State of the County

What you won't learn at the big Expo this week.

Dear Greater Tucson Leadership,

Thank you for the invitation to attend the State of the County Address and Expo to be held Friday, Oct. 18 at the Doubletree Hotel. Sorry, but we will have to decline. We can better use the $35 registration fee by giving it directly to your event hosts, Cox Cable and the Bank of America. We can pay down the sky-high cable bill or use the money to cover the mordida assessed by the Bank of America when we cash our checks, drawn on BofA accounts, at the BofA.

The State of the County is so novel that we considered attending. Then we remembered the day when--to learn about Pima County--we didn't have to register for a "luncheon" with rubber chicken and a murdered vegetable medley to listen to a painful address from the chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Instead, we would simply visit with the incomparable Sam Lena over a steak sandwich at the MO Club.

It's not as if we didn't try to be good little sheep. Maybe it was your mission statement. "Our approach involves working with people to stimulate original thought, create a willingness to listen to opposing views and ideas and affect (sic) 'win-win' situation to community problems."

And may we say, "Bang-up job!"

Greater Tucson Leadership is, you say, "an apolitical, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to promote effective leadership in Tucson."


Hats off to your insiders Deputy Mayor Andrew Greenhill, Republican fixer George Gobble, Tucson Water spigot Mitch Basefsky and others in the clubhouse full of tax-supported agencies and contractors and charter members of the Growth Lobby.

Sharon Bronson, the eighth person to fail to properly succeed the stunningly subtle and effective Lena, will make the Leadership "address." But the real writer of this speech is County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, with a little extra protection from Bronson's Democratic blocking back, Dan Eckstrom.

Here's what Chuck and Dan aren't likely to include:

10. The state of Pima County taxes--highest in Arizona.

9. The state of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan--still no economic analysis.

8. The state of the Santa Cruz River--contaminated by sewage and chlorine.

7. The state of the Mount Lemmon shuttle--screw Supervisor Ray Carroll. Try hitching.

6. The state of the Elections Department--vaunted computer failed first test.

5. The state of Electioneering Department--Huckelberry & Co. get Raul Grijalva and Richard Elias landslide victories.

4. The state of County Payroll--$347 million, up 44 percent from $242 million just five years ago.

3. The state of County Ghost Payroll--slight decline. Ruben Reyes now full time with Grijalva for Congress campaign.

2. The state of $650 million road building program--check the bid-rigging table at the Expo.

1. The state of Kino Community Hospital--$100 million in losses in eight years and about to become the Kino Psychiatric Hospital.