On a Mission Downtown

Alas, between my day job and other projects, I really have been neglecting the blog. I had hoped to post more clever and insightful stuff today, but ended up down at the City Clerk’s Office pouring over old campaign finance reports instead.

I know it sounds terribly boring, but it really is interesting and somewhat fun…no, really! The object of today’s exercise was to trace the route of out-of-state money to our local City Council election.

I parked in the garage under the Tucson/Pima County Library and, after completing my business there, wandered west toward City Hall. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I can’t seem to figure out the stair system between the garage and the library. The elevator takes you from the middle of the garage to the lobby of the library. The stairs from the garage take you to a door that goes to the outside of the library – which is O.K., but there are stairs that go from the lobby to the garage, and I can’t seem to find those. When I take them from the lobby to the garage, they stop before my level and I have to walk over to the elevator and use it to get to my car. Weird.

Anyway, I walked over to that city park between the county and city buildings. There was a small banner announcing “Farmer’s Market Today”. I wandered over to four tables and hot dog stand that made up the “market”, and was disappointed to see nothing for sale that one normally associates with a farm. There were some baskets, costume jewelry, and other kitch; but nothing edible besides the hot dogs.

I continued to the city building, the east side of which was labeled “Council Chambers”. A closer look revealed a rather large, verbose sign that, in its essence, said, “If you’re not a cop, you can’t bring a weapon in here.”

Now, I’m not sure of the sign’s purpose. At first blush, it would appear that the city people are afraid that someone might attack a member of the Tucson City Council. If this were true, would it not be more to the point to simply declare, “Attacks on Councilmen Not Permitted”? In that way, they would remove any doubt as to whether or not cops are allowed to attack the Councilmen, and they would be relieved of all the expense and hassle of providing a check service for the weapons. If, on the other hand, the purpose is to gratuitously hassle and demean the more responsible among us, I must say that the sign does the job.

Fortunately for me, my business took me to the north entrance through which I gained access (computer geeks – please note that “access” is a noun) to the elevators. On the ninth floor, I found the office of the City Clerk of Tucson.

A warm and friendly receptionist asked how she might help me, and I explained that I wished to review the campaign reports of the independent campaign committees from the last city election. I anticipated a little resistance since the only incentive she had was her professionalism. I was delighted to find myself treated like a valued customer as she found someone who was quick to retrieve the four large binders, and find a desk at which I could work.

It’s actually fun to poke through public records – particularly when you find the prize in short order, then relax while you continue to fish until your fingertips hurt and your brain gets foggy. It took less than two hours to fog my brain, but by that time I had sixteen pages of information that I wanted copied. Unfortunately, the copying duty was referred to a quite young and inappropriately dressed employee who was preoccupied with a pierced ear gone bad. After an inordinate amount of time, the job was completed. One page was missing, but it was not the prize so I did not care. I paid the ten cent per copy fee (why do they even bother?), and was on my way with my specific information – complete with documentation – that would please the editor to whom I was pitching my latest article. Happy ending!

Moral of the story: When attempting to navigate a government complex with government buildings, don’t try to make sense of it; just stay focused on the mission and breath deeply – it might even be fun!