The Skinny

BOYD'S BACK-AND-FORTH: Having Pima County Supervisor Mike Boyd on your side of just about anything is like having Italy with you at the beginning of a war. The short attention span of most of the establishment media has enabled Boyd to switch positions more times than actors in a cheap porn flick. He was allowed to weasel through the recent Pima County budget hearings with nary a mention of his prior roles in putting Pima County in the financial position it is currently in.

If any one supervisor should be hung up on the gallows provided by former state Rep. John Kromko at the budget hearings, it's Boyd. In 1993 he joined with loony Ed Moore and Dimbulb Paul Marsh in destroying Pima County's financial stability through a series of moves both stupid and bizarre.

Boyd provided the third vote on the inept purge of county bureaucrats that cost millions in legal fees and settlement deals. He presided over the totally useless hearings concerning then-Assessor Alan Lang, which cost taxpayers untold hundreds of thousands of dollars paying the lawyers on both sides. He was the third vote to buy a useless piece of land called the Lloyd Property for over a million bucks for a proposed landfill that still sits idle years later. He was the third vote to create the current flawed system of governing Kino Hospital, which has allowed it to slip even further into the red, and the third vote to appoint the now scapegoated Dr. Richard Carmona to head up that system. And he shivved Carmona as soon as it became politically expedient.

LOHR LEAVING? After 31 years in office, Pima County School Superintendent Anita Lohr is about to retire. She has privately announced that she plans to resign in September.

Her tenure was long and her service was honorable. Nearly everybody likes the lady and few were ever critical of how she ran what was basically an administrative office, removed from major policy decisions. The real power in the position is the power to appoint vacant school board seats. There is an entire cadre of former and present school board members appointed by Anita Lohr.

Unfortunately, Lohr would like to make one more appointment -- her successor. She has lobbied the Board of Supervisors on behalf of her present educational services coordinator, Lucy Schonbrun, who has only been a Tucson resident for about three years and has little community support.

The major legal criteria for appointment to the job are that the candidate have a valid teaching certificate, be credited by the state at the next level for school administrators, and be a member of the same party as the incumbent. While Schonbrun may be a wonderful person and highly qualified, there are many other Republican school teachers in Pima County who are also eligible, many of whom have lived here longer and are entitled to consideration.

We suggest that the Board of Supervisors handle this appointment with the same open process they used when the District 4 seat of the late John Even became vacant in 1997. Have everyone interested in the job apply for it and then hold a public hearing for the public to at least look over those who want the appointment. They may decide on Schonbrun, but anything less smells of the fix, something the voters tend to remedy at the next election.

We hope that Lohr can support such a process. Hers is an important job and her long tenure was devoid of controversy. It would be proper that she close it in the same manner.

WE'RE LEFT SPEECHLESS: As part of the panic engulfing most of America after the tragedy at Littleton, Colorado, we were informed that three Emily Gray Junior High students had been arrested concerning a supposed plot to bomb the school. Three months later, the charges against one of them have been dropped. Evidence apparently consisted of another student claiming he'd heard the kid say something threatening.

Even more frightening than the thought of kids shooting and bombing other kids is the opinion expressed by Tanque Verde Unified School District Superintendent Patrick Dallabetta, who told the morning daily: "Kids have to be very, very careful about what they do and what they say.... Things that may have been said 10 years ago may not be as appropriate today... It's a sad commentary, but that's the way it has to be."

Really? Makes you wonder how this school district will handle certain subjects in American history in the future -- like witch hunts, McCarthyism and the Bill of Rights, with special emphasis on the First Amendment.

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