The Skinny

SO LONG, ROY: When he died last week at 95, Royers P. Drachman, the father of modern Tucson, did it on Tucson Citizen time. Though he was cherished by the fatter Arizona Daily Star, it was the anemic Citizen for which Drachman held a special affinity. He sold it. He wrote for it. He kept his eyes on its reporters so he could slip them what they missed. Like the time he handed them a little story when one of his proteges, Steve "Staples Center" Soboroff, grabbed a pile of loot from his old UA chums at a La Paloma bash for his unsuccessful race last year for mayor of Los Angeles.

No sooner had we hung up the phone with the unwaveringly polite Drachman that day back in 2000 than he dialed the Citizen to feed his boys.

It was easy to like Drachman and virtually impossible to not like him. He was a consummate promoter, hawking the Citizen as a child, ushering at and running the Fox Theatre, selling Tucson with the Sunshine Climate Club, selling dirt to Howard Hughes, selling Tucson to Bill Veeck and the Cleveland Indians.

The story is often told how Drachman blitzed the Assessor's Office and land owners to secure options in one day to satisfy Hughes. And so came Tucson's largest (sorta) private employer. But Hughes Aircraft and the Air Force brought deadly TCE that they dumped on the ground, poisoning thousands of southsiders.

Decades pass; Hughes and the Air Force are forced to settle for millions of dollars, and in 1999 a Hughes executive import, Bob Walkup, becomes mayor.

Drachman was an Urban Land Institute legend. He preached planning for growth. We got sprawl. After an election where even dog catchers were talking about the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, Drachman single-handedly got things moving with a plan that was adopted finally in 1992 and revised last month.

He helped lure the Indians for spring training. They graced Hi Corbett for some 45 years, only to be given the shaft by stubborn and cheap city and county officials who turned around to cut lavish new deals for the Colorado Rockies, and later the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox, in arithmetic that favors the teams over taxpayers.

Never flashy but always effective, Drachman raised and gave millions to hospitals, the UA and UA sports and youth.

He was easily detected at McKale and the parade would pass to pay homage in a pattern of power and seniority: first Dave Dolgen, then Don Diamond (who with his partners made about $100 million off Hughes Trust land), then some goyem like Bill Estes.

So passionate was Drachman about UA athletics and the men who have run that operation that he would scold Star columnist Greg Hansen--the only real sports columnist in Tucson--if he thought Hansen was too rough on Lute Olson. That was nothing compared to the time he leaned on an appraiser to boost the value of the home of former UA athletic director Cedric Dempsey. His deal to become boss of the NCAA included the purchase of the Dempsey spread. In the face of Drachman's pressure, the appraiser wisely declined to play ball.

Drachman was tolerant and never condescending. Yet he lived and played at the Tucson Country Club, which cannot escape its history of No Jews, No Mexicans, No Blacks.

Farewell to a gentleman.

ANOTHER LEGEND LOST: Lou Farber, the innovative football coach and dedicated teacher at Pueblo High School, was just a year younger than Drachman. Though he had none of that wealth, he touched many Pueblo and southside kids and was a positive influence on far more than his athletes, including those he guided to the state championships.

Farber retired from Pueblo long before the current tribe of Warriors was in anyone's mind. But Pueblo now plays at Lou Farber stadium.

The fabled coach was first a fabled player as one of the 11 Iron Men of Brown from the 1926 season in which Farber and his crew whipped Yale and Dartmouth in the precursor to the Ivy League on successive weekends without a substitution. They repeated the feat in other games and Farber went on to become an AP All-American in the 1928 season.

He was buddies with another innovator, Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman, with whom Farber would design plays and formations. They were so intricate that even such brainy players as Dale Frederick, who went on to become superintendent of the Mesa Public Schools, the largest system in Arizona, had trouble mastering the playbook.

Farber guided students and prodded, goaded, cajoled them to read history and current events.

