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February 17, 2014


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Phoenicians don't get urban puts it mildly. The city is a mecca for in migration from small towns and suburbs from places like Kansas. The migrants bring a lack of urban cultural tolerance with other rigidly held small town beliefs( read Christian Taliban). This article could be viewed as postmortem on Phoenix's transformation into Topeka, Arizona. A mean and very ugly sprawling place, built upon narrow-minded white supremacist values. Strip malls in every direction and Walmart as the "urban" center.

"Perhaps somebody can clearly explain what happened..."

Corruption. Same old, same old.

I recall some of the details but no longer the dates of the epic land swap that involved the Colliers of Florida. When the Indian School shuttered, the popular Arizona Republic columnist Don Dedera began crusading on behalf of a big park there. The Feds wanted to expand the Everglades National Park, and the Colliers were enticed to part with a big chunk of their property in return for some urban acreage in booming Phoenix. At the time, it seemed like a win-win for both sides. Fast forward three decades or so and you see the result, which in Phoenix is less than glorious. The Collier Center downtown is about the only visible success, and it didn't do much to fix a problem where buildings don't relate to or engage one another in some urban fashion. Indeed, it was just one more piece of evidence that urban vitality can't be created by real-estate interests. They don't know how and they wouldn't care even if they did. Go to any city in this country and you see the same thing over and over: behemoth office and hotel complexes marooned in their own self-created islands. Think of the architect John Portman and you understand how much this country really hated cities at one time. Graffiti! Negroes! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_Center

Of course, Central Avenue, Phoenix's answer to Wilshire Blvd, was always intended as a rebuke human-scaled cities where people walked and/or used mass transit. Even if the Collier's 20 acres of "prime" property facing Central did develop, it would have done little to make Phoenix a better city. Did high-rises anywhere and everywhere improve LA? Joel Kotkin thinks so but you still have a nightmare trying to drive from one node to another. This is another aspect of the libertarian solution to urban messiness. You end up creating cities of little interest but you did make some real-estate moguls rich, the only real point to right-wing urban theory.

Once again, what we see in Phoenix is not unique. Here in crunchy Portland, you see examples of this quasi-urban design that leaves behind dead streetscapes and bad architecture. But there was a city in place before the real-estate hustlers swooped in. And it's this city that Portland is renowned for. Poor Phoenix had much weaker bones, and the all-too typical mutilation that came after WWII succeeded in killing its small downtown. But, hey, it looks great!

People are returning to cities. Downtown LA has a major boom underway, fueled by a dramatic rise in residential development. Seattle, Denver, and Portland are leveraging their existing urban assets to add density and more transit. Old cities back east are expensive and fashionable. What happened? People finally got that there's simply nothing to see or do in cities without real urban texture and functionality. Even Phoenix sort of gets it. The little bit of urban spark that exists there is coming from having a major college campus in place. Urban life through urban triage. Tempe is still making a dramatic claim to be the only real urban node in metro Phoenix. The revival of interest in midcentury architecture, however, is helping Scottsdale and midtown Phoenix establish some urban bona fides in their otherwise drive-everywhere suburban typologies.

Deck Park is a 33-acre urban seedbed for a city devastated by real-estate thugs. It won't rescue Phoenix by itself, but if Phoenix is somehow blessed by a miracle or two, it might finally become the place where we meet again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The transformation won't be in my lifetime, but I think we'll see something positive in 10 years or so. If it happens, it will be because we finally grew so lonely that we could no longer help ourselves. We wandered away from our isolation pods into the embrace of crowded sidewalks. We risked being exposed for the greater security of remembering who we really are: social animals who can only know themselves through physical proximity. Or did you think joy is a matter of locked gates and car alarms? You can have all the security you need when you're dead.

Can't have real shade trees, doncha know; the homeless might cool off there. That's why they cut ALL the trees at Wesley Bolin plaza.

The 'interim plan' document has 'the depth of a flounder' as a friend likes to put it. There were a few details covered in the January 22 presentation, among which are the ideas to construct hollow 'hillsides' and to put greenery in pans [that will hopefully be more waterproof than what exists now]. This will allow roots deeper than grass to grow over the bridges without adding the weight of soil to hills. The hope was held out that the pans would allow 90% reduction in water usage, allowing that maintenance cost to be diverted to maintaining a more complex surface - demonstrating some recognition of the difficulty finding rich urban benefactors.

“Deck Park is a 33-acre urban seedbed for a city devastated by real-estate thugs.” Soleri

"Perhaps somebody can clearly explain what happened..."“Corruption. Same old, same old.” Eclecticdog.

