June 1 - June 7, 1995

The Skinny

GRAHAM CRACKERED: Hey, how about state School Superintendent Lisa Graham scrapping the $3 million student testing program fondly known as ASAP? The Arizona Student Assessment Program, a whopping three years old, used essay questions rather than the old standard multiple-choice tests. Apparently, she's going to design her own and it's going to "emphasize job training," according to an Arizona Daily Star article by Francie Noyes. But don't worry, it will still be called ASAP, with "Assessment" being replaced with "Achievement."

Gee, wonder how many stiffs sitting at a blackboard it took to come up with that? Of course we have our own idea of what ASAP stands for: Another Stupid Asinine Project, brought to you by your friends in education who are trained to come up with expensive, useless scams we pay for. Screw the tests, give each kid a book every year and see how many kids are reading at grade level. On second thought, that might not cost a few million dollars to implement. Flunked again.

CITIZEN KISSY FACE: Nice that the Tucson Citizen sponsors honor roll awards for top students at local high schools. But when Superintendent George Garcia asked Citizen education reporter Larry Copenhaver and Assistant Managing Editor Judy Lefton to stand up for a round of gratitude and applause, it was just a tad too kissy face for us. When reporters and editors get that friendly with a huge public institution they're supposed to be watching, we stop wondering why the Citizen looks like People Magazine without the slick pages.

And we just had to notice that the student chosen from Catalina was sporting a Ted James Track and Field T-shirt for a 1993 event held in Douglas. A longtime coach and teacher at the school, James said he'd had enough of Principal Linda Schloss and her administrators and decided not to reapply for his job as part of the "new school" process that took place this spring.

MESSING AROUND AGAIN: Luci Messing took her usual spot at the head of the speaker's line at last Thursday's TUSD board meeting. Messing, a Catalina High School teacher who unceremoniously lost her job at the school last month following a year of complaining about problems there, chided board members for their inept handling of Catalina, from possible closure to not dealing with safety issues. But apparently her main reason for being there was to let the board know she'd be around when the school bell rings in August: "You can try to move me out of Catalina, but I won't go away," she said. That should make their summer vacation pleasant.

AT THE TROUGH: The Marana Town Council and other dignitaries recently attended a reception/dinner for former council members Betty Horrigan and Helen Key. Key, who was one of two sensible votes, chose not to run for re-election and will be missed. Horrigan was defeated and won't be. The party, at the Mountain Oyster Club, was paid for by WCA Communities, a developer which is building lots of new homes in Marana.

Watching some of those Dogpatch folks at the MO Club would bring new meaning to "No shirt, no shoes, no service." Some of these rubes may have seen their first table cloth. But it never occurred to any of them that chowing down on one of their biggest developers might hold the seeds of a conflict of interest. Bet they didn't discuss one item of business while they were there, either.

EARTHQUAKE McGOON TO REPLACE MAMMY YOKUM? Seems the members of the Dogpatch Council may have gotten a little tired of Mayor Ora "Mammy Yokum" Harn's high-handed BS and delusions of relevance in announcing her candidacy for Big Ed Moore's seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Now there's a move to replace her. The first contender, from the Continental Ranch faction, is Vice Mayor Sharon Price, who recruited the town's two newest council members, Cheryl Millner and Bobby Sutton. Then there's Eddie Honea, from the Dogpatch part of town, who'd kinda like the job himself. And Tom Clark, the one independent councilman left who doesn't have "property of" some developer tattooed on his forehead, doesn't like Mammy and would probably go with Honea. (As we say, politics is always a matter of compared to what).

The Skinny's been told the deal is already cut and Honea will get Harn's job at the next council meeting. Which means, of course, that once again the Dogpatch Council has made decisions in violation of the Open Meetings Law.

Try to remember why this is important to the rest of us, folks. It's because these jerks annexed half of northwest Pima County and plan to grab as much more as their developer and land speculator buddies want. And they want all of us to subsidize most of their infrastructure, meaning we get to pay higher taxes so they can make big bucks wrecking more desert.

NEELY TRIES BULLY ACT AGAIN: Pima County Attorney Steve Neely finally got publicly called on what he does so often--bluster, bully, and BS.

The supes voted to spend $35,000 on We Care, an outfit that's putting together another useless study on how to help kids in the community (although that's a rant for another time). The $35,000 was to be split among several budgets, including Neely's, who was to cough up a great big five grand. As the motion to re-allocate this money from Neely's budget was made by Supervisor Raul Grijalva, Neely hand-delivered a copy of his memo to County Finance Director Carol Bonchalk to give to Grijalva. It stated: "Five thousand dollars is roughly the cost of prosecuting three criminal cases. During fiscal year 1995-1996, we will therefore select at random three felony prosecutions arising out of District Five for dismissal. Letters will be sent to the victims explaining the reason for the dismissal." District Five is Grijalva's constituency.

