A story about a parking lot is really a story about dark money, secrets, and dirty coal. This, in a long read on Mary Rose Wilcox, is ugly.
Wilcox increased her net worth through land deals, with at least one in 2003 involving an acre purchased from Arizona Public Service for hundreds of thousands of dollars below market value. She didn't disclose that transaction even as she voted as a county supervisor on APS-related projects.What is APS? The largest electric utility in Arizona and 27th largest coal energy producer in the United States has ownership interests in three huge coal-fired power plants: the Cholla Generating Station, the Four Corners Steam Plant, and the Navajo Generating Station. It's a corporate funder of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and sits on its energy, environment, and agriculture task force. APS is notorious for its attack on net metering solar energy, pouring $9 million - or $9 per ratepayer - into an effort to convince regulators that Arizona's precious sunshine is so rare that solar panel owners must pay to access it. Last year APS caught flak for secretly funding a Koch-backed group to run anti-solar ads, after initial denials, and this year it's widely believed to be the dark money behind two pro-coal candidates for the ACC (Arizona's public utilities commission).
More, from the same Phoenix New Times story: in early 2003, downtown power brokers, including APS, began work on a downtown master plan to transform the city's inner core over the next decade. County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox had to be aware of the planning effort. It was during this time -- when a limited number of people knew that a major downtown redevelopment plan was in the works -- that APS had sold its property at a rock-bottom price [fair market value $675,000 to $900,000, but sold for $152,750] to Wilcox. "Wilcox repeatedly voted on matters directly affecting APS, including high-profile issues such as where high-voltage power lines will be located and approval of a lucrative plan by an APS subsidiary, Northwind, to provide air conditioning to county buildings in downtown Phoenix. And she did it without ever officially disclosing that she had engaged in a major financial transaction with APS."
Fast forward to 2014, when Wilcox is running in a Democratic primary to replace the retiring Ed Pastor. Wilcox intends to stay on business-as-usual terms with the coal-funded utilities and her secret parking lot. Her politics are the same kind of business as usual that puts the planet on an inexorable path to three to five degrees Celsius warming.
Wilcox has been endorsed by Pastor. Pastor scored a grand total of 3 points (out of 100) on the sophisticated Climate Hawks Vote scorecard measuring leadership on climate, and those three points were achieved by cosponsoring five bills enjoying broad Democratic support. Since 2011, he has never once spoken out once on the greatest challenge facing the next few generations of humanity. All indications are that Wilcox will follow in his footsteps, promote business-as-usual politics, and continue her secret toxic dealings with APS while Phoenix suffers.
Luckily, voters in the 7th District have a better alternative on August 26. Ruben Gallego has been endorsed by MoveOn, DailyKos, Climate Hawks Vote, and other progressive and environmental groups. Gallego will fight for clean energy project such as light rail in the district, and he'll bring a sorely-needed Latino perspective on climate change to Congress. Gallego needs to communicate to voters in this historically low-turnout district that this year they face a meaningful choice. Join us - sign up for emails, donate, or send a kosmail if interested in phonebanking. #VoteClimate - not dirty-business-as-usual - on August 26.