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BITTER BENNY

If you listen to Mayor Bob Walkup and his sugarcoated cheerleading, you hear plenty about a new era of city-county cooperation. It's time to put aside the old feuds and find a way to work together.

But is that the true feeling at City Hall, where bureaucrats lead the mayor and council by strings?

Benny Young, an assistant city manager and longtime city executive who formerly ran the transportation department, delivered a rant to the City Council as it prepared to scrap its national search and go with a local guy--Deputy County Manager Mike Hein.

Young also wanted the job, but says he withdrew.

"Aborting the process at this point is an affront to not only the candidates, but also to the community and the city organization," Young wrote. "For example, you appointed a citizens' group and invited not only their thoughts with regard to the desired 'profile' for the manager, but also invited them to interview finalists. Does that no longer matter? Additionally, you asked the city's Executive Leadership Team to let you know what characteristics they felt were important in a manager. Albert Elias and Dan Newburn reported to you in that regard. Does that no longer matter, either?"

Young doesn't want any county dude leading the city, partly because the county and non-city residents are what he calls a "drain" on the city.

"It is representation without taxation," Young says of non-city residents driving on city streets and swimming in city pools. "It has been my observation over a very long span of time that principal county staffers, despite their academic credentials and whatever other worthy personal characteristics they may possess, have generally been inculcated in a system/culture that seeks to perpetuate the 'status quo' in this regard.

"Why would you even consider appointing a county staff person to the lead position in the city without making absolutely certain that they are committed to seeking the long-term best interests of the city?"

A public record that was widely distributed, Young's memo came as Mike Letcher, the deputy city manager who has served as the interim boss, pledged greater city-county cooperation.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told Letcher there is apparently no reason to meet to discuss cooperative goals if Young spoke for the city. But mostly, the county mocked Young, particularly over his high-falutin' description of the county culture.

Democratic Supervisor Richard Elias, speaking Saturday at the retirement dinner of county executive Jim Barry, said Barry helped "inculcate" him. Others, as if rubes in a Western movie, demanded to know "what Young is saying about us."

Busted, Young attempted to assert ownership of his memo two days after he sent it. "This reflects strictly my personal view," he wrote to Huckelberry in an e-mail. "I don't believe that (it) is right or ethical for you to be sending this to ANYone. Nor should it even be in your possession. ... Nevertheless, I stand by what I said and believe, no matter what."

Noted.


THE MORE, THE MERRIER

Public transit guru Steve Farley made it official last week, getting the paperwork for a campaign for the Ward 6 City Council office now held by Fred Ronstadt.

Farley will have to get at least 436 valid signatures to put his name on the ballot, which shouldn't be all that hard, considering that he and his pals got about 12,000 people to sign petitions for that doomed light-rail initiative on the ballot in 2003. (Although, if we recall correctly, it wasn't enough to actually put it on the ballot without help from the City Council.) We'll bet he could get all the sigs he needs just sitting outside Casa Video for a week.

Farley's entrance sets up a Democratic primary against Nina Trasoff, the one-time TV journalist who slipped into the PR biz after a stint as University Medical Center's information control officer, where she tangled with medical reporters.

Who's got the advantage? Trasoff has some lingering name ID, slightly refreshed by her run for Corporation Commission last year. But those KGUN 9 days were a long time ago, and she remains a rookie in city politics.

Farley, meanwhile, can count on TNT--Tucsonans for Sensible Transportation, the transportation advocacy group he spearheaded a few years back. Within Ward 6, his machine is still fresh, if a little dented from the crushing defeat of his light-rail prop.

The race promises to be a barometer of central-city politics. If the Democrats follow their usual tack of eschewing moderates in favor of the candidate furthest to the left, then the nomination goes to Farley. But if power is shifting away from the neighborhood activists, Trasoff might have a shot at being the nominee against Fred this November.

And hey, there's still plenty of time for more candidates to jump in.


SCAAP SCRAP

Gov. Janet Napolitano last week played the illegal-immigrant card against the Bush administration, dropping a $118 million invoice on the U.S. Justice Department for the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in state prisons since July 1, 2003.

Napolitano is underlining the failure of the federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (or SCAAP in gov-speak), which doles out money to cover the cost of incarcerating illegal aliens who have committed crimes in the states. Napolitano estimates that the cost to the state was $71 million last year, but the state got only $6.8 in SCAAP funds.

In a letter to incoming U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Napolitano cites federal law requiring reimbursement from the federal treasury and demands that the Justice Department pay up or take the inmates into the federal prison system.

"The federal government has abandoned its job by refusing to pay for them," Napolitano said.

The Bush budget, released last week, zeroes out SCAAP funds altogether (and not for the first time), because the White House has more important priorities, like extending tax cuts for major-league ballplayers and leftist Hollywood starlets.

Other victims of the Bush budget, as reported by The Associated Press: Local law enforcement's homeland security efforts, vocational education, dropout prevention, literacy training, airport runway repair, Center for Disease Control grants, trauma care, public housing, Amtrak, the Hubble Telescope, rural health care and so many more examples of waste, fraud and abuse--including a program that helps former Soviet countries keep track of wayward nuclear weapons.


SO LONG CONRAD

Condolences to family and friends of Conrad Joyner, former member of the City Council member and Board of Supervisors.

Joyner, a Republican, could be cantankerous and boorish. But he was always heard.

He served four years on the council beginning in 1967 before moving up to the better and better-paying gig at the Board of Supervisors.

Joyner left office after a disastrous run in 1982 for the Republican nomination in what was then the new Congressional District 5 covering the eastside of Tucson and a big swath of southeastern Arizona. He was crushed by Jim Kolbe, now a 20-year-congressman who suffered that year his only loss--to Democrat Jim McNulty.

Joyner did not go quietly. His campaign was so sloppy that it produced at least one indictment--not of him--and he stubbornly refused to heed a new Arizona law that required elected officials to resign if not in their final year when seeking another office. He was finally pried from office in 1984.

Long a popular professor of political science at the UA, Joyner helped nurture politicians, including locally powerful Democrats Dan Eckstrom, retired from the Board of Supervisors, and Raul Grijalva, a former supervisor who is in his second term in Congress.

Joyner suffered a devastating stroke in 1986. He recovered speech, memory and movement, doctors say, simply through sheer will. He forced himself to relearn by attending grade school classes. It wasn't long before he returned to the classroom.

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