Monday, June 01, 2009

While I have the scissors out...

The local guy that called everyone that planned to attend the Tea Party back in April a racist (also known as the editor of the Kingman Daily Loyd... I mean Kingman Daily Miner) wrote a little piece in the Sunday edition worth noting.

Now I don't find myself disagreeing with the column with extreme prejudice (he is not advocating hiding in a shell at least) but there are a couple of differences of opinion here that I wanted to share. So let's make some cuts...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wow. The city of Kingman needs a rich uncle to die and leave them everything. He would have to be really rich, though, because the city is completely void of cash to pay for the plethora of capital improvement projects on its "wish list."

At the recent town hall meeting attended by a whole nine residents, Mayor John Salem figuratively scratched his head over the dilemma. He knows that we can't grow responsibly unless we complete some of these projects, but he also knows there's no money in the till to pay for them.

Well it is no surprise that Kingman doesn't have a rich uncle, and no one in the community is hoping that somebody dies and bequeaths enough cash to pull off a few infrastructure projects. However, at this point, if I won Power Ball I'd heavily consider donating 10% of the take to have the Kingman Crossing interchange constructed for once and for all... with one caveat... that the project is renamed after me of course (relax folks... like I'm really going to win Power Ball).

Also interesting to see that the group that refuses to define 'responsible' or even 'irresponsible' (part of their acronym) is now up to nine members. But seriously, kudos to that political action committee for continuing to host the town hall events. Hopefully more folks will attend at future meetings.

As for the dilemma the editor points out of the mayor knowing that the community can't grow 'responsibly' unless some big dollar projects come to fruition but alas faced with no existing money available to pay for the projects... here is a reminder; 1) there is a 168 acre parcel of land with Interstate frontage that is currently owned by the city which by all accounts can be considered an asset to be used to fund a project and/or 2) there is a developer that has been willing to enter a public/private partnership where the developer would front their own funding and build an infrastructure project, at no risk to the Kingman taxpayer for the project, that would almost certainly take care of one glaring need AND want from this community.

Even right now on the front page of the KDMiner there is a little poll that looks like this (at the time I'm writing this post)...

If you could create anything in Kingman, what would you choose?

Please select one:
Art/Culture center -- 8%
Roller rink -- 10%
Water park -- 21%
Shopping mall -- 28%
Movieplex -- 4%
Civic center -- 5%
Other -- 25%

Shocking, Martha, simply shocking.

How many birds might be killed with considering just one stone?? How about 1) getting a new infrastructure project paid for without taxpayer money up front with all the risk, 2) improving the value of a city owned asset by many multipliers, and 3) more shopping venues to placate the 'SHOP HERE!' program currently in place.

Of course there would be a litany of details that would have to be hammered out... but it is just so damn surprising that the city and this media outlet fails to talk further about the possibility, one that would likely increase job opportunities, improve access and public safety, and increase city sales tax dollars.

How many tax dollars are being collected on either the developers property or the city owned property at this very moment?? Seriously... how many??

After voters soundly defeated the city's last attempt to create bonds to pay for some of the projects, the city is skittish on the subject of bonds, especially in this economy. Former RAID (Residents Against Irresponsible Development) president Mike Bihuniak echoed at the meeting what many folks said after the bond failed two years ago. In a clear, concise way, ask voters to fund ONE project at a time. Tell them how much is needed, what you will do with the money, when the project will start and end, and how important the project is to the future of Kingman.

If the project is viable, voters will support it, EVEN IN THIS ECONOMY...

And here I agree with the editor and the reference to Mr. Bihuniak (can you believe it??). I frankly didn't care about the bonds on the 2007 special election as compared to the anti-growth referendums and stupid asset management decisions brought forth by said referendums back then. I since stated many times that I'd likely favor a bond measure that has clear and concise benefits that the community would enjoy. Since the media and political action committees have done their best over the last three or so years to thumb their nose to new investment and development in this community... it may just fall onto the community to pay for any improvements needed (example the increase in the base charge on the water bill). But still... doesn't mean it has to be that way (example earlier in this post).

Raising the sales tax, though, would be stupid, now or whenever. That stifles growth and makes residents angry. How about a gas tax on stations near the highways? Their prices are so high now, no one would notice. How about a tax on people taking their pictures in front of the train at Locomotive Park. I don't know if I've ever NOT seen people there posing when I drive by.

