THE DAY THEY ALL CHEERED THAT GIANT FLUSHING SOUND: The
worst editor at the worst midsize daily newspaper in America is
toast. John Silva, the dreaded, Fresca-guzzling assistant
managing editor of The Arizona Daily Ad Space, disappeared
this past Friday.
Silva waddles into the newsroom about 9:30 a.m. and all is well. He's his normal self, grinning and showing off his pasta-crunchers. Two short hours later, without so much as a scream, a hurled phone book, or a burbled epithet, he's out the door. Seeking other opportunities. A cloud of Old Spice. Mail-room meat.
Bobbie Jo Buel, managing editor of The Daily Blah, begins the odd process of calling staffers into the conference room to inform them, one at a time, that Silva has left the building, permanently. Asked why, she chops off a big slice of Oscar Mayer and says, "Er, he's decided to accept a job elsewhere."
It took some two hours to inform everyone.
Meanwhile, calls go out to everyone connected with the editorial end of the operation to come in to the newsroom. Downtown bureau, northwest bureau people. Most don't know why until they show up and get the news. The old East German secret police would've handled it about the same way.
"Checkmate King-two this is White Rook...Chow-bucket is dead...Do you copy?"
"It's so cloak-and-dagger down there," says one Skinny source. "It's like working in the Balkans."
What spread throughout the newsroom, in the wake of the news that shots had been fired at Silva's limo from the grassy knoll, was something akin to euphoria. Otherwise catatonic reporters, glassy-eyed de-caffers hunched in their cubicles, could barely restrain their glee.
Silva was hated. He was a bully. He drove people away. Ask his desk assistant how many times she had to telephone Silva's wife, or run down to the cafeteria to pick up a Fresca for the chief.
On top of these minor outrages, three of his assistants quit in the past few months. Several went into Buel's office, nudged her awake and registered bitter complaints about this cat who somehow survived almost 10 years.
How? He knew how to work his superiors. Here's a typical Silva-Buel conversation at the daily budget meeting:
Silva: "We've got a great story on trash compacting."
Buel: "I didn't care for it."
Silva: "Me, either."
People liked to go to the meetings just to watch them dance.
He pulled the same junk with Star executive editor Darth Auslander.
Memo from Silva to Darth: Did I ever tell you how masterful your work is? Huh? Huh? Did I? Give us a kiss, you lug.
Ten years? Ten years of nothing to read? Somebody should be ho-slapped for this.
Anyway, the fiesta atmosphere continued with an evening gathering at Bob Dobb's. (A Skinny informant was there. Some 20 reporters gathered to drool into their milkshakes and dance on Silva's grave, professionally speaking. They did the wave. They high-fived. These weren't reporters, they were hyenas, ghouls, savages around a bonfire of French fries.
"People were really depressed for a long time," said one. "This is a release, the clouds lifting."
Exactly why did this occur? The animal trainers who work the whips at The Daily Dullard will not speak. Everyone quitting doesn't help, but that's been going on a long time. There had to be a precipitating event that day. The Skinny will find out.
Newsroom and management hopes have settled on Ann-Eve Pedersen, currently an assistant city editor. But she was recently offered a job at the San Francisco Examiner and took it.
Another factor: Her husband has a law practice here and didn't want to go to S.F. The trainers will try to talk her into staying.
If she yields, she's deranged. Every promise they make her will go up the chimney.
One nasty but distant possibility: Seen in the newsroom several days before Silva's professional demise was none other than John Peck, former managing editor and Cele Pulitzer's (wife of owner Michael Pulitzer) long-time bossa nova partner.
Jesus, no. Could it be? Could it be that something more wicked is coming?
We'll see if the hyenas laugh for long.
INCORPORATING FOR FUN AND PROFIT: Jeff Coleman and Tim Brown, two of the big honchos in the self-appointed committee to incorporate the new Village of Casas Adobes, are a pair of computer consultants. They were just awarded their first slice of pork from the Metro Water District, which is, just co-incidentally, in the heart of Casas Adobes. In fact, the initial incorporation meetings were held at Metro's headquarters.
Known as Mutt and Jeff to some detractors, Coleman and Brown have done a superb job of running just about everybody else away from any decision-making role in the plans for the new town. (The factions are spliting faster than atoms in a particle accelerator.) We've noted that those plans include, along with a lot of expensive toys, a $250,000 computer purchase. Coleman isn't shy--he's told folks he plans to be part of the action when the new town awards contracts. And he isn't completely stupid--neither he nor his sidekick will be demanding an appointment to the new council, since that could conflict them out of the lucrative computer deal.
Should the voters approve Casas Adobes incorporation, we have a question county supervisors oughta ask the village's prospective council-appointees: How many fixes for your cronies are you committed to deliver?
MAYOR CHERYL SKALSKY, R.I.P: We've complained plenty about the Amphitheater School District's crummy land acquisition policies in the last year. We've awarded them our much-coveted Biggest Fix awards, and the Arizona Press Club gave them the Brick Wall Award for consistently failing to deliver public documents. The Amphi School Board is currently being sued by former county supervisor David Yetman, who's alleging the district broke conflict-of-interest and open-meetings laws when it approved the contracts that led to the purchase of not only the proposed new high school site--the one in the middle of the pygmy owl habitat--but also the way it handled other sleazy-looking deals as well.
A child of three can figure out this isn't owls versus kids, it's taxpayers and parents versus a non-responsive school board whose members refuse even to consider the possibility that they might have been wrong when they were conned into buying that school site.
We now see Oro Valley Mayor Cheryl Skalsky, shed of her former green camouflage, showing up at an Amphi School Board meeting to cheer on the bladers and graders and defend the Board's decision. With her was OV Vice-Mayor Paul Parisi. Both have become, with the rest of the OV Town Council and staff, pathetic shills for the Growth Lobby.
