August 24 - August 30, 1995

The Skinny

PIPE NIGHTMARE: Having to stop for road construction and drive over torn-up pavement is a pain both to drivers and vehicles. And it gets much worse than that in some parts of town.

Up on the northwest side, the signs may say "road construction," but what's actually happening is the addition of water lines and sewers to all that land recently clear-cut by all those wonderful builders.

It's just more freebies at taxpayer expense, and we have to drive through the mess to boot. Ain't growth great?

BAHILL BLOWS HIS COOL AGAIN: Former county elections director and current head of voter registration Larry Bahill has never been known for suave relationships with the public or his strong support of easier voting methods. And once again, he's lost his cool in front of a whole bunch of people.

The Pima County Libertarian Party has conducted a massive voter registration effort. Unfortunately, it appears some Libertarian workers may have been a tad overzealous--several new voters have called the county recorder's office to complain they hadn't registered with the Libertarians as stated on their voter cards. County Recorder Ann Rodriguez has discussed this problem with Libertarian officials, and both sides believe the problem has been resolved.

Enter Bahill. He decided, without checking with Rodriguez, who is his boss, that every voter who registered Libertarian since April--about 3,000--should be contacted by phone and mail to determine if that's really what they wanted to be. Putting aside the obvious harassment factor of a minor party, Rodriguez decided that was a waste of resources in her office. Bahill, no doubt seething over being overruled by a woman, then jumped the Libertarian workers running a registration table in the County courthouse.

Full of bluster, he told the person in charge of the table that he had a witness who saw Libertarians telling people that if they registered Libertarian they could still vote for Republicans and Democrats. (Yeah, well, that is kinda the way it works.) Bahill further tried to intimidate the folks at the voter table by using such buzz words as "fraud" and "investigation." The conversation was overheard by a passing citizen, who just happened to be a uniformed member of the U.S. military. He asked Bahill if his witness had a witness, making the point that the whole discussion would boil down to the word of Bahill's bureaucrat versus a citizen.

Bahill went ballistic. Witnesses said they thought his screaming and yelling mode would soon degenerate into a scuffle--which would've been wildly amusing to watch, since he was screaming at a Green Beret. The chat ended with Bahill storming back to his office.

This is far from the first time Bahill has lost it in public. Whatever his technical expertise may be, it's always been overshadowed by his ridiculous tantrums and childish intimidation tactics. A position as sensitive to the public as head of voter registration should not be filled by someone of his obvious emotional instability.

ROGER THE DODGER: Tucson City Councilman Roger Sedlmayr supposedly represents the folks in southeastern Ward 4. Folks in the know admit the ward is behind in several areas, particularly parks, so it's not objectionable that many improvements were included in the city's 1994 bond package.

Among them was a recreation/multi-use center at Lincoln Regional Park for fiscal year '96-'97 and a pool at Rita Ranch Park for '98-'99.

Only now Sedlmayr has switched the priorities and is trying to move the Rita Ranch park ahead of the Lincoln work, which means he's screwing his constituency to take care of some developer's future customers. And what developer has stuff going somewhere near Rita Ranch? Does the name Don Diamond ring a bell?

Sedlmayr isn't running for re-election, so as a lame duck he could care less. But the rest of the council will be voting on this item in September. Stay tuned.

TRAMPLING THE GRASS ROOTS: Once again, J. Fife Whiteguy III proved how arrogant and inept his staff really is by basically screwing a Tucson appearance of his presidential candidate, Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Soft Porn. They were apparently so busy worrying about which important people they got out for the private-money meeting with Gramm that they forget about the PR.

When Sen. Bob Dole, R-Nixonville, made an appearance, he was smart enough to do it in the afternoon for better press coverage and to make sure that his own team turned out the GOP faithful. He was also smart enough to stand up by himself and not make his chairman, Grant Woods, do all the work.

Symington's folks did a breakfast with Gramm and basically dumped the job of filling the room on the GOP women's group, exhibiting both a lack of organizational structure and a penchant for leaving the scut work to the ladies. They also made sure Symington was prominently displayed, tempting the press to ignore Gramm and concentrate on covering Symington on state issues.

Net result was that Gramm got second-rate press coverage. In fact, the radio soundbites from the gathering were from Pima County GOP Chairman Rex Waite, instead of Gramm. Gramm and Symington also pissed off the lower-level troops whom Gramm desperately needs if he's ever going to find the windsock and get his campaign to take off. Symington's people are totally oblivious to this, no doubt crowing over how many fat cats they put in the room with Gramm, and figuring that made for a successful trip. Many Gramm supporters knew better.

GODDARD GOSSIP: Personally, we think it's shameless. Terry Goddard, attorney son of a wealthy ex-Guv, can't make a living on his own and so has taken a position at the Phoenix office of Housing and Urban Development. That means some faceless polyester-garbed bureaucrat with thinning hair and bad suits can't have it. Hey, wait a minute...

MONKEYWRENCHING: That zany speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Mark Killian, R-Mesozoic Era, is all in a tizzy about Earth First! founder Dave Foreman being elected Sierra Club "president."

