Tuesday, June 30, 2009

GOP Should Sink Sanford

The Republican Party needs to get South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to resign immediately and disappear to a remote island south of the equator and stay there for five years. People thought he should quit before today's meltdown on several fronts that is painful to watch and starting to inflict damage that won’t be forgotten a in few days. The notion of having to repay taxpayers for trip expenses last year inflicted a serious enough blow to his credibility, but he has now lowered an already precariously low riding ship by having to contradict earlier statements regarding the number of times he has seen mistress Maria Belen Chapur, including having to admit that he saw her in the United States. The guy has cemented that he is a liar on top of the sheer dereliction of duty in disappearing without emergency contact information or proper delegation of authority in his absence.

Worse, now Sanford is broadcasting his cluelessness by making statements that fly in the face of common sense. After claiming he wants to save his marriage, he tells the press that he has "crossed the line" with a number of women in addition to his mistress. Without getting into whatever line was crossed (he claims it was not sex – that sounds familiar), now the wife has to contend with the fact that transgressions occurred with a collection of women, not just one. Regarding Chapur, he declared, "This was a whole lot more than a simple affair. This was a love story."

Way to make the wife feel terrific, Mark. Why not make her watch the video? Incredibly, Sanford did continue with something as damaging by telling the press, God, and everybody that while Chapur is his soul mate, he is trying to fall back in love with his wife.

UNBELIEVABLE.

I don’t see how any marriage could sustain the damage he just inflicted with that one, sadistic line, the kind of statement made by a sociopath indifferent to the suffering it inflicts, even on the mother of his children. He does not deserve her. If I were Jenny Sanford, I would hire the kind of attorney that buys meat from the slaughter house before it’s dead, the ice-veined vampire lawyer with the beady red eyes. She should deep six this piece of shit. The GOP would be wise to do the same and soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cloth Conundrum

The developer bifurcation between Rialto Theater president Michael Crawford and the DTDC (Don Martin and business ethics superstar (takes after dad) Scott Stiteler) just climbed a notch with a Crawford email to the Cloth Council, i.e. the board of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, about as thread infested a group one will ever find.

Fellow Board Members,

I would like to add the Rialto Theatre/Land acquisition issue to the Agenda for discussion and action.

I would also like, after discussing the current state of the issue, to have the DTP vote on a resolution that recommends to the Mayor and Council that the City/Rio Nuevo District attempt to purchase the 4,000 square feet the Theatre needs to perform its essential functions and if those discussions do not result in the purchase of the property or if during those discussions the owners of that property take action against the Theatre that threaten its existence, then the City should move for immediate condemnation of the property.

To read a very well written explanation of the current status of this issue please read the link below.
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/the-skinny/Content?category=1063733

Also, to see a story done about the Theatre for Arizona Illustrated click the following link.
http://ondemand.azpm.org/videoshorts/watch/2009/6/25/kuat-rialto-theatre/

This is the kind of issue the DTP was formed to take a leadership role on. I hope after discussing the issue that will occur.

Thank You,
Michael J. Crawford
MESCH, CLARK & ROTHSCHILD, P.C.


Crawford is proposing the radical concept that the DTP do something, a jaw dropper in the Clothiverse. The bifurcation also provides a sense of the gaming that can develop in a world of smoke and rhetoric where competence, results, and common sense play no role. The best analysis available is Donovan Durband’s online piece at the Citizen.

In a separate but thematically related article Rob O'Dell notes the profitability of consultants who know how to weave the community fabric.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Prescription X

As anticipated, Farrah Fawcett succumbed to her cancer yesterday with her partner Ryan O’Neil and her attending physician, who insured she was free of pain, right at her side. She was 62. Not remotely anticipated was the sudden demise of Pop Icon Michael Jackson at the age of 50. Estimates run at four to six weeks for what most know is the focal point of the story - the toxicology report.

