Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rio Muerto

Tucson, Arizona. As a result of the previous post I encountered some information that cut closer to reality than mainstream media. In the past I have always waited until the heart stopped beating before posting a tombstone, but now I will pronounce ahead of time what the Cloth will continue to adamantly deny. Rio Nuevo has bought the farm. The TIF funding is history. Remember the scene in Unforgiven when they shoot the kid in the canyon? He's still screaming, crying for water, but it's over.

The bright light of scrutiny brought forth by the brutal economics of the current reality are popping the pimples of soft easy money for the pus of the Cloth. I'm talking about mucho dinero that makes TREO's theft of a couple hundred thousand look like pocket change. I won't get into the underbelly of the 21st Century Fund, and guess what? The Google search on that name doesn't return a nice Web site explaining the 34 line item expenditures of $22.5 million dollars. Don't bet on Tucson Newspapers publishing that page. The reader would not believe the energy under the radar regarding those three words: 21st Century Fund. Ask the Governor.

Like Rio Nuevo, it's DOA in the new reality. The distinction "Cloth" appears to be gaining traction in certain circles. In some respects a compression of "The Emporer has no clothes" but with corruption added to its semantics, the "Cloth" refers to self-serving suits who profit on empty rhetoric and mutual back patting deals to participate in lucrative arrangements of zero substance. Those of the Cloth get paid a great deal, most literally, to meet with, talk with, present to, take trips with, have lunch with, and impress EACH OTHER. The innocent child watching the orgy of mutual admiration who asks, "Do you people do anything?" upsets the Clothiverse of meaningless strategic plans and blueprints and trips and feasibility studies. It's all calories and zero nutrition, like eating Twinkies.

It's fabulous to be one of the anointed in Clothiverse where one gets paid six figure sums to impress those who are being paid to be impressed so long as you, when its your turn, are dutifully impressed by their charade over their sweet gig. I exaggerate not. One gets paid a fat salary to produce the occasional Twinkie, empty and meaningless fluff such as Rio Nuevo chief Shelko delivered in Phoenix last week.


Well, the people in Phoenix, blood all over their hands and arms from cutting bone and teeth out of the K-12 budget, weren't in the mood for Twinkies. The new reality is starting to awake, and it's got a knife.

MANY people are aware of what I speak, but those that know fall into one of two camps. They are either in on the Cloth and amply rewarded, or they are scared to death to say anything. I know a high ranking executive at a large, local firm that contributes to TREO, and he retches and showers each time he writes the check. Will he say anything? Of course not. The reader would be shocked to know how many know but will not speak.

Tick tock.


Anonymous Robish said...

Some good can come of this severe (but well-deserved) setback for Tucson.

If Tucsonans and their leaders---actually, Tucsonans, with or without their leaders--look in the mirror and conclude that we can no longer be complacent, no longer just complain about ineffective governance but take responsibility for it, then perhaps this can be a turning point on the road to civic recovery.

Whether or not Rio Nuevo is indeed Rio Muerto, it's time to clean house. It's time, as Ross Perot said, "to pick up the shovel and clean out the barn".

We need to identify and rally around smart, competent, honest, civic-minded people as candidates for office. We need to support them by walking neighborhoods, writing checks, making phone calls, and getting out the vote. Once we've elected them, we need to demand that they serve us well. When they are at the council table, we should demand that they debate the issues, not debate which council member wronged who by going public with this or that proposal. Who acted "lawyerly" or used the media for a bit of self-promotion. Who cares? Did the roomful of business leaders and environmentalists at last week's council meeting want to hear about whose ego was bruised? Of course not. Don't waste our time.

And, if we've elected them and they haven't served us well, let's look for someone to replace them and not be afraid to turn out an incumbent in favor of another citizen, that we as educated voters have properly vetted and evaluated. Four years is enough to see if someone is a server or a self-server.

Is the dysfunction of Tucson governance finally at a level so profound that real change is possible? Let's hope so.

Will anyone drawing a salary paid by the taxpayers of Tucson be asked to resign as a result of this fiasco? Will the council look hard in the mirror? Or will they all continue with denial and finger-pointing, whining about the Arizona Daily Star and the Republicans in the Legislature?

I long for the day when we can paraphrase Gerald Ford and say that at last, our long civic nightmare is over.

2/14/2009 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Cindy said...