I agree here as well, however not so much on the taxing people in front of Locomotive Park park. More so in the sense of being creative on developing tax revenues. I don't know if there are any quirky legalities with increasing the sales tax rate on fuel purchases made at the 'near the highways' as the editor suggests, but he is obviously alluding to getting more tax dollars from those that are not from the Kingman community, i.e. those passing through... and again, not really a bad idea.

City conscience-keeper Loyd Peterson would like to see more belt tightening by the city, and I'm certain more can be done, but Salem is right when he says there's only so many reductions that can be made before residents cry foul.

City conscience keeper?? More like lead propagandist for the advocacy of hiding in a shell, so please spare us that moniker for the Kingman Daily Loyd.

But again I find myself agreeing with the the one that labels tax demonstrators as racists and the mayor, city services will likely suffer unless more economic development initiatives find success... and soon. Quality of life issues are very important and even if you, say, are against the expenses such as the golf course or the local public transportation service -- taking either away from even the vast minority of residents that partake in the services and the city will have folks up in arms.

The answer is developing more revenue resources... and if Kingman truly was making every effort to do so... they would simply be joining the thousands of other communities competing for the chance to do the very same thing.

Is. Worth. Fighting. For.

I still believe the answer to our money woes is in utilizing our "natural" resources, mainly Route 66. If the city would offer major incentives to transform that small section of the Mother Road, from Beale to the bottom of the hill, into a 1950s-style environment, with drive-ins and putt-putt golf and the ability to turn around at either side for "cruising," people would flock to Kingman from all over the world to "relive" that bygone era.

It's almost like "Field of Dreams," when Kevin Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, builds a baseball field in his cornfield and people come from all over to see it. James Earl Jones as Terence Mann has a good quote that fits here:

"People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa (Kingman) for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway (Route 66) not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. ... The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. ... Oh, people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

Okay time for some slight disagreement on this. First of all I don't think Kingman has any former acid dropping owners of corn fields that hear voices in its midst, sadly. Second, Field of Dreams is a made up story that was made into a Hollywood movie. Chances are incredible that if the movie was adopted from a book, you'd find that book in the 'fiction' section of your favorite book store or library.

And even if there was some relevance between the movie and the plight of economic development in Kingman Arizona... there is a huge difference between the fun nostalgia of the 1950's and the American pastime of baseball. The main one is that baseball is still around with popular attention being paid to it and has been for over 100 plus years spanning many generations and will likely continue to be that way long after this current generation has been laid to rest. Dads (and Moms actually) and kids are still to this day 'having a catch' and creating lifelong memories. So it is no surprise that Field of Dreams plays on the heart strings for practically anyone that has shared a bit of catch with their parental unit. Same simply cannot be said for future generations for a stretch of road that is basically by-passed by most these days.

As for the Disney/Pixar animated movie Cars goes (someone is thinking about using that movie in a response right now reading this) well I saw that movie... protagonist wins the race and gets the girl and everyone is happy-happy... like all Disney movies. Kids today growing up loving that movie probably aren't going to be drawn to Kingman in future to check out a road cutting through it. Route 66 was a prop used in the background to tell an all too familiar story.

Our little stretch of 66 has been wasted by the leaders in this town for far too long. Mr. D's and places like it should be up one side of the road and down the other. Neon should be a requirement to build there; the more you plan to have, the more money you save to build. People would come from all over the world to cruise our "Radiator Springs."

I'll take Doc Grahm over Doc Hudson as a better bet to improve the future economic development here in Kingman. Well... no... I won't be that harsh. Though it would still be awesome with a capital A if Kingman landed a minor league baseball team sometime in the distant future.

Actually redeveloping the downtown area of Kingman to this theme isn't all that bad of an idea, I'm just not sure that this alone is the answer to the current economic woes Kingman faces. It would have likely been a better idea 10 or so years ago because that is likely how long it would take from now before all the heads got together, came to some form of agreement on how it would all work out, finding the funding (I'm not voting for that bond measure), planning, and finally carrying out the whole thing.

Face it, the generations of folks that are most attached to Route 66 aren't getting any younger. As a proud member of Generation X I have to admit that the first I heard about the fabled road was in a cover song produced by the 80's mod band Depeche Mode (it is awkward admitting to that). So it isn't all that likely that I would be passing along my affection of the Will Rogers Highway on to the next generation, but don't just take my word for it and I won't speak for the rest of my g-g-g-generation.

The answer to Kingman's financial woes is where one usually finds an answer to a problem. Right there in front of your nose.

Well said editor, well said. Too bad we differ on what is the more likely and viable solution for the economic development fix this town so badly could use. You know... the one you hardly trifle to bother covering.

No comments: