by Dan Gibson
As a helpful service to the readers of the Arizona Daily Star (and to the Star itself, so they don't have to waste the column space), occasionally we will provide a space on The Range to cover corrections that need to be made to one of their stories. No judgment, we all make mistakes in this crazy business. We just want to get the correct information out there. The first installment isn't a correction, per se, but a bit of clarification.
First up, Josh Brodesky's column on Sunday complaining about how expensive eight artsy shelters for the forthcoming downtown streetcar project will be. Brodesky, always thinking of the little guy, was upset because Tucson "can't afford to put bus shelters on the streets for people who actually need public transit" and "lets young mothers bake in the sun, and elderly riders soak in the rain."
While as a bus rider, I am sympathetic to the plight of my fellow passengers, Brodesky aptly mentioned that these shelters are part of a city requirement to spend 1% of capital projects on public art from the project's budget. It makes sense that Brodesky might be upset by the very nature of the stipulation passed in 2006, but that's a separate issue from the streetcar project that would need to be revisited by a vote of the City Council. You're going to need shelters, and the city is require to get some art of the deal, so why not make the shelters art? Put a bird on it, as it were.
Also, while Brodesky was concerned by the city spending "$590,000 for eight shelter stops that have yet to be designed", as Councilman Steve Kozachik's newsletter today mentions, there will be an extensive vetting process to ensure that none of the art pieces will be "chosen sight unseen." Plus, while there will be more than eight stops on the route, and not enough artsy stations to cover all seventeen stops, even that came from a logical place that Brodesky seemingly wasn't aware of. As Councilman Kozachik put it, the decision was made "because the stops are located very close to one another and the decision was made to enhance those locations anticipated to have the heaviest traffic." Can't just put fancy stops everywhere, makes more sense to spread them out, right?
To summarize, we get it. After the Rio Nuevo debacle, any seemingly absurdist city spending sends us into a fit of outrage too, but it's important when you're writing articles for the front page of a newspaper to make sure you're getting mad over the right things, or even that which can actually be changed.