Jane Hull in a recent article in the Arizona Republic, (021614) reference the 1991 AzScam investigation by the Phoenix Police Department. “I was upset. The state didn’t really need something like that that was set up by LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT (CAPS BY ME). She was referring to the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa county attorneys office.

The Phoenix Police Department Organized Crime Bureau/White collar crime squad no longer exists.
It was killed by Arizona politicians at the request of developers and their Ilk. (Same developers that drove Jon Talton from Phoenix)

In 1975 the federal government provided for a grant to establish a White Collar Crime Squad within the Phoenix Police Department to assit in fighting economic crime. As a result this squad took on land fraud, white collar crime investigations that led to the departure of a city attorney, treasure and city manager. Indictment of developers for tax fraud. Investigation of drug use by basketball players and the big clue that led to the solving (by an attorney informant of the squad.) of the Don Bolles murder. The squad also rooted out corruption within the very bowels of the Phoenix Police department.

As a result extreme pressure was placesd on Phoenix Police Chiefs to do away with this squad.

It’s this writers contention that was one reason that Ruben Ortega retired as Phoenix police chief. He did not want the city manager and council telling him what he could and could not investigate.

Two detectives, Lonzo McCracken and Oscar Long of the excellent hand chosen 10 to 12 investigators that worked at these tasks were men from poor street level lives but were excellent investigators. “Ignore the smoke, look for the fire”. Both subscribed to this method.

Eventually the pressure succeeded, the PPD White Collar Crime squad as originated morphed into Crimes against Children and Gang investigations and no longer exists today as intended by the Federal government when it awarded the grant to the Phoenix Police Department to take on the corrupt POLS in the corrupt state called Arizona.

Thank god, as corruption has flourished ever since the squads planned execution.

And speaking of fraud for personal gain by the east side mafia.

Re Soleri: “The transformation won't be in my lifetime, but I think we'll see something positive in 10 years or so.” It is amazing how fast a transformation can happen. Here in B’ham revitalization has occurred in about five years that is astonishing. Of course we were spared most of the crap architecture and urban renewal that ruined a lot of places. Sometimes being in a backwater has its advantages. Most of our old buildings are still there. A dozen or so big glass boxes, but not enough to be oppressive.

In defense of suburbanites; if you want to instill a better view of urbanism, you have to provide a real-life compelling example. Phoenix doesn’t seem to have done that. Maybe Tempe will get it right.

I’ve never been to Phoenix. All I know is what I can infer from Google Maps street view. Can someone provide gps co-ordinates for a neighborhood that doesn’t suck?

Did religious folks in the Valley of the Sun try to nail Jon Talton, to a cross? He pulled the nails out, left for Seattle where he divined the nails into pens and now writes in blood about this place called the Valley of the Sun or as Clint the High Plains Drifter might call it, Hell
The planet earth is a Way Station for those that are passing on to a better life in heaven where they can be with god or for some a god. Soon the resurrection of the dead will be upon us, so no reason to spend time worrying about this dying planet earth. This blog like many other groups concerns about fraud or global warming or screwing over the poor and weak is like an itinerant preacher with his big sign and loud voice at 300 east Washington, in Phoenix. Soon the mayor will dispatch the moral police and arrest the phony Jesus for scaring people. I think the Jesus preaching in Roman areas some 2000 years ago had a different idea than passing the plate to allow for the building of huge monolithic domes. That money could be better spent on bread and fish.
Barron Collier Co. has beads will trade for land.

Cal: the Don Bolles murder was solved?

Pat, it depends on who You ask !!!!!!

thx John for notes on Hance Park. i'm very tardy on my own notes of the process, design etc of this iteration. i was a design team member for the park in 89-90. fun to read the comments too. have met a few of those folks. and if interested in Birmingham, look up hoods in Phx, Willow and Encanto. and in Tempe, Maple-Ash. since i've lived in both cities. i do have a couple favorite blocks in Phx, small houses built in 60's where you can tell just by driving thur that now populated by those with aesthetic bones.

marc-arch, thanks for responding. now I know who to blame for the great lack of giant Saguaros and other Sonoran desert landscaping. But then my fantasy is flattening the current ugly Phoenix erections from South Mountain to North Mountain and restoring the desert to resemble such around 1400.
Cal lash from the Concrete Desert.

The mightiest country in the World penetrated by a NUN. Great security?

Marc-arch: thanks for think the info will take a “walk around” and check it out.
Cal Lash: kind of interested in what your directives were with regard to the “homeless” when you were a cop?