Jackson has the signature profile of someone who could have serious prescription medication issues. The list of drug related deaths is long and dominated by musicians, actors and actresses, writers and songwriters, performers, and other artists. Consider the following small sample of those who took prescription X. After the name is the age at death and the drugs found in their system.

John Belushi (33) speedball (cocaine and heroin)
Lenny Bruce (40) morphine
Chris Farley (33) speedball
Judy Garland (47) secobarbital
Andy Gibb (30) cocaine, alcohol
Margaux Hemingway (41) phenobarbital
Jimi Hendrix (27) vesperax
Heath Ledger (27) oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, doxylamine
Janis Joplin (27) heroin
Marilyn Monroe (36) chloral hydrate, Nembutal
Jim Morrison (27) heroin
Morrison’s girlfriend Pamela Coursen (27) heroin
Chris Penn (40) premethazine, codeine
River Phoenix (23) speedball
Anne Nichole Smith (39) chloral hydrate, clonazepam, lorazepam, oxazepam, diazepam, taprimate, diphenhydramine.
Smith’s son, Daniel (20) Zoloft, lexapro, methadone
Sid Vicious (21) heroin
Hank Williams (29) uncertain, most likely morphine and alcohol

And of course we have the original king who reportedly spent over a million dollars per year on medication.

Elvis Presley (42) codeine (10x toxic level), morphine, methaqualone, diazepam, ethinamate, ethchlorvynol, amobarbital, pentobarbital (two types), meperidine, phenyltoloxamine.

I would distinguish between speedball stupidity and the chronic decline into prescription drug hell. Something is amiss with the ultra famous and prescription medication. I can see how someone in the trusted inner circle, perhaps well meaning (and perhaps not), might suggest "one of these" to cope with "the pressure" and the downward spiral begins. Presley's death could almost be considered mercy.

Michael Jackson is a complex subject, so I am asserting nothing. Perhaps medication had nothing to do with his cardiac arrest at 50, but one of his attorneys is already talking about it, and what's up with the disappearance of his doctor?

In any case, I imagine Michael and Elvis could have quite the conversation. Perhaps they are together now and comparing notes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Four Stooges

Rob O’Dell has an AZ Star story (6/24/09) that begins with:

City Hall and other Tucson facilities will be shut down for five extra business days over the next year so employees can be sent home without pay to help balance the city budget.

We also have the story where Clothmeisters decided to screw the Rialto Theater for nine or so months of "back rent" in a clear act of retaliation after their sweet cloth $Ka-Ching! fell through. This comes on top of learning that the city dropped $820K on a fourth rate 15 minute infomercial intended to uh, well, uh, impress someone TBD, and of course there’s the $250K TREO paid KMK consulting for a glossy pamphlet now unread for three years. Spring Training is soon to be history, the Gem Show is on thin ice, and Rio Nuevo is a fiasco.

Why does Tucson’s economic and downtown development read like a Three Stooges episode instead of the results occurring in Albuquerque, Portland, or other comparable cities? The answer: Cloth. Instead of producing results on par with these communities, Tucson’s economic (TREO) and downtown (DTP) development agencies squander community funds to serve themselves and their friends. Instead of generating real economic value, they fictitiously attach their budgets to the unrelated investments and expenditures of others in order to fabricate phony "return on investment" figures.

Sadly, local officials (Stooge Exhibit 1) swallow the numbers like babies at juicy nipples, hopelessly intertwined with corrupt government administrators (Stooge Exhibit 2) in a mutual love-fest with the Cloth agencies and consultants (Stooge Exhibit 3) to create a perfect bed where the Three Stooges can have their love fest in a sea of taxpayer dollars. Do I exaggerate? I apply the semantics of the word loosely. Speaking more rigorously, the stooges are the taxpayers (Stooge Exhibit 4). I mean no offense to this last group as until recently I was one of them.

