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Get Out of Town! 

Our sixth-annual list of people, things and entities that should just GO!

Back in 2003, we published our first Get Out of Town! issue. Looking back at that first roster of ne'er-do-wells, two things become apparent:

1. The more things change, the more things stay the same. The first entry on our 2003 naughty list: The Bee brothers--former state Sen. Keith Bee, and then-newish state Sen. Tim Bee--who were booted for being "perpetually smug religious righties." This year, Tim Bee has earned the honor of becoming the first person ever to make this list twice. (We normally prohibit repeats, but in this case, we felt an exception was appropriate.)

Also on that 2003 list: Stephen Phinny, the king of Saguaro Ranch who, while not on this year's list, certainly merits scorn for acting like a major jerk to all of his northwest-side neighbors while simultaneously not paying his bills.

2. People tend to ignore this list. After all, the Bees and Phinny are still around, as are other 2003 dishonorees like Rodney Glassman (who was kicked out back then for trying to talk his way onto the Pima County Board of Supervisors; he's since gone on to earn election to the Tucson City Council--but only after maturing, a lot), Hummers, Tucson Greyhound Park and a local rag named the Tucson Weekly, which was kicked out of town that year for publishing a Savage Love column (on butt sex!) in the middle of a cover story on underage drinking, thanks to a printer error.

Yep, we're still here, and we're still kicking people out of town.

Welcome to our sixth annual Get Out of Town! issue.


Tim Bee

I'm certain that Tim Bee cares about his family. It was downright touching to see how he thanked his wife at the GOP Election Day party for her support during his congressional run against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

So, when a colleague expressed concern that I was going to kick Bee out on his bum, I thought about family--my family.

My concerned colleague was right when he counseled me that Tucsonans owe Bee gratitude for the many good things he did in the Legislature. He's correct when he notes that we are now worse off with yokels like Al Melvin in the Senate, rather than moderate folks such as Bee.

But like Bee, I dearly care about my family--so when Bee furthered the notion that Arizona would be better off amending its Constitution to say that only marriage between one man and one woman would be legal, I thought about several of my closest relatives who happen to be LGBT.

I wondered why Bee, if he's the reasonable politician my colleague claims he is, decided that hate needed to be part of his political legacy. Bee told me on Election Day that his constituents asked him to put Proposition 102 on the ballot. He doesn't have any gay constituents?

Tim, you broke my heart, and you broke the heart of many Arizonans when you showed that even the truly good guys can go down in a sellout heap. Arizona doesn't need hate, and in the end, Arizonans didn't need Tim Bee to serve in Congress. --Mari Herreras


Big-Box Liquor Stores

Choices ... we don't need so many stinking choices.

At a big-box wine store that recently came to town, there are 8,000 different kinds of wines, 1,000 different kinds of beers and 2,000 spirits--or, as the kindly clerk noted, the store has "$8 million in inventory." Showoff!

Is bigger always bigger? I think not. You need a GPS to figure out where the pinot gris is. The store's free monthly catalog is bigger than the Pima Community College class catalog. Around the store's perimeter, boxes are piled vertically from the top shelf upward toward the high ceiling, making me feel claustrophobic. Good thing we don't live in earthquake territory.

Wine novices may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of chardonnays--arranged somewhat alphabetically--although an oenophile may be more confident. Walking through the store, with such an exhaustive array of bottles to peruse, is about as much fun as reading the fine print of a health-insurance contract. Give me personalized service from a local wine purveyor who can recommend a Portuguese vinho verde to serve as the perfect pairing for my spicy poblano chile brunch strata! --Karyn Zoldan


Bike-Lane Interlopers

Tucson's colorful palm-lined avenues and clear skies are a bike commuter's dream. From padded-seat weekend warriors sprinting down from the foothills to parents accompanying their offspring to school each morning, Tucsonans enjoy a city that is overall quite bike-friendly.

For UA students and employees, the Mountain Avenue bike path is a nice example of an alternative transportation plan in action. The wide shoulder, clearly distinguished from the road, is like a bike aorta, pumping cyclists from the heart of the UA to the tiny neighborhood capillaries to the north.

However, a specter is haunting these bike lanes: Cars have been crossing the sacred white line and using the bike lane as a right-hand turning lane. These crossings are obnoxious enough that they should be shunned.

Not only do cyclists wind up stuck behind a line of exhaust-spewing cars until the light changes; they have to watch out for drivers who aren't paying attention and wind up merging into the cyclists themselves. There are enough distracted drivers out there to make this a true hazard.

