The Skinny 

LAW AND DISORDER

The Tucson City Council somehow managed to botch its national search for a new police chief. After a lengthy meeting behind closed doors last week, council members decided against hiring any of the four applicants--two out-of-towners and local boys John Leavitt, an assistant chief, and Brett Klein, a TPD captain.

Now they're going to start all over again, only focusing on local talent within the department this time. Guess that means that Leavitt and Klein are welcome to re-apply, although it doesn't sound like council members are all that excited about them.

Does this mean that someone on the council wants to put in the fix for a local pick? Perhaps someone wants to see some girl-power in the top slot. Wait and see.

We'll also wait and see if anything comes of an investigation into whether someone on the council leaked information from that closed-door executive session. Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall announced last week that she was beginning an investigation to see if any of the council members broke the law during the police chief search.

This all begs the question: Is there really no one interested in running against the incumbents this year?


MEET THE NEW BOSS?

Democrat Richard Fimbres made it official last week: He'll be seeking the southside Ward 5 City Council seat being vacated by Steve Leal, who is retiring after two decades in office.

Fimbres has his own lengthy history in Ward 5, having lived there for most of his 54 years. The son of a Southern Pacific railroad worker and a stay-at-home mom, Fimbres credits his parents for instilling in him a responsibility to serve his community.

Fimbres is no stranger to politics. In 2002, he was tapped by Democrat Janet Napolitano to head up the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. Before that, he spent two decades working in an administrative position for Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

On the side, Fimbres has served on the Pima Community College governing board since 1997, although he plans to resign if elected to the council.

He's also collected a boatload of awards over the years, including being named Man of the Year by the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in 2002 and National Man of the Year by the League of United Latin American Citizens in 2001.

He's assembled quite the team for his council campaign, including Dan Eckstrom, the South Tucson powerbroker and former Pima County supervisor; Ramón Valadez, Eckstrom's successor on the Pima County Board of Supes; Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik; former Tucson Mayor George Miller; and Leal himself.

Fimbres should know plenty about the council office if he listens to his wife. Mary Fimbres has been a longtime aide to Leal. Fimbres is the first one into the Ward 5 pool, but Democrat Annabelle Nuñez is telling people she's still considering a run.


MEANWHILE, UP IN PHOENIX

Senate President Bob Burns continues to push his members to focus on the budget--and he plans to have a budget all wrapped up by the end of this week.

That will be something of a miracle if he can pull it off, especially if it turns out to be a plan that (a) doesn't include tax hikes, (b) is something that can pass out of the House of Representatives, and (c) is something that Gov. Jan Brewer will sign.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is carrying on with business as usual. Last week, the big news was the passage of a package of abortion restrictions, including specific requirements a judge must consider when allowing a minor to seek an abortion without parental permission; a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion after she meets with her doctor; a list of detailed information that a doctor must tell a woman before she has an abortion; and a provision that allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception or other abortion medication if it violates their political or religious views.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, which is not hearing bills that aren't budget-related.


SUNSHINE AND JOY

Earlier this week, lawmakers had a big press conference to celebrate Sunshine Week, a media invention designed to bring attention to the need for open records.

Lawmakers told reporters how they believe in all the tenets of transparent government. Then they announced they'd be evicting reporters from the press room the media have used for more than three decades, because the lawmakers need the space. And it turns out there's another space at the Capitol for the media to rent an office.

You really can't make this stuff up.


AL MELVIN: RINO!

Speaking of the Capitol: You may recall that freshman Sen. Al Melvin, who represents the Catalina foothills and Oro Valley, managed to beat fellow Republican Pete Hershberger (and two years before that, Republican Sen. Toni Hellon) in a primary by portraying himself as the genuine Republican. His opponents were Republicans In Name Only who didn't really reflect the values of the GOP.

So it was quite a surprise to see the latest bulletin from the PAChyderm Coalition, which describes itself as backing candidates who "support pro-life and pro-school choice legislation, embrace traditional family values, support all legal measures to combat illegal immigration and support limited government, including lower taxation and unnecessary government regulations."

The Pachyderm Co. released its rankings of the GOP caucus in the Arizona Senate and House, grading them on a scale of "Reagan Republican" to "Republican In Name Only." (The second-worst category is "bipartisan Republican.")

Guess who is at the bottom of the PAChyderm Coalition's list of Republicans in the Senate? Yes, Al Melvin, who has been declared a RINO by his own peeps. Ouch!

Melvin's seatmate, Rep. Vic Williams, is third from the bottom in the House, earning the rank of "Big Government Republican."

In Southern Arizona's other GOP district, LD 30, Sen. Jonathan Paton earns the rather neutral ranking of "Republican," while his House mates, Frank Antenori and David Gowan, are "Pro-Freedom Republicans."


AND THEN THERE WERE SEVEN

We mentioned last week that up to eight candidates were considering running for two House seats in midtown's Legislative District 28. There will be an open seat as Rep. Dave Bradley hits his term limit.

Well, attorney Jonathan Rothschild, one of our eight would-be candidates and treasurer of the Pima County Democratic Party, called to let us know that he's not interested in the seat.

Whether Rothschild wants to run for mayor of Tucson in a few years, however, is "another conversation."


EASY RIDER

There's still time to help out the Community Food Bank and get in on the chance to win a sporty SYM Fiddle II scooter, courtesy of the friendly folks at Scoot Over Fun in Motion.

Every $5 contribution to the Community Food Bank gets you a raffle ticket to win the Fiddle II, which commemorates the Tucson Weekly's 25th anniversary! Alternatively, you can drop off 10 cans of food to get a ticket.

Drop off your contributions at Weekly World Central, 3280 E. Hemisphere Loop, or Scoot Over, 4534 E. Broadway Blvd.

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