B y L e o W . B a n k s a n d J i m N i n t z e l
THEY DON'T REALIZE the glee they give us, these geeks, goofballs, frauds and fools. It's Christmas every day, and they should be told of their greatness.
They should be recognized for making us grab our guts and roar, because for once, it wasn't us who fouled up. We're not the ones who sneezed on the buffet table, or heaved our bowling ball down the wrong lane.
No, it was Steve Neely, the giant of law enforcement, whose ego, if it continues to expand at its current rate, will soon appear on radar screens at DM; and high-rolling Gov. J. Fife Symington III, who welshed on $23 million in debts; and George Miller, the old house painter, who obviously sniffed too much shellac; and defense lawyer Bob Hirsh, who knows no shame and will say anything to get his puss before the public; and Steve Auslander, editor and chief tower sniper at The Arizona Daily Star, under whose leadership the morning rag has diminished to pathetic irrelevance.
The heads of Tucson's TV stations should give him their man-of-the-year award for making their product look good.
There are others, of course, smaller fry no less noteworthy for their ineptness: the big leaguer who got busted for scalping complimentary tickets to the baseball All-Star Game; the Tucson cops who burst into the wrong house behind exploding stun grenades; the Wildcat football team whose players (trustees?) have been involved in so many alleged and proven crimes that road trips will now be called work furloughs.
It's been a great year. In celebration, and with a cackle and howl and a spot of drool, we present our Dubious Achievement awards for 1995.
BIRD MAN OF QUARTZSITE
The City Council of Quartzsite, Arizona, voted to return Mayor Rex Byrd to office, even though a jury convicted him of plotting to murder a political opponent. A court set aside the conviction, saying Byrd hadn't received a fair trial.
Allan Toth was charged with smoking Marijuana in the lobby of the Flagstaff Police Department. Toth, 51, voluntarily handed over the "joint" he was smoking, plus a bag of Marijuana, when questioned.
WHAT'S YOUR POINT?
Former Pima County Assessor Alan Lang filed for bankruptcy in April, claiming to have debts of $193,000 and assets of $37 million, a titanic sum based on a lawsuit he filed against the county Board of Supervisors.
The Star reported that Lang's tenure in the assessor's office was punctuated by: botched property appraisals; claims of sexual harassment by several female workers; a night in jail for Domestic Violence; allegations of carrying a gun to the office to intimidate workers he disliked; hearings to remove him from office; and a drunken appearance on a national tabloid news magazine show that labeled Lang the worst boss in America.
AND THE ONES HE DOESN'T LIKE--HE INTRODUCES TO ALAN LANG
Vinny Jones, one of Britain's bad boys of soccer, took a bite out of the nose of Daily Mirror reporter Ted Oliver shortly after a riot halted a match between Ireland and England.
"Vinny clamped up my nose with his teeth and shook me like a dog with a dead rabbit," Oliver said. "Blood gushed from fang holes on either side of my nose."
Jones response: "I always do that to people I like."
GUESS WHAT, MOONBEAM? ALIENS ARE GOING TO STRAP YOU INTO THE BIG SIZZLE CHAIR FOR YOUR LAST GREAT SPACE RIDE
Robert J. Moody claimed space aliens told him to murder two people. Acting as his own lawyer at his murder trial, Moody claimed space aliens forced him to consume massive amounts of crack cocaine before he brutally beat, robbed and murdered his victims.
John Culver Mead, 50, allegedly burst into a computer lab in the basement of the UA Social Sciences building and fired at least four shots, terrorizing the people inside. Mead, whose motives were unknown, was charged with three counts of aggravated assault and one count of felony endangerment.
Fife Goes Broke!
HE'S A "SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPER..."
Arizona Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat declared bankruptcy, claiming $60,000 in assets and $23 million in debts.
