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February 07, 2014


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Wasn't Morrison Warren the first African-American on City Council about 5 years before Goode?

When I was young and even more self-righteous than I am today, I loathed Charter Government. And why not? It was an insiders' club of businessmen along with a few tokens. The business of Phoenix was business and government was an expression of that certitude. Don't get your hands grubby with unions, Italians, and various rackets. Yet looking back, I marvel at a time that was still hurly-burly with messy things. If Phoenix was mostly about commerce, there were still tantalizing hints of naughtiness. Bodies were still being dumped in the Arizona Canal. Land fraud flourished. Phoenix got things done not in spite of that but possibly because of it.

Today, my high dudgeon seems quaint. The mafia is broken but so is Phoenix. After Charter Government wore out is welcome, the Phoenix 40 embodied the no-nonsense approach to civic life. By the early '90s, their influence waned. Today, it's a mystery if there is any stewardship class left at all. Sal DiCiccio, anyone?

Rahm Emmanuel is breaking thumbs in Chicago and downtown gleams. Tinpot plutocrat Michael Bloomberg spitshined New York City to a high sheen. Rust-belt cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland reinvented themselves, capitalizing on legacy greatness and good bones. Phoenix, on the other hand, continues to shovel sunshine.

Democracy or its reasonable facsimile is mostly public relations. Real power follows the money. What happened in Phoenix has less to do with clean government than a city finally reaping what it sowed. Phoenix went from farm town to Sun Belt mecca in a generation. Anything seemed possible before the soufflé finally collapsed.

We tell ourselves stories - morality fables mainly - about the past because it maintains a convenient fiction about our ability to control the present. Phoenix once was crude, violent, vibrant, and coherent. Today, it's an overgrown also-ran. I left Phoenix because I knew there was no longer a sustaining myth I could believe in. I loved the sun, the low taxes, and the desert. What's left now is the wonder of a single life mirroring that boom and bust.

You are correct, of course. I finished that part at about 1 am and wasn't thinking straight. Then the Internet crashed. I will fix asap.

One of my favorite Photos Jon. I have a lot of memories tied to that building and those steps into that building.
I recall coming down those steps late one afternoon with Police Chief Lawrence Wetzel after briefing him on the "suicide" of a police union official. His parting words that day are etched in my memory.
"Watch your ass, Lash".

Wetzel as a young officer was one of the first officers to arrive at the Gus Greenbaum home where they had been murdered, apparently while barbequing.
Gus was reported to be linked to the Chicago Mob and an associate of Bugsy Siegel infamous (and killed)for skimming from the mob while building his Las Vegas Casino. Only the casino builder survived the "outfits" anger.

Jon, I believe the most respectable Lincoln and Eleanor Ragsdale's should be noted here as they were far reaching in bringing the white and black community together. And they were a strong influence on city politics and interested in bringing culture to town.

Jon, Organized Crime (OC) has never left. It has evolved. Cops wearing Fedoras carrying bags full of money have been eliminated as unseemly and unnecessary. Many high ranking police officials and other department heads counting their take for the day have lapsed into history. The mob is gone organized crime is now better called high finance or corporate economics (white collar crime) and Professional sports. If one follows the money from (from the time of Al Capone’s tax evasion conviction) Chicago, Kansas City and the East coast outfits are still alive and well. The bag men or foot soldiers are now called lawyers and accountants. This evolution has led to not corrupting large numbers of law enforcement or city officials but having a very small number who sit at the top of the heap. They get rich on insider trading tips rather than a bag of cash on their desk.
Charter government didn’t have much effect on land fraud state wide but one reason charter wanted to clean up the ugly old democratic mob crime was the folks behind Charter were about to rezone and grow Phoenix into the vast empty Great Sonoran desert. Zoning was the new crime. Crimes against land and nature. Crime to bring fat white folks with money to play shuffleboard amid green golf courses. Soil Bankers from the Midwest that got paid not to farm came to the “Valley”.
Charter government had 40 business persons to meet and steer. After Mayor Hance arrived (driven not driving) the Phoenix Forty (Charter) slowly melted down. Today there are few power brokers that are a major influence on Phoenix government. Even caring participants like Marty Schultz have slowed down in their civic actions. (And other caring folks like Jon Talton and Walter Hall have left town). The current mayor has not left town but he has slowed down and is building downtown NW of Scottsdale. And he will surely run for national office leaving Phoenix with a council that I believe will fall to infighting.
Currently, Phoenix still has strength in its control of water and this is a reason the octopus arms of the Phoenix sprawl have not dried up and fell of the body. YET.
May Edward Abbey HAUNT the dark corridors of downtown Phoenix. (Read the Good News).

