You can’t handle the truth.
You, in this case, are the voters of Tucson. And the person who’s telling you that is Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
As you know by now, Huckelberry announced Wednesday morning that he had a new property-tax plan to inject money into road repairs throughout the county. It involves raising property taxes modestly for what he says will just be a one-year period. This announcement came the morning after a city sales-tax election.
This was relevant information for Tucson voters to know before deciding whether to raise the city’s sales tax by a half-cent per dollar for five years, to pay largely for city roads. But Huckelberry thought the information about his road plan might addle our brains.
“I didn’t want voters to be confused or for it to be used as an excuse for not approving the city elections,” he told me Thursday. “Frankly, we need both (plans), and we need more for a longer period.”
He’s not wrong that we need both the city’s plan and the county’s plan to start catching up with the repair and maintenance backlog on our roads. The needs, especially in the residential areas of the unincorporated county, are that big.
But the assumption that we can’t handle the truth disrespects city voters. The fact that the sales-tax hike won big in incomplete returns — 62 percent to 38 percent — suggests that knowing about the county plan would probably not have made a difference.
Still, the powers-that-be in town wanted to be sure. So they withheld relevant information from the voters.
Low, low turnout
The results of Tuesday’s city election served as an argument in favor of a bill that passed the Legislature in its waning days.
SB 1152, which the governor has not yet signed, limits local sales-tax elections to November of even-numbered years. The argument was that it would increase turnout.
Well, Tucson’s turnout in the mail-in election that ended Tuesday could hardly have been lower — 28 percent. I was one of the 3,000 or so who cast ballots at one of the city’s seven polling places instead of by mail. I don’t know if I lost my ballot or never received it.
I voted in favor of the sales-tax increase for the obvious reasons — to get more city roads repaired and better equipment to our police and firefighters.
I did not buy the reflexive arguments of critics, including the Pima County Republican Party, that the city can cut enough fat in its current budget to take care of those needs.
But the turnout was troubling and makes for a decent argument in favor of restricting sales-tax elections to dates when people are attuned to elections.
It’s likely, though, that the new law will never apply to Tucson. As a charter city, Tucson has won rulings in the Arizona Supreme Court against efforts to impose regulations on local elections.
There’s no reason to think the same wouldn’t hold true of this bill if it’s signed into law.
McCain vs. Turk’s goons
In a week of mind-blowing news stories, the one that made my blood boil did not receive much attention. I’m glad to note that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain did notice it.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited President Trump in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and also stopped by the Turkish ambassador’s residence. Before he left that site, Kurdish demonstrators had gathered across the street.
As Erdogan waited in a car to leave, Turkish security officers rushed into the street, beating, choking and kicking the demonstrators.
It was a sickening reminder of what authoritarianism is really like — and to be careful whom we befriend.
The first videos of the incident to come out simply showed the dark-suited men attacking demonstrators.
On Thursday, a video from just outside the residence emerged: It showed that Erdogan himself was sitting in a car outside as his goons rampaged, then he calmly stepped from the car as the attack went on, never intervening.
A similar incident happened in March 2016 outside the Brookings Institution in D.C. while Erdogan was visiting. His thugs roughed up demonstrators and journalists that day.
McCain and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, wrote a letter to Erdogan Thursday, asking him to hold accountable those responsible. It’s not much, but there’s not much we can do, since the guards likely enjoy diplomatic immunity.
“The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protestors is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents,” the letter said.
Farley for Governor?
State Sen. Steve Farley has set a date to announce his political plans — June 5. Don’t expect to be surprised: As he’s previously discussed, the Tucson Democrat is planning to run for governor.
His first line of attack on incumbent Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is likely to be tying Ducey to Trump and suggesting that Ducey is distracted by his national ambitions.
“I’m not remotely interested in D.C.,” Farley told me. “That’s why I’m not running for (Congress in) CD 2. I’d love to govern Arizona.”
Assuming Ducey remains governor — there’s some talk he could become a vice president to a President Mike Pence, if that eventuality comes about — he will be a formidable incumbent.
David Garcia, who ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent in 2014, is also considering a run for the Democratic nomination.