Sure, there are plenty of ignorant bikers who believe traffic rules don't apply to them. But a car getting hit by a biker may cause a dented bumper; a biker getting hit by a car may cause a dented skull.

For the peaceful coexistence of bikes and cars, we demand that these bike-lane interlopers right-turn their way out of town. --Claire Conrad


Convention Center Hotel

The city of Tucson's proposal to finance and own a convention center hotel at first looked like just a risky gamble. Today, it looks like fiscal suicide.

The original concept was for the hotel to produce enough profits to help pay for a new downtown arena. But the economy has since tanked--and may remain in recession for years to come. Plus, the convention business, which was to provide a significant part of the hotel's clientele, doesn't have a very prosperous outlook, either.

In addition, competition for business from local resort hotels is severe--and Phoenix is seriously going after conventions, too.

Tucson needs a modern arena--and it doesn't have to build a hotel to pay for it. Instead, the city can use the $100 million in Rio Nuevo money set aside for part of the arena, the hotel and convention center improvements--and spend it exclusively on the arena.

It would be a game of Russian roulette with taxpayer money for our city government to get into the hotel business. Instead of pulling the trigger on this proposal, the City Council needs to quickly send it to the trash heap. --Dave Devine


Ephraim Cruz

It would perhaps be more appropriate to tell Ephraim Cruz to stay out of town. Ephraim, a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives, demonstrated his commitment to Arizona by leaving for New York City a couple of weeks after finishing sixth in the seven-way Democratic primary in Legislative District 29.

Cruz tried to parlay his reputation as a whistleblower with the U.S. Border Patrol into a political career. But it didn't take too much digging to discover that Cruz had voted all of three times in the decade he had lived in Arizona. His lame excuse for his lack of voting? He had trouble understanding the issues in the state. Hey, if it takes him 10 years to understand the issues as a voter, how long would it take him to understand the issues as a lawmaker? He's no quick study.

Even worse, for all the noise he made about being worried about the children of Arizona, he did a damn poor job of taking care of the one he had out of wedlock. After getting canned by the Border Patrol, Cruz drifted from low-paying job to low-paying job, repeatedly asking the courts to lower his child-support payments. He gave up working altogether to focus on his run for office, saying that sacrifices had to be made all around to support his ambition.

Stay out of town, Ephraim Cruz! --Jim Nintzel


Downtown Parking Fees at Night

It's like the first sign of the apocalypse: a white sign, with "$7" writ large in red.

Near the sign, a young man in a white polo shirt casually patrols the pothole-riddled parking lot to the east of the Rialto Theatre--a place where, until recently, any upstanding Tucsonan looking to enjoy a Saturday evening downtown enjoyed the right to park, for free.

"What's downtown coming to?" you ask yourself as you drive off. Luckily, there's another parking lot close by, on the other side of the Rialto. But ... oh god, there's a white-clad young man there, too! And, yes, he wants $7!

Now, you know that in most other cities, it's difficult and/or expensive as hell to park downtown. But Tucson's city center has always been so laid back and, well ... cheap to visit. And, sure, maybe you should have seen this coming when the Greyhound station went away, and all those condos started going up. But how were you to know downtown's transformation would affect you so soon, so directly, in your near-empty wallet? --Anna Mirocha


Drought

To get any drier, Tucson would need the Board of Supervisors to re-enact Prohibition laws.

Every year since 2001, Tucson has seen local rainfall register below the historic norm of the previous three decades. Despite a few recent pathetic sprinkles, 2008 will almost certainly be no exception.

Negatively impacting plants and critters, the widespread drought is also drying up the Colorado River, which supplies much of Tucson's drinking water. As a result, it's more likely that we'll have to eventually drink recycled toilet water--which is definitely not something to look forward to.

Even worse, these lower rainfall totals are beginning to look ordinary, not unusual, meaning that we might be in for a never-ending hot, dry spell. That's desert weather, all right--but it's more Saharan than Sonoran.

To combat the drought, we could each take steps to address global warming, cut back on our use of water ... and pray like hell.

Whatever it takes, the lack of rain needs to be sent packing immediately. --D.D.


Energy-Drink Promotions

Energy drinks are the methamphetamines of beverages: It seems everyone knows someone who brews these noxious concoctions in their mom's basement, in an effort to cash in on the college-student and extreme-sports-enthusiast markets.

The drinks themselves are pretty toxic. They usually taste like liquefied Skittles and are often some color never before seen in nature.

