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January 02, 2018


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Like that house! Walked by a couple of years ago when attending the Willo open house tour. Even as PHX is focusing on its core (with a lot of federal help), Maricopa County has taken up the sprawl banner and is looking to create a surplus city to be hyped by Bill Gates far west of PHX. The county is also luring Wickenburg into becoming the host of high impact industrial uses necessary to supporting a perpetual continuation of Sprawl west of the White Tanks. Is a potential solution an outreach to rural western Maricopa to create a new county or annex to abutting counties?

Rogue Columnist, You had morality, decency, a conscience, and integrity. Unfortunately, it seems you found out that you can't go home, especially when the "home" that gave you those qualities now sees them as liabilities. On some level, seeing that degradation becoming your enemy must have been a torment.

I know some of this firsthand because I experienced the pressure to conform to the "local norms." I could only take seven years in Phoenix because I came from a much more diverse, tolerant, and pluralistic place. I could not--and would not--change the person I was because it would have been a long, slow suffocation of my soul to have adapted to the conformist corporate conservatism that pervaded Phoenix. Freedom is intrinsic to my definition of myself--and I wasn't about to let someone or some corporate entity tell me what "freedoms" I could choose from.

Treasure the Phoenix that made you who you are today. That crucible gave you your traits and qualities--and be proud you didn't surrender them to be a slave to the mercantile madness of today's Phoenix.

One of the best analyses of journalism's withered soul was delivered by Stephen Colbert in 2006:

The President makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!

I recall a point in the early '90s when Phoenix seemed as if it had finally grown up. Pat Murphy was the publisher of The Arizona Republic and had lured the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tom Fitzpatrick to town. Jana Bommersbach and Deborah Laake were writing for New Times. It seemed to my aching heart that maybe there was still some hope for the sprawling megalopolis Phoenix had become. By 2000, however, the Internet was killing journalism and those sparks were extinguished.

Jon Talton's too-late comeback was extraordinary, however. We had been defeated but here was finally someone stating the obvious about Phoenix and the shoddy compromises that it made with truth and its own best possibilities. "He can't say that, can he?" was the delighted if worried exclamation of old-timers like myself. The power structure was not amused and they eventually rid themselves of this troublesome oracle.

Today, I wish Phoenix the best as it becomes ever-larger and ever-more vulnerable to catastrophic climate change. I'm much more philosophical about trajectories now that my own is clearly in descent. We had some real moments of promise but the greater momentum was on the side of growth for growth's sake. It happened, we lost, and I'm pretty much over it. Still, I love to look back and feel the magic that lingered in that opium dream of a place we called home. Of course, it's like so much of America where change is the only constant. Maybe it's the phosphorescence of decay, but there's still a little magic in its ruined heart.

I was surprised and disappointed to hear the new 7,000,000 population number. I wonder how many long time Arizonans feel unwelcome in their own state. Up here in the sticks I've had to put up with the Trumpsters. Now we have the new wave of Kelli Ward worshipers taking over the White mountains. I have a mountain lion hanging around my property. I'm tempted to cover myself in barbeque sauce have the lion send me to the happy hunting ground.

AzReb, I hear 'ya. Every time I'm back in the Valley I wonder if I got rerouted and ended up in LA. Especially the last couple of years. We learned nothing, sigh...

I wonder how many of those 7,000,000 Zonies are sock puppets living inside a certain commenter's head.

I certainly appreciate all you did while here and continue to do to point out the strengths and weaknesses in this city and state. At one point I thought of going home (I'm from California), but didn't make the move which I'm so thankful for. Especially when I work with a friend on projects there which defy all logic based on the objections. So while I agree Phoenix is still a small town, with a small town mentality, my hometown is so much smaller that I would probably have to be committed to some institution before going back. Still, as an "objective" historian, I try to point out the good and the bad parts of what I see while having an eye on the future when we will have to pay the piper for all the damage we have done. The Hohokam left for some good reason. What will be "our" reason? And then read your books so I can chuckle at what I "missed" by not growing up here.

And here we are in tiny Cochise County Az with many of the same problems. We spearheaded a movement against El Dorado-Phoenix developers -and received lots of local coverage in our weekly Benson paper-as well as the daily Sierra Vista Herald. Dana Cole provided excellent coverage. No more. You can ask her why-but needless to say-all but the most pablum stories about the developer's misdoings in our tiny community disappeared. The town of Benson,Arizona- pop. 4,000 or so-now holds city council meetings spiked with big city northern Arizona real estate developers-seems the local (replacement for Dana Cole ) reporter can now report on council meetings in a more favorable light. Because this development of 28,000 homes in a county of 90,000 will draw its water from the San Pedro River (a river of global importance for North American bird migration)- and remember-this is the desert-Army Corp of Engineers was pressured into seeking public comments. Did our weekly paper give this story due justice over the most contentious development in SE Az? Jon is right-all this in the county that is losing population faster than any county in the US. No jobs. My husband and I are retired-but-like Jon did-our house is for sale.