Ask the council what budget cuts were faced by TREO, MTCVB, DTP, TCC, or the DDC. The Cloth budget exceeds $12 M and was not cut by a thin red cent. School districts and food banks will close and and city employees will be tossed in the street before the TREO or DTP budgets drop a dollar. DTP ousted a competent director to hire a loyal Clothmeister at TWICE the salary. With city council permission TREO padded its own cash reserves by stealing funds allotted for a Goodwill program for crippled youth.

UPDATE: Upon re-reading this post, I think I failed to make my key points clear. There are two fundamental ideas I am attempting to present.

1. The cost of the Cloth is real. It is not an abstract concept. The Fitz cartoon shows the extreme, but real damage has taken place. To fully grasp it requires one to have a sense of what the community COULD BE and COULD HAVE BECOME.
2. The damage continues and may be getting worse as programs and people providing genuine value get cut/fired/laid off/discontinued while cloth gigs remain essentially fully funded. The trend is negative. DTP costs more than the Alliance and does less.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neda Agha-Soltan 1982 - 2009

Neda Agha-Soltan, the unarmed, silently observing 26 year old woman mercilessly gunned down Saturday in the Tehran streets by basij militia, has become front page news at CNN as well as CBS and countless other sites. President Obama commented on the footage, "Heartbreaking." The Iranian regime would have to work long and hard to find an individual more problematic on the posters of its opposition. As intense public interest propels her background to the forefront of public discourse, we find an innocent, harmless, and utterly peaceful citizen of Iran. If the regime guns down a woman like this, they can shoot anyone.

As someone fond of game theory, I am almost encouraged by the regime’s credibility crippling suggestion that the footage of Neda’s death was staged. They further offend and outrage the planet with bully speak about a special court to "teach a lesson."

The genie is out of the bottle. The arrested are martyrs waiting to happen, and a young, beautiful, and unquestionably innocent woman is now the face of a movement brimming with decades of feminine resentment in a country where women outnumber men and the face of the government is an arrogant, misogynist thug. Do they have any grasp of how what they do to the arrested occurs in the new reality?

The regime is kindling wood on top of sawdust. They just lit a match and tossed it on to the pile. Sometimes this happens ridiculously slowly. Then again, sometimes you wake up the next morning to footage of dead officials.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neda



The specific embed here may stop working as the ongoing cyber battle rages. The video is the real one, so be warned. What got me was the real time blood from her nose and mouth. I don’t think the current regime understands the new reality and the damage it has sustained. Iran’s controlled media now refer to the protesters as terrorists (what irony), suggesting the ayatollahs don’t quite grasp that the genie is out of the bottle. Supreme Leader Ayatullah Ali Khamenei has defended the election results as legitimate in the context of the will of the people, betraying the depth of the paradigm shift. Years ago, the theocracy’s elections followed the will of Allah, not the people.

I prefer to believe the shot was fired into the crowd without a specific target to thinking someone deliberately shot a sixteen year old girl in the chest. In either case, the image of Neda and the footage of her death have provided those seeking change an extraordinarily powerful symbol and focal point. Time will now reveal how long this Titanic remains afloat after slamming into the berg.

UPDATE: The cyber war continues. I have had to change the embed code twice. We are truly witnessing the profound implications of the new reality. They can destroy link after link, but new links sprout faster. Knowledge of what happened to this girl, and of a lot that happens, can no longer be suppressed. My sense is that Youtube searches will continue to find the soul stirring 40 second clip destined for prominence in history. Yes, I cried watching Neda die. May her death contribute to the birth millions of Iranians are risking their lives to obtain.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Raytheon Builds Its Own SAIAT

When TREO stole SAIAT’s funding and forced the closure of the training institute, I knew it was only a matter of time before Raytheon, the one company in Tucson (SAIAT’s largest customer) with sufficient resources would replace the loss with a training facility of its own. Conversation already existed about such a facility even with a SAIAT in operation. The ribbon cutting ceremony was Tuesday, and today the Star has a piece discussing the opening of the Raytheon Learning Center on Hemisphere Loop (walking distance from the former SAIAT).

The center features 12 classrooms, a kitchen and two large conference rooms. It also features digital video displays and other high-tech equipment.

