IT'S ALL IN THE BEDFELLOWS: The scurrying has been non-stop
since the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted a couple
of weeks ago to tighten three Pima County land-use regulations
that will further restrict development near washes, on peaks and
hillsides, and in the one-mile buffers around national, county
and state parks and preserves.
Much of the overwrought examination and reaction has been to Supervisor Sugar Ray Carroll's dissent on all three measures. Carroll was packaged as a Green Republican last year to secure the appointment to succeed John Even, who died after four months into his four-year term. Carroll now faces Even's widow, Brenda, and accountant Ken Marcus in the September 8 Republican primary that will determine the District 4 supervisor until 2001.
Bitter Brenda now is trying to make hay out of Sugar Ray's votes, as well as his reluctance to join Democratic Supervisor Sharon Bronson's call for a revised Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Sugar Ray is no genius, but he did make the smart political move, with the exception of the riparian ordinance. Now a faction of "property-rights" activists who were anti-Ray have little to seize.
One of those property-rights dudes is the Land Man, Bill Arnold. He set up campaign signs for Brenda Even outside the Tucson Community Center Music Hall on August 11, as supervisors waded through the all-day hearing. Those ordinances only got to the supes because Carroll finally booted Arnold off the county Planning and Zoning Commission.
Environmentalists and a few moderates don't like Arnold, who made more than $150,000 setting up land deals for the Amphi School District, including the purchase--without an appraisal or environmental survey--of that Shannon/Naranja site that's landed Amphi in court over the destruction of pygmy owl habitat.
But give Arnold this: He's good at what he does. He's smart. He does his homework. He rallies the troops. And, unlike a number of environmental and neighborhood stooges who serve or have served on P&Z, Arnold actually shows up. And shows up ready. Until Carroll finally managed to get him off the P&Z Commission, Arnold had been successful in blocking the ordinances from reaching the supes.
Meanwhile, Bronson has been feeling the heat from the property-rights posse currently mounting a drive to recall her. She's been busy meeting with Arnold and members of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. Her pleas last week to be "inclusive" come a little late.
Along the new trail to toughen the ordinances, Bronson has managed to alienate Supervisor Dan Eckstrom while she gets cozy with Republican Board Chairman Mikey Boyd. When Eckstrom substituted a motion on the buffer law, expanding the affected parcels from 3.3 acres to 25--which still reduces it from the 1988 standard of 80 acres--Bronson asked for clarification. Eckstrom tersely told her that his motion "speaks for itself."
Still miffed after the meeting, Eckstrom said: "What do I look like, staff?" Lost on the daily press was the fact that Eckstrom also announced that he will reconsider the hillside development restrictions in six months.
Eckstrom's votes should not have been a complete surprise. Though he's supported a number of rezonings, he also has attached tough restrictions, as he did with legendary land speculator Don Diamond's Pima Canyon in 1992. And it was clear during the August 11 hearing that he didn't appreciate all the hot rhetoric from a contingent of the property rights group. Don Miles, a folk hero in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star, was a particularly offensive jackass, repeatedly calling the supes "Nazis."
A final note: fuzzy Arlan Colton, a big shot with the state Land Department--among the biggest of speculators--was the county planner who worked with a committee to develop the buffer law in 1988.
SPIN THE BATTLE: Two members of the Amphi School District Governing Board are hitting the rounds of the district's Parent/Teacher Organization chapters, defending the Board majority's decision to push ahead with plans to build a new high school on the edge of critical habitat for the endangered pygmy owl. They just happen to be Gary Woodard and Mike Bernal, the two members up for re-election this fall. Woodard and Bernal get to speak to captive audiences, supposedly as part of official school business. But their appearances seem more like thinly-disguised campaign tours arranged at taxpayer expense to help justify a controversial decision.
In 1996, just two weeks before the general election, Amphi sent out a tabloid which featured prominent photos of Amphi Board members in action. Cost to taxpayers: $8,500. Will we see a repeat of this transparent campaign tactic this year?
