ANOTHER STUPID POL TRICK: In June 1994, the Pima County Board of Stupidvisors, apparently in an effort to smooth out traffic flow, made a decision to put up a roadblock at West Magee Road and North First Avenue. Unfortunately, according to the Suffolk Hills Property Owners Association, the stupidvisors failed to post the specific agenda item 24 hours prior to their meeting--a violation of Arizona open meeting statutes.
Then, to make matters worse, the stupes refused to acknowledge they'd made a mistake. According to an April 4, 1995, letter to Pima County Clerk of the Board Jane Williams, the stupes flatly refused "to review their decision."
Mikey Boyd, the stupidvisor from the affected district, even refused to meet with association members.
After an intensive letter writing campaign, including one which threatened legal action if grievances were not addressed, the association's attorney filed for an injunction using the same arguments the association "had been giving Boyd for the previous two months." The court listened and ordered "Pima County not to carry out the decision (to close Magee)."
The stupes subsequently voted to vacate their decision to block off Magee Road and North First Avenue.
Now, all that remains is for the county to cough up a reimbursement to cover the group's expenses. These days $1,392 is a cheap price to pay for law enforcement.
THE CRIME BILL WAS A SCAM: As some members of both parties in Congress tried to explain about the Clinton Crime Bill: No, it didn't contain 100,000 new police officers. It contained only partial funding on a decreasing basis for three years, as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has found out--the hard way.
Seems Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has submitted a budget in which he recommends laying off the 27 new deputies Dupnik recently hired with federal bucks. Next year's local share of the deputies' salaries would be about $800,000. We suspect other jurisdictions may have similar problems.
Huckelberry may be playing games with the Board of Supervisors, who want to look good going into an election year by not raising--or maybe even cutting-- property taxes. A clue for this board: You're so far down the tubes in public esteem nothing you could do would help restore your image.
Huckelberry is hoping the supes will bite the bullet and finally pass a half-cent sales tax increase, something he and all bureaucrats relish. While voters have twice rejected this item for roads, maybe they'll find it more palatable for stuff like saving cop jobs. And this time, with a unanimous vote of all five supes, it could become law without voter consent.
Considering all the waste, pork and pay-offs to lawyer and campaign contributiuons this board has pulled for the last two-and-a-half years, jacking up the sales tax would guarantee a high casualty count in next year's supes elections--as would laying off deputies.
If nothing else, Huckelberry should get some points for trying to make this bunch of bozos set priorities, something they have unskillfully avoided since taking office.
BABBITT WATCH: Former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt's image as a great environmentalist has grown tarnished lately.
First there's the little item of his approving the Ward Valley site for a nuclear waste dump west of Needles, California, and about 20 miles away from the Colorado River. (And you think CAP water is bad now.)
Babbitt, and the Clinton Administration, reneged on a commitment for more public hearings on the site. Babbitt chose to go along with an Academy of Science panel that reported there were "probably" no concerns about the waste site affecting the river. Two members of the 17 on the panel voiced strong dissent.
This isn't Babbitt's only controversial move recently. He's been touting a land swap between Canyon Forest Corp., which owns 1,160 acres in the Kaibab National Forest, for 600 acres seven miles south of the Grand Canyon, where Canyon Forest wants to build a "planned community."
Babbitt is a former shill for Canyon Forest, but went off their payroll when he became Secretary of the Interior, although they still use a sequence with him in their promotional video.
Also, it should be noted by any Grand Canyon visitor that before hitting the big ditch, you usually pick up film and stuff at a large local department store called "Babbitt Brothers." The Babbitt family has done well off the canyon for years.
Now we have all kinds of environmentalists all over Brucie's case for both the reneged hearings on the nuclear waste site and the fast track on the Canyon land swap.
While so many are out watching Rush, Newt and the Wise Use people, somebody better keep an eye on our former governor.
PRIMARILY SPEAKING: Libertarian Party members have announced they won't be participating in next year's presidential primary, even if they are successful in getting statewide ballot status this fall.
"It's political welfare," complains Libertarian Tamara Clark. "It's just wrong that the taxpayers are paying for what is basically a straw poll for the Republican Party."
The February 1996 primary bill, which passed in the closing hours of the last legislative session, sets aside anywhere from $2.5 to $4 million of state funds to pay for the balloting. State lawmakers were pressured into passing the bill by Gov. J. Fife Whiteguy III and U.S. Sen. John McLapdog, both of whom are supporting Texas Sen. Phil Gramm's candidacy.
The bill passed over the objections of the state's Democrats, who opposed the plan because national party rules forbid them from participating in a primary before the first week of March.
Not only does the primary screw over the Demos, it also fails to fulfill the basic purpose of a primary: choosing delegates for the national convention. Delegates supporting candidates will be chosen as they've always been, in caucuses at party expense--which means that whoever wins the primary may not even be Arizona's candidate of choice at the national convention.
The Libertarians have decided they don't want anything to do with this farce.
"All the primary does is give somebody who just possibly won't do well in New Hampshire a chance to come to the southwest and do well," gripes Clark. "It's free advertising and the taxpayers pay for it."
MAY WE HAVE A COMMENT, SENATOR? For the last half-year or so, Arizona Republic reporters have had a heck of a time trying to get ahold of Sen. John McCain. Seems he's too busy helping Texas Sen. Phil Gramm run for president to return their phone calls.
The Phoenix New Times recently reported that the frost set in when the senator's wife, Cindy McCain, made her soul-searing confessional about being a pain pill junkie. You might remember that great orchestrated circus--Cindy came clean and 'fessed up to her problem to a few select reporters because she was well aware ace journalist Amy Silverman from the New Times was closing in, and the McCains thought some exclusive interviews might prove effective damage control.