As usual, however, Killian is wrong. Foreman was actually recently elected to the Sierra Club board of directors. Foreman, an ex-Tucsonan, says, "You can get Killian in even more of a snit by telling him that I'm still a true conservative Republican and not an ayatollah in cowboy boots."

WHITE POWER: Well, it seems the Arizona Legislature will continue trying to reverse every hard-fought reform of the last two decades. This year, we saw lawmakers try to flush environmental regulations and campaign finance restrictions. For the 1996 session, our small-minded legislators are already planning on gutting the state's affirmative action programs.

Having had an epiphany that discrimination is "wrong," Freshman Rep. Scott Bungaard (R-Phoenix) has trotted out the tired argument that government is itself engaging in discrimination when it gives special treatment to women and minorities, and affirmative action is therefore "wrong." We always enjoy hearing such stalwart moral absolutism in public policy--and since killing is an even more grevious "wrong" than discrimination, we expect Bungaard will also get right to work eliminating the state's death penalty.

Bungaard is busily scribbling bills to eliminate any state affirmative action programs--there aren't many, by the way--and the proud white male also plans to draft a constitutional amendment which would prohibit the state or local governments--like Pima County or the City of Tucson--from setting up any preferential policies.

Nor have schools escaped Bungaard's reforming gaze. He wants to do away with any staff or faculty hiring quotas at the state universities, as well as scrap any college admission policy that gives a special preference to minorities.

Bungaard has already found support among the GOP leadership, a group of white men who believe women and minorities have already achieved equal footing and no longer require the helping hand of government.

Gov. J. Fife Whiteguy III agrees. His spokesman, another white man named Doug Cole, says that His Lordship believes that hiring and contract decisions should be based on "merit."

And how does our governor define merit? Well, you need look no further than the tiny border town of Douglas to learn the answer to that.

Earlier this month, the Phoenix New Times shared an interesting story: Symington recently appointed Ramon Robles Alvarez to the Cochise County Superior Court bench.

Alvarez is the father of Annette Alvarez, a close personal friend of Fife. You might remember the stories about Annette. A college drop-out, she worked on Fife's 1991 campaign (incidently, Fife used campaign funds to pay her back taxes) and later got an appointment in the Symington administration as director of foreign affairs.

These happy days came to an end for Annette when she was forced to resign after a series of scandals, including the publication of a love letter she had addressed to "My dearest Fife" in the pages of the New Times.

Despite the letter's passages about heartbreaking "heightened intimacy," both Fife and Annette insisted there was no hanky-panky between them; they have, of course, remained close friends.

Which brings us to Annette's dad, the newest judge on the Cochise County bench. The New Times reported that Alvarez beat out nine other candidates for the juvenile court spot.

Among the other candidates for the job: 38-year-old John Conlogue, who was the sitting judge pro tem. Conlogue had extensive juvenile law experience and support from the law enforcement community, including the county sheriff, county attorney, the public defender and three Cochise County judges. Forty-five people wrote letters supporting his appointment.

Alvarez, who has almost no juvenile experience, had a dozen letters of recommendation, only two of which came from Cochise County.

So this is the sort of thing that passes for merit in Fife's color-blind world: raising a pretty, generous, loving daughter.

Yes, that system is certainly better than set-asides for women and minorities.

The problem with these idiot Republicans and their overclass governor boils down to one word: fairness. In our book, a government that does not at least attempt to treat all citizens fairly is nothing but a scam. And yes, government is by nature a clumsy and imprecise implement, and yes, affirmative action hasn't always worked well. But to kill it and replace it with mere self-serving aggrandizement by horny, greedy white people is a prescription for Armageddon.

MONEY TALKS: We'd like to take a moment to thank Money magazine for dropping Tucson's rating in its annual survey of the best places to live. Tucson toppled from No. 19 to No. 60, which is just fine with us.

Frankly, we like anything that discourages people from moving here. Fewer people mean fewer subdivisions, which just may save a few acres of our precious desert.

WILL VAIL PREVAIL? City Attorney Tobin Rosen says Tucson far exceeded the statuary requirement in its recent annexation of the 16.4 square miles on the southeast side. The annexation, known as the I-10/Harrison area, became official during Monday's special meeting of the city council. According to Rosen, the city was able to secure an overwhelming majority of signatures from property owners (OK, so the number was less than 10, but it was still a majority).

The bigger issue of how this annexation will affect the proposed new Town of Vail remains unanswered.

The next logical question is whether the city will challenge the proposed incorporation of Vail, since the proposed new town would come within six miles of Tucson's new boundary resulting from the I-10/Harrison annexation. Under state law, a small community's incorporation is can be stopped if it's proposed within six miles of an existing city's boundary.

Rosen says he's not yet been asked to look at that issue. "As far as I know," he adds, "Vail's incorporation is OK."

Rosen notes that if there is a court battle, a legal decision in a 1934 case involving the incorporation of the City of South Tucson would likely play a big part in any judge's decision. In that case, the court determined the winner was the entity which filed first. If that's the case in a Tucson-Vail fight, the winner would be Vail: Residents there filed their incorporation petitions one full day before Tucson officials filed their annexation petitions.

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August 24 - August 30, 1995

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