries:

Sierra Leone $18.43 ----------Norway $10.37-----------------Turkey $10.14
Netherlands $10.11 -----------Germany $9.20-----------------Finland $8.90
Italy $8.78 ---------------------Portugal $8.78----------------Sweden $8.71
Monaco $8.33------------------Iceland $8.06-----------------France $8.06
Israel $7.95---------------------Poland $7.80------------------Hungary $7.51
South Korea, Guatamala, Greece, and Croatia---$7.38
Spain, Switzerland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Romania---$7.00 to $7.30

The countries below all pay over $6.00 for a gallon of gasoline:
Ukraine, India, Canada, Sri Lanka, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Singapore, Uruguay, Estonia.

The countries that pay less than $5 for a gallon of gas do so because it is heavily subsidized by their governments, and even India, at $5.15, would pay well over $7 were in not for a government subsidy that is currently causing its oil companies (and government) to bleed profusely. Those who discuss oil without some degree of understanding of the subsidization permeating the system and the brutality of the industry's history have no clue about the forces they discuss. In particular, any discussion that does not fully involve China and India, both subsidizing oil consumption at levels highly problematic for both each nation and the planet, might as well discuss something of which they are entirely ignorant, but with a more impressive title like Diffeomorphisms between semi-Riemannian surfaces of non-negative curvature.

One has to start somewhere, and I was impressed by Congresswoman Giffords call for legislation that tells oil companies to "use or lose" the vast oil reserves they currently hold hostage from the rest of the world.

Returning to subsidies, China and India are poor as hell, so the prices they pay, $2.80 and $5.15 respectively, are a steep bill for their populations to bear. They subsidize oil consumption to fuel the growth of their economies. Those in China and India will state that without the subsidies, the price would spiral to double digit or close (in dollars) and cripple their ability to consume any.

Without turning the post into a book, I'll just declare the honeymoon over regarding cheap oil and assert the solution is alternatives, not struggling to find the next fix. I've already voiced support for nuclear power, unprecedented investment in solar power, wind energy, and massive efforts in "going green" regarding efficiency. No matter how we proceed, there will be blood and it will get ugly.

Moves that further butcher the planet, like lifting the ban on offshore drilling, represent steps in exactly the WRONG direction.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fund Games and Property Management

Tucson, Arizona. The city of Tucson provides taxpayer dollars to numerous outside agencies to provide a variety of services for the community. In most cases the outside agencies and consultants are listed in the budget, such as the following (all dollars are per fiscal year):

Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair $12,510
El Tour de Tucson $30,000
Pima College Job Fair $9,610
Tucson Gem and Mineral Society $32,450
88-Crime $16,580
Community Mediation Program $54,830
Crime Prevention League $14,980
Elder Shelter $52,000
Humane Society $18,030
Metropolitan Education Commission $70,840
Pima County - Tucson Women’s Commission $51,750
Temple of Music and Art $100,000
Tucson Botanical Gardens $54,070
Tucson Children's Museum $86,860
Tucson Museum of Art $85,790
Tucson - Pima Arts Council $691,030

For cloth associated activity they create a "Non-Departmental General Expense." The italics are directly from page 210 of the budget detail.

The General Expense program provides centralized budget capacity and accounting and management control for expenditures that are not directly associated with the programs of city departments.

For reasons one might guess, the city does not itemize who gets this money, about $30M per year. Word is that the following are among the recipients:

Agency (Accountability) Funding Amount

Twiddledee (Fondle self) $110,000
Twiddledum (Twiddledee’s Assistant) $45,000
Schneederpuss (Meeting Coordination) $95,000
Schnoppinuttin (Rio Nuevo Public Relations) $125,000
Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (Cloth PR) $1.2 million
Metro Tucson Convention Visitor’s Bureau (Resort PR) $4 + million
Twoddlehurf (Economic Development Consultant) $385,000
Nootinwad (Rio Nuevo Consultant) $400,000
Schleppinlode (TREO Travel Consultant) $85,000
Dickindurt (Strategic Planning Committee Selection Consultant) $210,000
KMS (Blueprint Planning and Publication Consultant) $315,000
Parkinflubber (Furniture Consultant) $70,000
Flabbinwoven (Wardrobe Consultant) $65,000
Weevinthred (Economic Development Consultant) $35,000
Powerdigm (Strategic Planning Consultant/Facilitation Services) $330,000
Cheesefinders (Cloth Consultant Selection Services) $270,000

