2015 Elections

October 15, 2015

Believe it or not, what with all of the noise—and so much of it is just that, noise—about the 2016 elections, we have a substantial number of elections in the Tucson metro area on November 3, 2015. I don’t often comment on local matters, but I’m making an exception tonight/today.

Before I proceed, I need to bring up name-dropping. You’ll see references to several people in my comments, along with disclosures about my relationships. I’m not bragging on who I know, truly. Because I’m a lawyer ethics jock, I don’t have it in me not to disclose any and all information someone ought to know.

The Tucson City Council has three seats on the ballot, and Mayor Jonathan Rothschild is also on the ballot, running for reelection. I don’t live in the city and I do not know any of the Council members or their opponents, so I will be silent about those races. On the other hand, Mayor Rothschild is an old friend, former law partner, and the fellow whose State Bar No. is one less than mine because, 34 years ago on October 17, there was no one standing between Rothschild and Rubin when we were admitted to practice law at Grady Gammage Hall at Arizona State University.

JR is an extraordinary man, and he deserves another four years as Tucson’s mayor. His job has almost no power on paper, but he has breathed life into the office because he understands power. It’s about leadership and presence, and it’s not about having or not having a vote on this or that matter. He understands the distinction and, more importantly, he has put himself front and center, everywhere.

And about those votes. The City Council created the Charter Review Committee to update and revise the City’s charter. Former law partner Kasey Nye chaired the committee. It worked hard to bring into the 21st century a document which was first written in 1929. I’m no expert on the Tucson Charter, but I know something about documents which evolve over time, not always in a consistent way. When the City Manager can fire X, but only the Council can fire Y—an employee at the same rank—change is necessary. The Charter Review Committee worked hard and in a very transparent way. Its proposals should be adopted, wholesale.

My final comments are reserved for the Pima County Bond election. (Larry Hecker, who happens to be my landlord, is a first-rate attorney and one of our local treasures. He chaired the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee and co-chairs the Yes on Pima County Bonds campaign.)

The bond issue totals $815,000,000, or $815 plus interest, per person, over the next 25 years, assuming 1,000,000 Pima County residents. The bonds are divided into seven ballot items.*

The Bond Advisory Committee reviewed a boatload of proposals for bond money. Its work has been a “work-in-process” because the Great Recession made bond ballot proposals just plain stupid.

The arguments against the bond issue are many. Pima County can’t be trusted. Government doesn’t create jobs. No one will or won’t come to Tucson if the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum doesn’t have a new exhibit. Here’s my take:

Tucson is a second-tier city because of its size, Arizona, and the growth of Phoenix. (You’re a scout for a corporation looking to establish an operation in Arizona. Choose Phoenix and it’ll be Dom Perignon and Osetra caviar when you return. Choose Tucson? “Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do!”) If we want new enterprises to give us a gander, we better send a message that we believe in our future, and are prepared to invest in it. If we vote no on the bond issue, why should we expect Corporation X and LLC Y to invest their money in our community?

Summing up, if you live within City of Tucson limits, vote for Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and for the Charter revisions. And if you live in Pima County, whether or not you live within city limits, vote for all of the bond issues.

*I am counsel for Tucson’s January 8th Memorial Foundation, which will receive money if Proposition 427 passes. Aside from creating a memorial for the horrific events of January 8, 2011, the bond money will be spent to rejuvenate the 1928 Place and Place Pima County Courthouse, as well as Presidio Park and Sunset Park. These parks are downtown, just north of the Pima County Superior Court. They’re 1960s vintage, full of very, very tired concrete and not much else.

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