The Skinny

CLEAN BREAK: Masochists take note: There's an opening on the state's Clean Elections Commission. With Carl Lopez finishing his term, the five-member commission stands to lose the only ethnic minority and only Tucsonan.

The new commissioner, who will be appointed by Gov. Jane Dee Hull, can't be a Republican and can't be from Maricopa County. There are plenty of other restrictions for the five-year term. If you've run for or been appointed to public office in the last five years, you're disqualified. You also can't lobby or run for office for three years after your term ends. Basically, you can't have been involved in politics in any meaningful way.

The commission, which oversees the release of public funding to candidates running for state office, will be playing a big role in next year's election cycle. It got its shakedown cruise last year, with relatively few problems, other than a couple of candidates like Tucson's Colette Barajas, a Realtor seeking a House seat who turned in fraudulent signatures on her application before hastily dropping out of the race.

There's no telling how many candidates will have their hands out for public dollars next year, but the commission is assuring candidates there will be plenty of money available. Of course, a few months ago they estimated they would be in the hole about a million bucks. And that's not considering the possibility that Republican Matt Salmon, running for governor outside the program, may try to bankrupt it. If Salmon can raise huge amounts of money and the commission is forced to match those funds for his opponents, the fund may go broke. (But then, we're also hearing rumors that Salmon's fundraising might not be going so well.)

If the program, funded through voluntary contributions, traffic fines and lobbyist fees, runs out of money, then the commission will have some tough choices. Do they allow candidates to raise funds the old-fashioned way? If so, candidates had better have backers ready to write checks. And doesn't that defeat the purpose of the program in the first place?

If you're interested in applying for the open seat, you can pick up an application packet from the Governor's Office of Appointments to Boards and Commissions, 1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85007. You have until November 30 to postmark your completed application packet. For more info, call (602) 542-2449 or 1-800-253-0883, or e-mail

OLD SCHOOL: Most of the old Drachman School has been demolished, but opponents of the elderly-housing project slated for the site continue their efforts to stop construction.

The legal maneuvering concerning the 62-unit project, financed by federal and city funds, reached the city's board of adjustment last week. Those opposed to the project, led by architect Jody Gibbs (who initially supported the project before splitting with backers), contended that to reduce the city's parking requirement, the developers and Tucson's zoning examiner had labeled it a "residential care service--adult care service" facility.

According to the city's land-use code, that type of use provides services "to persons who are unable to be cared for as a part of a single household. This use includes group homes and institutional living arrangements with 24-hour care."

Opponents argued that giving the project this label was a sham to reduce the on-site parking requirements and asked the board of adjustment to reclassify it as an apartment complex for senior citizens.

Members of the board determined they didn't have jurisdiction in the case because the Tucson City Council had held a public meeting on the issue and voted months ago to support the project. That may have been exactly the outcome Gibbs and his gang were seeking.

Building code provisions, Arizona state licensing standards and the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act will be much more difficult for the project to meet as an adult-care facility than as an apartment house for seniors. Critics of the project will now argue that since the city council called it a residential-care facility, the complex must meet these much more stringent--and expensive--standards.

Look for supporters to say the project is just senior housing, except for parking purposes. With the City of Tucson supporting that position, the whole matter will likely end up in front of a judge.

QUINELLA: Radio Rev. Bill Bowler (who also plays televangelist on local cable access) jumped on Emil Franzi's Inside Track show the other day with a sense of urgency that was elevated even by his pushy and rude standards. Rev. Bill demanded to know when/if/why his buddy Franzi declared that one of Rev. Bill's idols, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, was a "horse's ass."

Franzi, who can be heard Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays at 1 p.m. on KTKT, 990-AM, said he had not made that proclamation.

We will. Falwell is a horse's ass.

Rev. Bill asserts that Falwell's statements after the September 11 terrorist attacks were taken out of context. God, Falwell said, allowed America to be attacked because of the actions of feminists, homosexuals and abortionists. He later attempted to recant.

