Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kromko's lost his mojo!

Until recently, if you'd have asked me who to go to for advice about ballot initiatives, I'd have recommended John Kromko. While we occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, he an old Great Society leftist and I someone who'd name his 'blog after Barry G. But he's the rare low-tax leftist, and on local issues, such as last year's RTA swindle, we're usually on the same page. More to the point, he is--or, rather, was--Arizona's expert in initiative politics.

Strange of him, then, to not only back but actually write a guaranteed loser! Having failed to collect the requisite amount of signatures to kill the so-called "garbage fee" (the one that isn't tied to service, can't be opted out of, and gets one's water shut off if one dosen't pay) two years ago, largely because he broke his arm and didn't ask for sufficient help, he's come back with a grotesque mashup that is not only ill-wrought but will also almost certainly violate the single-subject rule.

Called the Tucson Water Users' Bill of Rights, it proposes to repeal the garbage fee, forbid the association of any fee for any service other than water delivery with water usage or the water bill, and ban so-called "toilet to tap" use of treated effluent for drinking water.

Fair enough, although it already runs afoul of the single-subject rule. What comes next, however, is laughable. The measure would forbid the privatization or private outsourcing of garbage and water services! The last time I checked, private garbage service works well in unincorporated Pima County--better than the government-run service in the City--and aquifier-by-aquifier cap-and-trade privatization was the only means to acheieve sustainable water use in the desert. Apparently a now-and-forever ban on such things is worth it to Kromko because it prevents an end-run around this bill's provisions.

It gets worse. The last section of the initiative is a virtual poison pill, requiring new water connections to cease if CAP flows diminish more than 20% or when 140,000 acre-feet per year of delivery is to be exceeded. Rather than establish a water market wherein (e.g.) a golf course may sell its yearly use rights to a developer if it's profitable, Kromko would have development--infill, renewal, and sprawl alike--cease.

It's too bad Kromko didn't bring more people to the table when drafting this. We could have had multiple single-subject initiatives proposing sensible solutions, instead, we're treated to a multi-subject mess of nonsense, which, tellingly, Tucson Citizen political gossip columnist and economic ignoramus Jim Nintzel calls intelligent.