People in Phoenix, Arizona, now have another busybody political group inundating their email accounts with unwanted spam messages. I received my first message from SavePhoenixViews.com on Jan. 20.
The group touts its mission to â€œprotect viewsâ€ and â€œpristine Phoenix neighborhoods.â€ Its sworn enemy? Billboards. These slabs of advertising are apparently a threat to â€œunobstructed views of the skyline, mountains, sunrises and sunsets from your backyard.â€ Yes, that world-renowned Phoenix skyline â€¦ it's the stuff of postcards and fine works of art. The group wants to ensure that such architectural wonders as the Chase Bank building aren't hidden behind new billboards or electronic billboards.
I had never heard of this group of superheroes so intent on defending my way of life. I never signed up for its email newsletter. Since I also receive unsolicited emails from Phoenix City Council member Sal DiCiccio, I wondered if this is connected to his brand of small-time Phoenix politics. About a year ago, a group he backed also had me on its e-mail list. And wouldn't you know, it only took 30 seconds of Google searching to discover a link between DiCiccio and Save Phoenix Views. Clearly, e-mail privacy is not one of his pet crusades. The best thing about my move to Scottsdale is that Sal DiCiccio is not on the Scottsdale City Council.
I'm embarrassed for the people behind Save Phoenix Views. Worries about billboards are the epitome of a â€œFirst World Problem.â€ What's really this group's motivation? My bet is money. Someone stands to lose, so they're organizing a â€œgrassrootsâ€ campaign to stop the evil billboards (someone puh-leeze save us!). Anyone with an ounce of political knowledge will tell you: Behind every so-called grassroots neighborhood movement is money and hired PR guns dressing it up all folksy and down-home. I haven't figured out the money trail yet, but it has to be there considering the efforts to the group has made and the money it has spent. It would be nice to see a full-time journalist with time and resources put Save Phoenix Views under the microscope (hint, hint – that's my Bat Signal to The Arizona Republic).
The e-mail I received came to me â€œvia politicalcommunicationsspecialists.com.â€ Naturally, I went to the URL â€¦ and got a white screen with the words â€œCould not locate requested resourceâ€. Â
This means someone is hiding. Typical dirty Phoenix politics. So far, 15,000 people have signed a petition to get the group's wad of â€œWhereasâ€, â€œNotwithstandingâ€ and â€œThereforeâ€ on the ballot. It's been nearly a decade since I was a news reporter – but I remember a Maricopa County official who told me every item on the ballot costs upward of $200,000. Does Phoenix have that kind of money to spend on non-problems?
The group also wrings its hands about higher accident rates from drivers being distracted by electronic billboards. I'll swallow that line of BS only if every single person who signed the petition will look me in the eye and say â€œThat's right, I've never used my cell phone or texted/e-mailed while I drive.â€ I'd bet a year's pay that phone use distracts far more drivers and causes far more accidents than electronic billboards do.
Who could, in good conscience, put such energy into such a trifling cause? A few suggestions for more important matters: Address the many empty buildings, the waste of water, the unsustainable building, the tax handouts to big businesses.
I also sent an e-mail to the group asking to know how I wound up on its distribution list. Let's see if anyone responds.
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