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IF THIS BE DOOMSDAY

City Attorney Mike Rankin is the latest lawyer to flip out over the potential consequences of Proposition 200, the Tucson Water Users' Bill of Rights.

In response to a request from City Manager Mike Hein, Rankin offered his legal opinion on the proposition, which voters will decide on in November. Rankin said that the initiative's author, former state lawmaker John Kromko, didn't specify what kind of water he was talking about when he said that Tucson Water would be limited to distributing 140,000 acre-feet of water, so he must have been talking about both potable water and reclaimed water.

The distinction is important, because that means that Tucson Water would run up against its limit of delivering 140,000 acre-feet much sooner than Kromko anticipated. Once that happens, Tucson Water can't hook up any more connections without voter approval.

Kromko says it never occurred to him to specify that he was talking about potable water.

"It's clearly talking about drinking water," Kromko says. "It wouldn't occur to anybody to specify when you're writing about drinking water."

In his memo to Hein, Rankin also seconded the concern raised last month by attorney Larry Hecker, a leader of the effort to defeat Prop 200, that the ban on providing water to any other distributor could include the University of Arizona and the Veterans Affairs hospital, among others, since those outfits are technically water distributors under state law.

Rankin says cutting some of those water distributors would open the city up to legal liability.

Kromko continues to insist that he never intended to include the VA hospital, the university or any other distributor other than major water companies, but dismisses any suggestion that the initiative was sloppily written.

"It's actually very well written," Kromko says.


SMILE! YOU'RE BEING OBSERVED BY A SURVEILLANCE CAMERA!

City Hall reporter Rob O'Dell noted in the Sunday Arizona Daily Star that the Tucson City Council had turned down a $100K grant from Target to put surveillance cameras on downtown streets.

While council members should have debated the issue in public, they made the right call by rejecting the cameras. It's a little too Big Brother to set up cameras to monitor everyone's behavior downtown--especially since the crime rate isn't any higher there than anywhere else in the city.


POLLISH SAUSAGE

The latest Cronkite-Eight Poll, from Maricopa County PBS affiliate KAET-TV and the Arizona State University journalism school, shows that Sen. John McCain is doing a little better in the Arizona presidential primary.

Of the Republicans surveyed, 27 percent said they'd vote for McCain. That's up from 24 percent last month.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also enjoyed a bump, climbing from 18 percent last month to 22 percent. Former senator Fred Thompson held steady at 17 percent, while former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney dropped from 19 percent to 17 percent.

All of the changes are within the poll's margin of error, so the only solid conclusion that can be drawn is that McCain, can barely be considered the front-runner in his home state.

The poll also found that 9 percent of all voters have a very positive view of McCain and 38 percent have a positive view of him, while 29 percent have a negative view, and 14 percent have a very negative view.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton is pulling ahead of the pack. She's the favorite of 38 percent of Democrats, which is up from 28 percent a month ago. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is the choice of 18 percent--one percentage point higher than last month--while former vice presidential nominee John Edwards has dropped from 13 to 10 percent, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has dropped from 9 percent to 5 percent.

The bad news for Hillary: Although 24 percent of all voters have a positive view of her, and 15 percent have a very positive view of her, 21 percent have a negative view, and 34 percent have a very negative view.


GOODBYE, PAUL EDWARDS

On Friday, Sept. 21, Paul T. Edwards was at his desk at the Albanese-Brooks architecture firm, working away on his design for the new Tucson Water building for the southeast side. The firm had won a competition for the project partly based on Edwards' environmentally friendly "green" design.

Four days later, Edwards was dead, because of the melanoma that had stalked him for the last half-year. His memorial service last weekend filled St. Mark's Presbyterian Church as though it were Christmas or Easter, said his friend and colleague Fred Hartshorn.

A longtime Tucsonan, the 53-year-old Edwards earned his architecture degree at the UA in 1981. But he was best known for multiple public-art projects all around Tucson and Pima County.

Along with Chris Tanz and Susan Holman, he created the magical "Sun Circle" along the Rillito River walk, which captures the sun directly during the winter solstice and the summer equinox. Its curving walls, offering shade and shelter, have also become a place for community ceremonies. The same trio of artists also made "Many Color Mountain" outside the Mission Branch Library. His shiny "Sand Trout" (another collaboration with Tanz) leap out of the Rose Hill Wash along Tanque Verde Road, and gave birth to a humorous urban legend. Their "Play Ball" is a playful grillwork at the community center north of Tucson Electric Park, and their colorful retaining walls along First Avenue in the foothills mirror the colors and shapes of the nearby Catalinas.

"It was wonderful to work with Paul on our projects," Tanz said. "He was a terrific designer."

But their "Splash" and "Pipe With Flow 30," designed for intersections in the Mountain Avenue-Glenn Street neighborhood, triggered a wildly strident public controversy. The pieces' curves were meant to conjure up water flowing through washes and under the ground, and their brown colors replicated the muddy tones that color a desert wash after the rains. The neighbors, whipped into a frenzy by then-City Councilwoman Kathleen Dunbar, thought the pieces looked like sewage, and raged that the artists were trying to insult them.

Edwards always had the courage to face his critics in person.

"During a stressful process, Paul acted with a lot of integrity," says Mary Ellen Wooten, public art coordinator at Tucson Pima Arts Council. "He handled himself with a lot of grace."

The pieces eventually were moved to Silverlake Park on the southside. Now, two more of the Edwards-Tanz projects are threatened. "Silver Linings"--their lovely cloud work at Tucson International Airport, a collaboration also with Vytas Sakalas--now sits in boxes, dismantled by security concerns. And the popular "Sun Circle" is threatened by a proposed building that would block its all-important sun. Tanz said she and Edwards were talking about solutions to both problems just two weeks ago, before his death intervened.

Edwards was also a family man. One time when Hartshorn and Edwards had some drafting business to discuss, Edwards' young daughter, Lindsay, was sprawled on the floor underneath her dad's desk, coloring. Whenever Lindsay would call out to Edwards, "Paul would gently put me on hold to give her full attention," Hartshorn said. "It wasn't for show--he humbly talked about how he wished he was a better dad later."

Just two years ago, Edwards married Joyce Kelly. Their wedding was inside the "Sun Circle," the gathering place that Edwards gave to the community.

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