Naturally, the article makes no mention of SAIAT and instead projects the image of Raytheon employees taking classes in trailers. While some classes did take place in trailers, the more accurate image is their rental of classroom and meeting space from local hotels and SAIAT (before the Cloth shut it down). Raytheon got the size about right at 10,000 square feet and of course the place has high speed wireless internet, first rate monitors, computers, projectors and screens, whiteboards, copying services, mobile tables and chairs easily moved to alter classroom configurations, and so on.

"This will have lasting effect — it's good for the company, it's good for its employees," Rick Nelson, Missile Systems' vice president of operations, told a throng of Raytheon workers, adding that the facilities are already booked for the next four months.

The major difference between SAIAT and the Raytheon Learning Center is that instead of serving just one company, SAIAT served over 100 local employers to the tune of over 10,000 employees per year. SAIAT also had a rather remarkable cadre of subject matter experts able to deliver first rate instruction in a huge variety of subjects from simple Microsoft Office applications to highly sophisticated quality programs (Six Sigma, etc.) and information technology training (Java, Solaris, MCSE, Cisco..) as well as practical hands on stuff like IPC-610 soldering certification.

TREO decided a flexible training institute of this kind was less important than its own bank account, stealing all of SAIAT’s funding (about $200K) to place in its own cash reserves. Why train 10,000 Tucsonans when you can make a 15 minute video at four times the price?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Cloth Curse

When it comes to economic and downtown development, Tucson appears to be suffering from some kind of curse that prevents sound thinking and energy genuinely directed towards improving the community. The well meaning and competent are destroyed, over and over again, while the self-serving, corrupt, or inept continue to be rewarded. At least when Robert Gonzales (and later, Steve Weathers) ran GTEC, its performance was reviewed and if it tried to take credit for the results of others, they were called on it. TREO could take credit for Obama stimulus funds and council members would smile and applaud. As bad if not worse, we have the devolution of the functional Downtown Alliance, a productive organization that generated numerous community events and other services, into a worthless crony capital for six figure do nothing Clothmeister gigs while it continues to connive to get paid more to do less.

Now we learn of the Downtown Tucson Development Company (DTDC) and its delicious scenario slated to occur via what has to be either corrupt or appallingly incompetent, or as the curse goes, both. ITB has the expected soft treatment piece, but the deal has all the stench of Rio Nuevo’s $9 M imaginary bridge.

Donovan Durband, Director of the Downtown Alliance before the Cloth boondoggled the place into the thrice budgeted nonperforming Lyons DTP, has a thorough and well written blog post via the new online Tucson Citizen, and the Star has an opinion piece suggesting, "Whoa!" to this deal, and for good reason.

Also crying foul, Rialto Theater President Michael Crawford wrote an email to the Mayor and Council pleading that they defer approval of the document implementing the deal until it is fully understood. What a concept. The Star piece referenced his email and clearly had a copy. Those interested in reading it verbatim can view a simple web page of Crawford’s Letter here.

I don't know why Tucson suffers from such a curse. The likes of Snell, Lyons, Barr, LaSala, and even Hecker are probably opportunists happy to inhale the greatest $Ka-Ching! possible when they see a butt bent over a railing. The causal elements are more likely to include names like Eckstrom. At any rate, Albuquerque, Portland, Austin, San Diego (the list goes on) provide examples of communities free of having their economic and downtown development efforts focused on funneling millions to a small group of anointed insiders. You do know the DTDC organized fundraisers for some of our city officials.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

DC

Greetings from the capital here at The Bolger Center just outside of the beltway. The brief trip is the last obligation associated with my graduate work, presenting the dissertation to those who work with federal higher education policy. Believe or not, this is my first time in DC as events until now just never got around to being here. The tourism will have to wait until next time. I must quickly return to the new digs.

Speaking of the new digs, I was walking back from lunch, and no kidding, I saw a totally bleached white squirrel clinging to the side of a tree. I did a double take to confirm my eyes, and sure enough, the thing was 100% albino, red eyes and all.

