Last week started out with the stock market tanking and Republican John McCain assuring us that "the fundamentals of the American economy are strong." Once Team McCain realized that quote made him sound too much like Herbert Hoover, the Arizona senator told the press that by "fundamentals," he meant American workers. The campaign also assured the press that a top aide had merely been joking when he said that McCain had invented the Blackberry.

McCain's slip-ups, combined with the bad economic news, helped Democrat Barack Obama rise in the polls; meanwhile, a $75 billion bailout of insurance giant AIG, followed by a promise of a larger financial-sector bailout of as much as $700 billion (yes, $700 billion!), helped the Dow Jones rebound right back to where it started the week.

While tracking polls showed that Obama picked up some momentum in national polls, most swing states remained neck-and-neck races.


ScrambleWatch's favorite local troubadours, Calexico, headlined a concert benefiting Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' re-election campaign at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 20, that brought close to 1,200 people downtown for an evening of Latin-spiced rock 'n' roll. The show was the most fun we've ever had at a political fundraiser, although we'd have to concede that we weren't invited to the big hootenanny that Giffords' GOP opponent, state Sen. Tim Bee, threw with President George W. Bush earlier this year.

We caught up with Giffords and her team on a small platform at the back of the balcony during Calexico's show. Why didn't she have better seats? She told us that she'd discovered that some squatters had taken her seats, and she didn't want to have the ushers remove them, because "it could cost me votes."

In conjunction with the concert, Team Giffords unveiled Students for Giffords, a group of college and high school kids who are aiming to get out the local youth vote for Giffords in November.


Could Prop 101, aka the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act, kill off the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System? AHCCCS head Tony Rodgers sent out a letter to newspapers warning them that the vague language in the proposition, which is designed to block the state from implementing universal health-care coverage, could also make AHCCCS unconstitutional. Backers of the initiative say Rodgers is wrong.


Monday, Sept. 29: Candidates for Pima County Attorney--Democrat Barbara LaWall, Republican Brad Roach and Green Claudia Ellquist--will debate on KUAT-TV's Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 6.

Wednesday, Oct. 1: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will join her challenger, state Sen. Tim Bee, for an education forum that will also include legislative and school board candidates, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Catalina Foothills High School auditorium, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive.

ScrambleWatch Q&A

District 30 House Race

Republicans David Gowan and Frank Antenori are facing Democrat Andrea Dalessandro in the race for two open House seats in Legislative District 30, which includes Tucson's eastside, Green Valley and the Sonoita area. We asked them some questions about taxes.


Do you support the repeal of the state property tax? Yes.

Since it will cost the state $250 million, what should the state cut to make up for the lost revenue? Stop the frivolous spending.

Do you support borrowing for school construction? I'm not a big borrowing fan. No.


Would you support the repeal of the state property tax? That was a tax increase. I would support the permanent repeal.

Since that will cost the state $250 million, how would you make up that lost revenue? ... See, this is the thing: I don't see returning money to people who are paying taxes as spending money. I see that as reducing their tax burden and providing them tax relief.

But you're still bringing in $250 million less to the state than you anticipated. Well, then, why don't you get the governor to cut the 36 percent spending increase since she's been in office? I want to know why we give money from taxpayers to public, nonprofit organizations. I think that is unconstitutional. I think that if you're a charity and you're a nonprofit, you should be funded on your own two feet. You shouldn't be running to the Legislature and local government to fund your nonprofit. That tells me that your nonprofit sucks, and it wouldn't survive on its own, and you have to run to the government to keep it going.

Do you support borrowing for school construction? Absolutely not, because there's a difference between state bonding and local bonding. That is a Ponzi scheme. That is a gimmick where we allow the state to go into debt. That bond is being paid back by the general fund. You're saddling the taxpayers of the next generation with the debt, and that's wrong.


Do you support the repeal of the state property tax? No. I think it would be fiscally irresponsible to do it in a time when we are in such a budget shortfall.

Do you support borrowing for school construction? Yes. To prepare for this race, I've held focus groups with Democrats, Republicans and independents. Every single person that attended my focus group was for financing public schools--long-term financing for long-term assets. I mean, cash is better, but if you don't have it ... . Where I live in Sahuarita, we were scheduled to have our second high school built, and it's not. We may have to go to double-session or year-round. It's going to be a real nightmare. Vail also was on schedule to get a school, and they are not getting one. Borrowing really makes sense, especially when the interest rate is low.