Thanks to Vox for the cool graphic

Arizona's First Political Blog

E-mail Anonymous Mike at

By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The Big Cigar

Once upon a time there used to be a business columnist for the Arizona Republic. It seemed he would use the same basic 4 or 5 stock columns which drew their inspiration from Richard Florida's genius, the perceived need for shadier parking lots, and the idea that everyone but him and his cohorts was stupid.

An extension of these themes was the need for the "big cigars" to get involved in Valley politics, top business leaders who would be able to work with local political and non-profit leaders to get important projects done and deliver results.

Big cigars like Marty Schultz

As the VP of Government Relations for Pinnacle West, it seems that Marty has his hands in all sorts of various civic and political projects. This year is a big one for Mr. Schultz. He has 2 initiatives that are geared toward the November ballot, one that will consolidate K-12 districts across the state and another that will raise the state sales tax by a penny to pay for state-wide transportation projects.

The first problem is that those initiatives are floundering; as Espresso Pundit has been reporting the transportation tax may not even reach the ballot and I seriously doubt if any of the big school district mergers will be approved by the voters.

However the second problem is the more surprising. Both initiatives were years in the making. If you follow the meeting minutes for the School District Redistricting Commission (SDRC), you get a small glimpse of hell as the Commission members are forced to deal with a host of competing interests and an array of painful but necessary of details. Same with the TIME transportation sales tax, alot of coalition-building, alot of bargaining. All hard work.

The second problem is that despite all of that hard work, despite the involvement of the Big Cigar is how mediocre the final results. Unmet transportation needs in the state? Round up the usual suspects and gather their wish list, call that list "critical needs", and then say you need to raise taxes. Actually that's backwards because in reality they have already told us they need to raise taxes but still, with less than 2 months before early voting in the general election, haven't told us what will be funded.

School Redistricting? Create the biggest districts possible, because we all know that if the past 30 years of corporate America have taught us is that bigger is better when it comes to organizations. Leave aside the facts that the Commission cannot guarantee that there will be any real financial savings from the consolidation or that any savings would be funneled into the classroom. What the Commission can guarantee is that this initiative will create larger, more remote educational bureaucracies. If that was the goal of the Commission then mission accomplished.

Think I'm being too hard? When there was the ballot initiative in the 1980s for Maricopa County to implement a brand new 1/2 sales tax increase for transportation, backers were smart enough to link such a controversial proposal to something specific, the development of a regional freeway system. A specific quid pro quo. When that same sales tax came up for renewal in 2004, backers developed a specific list of projects that would be funded by the sales tax extension and that plan was developed a full year in advance. Compare and contrast.

So what's the secret spice, that something extra that the Big Cigar is adding? Generating proposals for tax-and-spend, growing larger bureaucracies that will be defeated at the polls is something that any of us can do.