Did you know about albino squirrels?

Until now I had never heard of them. I naturally inquired, and it turns out all sorts of animals can have the condition, from tigers (heard of that) to deer to horses to fish to (get this) kaola bears and alligators. There are albino alligators. An albino alligator is a notion worthy of a song, but I'd have to drink heavily to figure out the lyrics, let alone the tune. Then I realized someone made a movie with the title, which featured Kevin Spacey's first attempt at directing.

He should stick to acting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Shift Beginning

Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) brought the notion of the paradigm shift into the discourse, and skipping the details, its implications extend to the social sciences and humanities as well. Peter Senge’s distinction "mental models" in his classic, The Fifth Discipline (1990), is among the most powerful presentations of the concept.

The 2008 financial meltdown brought about by the systemic betrayal of the nation by long trusted organizations has led to a paradigm shift that remains to be fully understood. In the past we expected corporations to operate in ways that serve the country’s best interests, thinking the market rewarded adept and ethical behavior. We have painfully learned that in exchange for a short term windfall, self-serving executives will (and did) throw both company and country off a cliff. They have eliminated all doubt that they are no longer ethical, responsible, or competent. In light of this, the American public has lost trust in corporate America.

A recent poll asked whether insurance companies or the government should be trusted with respect to health care:

The Government: 92%
Insurance Companies: 8%

Profit ravenous insurance companies seek a system of fat premiums for plans that don’t cover anything. American auto companies have refuted any notion that competence, vision, and merit climb their ladders, and our financial institutions? Scum rises to the top on criteria having nothing to do with generating the long term success of an enterprise, which used to be the chief concern of top executives. Sadly and with tragic consequences, the culture has changed to one concerned only with short term personal gain in an orgy of obscene salaries and bonuses while the building burns. They got theirs, and now a furious nation screams in outrage as the rest of us must pay for their carnage with our life’s work, 401K, pension, savings, employment, home, health insurance, and that of our children. Corporate hot shots raped the nation raw and left it for dead. The country will never be the same, and it will never forget.

At least nationally, the GOP has yet to figure this out or even figure out that it has to figure something out. They STILL think their ideas work, "Just get the government off the backs of GM, AIG, ENRON, Countrywide, Pfizer, ExxonMobile, and prosperity will be had by all."

They still talk like this, advocating corporate based health care and not seeing that Big Pharma and Big HMO also have the cancer infecting GM and AIG only not as advanced. How can a company survive when run by those with little to no regard for its survival? Barring a mechanism that truly causes a course correction transforming the current corporate culture, the government will end up running large corporations anyway, since they have clearly lost the capacity to generate leaders with a conscience or the slightest interest in anything other than their own compensation.

Tick Tock.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Cloth Clash at the Star Corral

Tucson, Arizona. Following up on O’Dell’s piece about cloth trough aficionados Jaret Barr and Fran LaSala, who annually snarf $100K each as cloth operatives, we have the sparring that occurred in the resulting comment thread between DTP Cloth operative Cara Rene and some former downtown supporters, starting with a reference to the volunteer effort once aligned with the DTP’s non-cloth predecessor, the Tucson Downtown Alliance. While they occur as tame to me, some remarks crossed what the Star could handle, and three of those below were deleted from the paper's thread.

#1 – Patrick M.
Yet there is no money to support the old and loyal downtown volunteer program. In fact, they never even bothered to thank them; all 83 of them, for their immediate response to the call for help for the New Years Eve event "First Night". I guess that is called "messaging."

Skipping to #66, we have DTP cloth beneficiary Cara Stuff-n-Puff Rene’s inability to resist chiming in as Lady Rubysky. Rene, a former Citizen reporter and the wife of city council member Nina Trasoff’s right hand guy, is paid $65K to show up (perhaps) four times a week.