They didn't start that way, particularly Skalsky. Her eight years on the Oro Valley Council were filled with decent acts and decent votes on growth issues, and much to our current embarrassment, we supported her. To say that we're disappointed at her recent endorsement of the Amphi gang is an understatement.
What went wrong? Part of Skalsky's Amphi reaction no doubt stems from the long animosity between her and the one member of the Amphi School Board who opposes the high-school site, Nancy Young Wright. It's no secret that Wright and Skalsky don't get along, and that Skalsky takes her politics personally. But Skalsky's turn-around runs deeper than that, from flip-flopping on annexations to voting to screw the Town of Tortolita, which she'd once publicly endorsed.
It appears Skalsky has lost her once-dominant role in OV politics to the cementhead faction, led by Town Manager Chuck Sweet, the real power now in Oro Valley. And maybe she's just too tired to go back to her former role as leader of the minority on the council. It never bothered her before to be a lone voice. But these days, she's just blended into the developer-stooge pack that has dominated Oro Valley politics for years.
Too bad. When Skalsky was on her game, she was a lioness. It saddens us to note her devolution to just another Growth Lobby pussy cat. Cheryl, we hardly know ya.
CAPITALIST CAPERS: The group passing itself off as the Tucson Business Community has dumped a ton of money into opposing Prop 202, the minimum-wage initiative.
But they're obviously not into trying "Tucson First." Those slick TV spots they're running were not only produced in Washington, D.C., but were placed on local stations by a D.C. ad agency. Apparently the so-called business community doesn't think too highly of local ad agencies, or they'd have given them the business.
And even though Tucson seems to have become a national source for minimum-wage telephone solicitation workers, one committee promoting Proposition 201, the sleazy, misleading water initiative that would repeal the Water Consumer Protection Act, has hired a Wyoming consultant and a Phoenix phone bank to carry their deceptive bullshit to the voters. So when you get those calls from seemingly sincere workers for Prop 201, ask them where they're calling from, and why a Tucson voter should listen to an out-of-town, boiler-room grunt.
Beyond the relative merits of these two ballot propositions, what we're really seeing is the political collapse of those self-appointed local business "leaders" who've traditionally attempted to influence city and county elections, and their total acquiescence to the national outfits they serve. We've long pointed out that most of these guys are just branch managers (or colonial governors), and actions like this just continue to prove it. We're a low-wage town because our out-of-town owners like it that way.
The business people now so damn concerned about Prop 202 didn't even bother to file a ballot argument against it in the city publicity pamphlet. And even worse, "pro-business" GOP candidates like Fred Ronstadt can't raise enough money to make a real race because the "business community" has written them off.
So now our bold and brilliant business "leaders" are getting the socks scared off them by a bunch of homeless people with no campaign money. Who says politics ain't wacky around here?
POUR PLANNING: The Growth Lobby has made no secret of the fact they believe responsibility for the Tucson Water, our publicly owned water utility, should pass from the City Council to a quasi-public management organization. A few years back, former state Rep. Jack Jewitt, real estate legend Roy Drachman and a few other suits flat-out demanded the City Council hand over the power; more recently, Mayor George Miller and his Gang of Four voted to "study" the options for privatizing Tucson Water's management.
Now comes Prop 201, which (in addition to repealing the voter-approved Water Consumer Protection Act and opening the door to the return of direct delivery of CAP water) would create a "citizen oversight committee" to monitor the Council's water policies.
Given that the Growth Lobby has poured so much money into Prop 201 (and that a citizens' water committee already exists), we've been suspicious this provision in Prop 201 is a Trojan horse to pry ultimate control of Tucson Water away from the voters.
Last Wednesday, October 22, Tucson Citizen columnist Ernesto Portillo wrote an editorial supporting Prop 201. Portillo, whose column is published in Spanish with an English translation, wrote that our city needs "an entity with total authority and corresponding responsibility" for Tucson Water. And, Portillo added, "Proposition 201 is the only way to solve our water dilemma by making sure the Tucson City Council establishes a strong management organization that ensures the quality of water for today and the future."
The column made us wonder: What's this dude been told about this initiative that the rest of us haven't been?
TORTS AND TORTOLITA: The latest threat to the newly formed Town of Tortolita comes from the Attorney General's Office, which has launched an investigation into the town's incorporation procedure.
Among the the AG's concerns: Tortolita may be "too rural" to incorporate. Guess they figure you can't have a town without tract housing, strip malls and a Circle K.
The investigation was inspired by a request from local attorney Si Schorr, who is representing Forest City, a Cleveland-based development firm that owns 320 acres inside Tortolita's boundaries. Forest City has also been planning a massive grade-'n'-blade development on 900 acres of nearby state land.
Forest City is worried that all that planning is going to come to naught, given that Tortolita residents have made it clear that they incorporated to prevent developers from dumping acres of red-roofed tract housing into their neighborhood.
We're not shedding any tears for Forest City--there's a reason the business is called "land speculation." And besides, why should these guys get to make plans for state land, which belongs to all of us? That's an even better scam than the rent-a-cow provision that allows developers to pay almost no taxes on their land as long as they run cattle on it. Under this scenario, Forest City hasn't had to pay a dime in taxes on the state land while they've plotted their hideous rape of the desert.
Now we discover that Forest City doesn't even want to pay their lawyers to carry this fight against Tortolita into court, so they've asked the Attorney General's Office to take up the fight for them. So state taxpayers are picking up the tab for an out-of-town developer to battle a group of Arizona residents who want to preserve their way of life.
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