WE GOTTA QUIT CALLING THEM CADDYSHACK: In preparation for a possible bond election this fall, the town of Oro Valley recently surveyed their registered voters, asking them what park and recreation items they'd like to see the town develop. The most popular item was the acquisition of open space. At the bottom of the list was the acquisition of a public golf course.
While many Oro Valley residents are obviously aware there are plenty of private golf courses available now, it is interesting to note the generally enlightened attitude most folks up there are showing. Buying land to protect Honey Bee Canyon was high on their list. We wish them well in selling that bond issue. Looks like we can't call them Caddyshack anymore. Good.
WHAT HAPPENED TO COUNTY EMPLOYEES' PAY RAISE? When the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a budget August 11, it contained a a cost of living pay raise for all employees, effective September 1.
It's past September 1 and the Board has yet to authorize that budgeted item. It was not even on the agenda for the Sept. 5 meeting. Which means all that hoopla from both the dailies about generous pay raises for county employees has yet--to be translated into meaningful action.
Hopefully, the supervisors will get around to implementing what they formally approved and make the pay raise retroactive to the date they set. In the meantime, county employees are still seeing shrinking paychecks, because they're facing higher insurance costs and federal deductions. Too bad they don't have the same lobbyist as Don Diamond.
SLIPPED DISCS: How many guys does Bill Gates hire to change a light bulb? None--he just proclaims darkness to be the prevailing standard.
And the prevailing standard both here and apparently elsewhere is to give any big business that we want to re-locate breaks because we really need the jobs and the resulting revenue.
There's something inherently wrong with this whole idea, even though it makes sense on the surface. The UA agrees not to rent space to anybody else for a while at that Rita Road research park and state and local governments cough up for a payment to the UA for that lost rent, which comes out $4 million.
Are we this desperate? Microsoft has no obligation to do anything except settle in--the rest of the deal is based on trust. Sorta like the pitch from Quality Paperback Club: $4 million, no commitment, no kidding.
HUGE AIRCRASH COMPANY: Corporate ax handlers at Hughes have started to bloody the halls with a mini-massacre of all those operations and production types who came from the California after Hughes swallowed up General Dynamics. Skinny sources say up to 1,200 high-paid Hughes workers, not including most engineers, will be laid off over the next year. And while they're being given a look at job lists at other U.S. General Motors sites, they have to compete for those jobs elsewhere with the umpti-ump thousands to whom GM has given the ax nationwide.
Why'd they do it now rather than when the General Dynamics deal first went down? Cheaper to ax them here, in low-cost, no-welfare, not-much-in-unemployment Arizona. Hughes was committed to pay them their inflated California wages, besides.
Hughes workers hired in Tucson resented the California bunch. But maybe the whole laid-off Hughes crew could apply for those plush jobs with Uncle Bill Gates and Microsoft. Then there won't be a flood of old houses on the market to lower prices, lowering Realtor commissions.
Nah, better to get them all out of town. That way local Realtors can make the really big bucks selling the old Hughes employee homes to new, supposedly big-spending Microsoft hires. Next!
TEACHER RECOVERY: It could be called battered teacher syndrome, but we're not sure yet. Several former faculty members at Catalina High School, who either did not reapply for their jobs or were asked to move on, are saying they're in hog heaven over their new positions in less dysfunctional environments.
"I forgot how much I liked teaching until I finally got away from that place," said one former teacher, following the first week of classes.
Teachers who called the Skinny reported they are delighted to be in schools where there are strict rules and regulations that are enforced. "I feel like I'm in recovery," said one newly employed teacher. "I've realized they're (CHS administration) all a bunch of enablers over there." Added another teacher, "I'm gone, but I just don't want to see anyone get hurt over there."
Yeah, there's certainly nothing wrong with Catalina High.
ART BARK: As happy as we are to see public art being chatted about in The Arizona Daily Star, and as much as we liked the photo of artist Barbara Grygutis that ran Saturday, August 26, we feel like reporter Raina Wagner sort of missed the skinny about Grygutis.
