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June 29, 2015


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Hance was a natural politician who loved the meet-and-greet aspects of the job. And that job was to grow Phoenix from a medium-sized city to a great one. She failed because that was an impossible task. Still, she was a sane Republican in a state that is now insane with ideological certitude. I almost miss her.

Phoenix will lurch on, the donut hole in a metroplex too unwieldy to shape, steer, or manage. Ideology here is, inadvertently, a concession to reality. You can't do anything with this monster so let it devour what remains of the natural world and stay snug in your north Scottsdale enclaves.

Once the business elite abandoned their north-central Phoenix estates and their downtown offices, they no longer had much civic purpose aside from daubing lipstick to the pig of sprawl. But when Hance was mayor, downtown still ruled. The major banks were headquartered there, along with the states most important newspaper. After Charter Government crashed, the Phoenix 40 picked up the torch. They wanted things to run smoothly, just like Hance. Get the cars downtown as smoothly and quickly as possible. Wrap a freeway around it, turn the major arterial roads into virtual freeways, and let destiny do what it does best.

Sic transit gloria.

Phoenix failed its rendezvous with destiny because a city requires more purpose than being alluring to Midwestern burghers escaping cold winters and black people. But when Hance was mayor, it still had major economic players other than real-estate interests. Granted, the power elite was blind to the dangers of overzoning for high rises and tearing down the city's architectural heritage. The Big Bright Tomorrow was our civic religion then. Naysayers were hippies and losers.

Hance played the game, and maybe even contributed a few ideas to the play itself, but the game had been decided before she ever became mayor. The Moreland Corridor was razed in the 1960s for 1-10, 25 years before the freeway finally arrived. Terry Goddard could ameliorate the worst of its brutalizing effects but he couldn't change the outcome itself. Phoenix had been a nice small city and would soon become a not-so-nice big one.

I used to tell people with evangelizing fervor not to call the green space over 1-10 Hance Park. Call it by its original name Deck Park if only to valorize the few resisters who fought for a real downtown instead of the sterile one the business elite bequeathed us. But that battle is so long over than no one really cares or knows what's buried in the rubble. I'll whisper this possibility, however: Phoenix's soul.

I don't think the Moreland Corridor was razed, at least not in entirety, in the 60s. I remember going through the aerial photos in the Arizona Room at the library, and I think most of the demolition took place in the early 70s. Not sure if it was before or after Hance was elected.

In any case, to this day, longtime residents of the Story neighborhood refuse to call it Hance Park. It's the Deck Park.

Moreland Parkway, the finest example of the City Beautiful Movement, was still intact in the 1960s. Like its twin, the Portland Parkway, which remains kind of, it was lined with middle-class apartments. But it was the shadier and more inviting of the two. It was lost in the 1970s under Hance's inattention and desire for the freeway.

My memory is not perfect and I didn't live in that part of town, so I should probably hedge my blanket statement to "partly cleared" and leave it at that. In looking for a citation, I did come across this link with depictions of the bullet we dodged back in 1973: https://www.arizonaroads.com/urban/papago.html

As part of the ongoing efforts to renew Hance Deck Park, I do think a name change is in order. Some powers that be are adamant the name remain the same but it is historically ironic that a central-city park -- perhaps set to be urbanism in Phoenix's greatest asset, is named after a suburban-centric mayor. I propose the name Theodore Roosevelt Park, after the neighborhood and the President who did much for a pre-statehood Arizona.


If Hance intended to do good, but did bad.

If Drinkwater intended to do good, but did bad.

If the Glendale council intended to do bad and did worse.

Then what the hell? Are these ships of state rudderless .

Is only this small minority on this blog upset with the outcome, while the vast majority could care less.

As an example, while the city of Glendale buried its citizens in mountains of debt .............silence.

Now the council threatens to miss one payment to the Yotes, and there are FIVE recall petitions in progress.

Like I said, what the hell?

The single biggest cause for Phoenix's decline and the one that could have been have prevented given hindsight was what happened to banking. Prior to the late 70s banking in Arizona was intrastate. This meant deposits must be kept in the state the depositor lived in and guaranteed each state had its own banking network. Arizona had four or five major banks and that many second tier banks. Supplementing the banks were the S&Ls that specialized in mortgages and AZ had its fair share of those. These were all headquarters companies with their main office in Phoenix close to the state capital. The executives lived in Phoenix and supported its growth and quality of life issues. The banks invested in local businesses and provided revenue opportunities for legal, financial and marketing firms.

In the late 70s the Arizona Legislature passed legislation enabling interstate banking The advocates argued that interstate banking would bring more capital to the state as well as increased services and lower fees to the public.

The actual outcome could easily have been foreseen. Earlier in the 70s, Congress had stricken laws which supported 'fair trade' agreements. These agreements required retailers to stick to the manufacturer's suggested retail price. This ensured local retailers wouldn't be undercut by outside retailers looking to muscle in by strangling the local competition. After 'fair trade' was repealed, locally owned retailers went from economic engines to museum pieces.

With the advent of interstate banking the banks emulated the retailers. By 1992 when Valley Bank was sold, there were no more major banks headquartered in Phoenix or the rest of the state.

