Rimsza Job

Skippy to Phoenix: "It's All Good"

Here's what else was accomplished by Rimsza and the City of Phoenix, according to Rimsza, and in his own words:

"We made a trade visit to our sister city in Hermosillo, Sonora, and subsequently hosted them for a business symposium, right here in Phoenix. Now hundreds of business people on both sides of the border have a better understanding of how to expand their markets and ours and make NAFTA work to everyone's advantage."

The original draft probably read "every multinational corporation's advantage," before Rimsza remembered it was a Chamber of Commerce crowd, so "everyone" would suffice.

"We backlit every single street sign at every single intersection in Phoenix using smart technology that keeps the lights lit. No burnt-out light bulbs in this city, ever!"

Hurrah!

"We approved the largest destination resort and conference center in the Southwest: Desert Ridge Marriott."

Get busy, go Skippy!

"We broke ground on the new Phelps Dodge headquarters, making them the first business to leave downtown, and then come home."

See previous downtown question.

"We eliminated a hotbed for crime called the Rainbow Market, and made way for real economic investment. Last month, the Legacy Golf Club hosted the LPGA [and] the Phoenix Thunderbirds bought the Thunderbirds Golf Course . . ."

Look into my eyes and repeat after me: "Golf equals money. Money equals golf."

"In the past 12 months, the Arizona Diamondbacks reached postseason play faster than any expansion team in history. And, ladies and gentlemen, KJ's back."

Hey, who's running this town: Mayor Rimsza, or Jerry Colangelo?

Sorry, stupid question.

"We were successful in honoring the memory of Shannon Smith by increasing the penalties with our partners at the state for the criminal stupidity of firing guns randomly into the air. For those who continue such deadly nonsense, we're going to install sophisticated equipment to allow us to pinpoint the exact location from which these shots are fired, using the science of triangulation."

Note the transition from a recap of the glorious recent past to plans for the future.

Rimsza proceeded to announce plans for the City of Phoenix to launch its first major bond program since 1988 to fund infrastructure improvements which have yet to be specified, and to "high-tech the police department."

(Regarding that "science of triangulation": Anyone who believes random gunfire in Phoenix is a problem should visit south central Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, when it virtually rains lead. The city leaders of L.A. installed a system of sonic monitors similar to the one Rimsza loosely proposed, and while it was highly successful in pinpointing the location of the source of a sound, it was unable to distinguish between a gunshot and, say, a firecracker or a backfire.)

The pièce de résistance of Rimsza's address, though, the One Big Thing he said he wants to get done in the next 12 months, is to clean up democracy on a local level by ridding it of the scourge of "those who manipulate the system for profit, who are not motivated by philosophy, but cold, hard cash."

Would that be lobbyists?

"I'm talking about paid petition circulators."

Oh. Guess not.

(In case you don't know, a paid petition circulator is someone who gathers signatures of registered voters for a company that's been hired to get enough signatures to put an initiative or referendum on the ballot. Typically, these circulators are contract employees paid on a per-signature basis by a management firm.)

Rimsza hardly forged a new battleground with his call to arms. Paid signature gathering has become a necessary evil of modern democracy, akin to raising campaign money. And just as there is a movement for campaign finance reform, there is a growing chorus of voices crying out against paid petition circulators, led by Washington Post political reporter David Broder, author of the new book Democracy Derailed: Initiative Campaigns and the Power of Money.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Broder was in Phoenix last week promoting his book. (For a more comprehensive discussion of Broder's opinions and the controversy over campaign initiatives, I recommend you check out Amy Silverman's excellent profile of Derrick Lee, the go-to guy in Arizona for any individual or group looking to purchase thousands of signatures; Silverman's story, "Autograph Hound," appeared in the April 13 issue of New Times.)

Back to Rimsza:

"This fundamentally brilliant tool of the people, for the people and by the people for their common good has evolved into a bought and paid-for expense for special interests and their selfish greed. . . . My proposal is to make this process pure again by simply eliminating paid petition circulators."

The Arizona Republic quickly hopped aboard the Rimsza Reform Express, with an editorial the next day headlined "A Call for Pure Initiatives/Rimsza builds compelling case."

One problem: Last January, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a State of Colorado law that required paid petition circulators to wear badges identifying them as such. The ruling was based largely on the First Amendment. Free speech and whatnot.

Consider this: The Colorado law was enacted by a state government, and sought only to require petition circulators to wear ID badges. Rimsza's proposing that a municipal government attempt to outlaw the practice entirely. This would be taking a page from the "How to Waste Taxpayer Money With Doomed Legislation" book of government.

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