Wow. I've just read a bunch of your posts, and this is a really intelligent blog.

Well, the people in Phoenix, blood all over their hands and arms from cutting bone and teeth out of the K-12 budget, weren't in the mood for Twinkies.

So elegant. It's poetry the way you set up the semantics and then deliver such succulent sentences.

What are you writing your dissertation on? Your mind has the development of someone advanced in a subject like mathematics or physics. Yes?

You do realize your "Cloth" is as alive and well in Washington DC as it is in Tucson. Hint: Lobbyists.

Tucson sounds pretty pathetic. Sadly, the bad news is that as a town becomes more advanced and sophisticated, it doesn't get rid of the cloth. The cloth just get more sophisticated.

How did you come up with the word "cloth"? It works, but it's not an obvious choice. Is it the cloth of the Emperor's clothes?

2/14/2009 3:32 PM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

I'm pretty sure x4mr has all but dissertation for the PhD in mathematics. I think the PhD he is getting is in education of some kind, but he can say better than me. The guy writes code for statistical software to analyze insane amount of data, like stuff on every kid in school in the entire country.

I get what you mean about the poetry. I don't care too much about the politics. It all just makes me so angry and frustrated. The system is so corrupt and incompetent, and though I don't know, I'm inclined to agree with you that Tucson is probably no different from anywhere else in terms of incompetence and corruption. Sometimes I feel stupid for reading this blog and getting so upset, but you are exactly right. The language is so good sometimes. X4mr is wicked smart.

I think it was Observer that said a few months back that some "suits of the cloth" were probably swearing big time about Snell's screwing a blogger for 132 grand and unleashing 100 fold the trouble. The timing convinces me that x4mr's blog caused the big Rio Nuevo article by O'Dell, and that article was mentioned by the politicians in Phoenix.

"The Cloth" comes from economic development meetings x4mr sat in with the fancy suits. They talked about "weaving together the fabric of the community" and creating "threads of opportunity" and other ludicrous gobbedlygook...

Ha! Ha! God, I'm cracking up. It is just so funny, I mean really, to think of x4mr in this meeting with all these fancy mouthpieces and they're going on about threads and weaving the community, and x4mr, this no nonsense mathematician, engineer, computer programmer guy is just sitting there....


Sorry. I just find that image completely hilarious.

2/14/2009 7:28 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Tick tock is right.

I agree with X4mr that Rio Nuevo is going to be over. There is just no way they can fake the justification for more state funds to be shoveled into the black hole. Sooner or later you have to show that you have actually accomplished something, or you will lose your funding in hard times like these.

Well, another case of "who will miss them?"

I'm really sad about what has happened to the country and that people are suffering. But when some of the worst of those who squander the public's money receive their long overdue kick in the ass, well, I just couldn't be more pleased. It's just too damn bad that it takes a depression for these legislators to start combing the budget for wasteful spending. God forbid they should do it when times are good and the money could be saved.

Excellent post, X4mr.

2/14/2009 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

Personally, I like the "emperor has no clothes" interpretation of the term "Cloth", but it's true that the Heckers of Tucson do like to talk about the fabric of the community a lot.

2/14/2009 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

There is no way Rio Nuevo can survive. No Republican Senators who voted for the TIF extension in 2006 are even in the Senate anymore. There were only about five of them anyway, but the point is that no one in the current majority has a record of supporting Rio Nuevo.

Many of those in the House and Senate who were persuaded to support it in 2006 did so because Tucson's own snake-oil salesman, Mike Hein, convinced them that he was the smart one, that they could trust him to implement the project despite working for the liberal City Council, which the Republicans in the Legislature despise.

Of course, the attitude towards the Democratic City Council hasn't gotten any better, but the City's performance under 3 years of Hein's leadership since the TIF extension has unmasked him as the Great Pretender.

Jonathan Paton said that he was concerned about Rio Nuevo last summer when the City Council threatened to fire Hein, but Hein's performance with Frank Antenori and others, and Shelko's presentation to the Finance Committee last week, have changed the perception that Hein is not part of the problem.

The question is, what now for downtown Tucson? Assuming the TIF is lost, and the City finds a way to repay the bonds it sold in December, then the City can still finish the few projects that were funded by the bond sale.

Presumably the Science Center goes away. What about the hotel? The City can still access some money from the Phoenix Civic Plaza bill to renovate and expand the TCC. Unless the City really screws things up, the streetcar is still coming in about three years.