I love talking.

Hahaha. Well, that fell flat. Or, as some wild day, that was a Freudian slip. I meant to say "I love ya." Sometimes Spellcheck is your worst enema.

"some wild day."
OK, I quit.

Coming home to the metro Phoenix area in the 1990s after active duty military service, I was also shocked by the extent of sprawl and political dominance by outsiders newly arrived. People with no experience of swimming in a densely shaded irrigation ditch, whose parent had never enjoyed a picnic and dance at Riverside Park. Your columns were a "must read" for me, they hit with total accuracy. When I ran for the state legislature in the late 90s, I was surprised and proud that the Arizona Republic endorsed my candidacy. As you say, that newspaper was different then. But the development trend has continued. For someone who lived there in the 1950s through the 70s, (then again for another two decades) it was very hard for me to give up on Arizona. But eventually I realized it had become a place where I no longer fit well. Like you, I'm now in the Puget Sound area, and have successfully integrated myself into much fuller community life here. Every trip back to Phoenix, I still cringe at what was lost there.

Donna Reiner, you said the Hohokam left for some good reason. I'm guessing the drought of the late 13 century had something to do with it. Which brings us to today....

Bradley Dranka-The problem now is that unlike the 13th century,there is nowhere to. go.Overpopulation is the problem and like climate change, there is no denying it, no matter what we do.People are not going to quit having babies or polluting the atmosphere until Mother Nature makes the price so steep that we will have no choice but to comply Alss,I fear that nuclear winter will destroy us first.Thank God,I'm 71 years old,but do feel sorry for my kids(4) and grandkids(8) who will have to deal with it.

P.S. RC-you are much appreciated both now and when we were blessed to have you in Phoenix .Been here since since 66 and remember when Willo district was running down along with Encanto Park.You can't say you didn't try.

I understand your regrets about having to leave your hometown. But your honest criticism of Phoenix's "real estate industrial complex" was spot on. Somebody needed to hold those folks accountable and you were in a good position to do it. And you did it very well.

Glad you are still posting here. Come back for a cup of joe sometime!

I know this won't change how you feel -- nor do I intend for it to -- but I think it is worth mentioning that I started reading your columns right around the time I graduated from Northern Arizona's journalism school. Not only did I share your opinions and criticisms about many of the issues that you wrote about, but I appreciated and admired your willingness to take on the people and industries that were frequently your targets.
A few years later, I landed a job as a business journalist and columnist in Massachusetts. Having studied your approach to journalism, I modeled my own career after yours. I spoke my mind. I covered issues that were formerly off-limits. I asked questions that business and political leaders weren't used to answering. I was afraid of the ramifications, but I knew that having courage was better than caving in.
You were instrumental in the initial success of my career -- I still remember meeting with you for career advice 3 days before my wedding in October 2005 at the Park Central Starbucks -- and I appreciate everything that you did for me, careerwise. Even if you weren't aware that you were doing it. I'm glad you didn't do things differently in your career.

Jon, I always loved your column. I'm glad you came back to Phoenix when you did.

And I'm glad you're a reality-based journalist.

I keep moving farther out until now I am up against the Superstition Mountains and can go no farther yet the sprawl commeth like a locomotive or maybe a Sherman tank. What was once rural Pinal County is filling up with strip malls and subdivisions. We need you back, with a strong voice to speak the truth to power.

Anne I am out here with you, my back up against the mountain.

One reason


and Phoenix

but I am looking to move again if they keep building like mad out here.

Jon you did the right things. Keep it up!
as here they come

The Billionaire Bump Stock Ramp it up


You are missed. The world has plenty of CPAs, but not nearly enough good columnists.

Mike Doughty, My main issue with man's use of the planet's resources is that man tries to subjugate nature by force, numbers, ramping up development beyond the harmonious, and a general indifference to potential consequences and "blowback."

This is a testosterone-laden, macho, bullying, and conquering mentality of a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" absolute capitalism. The practice in Phoenix functions as a "bludgeoning" of the desert to suit our needs, and nature's and the environment's need be damned.

To paraphrase Sir Arthur Harris (Bomber Command, WW II), "We sowed the wind, and now we will reap the whirlwind."