But even worse than the beverage is the marketing.

Energy-drink promoters show up at UA football games and charity 5k races in tricked-out SUVs or Hummers with abrasive Top 40 hits blasting out the back. The name of the drink--usually something along the lines of HOOAHH!!! or HELL YEAH!!!--is painted on the side in flames, and some guy in a visor hands out samples to the public.

The guy in the visor needs to know: The extreme-marketing fad is over. Nobody really believes these elixirs will get you through organic chemistry or make you skate like Tony Hawk. The only things these drinks actually give you are heart palpitations and the sneaking suspicion that the beverage is burning holes in your stomach lining.

With the UA basketball season heating up, it's time to kick these ridiculous energy-drink promotions straight outta town. --C.C.


Enormous, Inflatable Men

We're not sure what marketing research says that a humungous blow-up eyesore near a business will draw in customers rather than scaring them off, but the folks at DriveTime, on Speedway Boulevard near Alvernon Way, must have read it.

That's the only explanation for "Max," the muscled monstrosity outside of DriveTime's Tucson headquarters. A huge, blue-skinned inflatable man in yellow boxer shorts and nerdy yellow glasses, this guy isn't what we'd call aesthetically appealing. We know his name is Max, because it's written right across his chest. But what's the meaning of him? This "mascot" has nothing to do with cars or trucks that we can tell--he's not a race-car driver; he's not a mechanic; he's not holding any automobile paraphernalia. In fact, he's not even fully dressed. Furthermore, he's not in any DriveTime commercials we've seen, and he's not on the company's Web site--so why in the hell does he exist? We can't say.

But he sure does make us want to bike more. --A.M.


Express Flooring

At first, we were annoyed by Express Flooring's irritating TV commercial that airs repeatedly on local stations. The "happy home people" practically shout at you about their supposedly great service--and this god-awful commercial often runs twice or more within a 60-minute program. Give us a break!

But even worse, this company's membership in the Better Business Bureau was revoked on Nov. 15, 2007, based on an unsatisfactory record of resolving complaints. The BBB processed a total of 207 complaints about this business in the last 36 months. Among these are 47 regarding service issues, 34 regarding repair issues and 21 contract disputes. There were even two complaints about their advertising. Surprisingly, that number isn't higher. Where do they get off calling themselves "happy home people," considering this record of poor service and bad business practices?

We ceremoniously kick Express Flooring out of town. It's polite to walk on floors, not people. --Irene Messina


Fuel Surcharges

Way back when gas was around $4 a gallon (like, in July), a bunch of companies had started levying "fuel surcharges." Airlines were charging 'em. Food wholesalers were demanding that restaurants pay 'em. Heck, even the company that prints the Weekly started making us pay a little extra ($50) each week. After all, that company had to truck the paper all the way from the intersection of Park Avenue and Irvington Road to the intersection of Palo Verde and Valencia roads (distance: 4 miles).

Those charges sucked. But what really sucks is the fact that some companies are still charging these fees, even as gas is headed down toward $1.50 per gallon. (Thankfully, our printer is not making us pay that $50 a week anymore.)

We here at the Weekly recommend that you check your bills closely for these fuel charges ... and should you find one, let that company know that you don't like being ripped off--and tell them to get the hell out of town. --Jimmy Boegle


Grant Road Whiners

We can understand why midtown residents don't want to see Grant Road turned into some kind of cross-town freeway. We can understand why Tucsonans rejected the idea of building outrageously expensive tunnels at a couple of the intersections along the corridor. And we can even understand why people were worried when the Regional Transportation Authority finally found the money to widen the road to six lanes between Oracle and Swan roads.

But we are sick to death of the people who are still whining now that the city has unveiled its plan for the corridor. This has to be one of the most sensitively considered roads in the history of our burg. Yes, some houses and businesses will be demolished, and many other businesses will have rough times during the construction. But the end result will be the replacement of a worn-out corridor, with more lanes for cars, bike lanes, landscaping, frontage roads, fewer curb-cuts and safer sidewalks.

The planners have made every effort to save what they can, from Kingfisher Bar and Grill to the antique shops at Grant and Country Club Road. It ain't perfect, but it's far better than we imagined it would be.

Get out of town, Grant Road whiners! --J.N.


Handicapped-Door Abusers

Stand in front of any public building, and you'll see them. They approach the building like everyone else--but instead of using their own capable arms and hands to go in a regular door, they push the handicapped button.

