Kyl doesn't deny that the Del Webb matter was on his mind that morning. He was unaware that the public-lands issue was--for the time being--a moot point.
"I didn't even know that he [Bilbray] had pulled his bill. I knew nothing about it," Kyl says. "In fact, I had written him a note before the meeting, asking him what he was gonna do on that bill. He never got back to me on it."
Of Kyl's vote on the solar project, Bilbray says: "There was absolutely no reason that Jon Kyl would have done that except to use it as a wedge with me on this [2,900-acre] site. I knew it, I was mad, and of course I stormed out of committee the minute the votes were over and unleashed a fury against Del Webb, which I felt had instigated this whole thing.
"Jon and I have been friends, we came into Congress together and I understand the game he was playing. You know, I didn't come in on a cabbage truck from Salinas. I understand what's going on."
@body:Bilbray's solar-development project died. The future of the 93,000 acres at Red Rock is uncertain. Del Webb lobbyists were back in Washington, D.C., last week, meeting with Arizona delegation members. And Del Webb ran a full-page ad in the May 22 Las Vegas Review-Journal. The ad addresses the public-lands issue and defends Kyl's vote on the solar project. The company complains that the truth has been distorted, quoting Mark Twain: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."
Bilbray has the option of requesting that the public-lands subcommittee hear his Red Rock bill, but it's possible that English's compromise will be approved and that the 2,900 acres will be excluded. Even if the bill makes it out of the subcommittee without such a compromise, it could be amended at another point.
If that happens, it will be, in large part, because of the efforts of Arizona lawmakers. And Bilbray says that's what has him so upset.
"I have never seen an out-of-state delegation go to bat for a corporation that's based in their state involving environmental land in another state," Bilbray says. "We've never done it to Arizona, we've never done it with Utah, Montana, even though there may be Nevada developers involved in those areas."
On that point, David Steele, who formerly handled public-lands issues as an aide to U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, agrees. "The way Western congressional delegation members have dealt with public-lands issues is if the state delegation is in agreement on the issue, other members just don't get involved in it from outside the state," he says.