ALL THE PORK THAT'S FIT TO PRINT: Recent discussions about County Assessor Rick Lyons' sweetheart consulting contract for former assessor Steve Emerine need some amplification. The contract, approved 3-2 with Lyons' two Democratic colleagues on the Board of Supervisors dissenting, is with an outfit called American Property Service Consultants. The officers of that company are Dan Swango, former deputy assessor Ken Bauer and Emerine.
The contract is for three years--which binds future boards and, we hope, maybe a future assessor--at $25,000 a year plus expenses. The consultants are supposed to develop an educational program--but note they're not going to teach anything--and help Lyons determine how "best to assess."
Lyons ran as the golden boy who would clean up all the bad stuff done by his predecessor, Alan Lang. When Lyons hands a contract of this nature out to a former boss (Emerine) and folks who supported him in his election bid (the other two guys), we spell that P-O-R-K.
WAITE STEPS ON IT AGAIN: Republican County Chair Rex Waite recently had a major altercation with Pima County Supervisor Paul Marsh's aide, Rod Cramer. Waite threw him out of GOP headquarters and then wrote Marsh demanding an apology from Cramer for the incident. Waite went one further, demanding his own party's executive committee back him up, which they declined to do. Waite sent his own letter anyway.
Cramer, one of the few competent people the supervisors' GOP majority brought with them in their big takeover, was getting tired of Waite's constant attempts to get back on the county payroll. Waite has been sniffing around for a job--almost any job--since the three GOP supes took over. He wanted the justice of the peace slot vacated when Bob Donfeld moved up to the superior court, and put a lot of heat on Marsh and others for the job. Cramer resented Waite's shameless attempts to suck at the public tit, and wasn't shy about saying so.
To his good credit, Marsh finally went with former Court Commissioner Walt Weber for the JP job, a qualified appointee.
Cramer has enough integrity not to apologize to Waite regardless of who asks--and he has nothing to apologize for. The one who owes the apology is Waite, for constantly using his office to promote himself. And Republicans should compare Cramer's track record of winning elections to Waite's record of consistently losing them, and ask who's the more valuable player.
DOGPATCH UBER ALLES--AGAIN: We've seen the final vote counts that retained Marana Mayor Ora "Mammy Yokum" Harn in the recent recall election. While Harn got 58 percent of the vote, she received 65 percent in Old Marana and only 53 percent in Continental Ranch, that bastion of California refugees. Which is why we refer to Old Marana, that scruffy little place along the freeway, as Dogpatch. Some of the folks who live there would undoubtedly see a biker bar as economic progress because their old lady could wait tables.
And there may be enough of the Dogpatch mentality to keep New World Homes alive for the May 16 referendum vote on its terrible, desert-killing rezoning. But as all those new subdivisions go up, Dogpatch will become even more irrelevant in future contests. Which is bad news for Mammy Yokum.
If the best she could do in the new part of her town was 53 percent in a recall, she should be dead meat with the rest of the district in a GOP primary. Legendary land speculator Don Diamond and the boys better plan on coughing up a lot of bucks to buy an election for this stiff, even against Big Ed Moore.
And as for Mammy having to resign to run, we're told no way--the Marana Town Council doesn't get paid, and that fact exempts her from the law.
Only there's a problem with that. Back in 1992, to screw over Marana Town Councilman Dave Morales when he ran against Moore, the council voted to pay itself one dollar a year. Now that the candidate is Harn, they'll probably go back and repeal it.
Which illustrates once more just how Mickey Mouse they--and Harn--are.
HOW NOW, CASH COW: The Arizona Daily Star recently ran a lengthy piece on the "new look" at KOLD-TV, Channel 13. Discussed were such things as KOLD's brand new 22,000-square-foot physical plant, housed in the Continental Ranch portion of Dogpatch, and a host of other nice new goodies the new owners, Ellis Communications, and the new general manager, Bob White, purchased along with the call letters.
Star reporter Tom Turner explained all the problems the staff had at the old plant with its run-down equipment, but he missed the best one--for years KOLD's news department didn't even have a dedicated fax line. You had to call and ask them to turn the switch.
It's significant that in this lengthy article, the issue of news coverage quality wasn't covered.
One line, however, cannot go by without our comment. Turner quotes White as saying a previous KOLD owner, the News Press-Gazette of St. Joseph Mo., "milked the cash cow for all it was worth."
Now there's something our two out-of-town-owned daily newspapers ought to be able to identify with--screwing over employees, cutting staff and generally milking a cash cow for all it's worth.
DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPARTMENT: On May 1, a letter from Joseph R. Comella appeared in The Arizona Daily Star's "Letters to the Editor" section. It was headlined "Expensive GOP Farce," and praised Democrats for not becoming partners in the Republicans' arrogant raid on the state treasury. On May 4, the same letter from Comella appeared again, this time headlined, "The Governor's Primary."
Star editorial page honcho Jim Kaiser tells The Skinny Star Editor Steve Auslander selects the letters, and the paper's policy is one letter published every 30 days per person.
Hey, Steve! Isn't it about time for that eye examination?
WE SWEAR WE'RE NOT JUST KISSING THEIR ASS BECAUSE THEY ADVERTISE WITH US: While we're on the subject of The Arizona Daily Star, cash cow extraordinare, allow us to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Robert Cauthorn and the other folks behind StarNet, the paper's hot new electronic venture. Cauthorn, the Star's chief movie critic, is a renaissance-style genius with a clear understanding of the power and promise of computers in the media. He's pushed for something like StarNet for years, and now that it's finally here, even we've gotta admit it's a winner.
Our non-subscribing neighbors are grateful, too, now that we no longer stagger out of the house in our underwear at 6:30 a.m. looking for the paper. Instead, we just snuggle down in front of our computer to absorb the day's news. And, mark our words, the electronic library of previously published Star stories will prove invaluable to local businesses.
We complain about the Star, but once in a great while they do something so absolutely right that we've just gotta say, "Wow!" StarNet is one of those things; now if we could just remember the other one....
OVER-THE-HILL GANG BACKS OFF ON FASCIST PROPOSAL TO USURP TUCSON WATER: They're still proposing that the power to control the water in this valley be taken away from those dolts on the city council and given to an independent body. But this time around, the Over-the-Hill Gang (consisting of former land speculator Roy Drachman, former Tucson Medical Center administrator Donald Shropshire, former UA President John Shaeffer and former state Rep. Jack Jewett) has backed down slightly. Instead of an unelected water agency modeled after the Tucson Airport Authority or Mussolini's Italy (they originally proposed an unelected body picked by themselves), they now propose a body picked--well, maybe--by the city council, to be ratified by a general election.
Most amusing piece of hypocrisy we heard this time was the wailing about how one-third of the folks served by Tucson Water live in the county and can't vote for the people who control their water. Under the gang's initial proposal, instead of extending representation to this onethird, they would have removed it from the remaining two-thirds.
Left undiscussed this time, however, was whether their proposed governing board would be subject to things like initiative, referendum and recall. We think not. Remember, these guys are scared to death of the current recharge initiative and want to make damn sure people never get to do that again.
This is just another way to keep water issues away from the voters so a small group of self-appointed leaders can cut their own deals.
Still, it's good to watch them back off on that unelected body crap. Apparently that one was going nowhere. If the Tucson City Council were worth a damn, this new version would be dumped too.
DID DIAMOND CUT THE WIRES? No. Radio station KTUC, 1400 AM, was off the air for most of Friday, May 5, due to technical problems.
They were installing new equipment and it blew out some of the old equipment, so everybody who regularly listens to Imus, John Scott, the O.J. trial, and other stuff had an empty spot on their dial. This no doubt left legendary land speculator Don Diamond a bit confused, as he monitors the station for something he can sue owner Tom Hassey about.
Oh, and from May 10 to May 24, Scott will be on vacation in Italy, and his replacement host for that period will be the Tucson Weekly's own Italian stallion, Emil Franzi. Tune in for some skinny of the air, interspersed with O.J. coverage, from 9 a.m. to
1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
KIDS THESE DAYS: Hey, not all Gen Xers are drifting, gun-toting slackers. Just last week, the Young Republicans from Arizona high schools all got together at the House of Representatives to hold a mock legislative session. And, unlike the lawmakers in the regular session, the kids also paid attention during floor debate.
So what did kiddie GOP do? Well, they passed laws even the 42nd Legislature thought were too wild, including:
House Bill 2356, which made kids in our school system safe from the Nazis running public education--it prohibits schools from requiring students to participate in surveys about politics, mental problems or sexual behavior, among other things (passed 35-18);
HB 2437, which required teenagers to get parental consent before undergoing an abortion (passed 47-7);
Senate Bill 1281, which also required parental permission, this time for piercings and tattoos (passed 43-11).
Ah, the leadership of tomorrow, already set to regulate the behavior of their fellow teens.
THE BURRO CHRONICLES: Former Congressman and now talk show host Sam Steiger is branching out. First, his Phoenix area talk radio show is, or soon will be, on the air in most of the state--we hear Steiger is still negotiating for a Tucson slot. In addition, he's going to be publishing a newsletter on Arizona called "The Burro Chronicles."
Steiger announced that "since the level of print journalism in the Phoenix area has reached a new low in coverage, they're even ready for me."
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