SORRY ASSED HOMEBUILDERS STRIKE AGAIN: Last month's local housing starts were down from the previous month in Pima County everywhere except Marana. And we all know the folks in Dogpatch will let anybody build just about anything anywhere, and since they've already re-zoned for about a million people, sooner or later they had to start up. But spokespeople for the building industry are blaming the overall downtrend on the potential impact fees Pima County is about to charge.
Huh? There are no impact fees yet in the city or the county, but home building has slowed down because there might be? That one defies logic. If you thought there was going to be an impact fee, wouldn't you start building NOW to avoid it? Could it be there are other factors involved, like basic E-C-O-N-O-M-I-C-S?
Unfortunately, an industry that's lived so far from the free market just might have trouble grasping that.
DISTRICT ELEVEN DOINGS: It appears both state representatives Jorgé Garcia and Elaine Richardson will be leaving two safe Democratic seats to fight it out for the state Senate seat of retiring Peter Goudinoff. That means Nogales' boy Mayor Louis Valdez has not one, but two chances to pick up that seat. Valdez's candidacy is being discussed, and he should have a good shot in this traditionally Democratic area. His term as mayor expires next year, so he wouldn't have to resign to run for the state post. Only problem: Being a Democrat in the Republican-dominated state Legislature is a worse job than being mayor of Nogales.
CITY VOTE--DID YOU KNOW IT WAS THERE? Although hardly anybody's noticed part of this fall's city election will include a presidential preference poll, Ward 1 City Council Democratic nominee José Ibarra is circulating a memo to the currently all-Democratic mayor and council to try to kill the project.
Simple reason--there are so many more Republican candidates and constituencies, this could tilt the turnout in an otherwise boring election toward the GOP and place Democratic candidates in jeopardy. (Guess José has figured out a lot of folks aren't beating down the doors to vote for Bill Clinton.)
There's a small problem with Ibarra's move: He should have thought of it sooner. Absentee voting has already begun, and it would be a little tacky to turn off an ongoing process.
But Ibarra may not have much to worry about, since there's been no visible evidence of presidential campaigns in Tucson for folks like Bob Dole, Phil Gramm and the rest. All we've seen on TV so far is some creepy Steve Forbes spots.
Gramm has been here several times. His wife Wendy spoke at a luncheon last Friday, although we would appear to be the only local media who noticed--which tells you Gramm's PR sucks, bigtime.
Gramm has been virtually ignored by the local press, partly due to the ineptitude of the local Gramm chairman, that other well-loved figure, attorney/regent/anti-minority doofus John Munger. He's put nothing together except a little fundraising, and Gramm is always in such a hurry to get to the next fundraiser he never sticks around long enough for anything to stick. All he can do is taxi up and down the runway, adding more fuel tanks while searching for the windsock.
The stalled Dole campaign is in the hands of that well-loved Republican, Attorney General Grant Woods.
Pat Buchanan was here once, picked up the endorsement of the Arizona Republican Assembly, and hasn't been seen since. Hell, we haven't drawn anybody besides the late and unlamented Pete Wilson. You can't even find a bumper sticker.
Which means maybe Ibarra doesn't have anything to worry about. With all the GOP hopefuls and the press ignoring City Vote, it might not raise the turnout at all. Then we can all blame voter apathy.
ED IS MICROSOFT IN THE HEAD: As we all recall, Pima County Supervisor Special Ed Moore recently dropped a turd in the punchbowl of the Tucson business community when he faxed a letter to Microsoft owner Bill Gates telling him not only is the city's water supply tainted, but the City of Tucson is corrupt to boot.
Of course we all naturally assumed Microsoft had ignored Special Ed's ravings.
How wrong we were. Moore tells The Skinny he's now on a special mission for Microsoft management. They've asked him to redline the city by providing them with maps of areas contaminated with TCE and CAP water.
Moore says he was told the corporation wanted to look out for employees who'll be moving into the area.
"I'm simply going to direct them to all the areas not served by Tucson Water," said our favorite Stupidvisor.
Gee, it's good to see Microsoft has faith in the city's ability to clean up our drinking water.
MICROSOFT--JUST ANOTHER SEARS? This community subsidized the entrance of Microsoft into Pima County to the tune of $4 million, based on all those high-paying jobs that were coming here. Now we're discovering many of those jobs are part-time, and they'll be using a lot of temps. That's what happens when community leaders are so hot to trot that they issue blank checks for stuff as long as it's somewhere near something legendary land speculator Don Diamond owns. And it reminds of us another big deal.
Anybody remember all the hype when Sears moved a telemarketing center here a few years back. Oh boy, that was a bunch of $6-an-hour, part-time jobs that included--dig this--a dress code. People working the phones were expected to wear ties if they were guys and pantyhose if they were gals. And those employees who stuck with it and got some pay raises up to the $8 and $9 level and qualified for bennies were later screwed over when Sears sold out. The new management rearranged everybody's schedule, knowing that many employees held two jobs, and flushed out as many higher-end types as they could, replacing them with cheaper help.
We hope Microsoft will treat its employees better than that. But the exploitation of labor is common in third-world economies, which is what we've got right here in Tucson.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: After more than a year of trying to decide how to blow its $1 million budget, our twisted state's Constitutional Defense Council finally found a lawsuit to support: battling a desegregation order imposed on a Phoenix school district.
At the behest of Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III, the Arizona Legislature created the CDC in 1994 to challenge federal mandates in court. Since then, the three-member council has met numerous times, listening to various pleas from folks with beefs against the federal government, including the crazed wackos from Nevada who want to overthrow the federal government altogether.
Last month, the CDC settled on helping a Phoenix school district battle a desegregation order. Only problem: The folks involved in overturning the deseg order don't want the help, and asked the council to stay out of the fight.
So, last week, the council met again and voted to reverse their earlier decision to get involved.
Maybe the education folks noticed the CDC wasn't having much luck in another case it's been involved in. Earlier this year, the Legislature voted to stop payments to special masters that had been assigned by a federal judge to the job of monitoring conditions in state prisons.
The feds sued, saying the state didn't have a right to ignore a federal court order. While a judge hasn't yet issued a decision in that case, indications are the CDC didn't have a legal leg to stand on during oral arguments.
That's your tax dollars at work, folks--paying the attorneys for the state and the feds, as well as for the court time. Aren't fiscal conservative wonderful?
AND SPEAKING OF FISCAL CONSERVATIVES: Idiot Republican Jeff Groscost, a representative from Mesa who blew his chance to become majority whip in the House last year because he failed to file his campaign finance reports, is in trouble once again. An investigation by Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley showed Groscost dodged paying $986 in property taxes.
Groscost, who has one of the loudest voices in the states' rights battles in the Legislature, has once again set a fine example for the rest of us to follow.
WHOOPS: Sure did enjoy that Tucson Citizen story on the home-rule election last Monday, October 9, which reported the next presidential election would be in November 1997. Guess everyone was too fascinated by Joe Garcia's O.J. column to notice that colossal blunder.
DRINK UP: The conclusions of a recent City of Tucson study by Camp, Dresser & McKee "demonstrate that simply blending CAP and ground water in and of itself does not reduce iron corrosion and color formation in the drinking water distribution system."
The study concludes, "The use of a corrosion inhibitor, such as orthophosphate or a polyphosphate blend, may also reduce iron uptake if coupled with pH adjustment." Sound scary? Listen to the pols. They know what's good for you--"blended CAP water and chemical enhancers."
Pass the ground water initiative, please.
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