2011 is going to be remembered as the year of revolution. This is the year in which the people finally rose up against petty tyrants in places like Tunisia, Egypt...Pima County. I'm sure you have seen the coverage of Tunisia and Egypt, but perhaps you have missed the Pima County story.*
It was the Star's Rob O'Dell--famous for exposing the disaster at Rio Nuevo--who brought us the story of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry withholding $80 million in voter-approved road construction funds. The Star editorial board followed up.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry might have a lot of clout, but that doesn't make it OK for him to hijack the will of the voters.
Indeed Huckelberry--who has run Pima County since 1993--does have a lot of clout and while he may thumb his nose at the County Board of Supervisors, voters and the Star, he's about to meet his match in Senator Frank Antenori and the rest of the Pima County Republican delegation.
The last couple elections have been essential to the upcoming revolution. Pima County Republicans serving in the Legislature used to be milquetoast enablers whose idea of governance was higher spending and more pork--thus the dual disasters of Rio Nuevo and Tucson-based Spring Training.
Former Senator Johnathan Paton was in the vangard of the new Pima County leadership. Paton and Adams worked to reform Child Protective Services while Tucson moderate Pete Hershberger advocated on behalf of government at the expense of children by fighting to maintain the status quo.
Hershberger and the rest of the Pima County moderates have been replaced by Senators Antenori, Griffin and Melvin together with House members Vic Williams, Terry Proud, David Gowan, Ted Vogt, David Stevens and Peggy Judd--all conservatives and none likely to tolerate Huckelberry's antics.
The conflict between the Pima County old guard and the Pima County Republican Delegation is manifesting itself in an unusual place--sewage.
Pima County has a special exemption in state law that gives the county a monopoly on providing sewage service. Since no municipality in Pima County can provide its own sewage service, all of the cities have to go hat in hand to Pima County in order to receive a connection--and without a connection, there's no construction permit and without a permit, there's no project. That means that Chuck Huckelberry has veto authority on economic development throughout the entire county.
The Town of Marana wants the Pima County monopoly ended and provides the time line of its efforts to work with the County and also provides a list of projects rejected by Huckelberry's shop. Including the Northwest Hospital as well as other projects like: Honea heights III, Earhart equipment, Marana Towne Center Ranch, Marana Block 4, and Marana Mechantile.
Sen. Antenori and the rest of the Pima County Republicans have had enough and have jointly sponsored SB 1171 which would put an end to the Pima County sewer monopoly--the bill was voted out of the Senate 23 to 6, and now moves to the House.
The folks on the Pima County Board of Supervisors need to take notice. There's a revolution brewing and they are on the wrong end of it. "Republicans" Ann Day and Ray Carol have served as enablers for Chuck Huckelberry's antics and now even the Star has noticed. The entire Republican Legislative delegation is lining up against them--and 2012 is an election year. You don't think that Antenori, Vogt, Williams et al want to serve in the Legislature forever do you? Those Supervisor seats look mighty comfortable....
The beauty of the American political system is that we don't need tanks in the streets. The old guard can last a long time, but petty bureaucrats and the politicians that enable them can only last for so long until they are purged from the body politic. Come to think about it...maybe it is appropriate that the revolution starts with a sewage system.
*With this being the Year of Civility and all, I thought long and hard before I compared Pima County to Egypt. One of them of course is a poorly governed backwater in which an unelected ruler has used intimidation and patronage to dominate the populace, ignore the will of the people and thumb his nose at the press for decades. The other one is Egypt.