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BOLDING'S BUCKS: Last week, the race for mayor officially got underway, with candidates filing their nomination petitions. Four Democrats -- former Ward 6 Councilwoman Molly McKasson, current Ward 2 Councilwoman Janet Marcus, TEP executive Betsy Bolding and real-estate agent Pat Darcy -- will vie for the party nomination to face Republican Bob Walkup in the November general election.

Bolding and McKasson also filed their campaign finance reports early. Bolding is leading the fundraising race, collecting $30,090 through May 31. That's $7,400 more than the $22,689 McKasson collected.

Bolding took in $320 contributions -- the maximum amount under the law -- from influential Democratic financier Walter Kaye and his wife Selma Kaye, of 475 Park Ave., NY, NY. It was Walter Kaye who got Monica Lewinsky -- remember her? -- the White House internship.

An insurance broker, Walter Kaye's connection to Bolding is his daughter, Joan Beigel Kaye, a Tucson educational therapist or self-employed consultant, depending upon which campaign report you read. Beigel Kaye also was married to the late Dr. Alan Beigel, puppeteer of Henry Koffler, when Koffler was the figurehead president of the University of Arizona. Joan Kaye has sent solicitation letters out for Bolding.

Walter Kaye is familiar with dumping large amounts of cash into campaigns -- at least $250,000 in 1996 and 1998 -- and will be counted on to help First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton if she goes ahead with her bid to challenge Rudy Giuliani for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Lew Murphy, a Republican who was mayor for four terms ending in 1987, gave Bolding $100. And Bolding's former boss, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, maxed out with $320 for Bolding. You'd think Bolding's money crew could find a way to spell Babbitt's name correctly -- two t's.

WHERE'S WALLACE? Bus driver Paul Wallace Jr. was the classic vanity candidate -- a clown who knew next to nothing about city government, yet was seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor. When he couldn't get enough signatures to run for mayor, Wallace shifted gears, announcing he was running for the Ward 4 Council seat instead. He didn't file for that office either, making him one of the bigger flakes in this year's campaign.

So why did he get so much ink and air time? If reporters had spent five minutes listening to Wallace, they would have soon realized he was utterly clueless -- but he was instead treated like a legitimate candidate.

Joe Sweeney, a loon with no visible constituency, gets on the ballot regularly for a variety of offices under a variety of political banners. If a screwball like Sweeney can collect enough signatures to get on the ballot, then no one else has any excuse.

LUCK OF THE DRAW: Fraudulent ex-governor J. Fife Symington III got lucky. Former Pima County Superior Court judge William Scholl didn't.

Symington's high-priced lawyers got a 2-1 vote from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out his 1997 conviction on multiple fraud counts stemming from his constantly shifting financial statements for loans for his collapsed development empire. Scholl drew a much tougher panel and his appeal of his 1996 conviction of filing false tax returns was denied.

Both were convicted by juries in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Fife was sentenced to 30 months in prison, which he evaded during his appeal. He's spent his time since his conviction studying the culinary arts. Scholl has served his sentence, a combination of probation and "home" and "work" confinement, while resuming a law practice with his longtime friend Richard Bock.

Fife's appellate panel threw out the conviction based on Judge Roger Strand's improper removal of juror Mary Jane Cotey, a colorful 76-year-old who, according to fellow jurors, acted irrationally and refused to deliberate the charges against Fife. She was removed during deliberations.

A juror was also ousted from the Scholl trial. Early in the trial, Mark Webster was removed by Judge Roslyn O. Silver. Webster committed the horrible sin of drinking from a plastic gallon jug in the jury box. He also had pointed questions for Scholl's accountant, Ken Silva, who prepared all of Scholl's tax returns knowing full well Judge Scholl was then a heavy gambler. Silver and her staff also didn't like the way Webster, who had a little accounting experience, hung around the courthouse. Webster, odd as he may have been to fellow jurors and the prosecution with his sometimes messy appearance and his blue sunglasses, was skeptical of the prosecution's case.

Much of Scholl's appeal was based on Judge Silver's rulings and behavior. She clearly favored the prosecution, whom she supervised in the U.S. Attorney's Office before former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini made the mistake of nominating her to the federal bench. She even told prosecutor Tom Fink when to object during attorney Bob Hirsh's closing arguments for Scholl.

Fife still faces another trial for bankruptcy fraud after he stiffed a consortium of unions for his laughable Mercado project in downtown Phoenix. He only ripped them off for $10 million. His great grandfather, the coal and steel baron Henry Clay Frick, had unions busted up by goons who shot and roughed up workers.

Scholl, meanwhile, has kept a low profile with dedication to his practice and family. Even people he convicted or sentenced as a judge have high praise for him. Still, forces are hard at work to cause him further harm. They want his license stripped, a punishment that -- even if temporary -- serves no good, public or personal.

A SICK SYSTEM: The closure of three University Medical Center clinics warranted superficial treatment in the morning daily, which did its usual rip-and-reprint of the corporate propaganda. The only other voice was a mealy-mouthed quote from a doctor quietly waiting for her severance check. We got no discussion of the real issues. That there are now 8,000 patients trying to get appointments with the remaining primary care providers (of which there are now seven less) in Tucson is small potatoes in a community numb from years of mismanaged corporate medical care.

Never mind the UMC is abandoning the only mid-town clinic (Broadway) accessible to low- and middle-income families. Never mind that UMC retained clinics in the more affluent north and east parts of town. Never mind that they eliminated all of their Family Practice providers. Never mind that they invited all their "non-capitated" (read: cash for services) patients to join their other clinics, while "capitated" (read: pre-paid, higher risk, generally poorer) patients are herded administratively into cattle cars and dumped on a beleaguered Family Practice Office.

It is moronic that when neither patients nor doctors want to change their existing relationships, disassociated corporate executives can still rip them apart. Billboards don't treat patients; doctors and nurses do.

Tucson's fractured health-care system is a national joke. Disaffected patients should call, picket or march en masse on the offending institution. It is time for patients, civic and business leaders, and local politicos to put their collective foot down and demand better care from their local health-care organizations.

HEAVY HITTERS: Spread out in the good seats, the boys of summer at Bank One Ballpark watching the Diamondbacks' improbable (again) 8-7 win over the Cardinals on June 24 included legendary land speculator Don Diamond and his posse; die-hard Cards fan Joe Burchell of The Arizona Daily Star and his grandson; Diamondbacks creator Jerry Colangelo with his guest, Democratic presidential candidate Dollar Bill Bradley; and the great former Dodger manager, Tommy Lasorda with junk-bond king Michael Milken, who received some honor for the money he's given to cancer research. We wonder whose money he was giving away.

SHEEP SKINNY: We note with some consternation that Arizona Game and Fish staffers believe they can repopulate the depleted herd of bighorn sheep that once populated Pusch Ridge on the west side of the Catalina Mountains. Well, maybe. The agency plans to release 30 or so sheep in the area, track 'em, and try to find out what happened to the ones that aren't there anymore. In other words, the new sheep will be as expendable as the last herd.

We've got a clue for the wildlife experts: the reason there are few if any sheep left on Pusch Ridge is because too many people now live there, many of whom like to hike with their dogs. Just drive down Oracle Road and get a good look at the west side of the Catalinas, which is beginning to resemble Montezuma's Castle -- without the charm.

We predict these sheep, like the others, will also die off, for the simple reason that wildlife this sensitive is incompatible with housing and other forms of development. We suspect that the herd being moved comes from an area with similar problems. Maybe they could get in place by the Fourth of July so they can enjoy the loud blasts from the annual fireworks display at the nearby Sheraton El Conquistador.

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