#66 - Lady Rubysky (comment deleted by the Star)
Hey #1: Not sure where you are getting your info. But, according to some folks who volunteered for the partnership and that event, it was the former paid volunteer coordinator who was responsible for such things and never seemed to get the job done.

A cousin and friend of mine volunteered for the event and said the volunteer coordinator - who now no longer works there - was incompetent. Hopefully they will find someone better and not just rely on people who have long-time times to downtown. Better to go with people who know what they are doing rather than pander to those who are just furniture pieces.


#67 - Bob K.
The bottom line here is once you are a suck-up to the city the old boys club will always look out for you. Like others have said why do we pay another $200,000 for positions that did not exist until the suck-ups needed a new home? The city is full of suck-ups who have found out just how easy it is to do nothing in Tucson but to get paid at least $100,000.....In low wage Tucson this is big money.

The power player forced out Duncan (a total suck-up but not enough of one) from the downtown alliance and put in the wife of a staffer from Nutty Nina. All the while this is accepted from our gang of morons. The list of directors we pay over $120,000 number way over 100 this is just stupid considering the fact most of them are not qualified to perform the task that they must do.

I agree these city morons could not find money to pay for fireworks but boy they sure can find the grease to payoff total suck-ups. Just keep an eye out for that total fool Shelko he will end up on some sort of board paid by the city (an easy $125,000). Do you ever get the feeling we are getting the shaft as we always seem to be paying more money for less performance?


#70 - Patrick M. (comment deleted by the Star)
Well now Poster #66; Lady Rubysky, who the world of downtowners know to be the one and only Cara Rene, Executive VP of the Partnership and the official director of messaging, who is also the $65,000 a year 4 day a week deputy referenced in this article. Her message herein is clear, and quite aptly telegraphs the modus operandi of the new regime. Which is that knowing the people and places in the downtown community is of no value to them. Poll the merchants and you will discover that an overwhelming number of them have never met RUBY.

The former Volunteer Coordinator, who was in fact not paid, and at one time represented one of the largest land owners downtown, logged in endless hours for the merchants, happens to have 30 years of Event Management expertise with nothing but positive feedback. Such positive feedback that continues to get invitations for he and his platoon of volunteers to staff events directly for the Merchants, events like Dillinger Days, which the Partnership was unable to staff. A couple of hotels, the Gem Show, and Fourth Ave Trolley continue to enjoy the participation of the Furniture Volunteers. It is the communication style of DTP executive staff that is legend, so it would follow that they want to work only with friends and family. Watch closely dear readers as the probability is quite high that Ruby will either be getting a raise or one of her "cousins" will be the actual paid volunteer. Any bets?

All is well that ends well, and not volunteering for such a supercilious group is quite a relief, especially for retired Marines and soldiers, the same relief that has been afforded three of the former staffers who were not able to tolerate the unique communication style of the management and resigned. This furniture has ears, self-esteem and a positive zest for life currently vacant in Rubys world. That furniture is me - the former volunteer, the furniture that many landowners and merchants in the CBD would like in their living room. Many have been friends with the furniture for 30 years. Fine furniture is not aesthetically compatible with the plastic chairs of the DTP anyhow.

I would hope to not dip to the level of ad hominem as did Ruby the former Citizen journalist, who would do well to review the Media Law definition of libel, and its consequent harm realized. The job of sending out thank you letters, that Ruby indicates was never accomplished was in fact preceded by a comment from her General that their was no money in the budget to prepare certificates of appreciation. Wow, maybe $40. A quarter of million in salaries to oversee the canceling of most all downtown events so as to have the money to pay themselves, and they state they have no money for certificates of appreciation! Four former staffers were present to corroborate this comment. Two months after the event Ruby demanded all the emails of the volunteers so she could send the lowest common denominator of 'Thank You' note. The "furniture" was surprised that a former journalist would not know of the impropriety of placing these volunteers on a list serve without a request or their permission.

