SHOWDOWN IN DOGPATCH: Marana Mayor Ora "Mammy Yokum" Harn is finally facing that April 25 recall election forced by justifiably irate citizens sick of finding their elected officials in bed with any developer who offers them a dime.
Harn's latest campaign financial statements show she's raised close to $6,000 to date. That's a lot of money for a town that has about 2,000 voters. Last time, Harn spent about $400.
Of the $5,810 Harn has reported so far, about 25 percent came from the Phoenix area and out-of-state development types. Most of the rest came from folks associated with the homebuilding and development industry. She listed only four contributors who lived in Marana and only one for less than $25. Boy, there's a grass-roots operation for you.
All of which helps to prove what we've been saying all along: Harn and most of her council colleagues are in the pocket of developers. And it's obvious that these developers want to keep her around, or they wouldn't be chasing money for her all the way from Florida, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Scottsdale and Phoenix.
Her running mate, Vice-Mayor Sharon Price, has pulled in about $1,400, almost all of it from builders or land speculators. Price, you may remember, is the de facto representative for the owners of Continental Ranch in their day-to-day dealings with the locals and is an indirect employee of Ranch Holdings. Of course, that little fact doesn't stop her from regularly voting on items that affect them, which is one more reason why we call the place Dogpatch.
We're eager to see the post-election report that'll let us know how much more money poured in to keep those bladers and graders running.
ONE SMALL EXAMPLE OF WHY THE DON IS A LEGEND: We've reported how legendary land speculator Don Diamond was heading up a group of investors buying the Foothills Mall. And how Diamond basically ran roughshod over the occupants of that mall, driving Dillard's and Foley's out, and how management representing his group were screwing over the other mall occupants with everything from reduced traffic to more rules they had to comply with.
And we further reported how Diamond's lawyers got the patsies in the Pima County Attorney's Office to do his bidding and revoke a conditional use permit for a radio tower on that mall property, even though the present owners had signed off.
Diamond was a part owner of the Foothills Mall for about a minute and a half. The closing kept getting put off, and when it finally happened, Diamond got out of the deal--with a profit, of course. All that bullshit about what he and his partners were going to do with the property now appears to have been mere cover for an attempt to get Pima Community College to take the mall as a northside campus. That's one of Diamond's favorite money-making methods--get government officials to buy some land you own for a big mark-up, a process that produces little risk and, of course, little else. When PCC wouldn't go, Diamond took a powder, leaving all the folks who kissed his ass over this deal with nothing but a bad smell on their lips.
The new owner of the mall is a Kansas City investor named Cecil Van Tuyl, who owns a chunk of Watson Chevrolet. Excuse us, Cecil, but if you really wanted to buy a mall in this burg, how hard would it have been to find out what was really happening? We only have four of them.
So who is this genius who lets Diamond and friends grab one for $4 million, stall the closing, and the day they finish the deal sell it to him for $5.8 million?
SPEAKING OF A MAULING: And while the preceding was going on, your friendly County Assessor Rick Lyons--that's the same Rick Lyons who, we told you a while back, had cut the values on Don Diamond's modest, now-being-subdivided, 160-acre homestead--actually reduced the value of that Foothills Mall from $4 million and change to $3 million. Lyons did that while the mall was being sold to Diamond and the boys for $4 million and getting marked up to $5.8 million.
Sorry, but it seems Lyons has devolved into just another corrupt stooge. Which makes him nothing but a slightly less tacky version of Alan Lang.
CORRUPT STOOGE STRIKES AGAIN: Our not-so-golden-boy County Assessor also took care of his old buddy, former Assessor Steve Emerine, with a fat three-year consulting contract. This item passed our morally inert Board of Supervisors 5-0. Supervisor Dan Eckstrom pointedly told the group what was wrong with the contract, and then voted for it anyway.
Here's what's wrong with the contract, besides the smell of pork wafting through the county buildings. It's a contract that goes beyond the terms of office of both the Assessor and the Board. In three years their terms will have expired and, hopefully, so will most of them.
This is the very issue which Supervisor Big Ed Moore raises when he doesn't like the recipient of similar contracts. In fact, Ed calls people who vote for, receive, support or even type these sorts of contracts crooks and other assorted nasty names. But he voted for this one. Which points out once more the hypocrisy of Moore and the sleaziness of the rest of the pack.
MAYBE SHE CAN SUE OVER THE HOT COFFEE: Rightfully beleaguered Pima County Board Clerk Jane Williams lost her authority over elections after she and her underling, Delores Johnston, bungled the 1994 balloting. As part of losing that authority, Williams' pay was to be cut to compensate for the upward salary adjustment she got when she acquired the elections function. The board assigned the task of coming up with her new pay scale to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry--over the vociferous objections of Williams' patron, Supe Big Ed Moore.
