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SECOND OPINION: Joe Burchell and Rhonda Bodfield of the Arizona Daily Star, always the finest reporters in Tucson, pronounced Pima County purchasing all clean and sanitized, free of the bad habits that forced the Star to investigate and, thanks be to Joe 'n' Rhonda, The Reformation. The county, they wrote in the May 17 Star, "all but eliminated the use of open-ended, as-needed contracts."

Really?

Just three days later, the Board of Supervisors voted to spend $265,000 on 10 as-needed contracts for real estate and right-of-way work, appraisal services and an archaeological study. All of it came from the jumbled and delayed transportation bond program that the county slipped past voters in 1997.

These as-needed contracts filled two pages of the board's consent agenda on May 20.

In fact, in the last four months, supervisors have approved 22 as-needed contracts in facilities, transportation and other departments.


COUNTY CODE RED: Congratulations, again, to Pima County's chief of security, the double-dipping former cop Beryl "Dick" Kohlman!

Thieves have broken into County Administration and several executive offices twice in recent weeks. Thieves also broke into the Theresa Lee Clinic, the county's STD clinic, and stole--fortunately--only soda, candy and change from the vending machines.

During spring training, the bad guys breached county security at the Kino Sports Park and defied alarms to break into the Chicago White Sox spring headquarters and clubhouse. The brazen and alarming heist netted computer files on every member of the White Sox--Social Security numbers, home numbers, cell numbers, agent numbers ...

All of this comes after Kohlman supposedly beefed-up security in the post Sept. 11 world. To its credit, county administration under Prime Minister Chuck Huckelberry has held the notion (peculiar among local governments) that it should be an operation open to citizens.

Still, there should be some safeguards. Kohlman's attempts to tighten access to the county's two-level, underground garage didn't stop someone from stealing a judge's truck.

Intruders into County Administration apparently didn't need the garage. They used the porous construction area on sidewalk level, where the county is wasting money on a new collections center. They broke into the offices of Democratic Supervisor Richard Elias and tried to break into the fortress occupied by Democrat Dan Eckstrom. They also tried to get into the Republican wing of offices. Why? What could Sugar Ray Carroll and Ann Day possibly have?

After that adventure, security was supposedly increased. That didn't stop thieves from entering again a few days later. This time, they took cell phones, change and a boom box from an administration floor. Yes, they were stupid enough to call themselves on the cell phones.

The break in at Theresa Lee is sadly laughable. An alarm there was not functioning. It isn't clear if it was broken or if the system was shut off for lack of county payment.

Now the garage is closed at 5 p.m. on weekdays and closed on weekends. If someone wants to work beyond those hours, he or she must have a rent-a-cop under Kohlman's direction serve as an escort and doorman.


QUINCEAÑERA: Dan Eckstrom made it to 15 years as the Democratic supe in southside District 2. He succeeded the irreplaceable Sam Lena, the quiet Sicilian who smacked down Eckstrom, a former Republican, in the 1976 election. Eckstrom was smart enough to make book with Lena, who died in 1996, and the machina has ruled the southside ever since. Eckstrom is the longest-serving supervisor in the modern era--since the board was expanded to five members in 1972.

Supervisors gave Eckstrom a little salute last week and presented him with some tchochkes and words of praise. They should have given him some Doan's Pills or at least a gift certificate to a chiropractor.

Oh, his aching back. The man has been a full-time kickstand for five Boards of Supervisors, propping up the incompetent leadership and rescuing countless souls. Supervisors would flat not be able to adopt a budget or tax rates and levies without him.

And just when the wags thought he was going to bolt into retirement and install ill-prepared Ramon Valadez, now in a featherbed job in the governor's office, Eckstrom has been invigorated.

How?

The attempted Republican incursion into South Tucson, manifested by Eddie Badilla's run for South Tucson City Council. Badilla and Republican outsiders were crushed by the Eckstrom crew of daughter Jennifer Eckstrom, multiple beneficiary Roman Soltero, John Garcia and Felix Robles.

But El Jefe was not happy about the response to a few small political signs that Team Eckstrom posted on utility poles in South Tucson. Cops and even county prosecutors have been called in to investigate this tempest.

This has served to bolster Eckstrom to deploy his considerable muscle for the Democratic mayoral campaign of Tom Volgy, who previously was not one of Eckstrom's favorites.


WE'D LIKE PORK AND EXTRA CHEESE ON THAT PIZZA: The Clean Election Commission is about to shit-can its plush, Wyatt-Earpy mascot, Mr. Five Dollar Bill, because, as the Commission's marketing contractor L3 Creative says, "he scared little children."

Critical Public Relations, the PR company that came up with Five Dollar Bill, has also been shit-canned by L3 and replaced by Barclay Communications. They've come up with a host of equally lame-brained promotional ploys to convince Arizona voters to donate $5 of their tax returns to the $8.4 million Clean Elections Fund.

First off, they want to print Clean Elections propaganda on the side of grocery bags at some of the statewide supermarket chains. They also plan to cut a deal with a couple of car-washes to place "Check the Box" paper floor mats in your car. The car washes would also sell plastic discount cards sponsored by the commission.

Even the pizza delivery guys will be in on the conspiracy. Barclay wants to stick Clean Elections pamphlets and coupons to the outside of pizza boxes.

And if they can get a good deal on some sort of jalopy, they'll plaster it with Clean Elections junk and cruise it around the state.

All this comes right after the commission learned that a third of Arizona's voting population still has absolutely no clue what they do. That's not surprising, considering that even the commissioners sometimes get confused.

Basically, the commission is in charge of distributing state money to candidates to spend on their campaigns. The money comes mostly from a surcharge on fines assigned to law-breakers. Another chunk of it comes from people who voluntarily donate $5 of their tax returns by checking a box on their tax forms.

This year, check-box contributions accounted for $748,000 of the $8.4 million Clean Elections fund. The commission is now going to spend $600,000 of this on the campaign.


REYNOLDS WRAP: Cutting short her 15 minutes, Nonie Reynolds is resigning from her job as a drop-out prevention specialist at Tucson High rather than prolong the embarrassment and intrigue surrounding her swing shift modeling career in OVER 50. Her spread in that smut mag brought all the wrong heat. It must be noted that she took the high road and is seemingly protecting some TUSD higher-ups who knew full well what she was up to.

In Nonie's defense, TUSD's old-boy double standards are evident. The names Ed Arriaga, Josh Camarena, Francisco Moraga and Ruben Ruiz spell second and third chances.

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