Were one to go to Middle School mentality with all this, I would say go ahead and interview the other 82 volunteers and get their impression of the time they spent with Ruby and the General. Let’s drop this and move on to forwarding our Downtown with positive people and projects, the kind that the Merchants provide on their own.


#71 – Bob K. (comment deleted by the Star)
Well now Poster #66; Lady Rubysky, who the world of downtowners know to be the one and only Cara Rene, Executive VP of the Partnership ...

Wow this explains why this nut job kept attacking me for my posting about how we have nothing but morons in charge. Thanks for the heads up she is way under qualified and overpaid just like most city managers and directors.


Cloth MO is to trash those it throws under the bus as incompetent. The fallacy of their argument is that conditions deteriorate when they take over. The Fox theater’s situation is worse, not better. The DTP is three times the size of the Alliance and produces less than a third of the results. When TREO destroyed SAIAT, the active upgrade of the skills of over 10,000 Tucson workers every year was replaced with nothing, nada, zip. The Job Training Grant support function has atrophied, and BusinessLink, once most valuable, has all but died. The Cloth continues to inhale larger and larger sums of public funds from both city and county, and it delivers less and less for the community.

While his remarks were directed specifically at Rio Nuevo, Jim Waring, Chairman of the AZ Senate Finance Committee, captures the theme of it all, "You spent $9 million dollars and didn't build anything."

Yes, they did. They built fat salary gigs for Lyons, Snell, Barr, LaSala, Walker, Shelko, not to mention the sweet deals for Hecker, Eckstrom, Kennedy, and the list goes on.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Cloth, Copper, and the Citizen

Rob O’Dell has another Cloth article today noting the recent moves of the Clothmeisters to continuously increase the flow of taxpayer funds at the cloth trough. Glenn Lyons is truly emerging as a Larry Hecker disciple, someone with the ability to rake in massive amounts of money with nothing but rhetoric, corruption, and schmoozing. Lyons DTP is getting, at city taxpayer expense of $200K / year, former Hein lackeys Jaret Barr and Fran LaSala. Lyons boondoggle $130K salary is twice that of his predecessor’s to run a larger agency that produces less. Now fully clothified, the DTP equals the ability of TREO and Rio Nuevo to squander millions on each other and their friends. Once one has the distinction "cloth" such articles are painful to read.

Despite all of the local noise and lip service from politicians including Giffords and Grijalva, the Rosemont mine is moving forward and now addressing $900 M of financing to create an open pit copper mine near Madera Canyon. Without addressing the contribution open pit mining offers to scenic locations, the full scope of the water situation has not been addressed. Yes, they have permits, but has anyone really run the numbers, the real numbers, including implications for costs? The community will end up heavily subsidizing the costs of providing water to that mine. Dig into it and you’ll find that Arizona is the AIG / Madoff of water, a permit Ponzi scheme on a collision with disaster.

What’s up with the Tucson Citizen? It now appears to be a collection of about 20 blogs. Is it any different from Lefty Blogs or other blog aggregators? Is anyone being paid anything? Is there any editing or reporting function accountable to a paid authority such as editor Mark Evans? I’ve noticed that respectable blogger Art Jacobson is part of the effort. Well, good luck to them in sorting out a design and methodology for contributing to the discourse.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

2000 Miles

I did not stop in Hatch since chile season occurs in the fall, but no where on earth can more red and green chiles be found. Roasted chiles, seasoned chiles, fresh chiles, jarred chiles, chilied chiles. I didn’t have time to check out the very large dish array about an hour from Socorro, a slight regret because I am sure it is quite a sight and odds of having such an easy chance again are now remote.

I love Albuquerque, which occurs to me as a Tucson improved in every way. 2500 feet higher, its weather is almost perfect, and instead of Cloth, the town has real economic and downtown development, which means superior job opportunities and an infinitely more enjoyable and interesting downtown. The city also has a for real workforce development institute that (imagine) continuously upgrades the skills of the Albuquerque labor force. Individuals who like living in Tucson but are interested in improving the experience in about every possible metric should consider Albuquerque.