Not to be outdone, the Rev. Bill has enjoyed wide latitude on Inside Track to childishly trash Islam, Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad. In one appearance, the Rev. Bill mocked and lampooned Muhammad's ride from Mecca to Jerusalem. He and another ignoramus also tried to link Islamic symbols, including a crescent moon, with evil.

With apologies to horses everywhere, we say Falwell is a horse's ass. And Rev. Bill is a horse's ass.

We'll be waiting for your call.

AMARI AMORE: Used to be that you could send your love letters to Jane Amari and her people at the Arizona Daily Star. But a little anthrax scare had Jane closing the incoming box for snail mail two weeks ago. E-mail or fax or forget it!

We were flabbergasted that Amari would use the anthrax threat to ban letters and other mailed communication. But then we were amused to watch the Star's star columnist, Ernesto "Neto" Portillo Jr., squirm on KUAT-TV's Reporter's Roundtable as he tried to be la voz de la gente while not offending the woman who not only has Pulitzer pay him about $80,000 a year but also is his mother's boss.

Amari's rude and stupid move gained a wider audience when Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper took her to task on October 22 for implementing an "elitist" policy. Wrote he: "Oh for crying out loud. For a newspaper to react to the recent rash of anthrax attacks and (in 99 percent of the cases) scares by essentially banning letters is stupid, cowardly and elitist.

"Stupid because it's a knee-jerk decision based on irrational worry rather than logic and reason.

"Cowardly because a news organization should be the last entity to get down on bended knee in the face of terrorism.

"And elitist because there's an underlying assumption that 'everyone' uses e-mail as a primary means of communication and 'everyone' knows snail mail is a dying remnant of the 20th century."


Jane had reader advocate Debbie Kornmiller announce Sunday that the Star now has a special room (where?) to handle snail mail, which can once again come pouring in.

Jane, you're a joke.

DONALD R. DIAMONDBACK: Legendary land speculator Don Diamond was all smiles at the BOB for the Diamondbacks' World Series wins over the Yankees. He was cascading down to Jerry Colangelo's seats to smother U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., and Pastor's wife in love. The only other "hugger" to make such a scene was Home Run King Barry Bonds, who, after throwing out the first pitch, greeted the Yankees and hugged skipper Joe Torre but then snubbed the D-Backs.

SUGAR RAY REWRITES HISTORY: Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll got together with Mark Kimble, the longtime editorial writer and assistant managing editor of the Tucson Citizen, to cry about how "Ray's" ethics commission for Pima County evaporated without full participation. Kimble and Carroll made it seem as if this proposal--made before Carroll ever won election to the seat he first gained through appointment--was the first of its kind. Carroll sees everything in SM, Since Me.

It was Enrique Serna, the county manager from 1989 through 1992, who responded to Republican Supervisor Greg Lunn's description of county government as a sewer by creating an ethics and operations committee. Lunn, lazy but smart, fled after just one term, and his characterization is much more fitting for the county government today than for his term, also from '89 through '92. Among Serna's appointments were Joel Valdez, the former longtime city manager; Don Bowen, a respected University of Arizona professor; Gentleman Jim McNulty, the lawyer and former one-term Democratic Congressman; and even James Lee Kirk, then the Republican county treasurer. Yes, Kirk's appointment raised eyebrows, but only eyebrows.

ALPHA DOG: A couple of weeks ago we ripped sheriff's deputies and brass for the torture two deputies dished out to a dog that had been run over. They tried to put it out of its misery by smacking it with a flashlight and choking it. The dog survived, and now Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has done the right thing in instituting training for deputies on care for injured animals and a policy to ensure the mistakes won't be repeated.

YOU GO, KATIE: Former Amphi Assistant Superintendent Katie Frey is suing the school district for $5.3 million for doing what the Amphi board needed to do--get her out of administration. Why doesn't she sue for $5.3 billion? Her case is without merit. But it is valuable. We're glad she and a bunch of her hack friends will be put under oath to talk about Amphi's crooked land deals, its misuse of money and its methods to silence critics during her administration.

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