THE MINISTRY OF MISINFORMATION: Much of the city's half-cent sales tax and transportation propaganda machine got shut down this week when Pima County Superior Court Judge Ted Borek said the "educational" material was in fact promotional.

The preliminary injunction, sought by opponents of the sales tax and transportation plan, forces City Manager James Keene to pull back on his television career as a spokesman for the panacea transportation plan. A television ad will have to be yanked as will the glossy, four-color brochure that clearly is not simply for information. Finally, some parts of the city's transportation web site will have to be stripped of "vote messages" that were essentially "vote for."

Ed Kahn, the Libertarian lawyer who sought to quash the propaganda on behalf of sales tax opponent John Kromko, says that issues of who pays for such heavy-handed tactics and whether municipalities can pull these tricks again will be decided later at full trial

UNION BUGGED: Deputy City Manager Mike Letcher's earring needs an adjustment. It's too tight. He fired off an angry letter to Linda Hatfield, vice president of Communications Works of America/Tucson Association of City Employees Local 7026, demanding to know just what she meant by comments in the April 11 Tucson Weekly.

Unions have been leaned on hard by City Manager James Keene to play ball and support the half-cent sales-tax increase for transportation projects. So far, police and fire unions are ga-ga. White collar-employees in Hatfield's group and those in the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees are a little more discerning.

Letcher, hired by Keene from the metropolis of Sedona, demanded that Hatfield explain what she meant when she said city brass "are holding (the sales tax) over the employees' heads."

We'll be glad to help Letcher, who was far less blustery when he appeared before the Board of Supervisors after it yanked $10 million from the 22nd Street widening project. It's all about your bush-league intimidation of employees over an ill-timed, ill-conceived tax and road scheme for which you and other city bosses have broken campaign and election laws to promote.

HELL ON HELLON: Provided those new district lines are approved, current District 12 Sen. Toni Hellon could find herself with an opponent in this year's GOP primary. We're told that Republican Scott Kirtley, currently serving as an aide to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jaime Molera, is considering a Senate run against Hellon, who is serving her freshman term.

Kirtley, who ran unsuccessfully for the state House of Representatives in 1996, is said to be upset by Hellon's inconsistent support of education issues.

NERO FOR SCHOOL BOARD: Tucson Unified School District burns while longtime leadership fiddles, most recently with a hand-picked, no-dissent Blue Ribbon Committee that was supposed to look at operations.

Let's see: Bill Estes Jr. was an eager member. His schlock houses have caused a big chunk of the budget problems for TUSD, Pima County, the city and other school districts. And wasn't it the brother of the all-powerful TUSD board member the Rev. Joel T. Ireland who was busy nine years ago peddling homes and real estate near Estes subdivisions on the southwest side? It's purely coincidence that Ireland tried desperately then to kill Catalina High School in order to build a new high school on land owned by the DeConcini family. (The DeConcini law firm, where Ireland once clerked, represents TUSD.) When that failed, Ireland managed to stuff his brother into a job at Catalina as an assistant principal. It's the same district that gave job refuge to Ireland's kid.

Elsewhere on the pork-barrel beat, Paul Felix, a former big shot with the Tucson Education Association, is a major figure in Ireland's political campaigns. He was bumped into a wildly overpaid position as No. 2 man in human resources. Pascua parents succeeded recently in getting Superintendent Stan Paz to reconsider the Ireland-inspired move to have Felix serve as assistant principal at Hohokam. His butt thoroughly chewed, Paz issued this surprisingly terse notice last week: "At present, I have spoken with Paul Felix. He and I concur that he should not be transferred to Hohokam Middle School."

Voters may have a chance to make some changes on the TUSD board this year. Math teacher Jim Bloodsworth, who sought a restraining order against a troubled, explosive student and prized basketball player, found himself targeted by Paz, legal counsel Jane Butler and Sahuaro High administrators. After all the ruckus and a board vote saving his job, Bloodsworth announced both his resignation and intention to run for the board.

Bruce Burke, a Tucson lawyer and longtime Common Cause crusader, is also planning a run. He's a nice guy and smart, most of the time. He wasn't too sharp while running for the county Home Rule Commission in 1996 to seek petition signatures at Norteño, the annual late summer bash staged by southside political boss Dan Eckstrom. Eckstrom also was seeking--and won--seats for himself and an ally. Burke should be similarly nixed if he is not smart enough to cut all ties to Ireland and board President Mary Belle McCorkle, the wolf in a sheep suit. Students, parents, taxpayers and teachers can scarcely afford a clone.

COULD CLEAN ELECTIONS BE AN AL-QAEDA FRONT? Rep. Steve May recently got another shot at Arizona's public campaign funding scheme in appellate court (see "Clean Appeal," April 25). It was a good day for the Tempe Republican, but if he were in Boston, he might not have been smirking.

A Massachusetts judge has given clean elections supporters the power to auction off state property to raise campaign money for the its publicly-funded candidates. Last week, supporters were threatening to sell off their opponents' office furniture.

Whatever the courts say, the people of Arizona seem to have taken a shine to Clean Elections. Since January, tens of thousands of Arizona voters have handed out $5 contributions to help state candidates land public campaign money.

Republican Matt Salmon, the only serious gubernatorial candidate who isn't taking the public funds, rushed to chime in on the Court of Appeals' decision to accept jurisdiction in the case.

Salmon says one reason he's against Clean Elections is because citizens would be forced to fund a Nazi candidate, provided that the Hitler 2002 committee could collect enough $5 contributions. We suppose it could happen in Kingman.

