TRICK OR TREAT: These are spooky days for faux destitute Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III, who is due in bankruptcy court October 31 to formally stiff the pool souls he owes some $23 million.
Since he tried to escape the creeping horror of his dark sins, Fife has endured the torment of a closet filled with rattling skeletons. The pension fund lawyers who drove the stake through the Governor's undead bankbook have been picking their way through the haunted mansion of Fife's bad deals, sniffing the buried bodies for dark secrets.
We don't know what dismal tale they'll bring back from the crypt, but we'll bet our sack of goodies on this: On Halloween, a whole bunch of masks come off.
SYMINGTON SYCOPHANT AT CITIZEN: Last week, we warned you not to be fooled by Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III's complaints about Morley Safer and 60 Minutes after the Governor's spokesman openly wept about those sick bastards in the media who had so badly beaten His Lordship during an interview earlier this month.
We now see at least one local political writer bought the Governor's spin. Tucson Citizen political writer David Pittman's weekly column last Friday, October 20, dully recounted Fife's cover story: The folks from 60 Minutes had promised--promised!--to concentrate on Fife's brilliant leadership in lowering taxes while cutting welfare and gutting health care spending.
Then, when the cameras were rolling, Safer spent only a minute on the good news, while grilling Symington on what Pittman calls Gov. Deadbeat's "personal financial situation" for the remaining 30.
Gee--reporters actually asking Symington about his efforts to stiff the folks he owes millions of dollars, including union pensioners and City of Phoenix taxpayers. No wonder Cole told Pittman, "We don't operate that way out of this office, and most of the Arizona press corps doesn't operate that way, either."
Does Pittman speculate about what Safer might have asked Symington? Does he wonder if it had anything to do with fraud or kickbacks or payoffs? Does he mention the Phoenix New Times has reported Symington's books have been handled at an extraordinary discount by Coopers & Lybrand, a Big Six accounting firm that has done millions of dollars of work for the state, including a Project Slim account that stunk so badly of bid-rigging that Coopers had to return $700,000? Does he suggest Safer might have wondered how Fife went from being worth $12 million in June 1990 to a negative $23 million in May 1991?
No--instead, Pittman accuses real reporters who do have the brains to chase that story of "deception."
This pathetic waste of ink was a stretch even for Pittman, whose weekly column is normally about as relevant as the bulletins we receive from the UFO crowd. At first, we hoped we were reading a clever satire, but alas, there was no punchline.
Not only did Pittman roll over, he didn't even get an interview with the Governor himself. Pittman had to settle for second-hand quotes from Symington's press lackey. Gee, Dave, maybe Fife himself would deign to speak to you sometime soon.
Pittman notes Safer had an opportunity to tell his side of the story, but declined to return calls. We're not surprised--he was probably out doing a real story.
Dave, Morley Safer cracks more crooked heads in a year than you have in your lifetime. Wipe Symington's shit off your schnozz and take up the gardening beat.
HEEEEEEE'S BAAAAAACK: Former Demo state Rep. John Kromko is making noises about running for the Board of Supes District 3 seat, which is now held by Republican Special Ed Moore, the man who beat Kromko in the 1992 general election. Kromko also headed up a failed recall against Moore last year.
Kromko's plans leave many Demos nervous because he missed a rather short putt when he couldn't beat Moore last time in this marginal district. Many thought Kromko took too many things for granted and didn't work very hard at running--lack of follow-through being a standard Kromko trait.
Kromko argues Moore had a lot more money--which is true, but he didn't make much of an effort to raise enough funds himself.
If Kromko gets into the race, he may find himself running against neighborhood activist Sharon Bronson, who chaired his campaign last time. Bronson is one of the folks who wasn't happy with how Kromko campaigned, which could make for an interesting primary.
SOAKED: The folks who filed the unsuccessful lawsuit against the water initiative lost in more ways than politically. Not only have they been handed a big bill by their own attorney, Andy Federhar, but when they lost, they became legally obligated to pay winning attorney Tom Sylvester. Their little exercise in anti-democratic elitism bit 'em on the ass twice--we're told the total of both sides' legal bills is somewhere around $200,000.
That steep bill explains why they're having trouble raising any money, which has slowed the visible opposition to the initiative. Most local business guys aren't too hot to cough up to cover legal fees incurred in a losing case.
Initiative opponents know they can count on the establishment media to attack the measure. And they can count on the city bureaucracy to continue to lie about what the initiative contains, as they did in the ballot language.
Expect a short, sharp, nasty campaign against the initiative. Some of the opponents have already begun raising money for that purpose, apart from picking up the lawyer's tab, and have hired long-time Demo political operative Pete Zimmerman as their hit man. Zimmerman was the guy who showed you ridiculous pictures of water being poured over old batteries when recharge was an issue on the '87 ballot. Plan on seeing similar mudslinging.
DISTRICT 13 DOINGS: Republican Ron St. John is hurriedly laying groundwork for his run at one of the two District 13 House seats. With both Andy Nichols and George Cunningham, the Democrats who now hold those seats, considering a run for the District 13 Senate seat of retiring Patti Noland, St. John has a shot at an open seat.
