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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rio Nuevo detrimental to all

    Many UA students, whether they know it or not, have a reason to want to know more about local politics. Whether an in-state or out-of-state student, Republican or Democrat, going to this school means accepting that the UA is a part of the diverse Tucson community. Unexpectedly, what was originally expected to celebrate the diversity of Tucson has only made the city unite against it.

    In 1999, voters approved the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District, “a planned multi-faceted development project, including cultural and recreational amenities and improvements, unique historic re-creations, mixed-use developments, etc.,” according to the City of Tucson’s website.

    It sounded amazing on the outset, especially considering how much a tourism boost could help the Tucson economy.

    Now, more than a decade later, what has happened to this project? Just cleared lots exist downtown. The FBI and the Arizona attorney general are now investigating what happened to the $230 million put into the project. All of these taxpayer dollars were lost and not easily forgotten.

    Now, perhaps a student from another state going to the UA may wonder why this should concern them. They just pay their tuition, shop at stores along University Boulevard and Fourth Avenue, and expect the best for their future. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to them that recently Rio Nuevo’s board has filed a $47 million claim to recover money.

    Well, here’s a rude awakening. While the $230 million being sought by the FBI and the state attorney general wouldn’t just have automatically gone to the UA if it hadn’t gone to Rio Nuevo, it was clearly wasteful. The UA is a public university, and that money could have been better spent elsewhere.

    By “public,” that means the UA is subject to the government. If government money is being squandered it means less money overall, which limits avaliable funds for every government funded institution (including universities). The less money the government has to give the UA, the more cuts the UA has to make. People lose their jobs, programs get cut, and the education that brought students from thousands of miles away becomes less valuable. As Rio Nuevo takes more from the government, students lose out indirectly on their education.

    Becoming a Tucsonan happens the moment a person starts living here. They start eating here, going to school here, and thinking about whether or not to build a life here in the future. As the local government loses more and more money, the future becomes increasingly bleak for the city, the UA, and the students trying to make it with more education cuts.

    If Rio Nuevo wants more funds, students should consider the implications of what that can mean. The most a voluntary or involuntary constituent can do is show how important it ultimately is to preserve political integrity for the next generation.

    — Megan Hurley is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at
    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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