The following is from the electronic edition. Also appeared in the print edition with a large photo. Local TV station wants to interview me. Not sure I want to go down that road again. All reader emails are in agreement so far.
Tucson, city of paradoxes
By Mencken's Ghost
Special to the Arizona Daily Star
June 22, 2018
After living in metro Phoenix for 30 years, my wife and I moved to the Tucson area in January.
Tucson is much better than Phoenix. People are nicer, kinder, friendlier, more laid back, and not as materialistic. Also, the setting is prettier, the climate is nicer, and there is less congestion.
At the same time, paradoxically, Tucson and Pima County are mismanaged and poor relative to Phoenix and Maricopa County. This raises a question: Is the Tucson area poor because it is mismanaged, or is it mismanaged because it doesn't have enough money for good management? Either way, the area is going to stay poor in the absence of better management, for wealthy corporations don't want to relocate their headquarters to a badly run metropolis.
There is no need to rub asphalt in the wound by talking about the terrible condition of roads and the lousy traffic control. Tucson drivers are well aware of the decades of neglect and the mismanagement of this core responsibility of government.
Other examples abound, anyway. Take traffic barricades. Yes, traffic barricades. That would be the orange and white objects that look like sawhorses with blinking orange lights. They are put out by both Tucson and Pima County and then abandoned, resulting in them being blown over in the wind and ending up in bike lanes or in the brush on the roadside.
For instance, Tucson put barricades out when it sprayed de-icer on bridges this winter. Months after the chance of a freeze became nil, they were still not picked up. In Pima County, barricades are put up next to road hazards, but instead of fixing the hazards, the county leaves the barricades in place for months or even years.
On a related note, the county picks up roadside litter less frequently than Halley's comet comes around. Consequently, another guy and I pick up litter on a 2-mile stretch of Craycroft and Kolb roads near our homes near Ventana Canyon.
Are abandoned barricades a big deal? Yes, as they are visible symbols of mismanagement — and lousy leadership. Or maybe the problem is corruption: maybe a city council member or county supervisor is in the barricade business.
Another symbolic example is the Loop bike/walk path. In a case of reverse alchemy, local government turns this golden attraction into a garbage dump by letting trash and litter of every description accumulate along the path, especially in the Rillito River bottom. This is not something that citizens can clean on their own, as so much flotsam and jetsam has accumulated in parts of the river bottom that a convoy of dump trucks would be needed to haul it away.
Contrast this with the bike/walk path along the Indian Bend Wash in Scottsdale and along the Salt River in Tempe. These other paths are pristine by comparison.
Finally, shame on the local real estate industry, an industry with abysmal civic-mindedness, as evidenced by the large number of 12-inch by 24-inch "for sale" signs planted in medians and roadsides and never picked up. What's the point of having sign ordinances if this is allowed? And why doesn't the city or county fine the culprits or at least remove the signs? Is it because of the political power of the industry?
On second thought, the city and county shouldn't do anything about these issues. They should continue with their mismanagement so that metro Tucson doesn't become as prosperous and populated as metro Phoenix.