After facing a rather hostile media (for a change) and noting that Grijalva wasn't backing down, Neely claimed he was just being "sarcastic." Right.

Neely has pulled this little trick before. Five years ago he threatened something similar when he claimed he would only prosecute criminals in the districts of supervisors who voted for his budget--and he didn't claim he was kidding then. The supervisors didn't have the cajones to call his bluff and basically gave him what he wanted instead of doing what they're empowered to do. They could have removed Neely from office for blatant malfeasance.

Here's what makes Neely such a complete fraud on the whole issue. It's his shop that figured out how to make room for former county administrator Manoj Vyas after the supes defrocked him last year. With bennies, that had to cost at least 60 extra grand a year. Is Neely telling us he blew off prosecuting three dozen felons to make room for Vyas?

Or how about all the other petty crap Neely pisses money away on, from high-priced seminars to out-of-town trips, from perk cars for ass-kissing lawyers to big raises for the right brown-nosers. How many felons weren't prosecuted to cover that crap, Stevie?

And how about all those high-priced outside lawyers--who look strangely like a lot of political contributors--who get called in to handle just about every civil case above a parking ticket. Are the folks in your civil division just too inept to handle real cases, Steve, or is this just more lawyer pork?

Hey, we're just being sarcastic.

AND SPEAKING OF NEELY: Tucson Citizen Managing Editor Ricardo Pimentel's May 5 column defending the state's juvenile justice system was rife with factual errors.

We mention this because Pima County Attorney Steve Neely has been arguing the system should be scrapped, and, despite our love of tweaking this burg's most powerful pol, for once we agree with him. With increasingly well-armed and violent kids, the paternalistic BS that goes on in juvenile court just doesn't cut it any more, and, in fact, may be making matters worse.

At any rate, Pimentel said 60 percent of the kids sent to juvenile court "never come back...with a second offense." Wrong. The Arizona Supreme Court reports that in 1993-1994, more than half, or 51.4 percent, of the kids referred to juvie were returning offenders.

And there's more. Of 24,000 kids sent to juvenile court last year, Pimentel claimed, "only about 8,000 had three or more offenses." If "only 8,000" seems like more than enough to you, you're in for a surprise. The Supreme Court counted 8,155 kids with five or more offenses. The number of third-time (or more) offenders is only about 80 percent higher than Ricardo reported--there were actually 15,007 of them.

Perhaps it's just one more reason why the Citizen is still only 35 cents.

FOR RICHER OR POORER: Pima County's District 10 has fallen on hard times when it comes to whom voters there select for the state Legislature. First, there was state Sen. Chuy Higuera, who was popped in that big AZSCAM sting over penny-ante crap like fax paper and a shrimp franchise. Then state Rep. Carmen Cajero was busted for shoplifting fruit cakes. But the final blow has to be the latest incident involving the king of cheap hustles, state Rep. Phil Hubbard.

Hubbard first stepped on his schwantz in the closing days of the last session when he tried to weasel out of a speeding ticket by claiming some arcane statute let him drive as fast as he wanted. He made this claim even as he was trying to get a lobbyist to fix the ticket. Now, for what we hope is his grand finale, at least for this year, he makes the front page of The Arizona Daily Star for hustling a lobbyist for the liquor industry, asking him to pick up the booze tab at his wedding reception. Oh, and he was also caught grinding cash contributions for his honeymoon trip.

Hubbard has so far acquired a lead editorial from the Star, a Fitz cartoon, and a Tom Beal column complete with a poem. Any self-respecting pol would crawl under a rock--not for what he did, but for how little he did it for.

His latest story is that he's giving back the booze money--which came to about a couple hundred bucks. And he's "considering" giving back the contributions for his wedding trip. Considering.

Much has been said about the role of the lobbyists in this whole sordid affair, but please remember, it was Hubbard who went to them--and not the other way around. Lobbyists will behave only as well as elected officials will let them, and Hubbard is a classic example of those who abuse the system. And he did it for peanuts.

In the meantime, Hubbard, who has no other visible means of support, can only run for his seat one more time, as term limits will disqualify him in 1998. The Skinny hopes District 10 will produce someone who actually wants to serve, and not just collect.

MIKEY LOSES HIS MILEAGE CHECK: Pima County Supervisor Mikey "The Flaky Waffleman" Boyd is still collecting mileage checks--only he lost the one for April that came to about $40. So when he asked for a replacement, he wanted the request expedited because he needed the money for the long Memorial Day weekend.

This is the same Mikey who recently show-boated by turning in his county car as a budget-saving measure. Of course, at the time he never mentioned anything about the mileage checks.

Oh well, guess he really needed that forty bucks. We point this out only to let you know there are Republicans who are also penny-ante embarrassments.

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June 1 - June 7, 1995

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