Oddly enough, May's attorney, Tom Liddy (son of our favorite convicted felon from the Nixon administration, G. Gordon Liddy) recently used the exact opposite argument for the same purpose in court. Liddy claimed that the act should be thrown out because it didn't treat all viewpoints equally. His example: a candidate from the "Osama Bin Laden Was Right" Party would have trouble collecting the necessary $5 contributions to collect public funding.

DASH FOR CASH: A Whole Lot of People for Grijalva Congressional Committee must raise a whole lot more money if they are to lift Raúl Grijalva to Washington from Arizona's new 7th Congressional District.

Although the Democratic primary includes seven candidates, it'll likely come down to a fight between Grijalva and state Sen. Elaine Richardson.

Grijalva's $33,782 was just one-fourth of the $131,017 Richardson raised. She was also in superior shape, despite multiple personnel shifts, with $70,000 on hand, compared with Grijalva's $28,000, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

Grijalva has never trailed in money or votes in his four runs for the Pima County Board of Supervisors. He also never failed in his three races for the Tucson Unified School District Board.

"I don't think cash on hand translates to votes at the ballot box," Grijalva said. "We anticipate that we are going to be outspent. Two to one does not concern us, 3-1 does."

Richardson jump-started her campaign with money from EMILY's List, the national women's political action committee.

Mark Fleisher, the carpetbagging former chairman of the state Democratic Party, pulled in $47,818. That included $1,000 from his own pocket and just one incursion into Tucson, a $500 from Ray Villa. Bill Bradley, the former great Knick forward, New Jersey senator and unsuccessful candidate for the 2000 Democratic nomination for president, gave Fleisher $500. Fleisher spent $33,430, leaving $14,387 at the end of March.

Jesus Romo, the ultra-left and first-time candidate, reported $38,942. Romo, a labor leader lawyer-turned who specializes in Mexican immigration and Border Patrol enforcement, was once a close Grijalva ally.

Jaime Gutierrez, former state senator and community relations vice president at the University of Arizona, reported $45,255, expenses of just $11,244 and a balance of $34,011. Gutierrez, who represented until 1992 the West Side district that Richardson now commands, backed off a challenge to Grijalva for the Board of Supervisors post.

Another former state lawmaker, Luis Gonzales, on leave as a California tribal executive, reported $17,344, including $13,000 he put in.

Ross Hieb, a retired Marine and Yuma City Council member, collected $16,000 to go with the $5,482 he put in himself for his Republican run.

And Yuma flight attendant Lisa Ann Otondo reported $9,468, including $2,568 from her own pocket.

The campaign seems a bargain in the inaugural run for District 7, which includes south, central and west Tucson as well as western Pima County, Nogales, Yuma, Quartzite and Maricopa County farming communities. For example, Rep. J.D. Hayworth, an East Valley Republican, reported $812,000 in contributions and $606,000 on hand at the end of March.

Grijalva left his $54,600-a-year county job representing District 5 in February and has been seeking money at a frenetic pace. Though he and his advisers are spinning the lag on a late start, Grijalva admittedly pressed hard through March calling those he had chronically opposed to try to boost what he told potential donors was an important report to chill opposition.

He'll likely have a sizeable bump from the labor-oriented campaign party held April 7.

Tom Chandler, the aging Tucson lawyer and political and judicial power broker, is Grijalva's treasurer. He gave Grijalva $1,000. Art Chapa, a Tucson lawyer, former member of the Arizona Board of Regents and a popular, personable political fundraiser, gave Grijalva $1,000. He is on Grijalva's team, along with ally Democratic Supervisor Dan Eckstrom.

Grijalva has also tapped some big-name builders, which is surprising given the political fatwah against him issued by the development community. He raked in $1,000 each from Fairfield and Canoa Ranch developers Lowell Williamson and son David Williamson. He also took in $1,000 from Canoa's lead planner, Frank Thomson. Grijalva's nine-year-battle over Canoa, a 6,000-acre spread south of Green Valley, ended with greatly reduced housing, commercial and golf features and the county's $6.6 million purchase of more than 80 percent of the ranch. Fairfield paid less than half of that to acquire Canoa

"That fight's over," Grijalva said of his acceptance of the Fairfield money.

Richardson has tapped developers who are eager to see Grijalva go down. She got $500 from Peter Aronoff of AF Sterling; $500 from John Bremond, CEO of KB Homes; $1,000 from John Wesley Miller; and $250 from Steve Craddock, head of US Home in Tucson. Car dealer and Republican stalwart Jim Click Jr. and his wife Vicki Click gave Richardson $1,000 apiece.

Staff costs ate up $39,500 in the early months. Laura Penny, a longtime Richardson ally who was the chief spokesperson for former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan, was paid $17,500 in seven installments, according to the disclosure. Penny has left the campaign and Richardson has brought in Eugenia Bas-Isaac, whose good-news media enterprise failed in the mid-1990s, and paid her $6,250. Victor Gomez, now working on the state Senate campaign of nomadic Gabrielle Giffords, was paid $10,200. And Judy Nagle, Richardson's treasurer, received $5,100.

DASH FOR CASH, PART 2: In District 5, covering Tucson's East Side, Green Valley as well as Cochise County and rural southeast Arizona, Rep. Jim Kolbe, an eight-term Republican, dwarfed second-time Democratic challenger Mary Judge Ryan.

Kolbe reported $292,985 in contributions, including $110,350 in PAC money. He had $232,574 at the end of March.

Ryan, a lawyer who is second in command at the Pima County Attorney's Office, has an additional fundraising incentive: repay the $50,700 she has put in with five installments since her first failed attempt to unseat Kolbe. Ryan's annual county salary is paid $109,884. Two years ago, she lost to former state Sen. George Cunningham in the Congressional District 5 Democratic primary. Cunningham, now seeking a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission, was crushed by Kolbe.

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