I edited the Tribune’s popular Vent column for more than five years, and if there’s one thing I learned from the experience, it’s that people get opinionated about the darnedest things.
And so, as summer settles in here in the East Valley — I didn’t buy any Facebook stock on Friday, so I’ll still be here, too — perhaps some attention to not-so-heavy topics might be in order.
• Various media outlets reported last week that a Gilbert man made a “citizen’s arrest” of a jogger on a local street, allegedly for the jogger’s using a bicycle lane, sans bicycle.
If you’re 50 or older, right about now you’re probably hearing “The Andy Griffith Show’s” Gomer Pyle crying out in his high-pitched Southern drawl, “Citizen’s arrest! Citizen’s arrest!” to call attention to Deputy Barney Fife’s making an illegal U-turn in his squad car. It’s on YouTube.
Of course, one has no more of a right to arrest a pedestrian in a bike lane than Pyle did to arrest Fife, as both, um, moving violations are civil matters for which no arrests can be made.
Frankly, it’s too hot to be in an asphalt bicycle lane for any form of conversation.
• We’re not hearing $4-a-gallon gas-price predictions today like we did back in March and April. Prices are creeping downward at about the pace they crept upward. You might have enough left over after filling up to be able to afford a hot dog and a soft drink by, oh, 2015.
• And so, it’s no surprise that AAA predicts 1.6 percent more Arizonans will drive more than 50 miles to their Memorial Day destination than last year, a positive sign after five straight years of less travel.
The question is, will that old car you’ve kept through the recession stwwill have the oomph to get you up those mountains? Perhaps the answer for more people is no, because AAA said in a May 15 statement that despite more people on the road, “both trip distance and spending are nearly half of last year’s averages.”
So that means a trip to Flagstaff will end around Black Canyon City. I recommend the Four Bees Café on the Old Black Canyon Highway through town. Delicious pies. Two can eat breakfast for under $10.
• With the announcement that Albright College, of Reading, Pa. (which is a great name for a college town, don’t you think?), will be offering classes there, downtown Mesa is fast becoming a smorgasbord of Snow Belt institutions of higher learning.
The Tribune reported last week that the city is renovating what is now called the Mesa Center for Higher Education in a former court building at 245 W. Second St. In a little more than a year, Missouri-based Westminster College will open there. Nearby, another city-owned structure is to be the home of classes offered by Illinois-based Benedictine University.
City officials should get cracking on a marketing slogan for downtown. How about, “Downtown Mesa: Where you can go to a back-East college without having to buy a parka and some of that gas-tank anti-freeze.”
• Here’s something I touched on in my most recent video commentary about a new state law, just signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, moving city elections to the same day in November as the others. It puts every candidate that you can find — national, state, county, city, school board, dog catcher — on the same ballot on the same day.
It’ll be a ballot so lengthy that if it were on one piece of paper, it would extend to the floor even if Shaquille O’Neal were holding it over his head. This helps turnout?
Moving local elections to when we vote for national and state offices and issues only hurts the locals. People will start with the offices they hear the most about: President, governor, ballot propositions.
And by the time, ha ha, they get down to who’s to be on the city council, which affects their daily lives much more than who’s to be president, well, far too many will have left the booth leaving that blank.
If Arizona legislators want people to participate more enthusiastically in elections, they can leave the dates alone and start encouraging candidates who are worth taking the time to vote for.
It is quite plain that very little is being done about that lately.
If there are markedly better reasons to take the time to go to the polls, people will come, Jan. They will most certainly come. Even in May.
Read Tribune contributing columnist Mark J. Scarp’s opinions here on Sundays. Watch his “On the Mark” video commentaries at eastvalleytribune.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.