KOLBE CHAMELEON: So earlier this month, the Sierra Club
and the Arizona League of Conservation Voters both come
out in support of Democrat Tom Volgy in his challenge to
seven-term Rep. Jim Kolbe. The groups denounce Kolbe's
voting record on the environment, saying he's voted to relax pollution
control components in the Clean Water Act, voted to reduce funding
for the EPA and voted to increase logging on federal lands.
Kolbe's response: Campaign spokeswoman Bunny Badertscher announces the Congressman isn't worried about his environmental record. Bunny tells the press Kolbe closed a smelter down near Douglas a dozen years back and worked to expand Saguaro National Park, which essentially amounted to a land deal that enriched legendary land speculator Don Diamond to the tune of millions of dollars. A real friend of the planet, that Kolbe.
The Congressman might not be worried about his environmental stance--no doubt because he praying nobody will pay any attention to his real voting record--but Volgy's relentless assault on Kolbe's special-interest ties does seem to have Kolbe sweating. Volgy, who has eschewed PAC dollars and raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 from individuals, has made Kolbe's massive PAC contributions a major campaign theme.
In a recent fundraising letter for the Kolbe campaign, Gov. Jane Dee Hull asks her "friends" to make contributions to the Congressman.
"I hope you will consider helping my friend Jim show Tom Volgy that Congressmen in Arizona cannot be bought by big money special interests by sending his campaign a contribution of $100, $50, $36 or even just $25," Hull writes.
The strategy is obvious: Kolbe's contributions from special interests are so high, he knows he can't escape the image that he's doing nothing but turning tricks for PACs in Washington. So he's seeking individual contributions to create the illusion that he's not prostituting his seat. Your contribution to Kolbe, you see, assures he can't be bought, despite all those special-interest dollars--so pay no attention to man behind the curtain!
And by the way, Kolbe really is an environmentalist, no matter what the Sierra Club has to say about it...
We think it wonderful to seeing Jim Kolbe face Tom Volgy, a real opponent who can take him to task on his voting record. And to his credit, Kolbe has agreed to several debates with Volgy. It's a rare opportunity for voters to see two competent candidates articulate their vision for the United States.
This week, you can see 'em debate in front of the League of Women Voters at 7:30 a.m. Friday, October 16, at the Sheraton Hotel, 5151 E. Grant Road; at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 17, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4831 E. 22nd St.; and 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 18 at the Jewish Community Center, Dodge and River Road.
OR JUST CHECK OUT KOLBE'S RECORD: Want to more about Rep. Jim Kolbe's environmental votes? His educational record? His special-interest contributions? His position on just about any issue?
Our friends at Project Vote Smart are here for you. Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan clearinghouse of info on the federal government and our elected officials. Staffed mainly by an incredible crew of college interns, the organization has an extraordinary wealth of facts and figures at their fingertips. If you've got a question about national politics, one phone call to 1-800-622-SMART will probably get you an answer.
If you're more inclined to study the candidates at your leisure, you're in luck. Thanks to a generous grant from some wealthy foundation or another, Project Vote Smart will send you a free Voter's Self-Defense Manual, detailing everything from rankings from special-interest groups to sources of campaign funds. Request your copy today by calling that 1-800-622-SMART line.
Or, if you're adept with that Internet thingamabob, visit Project Vote Smart's web page at www.vote-smart.org. Recently named Best Political Database on the Web by the American Political Science Association, the site contains a mindblowing wealth of details about your lawmakers.
But that's not all--this year, Project Vote Smart is also interviewing candidates for the Arizona Legislature. In the next few weeks, you'll be able to find out where your legislative candidates stand on nearly every issue in state politics--which is more than the local media is ever going to do. Look for excerpts in next week's TW.
SINGLE SHOT BRAT: Republican Kathleen Dunbar comes off as a snotty little brat in her sickening radio spots imploring voters to throw away a vote in the District 13 House of Representatives race. Obnoxiously asking voters to "vote for me and only me," Dunbar sounds like a whiny little girl demanding holiday presents only for herself. She is likely to lose to incumbent Reps. Andy Nichols and weak Brian Fagin, both Democrats, in the central and foothills district. It is understandable that Dunbar, an ally of failed Board of Supervisors candidate Brenda Even, would employ a single-shot strategy. But she's botched it and managed to offend voters.
PASTOR'S BABOQUIVARI GAMBLE: Tip to the pit boss, Bureau of Land Management Director Pat Shea, for taking the dice away from shooter U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor. The Phoenix Democrat was on a roll to give the Baboquivari Wilderness to the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation. Pastor's election-year eagerness to give in to the Tohono O'odham demand for more than 2,000 acres was offensive. Pastor was flush to hand over the land without any guarantees for environmental protection. The Nation was not interested in maintaining the protection provisions now in place. The Nation's spin doctors say the Baboquivari is an essential element of Tohono life as the birthplace of the Tohono creator. How long after Pastor rolls a winner before we're treated to the Desert Diamond Baboquivari Casino?
CAGED HEAT: Something is wrong when a newspaper--the Tucson Citizen in this case--reports in a story about a low-life's lawsuit against Pima County and a jail nurse--Dick Jaskiewicz--that Jaskiewicz "could not be reached for comment." Right. This is a guy who actually called the press one night in 1990 to announce that he was about to be indicted.
Love him or hate him, the Jackal is a political animal, no doubt. But no one questions his work as a nurse. At the jail he has shown tremendous compassion for those who are about to hit the end of the road--prison sentences. There isn't actually a line of nurses wanting the jail infirmary job.
