Skinny OUR FULL-SERVICE, DEVELOPER-STOOGE CONGRESSMAN: Congressman Jim Kolbe's real character is evident in his attitude toward two separate federal agencies, both with high profiles locally:

First we have the U.S. Forest Service's attempt to close the Tucson Rod and Gun Club; then the Fish and Wildlife Service's concerns over the construction of a new high school by the Amphi School District in the critical habitat of the endangered pygmy owl.

Kolbe's attitude has been tepid at best toward the utterly outrageous actions of the Forest Service, which hired a fraudulent "expert" to validate a pre-determined course of action and then lie about it in its scheme to close the gun club. Even high-level Forest Service bureaucrats were appalled at the amount of money thrown to the discredited study.

But the Congressman's approach to the owl problem has been anything but tepid. When Amphi contacted him about the pygmy owl situation, he quickly set up a meeting between Amphi officials and the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which he sat in on with Congressman John Shadegg.

In both cases, Kolbe is supporting ill-considered, uncontrolled development.

RAUL'S ROUSING RESPONSE: Pima County Supervisor Raul Grijalva complains The Skinny was in error when we said his reported plans to condemn large portions of Canoa Ranch would violate the county's truth-in-bonding ordinance. He explains that overriding that statute was not the intention of his proposal, as we speculated last week.

Grijalva also alleges there would have been more money for Canoa and other open-space acquisitions had his colleagues supported it. But Supervisor Sharon Bronson alleges the opposite.

Since Grijalva withdrew his proposal, and since the supes didn't vote on this specific matter, it's hard to tell who's right. But it does illustrate the depth of division within the Democratic "majority" on the Board of Supervisors.

DONUT DEMOCRACY: The recent 51-49 percent majority garnered for incorporation in Casas Adobes shows a unique pattern. Precincts entirely contained in the new town--that is, those in the center--voted overwhelmingly for incorporation. Split precincts around the periphery voted overwhelmingly against, in a sort of curious donut.

Some Casas Adobes backers are concerned the Pima County Elections Department may have screwed up and allowed some residents in those split precincts who didn't actually live in the proposed town to vote, thus causing the higher negatives. Several voters in those precincts have reported they were issued the wrong ballots.

Considering the miserable track record when it comes to running elections both in Pima County and the City of Tucson, it's unfortunate that such theories have credibility. It's past time for both city and county officials to quit telling us "everything is OK--it's a wonderful day in the neighborhood." Counting the votes accurately and properly is the first duty of a democratic society, and any suspicions otherwise should be put to rest.

GOOD GRIEF: On a 4-2 vote with one member absent, the Casas Adobes Village Council has hired the attorney for its incorporation committee, Greg Good, as its village attorney. The Council members chose to do so after they'd already held an executive session with the yet-to-be-appointed Good, discussing in secret not only his appointment but other matters.

This is the methodology that got that incorporation committee in trouble with Casas Adobes voters in the first place--too many secret meetings. We hope the newly appointed Council will take heed in the future--and that no one sues them over what appears to us to be a clear violation of the state's open meetings law.

BIG WEENIE FLOP: Last week we told you the bigshots at Ryder/ATE, which manages SunTran, the municipal bus system, were offering free hotdogs--and that's about it--to all SunTran employees who came in on their day off to help clean the fleet. Well, our spies inform us the turnout for those teeny weenies was nil. Big surprise, huh?

And now that SunTran's '97 "New Flyer" model buses are rolling in, we're amused to hear Ryder/ATE had agreed to spend $15,000 to have an outside company inspect the buses. Unfortunately, however, it seems the company was unable to communicate precisely what it was they wanted the outside firm to check. So the fee grew to $40,000, or so we're told.

Regardless of the cost, our question is this: SunTran has competent employees--why weren't they allowed to do the inspections? TW

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