YOU'D THINK A MEMBER OF JOE ARPAIO'S POSSE COULD PROTECT HIMSELF FROM TERRORIST THREATS
Taxpayers footed a $14,000 tab for a security team of state troopers who accompanied Gov. Deadbeat and his family during a European holiday he enjoyed just weeks before he announced his bankruptcy.
DON'T EVER ASK HIM FOR A TRUE STATEMENT AGAIN
Asked about the accuracy of a press release on his financial condition issued by his office, Gov. Deadbeat said it was merely "a little propaganda sheet that somebody in my office published."
SPEAKING OF PROPAGANDA
Gov. Deadbeat told a radio audience to stop reading newspapers because they weren't treating him fairly.
"The general public out there knows I am not being treated fairly," he said. "They can just smell bias and when something is being overdone. And this whole thing is being overdone.... I mean, the whole human side of this story is just missed by all these people. I'd like to see how all of them would react if they were in similar circumstances."
STAND BY YOUR SCAM
After former staffer George Leckie was forced to pay a $25,000 fine to settle an investigation into a bid-rigging scandal between the state and the governor's accountants, Coopers & Lybrand, Gov. Deadbeat said, "I can tell you this: George Leckie is my friend, I consider him a person of very high integrity and when he worked for me he did a really good job."
AS EVIDENCE, HE CITED HIS OWN RE-ELECTION
Calling campaign finance regulations a "failed experiment," Gov. Deadbeat urged the Arizona Legislature to scrap limits on contributions, saying all that was necessary was "full and immediate disclosure."
WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT FULL AND IMMEDIATE DISCLOSURE?
Gov. Deadbeat's attorneys asked that his depositions in his bankruptcy case be sealed from the press.
In a Tucson Citizen story following the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case, Tucson defense lawyer Bob Hirsh claimed he was shocked, shocked, at the jury's decision.
"He got away with murder," said Hirsh, who is responsible for putting numerous killers and creeps back on the streets, including Mark Allen Austin.
Hirsh got Austin off by arguing that he was temporarily cuckoo when he committed the brutal slaying of his wife. But he's fine now.
I LIKE GUNS. GUNS ARE OUR FRIENDS. I FEEL FINE. I DON'T HEAR BIRDIES ANYMORE. HEY, HEY
Mark Alan Austin, acquitted in 1991 of slashing of his wife to death and nearly killing her boyfriend, asked the court's permission to possess a weapon.
Bob Hirsh got Austin off by arguing temporary insanity.
One of the conditions of Austin's release from the state mental hospital was that he not be allowed to possess a weapon. Hirsh argued that and other restrictions were too harsh.
FURTHERMORE, HE'S A BITCH!
The bitter feud between Mayor George Miller and Councilman Bruce Wheeler intensified with Miller accusing Wheeler of being anti-Semitic and having "poweritis," which the mayor said is "worse than syphilis, but not as bad as AIDS."
I ALSO BOUNCED A FEW CHECKS AND STOLE A HAMMER FROM THE HARDWARE STORE, AND LET'S SEE, I CHEATED ON MY TAXES AND...
A Phoenix woman who allegedly shot two people at Valley Lutheran Hospital talked out loud about the incident in her sleep.
According to the Arizona Republic, a snoozing Jean Dooley said, "I shot someone, I hope it was Roy. I had to kill him. He deserved to die."
A Mesa cop was sitting by Dooley's bedside at the time she spoke of the incident. Two men were wounded in the shooting, but neither was Roy Dooley, Jean's husband.
Citizen columnist Joe Garcia used one of his weekly columns to opine about flatulence, and another to discuss a virulent form of crupe, which the ever-articulate Garcia said proved the existence of "little green Martians."
Mention must be made of Garcia's boss, publisher C. Donald Hatfield, whose Saturday column is the worst piece of newspapering written anywhere in the world, by anyone.
IT WAS A GREAT WAY TO SHOW OFF GINGER'S HOOTERS, TOO.