Aide to Pima County Supervisor Mikey "The Flaky Waffleman" Boyd, St. John has picked up the endorsement of several local GOP "moderates," including state Sen. Ann Day and state Reps. Lou Ann Preble and Freddie Herschberger.
More sinister is the name of legendary land speculator Don Diamond on St. John's letterhead. The ubiquitous Diamond, as we can tell from his massive campaign contributions to a spectrum of pols of both parties, clearly has only one thing in mind when he cuts a check or lends his name: Will this candidate benefit the interests of Don Diamond?
We suspect St. John doesn't even know yet how Diamond plans to use him, and maybe Diamond doesn't either. But Don's never been shy about asking, and for now that name on the letterhead is ultimately St. Johns' biggest problem--even bigger than his close association with Boyd.
MORE POWER TO HER: Latest rumor has state Sen. Patti Noland now contemplating a run for state Corporation Commission for the seat currently held by Democrat Marcia Weeks. Should Noland succeed, it would return that body to Republican control for the first time since the 1970s. Which, considering the GOP track record for rolling over for the interests of utility companies, bodes ill for consumers--unless Noland wishes to strongly differentiate herself from both her predecessors and current utility stooge Karl Kunasek, the only GOP member of the Commission.
If Weeks runs again, expect one helluva statewide brawl.
DIAMOND WATCH: We recognize that Don Diamond owns a lot of this town--probably even more than he can remember. But Melissa Prentice of The Arizona Daily Star gave him even more credit.
In a recent page one headline story concerning Old Tucson, Prentice wrote: "In 1984, it was purchased by Don Diamond and Donald Pitt. It has since been turned over to a corporation led by Diamond's daughter, Helene Levy."
Excuse us, but Old Tucson is part of Tucson Mountain Park and is the property of Pima County--that's us, the taxpayers. What Diamond and Pitt have is a long-term, very favorable lease given to them by a roll-over board of supervisors now long out of office. That the Star editorial staff didn't know this either and allowed the story to run without correction means they don't even remember what they printed in their last Old Tucson story, where Ann Eve Pedersen and Chris Limberis fully explained the leasing arrangements. And Melissa ought to try reading her own paper.
So when they get things back together at Old Tucson after the fire damage is repaired, and you get gouged for taking your out-of-town cousin into the place and have to pay Big D $4 for a Coke, remember--he really doesn't own the place, you do. He just gets to exploit it.
(Sorry, Helene. We like you, but your dad is just so rich and powerful somebody has to keep an eye on him.)
PUFF 'N' STUFF: We read recently the Phoenix Suns have managed to get their hands on more tax dollars--seems the basketball team's management signed a deal to receive more than $600,000 from the new tobacco tax fund earmarked for anti-smoking campaigns. In return, the anti-smoking folks got to use the Suns logo and a player, to be named later, who would tell kids smoking is bad.
Jesus, hasn't Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo soaked taxpayers enough? He rammed a Maricopa County sales tax increase through to build a ballpark for his new Arizona Diamondbacks in downtown Phoenix. He's worked every conceivable angle to milk every single drop of profit from the fans and citizens alike.
Now he's charging more than half a million bucks for the use of his Suns logo in the fight against smoking? If you really wanted to fight cancer, you'd take on Colangelo--the man is a walking tumor.
WOULD THE WILDCATS LET THE SUNDEVILS READ THEIR PLAY BOOK? Once again, we're astonished by the Board of Supervisors--this time, when it comes to their present board clerk, Jane Williams.
She's clearly in Special Ed Moore's court. He's defended her countless times over numerous screw-ups, including her total botch of the 1994 election, when she and her underling Delores Johnston lost most of the marked ballots from an Oro Valley precinct.
Johnston resigned under pressure and Williams was stripped of her election responsibilities. In a rare display of rationality, the Board actually allowed County Manager Chuck Huckelberry to reduce Williams' pay after she was demoted.
Williams and Johnston both have lawsuits pending against Pima County alleging various forms of discrimination. Now Supervisor Raul Grijalva has noticed something: Ever since the three GOP whiz kids took over in 1993, they've allowed Williams to attend executive sessions of the Board for no apparent reason other than Moore thinks it's a good idea.
Problem is, many of those executive sessions involve personal matters and pending court cases against Pima County by present and former employees. Williams' presence obviously tips her off to what legal procedures and settlement options are available in other cases. It's a clear conflict, and she shouldn't be there.
But when Grijalva raised the question, he couldn't get a definitive answer from Board attorney David Dingeldine. Apparently Dingeldine wants the supervisors to formally vote on excluding Williams. And since Grijalva brought up the issue, Williams' attorney has written to Huckelberry claiming her exclusion is both retaliation for her lawsuit and racist.
What we really have here is more blustering intimidation by Special Ed to get his own way with a bunch of bureaucrats and fellow supes who don't have the stones to tell him to shove it. And Williams' phony racism claims are what's giving affirmative action a bad name.
Of course, these are the same supervisors who employ anti-affirmative Regent John Munger as a lobbyist. Maybe the GOP majority will hire Munger to represent them against Williams' lawsuit.
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