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INTERSTATE HIGH JINKS

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Carothers has an impressive list of credentials. He was also hired by Del Webb to make his assessment.

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@body:Del Webb spokesman Plonski says Bilbray and other Nevada delegation members refused to negotiate with Del Webb, so the corporation turned to the Arizona delegation, its parochial representatives in Congress.

Del Webb's strategy was to push a compromise through the House Natural Resources Committee's subcommittee on public lands, which also constituted the first hurdle for Bilbray's preserve-expansion bill. Karan English, a member of the subcommittee, was asked by Del Webb to negotiate a compromise on Bilbray's bill. English's press secretary, Matt Stout, says his boss helped "hash out" the compromise, which would have excluded the 2,900 acres from the preserve for two years, allowing time to study the land. If it were deemed unfit for the preserve, the land would go on the auction block.

Don Moon, a Prescott-based lobbyist hired by Del Webb as the company's point man in Washington, D.C., asked the Arizona delegation to lobby members of the subcommittee on the issue. He also hired Jim McNulty, a former Democratic congressman from Tucson, to help.

"We talked to everyone in the [Arizona] delegation and presented our story, and there's really no one--Republican or Democrat--in the delegation that hasn't done at least something to try to assist us in getting this thing decided out in the open in Nevada," Moon says.

Indeed, that appears to be the case--or close to it. Bilbray says he was lobbied personally by Kyl, English and Democratic Representative Ed Pastor. In addition, Kyl and fellow Republican Representatives Bob Stump and Jim Kolbe signed a letter to Representative Jim Hansen of Utah, the ranking Republican on the public-lands subcommittee, urging him to visit the Red Rock site and postpone consideration of the Bilbray bill.

The bill was scheduled to be heard May 3. English had succeeded in drafting her compromise amendment, and it was to be introduced by the subcommittee's chairman. The votes were lined up to pass it.

On the evening of May 2, Bilbray--miserable about the inevitable compromise--withdrew his bill from consideration.

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@body:Meanwhile, a panel of the House Armed Services Committee--on which both Kyl and Bilbray sit--met the morning of May 3.

Kyl admits he didn't know Bilbray had pulled his Red Rock bill, but denies that his vote on the solar project was in any way related to the Del Webb issue. In fact, he says, he was on Bilbray's side on the solar-research bill, which aimed to do something new and constructive on a nuclear testing site in Nevada that is making a transition from wartime to peacetime operations. Kyl says he supported measures to retain reasonable levels of funding for the facility and to study the feasibility of developing solar power there.

But when Bilbray asked the panel to allocate $6 million next year toward construction of a $60 million solar facility at the nuclear test site, Kyl used his own vote--and two proxy votes from absent Republican panel members--to kill the allocation. Kyl says he did so for two reasons: First, he says, he thought the facility was premature; wasn't the feasibility study supposed to research such options? Second, he and other panel members told Bilbray to get a waiver from other committees with jurisdiction in the solar field before money could be authorized for construction.

"At least two or three of us, including me, said we will be happy to reconsider this if [Bilbray] can get the waiver and make the case," Kyl says.

The measure died, and Kyl thought little of it. "Then I see an editorial [in a Las Vegas newspaper] in which he [Bilbray] says that the reason he didn't get the $6 million was the Arizona delegation was playing games with him," Kyl says. "In my opinion, he [Bilbray] has to have some cover for the fact that he failed to get the [solar] money. And it's too complicated to explain that two other committees had jurisdiction and he couldn't get them to waive jurisdiction, which was probably never possible in the first place, so he probably shouldn't have gone out and said he was going to get the money."

The House Science and Technology Committee subsequently refused to grant Bilbray a waiver.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.