"I knew that by assembling seven different people and forcing them to live together, the show would have great philosophical implications. On a much larger scale, this happens all the time. Eventually, the Israelis are going to have to live with the Arabs. We have one world, and Gilligan's Island was my way of saying that."
--Sherwood Schwartz, creator of Gilligan's Island
NEELY DOWN UNDER
Pima County Attorney Steve Neely shocked and saddened the county, and indeed, every decent citizen of Arizona, by announcing that crime had gotten so bad here that upon retirement next year, he would move to New Zealand.
TANTRUM DOWN UNDER
Pima County Attorney Steve Neely promised to dismiss three felony cases in the district of County Supervisor Raul Grijalva in retaliation for Grijalva's decision to yank $5,000 out of the prosecutor's budget for youth programs.
Neely said the proposal, presented in writing on county letterhead, was intended to be sarcastic.
MEGALOMANIAC DOWN UNDER
For the fourth time in less than two years, Pima County Attorney Steve Neely went to court and lost in his effort to restrict access to public records.
In the most recent case, Neely's office sought to prevent the Star from obtaining the personnel files of two off-duty deputies involved in a shooting in Parker.
All told, Neely has spent more than $30,000 of taxpayer money in his failed drive for secrecy.
DENTURES DOWN UNDER
A tour bus with 43 Sun City passengers aboard was almost swallowed up by a sinkhole in the parking lot of Bisbee's Queen Mine.
The left rear wheels of the bus were hanging over the hole, which measured about 5 feet deep, and 13 by 8 feet wide.
BROWN LOVES THE GREEN
Tucson City Manager Michael Brown's taxpayers provided a 260 horsepower, dark cherry Chevy Impala Super Sport, with a price tag of $23,155. That's about $5,000 more than the less flashy Caprice model driven by most city and county officials.
Brown makes $120,000 a year. Last year he asked the City Council for a $7,500 pay raise and an increase of $60,000 in his severance package.
WE'RE JUST PROUD AS HECK SHE LIVES IN THE NAKED PUEBLO
KVOA-TV reporter Lupita Murrrrrr-illo was drawn into rescue efforts when she happened to drive by the scene of a bad traffic accident at Grant and I-10. Although off duty that day, she went to the studio to do a story, in which she told of cars exploding and blood everywhere.
The anchor asked if the situation presented a professional dilemma.
"Yes," she said. "I had to decide whether to save lives or call the station."
MAMA, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES PUT YOU IN NO BOX
A 16-year-old junior at Winslow High School brought to English class a heart-shaped box containing the cremated remains of her mother.
The box accidentally opened and some of the ashes spilled out. That led to a panic and boycott of the school among many of its 800 students, more than half of whom are Navajos and Hopis. Both tribes have strong taboos about death.
Medicine men were summoned to the class to perform cleansing rituals.
Some evangelical Christians pitched a fit, saying they should be allowed into the school to perform their own rituals, which would remove the effects of the Indian ceremonies.
IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEBODY SHOT A RABID EWE, SKINNED IT AND GLUED IT UP THERE
Bud Foster's hair. That's all we need to say.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! IT'S THE ELECTRIC GUY!
The pet poodle of a Tucson attorney was frightened to death by a TEP worker trying to read the meter.
When the worker entered lawyer Howard Baldwin's back yard, Jasmine, the poodle, got so spooked she ran into the closed glass door of the home, involuntarily urinated, then ran out the rear gate.
Jasmine was found the next morning lying on the pavement about four blocks from her home, dead of exhaustion.
Dumb Is As Dome Does
WE'RE OUTTA HERE!
The Arizona House of Representatives voted to secede from the United States of America.
WE JUST WANT TO SHARE A LITTLE OF THAT ARIZONA SUNSHINE WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD
Dismissing both international treaty and scientifically established links between chloroflourocarbons and the disappearance of the ozone layer, Glendale Republican Jean McGrath sponsored successful legislation legalizing the production of freon in Arizona.
