City & Local Reform

It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.

<p>It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning. </p>

For years, NBC's investigative report "The Fleecing of America" has exposed billions of taxpayer dollars wasted across the country. Now, it looks like Arizona is in for a fleecing of its own.

Weeks ago, the Phoenix City Council and a developer, Thomas J. Klutznick Co., struck a deal to give the private company $100 million.

In exchange, the developer will build a shopping complex of high-end stores and luxury hotels. The city expects to rake in sales-tax revenue when the project is complete.

The Republic's support for allowing hybrid cars to use carpool (HOV) lanes is based on faulty logic in regard to reducing air pollution, as well as alleviating traffic congestion ("Go hybrid, not toll lanes," Editorial, Monday).

One of the best ways to reduce air pollution is for high-polluting cars to spend less time idling in traffic. So, if any car should not use the high-occupancy vehicle lane, it's hybrids. Their claim to fame is that they shut off their polluting gas engine while idling and switch to their emission-free electric motor.

In the late 1950s, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater fought a losing battle against what ultimately became the first law providing federal funding for k-12 schools. Sen. Goldwater called 12 federal mandates in the bill "the camel's nose under the tent," and warned, "Federal aid to education invariably means federal control of education."

Since then the federal government has steadily increased its control over schools, with some successes and many failures. Today a fundamental flaw in No Child Left Behind threatens to fulfill Sen. Goldwater's prophetic warning.

Mayors from around the state rallied recently at the Capitol to protest the Legislature's proposed 10 percent income tax cut. The cities get 15 percent of all state income tax revenues and so the resultant "cut" in revenue to the cities would be disastrous, they claimed.

According to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, they could no longer ensure the safety of residents without all the expected state-shared revenues. Police and fire departments would have to take major cuts if the cities weren't "held harmless" from the consequences of the income tax cut.

With Phoenix's prodigious growth come concerns as well as opportunities. Prominent among observers of the region's path of development is the attitude that this growth has come at the expense of quality of life and a superior alternative course.

Phoenix may lack many of the desired accoutrements of historic great cities - grand boulevards, a plethora of inspiring architecture, seething bohemian districts - but it does possess one of the most critical assets of all, a growing middle class.

It is here that Phoenix, not the much ballyhooed "cool" cities like Portland, Seattle or San Francisco, shines as an urban beacon.

There's no doubt much to love about living in the Valley and in a state like Arizona.  But an ongoing assault on that attitude has been taking place for some time on our airwaves and editorial pages, prompting me to suppose otherwise.  

Is Arizona in fact an inherently backwards-looking place, where the policies of the last decade have withered what little chance we have at a thriving economy?  Considering the intelligentsia's penchant for spurning everything we have to offer, maybe those of us who enjoy it here have it all wrong, merely living in a fool's paradise.

Phoenix, AZ-In a policy paper released today, Goldwater Institute economist Robert Franciosi concludes that Arizona's rapid growth over the past decade has had largely positive effects on the state's economy. His findings contradict the views of many industrial policy advocates, who have expressed concern over the state's growth pattern and proposed what Franciosi calls "a sweeping agenda for activist government."

In 1989, public transit advocates argued that Valtrans was the only system that could prevent the Valley of the Sun from turning into a traffic-choked, smog-shrouded "Carmageddon."

Put together after two years, 200 public meetings, and the expenditure of $7 million, Valtrans was an ambitious plan. A 30-year, half-cent increase in the sales tax would raise $8.4 billion to pay for 103 miles of rail transit, 1,500 new buses, a commuter rail line between Chandler and Phoenix, more freeways, and various other projects.

Residents and public officials in urban areas around the world are concerned about traffic congestion and air pollution. Of the two problems, traffic congestion is the more intractable, because improved vehicle technologies are already having a dramatic effect on improving air quality.

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