Needed: Someone to articulate a new vision for economic justice for Pima County (TREO, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, and the Downtown partnership need not apply)

3 min read

Chuck 1

(Chuck Huckelberry, County Administrator)

By Brian Flagg,

My feeling is that any and all of you concerned with the Liberation of the People owe it to yourself to read Inside Tucson Business. Seriously. How else are you going to know what the enemy (it’s nothing personal,) is thinking and doing?

They did a little blurb (ITB, March 6, 2015) entitled: County Administrator Releases Economic Plan for Public Comment

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has released a draft of the Pima County Economic Development Plan, 2015-2017. The plan details 13 strategies and 92 specific actions the county proposes to pursue to improve the regional economy.

Among the strategies are: Protecting and expanding existing major employers; Developing a logistics, technology and aerospace corridor between interstate 19 and 10 south of Tucson International Airport; Increasing foreign direct investment in the region, especially from Mexico; and capitalizing on the research and innovation of Arizona’s three major universities.

“The 2015 through 2017 action plan is designed to guide the county’s investments and policy actions to grow the local economy, increase jobs and increase overall community wealth.

The recommendations and action items presented in this plan are steps the county can take in the near term over the next three years to continue to grow our local economy,” Huckelberry wrote in the plan introduction. The plan is an update and expansion of the 2012-2014 Economic Development Plan released in November 2012.

Significant portions of that plan were accomplished or are in progress. An accounting of the 2012 plan progress is included in the 2015 draft. Some of the major strategies of the 2012 plan were contingent on public investment via a successful county bond election. All of those and a few others have been included in the current draft. A decision by the Board of Supervisors on whether to hold a bond election this year is expected this spring. Huckelberry is seeking public comment on the plan through March 20.

I feel that commenting on his plan is an exercise in futility. I also feel that Mr. Huckelberry is a brilliant man, one of the smartest and highest achieving persons in all of Tucson. And he’s got a plan, an economic plan. But he isn’t using all that talent for the liberation of the poor and working people. That’s not what he gets paid big bucks to do. Does his vision not allow for fantastic profits for some, while many others experience the slow death that results from poverty and hunger, in this the 8th poorest metropolitan area in the U.S.? My intent isn’t to bash the guy. Rather, how do we who are on the side of the people become smart enough and creative enough to answer his plan. And what specifically  does a PEOPLE’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN LOOK LIKE?

So my question is, why should people of faith, authentic Catholics and Christians, give it up to Mr. Huckelberry to create the vision for life in Pima County?

The famous liberation theologian Jon Sobrino talks of the need for us to be able to “humanly engage material reality.” I’ve read an overview of the plan – It is filled with specifics that are begging to be challenged, from the point of view of poor people from both here and Mexico.

So I’d like to beg everyone and anyone who might read this blog post to figure out how we can come up with a vision that is the other side of the coin to Mr. Huckelberry’s Pima County Economic Development Plan.  Whom can we go to and ask to help us with a project such as this? Casa Maria would even raise money to pay someone to do this, but who is that someone?

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Fighting for Justice, Liberty, & Peace in Barrio Libre