The Skinny

TOURIST CLAPTRAP: Once again, we can scarcely express our level of disgust with the Arizona Legislature.

Taking care of the mentally ill? We'll sort it out later. Pay for the looming billion-dollar bill for building new schools? Worry about it mañana. Smaller class sizes? We'll make the kids recite the Declaration of Independence instead.

The big winner at the Legislature this year was, predictably, the Arizona Cardinals, who showed everybody where the Legislature's priorities were. For all their tough talk, lawmakers eventually caved like, well, a house of cards, agreeing to allow Maricopa County taxpayers to vote on whether to build an NFL palace with higher taxes on car rentals and hotel rooms.

And what did Pima County lawmakers, who supported the deal, get out of it? A chance to likewise sock the tourists with a bed tax down here, with the proceeds flowing to the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau. The bureau could see its budget double, to more than $8 million a year. That's a lot of glossy brochures.

With Pima County's desperate financial straits, why can't the money be used elsewhere -- say, to help pave a road? Because lawmakers have resisted efforts to allow tourist taxes to be spent on anything besides tourism -- and apparently, tourists don't use roads, although they rent plenty of cars.

How about really doing something to attract tourists -- namely, keeping vacation costs low by voting no on this one in November?

COLORADO ROCKY: TUSD's lame-duck Superintendent George F. Garcia is on the road again trying out for a similar post in the smaller Boulder Valley School District. Garcia, who lost his gamble for the top public schools job in Las Vegas, is setting his sights much lower in a system with just 27,000 students. Garcia, one of five candidates interviewing, was the subject of a puff-file in the Boulder Daily Camera that, among other things, had former Mayor George Miller praising Garcia for the new Drachman School site -- a good end to a bad land scam by the city and TUSD. Garcia is done here June 30. His wife, Mary, the Leona Helmsley of the Sunnyside Unified School District, also is done this summer.

GAP ATTACK: George Garcia's big deal at TUSD has been "attacking the gap" -- to raise the student performance. But it's a Gap attack that entranced his workers. An advertising ploy, purportedly from the Gap clothing store, recently swirled around the computers of TUSD's hard-at-work bureaucrats and administrators. The booty, some kind of discount, was so enticing that too many TUSD staffers logged on. The result? A crashed system where school business was stifled.

MEET THE CANDIDATES: The Pima Association of Taxpayers is hosting a forum for candidates in the hotly contested Amphi School Board recall race, as well as the upcoming Oro Valley Town Council election.

The forum is this Saturday, April 29, at Nanini Library, 7300 N. Shannon Road. You can hear what Oro Valley Town Council candidates have to say from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Candidates in the Amphi School Board race will be on hand from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.

RUMMAGE AROUND: Amphi Board member Ken Smith has run up considerable legal fees in his ongoing battle against County Attorney Barbara LaWall, who is seeking to boot him from the Amphi Board because his wife is enrolled in the district's early retirement program.

Smith's supporters hope to help him pay off some of those legal bills with a rummage sale at 9000 N. Oracle Road this Saturday, April 29, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Along with furniture, plants, books and clothes, you'll be able to pick up a "Free Ken Smith" T-shirt -- sure to become a collector's item!

AVALANCE OF OPPOSTION: Ignoring overwhelming public outrage, the Arizona Department of Transportation is proceeding with plans to construct a rockfall containment project at a highway pullout outside of Patagonia (see "Rocky Road?" March 30). At a recent meeting, ADOT officials gave clear indication of their intention to construct a ditch to catch the rare rolling rocks before they can reach the road, no matter what area residents think. The highway builders insist the ditch must be built, even though they can show only five incidences in the last five years of rocks of any size reaching the roadway. At the conclusion of the meeting, angry audience members vowed to stop the project through litigation, while the bureaucrats returned to their desks to plan for the boondoggle.

SWINGS AND MISSES: Members of the Amphi High School girls softball team are wearing inspirational T-shirts which read "We've all gotten past third base; How far have you gone?"

We understand that the use of baseball lingo to discuss sexual activity is outdated and probably even sexist, so the kids almost certainly didn't get the reference. But shouldn't it have been caught by an adult somewhere along the line?

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