Meet the New BossesLook out, wealthy special interests! We've got a brand-new Tucson City Council that's gonna bring an end to your looting of the treasury! Democrats Nina Trasoff of midtown Ward 6 and Karin Uhlich of Ward 3 were sworn into office earlier this week, replacing Republicans Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar.
In his last official act of his two-term tenure, Ronstadt fired up a stogie (violating fire code!) and thanked his friends, his staff and his family for their support over the last eight years.
"As I prepare to begin my new life as a former councilmember, I have been reflecting on all the issues we concentrated on over the last eight years," Ronstadt said. "It has been stated numerous times over the past few months that Tucson is on the right track. I wish success for the new council being seated and will keep them in my prayers daily as they assume the responsibility of continuing to keep our community on the right track."
The new council named Ward 5 Councilman Steve Leal, who won a fifth term in November, to the exulted position of vice mayor. The Democrats have vowed that the position of vice mayor shall never again be used for crass political purposes to elevate one council member above another, but will instead be freely shared among all six wards, with each getting a fair eight-month term.
Mayor Bob Walkup, now the lone Republican on the council, expects smooth sailing with his new colleagues. Walkup has already floated a new family-friendly agenda, but we predict choppy waters when budget time comes around, and the new Democrats have to find a way to square their promises of lower taxes and more services.
Hail to the ChiefThe Arizona Daily Wildcat broke the news last week that UA student government President Cade Bernsen may be facing impeachment after sexual harassment complaints were filed against him. According to one girl's account, Bernsen frequently complimented her figure, occasionally tried to grab her ass and twice dropped his pants when they were alone together. We think that move only works when you're the real president.
In a statement to the campus paper, Bernsen vowed to defend himself against the "totally and completely false" allegations.
Full Speed AheadThe Regional Transportation Authority finalized the $2.1 billion transportation plan that voters will decide in May. The plan, which would be funded by a half-cent sales tax, widens several corridors--including Grant Road, Broadway Boulevard and First Avenue--and boosts bus service. For details, visit www.rtamobility.com.
Since 1986, four transportation plans funded by sales taxes have been rejected by voters, including two city propositions in the last four years. Midtown neighborhoods and businesses along Grant Road and elsewhere are expressing trepidation about the RTA proposal.
The Range skipped the big dog-and-pony news conference last week, but our spy in the audience tells us the whole event was so boring that she found herself completely distracted by a giant flashing map of Europe on display in the background. "I never realized there were so many countries there," she reports.
Locked and LoadedThe bucks continue to pour into the state treasury, with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee crew reporting that October revenues were $32 million above forecast for the month. In the first four months of the fiscal year, the state has collected $237 million beyond expectations, with the money scheduled for deposit in the rainy-day fund.
Adios, LewRepublican Lew Murphy, who served as Tucson's mayor from 1971 to 1987, died following a heart attack last Thursday, Dec. 1. He was 72.
Mayor Bob Walkup sent out a bulletin praising Murphy's vision of mountain-to-mountain annexation for Tucson: "He understood that Tucson's best successes come when we recognize ourselves as a single region and a united people."