MARY JUDGE VS. DA JUDGE: We always enjoy it when two unelected and arrogant elites get into a public brawl. That's what we now have with the Pima County Attorney's Office, led by would-be Congressional candidate and Chief Deputy Mary Judge Ryan and a self-appointed "ethics" panel, whacking Pima County Superior Court Judge Mike Brown for his alleged behavior toward a victim at a hearing involving a potential plea bargain for the perp.
We're ready to give Ryan's Democratic campaign for Congress in District 5 a better shot than we did previous to this incident. If she can con the local media into treating a phony "ethics committee" from inside the County Attorney's office like it was actually relevant and smack Brown in the headlines of both papers, she may be able to manipulate the media into giving her campaign the credibility it currently lacks.
We've never been a big fan of Brown. According to the transcripts that Ryan got published in the Citizen-Star, he was over-the-top harsh with the victim. That's not a stretch for him; he's usually smug, condescending and arrogant. But there are ways to handle this -- namely, the state Commission on Judicial Ethics, not some invention of Mary Judge Ryan or her boss, Barbara LaWall. The four prosecutors and one civil deputy attorney would be better utilized working on real matters, such as possible political campaigning on county time.
This incident revealed the unswerving drive the LaWall-Ryan machine has to bounce judges who don't agree with them. It wasn't too long ago that Brown and LaWall-Ryan were lockstep on issues surrounding and arising from the Michael Gatto case (the nerdy little deputy county attorney lawyer who made a crack about Judge Deborah Bernini wanting to kiss him).
FREE BIG AL: The State Appellate Court ruled that Pima County Superior Court Judge Charles Sabalos had erred in approving Oro Valley's annexation of large pieces of the Town of Tortolita. The higher court (once again) ruled that Tortolita still legally exists, pending the outcome of the cases challenging the constitutionality of the state's incorporation statutes.
Upon hearing the news, Tortolitans removed a group of illegally placed Oro Valley signs. The Oro Valley Police, operating on the orders of someone higher than beat cops, busted Tortolita Councilman Al Lathram for possession of stolen property -- that being the Oro Valley signs in the back of his truck. Oro Valley replaced the signs, but about 100 Tortolitans responded with a second mass removal, in front of television cameras. This time the Oro Valley cops were told to ignore them.
Which leaves the prosecution of Lathram pending. The theft charge is ludicrous. Oro Valley filed the charges in Pima County Justice Court, not in the Town of Oro Valley. We suspect that's because the so-called crime occurred outside the Town of Oro Valley's jurisdiction.
We're all waiting to see what the Pima County Attorney's Office will do with the charges. We've been told repeatedly that the hardball crime fighters on Barbara LaWall's staff never waste time and money on the small stuff, but concentrate on real criminals.
That same County Attorney's Office has a bad habit of covering the asses of bad calls made by the generally clumsy and heavy-handed Oro Valley Police. Big Al's high-profile bust will probably tell us a lot about how much smoke is being blown by both law enforcement agencies.
PARTLY CLOUDLY AT SUNNYSIDE: The working majority of the Sunnyside Unified School District Board and Superintendent Mary Werner Garcia worked out details of her contract extension in secrecy on July 22 and 23 before voting at 2:02 a.m. to keep her at the scandal-plagued district.
Board members Eva Dong and Luis Araiza deserve praise for questioning Garcia's management and the practices of her lackies. But the majority, Ned Norris Jr., Linda Lopez and Robert Jaramillo, continue to dance to Garcia's self-serving tune.
Still, it doesn't bode well for Garcia that she was in executive session for two hours defending her performance.
Meanwhile, inappropriate firings stemming from the food-service scandal, which has produced several indictments, have now spread to other areas. Monitors and other Sunnyside workers -- who actually live in the district, not in the Foothills like Garcia -- are getting canned. In one case, settled on a 3-2 vote in the hours before Garcia won renewal, an office worker was marked down for applying lipstick on the job.
The mismanagement is spurring growth in the Sunnyside union. And there's a swelling recall movement against Lopez, an Indiana native who has traded on an acquired name and is delusional enough to think she will be elected to the state House of Representatives from District 10.
KEEP SECRETS SECRET: TUSD is again wasting precious taxpayer money with stupid legal moves orchestrated by Superintendent George F. Garcia and his legal adviser, Jane Butler. The two are refusing to give Mike Tully records in his personnel file, along with public records that shed light on how he was railroaded last May, when Butler and Garcia pushed the TUSD Board to fire him. A bright lawyer, Tully was rehired by the district in another office with a substantial cut in pay. Butler's and Garcia's petty antics forced Tully to file a special action in Superior Court to ask a judge to order TUSD to release the material, which includes an audio tape and videotape -- a tape that Garcia ordered destroyed. Tully is entitled to have the material to show how he was unjustly terminated.
PUBLIC SELF-SERVICE ANNOUCEMENT: We've all gotten wise to most of the ways politicians use our money to bolster their own images, from junk mail at taxpayer expense to junk radio ads at taxpayer expense. The latest culprit is Attorney General Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano has flooded the airwaves the last few weeks with a radio spot that begins with its real purpose, building her name identification: "This is Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano." It goes on to explain that Arizona has fair-housing laws. If you think you've been discriminated against, you should call her office.
Yeah, Janet, like you'll be taking the call and following up on the complaint, right?
Napolitano, like most pols, has ambitions for higher office, probably governor in 2002. In this high-tech age, she's figured out how to replace the franking privilege with the radio-spot privilege.
MISTAKES WERE MADE: The Skinny mistakenly reported that Jonathan Paton ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in District 12 in 1998. Paton ran for the House in District 9, where he is considering another run in 2000.
The Skinny also incorrectly dated the Tucson City Charter in an item two weeks back. It was adopted in 1929.