Rogue I think you're correct with the Arizona Republic goes over the top in implying that it can be Phoenix's Central Park, Millennium Park or Hyde Park.
However, I wonder why you think it appropriate to put a lot of shade trees in a park that sits atop a freeway? Considering the site and its limitations, I think the designers have some interesting ideas. I think shade trees are appropriate near the pond (and off of the freeway), I also think low water use trees would fit well in the fields (on top of the freeway). I really like the ‘cloud’ over Central and the light rail station.
My only hope is that they do not go overboard with colored glass rocks in phony looking reflecting pools.

Rogue, I think you need to put your shade trees somewhere else.

I noticed the local news is all hyped about Forbes(?) putting Phx. on a fastest growing cities list -- get ready for that last bubble the REIC is going to bank on.

Wkg in bahm. Not in line with city enforcement policy. I wrote an editorial to Republic, city manager and PPD that criticized policy and in particular the issuing of citation to panhadlers. These issues were my first criticism of Jon Talton ' s columns. That and Saguaros began a discussion that led to Jon and I becoming friends

Side note: question for Petro in the previous thread re his Snowden story/link.

Somewhat off topic, but I happened to be downtown today (Wednesday) at about 3:30 pm -- area of Washington/Jefferson from 3rd to 7th Streets -- and it was like a ghost town. No idea if it gets better after dark. Lots of "sports bars". A pair of tourists (apparently) taking a self-pick with a cellphone camera, posing in front of nothing at all: an ugly, undistinguished, unidentified concrete building. (There's one for the photo scrapbook, huh?) Another pair, Asian, walking along the dingy storefronts, who gave the appearance of new arrivals in the upper circle of Dante's Inferno.

Who would come to Phoenix as a tourist, anyway? What is there to see or do? Conceivably, someone might be deceived by a slick Internet marketing campaign, viewed from a world away. I can see going to a spa/resort where there is horseriding, tennis/golf, a day spa, fine dining, etc.; but downtown Phoenix? Crikey.

I don't often get down that way. I'm still trying to sign up for Medicaid. It's impossible to get anyone on the phone at the number for AHCCCS registration or offices given in the state section of the White Pages. The recording refers the impoverished to their website, but how many of those have personal computers? (I don't.) The recording eventually gives another phone number, supposedly for registration by phone (though that's impossible, given the documentation requirements), but every time that is called I get an "all circuits are busy, please try your call again later" message from the phone company.

Public access computers at the library are insecure. Yes, the connection may be https, but it is so easy for spyware or a $20 key logger to read everything typed from the key buffer (or the keyboard itself) before it ever gets to the encryption software or goes out on the Internet: from there, enterprising white-collar criminals can have the info sent on to zombie servers and run through scripts or other software looking for such things as credit card numbers, Social security numbers, etc; or the small-fry can drop by in person and download it onto their flash drives, daily.

The application is 30 pages and asks for about as much information as an applicant to the CIA might be required to present. Every credit card number, bank account number, SSN, faxed copies of driver's license, birth certificate, bank statement, rental documents or mortgages, etc., etc. (and scanning/faxing this stuff from library computers, aside from being stupid, isn't even physically possible). I suspect that those applications lacking crossed t's and dotted i's get rejected; easy screening to decrease the provision of actual services.

Anyway, I decided to go in person down to the AHCCCS headquarters in downtown Phoenix listed in the phone book. Got down there and the building had no lobby, just a security window in a small walk-in room. I thought at first maybe it was the employee entrance. Nope. Was told to go next door. Went next door and was told to go back to the first building. Like Kafka.

Eventually, got someone to escort me into the administrative offices of the first building, only to be told that they don't process applications there, and don't have copies of the applications (which I wanted to review at leisure from a hardcopy, given the enormous amount of information required in the 30 page form). Was given a highly abbreviated form, printed before the recent Medicaid expansion, which contained the wrong income eligibility information: if I hadn't already known better I would have thought it wasn't eligible.

Apparently, I have to go to a DES office rather than to the AHCCCS office, to sign up for, or even get detailed information about, AHCCCS' Medicaid program. No comparisons of AHCCCS provider plans, either.

P.S. Library printing is nominally 20 cents per sheet, but 30 pages becomes longer when actually printing, and formatting tends to be balky and quickly messed up. I'd prefer not to spent $10 for an unusable reference copy of the Medicaid application.

. . . . , and, as Rome burns you guys worry about parking, shade and health insurance scams.

