IMPACT STUDYYou know how last week, we talked about how Republicans Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar borrowed $20 million to repave our major streets? Ronstadt and Dunbar said they'd done the right thing because the streets had been long neglected; by borrowing the money, they could beat inflationary costs of waiting to do repairs.
Democrats Nina Trasoff, who hopes to unseat Ronstadt in Ward 6, and Karin Uhlich, who is gunning for Dunbar in Ward 3, sidestepped the question when we asked what they would have done if they'd been faced with the same question, although Uhlich said she would have used impact fees to pay for some of the work.
Turns out that the magic of impact fees might not work after all, if you believe Tucson Transportation Director Jim Glock. (Who--c'mon--oughta know, right?) We finally caught up with Glock and asked him how much of the recent street repairs could have been done with impact fees. His answer: None.
As Glock explains it, impact fees are only for capacity improvements, not for resurfacing.
Uhlich says her own research suggests that impact fees could have paid for the work. She says city staff is "just not familiar" with the law.
SMOKE AND MIRRORSDemocrat Nina Trasoff unveiled a new tax idea earlier this week during an Arizona Illustrated debate with Republican Fred Ronstadt: Balance the budget on the backs of smokers and drinkers.
Trasoff has been juggling figures throughout the campaign season as she's tried to explain how she can get rid of the city's $14-a-month garbage fee. Trasoff sees this relatively straightforward fee that's charged in other cities across the country as a conspiracy to fool Tucsonans into funding police and fire services through a "shell game."
Trasoff has suggested a variety of plans over the course of the campaign, including higher impact fees (a swell idea, but impact fees can only pay for infrastructure, not salaries); downsizing nonessential city staff (although she's not sure which staff members are nonessential) and a possible community-services tax that the council lacks the authority to implement. Her latest idea: a new "luxury tax" on cigarettes and alcohol that would require legislative approval.
Nina is still sketchy on the details of how much the tax would be or how much it could bring in, which would "depend on how it was structured." She says she hasn't yet talked to any lawmakers about whether they'd sponsor such a plan, but says she believes it's possible to lead a groundswell with other cities across the state.
"To not make an attempt to do this would be foolish," she says.
One local Republican lawmaker expressed skepticism that such a plan had much hope at the Legislature.
"While I'm sure the League of Cities and Towns would love to spend their political capital on such a suicide mission, it's too bad she didn't talk to me or her fellow Democrats, because we could have told her that Mesa and Gilbert Republicans would be more likely to name the new State and Archives Building after Dennis Kucinich than to create such a ridiculous tax," says state Rep. Jonathan Paton, who represents eastern Tucson, Green Valley and Sierra Vista. "She seems to have confused the East Valley with Sam Hughes."
THE BUCKS STOP HEREWe've picked up the final campaign finance reports before next week's election--and it appears that Republicans Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt may have blundered by not going with matching funds.
As of Oct. 19, Dunbar had raised just $89,115--which is barely more than the $85,000 or so that candidates who participate in the matching-funds program get. Ronstadt had raised only $81,340, which is less than he would have had through the city's program, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match of privately raised dollars for qualifying candidates.
We know the Republicans say they sidestepped the program on principle (though we can't help but suspect they thought they'd raise more money). But their message--that the campaign program saps the general fund--didn't get out nearly as successfully as the Democrats' message that the GOP candidates were bought and paid for by special interests. Some of that criticism could have been muted by using the matching-funds program--and the Republicans would have been done fundraising months ago.
Of course, it could be that tens of thousands of dollars have been pouring in since the end of the reporting period, but we kinda doubt it.
FINAL CURTAINStill need to get a look at the City Council candidates? Your public-access stations are showing all kinds of forums.
The morning daily's candidate forum is airing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, through Monday, Nov. 7. The Tucson Citizen's endorsement interviews can be seen Friday at noon, Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 11 p.m. And Government Connection, made in conjunction with the League of Women Voters, will show Saturday at 3:30 p.m., Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and Monday at 10 p.m. It's all on Channel 74 on Comcast and 99 on Cox.
Remember: You have to take a drink every time a Democrat says "values" or "special interests" or whenever Fred Ronstadt says Nina Trasoff doesn't have a plan.
CANDIDATE SHUFFLEEven as our little City Council campaigns draw to a close, the action on next year's governor's race continues to simmer. Jan Smith Flores, a former Santa Cruz county attorney, announced she was joining the field for the GOP nomination, which now includes John Greene, a former state senator, and Don Goldwater, the nephew of the legendary Barry Goldwater.
Greene is working hard to torpedo the entrance of another possible Republican contender, Mary Peters, the former director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Greene says that Peters lived for the last couple of years in Virginia while working for the Bush administration, so she's ineligible, because state law requires candidates to have been Arizona residents for the last five years.
The latest poll from Phoenix PBS affiliate KAET-TV shows that Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano still enjoys solid support from voters. In a survey 385 registered voters, 60 percent said they'd vote to re-elect Napolitano (including 39 percent of Republicans surveyed), compared to 23 percent who said they wouldn't support her. Asked who'd they'd vote for in a specific match-up, 58 percent said they'd vote for Napolitano, while 16 percent said they'd vote for Greene; Goldwater did a little better, with 22 percent saying they'd vote for him, while 54 percent said they'd vote for Janet.
The same poll had Sen. Jon Kyl with a big lead over Democrat Jim Pederson, the shopping-center developer and former Democratic Party boss who wants to challenge the incumbent Republican next year. Half the voters surveyed said they'd support Kyl, while just 28 percent said they'd support Pederson.
The poll showed that 51 percent of the voters disapproved of the job President George W. Bush is doing, while 45 percent agreed with him. Half of those surveyed said the Iraq War was the reason Bush's numbers are low.