Seen the massive windmill farm north of I-40 about 30 miles west of Amarillo? It may be as large as the one in California east of LA. I stopped in Amarillo to check out the steak house that has the 72 ounce steak that is free if you can eat it including the sides in less than an hour. That is like to going to Outback and eating six steaks (disgusting). Why am I not surprised to find the glorification of gluttony in Texas?

Experientially, both the atmosphere and the vegetation start to change in Oklahoma. The moisture starts climbing and the vegetation reacts as the grasses grow thicker and more colorful. This continues as one moves north from Oklahoma into Kansas, serious grass country, and I highly recommend the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve north east of Wichita.

I completely forgot the size of St. Louis and the intensity of its traffic, which reminded me of times long ago in Chicago. Speaking of Chicago, seeing a freeway sign for it evoked quite the twinge – I don’t have the words. Starting this morning, the final day, far to the east of St. Louis and away from its congested thoroughfares, by 8AM I was on the road for the place I now call home. The trek through Illinois started with fields, and upon leaving Illinois, I could tell I was getting close. It started to get beautiful, just jaw dropping spectacular. Flat terrain became rolling hills, and the vegetation exploded into thick rich forests intermixed with luscious green moisture soaked grasses. At times the freeway became a road cut through thick woods.

I will never forget the desert, and it will forever remain a part of my heart and soul. I am now a long way from Tucson, and the distance involves more than 2000 miles.

Monday, June 01, 2009

E Pluribus Unum

The recent discussion of a bad movie based on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1931) got me thinking. Fueled by speculation of the possibilities arising from the advance of technology, science, and the industrial revolution, the notion of utopia emerged, a world of peace, prosperity, and happiness for all. Examples include Morris News From Nowhere (1890) or HG Wells Men Like Gods (1923).

Utopian visions drew criticism, and Huxley wrote his novel both in reaction to Wells (1923) and expressing his own outrage at the USA’s culture of advertising, excessive consumerism, and promiscuity. During this time many in Europe feared that mass production, materialism, and commercialism might lead to the "Americanization of Europe" and some in America, noting communism, grew concerned about the loss of individual identity against the increasingly powerful state. Huxley’s novel hit mass production (no pregnancy), communism (no god), promiscuity (no monogamy), relatedness (no families), and individual identity (conform and consume, be happy!).

Other key dystopian works emerged from different angles. Orwell’s equally famous 1984 (1949) went darker and aimed more directly at communism than consumerism, a malicious state crushing all in its path, and instead of Huxley’s use of genetic engineering, Orwell recognized the power of thought control through the manipulation of language. Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1953) created a world denying citizens the ability to read books. Burgess A Clockwork Orange (1962) addressed the legal system’s use of drugs and psychological conditioning to remove crime as a choice, and Ayn Rand’s masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged (1959), presented a new distinction, the efforts of the inept and unethical to systemically steal the wealth produced by the competent and productive.

The relationship of the individual to the collective society is critical to the whole conversation. While communism is mostly dead or dying, an arrogant and incompetent government can be just as destructive. Under W both traits infected both government and commercial enterprises. We now know what corporations do if allowed (Enron, Worldcom, AIG, Halliburton) and that they cannot be trusted to operate effectively (Detroit, AIG again, etc.). Instead of John Galt we have Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff. Instead of Hank Rearden we have RickWagoner. Where is the competence? General Motors could not be a better example of the boiled frog. Its fat overpaid suits sat in the pot for 40 years, and we think government is the problem? Making money has been replaced by taking money, any way and any how, and leap with your booty before the train wrecks.

Adam Smith’s view that individuals pursuing their own self-interests optimize the interests of the collective was refuted academically decades ago. Now we have seen self-serving individuals inflict incalculable financial carnage on the entire country. The lens of individual = good and government = bad (or vice versa) is obsolete. We need good individuals and good governance. Under the Bush administration, the worst of both raped not only the country, but the entire planet.

Labels:



SOMETHING ELSE