HuckyChuck didn't move quite fast enough. Seems Williams has claimed an on-the-job injury and is out on leave. And it just happens the law prohibits cutting the pay of employees who are in such a situation.
DUMB AND DUMBER GEAR UP FOR '96: Incumbent GOP Supervisors Paul "Dim Bulb" Marsh and Mikey "The Flaky Waffleman" Boyd have scheduled fundraisers for the next cycle of elections in 1996. Both have a gaggle of folks from the development industry on their respective committees. The Boyd fundraiser is for $100 a head, while the Marsh gig is only $50.
This raises some questions. Does Boyd cost twice as much because he rolls over twice as fast, or twice as often? Or do they figure Boyd will be twice as hard to re-elect?
Or is being stupid and morally bankrupt worth twice as much as just being stupid?
Absent from any apparent builder/developer fundraising action is Supervisor Big Ed Moore, which could mean he isn't running again, they've already written him off, or a combination of both.
THE PEOPLE SPEAK: The following is excerpted from the transcript of the Oro Valley Town Council meeting of March 23, Vice-Mayor Cheryl Skalsky presiding. The interchange is between Skalsky, who has since become mayor, and arrogant development lawyer Si Schorr. It went like this:
SKALSKY: Before you begin, Mr. Schorr, I would like to advise you that my understanding is at the Development Review Board you made some direct attacks at our Planning and Zoning Director. I won't tolerate that again.
SCHORR: Are you going to tolerate attacks on my client? Which you already have, are you going to tolerate...
SKALSKY: Sir, sir. I will answer that question. The public has a right to voice their opinion; you are a professional developer, you should expect those types of feelings from the people. I am telling you that I will not accept from you any attack on this Council or on the staff. Is there anything about that you don't understand?
SCHORR: Mrs. Skalsky, what I understand is, that there are two rules, one for us and one for the people you favor.
SKALSKY: Sir, all I'm asking you is that you do not attack the staff. As a matter of fact, you owe Mr. (Don) Chatsfield an apology.
SCHORR: Am I allowed to proceed?
SKALSKY: You are allowed to proceed if you understand the proceedings of how we will proceed.
SKALSKY: If you attack the staff or me or go across from what our agenda items are, no, I won't allow you to proceed, but you may proceed now.
SCHORR: Mrs. Skalsky, with all due respect, will you allow me to continue, or do you wish me to just sit down and not present my case?
SKALSKY: I would like you to present your case, but I would like you to stay with the issue and the point of what you are addressing, and that is the interpretation of the Planned Area Development. I do not wish you to discuss the council members, who was here, who wasn't--we're in a proceeding and a process. Could you hold it to that please?
SCHORR: I will do the best I can to present this case in a manner suitable to the proper representation of my client, and I will not be talked down by anyone dissuading me from doing that.
SKALSKY: I'm not trying to dissuade you from doing anything but stick to the point.
SCHORR: I have done that. You are not permitting me to proceed, however.
SKALSKY: Please proceed.
SCHORR: I did not leave my First Amendment rights at the door when I walked in here.
SKALSKY: No you did not. But sir, when you are coming up to this council to present your case, and I told you in the beginning what I would accept from you and what I won't, as chair I have the right to do that. So remember my rights, my First Amendment rights, and the people's rights and please proceed with your case. And let's stop this.
BRUCE'S BIG GUN: The Skinny has confirmed the campaign of mayoral hopeful Bruce Wheeler has quietly given the nod to Ron "The Hustler" Caviglia to enlist support for the Tucson city councildude.
Caviglia, a longtime Wheeler friend and former self-described "nonpaid" campaign manager for Pima County Supervisor Big Ed Moore, has a well-deserved rep for his prowess as a campaign hustler and fundraiser. He was a steady presence in Wheeler's last campaign.
Caviglia has an impressive résumé. In addition to managing Moore's last campaign and pimping several hundred acres as a site for a billion-dollar regional landfill on the city's southside, he has also directed Marana's massive and very successful annexation effort.
We can only guess that Ronnie's work for his old bud is "free." It would have to be. The way we hear it, the Wheeler campaign has yet to bring in any first-string financial supporters. But not to worry, Bruce, we're sure Caviglia and his buy-a-pol buddies will change all that.
MAYBE THE CITY SHOULD HIRE CAVIGLIA: While we're on the subject of Ron Caviglia, his old pal Supervisor Big Ed Moore has been muttering about the City of Tucson's piss-poor record on annexations.
