The Skinny

YOU'VE GOT MAIL! Tucson Water's full-color, fold-out annual report just landed in Tucson mailboxes, printed on thick glossy stock and loaded with an impressive collection of fancy graphics.

We're less impressed with a couple of the devious statements Tucson Water used to cover such a high-class mailer less than two months before a general election that includes a key ballot proposition on water policy. First, Tucson Water officials claim that the annual report is mandated by EPA. True, one is. But the EPA doesn't say it has to be a full-color extravaganza printed on heavy-coated stock. A simple black-and-white piece sent with the water bills would legally suffice. The decision to do a glossy propaganda sheet was made by Tucson Water.

It is also disingenuous to claim, as the report does on the mailing piece, "The approximate cost for each of these individual reports was 25 cents." Sure -- if you only count the printing. Postage and handling run about another quarter, plus the design and creative charges. The amount for the mailer was probably closer to 60 cents apiece. And the mailer was not only sent to homes serviced by Tucson Water, but to Tucson voters who live in the Flowing Wells Irrigation District.

It's an example of why Tucson Water is in trouble with voters. The utility's management just can't help themselves when it comes to using ratepayer dollars for this type of shallow manipulation.

WELCOME TO THE DOC HOLLIDAY HMO: Come on now, people -- are we the only ones who have a sense of irony around here?

It's been several weeks since Deputy Dr. Richard "Full-Clip" Carmona, MD, former head of the fiscally ailing Pima County Health System, administered the ultimate pants-down public spanking to gun-waiving, patricidal maniac and piss-poor driver Jean Lafitte.

The derring-do Carmona -- who wears many helmets, including that of a part-time Sheriff's SWAT team member -- was busy blasting Lafitte to hell, even as Lafitte's lawyer was comfy in the assumption that his client was being well cared for in county-funded Kino Community Hospital.

It was all right there in The Arizona Daily Star -- you must've read about it.

While Carmona was undoubtedly justified in mowing down the armed wacko -- who had just beaten an innocent female motorist, and earlier apparently stabbed his own father to death -- we can't help but wonder whether this whole grisly mess could have been avoided.

What if Carmona, as head of our local health system, among his many other jobs, had seen to it that the county took proper care of its mentally ill citizens? Would Lafitte have still been cruising for a bruising that fateful night? Would Lafitte's old man have still wound up as mincemeat in his dingy doublewide? Doesn't anyone care about the deeper issue here?

Nah, neither do we. Our only hope is that some big Hollywood producer will option our treatment for a possible TV sitcom based on this weird incident. We're calling it Bang-Bang, You're Cured!

THE BUTLER DID IT: In her bizarre pursuit to bag one of her lawyers, Jane Butler, lead counsel for the Tucson Unified School District, hid or destroyed records. Attorney Mike Tully had to sue TUSD to get simple public records after he sought them through the state Public Records Law after Butler won narrow support to fire him June 30. Gone are the tape of the TUSD Board meeting and the results from a survey Butler sent out to TUSD administrators about her staff and operations.

Tully, now in another TUSD office at a considerable pay cut, asked Superior Court Judge Nanette Warner to force TUSD to disclose the documents. Butler had to 'fess up last week in court that she threw out the survey results after she won approval to fire Tully. But she couldn't remember when she did the dirty deed, other than it was possibly on Memorial Day weekend. Asked by Warner if she worked that weekend, Butler tried to be funny: "I hope not."

In another one of TUSD's messes, two women awarded settlements for harassment by former TUSD human resource director and former Rincon High principal "Fast" Eddie Arriaga have sued Arriaga, TUSD Board Member Joel Ireland and former Board member Gloria Copeland for portraying them as liars when the Arriaga affair blew up last year. Arriaga already has sued TUSD for leaking confidential documents to The Arizona Daily Star. Incredibly, TUSD's lawyers are proposing a paltry $40,000 package to be split by all.

MIKEY MONEYCHANGER? Looks like we goofed when we reported that Pima County Supervisor Mike Boyd would run again for the District 1 seat he now holds. Boyd bombed out in his attempt to get the open Arizona Corporation Commission appointment from Gov. Jane Dee Hull, and also noticed that a bunch of Maricopa County candidates want a spot on the ACC -- and they'd likely have more backing than him in 2000.

Despite his insistence that he plans to give up elected office, we suspect Boyd wants to stay on the public payroll. We hear he's now considering running for Pima County Treasurer, a post that has been held by fellow Republican Jim Kirk since about territorial days (or at least since 1968). Kirk gathered a little bad ink lately about investigations and co-mingling funds, charges that Boyd could exploit.

Also eyeing that job is Pima Association of Taxpayers activist Ken Marcus, who last year ran a credible race for the Board of Supervisors District 4 seat now held by Republican Ray Carroll -- which means Boyd's run will be no walk in the park.

OUT OF BIDNESS: Carol Carpenter, embattled executive director of the Tucson Downtown Alliance, left her job last Friday. No acting director has been appointed yet, said Don Durband, an urban planner with the Alliance, the group that runs the Business Improvement District. He said that he and other staffers, including Sereva Ball, communications director, "are holding down the fort."

An extra board meeting probably will be added to the every-other-month schedule, he said, possibly on October 12. A replacement for Carpenter is "likely to be a topic of discussion."

Carpenter was hired by the non-profit's board August 2, 1998. During her 13 months on the job, she won praise for her teams of "purple people," the security and clean-up workers who patrol the streets of downtown, but she also became a lightning rod for criticism. Some discontented merchants and political leaders thought she had done too little to turn around downtown's depressed retail market. The TDA gets about a third of its budget from the city, and questions about its finances led the mayor and City Council to order an audit of the Alliance books. The results of the audit are expected in early October.

A supporter who asked to remain anonymous said Carpenter resigned because of health reasons, not because of concern over the audit.

REGISTER NOW: If you're planning on going to the ballot box on November 2 and you're not registered to vote yet, you'd better get your lazy ass in gear. The last day to register to vote in the general election is Monday, October 4.

The city is doing all it can to make it easy for you, too. All six ward offices will be open until 7 p.m. on October 4. That same day, the City Clerk's office will offer curbside registration from 5 p.m. to midnight in front of the Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave.

For the office nearest you, or more information on registration locations, call 791-4213.

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