I can’t speak for the rest of the cloth in terms of the county, but word is that it cut TREO’s funding by $320,000. As a result (in a twist of irony readers of Something Else will find positively exquisite) TREO is going to LEASE SPACE, i.e. rent as many as possible of the dozens of empty cubicles in their facility. Wesley Mouche himself is going into the property management business!!!.

I am so disappointed, Mouche. Why don’t you charge for those job training grants that were going to make a $1M+/year for SAIAT? If you were providing anything of value for the community, you would be self-sufficient. Requiring public funding is a reflection of bad management decisions.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Horne Horsepuckey

Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson Unified School District has an Ethnic Studies Department (really good 5/25/08 Star Article) that has developed innovative programs designed to help students succeed in their studies and graduate from high school prepared to participate in higher education. The program features: 1) African American studies, 2) Mexican American Studies, 3) Native American Studies, and 4) Pan Asian Studies.

Arizona’s Republican Superintendent of Public Education, Tom Horne, faced with one of the worse state education systems in the nation, considers it a priority to eliminate the Ethnic Studies Department and its four programs, among the most successful in the state. On Thursday, June 12, he took it upon himself to schedule a press conference right outside TUSD headquarters at 10 AM. TUSD Press Release.

Although he has no authority to tell TUSD what to teach, he is calling for the elimination of the department. TUSD Superintendent Roger Pfeiffer has repeatedly invited Horne to visit its classes and examine course material, but not wishing to be deterred by cumbersome facts, Horne prefers to declare the program contains subject matter that is "racist and anti-American" making no efforts to provide evidence supporting such claims.

Dr. Augustine Romero, Director of the Ethnic Studies Department, did release documentation regarding the Raza (Mexican American) program, showing that for each of the last four years students who participated enjoyed significantly higher graduation rates than those who did not. More dramatic, AIMS test performance of participants far exceeded that of non-participants. I will simply mention the reading, writing, and math results for 2006-2007 eleventh grade students at Cholla, Pueblo, Rincon, and Tucson High high schools.

Reading: Raza - 67, Others - 26
Writing: Raza - 71, Others - 16
Mathematics: Raza – 55, Others – 18.

I guess that racist, un-American stuff does a person’s reading, writing, and arithmetic a lot of good. I leave K-12 to individuals I admire like Dr. Vaughn Croft, Dr. Celena-Fagan, Dr. Augustine Romero, and other dedicated professionals including principals and teachers. They are aleady calling him to task regarding his ignorance of the program he condemns.

Update: The Tucson Citizen has a Commentary making similar remarks, i.e., mind your own business and go back to Phoenix.

The toxic paranoia of Arizona's xenophobic Superintendent of Public Education extends to the state legislature, where he supports the inane SB-1108, which would deny state funding to schools whose courses denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization.

Oh, I'm sure we can all agree on what that means.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

NoTel Hotel

Tucson, Arizona. As noted at the last post, Tucson City Manager Mike Hein last week declared that the purchase and renovation of the Hotel Arizona was DOA not happening, dismissing it with minimal language that included "too expensive." My cloth alert sensors flashed and rang regarding what appears to be a unilateral decision affecting many in the community.

1. Wasn’t the plan for the Hotel Arizona purchase and upgrade a package deal along with the purchase of the 6.7 acres and construction of the Sheraton as selected by committee last year? Doesn’t the assertion that some $60M or so is "too expensive" while $230M or so is affordable seem a little odd?
2. Was the $28M selling price a firm number? Is the $17M for the land a firm number? The price for the arena mushroomed. How real is the price for the Sheraton? Did the conversations proceed to where real numbers were on the table?
3. What appraisals were conducted and who did them? What methodologies were used? Are the glasses looking at the Hotel Arizona, the land, and the proposed Sheraton of the same color? With the right change of lens, I can make horse manure look like platinum.

