Is Al Melvin soft on parks?

by David Safier

Looks like Senator Al Melvin has a soft spot for state parks, at least those in his district, LD-26.

It couldn't have anything to do with politics, could it? Melvin is far too principled for that!

An Explorer story has Melvin commiserating with a group of people about the possible closure of Oracle State Park. (Full disclosure: I write a column for The Explorer, but I have no connection with this story.)

“I promise you I will do everything I can … to keep it up and running,” Melvin told a small cadre of some of the park’s most loyal volunteers, many of whom live near Melvin in SaddleBrooke.

Melvin is a cut-taxes-and-budgets conservative who was absolutely no nonsense when it came to the recent budget cuts. He shrugged his shoulders and said, you gotta do what you gotta do. We just don't have the money.

And yet, Oracle is the second most expensive park to maintain in the state based on cost per visitor. That should seal the deal for Melvin. We gotta shut the park. It costs too much.

But apparently that's not what we gotta do — in this case, anyway.

“Is that the best way to value a park?” asked Jim Walsh, the Pinal County attorney.

Even Sen. Melvin calls it an “arbitrary” approach.

I'm going to have to remember that, for Melvin, the amount something costs isn't the most important factor in deciding what should be cut. I guess it's whether the "something" is in his district.

UPDATE: Looks like the Republicans are riding to the rescue for state parks. 

Republican legislators on Tuesday moved to keep state parks open by taking money from a special fund for land conservation, rejecting criticism that the proposed diversion could violate a constitutional protection for voter-approved laws.

The House Government Committee voted 6-3 to postpone for one year a $20 million annual payment to the Land Conservation Fund and use the money to undo parks-related spending cuts and fund transfers included in a recent midyear budget-balancing package.

I'm trying to retain my sense of humor here — it's getting harder by the minute — but this statement from Antenori makes me crazy.

Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said there's no loss for conservation because the money is only being delayed one year. "This is a temporary offset that will be repaid," he said. "We're at least thinking outside the box."

A temporary offset to be repaid? Isn't that the borrowing that Republicans refused to do when they were going after the budget with a blunt hatchet???

One response to “Is Al Melvin soft on parks?

  1. What they’re doing is that “borrowing” that they’ve been criticizing so much.