Dear Candidates: Tell Us The Truth

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Yes, Virginia — there really is a Santa Claus. And honest to goodness, kids, the Easter Bunny loves you.

And now that the primary’s over, we believe the candidates will quit posturing and get down to the kind of debate about the issues we all deserve.

All right. Not likely. But we can dream, can’t we?

The primaries produced a slew of deeply rooted, passionately committed candidates from both parties. We had hoped for a cogent and realistic discussion about how to get the economy going again and balance the state budget without destroying our schools.

Instead, an “I-want-to-get-elected” discussion about illegal immigration dominated the campaigns — sound bites of “no amnesty” just don’t cut it. What’s your plan?

So here’s our earnest hope for the general election campaign — especially in Congressional District 1 and the state District 5 House and Senate races.

Could you please treat the voters like adults?

For instance, if you want to cut taxes to stimulate the economy — tell us exactly what you’ll cut from spending.

And if you want to boost Arizona’s awful per-student spending rates — tell us where you’ll get the money.

If you want to build a border fence — tell us what it will cost and if you don’t want it, why not — and what are your alternative solutions?

If you want to repeal the expansion in health coverage, then tell us how you’ll prevent the estimated 45,000 deaths annually caused by a lack of health insurance.

If you want to launch a jobs-producing stimulus package — please explain how we can avoid crushing our children’s children with our debts.

Of course, we know none of these awful problems have easy solutions. We’re in a hell of a spot, a generation in the making. Both parties have played their full, foolish role in getting us into a hole so deep we can’t see the sun. We know this. We’re grownups. But we love our country — and stand willing to make sacrifices.

So tell us the truth. Use the campaign to educate the voters and secure a mandate to seek a solution.

Yes, Virginia — there are brave politicians who respect the voters.

Planning for unrainy day

The grass is lush and green, the reservoirs brimming, the streams all agush. After years of drought and worry, we finally got a near-normal year.

Hurrah. Hurrah. The drought is over. Time to party.

Well, not quite.

The drought never let up on the Colorado River watershed. In fact, Lake Mead has dwindled to less than half its capacity. Several experts stunned water managers with the suggestion that water levels in the lake have a 50 percent chance of falling below the level of the pumps in the next 10 years.

Such a disastrous event could trigger water rationing in Nevada and Arizona, who stand legally at the end of the line for Colorado River water.

The evidence continues to mount that we’ve set in motion events that will cause a significant rise in global temperatures. No one knows how bad it will get or what events that will trigger, but the consensus points to increasingly unstable weather conditions — more droughts, more heat waves, more floods, more wild swings in temperature and rainfall.

Fortunately, Rim Country visionaries have spent decades working to secure the region’s water supply. The imposition of growth controls and water conservation measures bought us precious time and the arrival of water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir in three to five years will provide for our long-term future.

Now, lots of folks in town have had to gulp and brace themselves upon hearing Payson had approved a second big water rate increase in two years — with potentially more the follow. The town council imposed the increase to be sure that the water department has a guaranteed revenue stream to issue bonds to underwrite the construction of the Blue Ridge pipeline. Originally, town officials had hoped that impact fees on new construction would provide the security for that big chunk of bonding — but the housing collapse forced a shift to Plan B.

The recent dramatic shifts in the weather — with Roosevelt Lake brimming and Lake Mead dwindling have only underscored the need for long-range planning.

In the end, we believe that generations of planning will provide a rich bounty for this region. While other cities and towns in Arizona will inevitably face rationing and building moratoriums for lack of water, Payson will have enough water to fulfill its full potential.

Because in the Southwest, it’s not the rainy day you plan for. It’s that decade-long drought.

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