He was saluted at a memorial a couple of weeks ago at Pueblo. Too bad the twits at Pueblo and the Tucson Unified School District couldn't do right by Lou. They couldn't even clean up the stadium a little bit. Why are we not surprised? It would have taken nothing for Pueblo and TUSD brass to summon Pima County Supervisor Dan Eckstrom, a Farber student, to unleash his Weed & Seed crews in South Tucson to spruce up the joint.

CASH CRUNCH: City Manager James Keene briefed the City Council this week on the iceberg that Tucson's titanic budget is steadily charging toward. Keene sees a $45 million deficit for the next budget year, so he wants the council to approve a two-year budget instead.

Well, it worked so well for the state--why not? Other than the fact that the city charter prohibits it.

To get around that provision, the second-year budget will just be a proposed blueprint rather than an officially approved document. It makes life easier for the staff and why should the council care, anyway? As Keene pointed out, the elected officials never examine that level of detail anyway.

QWESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR, PART 37: The Skinny has commented in the past on the ludicrous situation in which Qwest Communications calls customers up to offer them a service that blocks telemarketing calls. Given that most of the telemarketing calls we get come from Qwest--or some other phone company offering us long-distance service--we think it's akin to a protection racket.

We've asked Qwest repeatedly to take us off their phone solicitation list, but they just keep calling, calling, calling. The most insulting moment came last week, when we got a letter from Qwest apologizing for all the calls and promising that they were working diligently to remove us from all their telemarketing lists--and assuring us that the majority of their customers have said they like getting telemarketing calls. Sure they have.

Within four weeks, the letter promised, no more calls. Of course, the letter, dated mid-December, didn't arrive until the second week of January--shortly before another telemarketing call offering us the chance to block telemarketers.

The slimy way Qwest is doing business made us happy to see the Arizona Attorney General has sued the pants off the company.

Meanwhile, Qwest is getting set to sell off any and all info they collect about you to any company who wants it. This, like all other plans by banks, stores, insurance companies and online porn, requires you to request that your confidential info be kept, well, confidential.

The number to opt out of this insidious program is 1-877-628-3732. Make the call now and swamp them the way they swamp us.

PREACHER MAN: Joel Ireland may only be the clerk of the TUSD Governing Board, but he as in charge as he has been through the 13 tortuous years he's held office. He pouted, whined and bamboozled colleagues Mary Belle McCorkle and Carolyn Kemmeries, who didn't have much nice to say about Ireland when she was TUSD principal, into restoring him to clerk. McCorkle is the new prez, a job she has had before and one in which she's not bad. The two had to vote for themselves. They don't feel the embarrassment. Kinda like when McCorkle had to vote to promote her daughter.

As long as Ireland has his dirty fingers in the agenda, there will be meddling and trouble. His pals in HR are busy now rigging appointments for administrators at various schools, including Tucson High.

The clerk's job should have gone to board sophomore Judy Burns.

MEETING TO BREAK OUT: Raúl Grijalva, the Democratic chairman of the Board of Supervisors until he decides to grab one of Arizona's new seats in Congress, walked to City Hall the other day with Pima County Prime Minister Chuck Huckelberry for a sitdown with Republican Mayor Bob Walkup and his Commander, James Keene. The county boys could have done better at this meeting to set up a meeting--a joint session (those are always fun) of City Council and the Board of Supes. They arrived empty-handed--no tamales, no menudo and (sorry, Mr. Mayor) no sushi.

The city wants the county to play nice and back the city's half-cent sales-tax proposal for transportation improvements, as well as slip that $10 million of the county's 1997 road bond package back into the 22nd Street widening.

Grijalva, however, wants the agenda to include everything: city support for the county's Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Hats off to Keene. He showed some balls when he questioned Grijalva's relevance by asking how long the Congressional wannabe would be around in the county job.

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Tucson Weekly

Best of Tucson Weekly

Tucson Weekly