Tough Teri u been reading ed abbeys Good News?
On 030414 Ken Sanders is hosting an Edward Abbey day in Salt Lake.
While thete u can go to he main temple to check on
the evolving arizona political control machine

From the Front Page:

"4 ways privatization is ruining our education system
Its most deleterious effect: The proliferation of charter schools means underperforming children get left behind."

I think that was and is the plan.

Back on my laptop. trouble trying to type on phone.
I agree with Suzzaneabout "shade" trees.
I think we should make Margaret Hance Park the Desert Botanical Gardens II and rename it Cactus Country.
I have never approved with using peoples names for park, monuments, Hospital wings and on and on

Emil, if I still lived in Phoenix, I'd invite you over to my house so you could digitally file your Medicaid application. I say this knowing that if I still lived in Phoenix, you would not accept my invitation. Of course, you're free to chart your own path. But I probably speak for most people here who wonder why someone who is by almost any measure brilliant living in relative poverty. I know: it's none of our business. But you complain about the system you endure - from bus passes to internet time at the library quite often. You tweak our interest before reverting to the dominant Emil. That is, brandishing your considerable forensic skills in exposing the logical fallacies of pundits and pols. But what I'm thinking is why is this guy having to scrounge pennies to take the bus?

A century or so ago we could have understood the poor immigrant going to a large public library to immerse himself in the world's wisdom and surprise his coworkers and bosses as an autodidact of incomprehensible range. Karl Marx was something like this. There's a mystique about the self-taught individual who excites the champion of underdogs in all of us. Eric Hoffer was a longshoreman who wrote brilliantly (before becoming an anti-elitist culture-war pawn in the late 1960s). The Ordeal of Change is still one of my favorite books. And that's how people really remember him - the improbable arc of his working-class life engaging the global conversation in a way most people can only dream about.

I'll confess something I'll also need to apologize for: I seldom read your comments except when you write about yourself. You are an amazing subject but a frustrating teacher. I really don't care to be instructed in exhausting detail about why somebody is wrong about something. I grow impatient and think here's someone who could be writing about a subject that would engage all of us: himself.

It's so tantalizingly close yet so far away. What, you say?


Soleri, interesting. But my mind begs the question who is Emil really? I would ask that Petro weigh in here? And then I eagerly await Emil's response.
and if Emil is not offended might I offer up that I am sure we can provide him with a computer with WI FI.

coming soon to Arizona from the land of OZ.

notes: Pat, "Solved" wrong choice of words. Attorney informant info led to the arrests John Adamson and James Robinson. Up until Max Dunlap died I received letters requesting donations to his defense fund.
I spent a number of hours being interviewed by Dunlaps attorney and Max sat thru the interview providing me with coffee upon request. He appeared to me in that short time to be a simple caring man caught up in a bizarre situation. More than a few persons have told me Dunlap looked upon Kemper Marley as a father figure.

Wkg in bahm: My quarrel with the phoenix policy on homeless was that it is no more expensive to provide for the homeless than to make the issue a law enforcement problem.

When U issue a citation to a panhandler, they do not pay it, they go to jail and you house and feed them.
The old vagrancy law was a good law extremely misused by law enforcement hence it was ruled unconstitutional.
Keep in mind many of my fellow officers referred to me as the "no slam the door sociologist"
but before I was a cop my fellow bracero field workers called me
" gringo pata salada."

Hasta luego

Cal Lash: thanks for the info. Was curious how Phx dealt with the situation. This is already a really big problem in many places – particularly warm weather cities in winter. This will be a giant problem with the coming economic collapse that seems inevitable.

Unfortunate result is that parks can become de facto homeless shelters.

I too think that soleri’s question to Emil is very interesting. I feel similarly in some respect, with Petro.

I know, however, that some brilliant people are so individualistic that they have difficulty working within hierarchical structures.

I, like cal, await Emil’s response.

Keeping gays out of the park?

from Huffington Post

Arizona Lawmakers Pass Insane Discrimination Bill

Suzanne, the edges of Hance Park can support shade trees and many of them do now - it would be great if that could be multiplied and benches installed, wouldn't you agree?

Bob that would be trees native to the Sonoran desert?

I have made my humble response to Emil's reasonable question in the last thread.

And god love ya, cal, but I have a deep respect for how people define themselves over what I might come up with... even if they claim solipsism* (badum bump!)


*Bye the bye, Emil - I'm reading Sartre at the moment thanks to the desert rat cal, and he does an extermination on solipsism that is rather breathtaking and gratifyingly intuitive by my lights.

