The Skinny

CHILLED VERDE: Katie Bolger and her Pima County Green Party got sliced in Superior Court trying to gain permission to vote in relevant primary elections on Sept. 10. The Greens, who rode Peter Hormel's laudable drive for County Attorney in 2000, gained ballot status in Pima County. Now they are the victims of that success. They cannot, unlike Greens in other Arizona counties where Greens lack ballot status, vote in Democratic or other primaries.

The Bolgeristas are Raulistas. They wanted Judge Paul Tang to carve new law out of the voter-approved measure that allowed those outside recognized parties to jump in the primary of their choice. They really wanted Tang, a Republican, to allow many of the county's 1,786 Greens who are registered or will register to vote in Congressional District 7 to help Raul Grijalva in that still crowded field.

After a protracted hearing last week, Tang saw the Greens' paradox, but indicated from the bench and before drafting a brief ruling that he was not about to add chile verde to Arizona election recipes.

STAR-HIGH TAXES: In its apology last week for Pima County, the Arizona Daily Star jumbled property tax categories to help justify why Pima County has the highest property taxes in Arizona. The Star, noting the trifling 1 percent, 66-cents-a-month cut in the county's secondary tax, reported that those taxes are used to repay voter-approved bonds for such things as road projects. Wrong. The road projects contained in the county's messed-up $350 million bond approved by voters in 1997 are financed by the county's share of gasoline taxes.

MEANS TEST: Ward 6 Councilman Fred Ronstadt, known for his brutish behavior toward some political opponents, may have hit a new low last week during a public hearing on the city's proposed budget.

James Modiset, a city garbage collector and chair of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, harshly berated four members of the City Council for not supporting higher salaries for blue-collar workers. He alleged a management fiasco at City Hall was taking food off his table and denying him the opportunity to put away enough savings for his daughter's college fund.

Ronstadt responded by later asking City Manager James Keene what Modiset's salary would be in the coming year. Before Keene could answer, Councilman José Ibarra called Ronstadt immature for the asking the question, saying it was improper to go after a speaker personally and vindictively.

Councilman Steve Leal pointed out that asking for personal financial information about speakers would have a chilling effect on democracy. Even Vice-Mayor Carol West, who's usually has Ronstadt's back, diplomatically tried to tell Fred to shut up. Ronstadt insisted he just wanted to get the facts on the table.

For the record, the council majority du jour of Ronstadt, West, Councilwoman Kathleen Dunbar and Mayor Bob Walkup didn't side with Modiset's position. And, by the way, his annual salary as an equipment operator for the city is $36,274.

THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR: Paul Felix, dumped from TUSD because of allegations that he sexually harassed his secretary and then participated in an official cover-up, has got to be wondering where his friend Joel Ireland is. Felix has been the Rev. Ireland's lapdog, yet Ireland could do nothing more than vote against a motion June 27 to cut Felix loose. Where was the substitute motion to keep Felix? Now Felix has realized that the Rev. Ireland chose TUSD's embattled legal beagle Jane Butler over him.

The sting is hardly over. Carolyn Sebastian, the woman in the Felix matter, has filed a claim against the district for $500,000. She has Steve Weiss, the tough and smart lawyer who has won money from TUSD for people who were dead in the water. Rather than settle this case now, TUSD's plan is to farm it out to outside suits, probably from DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy (they need a new wing on that mausoleum that TUSD taxpayers built) to run up the meter before doing the inevitable: paying Sebastian.

ECONO-SUPE: Poor economy, campaign overload, and cold feet from all the bad press from Pima County's hyper-political road construction contracts have shrunk contributions in the special Democratic primary election for the Board of Supervisors in District 5. Appointed, er, anointed incumbent Richard Elias reported last week a paltry $4,380 for the period that ended May 31. He owes $1,520, all but $26 to his dad at Old Pueblo Printers.

Challenger Frank Felix, a former state senator and former UA administrator, raised $7,445 and has $3,000 on hand, according to the reports filed last week.

Those amounts are just tiny fractions to the banks raised by others vying on a short-course special election for supervisor. Democrat Dan Eckstrom raised many times that in one month in 1988. Republican Sugar Ray Carroll had a year's head start when he filed his first report in 1998 and he was swimming in campaign cash. Still, it was no secret that Raúl Grijalva was going to abandon the District 5 seat to run for Congress. Either these boys have stashed the cash, or we're looking at a low-budget snoozer.

BACAL RELIEF FUND: Big shot Democrats Martin and Eva Bacal sent a recent and desperate plea for money for their daughter, Pima County Justice of the Peace Susan Bacal.

The begging preceded the deadline for candidates wishing to cross them and Judge Susie. And now Judge Susie is unopposed for a second full term in central Justice Precinct 8 to which Democrats controlling the Board of Supervisors initially appointed her.

The solicitation was out of bounds because it asked county employees to break county law and risk termination. The Board of Supervisors, never a bunch to turn down any money from anyplace, miraculously voted in 1992 to ban political contributions from county employees to candidates for any county office.

Still, the Bacal beg made its way to many county employees, mostly lawyers listed in various Bar directories.

You'd think Mr. Democrat, Martin Bacal, his wife, a former member of the TUSD board (that says a mouthful) and now member of the Arizona Attorney General's staff, and their little Judge Susie would know better.

Too bad the county employees were too cagey to fall for this mooch. She did haul in nearly a grand from some lawyers in private practice.

Judge Susie leads a charmed life. She has plenty of time to work out to be an accomplished athlete. She has plenty of time to sling her robe over her arm, walk over to Superior Court to catch more interesting drama while chuckling and playing with her hair. Only 37, Judge Susie has been on the bench, including time at City Court, for more than eight years.

She and Daddy and Mommy were quite offended in 1998, when word of her 1993 shoplifting arrest finally spilled out and was reported in the Arizona Daily Star. Judge Susie was busted at Fry's, at East Grant and North First Avenue, by an off-duty Tucson cop working security. As she strolled, Susie gave herself a quick makeover by helping herself to some Sun-in for that hair she's always playing with. She returned the bottle to the shelf and, according to the cop report, switched prices on four containers of macaroni and potato salad and then grabbed three packages of grape-flavored Kool-Aid.

When the Star's Poli Corella quizzed Judge Susie about it prior to the 1998 election, she said: "I had an attorney, so I had very little to do with it."

Indeed. Heavy-hitter James Stuehringer was brought in to make a quick and quiet deal.