WE PROBABLY OUGHT TO RECORD THIS CONTRIBUTION WITH THE FEC
To give Texas Sen. Phil Gramm a boost after his anticipated loss in New Hampshire's 1996 presidential primary, the Legislature created a February primary which will cost taxpayers up to $4 million.
AND THE LUNG-CANCER PATTERNS ON PEOPLE'S CHESTS ARE PRACTICALLY ARTWORK
Arizona Sen. Tom Patterson said the brown clouds of pollution around the Phoenix area made for "prettier sunsets."
MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Fondly recalling the days before voters elected their own U.S. senators, Mesa Republican Rep. Jeff Groscost declared, "We lost our 10th Amendment rights when we (the state Legislature) stopped appointing federal senators."
DOES THIS MEAN WE'RE NOT ALLOWED TO CRITICIZE LAWMAKERS ANYMORE?
The Legislature passed the Veggie Hate Crimes Law, making it a crime to badmouth fruits, vegetables and nuts.
THE COP KEPT HAVING TO STOP SO LOUIE COULD GO WEE-WEE
In need of driving and security help for his tour of the state, Nogales Mayor Louie Valdez pulled his longtime friend Antonio Dominguez off the city police force for their four-day, 1,150-mile journey in a city-issued car.
Valdez, 23, is the youngest mayor in America.
YEAH, BUT HOW HARD IS THAT?
Responding to a reporter's question about why he didn't have his backcourt players shoot more in a loss to UCLA, UA basketball coach Lute Olson launched his annual tirade against the media, saying:
"It's like, we should have passed up the lay-in for the 25-foot shot, because we should have known that lay-in wasn't going to go in. Real smart, but I tell you, I'm a lot smarter than some of these people who ask these questions.
WERE THEY GETTING THEIR HEADS EXAMINED?
Oro Valley residents Bob and Winifred Pfunder spent five years and $21,000 in lawyer's fees fighting a $40 Medicare bill they believed was an over-charge.
"We did it because we wanted to do our civic duty," said 81-year-old Bob Pfunder. "We thought it could be fixed with a couple of phone calls."
NOTHING TAKES THE EDGE OFF LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN
Twenty-three-year-old Alan Francisco was killed whiled playing chicken with a train near Gila Bend.
Francisco jumped out of the way of the train, then looked back and realized that he'd left his beer on the tracks. When he reached back to get it, he caught his left leg on the train and was pulled under it.
ISN'T THAT HATE SPEECH?
Star cartoonist David Fitzsimmons linked the House budget proposal to the O.J. Simpson double murder. The cartoon depicted Simpson standing beside House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who says:
"So what you're saying is it's good that we're mad as hell when we're cutting everything in sight? And don't worry about the children who might be affected?
Simpson was identified in the cartoon as a GOP consultant.
WHITE, BLACK AND BLUE
Leonard Dewey Hobbs was booked on charges of aggravated assault for bonking David White, Pima County's chief criminal deputy, on the head with a baton in a traffic dispute.
The two had exchanged unpleasantries, including an alleged obscene gesture by White, after Hobbs cut him off in traffic. White was treated for a concussion and given stitches for a head wound.
CAN'T SUCK ENOUGH
Star Editor Steve Auslander, determined to demonstrate why nobody reads the morning paper anymore, wrote a thoroughly unintelligible article that attempted to say something about racial differences.
It was in response to an equally unintelligible letter from Jesse Hargrove, of the office of African-American Student Affairs at the UA, soliciting funds for his family reunion.
Thinking it was odd for a university administrator to ask for money for a family reunion, Auslander gave the letter to reporter Alisa Wabnik, who wrote a story on the solicitation.
When Hargrove complained, saying all African-Americans think of each other as family, Auslander caved in and wrote his uproarious article, explaining, in excruciating correct-speak, that it was all a racial misunderstanding.
THE SEX AIN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE, BABY
Following his re-election as mayor in November, George Miller abruptly announced that City Councilwoman Molly McKasson would have to clear out of his office and find her own work space. The two had shared an office for some time. Miller gave no explanation for his decision.
