Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen


New mayor less than honest

I applaud the members who walked out of last Monday’s meeting. It showed great courage. No special interests’ support from them. It proves that someone is listening to what we have to say, even if they don’t represent our ward. It would seem that the mayor was less than honest in his campaigning regarding neighborhoods. He says he supports sustainable communities but he is encouraging the growth at El Con Mall, with big box stores that do not support a sustainable attitude. If the big box stores did support sustainability, we would not even be visiting these issues.

Supporting big box stores will drastically affect the neighborhoods that sit directly next to the mall. Definitely a contradiction. How about it, Mr. Mayor? Care to address the fact that you were less than honest?


El Con owners made wrong play

A Jan. 13 article in the Arizona Business Gazette contained the following quotation: ”We’re shell-shocked at the cards we’ve been dealt,” said mall co-owner Foster Kivil. This confirms the suspicion that has developed from watching El Con Mall for the past seven years.

Seven years ago it was a slightly seedy but neighborly retail mall with such interesting shops as a bank, fabric store, three restaurants and Cele Peterson. A tasteful remodel could have made it an attractive successful mall. Instead, most of these tenants went away to make room for The Pavilion, a food court and a post office. Then these attractions went away to allow months of demolition and construction of a big ugly theater.

It is not the deal that is at fault. It is the way the hand is played. The city should not allow the mall to reduce property values in the adjacent neighborhoods and quality of life over a large area of central Tucson by introducing noisy, air-polluting, 24-hour warehouse operations with storage of flammable, toxic and environmentally hazardous chemicals.

Such operations as outdoor operation of forklift trucks and mass storage of paints and chemicals should require a mile of separation from residential areas, not hundreds of feet. The proposed mitigation measures are completely inadequate. Dodge Boulevard should be closed to protect the neighborhood and the 5th/6th Street corridor from the traffic and other impacts of the mall.

The proposed agreement, resolution 18489, pending before mayor and council, also would hamper the city’s ability to deal with any future round of ”improvements.” It would be a very bad business deal for the city to lose millions of dollars in assessed valuation in the adjacent residential neighborhoods just to pursue sales tax revenue for Rio Nuevo, most of which would be relocated from other retail outlets in the city. Also lost would be the quality of life in the neighborhoods, which is a major carrot for attracting high-paying businesses.

The mall must be required to find appropriate retail services or residential tenants. Big box stores are just not in the cards for this site.


Tyranny in the flesh here

Dereliction of duty. That’s the only way to describe the actions of City Councilmen Jerry Anderson, Steve Leal and José Ibarra last Monday night.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the councilmen’s position on the El Con situation, the councilmen have a sworn obligation to perform their duties as councilmen, not to walk out to prevent a quorum and prevent a vote, simply because they expect to lose.

Talk about tyranny of the minority. We saw it in the flesh Monday night. And it sets a very bad precedent. How many more times in the next four years are these three losers going to walk out to prevent the council from voting on important issues? Hey, guys, there’s a reason you’re in the minority – it’s because your side lost. Deal with it. If you want to walk out, fine – but keep on walking.

I suggest that the next time they try this little tactic that Mayor Bob Walkup have them placed into custody and – forcibly, if necessary – brought back to their posts, to do the jobs they were elected to do. There are rules in the U.S. House of Representatives that allow the speaker to have members of Congress arrested and brought to the floor of the House, in order to ensure a quorum. It’s time that such a rule now be made to apply to the Tucson City Council.

In the meantime, I believe ”dereliction of duty” qualifies as an impeachable offense. Gentlemen, you have been warned.


Applause for 3 who walked out

Mayor Bob Walkup’s put-down is not funny. More rightly can we consider the mayor, Fred Ronstadt and Shirley Scott the council’s ”vocal sub-minority.”

Even my own council representative, Ronstadt, despite his election promises, doesn’t protect us residents and our neighborhoods from the gargantuan trucks and law firms of big boxes, El Con et al. I wish Scott, along with Ronstadt, wasn’t in the sway of the big business of El Con, either.

I support the big box ordinance. Of course it applies to El Con too, and I expect my mayor and council to understand that. Several do, so I applaud council members Jose Ibarra, Jerry Anderson and Steve Leal for their stands on these issues.

Please support the ordinance in spite of the bribes, threats, semantics and wrong-headed influence-peddling of the corporate lawyers who oppose it.

Many of us Tucsonans have no problem with letting the El Con neighborhood remain just that, instead of becoming a dangerous and noisy superhighway wrecking Tucsonans’ lives. I object to the Walkup-Ronstadt-Scott plan of corporate welfare for El Con and its big businesses, at the expense of us Tucson citizens and taxpayers.

Otherwise, many of us will be delighted to boycott the mall and its stores and theaters for years, and we shall elicit the support of others.


Dinosaur may go up at El Con

The mayor and council should not give El Con Mall special treatment. The big-box ordinance was a long-overdue measure to make Tucson a better place to live, and it should not be discarded for a special-interest building for the 20th century.

A deal is likely to trade established neighborhoods for a commercial development that may eventually be about as successful as its recent incarnation (not very).

If El Con Mall gets what it wants, it may be out of business in another 10 years, surrounded by deteriorating neighborhoods that were once among the finest in Tucson, adding to the long, and growing, list of areas to revitalize.