From the 90s on the slide of Phoenix into urban irrelevancy has been non stop.

Ruben, there was not silence about the mountains of debt Glendale incurred, far from it. I had a conversation with Elaine Scruggs about it that was very telling. She was completely against the stadium, but felt utterly railroaded into it. Her distress was palpable. This conversation took place before it was built, and I approached her as a curious student of government not as constituent with an ax to grind, so I see no reason for her to have spun me. I asked her about the stadium and her response was about the debt it would involve. I seriously doubt that I was the only person she, and the people who shared her view, talked to about it. Sometimes, as Rouge can attest, even the bigger voices of the polity do not make it past our long fingered corporate booster censorship.

I am really curious… What did your mother think of Margaret Hance, Rouge?

Margaret, ah yes, — by chance I did dance the political two step with Hance.

First I would say that Hance surrounded herself with some very competent people. Possibly a sign of a strong leader. Her best pick I think was Margret Mullen, whom I believe came back from a good job in D.C. to be of great organizing and pushing forward, benefit. Kyl was an interesting conservative choice that I had little knowledge of at the time. Martin “Marty” Schultz was an excellent pick as he was just beginning his climb from school teacher to PR specialist for the big boys in town.

Couldn’t go wrong with Marty’s contacts with the ADL president Abraham Foxman, soon to retire from a long reign. And of course I am sure Marty knew a few JDL folks also. I can’t recall if he got to meet Moshe Dayan at the Biltmore when the Israeli leader was in town, but I did. And he had his eye patch on. Marty was also one of those sane folks, like Burton Barr, that we have lost in today’s political Arizona.

Not mentioned in the column are two other aides Hance had that were good choices. Geoffery Gonsher that went onto become head of the Lottery. Gonsher was a meticulous and loyal servant who enjoyed a good game of whiffle ball. The other aide I can’t recall but I do remember standing in front of the Mexican American legion post 41 with Margret and that aide, and listening to her explain to him “tell Ruben (Ortega), he will become Police Chief, but he must be patient.”

I got to know Hance when I was president of the police union. My contact with her was Marty. As Union president I became the first president to be assigned a full-time Union office within the police administration. I recall after a wages and hours meeting on the ninth floor of the old city hall, that Margaret pulled me aside after the meeting and said in no uncertain terms, “Cal, Jack cannot come back to anymore meetings.” Jack was my wages and hours chairman.

One day my phone rang and I was instructed by Chief Larry Wetzel to drive Margaret home after she was done at the Mayor’s office duties for the day. This arrangement lasted until one day Shultz called me to city hall and was waiting for me on the ground floor. He ushered me into the elevator and prevented others from entering. On the way to the ninth floor he said Hance wanted the union's support for the next election. I told him “NO”. The door opened, Marty got out, and the elevator returned me to the ground floor. I was soon informed that I would not be driving the Mayor anymore.

I don’t recall who immediately took over that duty but soon Officer Bob Fellens became the Mayor's driver for Hance and later Goddard. Today the Mayor has an entire squad to serve him or her and sometimes the Police Bike detail will ride with a mayor (on a bike) from home to office and back on their bicycles.

Regarding One Eyed Jack Williams, I used to spend some time in the steam at the YMCA with him and Olympian Jesse Owens and others including judges, defense and prosecuting attorneys and some white collar criminal types.

I do not find Hance’s reign as positive but then I think a Phoenix Population of 100,000 is enough. The freeway through town was a dastardly deed. And I am not in favor of naming much of anything after people, particularly Parks. Call it the “Oasis Park” and try and update it to fit that description.

Great stuff, Cal. Thank you!

Ur welcome. and a note. my wages and hours person was John not Jack. Jack was a guy I was on the road with.

I had heard that Pat Manion provided a lot of continuity as assistant (?) mayor from administration to administration. He died too young- a good man.

Speaking of the freeway that ruined Phoenix and the continuing ADOT effort to create jobs for their loyal group. And another battle the Indians are sure to lose.

239 years ago tomorrow Paul Revere was racing through the streets of Boston. Cal pulled him over for speeding. The rest is history.

Actually Ruben, the stable hand that saddled Paul's horse for his ride was none other than my 5th removed Grandfather, Abraham Lasch. He was hiding out in Paul's place as he was in 1745 an illegal European immigrant. And the Apache HLS was looking to send him back where he came from.

And Ruben as a result of this midguideed patriotism my forensic father's were provide with a small parcel of wooded land with a stream. Eventually one of my uncles built a mill on the stream that became part of the Slave Train out of the South to the North. So that's how the Family Hero Jim Lash came to be.
And if You believe all that, feel free to read the books written by Joseph Lash about Eleanor Roosevelt.

A Boston witch told your great , great, great, great, great Grandfather, "one day a seed of your loins will live in a place called Apache Junction."

To which you Grandfather said, "does thou shitth me ?"


A friend who was once an old-time Phoenix firefighter, since deceased, once told me that Margaret Hance was driven home by Phoenix PD more than once after being pulled over for drunken driving. These days two out of three pedestrians have cell phone cameras, so the Mayor would be going to jail. But policing back then was slightly different.

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