End of the world will have to wait until Gilbert grows up - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

End of the world will have to wait until Gilbert grows up

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Mark J. Scarp is a contributing columnist for the Tribune. Reach him at mscarp1@cox.net.

Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:59 pm, Sat May 21, 2011.

You're reading this column for many reasons (I hope), one of which is that the world did not end Saturday, a catastrophe foretold by the latest all-seeing prophet, radio evangelist the Rev. Harold Camping, who like all the others, presumes to know the mind of God on this or any other subject.

Yours truly, of course, was so confident that the day and time of the Real Live End of the World was something only God knows that he wrote this column on Friday, knowing that it would have exploded into smithereens, never to be read by anyone, had the Earth stood still in that not-in-a-movie way.

And so today Fiesta Mall is still there, God bless it. And so is that skeleton of an unfinished high-rise in Chandler next to the Price/Santan interchange. Gorgeous. ASU still has to play basketball again next year, in a conference with two more opponents in it. Terrific.

And Gilbert is still a town, still with the opportunity its leaders keep denying to be officially called a city, which in all other ways it is, much larger (population 217,285) than many other Arizona cities that are called cities: Tempe (174,255), Peoria (162,740), Yuma (91,105), Flagstaff (60,611) and especially Bullhead City (40,747), which is whimsically, but officially, called the "City of Bullhead City."

Scottsdale (238,715) is also a city, but it inverted things nicely. While Gilbert is a city that calls itself a town, Scottsdale is a town that calls itself a city, keeping its famed nickname, "The West's Most Western Town." And despite having nearly a quarter million people, Scottsdale plays town once a year with its Old West-themed Parada del Sol, where residents dress up like cowboys and cowgirls and step out of their expensive German cars to go to the annual rodeo.

Of course, to graduate from town to city, some of Gilbert's residents have to - how can this be put delicately - grow up.

You could give credit to candidates and their supporters in last week's Town Council election (there's that word again) to having no truck with Camping's prediction. After all, the winners sought and the voters granted them each a four-year term.

But while still sticking their fingers in their ears over the whole town thing, some couldn't fight the urge to leave each other's signs a non-issue.

As the Tribune's Mike Sakal reported May 13, police said they cited a friend of Gilbert Town Councilwoman Linda Abbott for removing signs that accused Abbott's husband of stealing other candidates' signs.


Sakal reported that police said Roberta "Bobbi" Smith, who is on the board of directors of the, um, town's Chamber of Commerce, was caught taking a sign from near Civic and Palm streets. Officers said they found 12 more signs in the back of Smith's van, Sakal wrote.

I guess there was no time for campaign tactics that might actually win votes, like, oh, I don't know, knocking on doors or handing out fliers or making phone calls, so what's a campaign stalwart to do but engage in the old heave-ho, right?

Again, sheesh.

It seems that most of us plan to be around on Earth for a long time, because anyone who took Camping's warning seriously would not be spending his or her last days yanking out signs belonging to someone he or she doesn't like. Free speech is something we should all respect; the First Amendment was written not so much to protect speech we agree with - that kind seldom gets threatened - but speech we don't.

If I were so audacious as to presume to know the mind of God, I'd say he's patiently waiting to end the world until more of us get at least one more chance to do a better job following his wishes: Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbor's, thou shalt not live in a town that is really a city ...

OK, that last one's from me.

• Mark J. Scarp (mscarp1@cox.net) is a contributing columnist who appears in the Tribune on Sundays.


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