The Skinny

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: The City Council is getting plenty of heat for its revamped garbage pick-up, but it's a step in the right direction. Trimming pick-up to once a week will save a bundle of tax dollars. Trash collection isn't getting any cheaper and the city has a whole bunch of festering landfills that need clean-up in the near future. Besides, most people don't need their gigantic barrel emptied twice a week. If you're one of those who do need that second pick-up, it'll be available--as long as you're willing to pay for it. There's no reason most taxpayers should subsidize the few people who throw away that much garbage.

We hope increasing recycling collection to once a week will improve the abysmal participation with the program. We're especially glad to be getting rid of those stupid little green bins. Hey, we do our best, but we have one hell of time remembering what week we're supposed to haul out the bin to the curb. Give us a big fat blue pail and a regular weekly schedule and we promise to be a better friend of the planet.

The council wisely backed off plans to hit neighbors who share containers with fines if just one irresponsible joker was causing problems. They should also drop plans to fine people who don't pull their barrels back from the curb in a timely manner, but we agree with the policy to slap lazy clowns who miss the pick-up and then expect to have a truck drive back out to their place to collect their garbage. And stupid people who throw garbage into recycling bins should be fined.

HOW KEENE: City Manager James Keene is working feverishly to reverse a 4-3 City Council vote giving white collar workers a 3.6 percent raise retroactive to February.

Kommander Keene swears he is just seeking clarity, but as wily Democrat Steve Leal warned: employees hope "reconsideration is not burlesqueing as clarification."

Keene trotted out deep stats and figures at Monday's study session to explain how broke the city, set to spend $917 million this coming year, will be if the majority holds to raises that will cost nearly $3.7 million. He then rolled "hit-the-panic-button" testimony from Finance Director Kay Gray, who acts as if the money is hers and that it must be stacked--very neatly--for all those nifty guys from Moody's and Standard & Poor's to evaluate. We agree that the city shouldn't drain its reserves to the pathetic levels of dozen years ago, but not even Keene could agree with the alarmist remarks from Republican Councilman Fred Ronstadt.

Freddy said the city will be forced to spend $6 million, because of imagined higher borrowing costs, to provide $1 million in raises.

When they were done preaching fiscal responsibility Democrat Shirley Scott reintroduced reality. She said, in polite, but firm tones, that Keene and others seem to find money when they want it. She questioned the "fiscal responsibility" of the $600,000-plus on "education" of the electorate on the sales tax/transportation debacle, court action, and even exit polls. What didn't the mayor understand about a 69-31 spread?

Before the songs of doom are sung, Scott said, the city should pull in that delinquent Qwest tax bill, realize savings touted in the garbage department, and quit playing cowboy by selling off that ludicrous Bellota Ranch.

RISING FROM THE GRAVE: State Rep. Carmine Cardamone called to assure us that he was only dropping out of his state Senate race at the last minute because he's working so hard on Elaine Richardson's congressional campaign. He insists he wasn't providing cover to his longtime pal John Kromko, who is now running the seat the Cardamone has chosen not to pursue.

Kromko, the tax-busting former state representative, is seeking to rise again in Phoenix just in time, and not because Kromko can ride the wave he helped push to totally swamp the city's disastrous sales tax increase for transportation improvements. No, you see, Kromko could not run for paid political office after he botched reporting requirements related to his big 1996 loss to Carmen Dolny, a Democratic in her second term as Justice of the Peace. Kromko violated campaign finance reporting laws, was fined $1,000 and prohibited from seeking a paid political seat for five years.

The ban expired on May 17, just four days before the Kromko forces smashed the city sales tax. Kromko can now fully attempt his resurrection since the Dolny nail was pounded into Kromko's coffin first designed by Ed Moore in 1992. That's when the Republican Pima County supervisor and his pals--who transformed Kromko into a clown in memorable TV spots--buried Kromko.

The Moore and Dolny campaigns exposed much of Kromko's quirky hypocrisy. He has been a champion against the sales taxes, though, and, as we said last week, here's a guy that the Legislature truly deserves.

DARK STAR: How things change at the editorial page of the Arizona Daily Star, which ripped Adopt-a-Supe Richard Elias last week for telling the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association to forget having him in for a political screening. Elias, voted by supervisors in February as the closest Raul Grijalva clone, must defend the District 5 seat against Frank Felix, a former state senator and University of Arizona official, in the special Democratic primary in three months.

Elias's note to the developer cartel was a page right out of the Grijalva playbook. He even used the classic Grijalva line: "your organization's reputation precedes it." The Star, which used to cheer that type of bravado from Grijalva, now is offended. The move will only help Elias with the environmentalist and protectionist voters who dominate the District 5 polls.

Meanwhile, Ruben Reyes, the former Grijalva aide caught in the filmmaking imbroglio, has cut a check to the county for $1,591 for pay-for-no-work. Reyes hung on after Grijalva left office to run for Congress, but put in more time on Grijalva campaign than he did producing a film on county youth programs. The deal allowed Reyes to use accrued vacation and sick time to compensate for his downtime during his March-April stint as the county's Herbert Biberman.

ATTACK OF THE SIX-MILLION-DOLLAR MAN: Land speculator Kelley Rollins wrote last week in the Arizona Daily Star that residents justifiably have no confidence in city or county governments. Specifically, Rollins wrote, "The county manager (Pima Prime Minister Chuck Huckelberry) and his many assistants are incapable of solving the faults in management. The present board is not in control."

Hey Kelley, is that any way to talk to the county? The Board of Supervisors voted in early 2000 to buy three desert parcels totaling 746 acres from Rollins and Lloyd Perper for a wild $5.97 million. That inflated price for this dirt south off the Ajo Highway and Kinney Road blew way past an independent appraisal that put the value at $4.1 million. Moreover, the purchase was about 3.5 times higher than the $1.75 million that voters were told would be spent on such Robles Junction open space in the 1997 bond package.

Come to think of it, Rollins is right. There is no control.

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