The nationally recognized artist, who, as Wagner pointed out, raised all her own money for the terrific Alene Dunlop Smith Memorial Garden, has never been awarded an art project in the 10 years that one percent of our public building funds has been earmarked for public art. Our biggest loss came when Grygutis came in second to that big red thing in front of the Main Library.
Her high profile work in several other states--check out Cruising San Mateo I, the tile-covered '57 Chevy she did in Albuquerque in 1991 which speaks to the car culture of the west--makes us drool with envy. Hey, city art gang, we've seen a ton of architects get project funding--it's about time you put Tucson on the map with a large sculpture by this prominent local female artist.
WOODS ON WAY OUT AS DOLE CHAIR? Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods may soon find he's too busy to devote lots of energy to the Dole for President movement. Or at least that'll be the cover story if he gets dumped by the Dole campaign.
It seems many Republicans who would otherwise support Dole are leery of Woods and there is heavy heat on Dole to replace him.
LITTLE TOWN, BIG THREAT: Wanna know how to make the Tucson City Council cry uncle? Easy--file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the city's recent 16.4-square mile Harrison/I-10 annexation.
If this hypothetical suit were to extend into the new year, the city would stand to lose a cool $700,000 to $800,000 in state revenue-sharing funds. Uncle!!!
January 1 is the state's cut-off date for tabulating the city's revenue-sharing bucks based on current population. Included in the city's Harrison/I-10 Annexation District on the southeast side are the state and federal prisons. The city's hoping to include the prisons' inmate population in the figure it submits to the state for its cut of revenue-sharing dollars. That figure is computed by the state at roughly $166 for every person living within city limits.
Which brings us to the issue of the proposed new Town of Vail on Tucson's far southeast side. When the leaders of the drive to incorporate Vail filed their signature petitions with the Pima County recorder, they were careful to follow state statutes and draw their town boundaries at least six miles away from Tucson's closest boundary. This was done to avoid a possible legal challenge from the city.
But when the Harrison/I-10 annexation was finalized by a vote of the Tucson City Council two weeks ago, the new city limits were extended into the six-mile buffer reserved by the proposed new town's hopeful incorporators. Trouble? Maybe not.
The city isn't obligated by statute to challenge the new town's incorporators. Besides, some legal observers, like Deputy City Attorney Tobin Rosen, whose job it is to oversee such things, believe the Vail folk have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. Trouble? Maybe.
Bill Eberly, one of several leaders of Vail's incorporation drive, says he and other Vail town leaders haven't ruled out a preemptive legal strike against the City of Tucson. Eberly says Vail's lawyers are evaluating such a move.
Eberly is nobody's fool. He and the other leaders are well aware of Tucson's revenue-sharing dreams. He's also well aware of what would happen to the city's dreams if his group were to put the Harrison/I-10 annexation on hold with a lawsuit
The dreams and the potential revenue for Tucson are not Eberly's concern. His priority is "to do what's right for the community of Vail."
SPYING ON CITIZENS: Project Foresight, the City of Tucson's annexation team, has been fingered once again trying to sneak into a closed meeting of citywide annexation foes.
Last week the anti-annexation folks put together a huge meeting of 97 community leaders from almost every targeted city-annexation district.
People were allowed into the meeting by invitation only. That's when one of the ad hoc security folks at the door identified a Project Foresight staffer trying to sneak into the meeting.
That's the third "closed" meeting the city's annexation staff has tried to infiltrate.
The first attempt occurred at a meeting of the Rillito North anti-annexation neighbors several months ago. At that meeting two Foresight staffers were flushed out and identified. Everyone was so embarrassed for them no one had the guts to ask them to leave. So the two spies sat through the entire meeting taking notes while property owners discussed strategies to combat the forces of the Evil Empire.
With the excitement of close-encounter spy crap running through their veins, the paid city stooges slipped into another closed meeting of property owners--in the Rincon Valley/Rocking K area. We wouldn't have learned about this one but for a chance question to annexation chief John Jones. The Skinny asked Jones point-blank if he was monitoring the Rincon Valley meeting. Jones said he had people in attendance, but added he wouldn't identify them because they're "undercover."
