A NEW GUT-BUCKET LOW
The Weekly, as well as the morning daily, has noted Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller's imperious behavior toward Bob Dorson, a 62-year-old retired businessman who had the temerity to request a face-to-face meeting with his elected representative so he could get a look at the pricey conference table and other expenses that Miller had blown her office budget on.
Instead of politely meeting with Dorson, Miller summoned security guards to give him the bum's rush.
She later used the incident as a reason to be in fear for her life when she called 911 to demand round-the-clock police protection because she didn't like an online Tucson Weekly story.
And last month, when Dorson attended a town hall, she asked a sheriff's deputy to give him the heave-ho because he asked the crowd if they would like to see the Rosemont Mine built in the Oro Valley area.
This is the sort of behavior that has made Queen Cersei Lannister such a hit with the peasants of the Seven Kingdoms.
We recounted much of this last week, but what we hadn't yet glimpsed was Miller's personal Facebook page, where she had characterized Dorson as a stalker and justified her concern that he was a threat to her life by posting an article he'd written about his brother's suicide.
Mitch Dorson was a beloved teacher at Catalina Foothills High School and Green Fields Country Day School who sadly suffered from depression and, one day in 2012, purchased a gun and killed himself.
Bob Dorson, who discovered his brother's body, wrote a caring tribute to his brother in the Arizona Daily Star last year and urged people struggling with depression to seek help, as he has done himself.
"I will never forget my wonderful brother, but at the same time that vision in my mind of how I found him that day will always be with me," Dorson wrote. "If all of us can do our part to bring this disease out in the open, and in doing so enable every one of us to speak up and help, then fewer survivors of suicide will have that lifelong picture in their mind, which I see every day."
A column like that will mean different things to different readers, but it was clear that Dorson was willing to expose his painful memories in the hope of decreasing the stigma of depression and helping other people find the assistance they need to escape from its black grip.
To see Miller turn it around and suggest that there's a history of gun violence in Dorson's family—all so she can justify her own bizarre overreaction—is one of the most despicable acts The Skinny has ever witnessed by a local politician.
THE DOG BARKS BUT THE CARAVAN MOVES ON
Speaking of Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller: Her latest crusade is torpedoing this November's $22 million bond proposition to build a new facility for Pima County's unwanted dogs and cats.
Miller purports to be an animal lover—but she has been on a tear against the bond proposal (which, curiously, she voted to put on the ballot before she decided it was a bad idea.)
Miller argues in various forums that estimates for the proposed facility are too expensive, so it must be loaded with pork. She can't understand, for instance, why the county would need to pay for architects and other design engineers because she's sure those professionals would be happy to volunteer their time.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry responded to Miller's various complaints with a seven-page memo that debunks Miller's various rants.
For example, Miller has said that she's seen shelters built in Fresno, Berkeley and other places for less money. Huckelberry's memo notes that Fresno now keeps most of its animals outside and is planning to only build some pre-fab metal buildings to house the critters on the cheap—and is only taking that action after a battle with the ASPCA over its lousy treatment of animals. On top of that, Fresno euthanizes most of the animals it takes in.
Berkeley, meanwhile, dramatically underestimated the cost of building its facility and has taken more than a decade to get it finished.
"Clearly, we are not interested in using these examples for developing our animal care facility," Huckelberry dryly notes.
Huckleberry's memo—you can read the whole thing yourself on The Range if you're interested—includes more details on how his staff came up with the $22 million estimate, including the cost of a state-of-the-art medical facility for the animals, the technology requirements and the plan to make it a friendlier environment for visitors in the hopes that adoption rates will increase and euthanasia rates will decrease.
"Aside from its sheltering function for approximately 24,000 animals annually, PACC also requires facilities for intensive medical and surgical interventions, as well as public areas for licensing and community gatherings and areas to house its law enforcement arm," Huckelberry wrote. "Finally, an adoption center is a key component of this proposed facility, since a facility inviting adoption has proven to increase adoption rates."
Miller's arguments that Pima County should build a low-budget animal-care facility on the cheap has not impressed her fellow supervisors.
Supervisor Richard Elías told the Skinny that the new facility will last the county for at least 50 years, so it makes sense to build it the right way. He called Miller's idea that architects and engineers would volunteer their services to design the building for free "absurd."
"I don't know what world she lives in," Elías said.
Supervisor Sharon Bronson was likewise skeptical of Miller's suggestions.
"Supervisor Miller does some of her homework but she doesn't do all of her homework," Bronson said. "If she wants a facility for the least cost, then it will not be very accommodating for the animals."
Bronson pointed out that the $22 million cost is an estimate, but she disagreed with Miller's suggestion that the county should have gotten more construction estimates at this stage in the process.
"That would mean we'd have to spend all the money on design and engineering prior to the bond," Bronson said. "Unless there's approval for the bond, there's no point in moving forward. She doesn't understand the process and she needs some real education."
WE HAVE A STATE BUDGET
It appears that after a few weeks of wrangling over details, Republican state lawmakers have finally reached a budget deal. As The Skinny was hitting its deadline, the House had passed the $9.23 billion budget package and Senate approval appeared certain.
The budget package advanced through the House without a single Democratic vote in support.
State Rep. Bruce Wheeler said the budget did not include enough money for education, universities, community colleges, or programs to help struggling families and kids.
"I could go on and on," Wheeler said. "The Democrats were not happy with it, obviously."
The budget deal came under criticism from Fred DuVal, who is the Democrats' only contender for governor this year.
"Last year, when reports of not-investigated allegations of child abuse and neglect came to light, our state's leaders promised us change," DuVal said in a prepared statement. "We're still waiting on the creation of Arizona's new child welfare agency, but Republicans in the legislature have wasted no time depriving it of necessary resources. Arizona's vulnerable children were made a promise: Our leaders are going to reform our child welfare agency, adequately fund case workers and preventative services, and vulnerable kids will stop falling through the cracks. So far, they're letting our kids down."