Tucson’s Privileged Public Sector

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Those at the top of the public sector are doing well while Tucson stays mired in poverty.


The City of Tucson and the surrounding Pima County have a lot of poverty. The city’s poverty rate of 20.79% is near twice the national average, and the county’s poverty rate of 15.94% is about 1.5 times higher.


Numbers get squishy depending on source and time frame, but the following numbers are close enough for our purposes here: The median household income for the metro area is $55,023, the average salary is $49,442, and the per capita income is $48,373.

By comparison, the many executives, executive administrators, deputy executive administrators, and plain ole administrators at Pima Community College are doing very well.  According to Open the Books, the top 45 of them make an average of $148,000 in annual base pay, in rounded numbers, not counting employee benefits, pensions, and the imputed value of a high level of job security.

Is this social justice or social injustice?


Scrolling around on the website of Open the Books reveals other interesting pay numbers.

In the Golder Ranch Fire District, for example, 29 employees make over $100,000 in base pay.

At the University of Arizona, at least 1,900 employees make over $100,000 in base pay. This is not surprising given that it is a large university with a lot of degree programs and a medical school. Nor is it surprising that the basketball coach makes $2.4 million—egregious, yes, but not surprising. It is surprising, though, that a football analyst makes $100,000, and an assistant vice president of human resources makes $180,000.


The university shouldn’t be castigated for paying faculty members what is needed to attract and retain them. But, as with colleges across the nation, it should be castigated for letting the cost of college skyrocket over the years, and for aiding and abetting the indebtedness of students through the corrupt student loan program. Worse, much of this indebtedness has gone towards swank facilities and exorbitant coaching salaries. 

At the same time, the ideological tilt of the university can be seen in the adjoining neighborhoods, where many faculty and staff live. Ubiquitous yard signs are about social justice, diversity, and global warming. The irony appears to be lost on the residents that they are truly privileged relative to the average Tucson resident, that poor people in the nearby barrio who don’t attend college have to pay taxes for the support of the university and its payroll, and that the university wastes tremendous amounts of energy by not using buildings around the clock and around the year.

The Flowing Wells School District takes the cake—but not the cake that Marie Antoinette was referring to when she said, “Let them eat cake.” Open the Books reports an annual pension payment of $201,704.28 for one retiree, $135,005.88 for another, and $127,640.76 for a third. Taxpayers can only hope that something is amiss with the reported numbers and that a district with abysmal test scores isn’t rewarding employees to this extent for poor results. 

There are similar questionable pay levels at the top of other public-sector organizations and governments, including the City of Tucson and Pima County.

More research needs to be done, for the foregoing numbers just scratch the surface and should be verified independently. It would be a great topic for investigative reporting, especially considering that reporters have the admirable mission of speaking truth to power. It isn’t going to happen, however. That’s not a slam against local media but a recognition that with out-of-state ownership and dramatically changed economics, local news outlets in Tucson and most cities no longer have the staff or money to be a watchdog.    

In closing:

This commentary was not intended to be an anti-government rant or a claim that all public-sector employees are overpaid. Rather, it was to point out a travesty.

The travesty is that to a large extent, the Tucson metropolis is poor because of the failures and mindsets of local governments, local politicians, and the local education establishment. Their hubris and provincialism, combined with their antipathy for big business and economic growth over the decades, have made Tucson a laggard in not only income but also other key measures of success compared to other Sunbelt cities.

In spite of this failing grade, those at the top of the public sector are doing rather well. Why should they change anything?


Are you fed up? Are you worried that America in rapidly sliding into a neo-Marxist state by the radical left in control of Washington with historically narrow majorities in the U.S. House and Senate and an Executive controlled by unnamed far leftists in place of a clinically incompetent President Biden? They are desperate to keep power and complete their radical progressive agenda that will change America and our liberty forever.

Americans just witnessed the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 without one Republican vote in the U.S. Senate and House (just as Obamacare was passed in 2010). The IRS  will be hiring 87,000 new agents, many armed, to terrorize American taxpayers.

Americans witnessed the FBI raid at the Trump Mar-A-Lago home and property of President Trump, truly a first in all of American history. We know what that is about. 

It is undeniable that the Democrat Party and the administrative state (the executive branches of the DOJ, FBI, IRS, et al) are clear and present dangers to our Republic and our liberty as they increasingly veer further away from the rule of law and the Constitution. What is the solution? At this critical juncture, there is only one action we can all take.

The only viable and timely solution at this critical point is to vote – yes, vote correctly and smartly to retake the U.S. House and Senate on November 8th and to prepare the way to retake the White House in two years. Vote and help everyone you know to vote. Please click the TAKE ACTION link below – we must vote correctly and in great numbers to be sure our votes are counted to diminish the potential for the left to rig and steal the midterms and the 2024 elections as they are clearly intending to do after their success in 2020.



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