In Arizona, talented people come - and go - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

In Arizona, talented people come - and go

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Mark J. Scarp is a contributing columnist for the Tribune. Reach him at

Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 9:00 am | Updated: 1:24 pm, Fri Jul 22, 2011.

A couple of people I know are leaving town this week. Sure, I'll miss them. But I'm well used to the feeling.

Like most of us who have been here a while, I learned that people come and go in Arizona all the time. This was especially true during the big growth years.

During the last decade some experts were quoted as saying that for every 100 people who moved here, between 60 and 70 would eventually move out.

I know two of them.

Jacqueline Pittel has a marketing and sales job with a big firm waiting for her near San Francisco, where she'll start on Monday.

Bobby Boos was to have gathered with friends in Tempe one last time Saturday before leaving the Valley, his home for more than 30 years, for, as he put it in an email message to his friends, "destinations unknown." Well, not exactly.

Jacqui had worked in advertising in Phoenix since graduating from the University of Arizona in 2004. When the small local branch of her national agency closed this spring, resulting in Jacqui and everyone else working there getting laid off, she started looking to peddle the fresh master's of business administration degree she just received last month.

She told me that as much as she loves it here, where she grew up and has family, the job in northern California, where she also has relatives, was too good to pass up. There just wasn't anything around here that came close, she said.

Bobby had worked several years ago at the Tribune, then at that big newspaper in Phoenix, then was laid off along with so many journalists caught in the throes of the financial crisis of 2008-09.

Meanwhile he taught journalism part-time at Arizona State University, as I do. We shared an office, where I remember him spending a lot of time in 2009 on a computer looking for work.

He got another job with a local non-profit, but after several months was laid off there as well last September and could only get freelance work since.

And so, I wasn't surprised to read his email message last week telling us that he made the decision to pack up.

He's choosing to go, too. Despite the "unknown" part of his email message, when I talked to Bobby on the phone Friday he said he had a job waiting for him in Minneapolis working as an associate editor on the website of Minnesota Public Radio.

He said he still had to find a place to stay, but was looking forward to being back in a room full of colleagues after a couple of years out.

"I had no shortage of job interviews," he said of his Valley job hunt, "but I guess I just wasn't the right fit as other applicants. Once I looked beyond my state I found a lot more positions and job interests that were a better fit."

Yes, people move in and out of here much more than most places. The influx has often brought some very talented people here willing to make a fresh start and apply what they know to a much less restrictive environment than what they might have known elsewhere.

And yes, when those who left did, as they certainly had over the years, they took what talents they had with them.

But then most people moved on because they wanted to and because they had places to go that they would rather be.

The news is filled with statistics. We pay closer attention to certain ones: Gas prices because they come flying at us in two-foot-high letters, and unemployment rates, because they tell our gut feelings whether the economy is really getting any better.

A couple of people I know are leaving town this week. They are officially withdrawing from Arizona's unemployment statistics.

I'll miss them. Arizona will miss them, too.

Jacqui said she might be back someday. Bobby, who also has immediate family here, was more definite about it.

"I'll be back," Bobby said. "I'm leaving Arizona but I'll be back."

• Mark J. Scarp ( is a Tribune contributing columnist who appears on Sundays.


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