The Skinny


We know you're probably dying for all kinds of post-primary analysis, but our deadlines are too early this week to bring you all those election results.

But head over to The Range, our daily dispatch at, and you'll find an ongoing autopsy of the body politic as we pick over the remains of the primary day and look ahead at the November general election.


If you're walking in the downtown area, you'd best be careful about staying in the crosswalk and waiting for the green light before you cross the street.

Tucson cops are swarming downtown in a crackdown on pedestrian and cycling violations—so if you're riding a bike, you'd better stay off the sidewalks and come to complete stops at all those intersections. And be sure to have a headlight after dark and use all appropriate hand signals when turning or slowing down.

The police will be citing drivers that endanger pedestrians and cyclists, too, but it's pedestrians that we're hearing complaints from now.

Todd Fitzpatrick, a 39-year-old Web consultant, tells The Skinny that he got popped for jaywalking while crossing against the light near downtown's Transit Center. Fitzpatrick says he crossed against the light after checking to see that no cars were coming his direction.

"It's not like I jumped out in front of a moving vehicle," Fitzpatrick says. "I guess it's fair enough that I got caught and if they want to cite me, it's within their rights, but I don't feel very good about them running a sting operation on pedestrians."

Fitzpatrick says the cop, who rode his motorcycle down the sidewalk to catch up with him, wrote out a citation for $184.

"The level of the fine is completely disproportionate," Fitzpatrick says. "I would have expected to have to pay $70 or $80. When I found out how much it was, I thought it was completely crazy."

Fitzpatrick is one of more than 80 pedestrians who have received jaywalking tickets since the crackdown began on Aug. 10, says TPD Sgt. Jerry Skeenes. By way of comparison, TPD had handed out more than 500 jaywalking tickets across the city between Jan. 1 and Aug. 9, according to Skeenes.

The crackdown is funded through a roughly $44,000 grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Skeenes says officers have discretion as to whether to issue a ticket, but a citation is much more likely to change a person's behavior than a warning because "most people get a warning and it doesn't have a lasting effect on them."

Skeenes says pedestrian safety is important because "our highest fatalities in the city tend to be pedestrians killed by cars."

The city had 13 pedestrian fatalities in 2006 and 17 pedestrian fatalities in 2007, but only five in 2008 and 2009. In the current calendar year, there have been seven, according to TPD statistics.

There were 196 pedestrian injuries in 2006, 190 in 2007, 201 in 2008 and 121 last year. There have been 80 this year.

The number of injuries to cyclists dropped sharply last year. In 2006, there were 212 injuries; in 2007, there were 240; in 2008, there were 234; and last year, there were just 126. So far this year, there have been 113.

In 2006, one cyclist was killed in an accident; in 2007, two cyclists were killed; in 2008, six cyclists were killed; in 2009, two cyclists were killed; and so far this year, two cyclists have been killed.

Fitzpatrick says he's particularly concerned that police seem to have set up shop at the Ronstadt Transit Center, where many low-income passengers will be getting off buses.

"I couldn't help but think that a lot of those people aren't going to be in a position to pay $184 for crossing against a pedestrian signal," Fitzpatrick says. "I just got the feeling that the cops are on a revenue-generating mission."

But Skeenes says that the city "gets very little of the revenue generated from tickets. Most of the money from citations goes back to the state."

He adds that the grant even reimburses the city for maintenance on vehicles.

"We're actually getting paid specifically to do this, so we really don't have anything better to do when we're on these grants," says Skeenes. "The public gets extra enforcement and officers on the street and it costs them nothing. It is a true bonus for the citizens of Tucson. They're getting all this for free."

Fitzpatrick says he wouldn't call his $184 ticket a bonus.

"Through the entire episode, I kept thinking that their attention could be better focused elsewhere," he says. "Even if I hadn't gotten cited and didn't have to pay, if I had heard about this, I would have thought it was an inappropriate use of resources."

We get that the money for the enforcement is coming from a special grant from the state (although we didn't realize the state had so much extra money these days that it could afford to chase down jaywalkers).

But if the city really wants to make downtown a more attractive place for people to shop, dine and see a show, handing out jaywalking tickets isn't going to help make people feel welcome.

And the enforcement activity could create headaches as the city goes out to persuade voters to pass a half-cent sales tax in November because they're worried they'll have to cut back on cops and firefighters without more money.

BTW: Skeenes tells us that the jaywalking patrol is spread out between Mission Road on the west, Country Club Road on the east, 22nd Street on the south and River Road on the north. And they'll be focused on Fourth Avenue this Friday, Aug. 27, so if you're stumbling out of O'Malley's, watch your step.


No matter who came out ahead in the GOP showdown between Jonathan Paton and Jesse Kelly, Team Giffords is bracing for a few slaps in the days to come.

Anne Hilby, spokeswoman for Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' reelection effort, notes that Americans for Prosperity has announced plans to spend $4.1 million to run attack ads in 11 states and recently added three congressional districts in Arizona to the list of targets, according to the Associated Press.

"This group has been putting millions of dollars into an agenda to privatize Social Security and promote tax cuts for millionaires and tax cuts for companies that send jobs overseas," Hilby says. "It appears, based on our information, that they have identified (Jonathan) Paton or (Jesse) Kelly as allies in that effort and they're going to be running ads, essentially on their behalf. You have a choice between an agenda to protect special interests, and then you have the congresswoman, who has been standing up for Southern Arizona, fighting for border security, fighting to protect our military families and fighting to create solar-energy jobs here."

Americans for Prosperity is one of many political operations run by David and Charles Koch. The brothers were described in a recent New Yorker profile as having "funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus." (David Koch, the New Yorker notes, has said the "radical press" has turned his family into "whipping boys.")

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