Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Tucson City Election: Kalafut's Picks

Tucsonans vote on two ballot propositions, a mayor, and three city councilmen this fall. Election Day is 6 November, but due to the universal mailing of early ballots, many, including me, have already voted. My choices were as follows:

  • No on Proposition 100
    This proposition would raise the Mayor's annual salary from $42,000 per year to $48,000, and each City Councilman's salary from $24,000 to $36,000.
    These positions--especially the city councilor's--are not supposed to be full-time employment; that is why Tucson has a City Manager. The Citizens' Commission on Public Service and Compensation is recommending the increase because higher salaries will attract more "diverse and representative" candidates, increase salaries to keep pace with inflation, align salaries with average salaries in the city, and because the duties of the Mayor and councilmen supposedly necessitate more than 40 hours of work per week.

    If the Mayor and Council are working more than 40 hours per week on their duties, something is culturally or structurally wrong with each office. Rejecting Proposition 100 forces them to address this existential question, and may move us in the direction of adopting the superior Council-manager form of government, already common in the rest of the state.

  • No on Proposition 200
    Adding a "garbage fee" to the water bill without lowering taxes, allowing competition, or instituting a pay-for-use fee schedule was one of the City Council's lowest acts in recent memory. Prop. 200, the Tucson Water Users' Bill of Rights would remedy this, but at the same time prohibit privatization or either garbage or water, imposes a water delivery cap without an associated permit-trading system, forbids use of purified effluent as tapwater, and would likely result in an increase in wildcat well drilling and sprawl development. As I've written before, it's a deliberately deceptive mess, forcing us to swallow three doses of bad to get one of good. Send it to the rubbish heap to join John Kromko's political career.

  • Bob Walkup for Mayor
    I wanted for Dave Croteau to come together as a candidate, so that I could vote for him over the growth lobby's choice, incumbent Bob Walkup. When I thought he was going to support a cap-and-trade approach to water conservation, he had my vote, however, he abandoned that position when his party endorsed Prop. 200 in the process of courting--or not courting; I'm hearing different stories from different people--John Kromko, the proposition's author. Croteau has a vision involving sustainability and "re-localization" which he paints in broad strokes, never making the connection to concrete policy proposals, or clarifying how he'd accomplish his objective without running afoul of the State and Federal Constitutions, the laws of economics, or the liberty of the people.

    Although he speaks of a "living wage", I don't see him as being Yet Another Leftist Class Warrior. I do see him as being representative of a problem that has plagued the Green Movement from its beginnings: aesthetics do not readily translate to policy. There are no major Green think-tanks, nor is significant academic scholarship done is support of the Green position. The libertarians, social democrats, and conservatives can reference serious works of philosophy and economics to support their positions; the Greens are stuck with touchy-feely values that amount to little more than unconstrained statements about the best of naively possible worlds. (I share quite a few of those values, but find that the Greens, in their guessing-game, get their policy implications mostly wrong. That's a matter for another time.)

    We'd all love to live in Candyland, but I'd like to know what a person is going to do about the here-and-now, given the dirty constraints of reality, before I trust him with any power. Croteau is off in space; Walkup, as we've seen, doesn't screw things up too badly, so in the absence of serious competition, he has my vote by default.

  • Beryl Baker for City Council, Ward One

    Speaking of candidate who paint with a broad brush, it's been difficult to get detail from Regina Romero. The issue about which she has spoken the most is KIDCO, a city-funded after-school babysitting program. Romero would have it expanded and make it more educational. That would be a fine position for the executive director of a charitable non-profit or even a daycare entrepreneur, but I expect City Councilmen to have more to say about matters of concern to residents and local businesses than about how to expand a handout program.

    Beryl Baker, on the other hand, is a neighborhood activist advocating nuts-and-bolts reform. In light of that, I forgave her endorsement of Prop. 200 and gave her my vote.

  • Lori Oien for City Council, Ward Two

    Lori Oien's record of community involvement is even more impressive than Baker's, and she offers a concrete platform of fiscal responsibility and improved city services.

    Rodney Glassman is an arrogant trustafarian dandy with an inflated resume. He runs a charitable foundation, yes, and is what passes for a socialite in Tucson, but his only discernible past political or activist experience was as a Raul Grijalva lackey. (Grijalva, for those who've forgotten, is an ineffectual, thuggish Congressman with a far-left voting record and a campaign strategy based on unionism and class warfare.) The newspapers say Glassman offers "leadership"; I find him as vapid now as I did when he defeated the far more substantial Robert Reus in the primary. Let him grow up a bit and learn to offer voters policy, not just personality. Vote Lori Oien.

  • Dan Spahr for City Council, Ward Four
    Dan Spahr's tying of his campaign to the occupation of Iraq with a "Support the Troops" slogan is both tacky and bizarre, and he's a bit of a populist in the right-wing empty-head sense regarding social issues, but he brings some good to the table, including community policing and a belief that the Rio Nuevo strategy must be changed to focus on private investment, not public subsidy. The Tucson City Council has needed a fiscal conservative dissenter of the sort that Ann Day has been on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, and Shirley Scott hasn't been it. In the interest of throwing the bums out, I held my nose and voted Spahr.

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