Save The Bridge From Legislature

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Here’s one working definition of crazy: Make the same stupid mistake over and over again, convinced next time it’ll be different.

So, just how crazy do you have to be to think the state legislature will ever do right by the state parks system?

Put another way: Maybe it’s time for Payson to take control of and run Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

The Morrison Institute for Public Policy’s study of our beaten and abused state parks system painted a pretty disturbing picture of what happens when you let the inmates run the asylum.

The report laid it all out pretty clearly: Arizona’s state parks are a precious inheritance any responsible and rational culture would safeguard for generations unborn.

And you can’t blame the current crisis. The legislative gang that can’t shoot straight has been gunning down bystanders and driving the stagecoach into the ravine for most of the past decade — in good times and bad.

Tonto Natural Bridge offers a perfect example. When in private hands, the park operated a historic lodge, restaurant, campground, string of streamside cabins, swimming hole, u-pick orchard and spring-fed swimming pool. When the state took over, legislative cuts ensured that park barely had enough money to keep the roof of the lodge from collapsing — never mind developing the park.

The Morrison Institute did a great job of documenting the indifference that has characterized the state’s stewardship of the parks system. So when the report turned to listing potential revenue sources, it only underscored the hopelessness of the situation — so long as the system remains in thrall to the lawmakers.

After all, in the current crisis the legislature has with reckless impunity filched money from even voter-designated special funds. How can parks money ever be made safe against that bunch. That’s why we hope Payson will push for a new deal that will allow the town to operate the park — or even acquire it from the state.

We believe that the town could enter into a public private partnership that would fully develop the park. Such an arrangement could make the park self-supporting. In the meantime, it would link Payson’s identity to a natural wonder, which would help boost the town’s marketing and tourist draw to a new level.

Either that, or we can just keep watching the legislature, shaking our heads and wondering what they’ll do next. But then, that would be crazy.

Top reasons for budget crisis

We’ve been following Arizona’s budget crisis for a year now and we’ve about sputtered out of adjectives.

The news coming out of the copper-domed capital building reads like absurdist political satire — an over-the-top Daily Show bit.

How could a Republican governor with a comfortable party advantage in both houses still not have a balanced budget? We can’t imagine.

But afflicted with a touching belief that things do happen for a reason, we herewith offer the top 10 working theories to explain the bizarre facts at hand.

The terrorists did it.

Democrats have perfected a mind control drug, which they’re using to control the actions of Republican legislative leaders, realizing they can only seize control in Arizona if the Republicans self-destruct.

It’s global warming.

Gov. Jan Brewer is an alien charged with making Arizonans so disgusted with their government they will welcome an alien invasion by throwing flowers (like the happy Iraqis).

The dog ate their homework.

The cosmic rays streaming through the hole in the ozone layer interacts with the copper in that sheathes the capital dome and turns anyone beneath the dome into a babbling idiot.

Elvis has left the building.

California sent a beer cask full of Kool-Aid. They all drank it.

The Libertarian wing of the Republican Party is trying to provoke voters into blowing up the capital.

The voting majority of people unbalanced enough to run for the state legislature are so driven by ego and ideology that they have lost any semblance of good sense.

Tough to choose. We’re kind of rooting for No. 1 — since then it’s not the fault of the people we were gullible enough to elect and we can seek out the evil doers. But we have a sinking feeling that it’s No. 10, in which case we’re in huge trouble — no end in sight.

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