Skinny REGISTER! If you're planning to vote in the September 8 primary and you're not registered to vote, better hurry--the deadline for registration is Monday, August 10. You can find registration forms at the Pima County Recorder's Office, all Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles branches, post offices, libraries, political party headquarters, city and town halls, and even at Pizza Hut and eegee's outlets.

To go the extra mile for political procrastinators, the Recorder's Office will also be conducting curbside voter registration in front of the Old County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., between 6 p.m. and midnight on August 10. For more info, call 623-2649.

THE CATS, TOO: It's not just the rats who are jumping from the sinking ship known as the Brenda Even For Supervisor Campaign. With about four weeks left before the September 8 Republican primary in District 4, Even seems to be trailing appointed incumbent Sugar Ray Carroll. Challenger Ken Marcus also lags, although he has shown himself to be much more informed than Even. Not a tall task--she's bereft of original ideas, let alone solutions on every problem from transportation to healthcare.

Sugar Ray's rolling money machine has amassed at least $80,000. Not surprisingly, some of Even's original boosters are now desperately trying to get to know Sugar Ray. John Munger, a former county GOP boss and a current member of the Board of Regents, was relieved he got a breakfast with Sugar Ray last week. Munger doesn't want a repeat of 1990, when Republican supervisors--we repeat, Republican supervisors--axed his county lobbying contract. The foul, Ed Moore-led Republican majority that included Mikey Boyd and Paul Marsh restored Munger to the gravy soon after taking control in 1993, and he's been gorging ever since. Funny, though, how Mike Racy does all the work.

At any rate, Munger's relevance is on the wane. His big pal, J. Felonious Whiteguy III, had to vacate the governor's office after his conviction in federal court last year.

Even also has lost a top consultant, Alexis Thompson, to Sugar Ray's camp.

THORNY PROBLEM: One thing you gotta say for this state--we're strong protectors of native plants. Just the other day we saw the case of a guy who owned a nursery that bordered on state land being popped, prosecuted and fined for removing some cactus. He argued that the boundary was unclear, but the hardball protectors of the State Land Department and the environmental advocates at the Attorney General's Office ground him anyway.

Only one problem with that scenario: Most state land, including this one with the protected plants on it, is considered nothing more than a development reserve, according to other state laws. So we'll protect those native plants right up to the moment we sell off the land, at which point the new owner is free to bulldoze all of them.

The situation goes beyond mere hypocrisy and all the way to schizophrenia.

RUDE LOSERS: While it's always heartening to watch citizens giving their government shit regardless of the issue, the "property rights" folks packing the last several meetings of the Pima County Planning & Zoning Commission to protest more restrictive grading, wash and hillside ordinances probably hurt their own cause.

Their disinformation, epithets and generally nasty behavior may well have turned at least one vote against them--and the measures were forwarded to the Board of Supes by a 5-to-4 vote.

That 5-4 victory for the environment was clearly attributable Supervisor Ray Carroll's decision to remove King Cementhead Bill Arnold from the P&Z Commission. Arnold was appointed by former Supervisor Paul Marsh and his term expired in June. Carroll replaced him with UA professor William Matter. Matter voted to forward the ordinances on to the supervisors.

As the new kid on the block, he might have bought into a rational argument to have a delay, as would've at least one more unnamed panel member. But the extreme behavior, the open threats and the generally ignorant rantings that came from the opponents may have pushed both of these votes over the edge.

Next time, gang, try acting civilized. Yelling "Communists!" at your political opponents went out of fashion around 1958.

GIVE ME LAND, LOTS OF LAND AND THE SUNNY SKIES ABOVE: Tucson Mayor George Miller is hearing too much Cole Porter. Or perhaps a rather large acorn has struck hizzoner in the head. He wants to ride (on the backs of the taxpayers) across the range of the Bellota Ranch.

Buttressed by embarrassing cheerleading from The Arizona Daily Star, Miller wants taxpayers to shell out at least $6.6 million for the 81,000-acre ranch, a mere 13 miles from the city's eastern border. And a big chunk is in Cochise County. We remember the howl Santa Cruz County officials raised in 1987 when Pima County foolishly thought it could buy the Empire-Cienega ranches, a portion of which stretched into Santa Cruz.

Miller's move is odd. True, he was on the City Council when the city put the county into a corner on the Agua-Caliente Ranch. But Miller rarely, if ever, pushes for open-space preservation. Some speculate the aging mayor is groping for some legacy. Others believe his wife Roslyn, a lovely woman, is driving this one.

However, one side issue that has yet to be mentioned in this proposed acquisition is the water rights. The Bellota backs right up to the San Pedro River--so if the rapidly metastasizing town Sierra Vista leaves anything in that beautiful riparian nirvana, perhaps Tucson could use it as a CAP emergency back-up. We could easily drain the San Pedro--just like we have the Santa Cruz, which was also once a real river.

But our favorite conspiracy theory: Miller is looking out for future residents of legendary land speculator Don Diamond's Rocking K development. Once the Rincon Valley is raped and annexed into the City of Tucson, those newcomers will need open space for weekend frolics.

Incidentally, if the principle of buying land to preserve it is in order, how about Tucson just buying all of the Town of Tortolita? Hey, if you won't let them control their own destiny, show some responsibility. Besides, you'll get another landing strip at Cholla Air Park you could attach to the Tucson Airport Authority as an annex.

LAND GRABS: Like the editorial boards of the two dailies and the Tucson Mayor and Council, the cementheads who dominate the Oro Valley Town Council are preparing to commit an act of political rape.

