The Skinny


Early voting is underway as of Thursday, Oct. 11, in the city election. Despite the fact that these are citywide contests in which all of Tucson's registered voters can cast a ballot, we don't sense a lot of excitement out there. A quickie rundown of your choices:

Mayor Bob Walkup's only challenger is Green Party nominee Dave Croteau, who bears a peculiar resemblance to Larry David. Croteau's campaign is dependent on Tucsonans embracing his concept of "relocalization." Congrats on your re-election, Bob!

In Ward 1, Democrat Regina Romero is facing Green candidate Beryl Baker to replace retiring Councilpunk Jose Ibarra. Romero is what we in the biz call a "sure thing."

In Ward 2, Democrat Rodney Glassman faces Republican Lori Oien to replace retiring Councilwoman Carol West. Oien is gamely making a go of it, trying to make an issue of the Glassman family's farming-business practices back in California, but she's not getting much traction. Plus, it's not much of a year for Republicans, especially in a town where they're outnumbered not only by Democrats, but also independents.

In Ward 4, incumbent Democrat Shirley Scott is facing a challenge from Republican Dan Spahr, a financial planner who says he's having the time of his life on the campaign trail. Enjoy the good times while you can, Dan.

Then we've got Proposition 100, which would give the mayor and City Council members a raise; and Proposition 200, which would repeal the city's $14-a-month trash fee, prevent Tucson Water from adding any new customers without voter approval once it begins delivering 140,000 acre-feet of water each year, and restrict the use of treated effluent.

As you can see from our cover this week, we think Prop 200, which was crafted by erstwhile state lawmaker John Kromko, is a pretty dumb idea.

It looks like we're not the only ones. The Pima County Democratic Party came out against the initiative last week. The Dems stayed away from any commentary on the trash fee--which isn't all that surprising, since they thought it was such a bad idea two years ago--and stuck with complaints about the water restrictions. Pima County Democratic Party chair Vince Rabago dismissed the initiative as "deceptive."

No wonder Kromko quit the Democrats and joined the Green Party, which is the only political party to get behind Prop 200. The Pima County Republican Party Executive Committee has already announced its opposition.


Shortly after George W. Bush took office, U.S. Sen. John McCain made his first and last visit to Weekly World Headquarters. (Guess he figured his time was better spent with the New Hampshire Union Leader.) In a Q&A with a group of reporters, he predicted that the Bush tax cuts would not pass the Senate.

McCain clearly overestimated his colleagues' sense of financial responsibility. In the years since, he appears to have abandoned his own. Despite that big ol' debt that the GOP has been running up since it took control of the federal government, McCain now wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

In an appearance in South Carolina last week, McCain revealed that he wanted a top-to-bottom review of the U.S. tax code headed up by Alan Greenspan.

Then McCain revealed his own reform ideas, which are tilted toward shifting the tax burden away from the richest Americans and putting more of it on the rest of us. He says he would support a flat tax that charges everyone the same percentage of their income, rather than the current progressive system. Given that the wealthiest U.S. citizens pay the lion's share of income taxes, a flat tax would mean that the rich would get a nice break, and the middle class would have to make it up. Either that, or Congress would have to enact massive spending cuts that would cut the services that the poor and middle class depend on. Even more screwy: McCain said he supports scrapping the income tax altogether and instituting a national sales tax.

Before you jump at that idea, keep in mind that the supporters of the so-called FairTax are extraordinarily deceptive about how their system would work. They use math tricks to distort the real percentage of their own tax, saying it would just be 23 percent.

But that doesn't mean you'd pay 23 cents on every dollar that you'd spend. You'd actually pay about 30 cents. See, the 23 percent is the percentage you'd pay after the cost of the tax was figured in.

Never heard of a sales tax figured out that way? Neither has anyone else, which is just the first reason you--and someone like John McCain--should be suspicious of this hare-brained scheme.

The FairTax backers also don't tell the truth about how much money their national sales tax would raise, since they include the purchases made by the government without including the necessary increase in government spending that would occur if everything cost 30 percent more.

Plus, since state income taxes are based on data sent into the federal government, you'd probably have to scrap state income taxes as well, which would mean a higher state sales tax. By the time you're done reforming the tax system, your sales tax would be up to about 50 percent, which creates all sorts of incentives to find ways to avoid paying it. Like, for example, shopping on the Internet, or buying things secondhand.

The tax code could use a lot of trimming, but the reform shouldn't shift the burden from America's richest citizens to the poor and middle class. And it certainly shouldn't wreck the economy.

McCain either hasn't given the matter much thought, which is bad, or he's pandering, which is worse.


Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry threw some cold water on the idea of building a 20-inch pipeline from the end of the Central Arizona Project line to Green Valley, saying it would be a waste of resources and would "do more harm than good."

Huckelberry's memo lays out a grim future for the Upper Santa Cruz basin. Although most of the water in the area is used by mines and farms, the anticipated housing growth will push the area, which is already pumping out more water than nature replenishes, into a crisis within the next couple of decades.

The proposed pipeline is an idea from the Community Water Company of Green Valley, which serves about 18,000 people in the area. Company director Arturo Gabaldon says he approached Augusta Resource Corporation about providing $9 million to $15 million for the pipeline so that some CAP water could be recharged where it's being pumped out, instead of downstream, where it doesn't help recharge the dwindling aquifer.

But Supervisor Ray Carroll, who is fiercely opposed to Augusta's plan to build a copper mine in the scenic Santa Rita Mountains, thinks the pipeline agreement is just Augusta's way of building community support for its crappy mining plan. He wants to see the fine print in the deal, which Gabaldon has refused to release, saying it would destroy the company's ability to negotiate with other companies in the future.

Huckelberry makes the point that the proposed 20-inch pipe can't carry enough water to serve the future needs of the area, but Gabaldon argues that he's primarily concerned about the needs of his customers, so he's grabbing whatever opportunity he can to help recharge water on their behalf.

That's not an argument that's sitting well with Carroll, who wants to know whether Green Valley customers will be on the hook for cost overruns and other expenses related to the pipeline.