LAND OF THE FREE-FOR-ALL

WITH PROPOSITION 300--THE PRIVATE-PROPERTY-RIGHTS MEASURE--ARIZONA ONCE AGAIN BECOMES A BATTLEGROUND FOR A NATIONAL RIGHT-WING CRUSADE

Sara Goertzen, director of the Department of Commerce; Jerry Holt, commissioner of the Department of Real Estate; and M. Jean Hassell, state land commissioner, have come out publicly in support of Proposition 300.

Attorney General Grant Woods is also keeping quiet, according to his office.

It seems that Ken Travous, state parks director, is the only one steadfast in his opposition--and willing to admit it publicly, although he qualifies his statement by saying this is his personal feeling and does not reflect the view of his board, which hasn't come out one way or another. In 1992, Travous testified that the bill wasn't necessary; he still feels that way.

"It's kind of like beating up the bully's little brother. They're mad at the federal government, but they're regulating us," he says of the Proposition 300 supporters.

According to the Arizonans for Community Protection's contributor list, Travous isn't the only state employee who opposes Proposition 300. A manager at the Department of Health Services, a meteorologist at Commerce and a habitat specialist at Game and Fish all made small donations. David Bartlett, chief counsel for the attorney general's civil rights office, forked over $100.

Bartlett, a Tucson Democrat, was the state Senate majority whip at the time the law passed in 1992. "I was opposed to it then and I'm opposed to it now," he says. And he doesn't fear for his job. "The attorney general does not put political pressure on people in the office about their politics." Most supporters of Proposition 300 consider themselves friends of the environment. They have trouble convincing the opposition of that, however. And sometimes they get defensive.

At a recent meeting of the Arizona Travel Industry Association, David Johns represented Arizonans for Private Property Rights while Jeff Bouma spoke for the Arizonans for Community Protection. Unfortunately, as he explained to those assembled, Johns had a conflicting engagement, so he couldn't stick around to debate. He spoke briefly about the general themes of Proposition 300, and on the way out, someone asked what he did for a living. Johns answered that he's a developer and builder, and before another word was said, he spewed, "Don't give me the environmentalist crap." He's won four environmental awards for his developments, Johns said, his face flushed with anger, then left.

(For the record, Bouma is an attorney who represents both sides--the polluters and the pollutees--on environmental issues.)

Then there's Linda McClure, campaign director for Arizonans for Private Property Rights, who was booted from the board of the Arizona Wildlife Federation after she spoke on behalf of Proposition 300 at a realtors' meeting. During that talk, she mentioned her affiliation with the federation as proof that environmentalists do support the referendum. The only problem is, the Arizona Wildlife Federation publicly opposes Proposition 300.

McClure received a terse letter from Thomas J. Dougherty, Western regional staff director for the National Wildlife Federation, who wrote, ". . . please do not impersonate a conservationist when your mission is to disembowel the safeguards for which we've struggled."

She still doesn't understand what she did wrong.
Killian uses his Eagle Scout project--he built a shelter for deer on the family ranch in Colorado--as evidence of his bond with the environment. But the most memorable statement of environmental fondness from a Proposition 300 supporter came from the governor himself, who has sacrificed his own skin for his love of the outdoors. On the occasion of signing SB 1053 into law, Symington wrote to then-Senate president Pete Rios, a Phoenix Democrat: "I am a man of the outdoors. My most contented moments on this Earth will always come casting a fly on a still, blue lake or paddling a canoe miles down a flowing river. I have the carcinoma to prove it."

Then there are the people Killian calls "professional environmentalists"--the ones who actually expect the government to enforce the Endangered Species Act; the ones who oppose measures like Proposition 300. He paints them with a broad brush:

"I've read things that some of the more radical environmentalists have said--a lot of them don't believe in capitalism--they think socialism is the way to go. So I'd have to say, I guess that's where they're coming from," Killian says. Killian eschews radical Wise Users, too. One such group, the Sahara Club, which has denounced homosexual-rights groups, vegetarians, animal-rights activists and the Sierra Club, wrote to its members: "It's much like a burglar breaking into your home, demanding that you give him your TV, VCR, stereo and CD collection. After some argument, he agrees to take only your TV and let the rest of the stuff stay. And, like the burglar who knows a soft touch, the ABC [environmental] group will be back at a later time, making more demands. Asking for more of the desert. Trying to save more of the land from the public, not for the public." Actually, one of Killian's analogies sounds eerily similar: "If we decided that we needed to clothe all the homeless in Phoenix, and Linda Blessing, who's the director of DES [Department of Economic Security], took a van over to Dillard's, pulled up to the door and said, 'I'm taking all the clothes outta here to clothe the homeless; oh, by the way, we're not gonna pay you for 'em. It's a general public purpose. These people aren't clothed, they're cold, you've got winter coming up.' Why, they'd call the police, arrest her for stealing."

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