Without waiting for a disincorporation order, or a hearing on the constitutionality of a controversial 1961 incorporation statute, Caddyshack's land speculator-driven Town Council is about to complete a series of five annexations gutting the still-breathing, still-fighting Town of Tortolita.

Why? Because the land owners, most of whom aren't residents of Tortolita or Oro Valley (or in some cases even Arizona or the United States), want it.

Besides Oro Valley Vice-Mayor Paul Parisi, who's been duplicitous on this issue from the beginning, we have the unelected Councilman Dick Johnson trashing the whole idea of Tortolita by publicly defining a real town as one that acts like Oro Valley, pimping the land grab.

How this benefits existing Oro Valley residents is still beyond us. And allowing Oro Valley to get bigger--and even dumber--is the net result of the anti-incorporation mentality of too many Tucsonans. We don't grasp how making Oro Valley and Marana bigger is better for them either--kind of an everybody-but-the-land-speculator-loses scenario.

We hope Oro Valley voters remember how much Parisi and Johnson have done--and for whom--when they come up for election.

PEANUTS IN THE DEFENSE OF LIBERTY ARE NO VICE, MERELY SNACK FOOD: One further false report concerning the recent incorporation lawsuits involving the towns of Casas Adobes and Tortolita passed on by the local anti-incorporation media. They're ranting that Pima County has already spent $50,000 in outside attorney fees defending against the lawsuit filed by the City of Tucson. (Perhaps they should report how much the city has spent pursuing the matter.) This figure has been used as an excuse by incorporation foes, including the editorial boards of both dailies, as an example of wasted money, and they've urged the county not to spend any more.

Only one problem. As of June 30, the county's outside attorney, Anthony Ching, had billed only $35,787.50 for all work to date.

THAR SHE BLOWS: City Finance Director Kay Gray blew up last week after the preposterous presentation she and Fire Chief Fred Shipman led on City Manager Luis Gutierrez's ridiculous buildings-for-bureaucrats plan.

The public servants want a new City Hall at the Main Library plaza, a new Ward 6 Council office with police substation and city multi-service center near El Con, plus renovation of the nearly 30-year-old City Hall.

Gray's unseemly, unsightly and unwarranted wrath was directed at the redoubtable Arizona Daily Star reporter Joe Burchell, who has covered the city on and off for 18 years. Gutierrez kept his $75 million plan under wraps until last week's special City Council meeting, when he and Gray expected the Council to approve it with woefully inadequate information on first look. Gray displayed great agility in dancing around Council members' questions about financing--particularly with her misleading answers about how the funds were earmarked for construction and wouldn't really affect basic services like cops, trash, and parks. She was way, way less than candid, to put it mildly.

When Burchell quizzed her later, the polite came off the pie-face. Gray lashed out at Uncle Joe for being a "wet blanket" cynic who perpetually tries to ruin city innovation. Yeah, Uncle Joe, how dare you ask the city finance director exactly how the public's money would be used for this grandiose plan. Ironically, Uncle Joe had always been too nice to Gray over the years. And for her $107,000 annual salary, you'd think she could handle a few questions from the press.

The only thing as bad as Gray's outburst was Shipman's pathetic "team player" narration of the "buildings-for-bureaucrats" slide show. He even made little funnies about how staff at the City Hall Annex was upset that firefighters didn't allow a recent fire to take the former department store. Stick to fighting fires, Fred.

Say, why didn't the city's well-paid Planning Director Bill Vasko and his wise and entertaining planner Dave Taylor make the presentation?

By the way: That $75 million plan, despite the current low interest rates, will soar to many millions more with all the borrowing costs.

DESPERATELY SEEKING ATTENTION: Dumbbell former television and radio hack Thom Boyd is mixing hokey with trash in his ill-advised, ill-planned, ill-timed and flat-out ill attempt to unseat Republican Justice of the Peace Bob Gibson in JP Precinct 1. Boyd went to a recent county GOP lunch and used a recycled and very tired script devised by campaign goon Rod Cramer for such dim luminaries as Paul Marsh. Boyd talked about how he'd worn a hole in his shoe, just like Marsh used to say. What's next? A cliché letter to voters from Boyd's wife asking them to give poor Thom a glass of water when he comes a-knockin' on their door? Voters should save the water and their time. Don't answer the door. With absolutely no success, Thom also tried to trash Gibson, who has served well for 12 years.

Get lost, Thom.

THESE FATCAT ASSHOLES NEED A RAZOR-SHARP RECTAL THERMOMETER: Sometimes, ya gotta wonder how these scumbags sleep at night.

The scumbags, in this case, at the fatcats at FPA Medical Management Inc. It wasn't bad enough that imbecilic business decisions drove the Thomas-Davis medical clinics into the ground, or that physician groups got stiffed on hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

No, they had to go one step further. As Jane Erickson reported in the morning daily last week, FPA's board handed out big raises last month to its top executives even as the ailing company was closing 15 Thomas-Davis clinics in Arizona and preparing to file bankruptcy.

Chief executive officer Stephen Dresnick got a $350,000 raise and a $1.06 million bonus, and two executive vice presidents got $50,000 raises. The board also handed out another $2 million in bonuses.

It's one hell of a way to do business, especially considering that FPA has about $345 million in debts.

We're sure glad the GOP torpedoed Hillary's plans for a national healthcare system. Just think: If we'd allowed the government to socialize medicine, all those executives would have had to find another way to enrich themselves at patients' expense. TW

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