In late 2018, the Elliott D. Pollack Company did a startling jobs analysis for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. It showed Tucson largely missed the 8 year recovery of 2010-2018. All told, the Tucson metro contributed only 6.9% in total Arizona growth during that entire period.
Post-coronavirus, it is highly probable the same thing will happen again, inasmuch as there have been few, if any, seminal changes to the Tucson Metro’s economic & political matrix. I deliberately use the term ‘seminal’, because los cosmeticos seems to be the standard response.
What follows are ‘seminal’, in that they aren’t surface changes, and will additionally require lasting, more robust political changes, if the Tucson Metro is going to cease its present destructive path. That being a cycle of reinforcing greater & greater urban weakness in an American Southwest with increasing urban competition.
#1. Reform Tucson’s sclerotic 1929 Charter that allowed for the crazy, hybridized “at-large” council election scheme, and go to Ward-only voting. Numerous whole states have constitutionally abolished these at the local level, many by threat of force from the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department, which has never lost a local “at-large” court contest.
#2. Promote the municipal incorporation of the largest 4-7 CDPs (Census Designated Places) in the Tucson Metro, which are now unincorporated, and are being systematically looted of their own tax money by a grotesque and morbidly cynical Pima County. Pima County is delivering none of the infrastructure, public safety, beautification/maintenance, or planned growth capabilities that standalone cities, with 2-3 CDPs already above 50,000 in population, could do on their own. And without any additional taxes. If it hasn’t become such a running joke, it would be downright pathetic.
#3. Get the Sonoran Corridor 1-10 bypass built around the Metro’s southern-half. A major Coronavirus takeaway will be the greatly stepped-up emphasis on trade & manufacturing with Mexico; also building this bypass will offset the increasing daily parking-lot occurrences of a frequently clogged I-10. Tucson refused to build a cross-town freeway in the 1980’s and is now paying the price for listening to the sinecured elite of academia, out-of-state enviros, and part-time trophy house occupants. Nuts.
#4. Lobby the Arizona legislature to allow the creation of municipal fiber broadband taxing districts, so that Tucson can have a real alternative to the cable cartel’s techno-Frankenstein, 5G wireless. If you thought PimaCo was corrupt now, wait until they do deals everywhere for the thousands (yes, thousands) of additional 5G towers, required by that intensified cellular technology. Numerous whole countries in Europe & Asian have totally banned 5G, in favor of fiber broadband on the basis of the health aspects alone, forgetting the butt-ugly towers everywhere.
None of this will be easy; I’ve tried to simplify it, given the word limit (always a double-edge sword). But for the Tucson elite, who pride themselves on their cognoscenti status and over-achiever qualities, why not take it as a challenge?
Sellers is a South Park Republican who lives in incorporated Oro Valley. His background is federal tech-transfer commercialization.