The Skinny

JUDGE NOT: Mary Judge Ryan, the lamb that Democrats will sacrifice this year to U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, was quick to denounce the nine-term Republican's acceptance of $3,000 in PAC money from WorldCom, which canned 17,000 workers and this week filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history following earlier reports the company had misstated nearly $4 billion in earnings.

That contribution is "tainted" and must be returned, says Ryan, the chief deputy for Democratic County Attorney Barbara LaWall.

While she is busy pointing fingers at Kolbe, Ryan collected $500 from Ken Orms, aka J. Kenneth Orms, a flashy mortgage banker and real estate broker. His relationship with the mother of the son of the flashier-but-dead Gary Triano produced acrimony, criminal charges and a nearly $1 million judgment against Orms and his Platinum Mortgage and Financial Services.

On March 11, 2000, less than two months after Orms, 58, became engaged to Robin Gardner, 35, Oro Valley police cited Orms for domestic violence assault. According to court papers, Orms went to Gardner's home and "intentionally and deliberately assaulted Gardner with a deadly weapon and by striking her across the face."

Not long after, Orms offered Gardner, who worked at Platinum, $500 and "more where that came from" if she had dinner with him. But, according to court documents, he cursed her and announced: "Men like me will show women like you."

Orms was found guilty on Jan. 31, 2001, and sentenced by Oro Valley Magistrate Jim West to 10 months supervised probation.

He sued Gardner in Pima County Superior Court, claiming she owed him money and demanding the return of jewelry and a dog. She turned the tables after hiring a pit bull, Tucson lawyer Bill Walker, and won a jury award for more than $900,000 to compensate her for, among other things, lost commissions and pay at Platinum. Orms, who touts his services on a twice-weekly vanity radio show, claims his company is different because his staff works without commissions. He is now fighting the verdict at the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Orms declared eight years ago that he was the answer to Kolbe, but he failed to even file papers to establish candidacy. Ryan said she knows Orms from a guest appearance on his radio show as well as from a function for the University of Arizona softball team.

She is not about to return the $500 (half the maximum) contribution that Orms made to her campaign on Valentine's Day.

"There is a clear distinction between WorldCom, a company that has a specific interest and benefited from legislation approved by Congress and has an interest in future legislation and someone convicted of a crime," Ryan said.

"I don't do criminal history backgrounds on the people who contribute to my campaign," said Ryan, who has raised $144,333 to Kolbe's $408,901 through June 30 in preparation for the District 8 election.

DASH FOR CASH: In Congressional District 7, state Sen. Elaine Richardson leads the money chase with $384,766, including $252,802 raised during April, May and June.

Coming in a distant second is Raúl Grijalva, with $200,543 in contributions. Grijalva reports spending $74,127 and owing another $18,321 in debt.

In third place is Jaime P. Gutierrez, with $105,000 raised and only $22,340 spent.

Mark Fleisher, the former head of the Arizona Democratic Party, is in terrible shape. And he's not raising much money, either. He reported $75,000 raised, $67,000 spent and another $6,528 in bills.

None of the other candidates have topped $40,000.

SPRAWL BRAWL: Opponents of two massive master-planned communities in neighboring Pinal County experienced a revolting development in the state Court of Appeals last week.

Members of Pinal Citizens for Sustainable Communities had taken out petitions to force a public vote over two rezonings by the three-member Pinal County Board of Supervisors that would plop somewhere around 15,000 new homes on 7,100 acres in the Oracle Junction area, effectively nuking the lifestyle of the roughly 4,000 folks who now live there.

Although the activists gathered more than 6,000 signatures (they had needed about 2,800), the developer sued, saying they missed the deadline for submitting petitions. Although the citizens prevailed in Superior Court in April, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision, saying just because government election officials gave the group a deadline, that didn't mean it was the right deadline.

The Pinal County folks figured out that the county board was going to take a dive, so they hired their own attorney, the able Anne Graham Bergin. They say they plan to appeal their case to the Arizona Supreme Court.

PHOTO BUZZ: It's nothing short of a scandal that the University of Arizona has kept the Center for Creative Photography leaderless for over two years. The UA's iron-handed Dean of Libraries Carla Stoffle bounced Terry Pitts way back in June 2000, and the world-class institution has been bleeding professional staff ever since. From a high of 17, the archive-museum-library is now operated by a skeletal crew of seven professionals. The most egregious loss is that of Trudy Wilner Stack, the brilliant Yalie who recently resigned as curator. Wilner Stack's work at the center was an admirable model for art professionals not only here in town but around the country and abroad. Her departure is a huge loss for Tucson.

This sorry mess is the fault not only of Stoffle, who doesn't know beans about photos, but also of President Peter Likins, who turned down the center's legitimate request to be removed from Stoffle's control, and of Likins's henchman and enforcer, Provost George Davis, who told the staff to lump it or leave it. And leading the destructive charge has been John Schaefer, the former UA president who helped found the center more than 25 years ago, and has treated it as a personal fiefdom ever since.

Now at long last the center has confidentially extended an offer to Willis "Buzz" Hartshorn, director since 1994 of the International Center for Photography in New York City. Hartshorn's a likeable fellow who's won the support both of the arts types and suits on the search committee for a new director. He's done good work in New York, helping his institution grow, beefing up the ICP's school and curating contemporary shows about such difficult subjects as AIDS. We hear he's interested in the job in part because he wants to raise his children outside New York, but he seems wary of the Stoffle/Schaefer juggernaut. The word is the negotiations are turning on the issue of getting Stoffle the heck out the way, and not just literally. (Stoffle has, unbelievably, moved her office into the center, the better to exert humiliating control over the remaining workers.)

The signs were not good at a public talk Hartshorn gave here on May 30. Stoffle and Schaefer pulled a one-two punch to show who was in charge. Embarrassingly, Stoffle delivered the introduction, pretending she knew something about photography, instead of ceding that professional task to one of the remaining staff. Then, when Hartshorn was taking questions after his lecture, Stoffle abruptly cut him off, promising he'd be available to the audience at the reception immediately following. But it was not to be, thanks to Schaefer. When audience members wandered out into the lobby, they caught only a glimpse of Hartshorn's back: Schaefer had gotten hold of him bodily and was rushing him at top speed out of the building.

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