The 10th annual fan club meeting was convened today at 1100 hours at Park Central Mall. Possible new members were welcomed.
Ruben, AKA Azrebel, Helen Hightower, Auntie ?? was welcomed back and not required to pay past punishment fines.
Regrettably a number of folks failed to make it, including Dudas and of course the great bard and founder, Jon T as he was busy posting his Seattle Times column.
Happy New Year.

Re: Having one's back to the Superstitions...

In 1961 I first hiked the Peralta Canyon trail to Fremont Saddle -- a great spot to view Weaver's Needle close up -- and there wasn't a soul on the trail, even though it was a weekend. You had to watch for the turn off US 60 onto the dirt road leading to the trailhead -- The sign was small.

I recently drove up to Globe. The now-paved dirt road is bracketed by subdivisions and the intersection has a traffic light. This used to be waaaay out of town. We'll all have our backs to the Mogollon Rim soon enough.

I forgot to mention that to ring in the new year i re watched the Manchurian Candidate.

Cal-please post requirements for club membership and next meeting and location.In Tempe but interested in attending.

Mike, requirements , breathing.
Suggest a quiet Tempe place very near light rail that has environment for old folks with bad hearing.

What Soleri said. Your column was the bright light of truth in those years. You were brave and left with your head held high, moving to a better place, rather than crawling for them. And you keep telling it like it is on Rogue. Thank you.

I was asked only last night how I liked Phoenix. My wife told the questioner, " Don't get him started."
Having grown up there from 1950 til 1965 when I left or college, it was a wonderful place to grow up, but I'd never move there now.
Though filled with republicans, the Black Hills are good enough for me now ... and in many ways remind me of the good things about long-ago Phoenix.

Buckobear you might enjoy the book "First Impressions "by David J Weber and William DeBuys.

Cal Lash-suggest we meet a Ncounter at 310 s. Mill right off Mill ave. light rail station.Let me know time and date of next meeting.Still breathing after 71 years.

Okay Mike, sounds good. Next meet will depend on the condition of Rubens back and will likely occur on a Saturday.

That was a fun chat at Park Central. Happy to meet ROGER for the first time.

Cal was, of course, in character and managed to invite a random woman, Lynn, into the conversation. AzReb's reaction to that was priceless.

Cheers, all.

G. Joubert "How was she chosen"?
Joseph Turner, By random!

I do enjoy reading Rogue's columns because they truly are truth standing up to the powerful.

Unfortunately, the only real "payback" for many of the heathen and plundering "powerful" will have to wait until Judgment Day.

It seems to me that those who exploit, control, and mistreat others for their personal profit serve the lord of darkness, who will exact his exploitation, control, and mistreatment when he gets their dark souls.

I am comfortable and serene being on the "right side" of THAT history.

Phoenix had so much potential as a fairly newly developed city. Corrupt and inept politicians, journalists, real estate boondogglers, and everyday citizens killed that potential. I'm glad you are still writing about Phoenix. We appreciate your work.

Attack the motherfuckers and let their blood soak into the desert sand.

My folks moved us to Phoenix in 1961, when I was 5. Our house backed up against the Grand Canal with the Pendergast dairy farm on the other side. This was Clarendon and 59th ave. Newer part of Maryvale back then. It was swamp cooled, but ideal for youthful exploration. Now it's the heart of the crime ridden westside. Did the developer, the honorable J.F. Long ruin it? I think not. It was the closure of the barrios around valuable Sky Harbor and the movement of its population to Maryvale that ruined it. And that was an act by the Council of the City of Phoenix. Developers are of course in favor of building whatever the customer wants. One should not blame the developers for owning the political process in AZ. One should blame the voters.

AZ loss is WA gain. Your journalism in the Seattle times is extraordinary!

You lived right around the corner from us!

{sigh} I do miss the old neighborhood. It was pretty, the neighbors were a joy, the house delightful.

But... I don't miss the transients breaking into our car to sleep in it; the burglar/rapist trying to get into the house while I was sitting there typing term papers (or my German shepherd chasing the poor soul down the street); the prowler who did get into the place at two in the morning, without waking up the dog; the noisy fire station our Honored City Fathers installed a few houses down the street from our place; the guy following me home from the babysitter as I pushed my infant along in his stroller; feeling we couldn't put our son in the sub-mediocre public school down the street; the sh!thead who stole our neighbor's whole litter of doberman pinscher puppies out of her back yard; ...on and freakin' on. North Central isn't a LOT better than Willo, but for a female it is, I think, somewhat safer.

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