City & Local Reform

It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning.

<p>It turns out that you can fight town hall. Here’s how we’re standing up for local citizens and winning. </p>

We were a bunch of grumpy scofflaws, sitting in a defensive-driving class, nerves still raw over being caught in some act of traffic illegality.

So, when the topic of red-light cameras came up, the reaction was predictable - viscerally negative.

But this is not a reaction confined to just folks already caught in the act. Many others have raised serious privacy issues.

And I have to admit. I don't get it.

Phoenix's recent crime wave has put public safety in the headlines. As our police force works to make our streets safer, we should study ways to improve public safety.

A good place to start is with successful crime-fighting models like New York. Using hands-on leadership and statistics-driven deployment, New York's finest took back the streets. Since 1990, the murder rate has dropped 75 percent and rape, robbery and assaults have been halved.

Once the inspiration for Batman's Gotham City, New York is now the safest big city in America.

On May 1, the Arizona Republic reported, "state lawmakers will consider a $300 million request from Phoenix to help pay for...Civic Plaza expansion." But the entire Phoenix Civic Plaza hullabaloo may be a case of putting the cart before the horse.

Calls to expand the Civic Plaza can be traced back to a 1999 study commissioned by the city to examine the civic center's economic impact. Ironically named "Conventional Wisdom," the study found that the "PCP ranks very low," in terms of "hotel room supply within five blocks, and number of retail establishments within one mile."

En un escrito reciente, un columnista de la Arizona Republic argumentó que los opositores a la expansión de la Phoenix Civic Plaza y a la construcción de laboratorios en las universidades, carecen de la visión que tuvieron los gigantes polí­ticos del pasado de Arizona, como Carl Hayden y John Rhodes. Segón el escritor, "Si hubiéramos escuchado a los opositores, California se hubiera apropiado de nuestra agua."

More of Arizona's cities and towns are considering the use of red light cameras. As they inch their way into the intersection of privacy and technology, cities should proceed with caution.

The debate over red light cameras often degenerates into a shouting match between traffic safety mavens and privacy advocates. "Safety first" proponents say driver safety should trump privacy, while "privacy first" proponents say privacy should trump safety. But in this case, both safety and privacy needs can be met.

In a special election set for May 20, 2003, Scottsdale voters will determine whether the city should create a publicly run, municipal fire department, or continue its contract with Rural/Metro Corporation, the private company that has provided Scottsdale's fire service since 1951.

Executive Summary

Phoenix--Today the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of the Goldwater Institute, deciding the $97.4 million taxpayer subsidy given to the developer of the CityNorth shopping mall by the City of Phoenix is unconstitutional.

"Santa got a head start on Christmas this year," said Goldwater Institute litigation director Clint Bolick. "This ruling is an early present for the citizens of Phoenix."

PHOENIX-Seattle's privately-led downtown revitalization project boosted taxable sales 15.8 percent, double the previous average growth rate, and put Seattle at the top of the rankings for retail, dining, and entertainment. One of the nation's most successful redevelopment projects, Seattle's Pacific Place redeveloped three city blocks and created more than one million square feet of new retail space without resorting to eminent domain.