Former Tempe Mayor, Arizona Senator, and Arizona Congressman Harry Mitchell is a BIG supporter of the POLICE STATE!!!!
From the political notebook:
• Democratic congressional candidate Harry Mitchell issued a press release Wednesday blaming the increase in crime in the Valley on incumbent Republican J.D. Hayworth.
Now, I don't know what Hayworth does in the evening, but I doubt he's running around engaged in a one-man crime spree.
So, why is Hayworth to blame, according to Mitchell? Well, because he voted to cut federal funds to pay for local cops, one of President Clinton's famous triangulation programs that has largely withered since he left office.
Someone should ask Mitchell exactly why the federal government should be paying for local law enforcement. Surely that involves decisions better left to local officials accountable to local voters and taxpayers.
Unfortunately, Hayworth isn't the one to ask that question. On the very same day, Hayworth issued a press release bragging about all the local pork, er, projects contained in the transportation-funding bill, including that nationally critical improvement to the Tempe/Scottsdale bus maintenance facility.
• Of course, government is rife with the wrong people paying for the wrong things. The latest supposed state budget crisis involves an infestation that may threaten Arizona's wine manufacturing industry. An appropriation of $726,000 has to be added to avert the crisis, Department of Agriculture officials say.
Now, if there is a pest that threatens wine manufacturing, why shouldn't the wine manufacturers pay to eradicate it? Why is that a responsibility of the general taxpayer?
Maybe it has something to do with that creative class thing.
• The same misguided thinking afflicts the whole Homeland Security local grant controversy.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon doesn't understand why his city's Homeland Security grant from the federal government was cut from $10 million to $3.9 million, or why Phoenix is now slated to receive less than, for example, Omaha.
Arizona's federal Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl have dutifully pledged to rattle cages over the issue as well.
The state and local Homeland Security grant program, however, has been a comprehensive boondoggle from the beginning. Money is slow to be spent, and frequently is spent on things at best tangentially related to protecting against or responding to true terrorist threats. The program should be terminated.
There are some localities more vulnerable to terrorist attacks than others. However, there is no reason that paying for the additional costs of properly preparing for the extra risk should be a federal responsibility. And making it a federal responsibility pretty much ensures that large sums of money will be misallocated and wasted.
The reduction in the federal Homeland Security grant represents less than 1 percent of Phoenix's nearly $1 billion General Fund budget. If an additional $6 million is truly important to preparing the community against a terrorist attack, Gordon and the City Council should be able to scrape up the cash.
• Surely the self-proclaimed business leaders in the Valley have lost whatever credibility they might once have had on transportation issues.
They firmly backed Proposition 400 in 2004, extending the half-cent transportation sales tax for the region. Proposition 400 called for spending about half of the new money on transit and local streets. Anyone who said that would shortchange freeway construction was shouted down.
Now, the plan was developed by local government officials through the Maricopa Association of Governments. It is understandable that a plan devised by local government officials would stress transit and local streets. Transit has a noisy constituency in these cities, and local officials are held accountable for local streets in a way they are not for regional freeways.
It was up to the business community, which provides the campaign funding for these things, to act as the honest brokers and ensure that the money went first to the things that moved the most people and goods. They failed, and now they're running around sounding the alarm that freeway construction needs to be accelerated.
Voters and lawmakers, however, shouldn't agree to a single dime in additional funding until there is a radical reprioritization of the existing billions that are already being spent annually on transportation in this state.