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The only things keeping Tom from a City Council seat: residency, reality and the ability to talk funny

Not long ago, during a rare lull in my day, I was thinking about getting another part-time job to go along with the 10 mini-jobs I currently have that add up to about a half-career. I was thinking of running for the Tucson City Council.

There are only three problems with that plan:

1. I don't live in the city of Tucson.

2. Even if I did, I'd have no chance of winning.

3. I can't talk like those people do!

I went to the momentous, super-colossal City Council meeting last Tuesday, July 1, expecting to see some serious fireworks. This was the day that City Manager Mike Hein might have been fired, despite the fact that he has done a spectacular job in his short time with the city. As Richard Pryor used to say in his pimp-on-cocaine voice, "It's the politics, baby."

As I've mentioned (too many times), Hein is a friend and a basketball teammate of mine. That doesn't mean that I'll always take his side. For example, not long ago, he wrote a snotty e-mail that ended up in the Sunday paper. He's got to know better. He has to learn the magic art of writing the e-mail, reading it over, getting a chuckle and then not sending it. And he obviously isn't the only one who could benefit from not sending e-mails.

City Councilman Steve Leal could have exercised some e-mail discretion when he sent out (or didn't) a missive demanding Hein's resignation. At least Leal had the decency (or not) to wait until Hein had left on a family vacation to do so. (And for all those out there who want to give Leal gas about his understanding of how the e-mail system works or doesn't, at least he's not Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens--he of the $23 million Bridge to Nowhere--who thinks that the Internet goes through a series of "tubes.")

As for Mike's bosses on the council, I'd be more than happy to play basketball with them, although I don't think any of them are as good as he is. Mike still shoots really well; however, there are days when I think he'd rather pass a kidney stone than the basketball. Regina Romero and Shirley Scott have history going against them. Of the hundreds of players in the Basketball Hall of Fame, fewer than 10 have alliterative names (that includes Moses Malone, Gail Goodrich and George Gervin). I realize that Shirley Scott's name isn't exactly alliterative, but I did all that research, so cut me some slack.

Nina Trasoff used to be a ballerina, so that won't help. And Karin Uhlich would be easy to guard, because she obviously can't go to her right.

Neither Leal nor Rodney Glassman could beat Uhlich, so there's no way they could beat me.

Mayor Bob Walkup is a Republican, and Republicans generally don't play basketball. They hire Democrats and foreigners to do it for them. Plus, if they did play basketball, Walkup's name sounds similar to the way they would move.

Having settled all that, let's return to the meeting. Leal, who had publicly called for Hein to resign just a week earlier, started things off by reading an "Oops!" statement, in which he expressed "regrets" and said that things hadn't gone "the right way." It'd be easy to goof on him, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Who among us hasn't acted in haste and then changed our minds after hundreds of our constituents let us know that we were acting like a fool? Besides, having played defensive back in football, I do appreciate a big man who can back up with such a combination of speed and grace.

When the actual meeting got underway, Uhlich made a motion about creating some auditor's position that will cost the cash-strapped city a cool quarter mil. It seems perfectly reasonable to fix a struggling bureaucracy by adding another layer; it certainly works with aluminum-foil balls.

Uhlich pointed out that other cities have such a position and then added that Tucson "has evolved to a point where we are considering more checks and balances." At $250,000, it will certainly mean more checks, but probably less balance.

Glassman voted against even considering such a move, but Regina Romero said, "(It's) a very visionary action. It's important for us to think creatively about transparency."

You just know that she practices talking like that at home before doing so in public.

The council then went into executive session for just about ever, leaving all of us assembled peasants out in the chamber to talk amongst ourselves. A couple of times, they had to tell us to keep the noise down, because the people in the executive session in the next room were being drowned out. They needed the transcriber to be able to hear each council member clearly when he/she said, "Jeez, Steve, what were you thinking?!"

They finally emerged, all smiley and stuff. Leal said, "All of us have faith that we have mitigated and shrinked (sic) the symptoms that have caused us discontent."

I'm assuming that sentence wasn't practiced at home beforehand.

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