JOHN C. HAS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT: KNST (790-AM) radio shuffled its daytime lineup, and it's obvious the tinkerer didn't give a damn. Rush Limbaugh kept his 9 a.m.-to-noon slot, mostly because his 12 loyal listeners didn't want to have to change the time of their paramilitary maneuvers, and then lunch at Luby's. Limp-baugh is now followed by the hyper-moralist Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who bumped G. Gordon Liddy to a nighttime slot.
Now here comes the real bizarro part. Eric (Thomae) and John (Schuster), who used to be the Sports Talk guys (who never really talked sports) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., are now the political talk guys from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Let's just say they didn't have the best first week, despite having Bill Clinton to kick around.
One of their first guests was U.S. Sen. Jon "Gomer" Kyl, who made an off-color remark about "going to the beach to interview interns." Then Kyl, who makes fellow Sen. John McCain look positively statesmanlike by comparison, launched into a diatribe against Clinton.
He focused on the part where Clinton mentioned the "politically-motivated lawsuit," an obvious reference to the now-dismissed Paula Jones case. But Kyl, not understanding that, ranted about Monica Lewinsky and Ken Starr, insisting that there is nothing political about it at all.
When they finally got around to local news, Eric brought up, then butchered, the story about the ballot initiative concerning ward-only elections in the City Council races. Thomae said, "Uh yeah, now they have councilmen elected only by ward, but these people are trying to get it changed so they'd be elected citywide."
We can't wait until next week, when they tackle the tough issue of how many stars there are on the American flag. Maybe Gomer can help them with that one.
SALLY FORTH: Imperious Superior Court computer director Sally Nagy has quit her job and is going back to Sacramento, California. Nagy's career track was a great story in the California bureaucrat import scam. She was delivered in 1994 by then-City Manager Michael F. Brown, a have-gun-will-travel municipal tyrant who left for Santa Barbara two years ago. Brown enticed Nagy with a $92,000 salary--$23,000 higher than the city paid her predecessor. The city wined and dined Nagy and even paid $19,000 in brokerage fees for her California house. The county also was in on the deal, hiring her husband in Facilities Management.
When Nagy's rude and nasty behavior, particularly to employees, began to wear thin, Brown's replacement, Luis Gutierrez, prepared to show her the door. To the rescue came another Michael Brown, this one Michael J. Brown, presiding judge of Pima County Superior Court. He saved Nagy with a $105,000-a-year job, which lasted all of five months.
In June, he had Nagy all polished up to deliver the bulk of his budget plea to the Board of Supervisors. But when she couldn't shut up, Judge Brown's credibility sunk further. Nice move, Mike. No wonder the Board didn't give you close to what you wanted.
Nagy's split lends credence rumors that Brown may not be long in the presiding judge's slot. Brown was selected by then-Arizona Chief Justice Stanley Feldman. Current Chief Justice Thomas Zlaket may not make the same call, which we're told wouldn't bother a number of Brown's colleagues, who've reportedly found him to be arrogant and too politically motivated.
WHAT'S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE CELESTINO: Professional hypocrite Celestino Fernández is done with his lackey duty as provost of the University of Arizona's failing Arizona International Campus and has returned to his position as a professor in the UA's sociology department, where he has promptly taken leave so he can concentrate on his campaign for the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board.
It's nice that Fernández had tenure to guarantee a return after his poor performance at the International Campus. One of his innovations at that expensive, failed experiment was non-tenured faculty, which has now qualified him to travel the county as an expert on eliminating tenure while he himself enjoys its benefits. Indeed, he gave a talk titled "The Start-Up of a Campus Without Tenured Faculty" to the North Central Association's Society of Higher Education annual meeting in Chicago on April 20, 1997. We doubt he 'fessed up to his own brazen hypocrisy.
VIRTUAL UNREALITY: A most interesting link trailed the StarNet story about the sick goofball who was stalking--poorly, thankfully--Linda Ronstadt. Bernard A. Ortiz, a 53-year-old homeless schizophrenic, got 10 months in state prison for bothering the singer's family, which includes retired Tucson Police Chief Peter Ronstadt. Now we'll see if the Department of Corrections will allow Ortiz to surf the Net. The link at the bottom of the Star's story invited readers to "Visit Linda Ronstadt's home on the Elektra Web site."
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