Somebody will have to oversee the construction of the final funded projects. Will it be the embattled Shelko? Can he find another job that pays him $125K? Doubtful. If his future employers google him, he's toast.

2/14/2009 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the people in Phoenix, blood all over their hands and arms from cutting bone and teeth out of the K-12 budget, weren't in the mood for Twinkies. The new reality is starting to awake, and it's got a knife.

Beautiful, x4mr, and I echo the sentiments of Liza and the rest. No way can this boondoggle pass muster when contrasted with food in mouths and the sick getting medication.

2/14/2009 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

Per Rob O'Dell's Sunday morning revelation that the City's General Fund has been pledged to back the $78 million Rio Nuevo bond issue:

I've been wondering what it will finally take, in the way of political and financial meltdowns, to actually stir the citizenry or the elected officials of Tucson to take some action. Perhaps this is it.

The insurrection may take the form of a military-style coup on the civil government, just like in a banana republic. Once the TPOA (Tucson Police Officers Association) realizes that its members aren't getting raises and the department is deliberately not graduating academies of new officers because the money is being used instead to repay bonds that were used to design a history museum that was never built, west of downtown, they may occupy the tenth floor.

2/15/2009 1:02 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Those of the Cloth get paid a great deal, most literally, to meet with, talk with, present to, take trips with, have lunch with, and impress EACH OTHER.

To be very crude -- sounds like circle-jerk to me.

x4rm, thanks for returning to this local subject, even if only for a short time.

2/15/2009 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Robish, I heard Nina is going to announce tomorrow for re-election.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone were ready step up to the plate and say, I'm running against her.

2/15/2009 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Cindy, welcome to this intelligent blog. You need to go back 18 months or so to get the full picture of x4mr and what the rest of us are concerned about. Assume you are not living in Tucson.
Anyway, welcome aboard.
(To the rest, sorry for the multiple posts this morning.... brain is full and flowing...)

2/15/2009 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Maybe I read the blog post wrong -- IS there a web page for the 21st Century Fund? There are references at the SFAz web site and another interesting blog (which cites THIS blog!!) has 21st Century Fund references.

2/15/2009 8:24 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

I don't know how much is online regarding the 21st Century Fund. The Tucson Choices blog has a good post on the subject that matches my information.

I didn't know about the Myers thing with C-Path, but that makes perfect sense. The blog didn't mention that Phelps Dodge was getting $3 million, and even Raytheon was getting a nice slice of pie. The list of who got what will not likely be published, since it provokes outrage. The large companies bailed the instant the story started to break. They don't want anything to do with it now.

In fairness to Nepolitano, in theory the 21st Century Fund could make a lot of sense, funding advanced research to possibly result in business, but nothing was put in place to recoup the investment. The public puts out and takes the risk, but the businesses reap all the reward. Also, some of the projects were pure shenanigan con schemes.

In practice as actually implemented it became sweet street.

2/15/2009 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Robish said...

It's confirmation of Nina's narcissism, hubris, and self-absorption (have I made the point that she is arrogant thoroughly enough?) that she would choose to make her re-election announcement in the middle of all this damning press coverage of her mis-governance.

Yes, it would be AWESOME if there were a really strong candidate ready to announce his/her campaign of opposition.

There is no question that groups like SAHBA and TAR, and some isolated developers, are recruiting candidates to run for the Ward 6 seat. I would like to see a strong Democrat take her on in the primary as well as a Republican challenger in the fall. Ideally we would have the choice of two strong candidates in the general election in November, with neither one being the incumbent.

Karin Uhlich is most definitely a target of the aforementioned groups as well.

2/15/2009 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Espresso Pundit has a good write up on the TIF funding. How pathetic of local cloth to claim that Maricopa is picking on Tucson. The way x4mr wrote about it (after cutting bone and teeth from K-12) is FAR MORE ACCURATE about what is really happening. They are making HARD choices, and the mismanagement and incompetence of Rio Nuevo is beyond untenable in the scarcity the state now faces.

To continue to fund Rio Nuevo would be unconscionable after cutting funding for dialysis machines for kidney patients in Cochise county.

Good job, Frank Antoneri!

2/15/2009 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

More about Frank Abeyta:

2/16/2009 1:34 PM  

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