Got a call from a pal who works for the city of Maricopa, you know, that wildly overbuilt burg about 15 miles off Interstate 10 down in Pinal County.
He told us that a British newspaper was reporting that the city of about 40,000 was about to "shut down" because of the ongoing economic crunch.
Our friend said he was scratching his head because things seem to be going fine, despite the crazy number of foreclosures inside city limits, plus belt-tightening that has become the norm for all Valley governments.
He hadn't actually read the piece said to be in the British paper but said it was the talk of the town.
Could we help him find it, being that we, too, are part of "the media?"
We did, in the Daily Mail, a popular tabloid out of London that yesterday led with the story of a law student jailed after making up a rape allegation because she was ashamed of failing at the university.
Click here for the yarn.
Here's the first sentence: "As birthday presents go, it was the last thing residents of a tiny town would have wanted. But authorities are planning to shut down Maricopa, Arizona, after the thousands of people who worked in the nearby oil fields dwindled to just 1,154."
Wait a tic, as Austin Powers once said.
A scattering of people people left?
And what was that about "birthday presents?"
The latter was referring to Maricopa's alleged incorporation in 1911, a century ago. Hell, we know that it was 2003 when Maricopa officially was born as a city -- that would be just eight short years ago.
The un-bylined story was accompanied by a photo of a street sign that said, "Its time Maricopa! Together we can save our town."
A city administrator was quoted as saying she had seen a place that "once was home to the world's biggest [oil] gusher decline from a boomtown to a ghostown.
"I believe Maricopa has a vision for the future," the woman said.
The comments at the bottom of the story told it all.
"Could this be Maricopa, California?" one reader asked.
Another commenter wrote, "Big mistake, people. I laughed when I first read this article. Oil fields? In Arizona? Geologically impossible."
And, finally, from Mike: "This story is so screwy it's unreal! Nothing of the sort is happening here. I live here!"
We did a little homework, and learned in about one minute that the California version of Maricopa is in Kern County, up near Bakersfield. It is in big trouble financially.
Our Maricopa has its issues, too, but shutting down for business isn't one of them.
We called our friend to reassure him that the Daily Mail just made a stupid mistake.
"I guess you can't believe everything you read, can you?" he asked.
We took that as a rhetorical question.
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