I assert that underneath this one we would find cloth incarnate, the same nonsense that destroys functioning agencies and noteworthy efforts in order to stroke the favored. By the way, the reader does realize the cloth is rich with conflicts of interest.

Monday, June 09, 2008

TIF for TAT – Rio No Huevos

Tucson, Arizona. In what I would bet occurs as betrayal to someone, Mike Hein has decided that the $28M purchase and $47M renovation of the Hotel Arizona is “too expensive,” while dropping $17M for 6.7 acres of land and $200M for a new Sheraton is money well spent. Since when did cost effectiveness figure into any of these conversations? Until shown otherwise, I now find it impossible to avoid the conclusion that every decision is the one that either maximizes delay of actual expenditures or strokes one of the anointed cloth meisters.

The city is getting ready to pass its $1.3 B budget. We apparently don’t have enough money to fund a police force, but we can stuff the coffers of agencies like TREO and MTCVB with millions to pretend to make a difference in what? People coming to Tucson during the winter? People retiring in Arizona? Entrepreneurs building a warehouse, sweat shop, or Walmart in town to exploit the uneducated, slave wage workforce? I’m not saying we don’t need economic development or tourism agencies, but look at what those people get paid and what they actually produce. To really knock your socks off, take the freeway in either direction to another community and compare economic development results against agency budgets.

Now, oil and gas prices spiking to record levels (will only get worse) combined with the end of Eggplant’s suppression of scientific research will lead to unprecedented interest in green technology and alternative energy. The Southwestern United States is SolarCon Valley. The sun pours enough energy into Arizona and Southern California to run half the planet. People will notice and we are now looking at sooner as opposed to later. The University of Arizona, which has real research by real people leading to real results, has secured real grants to do things like go to Mars and conduct bio-medical research. I'll skip the cloth meister speeches taking credit for the work of others.

Tucson’s downtown needs a bookstore at least as good as the Border’s on Oracle or the Barnes and Noble in the Foothills Mall. It needs retail worth visiting and restaurants worth frequenting near the bookstore and a theater complex with over a dozen screens. The Congress Street Stakeholders understood this. Not long ago, Albuquerque and Tucson were pretty much the same when it came to matters downtown. Tucson got TIF and chose cloth. Albuquerque chose results and got them.

UPDATE: The more I think about this turn of events, the more it smells and the less I think the Andrea Kelly Star Article captures what is really going on. Cost effectiveness and proper pricing have nothing to do with this situation. Teya Vitu has another Rio Nuevo piece that is worth checking out.

This reeks of cloth. Perhaps more later.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Must Read Novels

Lacking substantive education in literature (a few elementary undergraduate courses), I do not have all of the distinctions to properly appreciate certain works (James Joyce), and I find Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Dreiser, or Thomas Hardy downright painful. However, I read a novel recently, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, and it was fantastic.

What makes a good novel? In one opinion, first, a novel is pure fiction, so all bets are off and the author has the freedom to create vast realities entirely removed from our own that operate according to different principles. Second, the author has complete freedom to craft both the lens and the distinctions used to interpret the events. Third, the capability of diving into the deepest thoughts and feelings (or not) of different characters sets up the ability to interplay conflicting perspectives and views amidst misunderstanding and miscommunication in dramatic situations. Fourth, the author can introduce unprecedented connections and concepts that leave the reader profoundly provoked and intrigued in the consideration of ideas not previously considered. Finally, the ability to introduce multiple levels, almost without limit, provides for rich artistry and the refinement of mastery of a truly remarkable craft.

Most of my reading involves non-fiction, so a novel is a rare treat. Restricting only to novels (maybe a play or two), below are the must reads in the opinion of a certain blogger. The list is NOT ordered. All should be considered top tier works that richly participate in all of the above concepts. If you don’t believe me, consider reading Irving’s book. What a brilliant, fantastic read. I am still thinking about Owen Meany, an exquisite literary experience.

Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
The Tin Drum – Gunter Grass
Crime and Punishment – Feodor Dostoevsky

Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
A Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
1984 – George Orwell
Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
A Fairly Honourable Defeat – Iris Murdoch
The Day of the Locust – Nathanael West (Miss Lonelyhearts is even better)

Waiting for Godot - Samuel Beckett
No Exit – John Paul Sartre
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
The Awakening – Kate Chopin
The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
The Plague - Albert Camus
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
Lord of the Rings Trilogy – JRR Tolkien
His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke
Snowcrash – Neal Stephenson

HRC A Disastrous VP Choice

(Jim Webb with Obama) The mainstream media in its lust for everything Clinton is still fanning the flames regarding coverage of her campaign as if it were she, and not Barack Obama, who prevailed. Nim wits are feeding into the frenzy, with CNN publishing a poll saying most democrats want to see her as the Vice President on the ticket. Who are these idiots?

Does Hillary strike the reader as someone content and pleased to assume the VP role? Obama would need food-tasters and a special car like the Pope-Mobile. Further, every Obama act and initiative would be cast by the media in the light of how it plays with HRC. I can already hear the talking heads bantering about her position on every move he makes, and with her as VP, what about Bill?

(Mark Warner) While Hillary may represent philosophical change over Eggplant’s policy of stupidity, deception, and the greatest failure possible in every circumstance, she does not represent change in terms of tactics, outlooks, and perspective. She is not a change agent, and a whole set of Republicans (and some Democrats and Independents are getting there) just foam at the mouth at the thought of the woman.

Obama himself generates the rock star enthusiasm and the hunger for change. His running mate should balance this with stability, an experienced player who will be respected. Key names that come to mind are Jim Webb, Mark Warner, Sam Nunn, or Wesley Clark. All provide solid political infrastructure in areas where Obama could use some fortification.

Does the reader really believe Obama truly respects or likes HRC? Of course he will praise her in public, but no one with any sense would interpret his selection of her as anything other than caving to pressure, a terrible move for one seeking the White House. It’s reflects weakness, not leadership, and will be seen as such. Selecting HRC will look weak.

(Sam Nunn) If HRC is authentic (a skinny branch indeed) about her commitment to the struggling Americans in this country scraping by while GOP pigs discover new dimensions of financial obesity, she should know where she can make the biggest difference. Go back to the Senate, Senator Clinton, and take Harry Reid’s place as its leader. Establish a strong tie with the Speaker of the House. Create a Congress that can work with the president to start repairing the unspeakable damage inflicted in the last seven years.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Oakland, CA. Currently at Cato’s Ale House at Piedmont and Montell listening to live Irish music (a bassist, violinist, guitar player, accordion, and an oboe). The current draft is an Arrogant Bastard Ale. Mostly, I’m thinking about a young woman at Stanford living in what is close to paradise just off Mayfield and Campus. The nearby homes ooze SES, and speaking of SES, back in Oakland, I headed further up the hill to Tilden Regional Park, the road to which offers spectacular views overlooking the entire bay area including both Oakland and San Francisco. The view was more spectacular than any portrayal I could find online.

Speaking of views, I thought of the recent shuttle launch, the first to feature the spouse of a member of Congress, amply mentioned in the MSM. I noticed that this time, Congressional spouse Mark Kelly is the commander, not the pilot. Until convincingly shown otherwise, I’ll believe they married for common folk reasons, unlike royalty. In either case, the couple likely faces better stars than Shakespeare’s most famous couple, their Arizona ceremony making the front page of the New York Times with a photograph featuring full dress uniforms and swords at angles framing the marital kiss.

As I wrote in Something Else, when I met Gabrielle Giffords "data of another sort" suggested correctly or not I was meeting someone not usually encountered. Such perception does not always bring tidings of good joy, for said data also sang when I met David X who later climbed into a gasoline soaked sleeping bag and lit a match.

I will always wonder what David was thinking during the six months his sleeping bag suicide required.

Returning to STS-124, BEE IS TOAST. The man does not even know what he is running against. Last I heard, he intends to suggest Giffords is responsible for the price of gasoline. When the next David has to spend more to prepare his sleeping bag, we know who to blame.

Now why didn’t I see THAT before?