By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The Bird's nested in Phoenix long enough to know that this place has its share of shady, self-important, half-witted yokels. Even so, it's still occasionally surprised by how Mayberry this backward burg can be.
Take our fearful leaders' recent response to a city council vote that will allow Donald Trump and building partner the Bayrock Group to erect a massive condominium hotel on East Camelback Road in the city's posh Biltmore district -- please.
No less than Mayor Phil "No Elevators Please, We're Phoenix!" Gordon, Vice Mayor Mike "I Luv District 8" Johnson and Councilman Tom "Which One's the Girl?" Simplot voted against a zoning change that will allow tall buildings (the kind that most real cities have) to tower over the modest, mid-century brick homes in the adjacent Brentwood Estates.
Surprise! These anti-evolutionists lost 5-4, and have been backpedaling ever since, blabbing the sort of let's-come-together-as-a-community double-talk that only the mother of a politician could love.
Councilman Greg "Conflict of Interest? What Conflict of Interest?" Stanton, who represents the district where Trump plans to tower and who also voted against the zoning change, has spent the past couple of weeks hogging airtime on every TV and radio show that will have him, bemoaning the loss of Biltmore flatlands and whining about allegations that he was ineligible to vote on the rezoning request because his attorney wife, Nicole French Stanton, works for the firm representing two different creditors involved in the project.
Among The Bird's favorite quotes from Stanton on the subject: "My job is to do my job," which this extended middle finger takes to mean that Stanton's job is not, therefore, to make much fucking sense.
Too bad Trump can't herd this quartet of City Hall Gomers into a boardroom and fire their asses with a flick of his manicured fingers. Or worse.
Stanton and the other political clowns are, needless to say, backed by the usual sticky clump of armchair activists with too much time on their hands and a burning desire to keep progress at bay. What's really amused The Bird is how these neighborhood chumps believe that because New Times is an alternative paper, the likes of this taloned columnist will of course be against The Man, even when doing so is insane.
The only thing more embarrassing than the blustery bullshit of these Neanderthals is the, uh, bird-brained acronyms they've created for their various PACs and pity parties.
There's PROTECT, which stands for People Restoring Our Totally Endangered City Trust but should instead stand for Pigheaded Reprobates Obscuring Trump's Endless Cash Train. This is the PAC formed to file an initiative action requiring a public vote if building heights are to be excessively increased, as were The Donald's when he submitted plans for a 150-foot high-rise in a neighborhood where the limit was half that height -- because God forbid anything should obscure our view of the Bamboo Club or that glorious pile of dirt formerly known as Squaw Peak.
And then there's P-Oed, a group of crybabies whose name stands for People Organized Exercising Democracy but would be more accurate if it stood for Pissing on Every Development or maybe even Phoenicians Only Express Dimwittedness. P-Oed hopes to (dare I say?) trump the city council's pro-Donald vote and take it to a citywide ballot in March. Both PACs are commandeered by Paul "Squatters' Rights!" Barnes, president of the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, from whom we last heard when he got behind an Arizona House of Representatives bill banning government-sponsored day-labor centers. Because the only thing worse than a tall building in the middle of a big city is a bunch of Mexicans hanging out in front of Lowe's, looking for work.
"We'll need to collect about 13,000 signatures in a month to get this thing on the ballot," Barnes says about the would-be anti-Trump initiative, "and raise $130,000 to pay signature-gatherers."
And maybe after that, Barnes and his pals can purée a camel and cure cancer and suck the mildew out of New Orleans.
But please, guys, not before you do everything you can to ensure that Phoenix doesn't become one of those cities that actually grows and changes and remains (or, in our case, becomes) viable by adding upscale housing to one of its core shopping, dining and business neighborhoods. Please make sure you prevent city planners from increasing the density in our existing urban core, thereby forcing a more rapid consumption of the surrounding pristine desert.
And please, whatever you do, ignore those reports that say that -- no matter how hard we try to scare them off with news about our brain-dead sheriff and our profoundly insufferable summer weather -- three millionpeople will move to the Phoenix area over the next two decades.
Because what we really want is for our city to remain a small town for as long as we can force it to. Right?
Talon of the Law
The Bird was never so happy to have talons as when it heard about Sheriff Joe "Gimme Gimme Head(lines)" Arpaio's latest outrage.
Seems the scariest sheriff in America's run out of ways to fuck with the electorate and, in his endless hunt for publicity, has decided that all motorists pulled over for "criminal" traffic violations -- like driving drunk, drag racing or failing to stop for a school bus -- will be fingerprinted.