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THAT REALLY SNUCK UP ON US

You're not gonna believe this, but Election Day is here.

Yup, early voting is now underway, so expect at least 527 different 527s to be pelting you with phone calls, junk mail and television propaganda.

By the way, voting rocks! We've got 3,000 to 4,000 new voters every week, says County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, whose staff is scrambling to prepare for an election that's promising a record turnout. In May, after cleaning out deadwood from the lists, Rodriguez counted about 386,000 registered voters in Pima County. This week, the number was topping 423,000.

If you want in on the action, register by Monday, Oct. 4, when Rodriguez will make it easy on slackers by offering drive-by registration outside the sweet ol' pink courthouse on Granada Avenue from 8 a.m. to midnight. In the meantime, stop by any library, subversive bookstore or strip club for a registration form. Call 740-4350 or check out www.recorder. co.pima.az.us/default.html for more details.


WATER TENSION

In a 7-0 vote that belied new strains between ward offices, the Tucson City Council agreed to back off City Manager James Keene's wet dream of conquering the Rincon Valley through water extortion. For now.

Keene and his Tucson Water brass could scarcely have found a worse way of going about implementing the new policy of demanding that developers agree to pre-annexation agreements before Tucson Water would turn on the spigot.

After sneaking the new approach past the council with a brief mention in a five-page memo last January, staff sprung it unexpectedly on developers in the Corona de Tucson and Vail area. Some of the coerced builders signed the agreement, while others fought back through the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

Meanwhile, the native Rincon Valley's inhabitants, stirred up by the Corona de Tucson Fire Department, started turning in droves at council meetings to protest the evil Borg's plan to assimilate them.

Despite the disastrous implementation of the policy, Mayor Bob Walkup, Councilman Fred Ronstadt and Councilwoman Carol West wanted to push ahead with the deals. But Councilwoman Kathleen Dunbar, who was pissed off by staff's lousy handling of the deal, wouldn't provide a fourth vote.

Dunbar's motion this week lets developers who signed the water-for-annexation agreements back out while the city spends 120 days discussing the pros and cons of the policy. Gee, letting the council set policy? What a topsy-turvy world.

Speaking of topsy-turvy worlds, who expected council Democrats Steve Leal, José Ibarra and Shirley Scott to end up SAHBA's champions? Or to see Ronstadt warning about water shortages like he was taking talking points from Chuck Bowden?


MORE TOPSY-TURVY

Luminaries from the Growth Lobby will entertain their new darling, Congressman por Vida Raul Grijalva, on Oct. 1 at McMahon's Prime Steak House. Among the hosts: John Bremond of the rapacious KB Home, Paul Lindsey of Coldwell Banker, Brent Kyte of Pizza Hut, David Goldstein of (Legendary Land Speculator Donald R.) Diamond Ventures, builder and son-of-a-rich-doctor David Fina, and the Southern Arizona Queen of Miller Lite, Dorothy Finley.

It all gets started at 5 p.m. Even some slobs at The Skinny were invited "to join in thanking Congressman Grijalva for two years of reaching out to the Tucson business community."

Grijalva will be in his natural element. He's as comfortable as he ever was taking contributions--it's $50 to the $2,000 maximum at McMahon's--from the Growth Lobby, its consultants and government contractors for as long as he's been in office. It's all about the love, as his campaign notes. Love of money.


SIMON SEZ

Justice of the Peace Paul S. Simon is not having a good couple of weeks. First, some Weekly reporter called about Simon's use of court letterhead in personal communications, including one pushing an insurance settlement for his mother with a frequent Justice Court litigant, Farmers Insurance. Then, he came up with a notion that someone--perhaps the reporter or a rival judge--slipped into his office and lifted the documents.

Rather than deal with the issue at hand--mainly, how his use of letterhead violates the Arizona Code of Judicial Conduct--Simon went on a fishing expedition. He enlisted Tucson police and reported that "following a thorough search, the referenced letters were nowhere to be found."

Simon cut off contact with the Weekly. But a Tucson police detective did call last week to ask what is never the police's business--how and when we got these public records.

Simon, the presiding judge at Justice Courts, then went after an unnamed colleague.

He fired off a memo Sept. 18 to fellow justices, a copy of which his office had to provide the Weekly under the Arizona Public Records Law, that shockingly states: "It is my firm belief that one of the members of our bench is responsible for the incident. There is strong circumstantial evidence to support my belief. I do not name the individual in this writing because there is presently no direct evidence. This individual's recent behavior, in particular demonstrating serious animosity in judge's meetings and in statements about me to other members of our bench, as well as a known association and friendship with the Tucson Weekly reporter support my conclusion. Tucson police officers were given this information as well."

Oh boy. God help those appearing before Simon, given the manner in which he weighs "evidence."


ALFALFA FOR CONGRESS!

We reported last week that the local GOP central committee had waffled on the candidacy of avowed racist Joe Sweeney, the Republican nominee challenging Congressman Raul Grijalva in heavily Democratic District 7. GOP leaders passed a mush-mouthed statement claiming their only statutory job was getting out the GOP vote and they took no stand on any candidate.

The state GOP evidently has a broader vision. While the local committee was evading the Sweeney issue, the state party mailed a vote-at-home request to every GOP household containing a list of the GOP state and federal candidates. Right below the photos of President George Bush and Senator John McCain was the list, headed up in CD7 by Joe Sweeney.

Meantime, Sweeney has expanded his horizons beyond hurling epithets like "wetbacks" and "little monkeys" at Mexicans to include anti-Semitism. He popped up on a local radio talk show this weekend to belch about "Bolshevik Zionism," "the Jewdiciary" and a twofer calling illegal Mexican aliens "amateur Jews."


SOUND OFF

Tucson Planning Commission just keeps swinging and missing.

A couple weeks back, members considered a zoning code change that would require some homes located under the flight path of Davis-Monthan's jets to install pricey sound-proofing features. The new regs would have affected the entire structure of almost 3,000 homes if they were increased in size by 50 percent or more. Many of property owners, not keen on the thousands of dollars it would cost them to retrofit their homes, protested that they were now not only living under the flight path, but paying for the privilege.

As of last week, about 400 people had protested, while roughly 150 folks thought it was a nifty idea. Since nobody wants to give D.C. the idea that we don't love our bases, we suspect the regs will only require homeowners to soundproof new additions, not top-to-bottom makeovers. The Planning Commission will resume its public meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 6. The proposal needs to get enacted by the City Council by the end or October, or they'll have to live with much weaker land-use restrictions in the flight path.

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