Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

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Taking the long view

Sun Expanded Coverage

(The Sun has gone on the road to listen to voters and talk to political leaders around the West. Reporters will examine the economic, cultural and demographic forces re-shaping the region as they drive to Denver for the first of the two major party conventions the Sun will cover.)

Nevada could use its own Grady Gammage Jr.

Everyone I talked to the past few days said I should talk to Gammage, and I now realize why. His father was president of ASU, and he got a Stanford Law degree before becoming a development lawyer (Not everyone is a fan because of this background.)

His book, “Phoenix in Perspective,” is a controversial history of the city and its development patterns.

Check out the competing views on Amazon.com

Now he’s a senior fellow at the Morrison Institute at ASU and is a forceful advocate for better planning. He recently published this report.

His thinking on the region’s future is aligned with the work of Mark Muro and Robert Lang at the Brookings Institution, which recently released a report on the intermountain West, and how to create a secure and prosperous future.

In my conversation with Gammage, he seemed committed to a future Phoenix that isn't so reliant on migration as an economic development plan, and a landscape not so dominated by single-family tract homes and strip malls and big box stores built on the edge of town. It's just not sustainable, he said. (He'd know: He was on the board of the Arizona equivalent of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. "I know Pat well," he said of SNWA's Pat Mulroy. The two worked to thwart the influence of water-hog California, he told me.

Nevada could use some people who are thinking about what the state should or would look like in 25 or 50 years. Governor? Madame Speaker? Next year is your chance.

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