by David Safier
These days, nobody loves Rio Nuevo, which makes this a perfect moment for the Tucson haters to step in and take control.
(Myself, I'm not as discouraged as most people. I lived through the years-long "big dig" that was Portland's light rail construction. During the construction, never was heard an encouraging word as streets were torn up, businesses lost customers and drivers found themselves dodging construction barriers. Then, like magic, it was all finished, the city celebrated, and now the world, literally, is beating a path to Portland's door. So I don't put much stock in the "Nothing's getting done" mantra. Let's keep our eyes on the prize, folks. If the idea is no good, scrap it. But if we're just throwing up our hands because nothing is finished, we're being childish.)
Let's look at the future of Rio Nuevo if the legislature gets its hands on the project. This is a two part story.
Part One: The budget that came out of the Appropriations Committee yesterday gutted Rio Nuevo funding. It left an empty shell with no funding sources, even to pay for bonds we've already sold.
Williams, Antenori and Paton were "Shocked! Shocked!" to see this happen.
Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said the change to the district boundaries was a "clerical screw-up" — one he said he intends to fix. He said language he drafted with Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, was supposed to be inserted instead.
"I don't know what happened today, to be honest," said Antenori, who does not sit on the appropriations committee. "Somehow, someone did not get it in there."
In spite of what our Southern AZ Republicans thought was going to happen, their Maricopa bed mates stripped away Tucson funding that translates into jobs and revitalization for the area. Even if the funding makes it back into the bill, we've learned something here, if we didn't know it already: the Republican leadership hates "the People's Republic of Tucson," and people like Antenori don't seem to feel much different, with his talk of the city being overrun by hippies and commies. Maricopa will screw over Tucson every chance it gets.
Part Two: The legislature wants to set up a Board of Directors to oversee Rio Nuevo and take control away from the Tucson City Council. Who would appoint the Board members? The governor, the speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. That's Jan Brewer, Rep. Kirk Adams (R-Mesa) and Sen. Bob Burns (R-West Phoenix area: Sun City, Glendale, etc.).
Any Southern Arizona legislator willing to cede control of Rio Nuevo to the Maricopa Republican mob should be tarred and feathered in the local press now and at the polling booth next year.