By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The council completed its capitulation to Cohn last week by adopting an ordinance that mirrors his initiative. But Cohn's measure is still headed for the March 13 ballot, where voters can codify it as part of the city charter, preventing the council from rescinding it. (City voters will also act on a $700 million bond program in March, an event that has city hirelings convening committees and feigning fascination with the Will of the People. But that's a separate column.)
Some city staffers have suggested that the city simply build a hotel itself, though the political perils attached to such an effort are probably too foreboding even for the brash apparatchiks running City Hall.
In any case, until the Civic Plaza is expanded, Cohn says, "There isn't a market for a third hotel in downtown Phoenix, whether they figure out a way to do it legally or not."
Did I mention that Cohn was offered a bribe by a developer who claimed to be speaking on behalf of city management?
The Civic Plaza expansion project is bogged down. This is not necessarily bad news for your wallet, since city managers want to spend copiously -- possibly $800 million -- to prop up the hospitality industry. The city had planned to include the Civic Plaza expansion question on the March ballot, but the convention center vote has now been pushed back until September.
Perhaps not coincidentally, a city-commissioned poll taken two months ago showed voter support for a costly expansion to be dismal.
City Hall was counting on a big contribution from the state to help with the cost of razing the Civic Plaza and building another twice its size. However, the alt-fuel fiasco has Capitol officials frantically bailing red ink. The state, usually stingy, is now very cranky. Legislators are certain to be gun shy about new appropriations next session.
The city's vaunted effort to stymie gang activity in a neighborhood near downtown was shot down in court. The city asked a judge to impose a civil injunction against 14 alleged members of the Las Cuatro Milpas gang, prohibiting the members from associating in their neighborhood. It would have outlawed the reputed gangsters from congregating in public view and doing other things not normally considered criminal.
The city scored a big victory in March when it finally convinced Phoenicians to ante up -- to the tune of $4.8 billion -- for a coherent mass-transit system. As it turns out, coherence was a rumor. Last month, when the city council established the light-rail route for downtown and points east, it bypassed Sky Harbor International Airport, where each day 25,000 people go to work, 100,000 get on or off a plane and another 100,000 people go to meet and greet them. Instead, the council chose to build the rail line along Jefferson Street. One estimate for daily ridership on the entire light-rail system is only 20,300. The city could potentially double usage of the system with a light-rail stop at Terminal 4.
This displays an astonishing lack of vision and/or common sense.
Why am I not surprised?