Now comes Lana Lee Johnson and her lawyer Philip Kimble, brother of Citizen Associate Managing Editor Mark Kimble, to file a lawsuit against Pima County and Jaskiewicz. Jailed on drug charges, Johnson alleges that Jaskiewicz "touched and prodded" her pelvis in a "manner not medically appropriate." Johnson's mouthpiece claimed she feared going back to jail because she's traumatized. That didn't stop her from seeking an examination, also done by Jaskiewicz, after the alleged incident that became the basis of her lawsuit.
Then there is Sgt. Brad Foust, the sheriff's spokesman, who mouthed to the Citizen that Internal Affairs was investigating Jaskiewicz. Too bad Brad didn't check with his boss to see that Sheriff Clarence Dupnik had told The Arizona Daily Star that an investigation showed Johnson's allegations to be unfounded. It should be noted that a warrant was out on Johnson for probation violation when her lawyer filed the suit. Jail sources say what really pissed Johnson off was that she was forced, by jail regulations, to remove the ring that adorned her pelvis.
CRIME DOESN'T PAY, BUT IT SURE COSTS: The Pima County Board of Supervisors is inching towards imposing an additional half-cent sales tax, primarily because they don't have enough money to fund the added burdens of law enforcement brought about by the relentless growth that Pima County keeps enduring. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, caught between a rock and a hard place supplying fundamental services, points out that as growth continues, crime grows too.
Anti-tax folks will yell and scream, and rightfully so. But it's time they quit moaning about government inefficiency and addressed the problem by identifying its real cause--all those tacky little tile roofs we keep adding to do not pay for themselves. They cost us all more in taxes to support everything from roads to sewers to schools to cops to jails.
Another problem: The state Legislature has criminalized too many things, while mandatory sentences fill up cells. All those tough advocates of "law and order," including a host of phony liberals who have pandered on the crime issue, are also responsible. The old chestnut is, "You did the crime, now do the time." Here's the corollary: "You wanted us to bust their heads, now you're gonna pay the bread."
Similarly, illegal immigration causes local jails to be holding tanks for many non-citizens for a variety of reasons. Often they're just being witnesses. Those who want tough borders have to grasp the added cost of enforcement. Likewise those who favor the War on Drugs--some aliens jailed are also only witnesses to drug transactions and are themselves guilty of nothing.
Supervisor Ray Carroll is living up to his campaign promise not to impose a sales tax without a vote of the people. Unfortunately, there's no provision in state law for another vote on the question and it would require action by the Legislature.
And Dupnik didn't exactly strengthen his case for being short on funds when, apparently taking a page from County Health Czar Dr. Richard Carmona's playbook, he pleaded poverty, then handed out mo' money. Our good sheriff--excellent when compared to the Joke in Maricopa County--said he needed more than $1 million to be able to staff his jail and to get some cops out on patrol. The Board of Supervisors rejected his call.
Dupnik then reshuffled his top command, including the appropriate boost of the effective David Bosman to assistant chief. With some job elimination and a deft move of former jail boss Richard Boykin to the same inter-agency taskforce Tucson Police Chief Doug Smith jumped to, the cost to taxpayers will be nearly $25,000. Three captains were promoted to major: Martha Cramer, Brad Gagnepain and George Heaney now pull down $79,539 a year. The big winner is Cramer, Queen of Casas Adobes, whose pay jumped 26.4 percent. Carmona, challenged by Cramer in the pursuit of titles, employed the same management technique earlier this year when, despite slim Health and Medical budgets, he doled out fat raises to his top staff.
ANOTHER FIX IS IN: One more reason we find Chicago more honest than Tucson--there, when they fix a job for a crony, everybody knows it. Here we pretend it was legit.
There's an opening in Tucson Water for a Deputy Director. Pay range: $52,500 to $88,300. Job closes at 5 p.m. on October 21. Heavy post, with lots of responsibility--and authority. And, like in the selection of a Chief of Police, only existing city employees may apply.
We told you the fix was in for Richard Miranda to be the new police chief weeks before the formal selection. We'd like to now make a similar prediction. The fix is in here, too--under the guise of "civil service" this time, which is even worse. The job is set to go to a certain city employee who was formerly an aide to a certain city council member who thinks Tucson Water is fine and always votes for staff recommendations. Watch this space.
SHEPARD VIGIL: In the wake of the tragedy involving 21-year-old University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, a few local groups are taking action--and standing vigil--in a community response to the insidious hostility gays continue to face nationwide.
The facts are not pleasant to report: Shepard, an openly gay student, died last Monday from the injuries suffered when he was beaten, robbed, and left tied to a fence post for 18 hours.
The Tucson vigil will be held in conjunction with vigils on both the ASU and NAU campuses, and will start at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 15, on the stage east of Old Main on the UA mall. Organized by Outreach and the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association of students (BGALA), Thursday's event will feature speakers including Dr. Sandra Taylor, Wingspan representatives, students, and (organizers were hoping) representatives from city and state government. The Desert Voices and Reveille choral groups will also perform.
While it's natural to insulate oneself from the shock of such heinous acts, vigils such as this are a vital asset in forging, and defining, our sense of community, and our sense of collective responsibility. Although Arizona is among the mere 21 states nationwide which include sexual orientation in its discrimination and hate crimes legislation, we all know that remains a small victory.
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