Is it any wonder these folks don't trust city government?
MAYBE IT WAS A BUDGET PROBLEM: Pat Mathis, the Pima County employee who claimed her female boss in the Pima County Attorney's Victim Witness Program was sexually harassing her, has won yet another court decision in her fight to keep her job.
This time Mathis won her favorable decision before the Arizona Court of Appeals. Mathis' victory this time, however, came with a bit of a twist. It seems the full record of the county attorney's appeal was incomplete. Someone forgot to forward the complete record. The court had no choice but to recommend that Mathis be "affirmed."
Deputy County Attorney Mary Judge Ryan made arrangements with the Pima County Clerk of the Court to forward the record to the court after the fact, but so far, to no avail. It seems the court likes to have the full record of a case on time. Gee, too bad. Maybe next appeal, huh Mary?
FRIENDS OF THE FOREST: Rumor has it that Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III is encouraging timber companies to sue Robin Silver, the Phoenix doctor whose environmental lawsuits have brought logging to a halt in Northern Arizona.
Gee, maybe Silver ought to lock up all of his money in a trust fund and jet off to Europe. After all, that's how some Arizonans avoid hefty court judgments.
SPECIAL ED LOSES AGAIN: A lawsuit filed against Pima County by an Ed Moore appointee to Pima County's Blue Ribbon Health Commission was tossed out by Superior Court Judge William Tinney.
Moore had alleged the Pima County Board of Supervisors' retroactive approval of a contract with Information Network Co. for the county's indigent health care system was illegal. But he could get only Supervisor Paul Marsh to agree with him in voting against the contract, and he couldn't persuade the rest of the supes to support his move to take the issue to court at taxpayer expense.
Billie Jane Madden, a Moore appointee, then filed a suit making similar allegations. Tinney could find nothing in state law making the supes' method of awarding the contract illegal.
Moore's hypocrisy on this issue is, once again, monumental. On other occasions he's supported retroactive approval of items when it was for something he wanted.
Someday we'll run a very long cash register tape on the cost of Special Ed's legal genius. Moore has repeatedly filed lawsuits against the taxpayers, claiming he was doing it on their behalf, and then lost in court.
Sort of like destroying the village to save it, Ed?
MUST BE SOMETHING IN THE WATER: Members of the Tucson Underground Contractors Association do more than $100 million in business a year with the City of Tucson. Most of the contracts are divided between two city departments: water and transportation. One might even say the city has the same relationship to TUCA's membership that oxygen has to breathing.
Therefore, it came as no surprise to read in TUCA's May newsletter that its members understood the importance of the city's annexation program. After all, when the city finishes doubling its land mass, the doubling of water and transportation contracts are sure to follow.
So, when The Skinny learned TUCA was a "major contributor to the city's bond campaign," were we surprised? Nope. The business of one's benefactor is after all, TUCA's business.
But it did come as a surprise to learn one of TUCA's new members is non other than Tucson Water Department head Charles K. McClain. We thought he was smarter than that.
HI-JINX IN HIGH PLACES: Pima County Supervisor Ed Moore got his jollies the other day when he revealed how he put a Pete Wilson for president bumper sticker on fellow Supervisor Raul Grijalva's county car.
Grijalva was laughing when he told The Skinny how he "kept getting dirty looks" from people in the parking lots at a fund raiser for Ward 1 city council candidate Jose Ibarra. While Grijalva was telling the story, Moore was almost rolling out of his chair.
"I got him once before," added Moore. "Tell him about the NRA sticker." It seems Moore placed a National Rifle Association sticker on Grijalva's car window some time back. As luck would have it, a Tucson cop pulled Grijalva's car over and noticed the sticker in the window--and applauded the west side supe for his membership. The cop said something like, "Gee, Mr. Grijalva, I didn't think you'd be an NRA member." And the cop walked away.
And all the time you thought these guys never talked to one another.
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