*by the bye. My spidey-sense of literary shame made me look that up.

Petro said,"And god love ya, cal, but I have a deep respect for how people define themselves over what I might come up with... even if they claim solipsism* (badum bump!)"

But I am seeking that ROUGE greater than I.

"But on the bridges of Paris I, too, learned that I was afraid of freedom. So hurray for the master,
whoever he may be, to take the place of heaven’s law….In short, you see, the essential is to cease
being free and to obey, in repentance, a greater rogue than oneself." (Camus, Fall, 136)

I finally had to comment after being a long time reader when I read about software developers moving in to midtown, riding light rail. That was us. We moved here from another city and had no appreciation for the lack of anything urban here. My husband and I are both in IT and from competitive colleges ( he's a software developer, I'm an Ivy League grad). We tried Phoenix, lived in mid town, rode the light rail and have come to the conclusion that people like us might move to Phoenix but they don't stay in Phoenix. We've finally thrown in the towel and I'm in Portland this week scoping out neighborhoods.

We've been here long enough to have seen too many developments touted as "the thing that turns downtown around" only to see it fizzle out. I've spent too long eating passable food, looking at so so art and trying to support anything that opened up south of McDowell only to be disappointed so many times.

My conclusion is Phoenix is hamstrung when the population would rather go to a pretend city (City North, Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter) than go to the same shops in an actual downtown. All the subsidies in the world can't change that. And a state government that seems bent on chasing away educated, high income, high quality of life people doesn't help.

We're planning the move with a tinge of sadness for all that Phoenix could be. When I meet up with the few like minded folks here that care about the city there is always the underlying question, "so when are you moving?" And the sad understanding that comes with seeing another one go. I'll always have a soft spot for Phoenix and a nagging sense of injustice at the fact that people come here, take what they can from Phoenix and then discard it. I just can no longer spend my energy fighting the tide.

Disclaimer: Another one2014 is not my sockpuppet.

Bob, , I have developed a preference for certain trees and it tends to go opposite of Rogue’s “shade, not Palo Verde” varieties. The Palo Brea is a good example; it is a human scaled tree, it is deciduous, which allows light shade in the early spring (like now, when warmth feels good), it has an interesting branch structure, it flowers and it is unique to southern Arizona. Out in the “field”, white-ball acacia (Acaciella angustissima) would be very nice because it is beautiful and fragrant. Yes, I think large leafy shade trees are important, especially varieties that will soak up the emissions from the freeway. But I also think that the “field” provides a perfect opportunity to highlight desert botanicals.
This park could support a variety of trees to include fruit and nut trees and it could have a community garden area.

I will add public schools to the list of buildings that should never be named after living, or near death persons.

Another one2014, Is it Phoenix, or the money that is driving you to seek another city?

Cal, when I first moved to the Valley 24 years ago I was a horse breeder and lived on what was then the edge of the desert [first near Taliesen West then near Beardsley/Cave Creek Road] and had magnificent palo verde trees shading the south exposure of my house and barnm which never needed supplemental water [they were on the 'banks' of a wash though] and a mature mulberry tree at the turnout pen [which needed only the spillover from the 50 gallon horse watering barrel I placed near it]. While not all native to the Sonoran Desert, there are several urban park-worthy varieties that could satisfy urban park shade and aesthetic needs, no?

Suzanne, I misunderstood your point - it was about tree varieties rather than trees at all. And I tend to agree about merely naming public places after people - unless there's a monumental or major donor quality about it [Grant's Tomb, Carnegie Library etc].


It's Phoenix, unfortunately. We actually have very good jobs here. But, in one case, the job can possibly move with the person. I've found myself saying, "I wish I liked it here more." so many times because we've found it pretty easy to live here in terms of jobs, salary, housing. But, ultimately we've got to go to a community more in line with our values, even it if costs us more ( moving expenses, housing costs, etc)

Ok, Bob, we can negotiate on desert plants. After all the Botanical gardens at Papago Park has many varieties.
One of my favorite places to take a long walk .
Did you know The Rollins family or Frank Colcord from your horse days?

another one 2014. Values? Is that akin to talking to folks that think similarly? Not in a mood to fight. No trips to Occupy Now uprisings? What would Ed say? I cant speak for Edward Abbey but I can say I ll stay and fight for the Desert.
Knowing that the desert always wins.
That said, good luck on your move: and to lessen your guilt Read Desert Solitaire,and Eds quote "one final paragraph of advise: "
Cal the desert rat


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