By J. Charles Coughlin
After taking a week off to watch my resurgent Michigan Wolverines beat the Cornhuskers and the Buckeyes, I returned to read yesterday’s Sunday edition of the Arizona Republic.
Since the last election cycle closed with lopsided Republican victories, I have watched and read as the Republic’s coverage of Arizona politics has gone from a healthy critical critique to an overwhelming shower of negativism.
Since when did a columnist give serious Sunday news coverage to a Southern Arizona movement to secede from the Union? Ed Montini’s career in Arizona politics has mirrored my own, so I read with interest what he writes. Recently however, his negativism has been overwhelming; he seems to hate the very state he is writing about and giving voice to only those who share his negative perception. What happened to the guy who could playfully and artfully get the State’s power structure to react to him while at the same time not dumping all over the State?
The entire coverage of the effort to replace Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) Chairman Colleen Mathis has been seen through the one dimensional paradigm of partisanship focused exclusively on the Governor and the State Senate that voted to remove her. Very little, if any, effort has been made to shed light on Mathis’ own partisanship leadership style: voting with the two Democratic commissioners nearly 99% of the time and even voting with the Democratic Commissioners to appoint legal representation that the Republicans themselves didn’t want.
The entire IRC process has been run by Mathis on the single track of competitiveness versus all other criteria. The last IRC Commission in 2000 did a credible job; during the last 10 years the State was represented in Congress by alternatively 5 Democrats and 3 Republicans and 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats. That Commission properly balanced competition with communities of interest. This Commission has sacrificed communities of interest in favor of competition. Well what does that mean? You would never find out from the Republic because their coverage is exclusively focused on competitiveness and partisanship.
Communities of interest are critical to Arizona’s future. If history is a forbearer of things to come we all know that our Congressional representation and relationships are crucial to the advancement of our State. Farmers banded together to work with President Roosevelt on the creation of the dam bearing his name and built the foundation for the valley with the Salt River Project delivering “more than just power” to the then-nascent state. That followed military bases, the Central Arizona Project, the formal relationships with over 23 sovereign nations, the largest collection of National parks in the West and multiple infrastructure projects which all have had an undeniable effect on the State as we know it today.
Why did all that happen? Communities of interest made that happen. Dividing up Pinal County into five congressional districts, Mesa into three, Scottsdale and Yuma into two, then joining together such disparate areas as Bullhead City and Fountain Hills into a singular district is tantamount to destroying Arizona’s ability to represent itself in our Nation’s capital. I don’t think it is intentional, it’s just plain stupid. And the lemmings covering the whole show are swallowing the partisanship catnip without a thought of the consequences that such blind decision making really will wrought. The editors and writers at the Republic are drunk on their own catnip of partisanship. It unfortunately is not the real meat of this sorry tale.
The rogue writing continues in the same edition with Dennis Wagner’s look at the Fast and the Furious scandal.
It wasn’t until half way through the “column” did I read the following; “Avila was a U.S. citizen with no criminal record, legally eligible to purchase as many rifles as he wanted. Avila was not under surveillance when he bought the weapons, and investigators did not learn about the buy until days later.”
So, the ATF and the Obama administration are getting blamed for letting guns walk. But if the guy wasn’t under surveillance, was a legal U.S. citizen and had no criminal record, why would he be caught anyway? Not until the very end of the article does Wagner get to the heart of the issue; the laws governing gun purchases for semi-automatic assault rifles and long rifles do not require any notification for multiple purchases by the same individual.
Hello, are we a border State! Guns are illegal to the south of us and over 35,000 citizens have been killed in the last six years, so we need to look at our disclosure laws. It is really not that difficult a story to write and certainly not worth the inches spent here but it is beyond time we have a national discussion about this. I’m fine with individual US Citizens owning as many guns as they want, but you can’t buy them and sell them to Mexican drug cartels or you should go to prison for a very long time. Let’s get on with it.
Finally, the last piece in the Sunday edition that sent me over the edge today for vacuous journalism was the other front page piece on the Sasabe border port. I thought, “Great, we are finally going to get a story about how important regulated commerce is between Mexico and Arizona,” but instead we get another 40 inches of nose picking about the one port that gets the least amount of border traffic. Not a story about the 5 million border crossings at San Luis, or the 14 million at Nogales or the 5 million at Douglas or the 1 million at Lukeville. No. We get a story about the 60 thousand border crossings at Sasabe, WHAT THE HELL?
Arizona’s largest trading partner is Mexico, what can we learn from these crossing stations on how to improve trade, what are the constraints, what are the economic uncertainties taking place in Mexico hampering trade, what about the upcoming Mexican Presidential elections?
No, we didn’t get any of that.
It is time for a leadership change at the Republic; Publisher John Zidich of Fiesta Bowl board fame and his executive editor Randy Lovely need to go. Let’s get someone in over there who knows and loves Arizona and wants us to become the State we are destined to become. We don’t need a daily rag of negativism and half assed reporting; I can get that from any blog out there. We deserve better. The Republic has gone rogue and it needs correcting.