How lazy! How rude! How perfectly selfish! These doors were designed for use by people who need assistance to open doors. Needlessly using the handicapped button is just as bad as needlessly parking in a handicapped space. What happens when the door breaks from overuse, and a truly handicapped person can't get in? A lawsuit, of course!

Then there is the whole environmental aspect: Most of these doors remain open for a minimum of 15 seconds after people pass through. 15 seconds times two (going in and going out) multiplied by 100 people equals 50 minutes--50 minutes when the doors stay open, which allows for all the hot or cool air to escape. It's a sinful waste.

The only people worse than these lazy ne'er-do-wells are the parents who let their kids play with the doors like they're some kind of toy! So now you've got rudeness, energy wasting and the possibility of getting injured. --Rita Connelly


Janet Napolitano

On one hand, we're happy for Gov. Janet Napolitano. It's nice to see her get some national recognition as President-elect Barack Obama's choice to become secretary of Homeland Security. She's been a good, capable public servant for Arizona. (Some people will criticize her for not accomplishing much, but when you look at what her veto pen has managed to stop the knuckle-draggers from "accomplishing," you'll realize she's done a lot.)

On the other hand--the much more important hand--we're furious at Napster, because she's really, really screwing us over.

Not all Republicans are cretins, but many of the Republicans who are in charge of the Arizona Legislature--the Republicans who Napolitano has sparred with for the last six years--are massive, oozing, hemorrhoidal cretins. Take incoming state Sen. Russell Pearce, who will be chairing the Senate Appropriations Committee. He's the guy known for circulating a neo-Nazi e-mail (but only because he didn't read it all the way through!) and for referring to Mexicans as "wetbacks" (but only in a historical context!). And then there's incoming Senate President Bob Burns, who received a big, fat "F" on environmental issues from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, as did incoming the House speaker, Kirk Adams of Mesa.

Now that Napolitano's heading for Washington, D.C., these loons will run around pretty much unchecked, thanks to the fact that conservative Republican Jan Brewer will be taking over for Napolitano. Don't know much about Brewer? The Phoenix Business Journal recently described her thusly: "Brewer has stated her opposition to abortion rights, but has been more open to tough immigration controls while siding with business interests against regulations and for tax cuts."

Looking at the facts, it's undeniable: If Janet cared more about the state than her career, there's no way in hell she would have accepted the Homeland Security gig. But she did accept it, and she's heading out of town. As far as we're concerned, she should stay out. --J.B.


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

With the holidays here, the Tucson Rodeo can't be far behind. And with the rodeo will come the inevitable protests by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals dorks, who want us all to eat soy and wear cardboard shoes.

In the past year, we've seen two sides of PETA. On the one hand, there was more of the same old "you-must-live-as-we-do-or-you're-evil" PETA, which ran ads making the spectacularly false claim that eating hot dogs leads to cancer. But on the other hand, there was an almost-reasonable PETA supporting Proposition 2 in California.

That proposition, which passed by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, calls for the use of larger cages in the confinement of chickens. PETA may very well see their efforts in the passage of Prop 2 as the first step in some long, grinding political process to force all of us to adopt the blank stare of vegans. However, I'd like to think that some of the PETA folks are coming to the painful realization that the vast majority of their fellow Earthlings tend to follow that biological imperative that calls for the consumption of animal protein.

Whatever the case may be, I think you local PETA people should all move to California, where your homies have had some success. Join the effort to get the Los Angeles Zoo to stop construction of a larger elephant exhibit, and to opt instead for a 100-acre elephant refuge out in the country. We're all actually with you on that one, too.

But leave the rodeo alone. The bulls are doing just fine. --Tom Danehy


Robocalls Regarding Your Expiring Car Warranty

I was on deadline one day (deadlines + editor = cranky!) when my cell phone rang. I answered--you never know when a manic writer may need bail money or something--and heard these words: "Your car warranty is about to expire!"

And then I used some expletives.

Almost every day for about a month, I'd get one of these damned car-warranty calls. They were obviously part of some scam--I drive a 1998 Saturn, a vehicle no real warranty company would want to have anything to do with.

Of course, I'm not the only person who has been getting these bullshit robocalls. An article last month in The New York Times regarding these very calls noted, "Attorneys general in several states are investigating what they suspect are telephone sales scams promoting extended car warranties, often by calling cell phones or numbers that are on do-not-call lists. The Connecticut attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, said his office had received 'a huge number of complaints--hundreds of complaints.' Connecticut is part of a large, multistate investigation into such calls, he said."

It's good that attorneys general are looking into these freaking calls. But in the meantime, the calls keep comin'. As a matter of fact, as you're reading this, someone, somewhere, is getting one of these calls. And that's annoying. --J.B.


Shopping-Cart Abandoners

We should deport people who leave shopping carts all over supermarket parking lots.

How hard can it be, you lazy-ass pieces of crap? It's a few steps. Lord knows you can use the exercise. Most stores have places for the carts spaced about 100 feet apart. (In terms you might understand, that's the length of 67 cases of beer.)

At my advanced age (and weight), I'm thankful that I'm able to walk those few extra steps to do things the right way. If I see an older person or a woman with a young child, I'll return their cart for them. However, I'll never touch a cart that's been left in a parking space; obviously, the person who left it there probably has herpes and/or worse stuff. And they obviously had no mama.

Earlier this year, I was sitting in my car listening to the news. A young guy came out of the store, put his groceries in his car and then, not knowing I was there, left the cart up against the back of my car. I said, "I beg your pardon."

He said nonchalantly, "Oh, my bad."

I asked, "Is that English?"

He pushed the cart up against the curb and then, apparently having forgotten something (besides his manners), he went back into the store. While he was in there, 12 good Samaritans surrounded his car with shopping carts.

Or maybe it was just one pissed-off guy. I'm not sure; it was a while ago. --T.D.


Sunglasses, Kanye West-Style

Walking down University Boulevard, it's hard to not be blinded.

No, not by the Arizona sun that is intent on giving everyone skin cancer. Not by the hipster Time Market crowd's unconventional beauty. Not by the BMW-driving California transplants who leave their brights on all day.

I'm talking about the Kanye West sunglasses. Not actually shades at all, these plastic bars scream, "I can't think for myself!" in vivid shades of neon.

After the Kanye concert earlier this year, there was an epidemic of these things on people's faces. How they got there is just baffling.

Do these things actually block sunlight?

Can you wear them while driving?

If you wear them in the sun for too long, will there be lines of white and tan across your face?

Is Kanye trying to brand these people with his sunglasses, creating a white-and-tan army to rise up like fashion zombies and kill all 50 Cent fans?

Oh Kanye, please give me a call. I have so many questions.

But in the mean time, these plastic atrocities need to get out of town; Tucson doesn't need another mindless fashion trend. --C.C.


Joe Sweeney Voters

Joe Sweeney has long been known as a racist, anti-Semitic, anti-homosexual wannabe congressman who appears to be as confused about his politics--he's changed his party affiliation five times--as the Republican Party is about him: Sweeney was recently elected to be a GOP committeeman, despite the Republican Party's attempt to disassociate itself from his congressional race this year.

Any sane person would admit defeat after losing congressional races 13 times--but Sweeney keeps on running, and his devoted Republican base can't get enough of his absurd comments, like the one he made in an interview with the Tucson Citizen about homosexuals being "confused about their genital drive." With the help of Republican voters, Sweeney has now won contested primaries twice, in 2004 and 2008.

While past comments from Sweeney like, "Hell, yes, I'm a racist," don't sit well with a majority of voters--Rep. Raúl Grijalva received nearly twice as many votes as Sweeney did in this year's general election--it's important to note that 64,000 people still voted for Sweeney.

On Election Day, Sweeney promised the Weekly he'd be back for campaign No. 14 in 2010, in part because he wants to get the "pachucos out of South Tucson." Yes, he really said that. So we know Joe's not going anywhere. However, we have higher hopes for his 64,000-plus supporters: Perhaps they'll do us all a favor and get out of town. --Megan Neighbor


Water-Hungry Developers

When Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero presented a proposal to City Manager Mike Hein earlier this year asking for guidance on an interim water-service policy, it seemed like someone was finally listening to all of the nervous conversations that people are having about water and the future of our desert.

Romero mentioned sensitive areas inside and outside of Tucson's city limits, such as the Painted Hills area. She wondered if perhaps Tucson Water should stop approving new connections in those areas. After all, we live in a desert that remains in a record-breaking drought--and all statistics point to the fact that, eventually, the Colorado River will produce less water.

The reaction to Romero's proposal was predictable--a song and dance we've come to expect from politicians and developers who bring up words like "growth." So what if we live in a desert that's running out of water?

Developers, and those who support them, would not be happy if Romero's proposal were to be enacted. My advice to these developers: Save your tears and whining, and get out of town! --M.H.

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