To hear Moore brag, he was the first to urge Marana business leaders to undertake their ambitious campaign of annexation and to do so before the City of Tucson woke up. Amazingly, the facts support Moore's claim.
Now it seems Big Ed thinks the City of Tucson needs to hire someone with the street smarts of his buddy Caviglia if they hope to annex communities with real live residents.
The disastrous way City Manager Mike "The Spike" Brown's team handled the recent attempted Palo Verde Corridor community annexation was doomed from the start, Moore says, because no one on the city's team had the skills to listen to what the people in the annexation target area need. And, says Moore, "There's no one in the city who knows how to cut a deal (based on the needs of the community)."
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE: We enjoyed Tom Beal's Sunday column in the Star on the screwball legislative session, but we do want to point out one minor misapprehension--Tom identified Rep. Rusty Bowers as the mind behind the gila monster ranching and wolf bounty plans that went down in defeat.
BUZZZ-Wrong answer! It was actually Rep. Jeff Groscost who cooked up those harebrained schemes. Although both are from that eerie family of Mesa Republicans, they're easy to tell apart.
Groscost, who has a wonderfully trimmed head of hair, tended to sign onto idiotic states' rights legislation encouraging people to kill endangered species or otherwise blindly revolt against the shadowy threat of the tyrannical feds. In an illuminating display of why the idea of local control is so gut-wrenchingly terrifying, he was so busy coming up with his inane bills--he signed onto 117 of 'em--that he neglected to file those Big Brother campaign financial statements and lost the House majority whip position.
The balding Bowers, meanwhile, waged a much more direct war against the environment. As head of the House Environment Committee, he introduced legislation--mostly at the behest of the polluter-friendly Arizona Chamber of Commerce--to dismantle the Department of Environmental Quality, air and water standards, environmental education and the Heritage Fund.
We're sure both gentlemen have big plans for Earth Day this weekend.
While we're splitting hairs with the daily, the Star also reported lawmakers had passed a per diem increase for themselves. Hey, we're not saying they didn't deserve it with all of the hard work they were doing. But the way we hear it, Rep. Bill McGibbon (R-Green Valley) was so aggravating in his demand that the per diem be doubled that he pissed off enough senators to kill the bill.
Nice to know these guys can still be their own worst enemy.
AND SPEAKING OF ENEMIES: Gov. J. Fife Whiteguy III seems to making a list of them, if reports from the daily press are accurate.
At the end of the legislative session, the Arizona Republic uncovered a memo to His Highness Fife from Chuck Coughlin, the legislative lobbyist for the governor's office.
Coughlin's memo blasted a bunch of lawmakers and suggested that Game and Fish staffers who opposed the Guv's legislation face "a day of reckoning."
Among the lawmakers targeted were Tucson Sens. Ann Day (R-12) and Patti Noland (R-13), who were described as "untrustworthy."
If anyone isn't to be trusted, it's Coughlin. A few weeks back, he was such a bully toward Day she refused to accept Fife's phone calls the rest of the session. And that ugly treatment came after she'd tried to carry the Guv's water on the AHCCCS expansion that would have provided about 150,000 more Arizonans with health care at no cost to the state. That plan was killed by Prescott Sen. Carol Springer because she was dismayed by the notion of expanding the welfare rolls.
Coughlin is obviously groping for a scapegoat to cover his own losses in the statehouse. It takes a sick man to make mean-spirited attacks on the women in the Legislature simply because they chose to represent the people who elected them, rather than obey his imperious commands.
SNEAK PREVIEW: Finally, from the Capitol, a list of the top 10 bills for next year, as compiled by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality lobbyist Mark Dela Roca:
HB 2169: Camp Soo-Wee; Pig Jamboree
SB 1134: Legislative Intent; Rock-Paper-Scissors
HCR 2003: County Improvement Districts; Extraterrestrials; Landing Lights
SB 1052: 100-Day Session; Legitimate Lobbying Expenses; Prozac
HB 2468: Bounty; Barney the Dinosaur
SCM 1002: Senate Memorials; Zombie Prohibition
HB 2828: Vegetable Hate Crimes; Celery Stalking; Beet Beating
SB 1245: Treaty of Versailles; Repeal
SB 1438 Kentucky Derby Eligibility; Mules; Ratites
HB 2412: Gila Monster Brothels; Regulation
OH, IS THAT ALL? Not to be outdone by the antics of Catalina High, authorities at Canyon del Oro High recently found a loaded AK-47 in the trunk of a student's car. Seems he claimed he was just trying to sell the gun.
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