ISN'T THAT LIKE SELLING SUNSCREEN TO SHUT-INS?
Editors at The Arizona Daily Star, in their ever-desperate attempts to attract readers and reverse falling circulation in a growing town, have ordered reporters to find stories appealing to the 18-35 age group.
The only trouble is, persons in that age group are notorious for not reading newspapers.
Gerald Racicot, a former Nogales alderman, pleaded guilty to transporting Mexican teenage girls across the border and using them in pornography schemes.
Racicot, an alderman from 1985 to 1986, pleaded guilty to two counts of transporting minors into the U.S. to take nude photos of them.
The Star reported a second indictment alleged Racicot conspired to murder one of the girls to stop her from talking to investigators.
Thirty-one-year-old Charlie Urie, who spent four days wandering in his underwear through a Phoenix storm drain, told rescuers he was sitting on the edge on an open manhole tying to cool his feet when he fell in.
"He kept asking for food, milk and Twinkies," said Glendale Fire Capt. David Villalovos, who helped in the rescue.
DILLINGER, CAPONE, CORRALES
Alleged purse snatcher Frederick Corrales ran from a gang of pursuing citizens into the arms of a Marana police officer, pleading, "Please, take me. These people are chasing me." Then he fainted.
PASSING THE BUCKS
Pima County Supervisor Dan Eckstrom spent more than any other Supervisor to remodel his office. His taxpayer-paid tab was $10,541, $3,400 more than second-place finisher, Mike Boyd.
Diamond Dan said he didn't decide to spend the money on his office, County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry did.
"I never told anyone what to do," he said.
HEY, IF THE HANDCUFFS FIT
Concerning allegations of criminal activity, including felony charges in connection with the May beating of a Davis-Monthan airman, UA football player Derrick Stewart told the Arizona Daily Wildcat, "Every time (the police) pick on somebody, the players are black. It's this big black thing, you know. Everybody wants to pin everything on us."
WILDCATS LEAD PAC-10 IN ALLEGATIONS OF SHOTS FIRED
UA safety Brandon Sanders was accused of firing several shots at a car outside the Paragon nightclub last month. A person inside the vehicle was reportedly wounded by glass or bullet fragments. No charges were filed.
Sanders was also cited on misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges in the beating of the airman, the same incident in which Stewart was charged.
THE COMPANY HE KEEPS
"I've never been around an individual I've respected more than him. He's just an incredible human being."
--UA Coach Dick Tomey on Brandon Sanders
NEXT SEASON, THE FOOTBALL TEAM WILL NO LONGER HUDDLE BETWEEN PLAYS. THEY'LL DO A LINEUP INSTEAD
Witnesses said UA football player Jeff Nadeau might have been among three men who pistol whipped and shot a man in the parking lot of a Los Betos restaurant, 3680 E. Grant Road. No charges were filed.
Six months before, Nadeau was arrested on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of kidnapping after an incident involving his live-in girlfriend. The charges were reduced to disorderly conduct/Domestic Violence. He got probation.
HAMMERING ON THE BEAV
UA lineman Frank Middleton Jr. is under investigation by police for allegedly assaulting Oregon States mascot, Benny the Beaver, a woman dressed in a beaver suit, as she was leaving the field after the game November 4.
FOREVER A WILDCAT
Former University of Arizona pitcher Ed Vosberg was cited for scalping complimentary All-Star Game tickets outside The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, site of the July game. Vosberg, a Tucsonan, pitches for the Texas Rangers.