Just to gin up the anti-Seattle crowd, I'll post these (which could also go on the previous thread):

"Have the Seahawks killed Seattle Nice," by a writer who performs much the function here that I did (do) in Phoenix:


"Five 'placemaking' lessons from Seattle's amazing Super Bowl parade":


"36 reasons why Seattle not only won the Super Bowl but also wins at life":


There may be lessons here for the open-minded. And just to be clear: I would still be writing in Phoenix fulltime if I could get work there.

Jon, there are people in Phoenix but few with the purpose or passion to make it a "Great" city. The bigots of brown people and developers of more sprawl have no interest in giving you a job. I cant ever imagine Phoenix having the diversity that exists in Seattle. A friend advises me that the Arizona population mindset stifles creativity. But the friend spent 30 years in NY/NJ.

thanks Jon for the other blogs. I think the Five Place making article explains why the "Valley" will probably never get it together.

Reference the "nice not so nice" article
I wonder if a tough head butting Mayor suffers concussions.

Good News:
The New Robber Barons are 0 and 79.


These historical retrospectives are my favorites, and thank you for the work.

I know you're working on that history book, dammit. ;) The money will come, the dam will break, the clouds will part.

soleri & cal have left particularly interesting comments and info here as well today.

Great post & thread!

Seattle Nice? No it is Minnesota nice, don't ya know?

Enjoyed our coffee today, cal & Reb.

Don't like to "blogwhore" much, but since I've not posted for over two months, I wanted AzRebel to know that I meant it when I said I'm starting to get a bit angry (thanks for the inspiration):

The Cowardice Of The Right: A Haiku

Petro, Good conversations of La Voz or the Club de Jon at Virginia's Urban Bean. Good coffee and great Mano a Mano Poblano sandwiches. Only lacking

The Good News:

Mr. Snowden did not specifically address the government’s theory of how he obtained the files, saying in a statement: “It’s ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government’s actions, and they’re doing so to misinform the public about mine.”

I found it very interesting...but...are you sure the "crooks" have disappeared ??...I seem to recall the City manager who recently left for a job in CA.... He painted such a rosy picture of Phoenix financial state and because he did "such a great job", he received a very large bonus...and left. Problem is, NOW "they say" (our illustrious City leaders say we are upwards of 56 MILLION in the hole!! Boy isn't that. Surprise!

Skip, They evolved (see above post)
there is less of them but the few get really big payouts.
Forbidding that some fire fighter or police officer gets to put his sick time he didn't use into his pension.

Do you have a source for the claim of a 56 million dollar debt? I haven't seen that anywhere. Thanks.

Yawn try this for a start.

a Sinclair note
As I have noted previously, americans get little news about the big neighbor south of the border (and not much from the neighbor to the north). For Mexico News I recommend frontera list. Here is a story about an important issue from the Texas Observer.

For a followup on Oil in Mexico (our neighbor)google the following.

RE: [frontera-list] American Media Misses the Story on Mexican Oil Reform...Texas Observer
Gordon Housworth via googlegroups.com

to frontera-list, mollymolloy

Journalists in Mexico have short lives.

The body of Veracruz reporter Gregorio Jimenez was found today in Los Choapas, Veracruz. Two other bodies were found at the site. State authorities also detained 4 people in connection with the kidnapping and murder of the journalist.
The article reports that 10 journalists have been murdered in Veracruz during the administration of the current governor, Javier Duarte.
I have not seen any reports so far in English. molly

See also: http://www.animalpolitico.com/2014/02/encuentran-muerto-al-periodista-veracruzano-gregorio-jimenez/#axzz2t3vQ1I8j

Phoenix should be 88 degrees come Saturday but from Soleri's Oregon to Jon's old home town of Atlanta.


Thank you god for the great Sonoran desert. What's left of it since the land rapers arrived.

another reason why Washington state is a more sane place than AZ.

I heard this may have happen to soleri.

come on Phxsunfan throw us something positive. Like the Phoenix market cafe re-design has proven to be a huge success and lite rail ridership has climbed dramatically.

Cal, I wisely decided not to run in the snow, but as that clip shows, there were still quite a few runners out there. Late Saturday, the fluffy kittens of meteorology turned into pit bulls - freezing rain. Merely to step outside was hazardous. By Monday, Snow White turned brackish, so even the aesthetic pleasures vanished. Thank God (or Ronaldus Magnus) for the rain, which washed that floozy away.

When I first got here, I wondered how I'd cope with months of drizzly weather and temps in the 40s. After this last weekend, not that bad at all.

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