The Republic wasn't invited to the session and our senior senator hasn't spoken to their reporters since. But last month he did make an appearance in our state's paper of record--on the front page of the Sunday Perspective section reprinting a Washington Post piece he wrote expounding on opening a U.S. embassy in Vietnam.
Are the Repugnant's editors that desperate to get a comment from McCain? If they had any spine at all, they would have told the honorable senator to shove the op-ed up his diplomatic channel.
NAKED TRUTH: When Temptations Showclub plead guilty to a bunch of violations last week and received a $20,000 fine from the liquor board, we found ourselves wondering the same thing as the bar's attorney, Bob Hirsch: If the cops don't even have the time to come by your house to dust for prints when thieving punks clean you out, why are they hanging out in tittie bars, using cash to lure working girls into committing illegal acts?
HERE WE GO AGAIN: Pima County Attorney Stephen D. Neely and his legal munchkins have filed another appeal against his former employee Pat Mathis before the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Pima County watchers may remember Mathis was fired from her position as a crisis counselor within the county attorney's Victim Witness program amid allegations of sexual harassment by her boss, Viki Sharp. That was more than two years ago.
Mathis fought back, winning her appeal before the Pima County Merit Commission, which ordered her back to work with full back pay. Neely appealed the commission's decision to the Superior Court--and lost.
Mathis fought for more than a year before she was returned to a position within the office. Now, after Mathis has been on her new job for just about a year, she has been informed the other shoe has dropped.
Assistant Deputy County Attorney Mary Judge Ryan told Mathis about the latest appeal at a chance meeting last week. Ryan also told Mathis that should Neely lose, he intends to appeal the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Mathis was not surprised--she knows Neely's capacity for vindictiveness.
Since Pima County Manger Chuck Huckelberry has taken the reins of local government, he has tried to put a halt to the endless court appeals by department heads. Now, when the Merit Commission finds in behalf of a employee, as it did in the case of Mathis, the decision of the commission is final.
Unfortunately, Huckelberry's policy doesn't affect Neely. While Neely is a department head, he's also an elected official, and therefore exempt from Huckelberry's edicts. Too bad--while Neely is a junkyard dog when it comes to prosecuting criminals, a job at which he excels, his lack of restraint in other matters causes unnecessary suffering.
Anybody got a leash?
NO SURPLUS OF BRAINS: Seen at auction last month at the University of Arizona's surplus sale on Cherry Avenue were six 17-inch color Apple computer monitors, all marked with TUSD serial and control numbers. Granted the stuff wasn't new, but it was gobbled up by bidders. You mean there isn't a school in the whole district that could have used those?
And what about the three Lincoln Pro Arc welders labeled with the Catalina High School control numbers on them seen at the two previous auctions? Surely the industrial arts classes could have put those expensive babies to good use. They were all relatively new and went for around $250. New ones go for more than $3,000. Shoot, they were nice enough that Hamilton Aviation walked away with one. Gently put, the only surplus items in TUSD are a few administrators letting this stuff go.
WILL REZONE FOR FOOD: We finally figured out a fair nickname for the new town of Sahuarita--Handout.
First they couldn't function without a low-interest loan from Pima County to pay the staff for the first seven months. Now they're negotiating for transportation and sheriff's services at below cost, which means county taxpayers will continue to subsidize them. Sahaurita is in Supervisor Big Ed Moore's district and the town manager is former Waste Management consultant Bob Patrick, husband of Pima County Planning czarina Judy Patrick. Gee, will they get a deal on planning services, too? Moore, fiscally responsible as ever, is pushing staff to go along with the handout.
Reason they need below-cost gimmes is because the town doesn't generate enough revenue. Which leads us to the real question--if you couldn't afford to do it, why did you make it a town? Which leads us back to the rumor: guess where Waste Management might try to place that landfill we all know they still want around here.
Incorporation only passed by 10 votes, and the incorporators left out part of the true Sahuarita community. Maybe it's time for some folks down there to consider the option called disincorporation.
AND SPEAKING OF COUNTY PORK: American Property Service Consultants, the firm hired by County Assessor Rick Lyons, has wasted no time in getting to work. And sending bills.
The firm, which employs former county assessor Steve Emerine and others who helped elect Lyons last November, has already billed Pima County for about $10,000 worth of services provided in the months of April and May, for what can best be called "nebulous" items.
And please remember that we're still paying for legal services rendered by attorneys in the Alan Lang hearings more than a year and a half ago--to the tune of a couple of grand a month, and for God knows what reason.
These and many other similar pork items are part of why the county now claims it needs a sales tax increase. Our suggestion: Quit wasting the money you collect.
THE DEATH OF FOOTHILLS MALL: Three more stores are pulling out of Foothills Mall, a move which comes in the wake of the loss of the two large anchor stores that were holding the place together, Dillard's and Foley's.
Legendary land speculator Don Diamond headed up a group of investors who announced they were buying the mall, never closed the deal until they found another buyer, and actually owned it for about a minute and a half. They closed in April and immediately sold it to car dealer/investor Cecil Van Tuyl for $5.8 million while they were paying $4 million. In the meantime, the Diamond group essentially ran off both department stores when their leases expired, costing the community several hundred jobs. And now the cost includes decreased business and more store closings as the new owners search for a new anchor.
Rumor had it that the Diamond group wanted to clear the place out so they could sell it to Pima College for a northwest campus. When that fell through, along came Van Tuyl.
We wish the new owner luck in resurrecting the mall. But please try to remember what happened the next time some Chamber of Commerce cement head tries to tell you how good guys like Diamond have been for the local economy.
DOCTOR'S WARNING: Watching the GOP presidential candidates scramble for the top spot on the ballot, we're reminded of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's words back in 1972:
This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it--that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us feel uncomfortable....
Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
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