Retail is always changing, and abandoned shopping centers already litter every cityscape in the U.S. Remember the giants of yesteryear: A&P, Woolworth’s, Sears Roebuck? El Con may be wanting to build dinosaurs. The rise of Internet shopping is not about saving on sales tax but it is about saving time, the hassles of driving across town, getting the car scraped in a huge parking lot, walking miles of aisles trying to find an item or a helpful clerk, etc. etc. Maybe some people enjoy that. I don’t. For shoppers who want low prices and convenience on standard items, Internet is the way to go. Even Wal-Mart is going in that direction.


Trio are part of problem

The Jan. 26 Citizen editorial, ”Council walkout is subversion of elective process,” is a superbly written editorial. Congratulations to the Citizen for such an eloquent scolding of three people who desperately need a reminder of the duty they are elected to perform and the process they have sworn to uphold.

Mitch Tobin’s Jan. 26 news article on the subject also is to be commended. ”Anderson said he hoped no more walkouts would be necessary.” Excuse me? I’ve seen this mime act exactly one time too many and don’t particularly look forward to the encore that Anderson is touting.

Councilman Ibarra was also quoted in the article, with an analogy regarding spanking. This can be taken one step further: corporal punishment is often associated with physical abuse. Monday’s action by Ibarra, Leal, and Anderson represented another kind of abuse – the abuse of power.

Please guys, don’t further add to Arizona’s long list of embarrassing political moments.

Tucsonans elected Mayor Bob Walkup because we agree with his views on a direction for the city and we have confidence in his ability to work out win-win solutions to Tucson’s problems. Perhaps these three council members will have the courage to become part of the solutions instead of being part of the problems.


Ramrod agreement headed off

We applaud Councilmen Jerry Anderson, José Ibarra and Steve Leal for their courageous action on behalf of the neighborhoods and the ”big box” ordinance at last Monday night’s City Council meeting.

By walking out and preventing a quorum, the stopped the passage of a ”development agreement” that favored El Con Mall over the neighborhoods. It was so generous to the mall that it appeared to have been drafted by the mall owners and their lawyers.

Ironically, the agreement was presented by Mayor Bob Walkup as a ”compromise” between the mall and the neighborhoods. In reality, the first time it was seen by any neighborhood representatives was late on the night of Jan. 20. With so little time before the Monday council meeting, it basically eliminated any chance of neighborhood input and due process.

At the beginning of the council meeting, Councilman Anderson requested that the topic be delayed to allow for neighborhood participation. When that proposal was denied by a 4-3 vote, it was obvious that the other members of the council wished to vote on the agreement and ramrod it through. Some of them are ”tired” of the El Con matter and would like it to go away no matter what the outcome, no matter how imbalanced.

Mayor Walkup has dismissed the activism and concern regarding the El Con development as the participation of a ”very vocal sub-minority.” In fact, it encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals from many neighborhoods. This was apparent by the large representation at the Monday night meeting. These people are also portrayed as anti-business and elitist. This is not true, either. They are for business when it is in the appropriate setting. As taxpayers, they feel they should be allowed the basic rights to enjoy their property. They are for business that is appropriate next to neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the majority of businesses that El Con seems to have in mind are those that are better suited to industrial areas. Moreover, there never has been a comprehensive traffic study to show the impact of the intensity of development that El Con has in mind. Is it going to result in the gridlock of the central part of our city, just for the financial advantage of a few?

When are the El Con owners going to be upfront about their development plans? How can there be effective mitigation when we don’t even know what we are mitigating against? There is now a ”Big Box B” on the plan which shows the loading docks little more than a couple hundred feet from residences. There could be loudspeakers at the same distance. It has been rumored that this would be a 24-hour venue, possibly a supermarket. Does this makes any sense that close to a residential neighborhood?

It is time for the owners of El Con to develop a new vision for their property.


Keep men of conscience on council

I would like to commend City Councilmen Jerry Anderson, José Ibarra, and Steve Leal for walking out of the Jan. 24 City Council meeting. I found their action a breathtaking example of integrity not often demonstrated by politicians. Each of them decided that they are responsible to the voters, and not to monied special interests.

There is not enough space here to go into detail about the development plan for El Con they were to consider that night. Suffice it to say, it offered little protection for residents against having their peace injured and their homes devalued, contained terms that were not only outrageous, but illegal, and was finally made available for examination only on the Friday before the Monday meeting. The plan is not only bad for residents, but bad for anyone in Tucson who wants us to have a livable, sustainable city.

The El Con owners must have known when they bought the property that they were surrounded by land zoned for homes. How big did they think they could grow?

Think how you would feel if someone wanted to build a gigantic, noisy store a few hundred feet from your front yard. The three council members have thought about it. I admire them for consulting their conscience instead of the polls.

Please remember what happened to another pro-neighborhood council member, Molly McKasson. She sided with the voters and got smeared by the people who couldn’t buy her out. Now it is our job to remember Jerry Anderson, José Ibarra and Steve Leal come election time, and vote to keep them.


What AILS this city

If Councilbrats Anderson, Ibarra and Leal only want to attend meetings when things will go their way, I suggest they consider resigning. Or maybe Tucsonans should consider recalling them to cure what AILs this city: Anderson, Ibarra, Leal.


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