WHEN SUCKING UP IS DIFFERENT FROM JUST PLAIN SUCKING
In a short, 700-word column on UA basketball coach Lute Olson, Tucson Citizen columnist Corky Simpson risked severe suction damage to his lips by saying among other things:
That Olson, the personification of style, "would wear better clothes to clean out a barn than we media types would to have a formal portrait taken";
That the key to his success is "attitude, pride, character and self-respect";
That he has managed to win by "recruiting good people, not merely good athletes";
That "in spite of his great personal dignity, Olson is a guy who seems to yearn at times to be one of the boys";
That his goal is always to make his players "the best people they can be, not merely the best basketball players";
That Olson can be summed up by "a familiar term used in sports, as indefinable as it is shopworn: class."
Richard L. Thompson wanted to spend eternity with his "boys," so when the 75-year-old Tucsonan died, he was laid to rest at Petland Memorial Park beside his two beloved basset hounds, Frenchie and Nugget.
Friends and family gathered on the lawn of the pet cemetery to bid farewell to the former Army master sergeant as he was buried beside his droopy-eared pals, who died in 1989 and 1990.
I LOVE THE SMELL OF OSTRICH DOO IN THE MORNING
Tim Day, a Phoenix ostrich rancher, is suing McDonnell-Douglas, claiming its test pilots regularly swoop over his ostriches, causing them to go berserk. They panic, sometimes hurtling themselves head-long into fences and walls.
When one company chopper appeared at tree-top level, a bird panicked and broke her leg. Another time a bird died on the spot, probably from a heart attack.
AND GOD SAID, KILL THEM ALL
A new Methodist church north of Tucson sits above a deactivated ICBM missile Silo that once held the ultimate weapons of mass destruction, Titan II nuclear missiles.
"Changing missiles into missions, I think, is a wonderful thing," says 73-year-old Bud Stoddard, a parishioner.
YEAH, BUT THE WIFE HAS FLEAS
Mohave County Sheriff's Lt. Jim McCabe is so close to his German Shepherd police dog, Brix, that when he checked into a Phoenix hospital for surgery he brought the 83-pound dog with him.
The dog slept beside McCabe's recovery bed while the officer's wife of 13 years, Lisa, slept one floor below in a rented guest room.
FREEZE, BUDDY, OR YOU'RE LOOKING AT ONE NASTY PAPER CUT
Casa Grande police came up with a wacky method of crime control--six-foot-tall cardboard cutouts of police officers that have been placed in convenience markets, video stores and other high-robbery sites. Amazingly, the cardboard cops work to cut crime.
Garciela Marquez-Apodaca, the cardboard cop coordinator for the department, says: "We had this homicide out at a Circle K last year. When the kids who did it passed by, they saw an empty store. If they had seen him (Culp), I think they would have kept going."
TO DIE FOR
A store has opened outside the Arizona State Prison in Florence selling wares made by inmates, including aluminum license plates, prison dungarees, T-shirts and jackets. Customers can also buy a vest or shawl knitted by Randy Greenawalt, a death row inmate who went on a vicious killing spree in 1978. These go for $13-$25.
Brutus, an 8-year-old Dachshund from Tempe, has made 50 sky-diving jumps with his master, Ron Sirull.
The little dog weighs only 10 pounds, so it takes him a long time to reach the ground. He might hold the record for most time logged in free fall: 25 minutes.
"He sniffs the air all the way down," says Sirull.
WAIT TILL WE GET OUR HANES ON YOU
Inmates on work release from the Maricopa County Jail have been wearing several pairs of white undies out of the jail, and selling them. The undies, marked with MCSO--Maricopa County Sheriff's Office--have become chic, fetching $3 apiece.
To stop the practice, which is costing thousands of dollars, County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered that all jail undies be died pink.
"These macho men might not like pink, but that's their problem," says Arpaio.
THAT'S IT. NO MORE DUNKIN' DONUTS FOR YOU GUYS
Members of the Tucson Police Special Weapons and Tactics team detonated a stun grenade and burst into the wrong home hoping to bust a Marijuana smuggling ring.
Inside the East Fort Lowell Road home was noted former restaurateur Mary Gekas, 75, her son, two daughters and three grandchildren. The alleged druggies lived next door to the Gekases.
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