Thursday, March 5, 2009


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, June 23, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

When Phil Gordon took over as mayor nearly four years ago, his initial drive was the porch-bench initiative. This public relations campaign has fallen by the wayside.

Now that hizzoner is running for re-election, I suggest he adopt a new campaign. His rationale for creating the bench initiative was: "By paying attention, being vigilant and assisting others, we will help to build healthy, crime-free communities."

Noble goals for any politician. Yet, as Gordon found out, since Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the U.S., there is a level of sophistication his porch-bench initiative missed.

The American Obesity Association reports nearly 65 percent of Americans are overweight. Obesity leads to heart disease and diabetes, and possibly is a contributing factor to cancer. This "illness" costs Americans billions each year in medical and hospital bills, lost productivity in the workplace due to sick days, and much more.

One thing you have to give Gordon credit for, he is open to ideas. He was willing to hear me out on my opinion of the porch-bench initiative.

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to reaching his goal of paying attention to crime in neighborhoods and helping build a healthy community if the mayor advocated every one of 1.5 million citizens of Phoenix walked a mile every day?

Think about it. Walking a mile is great cardiovascular exercise. Since my gym is about two miles from my home, I attempt to walk to the gym as much as time allows.

What I see on the way to the gym is incredible. I must cross the Palomino neighborhood. According to police reports, this is one of the most crime-ridden communities in the city.

What do I see while walking in this neighborhood? I see people, like myself, who walk. They don't need to contribute to global warning by jumping in an SUV to run to the convenience store down the street. They are family-oriented.

I see zoning violations that continue year after year but the city's Neighborhood Services Department seems to miss. Maybe the mayor could ask citizens to report these violations during their daily mile walk.

Mayor Gordon, you're a fantastic mayor, but let's get back on track by asking the public to be "vigilant" by walking a mile each day, thus helping to reduce obesity and building healthy citizens who get out to know their neighbors and maybe pick up litter, rather than sitting their rump on a bench.