Skinny TUSD MOPE & GROPE, PART II: They actually did it! Four members of TUSD Governing Board journeyed well out of the district to the posh foothills resort Westward Look last Saturday. There, taxpayers were overcharged so the four, plus their master, Superintendent "Cadillac" George Garcia, could meet in a closet-like learn how to be touchy and feely.

And this is no slam on the facilitator, Joel Sadowsky, a former teacher who worked hard and earnestly to try to teach Board President Mary Belle McCorkle, her segunda, Carolyn Kemmeries, James Noel Christ and Joel Tracy Ireland how they could better communicate. With rental, food, and facilitator the cost of this little adventure will brush against $5,000. It wasn't without humor, particularly when Christ, an English teacher at Sunnyside High School, told Sadowsky that "inevitable" is spelled "inevitible."

Rosalie Lopez wisely stayed away, saying the nebulous agenda didn't meet the standards of the state Open Meeting Law. Two experienced government lawyers looked over the agenda with her and agreed that with such things as "Objectives and Outcomes," "Interest-based Communications Skills" and "Application Part Two," that this agenda was one for abuse.

She was right. Ireland and the group, under the rubric "Practical application of an interest-based negotiation model," violated the Open Meeting Law when they embarked on a detailed discussion on installing air-conditioning in TUSD's many schools that are little more than ovens in August and September.

For all you students, parents, and teachers, there was clear news from this group: Wilt! Ireland announced that he and the Board have been less than honest with the many people who have pleaded with TUSD to install air-conditioning as a matter of health as well as comfort.

What violated the Open Meeting Law was the detail of the discussion, the polling of members, the ranking of priorities for capital improvements. Ireland stressed repairing the roof at Catalina High--the school he fought so hard to close in the early 1990s, but where his brother is now an assistant principal. Air-conditioning ranked behind new southwest schools and high-school renovation, and, for Superintendent Garcia, it was not as important as new curtains for the Sabino High School auditorium. Ireland implored his colleagues to come clean with the public in the hopes that voters would then support a TUSD bond election for such things as air-conditioning. And Garcia explained that we may not need a bond because he was confident that air-conditioning would be permitted under the state's new school financing plan, Students FIRST.

Public boards are not supposed to discuss items not included on agendas, even if there is no formal vote. They're not supposed to lay the groundwork for future action that is simply perfunctory. Curiously, Ireland praised the training session--including how to get along and understand one another--as "invaluable." Then he cut out before lunch.

But when Arizona Daily Star reporter Sarah Tully Tapia, who arrived late, chased after Ireland, he didn't hesitate to trash Lopez. He even got Tapia to portray him in Sunday's paper as the expert on last fall's election and candidate platforms. He flat misstated Lopez's platform, but that didn't stop Tully Tapia from regurgitating his take. Ireland attended only one of the eight main campaign forums last fall--but that's just one or two fewer than Tully Tapia attended.

TUSD'S LEGAL LARGESSE: It's easy to see why powerful special interests don't want to change the status quo--no matter how costly or chaotic--at Arizona's second-largest school district. The gravy is thick and plentiful. Just look at some of these whopping legal bills from TUSD's stable of outside law firms for work on petty nonsense:

To try to stifle The Arizona Daily Star from informing the public about the Ed Arriaga mess, taxpayers were forced to give DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy $22,424 just so TUSD could lose a stupid, stinky case of prior restraint sought last year by then-TUSD Board President Joel Tracy Ireland, himself a third-rate lawyer.

Next up, $467 to Karp Heurlin & Weiss to look over more of the Arriaga mess. Partner Steve Weiss is one of "Fast Eddie" Arriaga's lawyers. He's trying to get big bucks from TUSD taxpayers following the release of factual public documents detailing sexual harassment complaints against Arriaga and the resulting settlements. Another $3,302 went to Korn Waterman & Simon for more work related to "Fast Eddie." Then Ireland, we all remember, wanted to root out the person who leaked the complaints against Arriaga and settlement papers to the Star. That cost taxpayers another $4,288 so lawyer Frank Cassidy could come to no real conclusion, and certainly not the "preponderance of evidence" that Ireland claims points to a specific leaker. Hey Joel, you lied. This, by the way, is the same Frank Cassidy who allowed his dumb clients at Fairfield Homes to threaten the Smithsonian Institution with a $900 million lawsuit because of opposition to the Canoa Ranch development.

Finally, Ireland and his goons and dummies on the former TUSD Board made taxpayers cough up another $2,888 to long-standing TUSD lawyers/buddies/political patrons/gravy trainers at Gabroy Rollman & Bosse so the witch hunt against Tucson High School Principal Cecilia Mendoza could be stretched beyond all logic, reason and propriety. Don't just blame Ireland and his former evil twins, Gloria Copeland and Brenda Even. Board members Mary Belle McCorkle and her new son, James Noel Christ, did nothing to stop this. Yet McCorkle had the gall to deplore the investigations and actions against Mendoza in a story in the Star. She actually whined that doing anything to stop this abuse would be micro managing. Get a clue, Mary Belle. Or better yet, move into Tucson and run for City Council, where being a lackey to the bureaucrats is a requirement. If we hear "for the kids" one more time from her, we're gonna throw up.

CHAIN REACTIONS: Tucson's two largest ownerships of casual-dining spots have been shooting marbles. And both the Tanque Verde and Foothills Mall Keaton's restaurants will become part of the Metro Restaurants group. The spinning bank shot leaves Metro with five local spots (and a power-buy on groceries), while Buddy's and Flagstaff eatery Buster's have spun away from Metro's orbit, on their own once again.

In a separate game, owners of most of the Wendy's fast-food joints in town are aiming to put the high-end Anthony's in the Catalinas, and two Anthony's Cigar Emporiums, into their pouch.

Same number of marbles, but fewer players.

GROWTH LOBBY GARBAGE: Not only are we hearing a new meaning attached to "wildcat" subdivision, but the Growth Lobby is now trying to redefine "urban sprawl."

It works like this: Any big-assed subdivision involving high densities over a massive area is "planned growth," and that's supposedly good. People building their own houses on large lots in the same area is "urban sprawl," and that's supposed to be bad.

So if you don't like urban sprawl, just let them build four houses per acre instead of one every four acres. Because the population density by a factor of at least 16 is beneficial for us all.

Yeah, right. Buttheads and Growth Lobby Stooges like Pima County Supervisor Mike Boyd are mouthing this latest party line, and the local media types are once again reporting their bullshit with a straight face. TW

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