BALLOT BUSTERS: Tucson's mayoral ballot will be less cluttered if the Libertarian Party's Robert Joseph Bushkin gets his way with Judge Christopher Browning of Pima County Superior Court.

Bushkin is aiming to bump vanity candidate Mike Fleishman, most recently of the Reform Party, off the November 2 general election ballot. And he wants to protect frequent and unsuccessful Libertarian mayoral candidate Ed Kahn from a primary election challenge from Elizabeth Ann Strong-Anderson.

City election law requires candidates to be qualified electors -- properly registered voters -- within the city for three years immediately before becoming a candidate.

Bushkin, who is representing Libertarian Terry Bishop, says Strong-Anderson failed to meet the three-year voter registration requirement of the City Charter and also failed to get the minimum number of valid Libertarian nominating petitions she submitted June 24. She filed 83 signatures, one less than Kahn. But Buskin contends that 26 are invalid, knocking Strong-Anderson below the minimum 58 for Libertarians.

If she survives the court challenge, Libertarians would have their first-ever mayoral primary.

As detailed in The Weekly in April, Fleishman, 27, had chameleon voter registrations that became problematic last year when he was relaxing atop Mount Lemmon.

There he met Ray Carroll, the one-time commercial real-estate agent who was running in a special Republican primary election to retain the Board of Supervisors seat he won through appointment in 1997. Fleishman was so enamored with Carroll after their encounter that he changed his registration to Republican and used his parents' Mount Lemmon cabin address, which is in Carroll's District 4.

Carroll, too, was impressed -- enough that he put Fleishman on his staff. The gig lasted only several weeks after Carroll's senior staff grew both alarmed and weary of Fleishman's unilateral expansion of his role.

The residency issue prompted City Clerk Kathleen Detrick on April 6 to pull the plug on Fleishman's attempt to get taxpayer dollars for his campaign through the city's matching-funds program.

Browning is scheduled to hear the case on Thursday, July 8.

HULL DOESN'T GIVE A HOOT: Gov. Jane Dee Hull showed her true colors last week -- and they weren't green.

During a radio show, Hull addressed the endangered pygmy owl problem in Southern Arizona.

"I have been arguing with the Forest Service about turning almost all of Tucson into an owl habitat," Hull said. "First of all, I'm concerned for businesses in Tucson. But secondly, in that land they have just declared owl habitat is about 125,000 acres of Arizona state trust land. That goes to fund education for the kids of Arizona. If we're blocked, if we can't sell that, we can't lease that, we can't make money on that. Obviously, state land is one of our big resources that we want to use up."

Well, first of all, Jane, you probably should have been arguing with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, since that's the agency that designated 731,000 acres as critical habitat last week. Hull's inability to understand what federal agency she was dealing with suggests she's confused about the entire endangered species issue.

But secondly, when we "use up" state land -- particularly the acres of virgin desert that have been set aside as critical habitat -- by selling it to developers, we make a little money for education in the short run. Then the new tract houses fill with kids, which means classrooms get overcrowded or new schools have to be built. We're two-time losers -- losing money as we blade and grade our vanishing desert.

If Hull really wants to do something with state land to help schoolchildren, she might try pushing a change in the law to allow the Land Department to give land to school districts for school sites, avoiding the problems that are currently plaguing the Amphi School District. Or, God forbid, push the Legislature to force developers to provide school sites or pay educational impact fees.

But instead, Hull is repeating warmed-over Wise Use rhetoric about how the pygmy owl belongs in Mexico. Who said we were Growing Smarter?

MARK HIM OUT: TUSD's brass and Board declined to give Ken Marcus the permanent job as director of financial services. Marcus had held the interim job.

It's probably for the best for Marcus, an unsuccessful candidate for the Board of Supervisors in District 4 last year. A decent and honest sort, Marcus had to have been uncomfortable with some of the shift-and-shuffle shell games his bosses wanted him to perform. TUSD instead gave the job to a product of its foul bureaucracy, Roland Carranza. We hope he'll show some independence.

Marcus, a Republican, can now gear up for a campaign next year for the Pima County Treasurer's Office or the Legislature. His wife, Wendy Marcus, also mentioned as a possible legislative candidate, recently passed the state bar exam.

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