The Award Goes To ...

The results of the third annual 'Tucson Weekly' Phoney awards

For the third consecutive year, the Tucson Weekly proudly presents its Phoney Awards, to acknowledge outstanding--as well as disappointing--response from officials to citizen inquiries.

Two years ago, local leaders were telephoned (See "The Envelope, Please," March 7, 2002), and last year, state, and national politicians received e-mail communications to determine their responsiveness (See "And the Winner Is ...," April 10, 2003).

Going from electronic messages to snail mail, this year, a Tucson resident sent letters concerning a topic of current concern to 19 governmental and organizational leaders.

Based on a thorough review of the results by a panel of unbiased judges, the nominees and winners are:


Two officials got back to us very quickly. They were:

· Theodore Cooke, assistant general manager for finance of the Central Arizona Project. Even though our letter was sent to someone else within his agency, Cooke responded immediately and addressed the issued directly.

· S.L. Schorr, local land-use attorney and member of the Arizona State Transportation Board. He not only wrote a reply, but also called to talk.

The award goes to: Theodore Cooke. His letter was the first to arrive and was very informative. For that, he deserves public recognition.


The three additional contestants who responded within one week were:

· Michael Reuwsaat, town manager of Marana. He replied with a short, handwritten note.

· Richard Myers, president of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. In a timely response, he laid out his opinions in a clear and concise fashion.

· Chuck Sweet, town manager of Oro Valley. His succinct letter was to the point.

The award is presented to: Richard Myers. He answered the inquiry quickly and in detail.


A little slower to respond, but still deserving of a pat on the back, are:

· Peter Likins, president of the University of Arizona. Laying out his personal opinions about the issue, Likins acknowledged he was speaking only for himself, not the university in general.

· Sonya Macys, executive director of the Tucson Audubon Society. Her response not only explained her position in clear terms, but asked for feedback from the recipient.

· Dr. Roy Flores, chancellor of Pima Community College. His letter went into specifics about the subject matter but was written in understandable language.

The award in this category goes to: Dr. Ray Flores. He responded earlier than his competitors, and therefore wins the prize.


Those nominees who did not reply to the original letter within a reasonable time period were sent a follow-up note. This spurred at least a few of them to get on the stick. They were:

· Tucson City Manager James Keene. The response sent from his office may not have been from Keene personally, and it may have taken more than three weeks to compose, but at least somebody replied.

· Edward Taczanowsky, executive vice president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, who apologized for his tardiness while authoring an interesting letter.

· Fernando Castro, city manager of South Tucson. He didn't respond in writing as requested, but instead had an associate call. Still, that deserves some recognition.

· Jack Camper from the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. He also passed our inquiry on to someone else.

The award goes to: Edward Taczanowsky. He may have been slow, but the written apology for the delay won him the award.


Five governmental officials didn't reply at all within five weeks of the initial inquiry. The culprits are:

· Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry

· Vivian Juan-Sanders, chairwoman of the Tohono O'odham Nation

· Jim Stahle, town manager of Sahuarita

· Chairman Robert Valencia of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe

· Superintendent Dr. Stan Paz from the Tucson Unified School District

The winner in this category is: nobody. None of them deserve an award since they didn't do anything.


The leaders of two non-governmental organizations also didn't reply to either letter. They were:

· Luther Propst, executive director of the Sonoran Institute

· The executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, Kieran Suckling

This category just goes to show that it isn't only the government that ignores people who contact them. Thus, the winner is: nobody.


In sending e-mail messages last year, we were told by the offices of United States Sens John McCain and Jon Kyl that their replies would take awhile. Well, we're still waiting. They can point to the anthrax scare, or to a huge volume of mail, or whatever else they want to, but totally ignoring a constituent's comments is no April Fool's joke.
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