by Gayle Plato
Phoenix rising from the ashes, an image we all know in this town. She is reborn after devastating challenges and rises again, eternal. In spite of bad times and economic downturns, we can depend on our warrior spirit to smartly retreat. Lean down the government costs and funnel any revenue to the most important programs, helping the needy among us. Help schools function, hospitals heal, and citizens be safe from crime. Face the burn of caustic fiscal devastation; Phoenix can rise again from the ashes.
Unless, the Phoenix City Council and a few other supporting municipalities, see everything through the windows of the light rail ride, or the netting of the stimulating jellyfish. Phoenicians make art without honoring the logic and science of the numbers. We are at prime Mayor, and the Fibonacci numbers of this golden strand of reality are on the wall like a gang tag.
I propose the City of Phoenix go back to the drawing board; in light of the severe recession. We need a referendum, City Council to rescind funding the superfluous, and crack the books to scale back. Turn off the light rail today and funnel any of that money including stimulus dollars into buses. It is a Crazy Train of debt, with future growth questionable at best. We need to take every extra dime and focus on the infrastructure that really matters. Finally, we need to demand a change of spending practices; a panel of citizens and politicians must start to oversee all spending of tax dollars. Billions are spent with very little accountability and only a few politicians in charge, and that is a waiting disaster. No Parent Teacher Organization could get away with doing that from a candy bar fund raiser.
I also ask that the 2.4 million dollar expense of the ‘art’, called, Her Secret is Patience, be scrapped if it costs one dime more. With a name only Ralph Waldo Emerson could love; she sounds more like horse running in the fifth and looks more like( I’m sorry but really) a glow-in-the-dark condom. Yet this art is a tad better than the horrifically ugly library near me, Desert Broom- the Big Rusted Tin Roof, or the infamous broken pots on the 51, a.k.a. Piestewa Pottery Barn. At least I can check out a book at the library and get in and out of town on the freeway.
It’s funny, but in truth, there are people who work for the city, getting fired this year while we pay for poorly installed art and light rails to a pancake house. There are thousands of children who could benefit from really good programming not happening or being cut, as we see money funnel into broken toilet bowls and multi-million dollar prophylactics. Let alone the stimulus redistribution of our hard earned wealth. No one is immune from this spending disease.
If my business slumps and I fall behind, I have to face reality. I do not go on spending, and if need be, I make drastic cuts. Anything not necessary is gone, and certain behaviors of business-as-usual discontinued. Families in this Valley are cutting to the bare bone, trying to pay for upside down mortgages, or worrying about rent paid to landlords in foreclosure. None of us wants to see completely irrelevant art, useless transportation, nor wasted future spending on upkeep and improvement. What are many businesses doing? Closing up shop on half of their locations. Schools and hospitals, day care centers, and local parks are shutting down. Yet, we can all ride the rail around if we lose our houses or cars I guess.
According to Valley Metro numbers, the light rail has exceeded expectations, with 34, 000 people per day ridership. Okay, let’s round that up to 35K. That means, if I do my math, dividing up the ridership by the overall cost as published of 1.4 billion (with more to come), each rider could have been given $40,000. That will buy a few decent cars. So those of you riding from the IHOP to the Capitol, would you have rather had a new car? Specifically, how about a Pontiac as I hear they are going outta style soon.
Phoenix is not alone in it’s future going out of business sale. But this bird will not be able to rise from the ashes of a fire sale. We cannot wait until the place goes up in flames as the blindfolded local leadership all lay down in ditches. My secret Mayor Gordon, City Council, my secret is not patience, but prudence.