The Skinny

LEGAL ERROR: The Skinny got it wrong last week when we reported that Tucson City Councilman Fred Ronstadt had appointed powerhouse attorney Si Schorr to the citizens committee that will be reviewing the candidates for our new city attorney. Ronstadt has actually appointed attorney Mary Beth Savel, who, like Si, is from the politically powerful firm of Lewis & Roca. Savel is undoubtedly a fine attorney, but the thing the daily press isn't likely to tell you when it comes to this appointment is the fact that her professional duties involve representing the billboard industry in an ongoing lawsuit against the City of Tucson.

The City Attorney's Office under Tom Berning has steadfastly insisted on enforcing our town's billboard code, which would mean more than 100 illegal--and, we might add, butt-ugly--signs would have to come down eventually.

But the council majority has all but fired Berning, and now Ms. Savel is among those supposedly guiding the council toward a successor.

Whoever the new city attorney is, we bet he or she will be sympathetic to all sorts of commercial interests--no matter how ugly, illegal or just plain bad for the community.

DOUBLE SECRET DOO-DOO RUMPUS: We were amused to hear Mayor Bob "Corporate Bigwig" Walkup on the handsome and charming John C. Scott's radio show last week blathering on about security measures for the City Council.

Scott had been hammering away for a week on the pointless topic of executive-session secrecy. His gaseous--even for him!--weeklong outburst was prompted by the fact that Councilman José Ibarra, or someone who looks just like him, allegedly released closed-session info to reporters Joe Burchell of the morning daily and Michael Lafleur of the afternoon paper. Scott and his political pal, Councilman Fred Ronstadt, have long been feuding with Ibarra.

The secret info concerned the greatest thing since pre-sliced pickles, James R. Keene. He's the studly Berkeley dude whom the council eventually made city manager, agreeing to pay him $160,000, along with plenty of pre-packaged vacation and leave time, and a wonderful golden parachute should the council members ever decide their new golden boy/savior isn't worth crap.

Apparently it's great to be a white guy, even in Tucson. And we can't imagine Keene would have gotten all that upset about the release of some boring info. It would've been an incredibly stupid move, given the fact that the only way he could have gotten more money out of this cow town is if he'd robbed a couple of banks--and even then, the bennies package isn't so hot for old-fashioned stick-up men.

Anyway, Walkup announced that it's high time to probe this whole security thing. He told Scott that he wants to make sure the City Council's fax lines are secure, and that nobody's planting listening devices under the table during executive sessions. Earlier this week, the council voted to do just that.

Give us a break, Mayor Bob-o. You're no longer working for the Huge Aircrash Corp., where spies might want to steal the latest technology of mass incineration. Your words sound ridiculous coming from the mouth of a local public official--who, by the way, should be arguing for more openness in government, not less.

DROUGHT DOUBTS: The water police have the power to cut off your wet stuff if they think you're wasting it during this hellish weather. Meanwhile, several private golf courses and the UA continue to sprinkle their lawns with drinking water from their own wells during this drought. And of course the City Council is chattering away about the need to extend graywater lines (which carry non-potable, disinfected poop-water, basically) to those courses and the college. What they don't tell you, though, is that these entities are paying what amounts to just the cost of electricity and pump maintenance to get their groundwater, so they won't want to switch to the much more expensive poop water without a taxpayer subsidy. We're told the City Council will be happy to make you provide that subsidy. And, of course, nobody on the council is complaining about all the rapid growth, which is forcing us to conserve potable water in the first place. They claim the heat is simply causing a run on local reservoirs. Duh?

HERE'S A SAVORY SOLUTION TO THE WATER CRISIS--LET'S DRINK OUR OWN YUMMY POOP WATER! The folks in Southern California have recently been getting a taste of their own poop water. Highly filtered and supposedly free of pathogens, of course. Drinking "purified" poop water is just another way to sustain uncontrolled growth in the parched deserts of the American West. And you can bet we'll be doing it here soon enough, too, despite the City Council's call to extend a second water line, carrying--you guessed it--poop water to our homes to sustain our potted plants and trees during hell time. Instead of spending the millions this will take to extend those lines, why not just start socking money away for the time, say 25 years hence, when, despite our supply of CAP ditch water, growth will have become so bloated that it's time to imbibe recycled poop water as well? Oh, we forgot--that would require foresight and political courage among the Growth Lobby. They'll leave the onerous task of telling everyone they have to drink poop water to a future generation.

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