BALLOT BOX STUFF: After three months of sitting on the decision, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has offered former elections director Larry Bahill his old job back. Bahill was canned by the new board in January 1993 under the inept subterfuge that his position was being abolished. A couple months later, Pima County hired Dolores Johnston to replace him in the same job title--making his case as one of the defrocked seven (top administrators fired by the GOP majority on the Board of Supes) even stronger. That trial is scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court early next year.
Johnston proceeded to prove she was completely incapable of handling the job, and in the meantime Bahill picked up her old job in the county recorder's office as head of voter registration.
Huckelberry sent Bahill an unusual three-page letter along with the job offer. The letter outlined all of his personal shortcomings from his prior tenure; yet Huckelberry stated that despite Bahill's many problems, he found Bahill to be technically proficient. But he warned him that he would serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority.
Huckelberry mentioned nothing about Bahill's lawsuit, but that would be one of the overriding factors influencing Bahill's decision--as would the salary. Should he accept, he'd receive $55,000 per year--$2,000 less than his 1993 salary and only slightly more than he's now making.
An ironic sidebar: A woman who once held Bahill's present position was forced to sue Pima County in an equal pay case when she was paid half what Bahill was receiving as elections director. At that time, Bahill resisted the job comparison and Pima County finally settled that lawsuit out of court. As chief voter registrar, Bahill now receives about the same salary he had as elections director--over his own original objections.
Many think Huckelberry is once again trying to maneuver a recalcitrant Board of Supervisors into making a decision to settle the lawsuit with the defrocked seven. Had the Supes simply canned Bahill for his many ludicrous decisions back in 1993 (he's the turkey who wouldn't let people wearing green vote in 1992, remember?), he would have no case. Whatever technical expertise Bahill may possess is clouded by his paranoid attitude towards voters. And the committee that chose him as a finalist was chaired by the state's biggest elections hack, former Secretary of State Jim Shumway, an advocate of obsolete punch cards and massive patronage.
Bahill's attorneys will have to advise him on how to react to this job offer. And Pima County voters may have to be careful when they choose what they wear to the polls next election.
IT'S SO BAD, EVEN GANNETT HAS NOTICED: Last week, the almost-daily newspaper Tucson Citizen shared a page-one headline: "Schools Feeling Growing Pains."
The story outlined how all this wonderful growth is hurting our school districts, particularly Amphitheater and Marana on the northwest side. Crowded schools, higher taxes, maxed-out bonding capacity--all the stuff we've been trying to tell you over here.
So once more you might ask three members of the current Board of Supervisors, the bozos on the Dogpatch Council and those members of the Amphi School Board why they roll over every time somebody like Don Diamond comes around with a new project that causes so much grief.
As Nancy Reagan used to say, why can't they just say no?
UP THE RIVER: The Riverside Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, is to Don Laughlin what the Great Pyramid was to Cheops.
The lobby is filled with memorabilia to the great man, including a glorious portrait of Laughlin and the governors of Arizona and Nevada cutting the ribbon across the bridge over the Colorado River leading to Laughlin.
Guess who the Arizona governor was: Evan Mecham. Seems the only place you can find his mug anymore is in the lobby of a Nevada casino.
PAUL, HANG AROUND: It was a crowded Board of Supervisors meeting with a number of hot issues on the agenda. Chairman Paul Marsh looked over the room and then announced that he hoped everyone wouldn't take too long, because "we don't want to be here until 5 o'clock."
Excuse us, Paul, but we pay you to be there. All the staff folks are paid, too, as are the suits who sit in the room and represent various special interests. The citizens who often wait for hours to express themselves sit there for free. And you, Dim Bulb, are paid to listen to them--regardless of how long it takes.
REPLACEMENT BULB: He hasn't announced yet, but former Pima Community College Board member John Even is telling everyone he's running in the GOP primary against Marsh. We've already pointed out how Even has soiled his GOP credentials by donating $100 to Tucson's Democratic mayor, George Miller, but it seems there's another partisan indiscretion in the attorney's resume.
In 1982, Even was a vice-chairman of the Pima County Republican Central Committee. He publicly endorsed Sen. Dennis DeConcini's 1982 re-election bid--and got thrown out of the office by his GOP colleagues for doing so.
It was politically expedient to be hanging around DeConcini in 1982, but hardly so now, particularly for a guy who's running for office as a Republican in a contested primary.
TRAILER SPARKS: We have all seen in various media that the Pima County Board of Supervisors defeated a move to allow manufactured housing in all residential zones. The hearing on the question drew a number of people, most opposed, who convinced the supes to overturn the unanimous recommendation of their own Planning and Zoning Commission.
There was a certain irony in listening to good liberals like Raul Grijalva and John Kromko oppose affordable housing, in defense of the lifestyles of the middle class. But the real hypocrisy came from Supes Big Ed Moore and Mikey Boyd. They bought into the arguments about neighborhood protection, housing quality and sustaining property values and lifestyles for the opponents and joined Supervisors Dan Eckstrom and Grijalva in turning down the ordinance. Only Supervisor Paul Marsh supported it.
About three hours later, Boyd and Moore joined Marsh in voting to give legendary land speculator Don Diamond 950 apartments and 160 homes on 84 acres at River and La Cholla--thereby totally destroying a neighborhood with no consideration given to neighborhood protection, housing quality or sustaining property values and lifestyles. You could smell their hypocrisy several blocks away.
With that vote, Moore and Boyd demonstrated once again they're nothing but a pair of developer stooges.
MY, HOW WE COUCH SPUDS CRAVE EXCITEMENT: During Monday's disastrous fire at Hidden Valley Inn, Patti Weiss, queen mum of local news readers, was talking to a field reporter at the scene as part of a live tease for the upcoming 6 o'clock version of Eyewitless Snooze. In the process, Weiss pointed out, apparently for all of us stupid people in the audience, that it promised to be an "exciting report."
Yes, we couch spuds just love it when buildings burn, cars crash, people die and loved ones suffer. In fact, in our book, excitement is the real reason to watch TV news.
Maybe the TV types know it, too. Perhaps that's why they give us so much stuff about cops and murder trials and great big fires--all the stuff that's ever so central to our everyday lives. Also, we like the chirpy, upbeat way they report on the larger trends in this community, like development and water and the rapidly deteriorating environment.
Yes, TV news is wonderfully exciting and, above all, it's just soooo important.
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