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LAND OF THE FREE-FOR-ALL

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Then there's Linda McClure, campaign director for Arizonans for Private Property Rights, who was booted from the board of the Arizona Wildlife Federation after she spoke on behalf of Proposition 300 at a realtors' meeting. During that talk, she mentioned her affiliation with the federation as proof that environmentalists do support the referendum. The only problem is, the Arizona Wildlife Federation publicly opposes Proposition 300.

McClure received a terse letter from Thomas J. Dougherty, Western regional staff director for the National Wildlife Federation, who wrote, ". . . please do not impersonate a conservationist when your mission is to disembowel the safeguards for which we've struggled."

She still doesn't understand what she did wrong.
Killian uses his Eagle Scout project--he built a shelter for deer on the family ranch in Colorado--as evidence of his bond with the environment. But the most memorable statement of environmental fondness from a Proposition 300 supporter came from the governor himself, who has sacrificed his own skin for his love of the outdoors. On the occasion of signing SB 1053 into law, Symington wrote to then-Senate president Pete Rios, a Phoenix Democrat: "I am a man of the outdoors. My most contented moments on this Earth will always come casting a fly on a still, blue lake or paddling a canoe miles down a flowing river. I have the carcinoma to prove it."

Then there are the people Killian calls "professional environmentalists"--the ones who actually expect the government to enforce the Endangered Species Act; the ones who oppose measures like Proposition 300. He paints them with a broad brush:

"I've read things that some of the more radical environmentalists have said--a lot of them don't believe in capitalism--they think socialism is the way to go. So I'd have to say, I guess that's where they're coming from," Killian says. Killian eschews radical Wise Users, too. One such group, the Sahara Club, which has denounced homosexual-rights groups, vegetarians, animal-rights activists and the Sierra Club, wrote to its members: "It's much like a burglar breaking into your home, demanding that you give him your TV, VCR, stereo and CD collection. After some argument, he agrees to take only your TV and let the rest of the stuff stay. And, like the burglar who knows a soft touch, the ABC [environmental] group will be back at a later time, making more demands. Asking for more of the desert. Trying to save more of the land from the public, not for the public." Actually, one of Killian's analogies sounds eerily similar: "If we decided that we needed to clothe all the homeless in Phoenix, and Linda Blessing, who's the director of DES [Department of Economic Security], took a van over to Dillard's, pulled up to the door and said, 'I'm taking all the clothes outta here to clothe the homeless; oh, by the way, we're not gonna pay you for 'em. It's a general public purpose. These people aren't clothed, they're cold, you've got winter coming up.' Why, they'd call the police, arrest her for stealing."

Don't get Killian wrong. He's not opposed to cleaning up the environment. Just don't ask the person who owns the property--who's messing it up--to foot the bill.

He says, "What it boils down to is, no one is arguing against the protection of endangered species or the protection of wetlands, but the argument is who should pay."

When he talks about Proposition 300, Mark Killian forgets nonenvironmental organizations that oppose the measure, groups like the Arizona Public Health Association, Arizona Consumers' Council, Arizona Association of University Women, Arizona Preservation Foundation, Arizona Archaeological Council and Arizona Common Cause.

The debate over Symington's vouchers was suffused with questions about the separation of church and state. Should children be allowed to use taxpayer money to pay tuition at a parochial school? Many folks who didn't mind the concept of vouchers did mind that. So they didn't support vouchers.

The same holds true here, where organizations that have little to do with environmental protection strongly oppose Proposition 300. They argue that the bill is so poorly written that it could lead to everything from the destruction of historic buildings to serious threats to public health and safety.

For example, the opposition claims, if the state passed a law decreasing the staff-to-child ratio at day-care centers, a day-care-center operator could claim a government taking had occurred, because he or she would see a decline in revenue. Killian disagrees. "The Fifth Amendment doesn't guarantee you highest and best use of your property," he says.

But David Baron, assistant director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, counters, "That's what the [U.S.] Constitution says--he's right! But that's not what this bill says. This proposal says that you have to use the least-restrictive means to regulate."

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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.