Funky Fife Facts of the Week
Governor J. Fife Symington III placed widely different values on his development projects, depending on whether he was seeking a loan (high, banker-friendly values) or was paying property taxes (low, tax-reducing valuations). Below are the values Symington claimed at the Maricopa County property-tax office for 1990, and the values he put on the same properties when applying for a $10 million pension fund loan for his Mercado development the same year. The values are in millions of very elastic dollars.

Verde Valley Cover-up?
What do you do with a toxic mining-waste dump that's releasing metals and dangerous chemicals into the Verde River, an adjacent pond in a state park, and an aquifer?

Clean it up, maybe?
Not if you're Phelps Dodge Corporation, the nation's largest copper producer. The Phoenix-based, Fortune 500 company has convinced the state Department of Environmental Quality that it has a far better idea, one that would be good for economic development in the Verde Valley towns of Cottonwood and Clarkdale.

Phelps Dodge wants to simply cover the toxic mess created by its closed Clarkdale smelter with a thin, rubber sheath that has a 20-year life span, then add a little dirt.

On top of the dirt, Phelps Dodge wants to build more than 1,700 homes and, of course, an 18-hole golf course.

DEQ thinks the transition from hazardous-waste site to gated community is a swell idea and has issued an "aquifer protection permit," which allows Phelps Dodge to move ahead.

Environmentalists are screaming that covering up the waste site doesn't equate to cleaning it up. They also contend the 250,000 gallons of treated wastewater needed to water the golf course each day will speed up leaching of toxins from the dump and threaten the aquifer beneath.The Land and Water Fund, an Idaho-based legal-aid group, has asked the state's Water Quality Appeals Board to overturn the DEQ groundwater permit.

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