The weather is cooling down, just as the politics heats up in Tucson and across the nation.
Yesterday, the Yes on Prop 401 supporters held a press conference to formally kick off their campaign to change the Tucson city charter. As you may remember, I waxed poetic last spring about the City Charter Changes and why I opposed them then-- and still oppose them now. (Old stories linked here in chronological order 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.)
In the Arizona Daily Star and on the John C. Scott Show, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC)-- the corporatists who have been pushing for the City Charter Changes-- have been trumpeting the idea that the City Charter Changes have broad support-- from Tea Baggers to Democrats to unions and, of course, the rich white men who started this process.
Given the signage at the rally, I wonder how many of these people really understand what they are theoretically supporting. For example...
Do the unions understand that they are supporting a HUGE pay raise for mayor and council while their members are being furloughed and/or laid off? Also, by backing SALC, the unions are siding with the corporatists -- the dreaded management, as my steel worker Dad would have called them.
Do the tea baggers understand that those rally signs spouting catchy slogans like "Cut bureaucracy," "Demand accountability," "Cut costs" and "Streamline government" have absolutely NOTHING to do with the City Charter Changes? No bureaucracy is being cut; in fact bureaucracy will be strengthened and consolidated in the City Manager's office. There will be less accountability because the power will be with the manager-- not the elected officials. The only cost savings is in the consolidation of election cycles, but that money will be spent on the pay raises. (Hey, tea baggers, I know you are easily manipulated by the media, but you and the Libertarians should be more against this more than I am!)
Call me a Pollyanna, but I still believe in elected government and accountability to the people. For these reasons, boys and girls, I oppose Prop 401.
If these City Charter Changes pass in November, the most powerful person (mostly likely a white man) in Tucson will be the unelected city manager.
I believe that the city of Tucson could be run more efficiently, but making the city manager more powerful, paying the mayor and council more, scaring departments by eliminating their civil service protection, giving the mayor a tad more power is not going to do it, and shifting election cycles.
The current city government structure is flawed-- in my humble opinion-- because we have 7 people (city manager, mayor, and 5 council members) with about the same level of power + a gaggle of council and city staff also with some power. Consequently, we have a camel government -- one designed by committee.
Tucson has no Harry Truman. Tucson has no strong leader and no vision. Tucson has no one with the cojones to say, "The buck stops here."
Tucson needs a strong leader-- not another bureaucrat. Vote NO on 401!