Putting Globe on the Map

As the gritty old mining town tries to broaden its economic base, residents debate how much of its future lies in its past

"I think the main thing was people felt Globe was being run by people who were doing too many favors for friends and kind of interfering with people who happened to disagree with them," says Ricardo Lucero, who in January began a newsletter lampooning city council proceedings.

Lucero was born in Globe, and spent much of his life teaching in the Valley before retiring to his hometown a few years ago. Some current and former city officials dismiss Lucero's newsletter as "yellow sheet journalism." But some downtowners say his muckraking was generally on the money.

"He was extremely accurate," says Connie Teague. "He basically pointed out that the benefit of the community was taking a back seat to good-ol'-boy politics and the personal desires of those in power.

"What he brought out was how damned absurd it was that our city government was getting away with the crap they were getting away with. It kind of left everybody thinking: These guys don't really need to be in there."

Those loud complaints haven't given Franquero and other city officials much incentive to snuggle up to downtown's old buildings. But even in the best of recent times, the city's attention has been elsewhere.

Like a lot of small towns bypassed by state roads, Globe has been looking to the highway for a future. That's where most of its sales tax revenues come from. And that highlights the dilemma confronting all burgeoning efforts to preserve and awaken old downtowns.

When the bulk of downtown business moved in the 1980s from the mom-and-pop stores on Broad Street to the Wal-Mart and other chain stores out on Route 60, the community and its affections largely went with it. Unlike Flagstaff, Prescott and other towns that have blazed a lucrative trail from old buildings to new money, Globe's downtown hasn't regained its heart. The buildings are pretty, but the people aren't there.

"That's a fact," says newsletter publisher Lucero. "If you want to meet someone you know, you don't go downtown. That's for tourists. You go out to Wal-Mart. That's where you find everyone you know."

So for some old-timers, downtown Globe is just as likely to seem a place of loss as of hope.

"Before, when you went to town," says Councilmember Ernie Lopez, "you'd see that guy you went to school with, or his dad or his grandmother. Now these people come from out of town and you don't even know who they are." He says outsiders aren't an issue in Globe. They're a fact.

"And the really sad part is that aunt of yours and mine that had the little store downtown where you could get your tennies and sporting goods and stuff isn't there any longer. There's a lady from Milwaukee and New Mexico in there. They don't know who I am. And I've been on the council here for 16, 18 years. I'll bet you I could walk in there right now and put a $20 bill in their pocket and no one'll know who I am."

Contact Edward Lebow at his online address: edlebow@newtimes.com

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