The Envelope, Please

We award the first annual 'Phoneies' to those public officials who responded, or not, to a phone call from a constituent.

To determine how well elected and appointed officials respond to constituent telephone calls, the Tucson Weekly is handing out a new award, "The Phoneie," to honor the best, and worst, of responders.

Twenty-one city, county and state officeholders and two top local administrators were called in recent weeks by a constituent. They were all asked to respond personally concerning a topic of current interest. Responses ranged from prompt to not at all. The envelopes, please:

Hold the line

Nominees for best response are:

• Pima County School Superintendent Linda Arzoumanian for immediately relaying a message through her secretary;

• Tucson City Councilwoman Shirley Scott for personally taking the call; and

• State Sen. Ruth Solomon, who had her secretary call back with an answer after the second attempt.

And the winner is--Shirley Scott. Of everyone called, she was the only official who actually talked to the constituent.

Quick on the draw

The nominees for quickest return call are:

• Tucson City Councilman Steve Leal, who after two days even left his personal phone number on a voice message;

• Pima County Clerk of Superior Court Patti Noland for calling from out of town; and

• Tucson City Councilwoman Carol West, who took two days to respond but on her return message gave times and places to call.

The winner: Patti Noland. Her staff said she would be out of town for a few days, but she called back anyway, probably from Phoenix.

Try, try again

It took two calls, but these officials finally did respond personally. The nominees are:

• Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriquez, who called back and left a message on the same day as the second call; and

• Tucson City Councilwoman Kathleen Dunbar, who not only called back on the same day as the second call and left a message, but provided times she could be reached plus her personal phone number. Then she called back a second time and left another message.

The winner: Kathleen Dunbar.

Let staff handle it

Nominees for ignoring the request to speak personally with the officeholder but at least having a staff member return the call are:

• Pima County Supervisor Ann Day, whose office responded almost immediately;

• Pima County Assessor Rick Lyons, with a staff member insisting on answering the question asked;

• Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, whose office took two days to respond; and

• Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, whose aide called back the same day as the first call.

The winner: Ann Day. Her aide called back the day of the original call, and then twice more. That's good, even though he wasn't the official requested.

Second time's the charm

The nominees for being contacted, at least by an aide to the official, after two calls are:

• Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, the day after the second call;

• Tucson City Councilman Fred Ronstadt, the same day as the second phone message;

• Pima County Supervisor Dan Eckstrom, also on the same day as the second call;

• Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, two days after the second call; and

• State Rep. Ed Poelstra, who called 10 days after the second call.

The winner: A tie between Fred Ronstadt and Dan Eckstrom. Neither of them called personally, and their office staff was tardy in doing their job, but at least they did try to make contact with the constituent.

Special Achievement Award

Mayor Bob Walkup's office was called twice. Both calls got the same taped message, telling the constituent to either call the "Mayor and Council Hotline" to record a comment, or to call back during normal business hours. Of course, the constituent did call between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but apparently no one in Walkup's office wanted to answer the phone.

Never to be heard from again

The nominees for no response after two calls are:

• Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll;

• Tucson City Councilman José Ibarra;

• State Rep. Marion Pickens;

• Tucson City Manager James Keene; and

• Pima County Treasurer Beth Ford.

No winner. The loser: All of us. In a five-way tie for lousy service, these officials didn't even bother to try and contact a constituent who had called. They will be notified shortly of the date and time of the awards ceremony where a special "Phoneie" will be presented to them. We hope they are sitting by their telephones, anxiously waiting to be contacted.