Don't undermine significance of Nov. 6

The critics used to go by the name Residents Against Irresponsible Development, a group that has, for the past year, been at every city Planning & Zoning and Council meeting carrying those little "RAID" binders filled with notes and questions and homework and research and flyers. Now, the critics are being critiqued by other critics. What a world.

The Miner doesn't secretly orchestrate the RAID symphony, as some in the community have indicated, but because the criticisms have been reduced to name-calling and falsification of facts, I think it's only appropriate that they be addressed.

Basically, a group of critics have come out against RAID, but they're making it personal and avoiding the real issues voters face on Tuesday.

These critics are getting nervous because while they were writing blogs, RAID was attending meetings, asking questions, demanding that the city have some forethought in policy decisions and representing concerns of local residents who didn't want a dog kennel across the street or a liquor store next to a school, a church and a park. RAID has worked to gather signatures to put two issues on the Nov. 6 ballot. One was for a rezone that upset some neighbors near Castle Rock Road. The developer refused to try and diffuse the concerns, despite the mayor's request that he work with them. RAID stood up, took it out of City Council's hands and now you are voting on it.

The other was for a major amendment that failed to meet the city's own standards for passage. Nearly 1,100 people - about 25 percent of the voting population - signed petitions saying they wanted to keep their land as park space until the city can explain the effects this land amendment would have on surrounding neighborhoods, and most importantly, city revenues.

Todd Tarson, former president of the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors and current president of the association's government affairs committee, has a blog that he uses to swing his fists and stomp his feet at RAID's involvement.

Tarson, a nice guy whose business card says, "In Todd We Trust," recently wrote on that blog, "My favorite mouthpiece for RAID cast another diatribe about squashing opportunities for working folks and other citizens who live in Kingman." The column he's referencing published on this opinion page Oct. 25. That wasn't the scope of Gwen Gillman's opinion piece (read it at KingmanDailyMiner.com). Tarson attempted to counter her points by ignoring the unanswered questions she poses and taking her statements out of context and into illogical speculation. One point, however, is worth noting, (the rest are available at mocoreal.blogspot.com).

Gillman took on the Kingman Crossing issue, to which two measures on the Nov. 6 ballot are related. She said, "we have been told repeatedly by the city that Vestar would pay half (the cost) of this interchange" proposed at I-40. She must have been at the same Republican forum I was at, or maybe she read the Vestar/Vanderbilt Farms spokesman's quotes in the paper saying the company intended to seek a full, 100-percent reimbursement rather than pay for its half of the $23 million interchange.

Tarson pounced. He didn't counter her point that the city is dreaming if it thinks it can sell its land for $20 million to $28 million considering that more land sold for less money (205 acres for $12 million) right across the highway. Instead he blindly accepts his leaders' claims that Vanderbilt will pay for its share. Referencing (not citing) an agreement between the city and the Kingman Crossing north owner, Tarson states, "one of the terms of that deal was that the landowner would pay for half of the cost of the traffic interchange if one was ever built. I'm still waiting," he beckons, "for someone to call me on this fact if it is wrong."

What's your number?

According to the agreement of which you speak so knowledgeably, a document dated Sept. 27, 2006, and signed by Mayor Lester Byram, the city and Vanderbilt Farms do indeed "expect to share the cost ($20 million to $25 million) on a proportional basis ..." But expecting to pay is no obligation, and the spokesman's repeated statement that the companies want to collect a sales tax reimbursement for all costs seem to clarify that paying half is not their plan. Just in case, let me cite the actual agreement here, which, at a whopping five pages, would have kept Tarson up all night: "This letter agreement does not commit either party to any costs outside of the planning and design fees described herein." For those out there who are misinformed - including the signer of the agreement, apparently - this means that Vanderbilt is not obligated to pay half the interchange construction costs, only half of the preliminary design and scoping costs - about $160,000 apiece.

You may save your "I stand corrected" comment, Mr. Tarson, for a future blog post.

Another critic wrote a column published Oct. 7 that labels RAID as anti-growth and anti-Kingman, two ad homonym claims, neither of which are backed up. This critic suggested putting Miracle-Gro on the flower that is Kingman while encouraging RAID to think happy thoughts, and basically, to stop participating in local government.

I find it hard to feel all warm inside when someone uses "anti-Kingman" to describe a group that has worked for the past year to represent residents' concerns, and that has at least offered compromises and alternatives to the botched policies city staff proposed.

The fluffy language continued with a Tarson column published Oct. 26 on the ballot measure that would give the city the authorization to sell its land at Kingman Crossing. Writing to "Mr. and Mrs. Kingman" (never met 'em), Tarson says, "Voting no on this issue is like heading into the winter months, cold and dark. Voting yes on Proposition 301 is like heading into the spring months where everything is new again and the possibilities are endless."

Our local Shakespeare-in-training's use of purple prose incited mild fits of the giggles for some of us, but I imagine the "Mr. and Mrs. Kingmans" out there weren't ecstatic about being talked at like they're imbeciles.

People in Kingman aren't so shallow as to fall for the white-washing "Miracle-Gro" and "cold, dark winter" rhetoric on such important topics. And the attacks of being anti-growth and anti-Kingman and of squashing opportunities for working folks are shallow attempts at undermining a group that has done its homework and continues to outsmart both Council, and apparently, RAID's own critics.

Things aren't so simple as the "progress takes money" and "Kingman needs Miracle-Gro" attitude. Talk is cheap, and it only depreciates in value when it's not backed by some facts, figures or citations of something concrete (or at least an argument of a higher caliber than "the spring months when everything is new again.")

Critics are getting nervous because RAID has been active for the past year, offering suggestions and alternatives to substandard city policies. RAID members have reservations about Kingman Crossing and the bond because there are unanswered questions, as usual, and they want to know the reality of these projects - where tax money is going, when and why.

Looking into these issues isn't anti-Kingman, but it is complex. Mr. and Mrs. Kingman's bottle of Miracle-Gro won't help the community better understand the perplexity of the issues, the bonds and propositions, that voters face next week.

The only evidence to support why RAID is anti-Kingman is that winter is cold and Kingman needs Miracle-Gro.

I've heard better arguments from my 9-year-old sister on much less important issues; although she did enjoy our local Shakespeare's use of the "cold winter" image.

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think at nwilbur@kingmandailyminer.com or 753-6397, ext. 237.