The Skinny

BEARING DOWN: Did we really see UA Football Coach John Mackovic crying at last week's press conference? Oh good Lord. No wonder the team sucks.

The Big Mac is facing down an open revolt from his players, who somehow managed to get the ear of UA President Peter Likins. Seems the players don't like Mackovic's style.

Mackovic may well be a lousy coach, a lousy motivator and a lousy boss. For all we know, his behavior behind the scenes may be absolutely appalling. But what we were told--that he told a player he was a disgrace to his family--seems pretty mild given that he's addressing the toughest jocks on campus.

How sensitive are these guys, anyway? They should thank God they didn't sign up to serve their country. They'd learn all about being a disgrace to themselves, their families, their unit and their country--all while doing push-ups in the mud for a drill instructor.

Maybe the whole team needs sensitivity training--and then they can all join the chess team.

At any rate, UA President Peter Likins and Athletic Director Jim Livengood say they stand behind the coach. We haven't heard that kind of ringing endorsement since they said the same thing about Dick Tomey--just about six weeks before Tomey got the ax.

PARTY ANIMALS: We're hearing a lot about Janet Napolitano's bipartisan team that's going to help her get along with the Republican Legislature. Yeah, keep dreaming.

There's a world of difference between Pima and Maricopa Republicans. With GOP bigwig Jack Jewett making the calls to the Republicans who are going to serve in Janet's administration, you know they're going to be just the kind of libs that the gang up north hates.

Lawmakers have two choices: they can work with Napolitano or they can be as obstructionist as possible to sideline her agenda. Given where the political advantage lies, we're putting our money on obstructionist.

Fortunately for Napolitano, who's smarter than most of the GOP caucus put together, lawmakers probably lack the political finesse to carry off their troublemaking without looking like a bunch of boobs, which ultimately plays to Janet's advantage.

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE: One of the first state officials to skeedaddle is Terry Stewart, who announced his retirement as state prisons chief last month.

We suspect Stewart saw Napolitano's victory coming and recognized she was going to install her own guy in the post, so he decided to walk before she made him run. And who can blame him?

Even when times were good and the budget was fat, Stewart was complaining that his guards--er, correctional officers, were underpaid and the prisons were understaffed and overcrowded. With the current budget crunch and growing inmate population, the system ain't gonna get any better.

We wouldn't be surprised to see Stewart land on his feet with a job at a private prison operation--and making a whole lot more money.

EARLY WORMS: The early ballot process has come under fire because so many folks turned in their ballots on election day, slowing the vote count so much that several candidates didn't know if they'd won for a few days. Horrors! How can we make them wait so long?

If there's a problem with early voting, it's the fact that campaigns can't afford to ignore it, so they're forced to drop a bundle on money chasing early votes. That, in turn, has driven up the cost of campaigning.

But we had to laugh at the morning daily's editorial last week. The scribes over there said early voting had increased participation, so we had to keep it around--but if early voters didn't get their ballots in on time, they shouldn't be counted. So more participation is good, unless it messes with the news cycle. Hmm.

By the way, early voting has not increased participation. In the 1992 general election, before state lawmakers loosened the early voting restrictions, 287,718 voters cast ballots. This year, just 229,789 people voted--and that's after 10 years of population growth. Sure, '92 was a presidential election year, but only 289,193 voted in 2000, a mere 1,475 more than '92, which tells us early voting is not increasing voter participation.

GOING SOUTH FOR WEST? Some of the heavier business guys from both parties who helped install Democrat Carol West in the Ward 2 City Council seat in 1999 are letting the GOP leadership know that they want them to lay off West in her upcoming re-election campaign. They want her to have no GOP opponent.

The biggest flaw in that approach: What happens if West gets a primary from a lefty Democrat--and loses? Her track record as part of a working coalition with the three Republicans should hardly endear her to the Democratic base across the city, which still exists, despite little evidence of a pulse. Her record of being a stooge for the bipartisan business establishment including the Growth Lobby could easily become an issue. (Gee, we're making it one now.) And those business "leaders" would be stuck with the winner because no GOP alternative would be available.

It's also a little hard for some GOP types who made up the coalition that supported council members Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt in 2001 to roll over just because a few fat cats want to save money on a campaign. The NRA, for example, comes to mind. Perhaps those GOP leaders should consider who they are supposed to represent.

AIRHEAD APPARENT: Councilman Fred Ronstadt sits on an exclusive political bench: locally elected Republicans who might run for Congressman Jim Kolbe's seat if and when he finally relinquishes it.

Ronstadt has already taken to calling the District 8 office "my seat." He's ingratiated himself with the Kolbe operation, especially by having wife Pam work on Kolbe's campaigns. He's also developed connections to Jamestown Associates, the Jersey-based political consultants favored by Kolbe.

Fred may find he's got a few folks who might deny him the coronation he seeks. Pima County Republican Party chairman John Munger would do much better with the lobbyists who raise the dough, seeing how he is one. Fred's colleague, Councilwoman Kathleen Dunbar, is not only a much better campaigner, but ran ahead of him in the last city election. State lawmaker Marian McClure is already making noises about her future in D.C. Former lawmaker Keith Bee is still buzzing around the district. And, although he keeps insisting he doesn't want the job, Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll spends considerable time fighting bureaucrats and tax hikes instead of rolling over for them. That made Ray so unpopular with his own party that he didn't even have an opponent last time.

One part of watching Fred succeed would be fun, though. Seeing how much weight he's gained with just a few locals picking up his food tab, imagine what he'd look like after a couple of years of the never-ending gourmet buffet they put out in D.C.

THE KIDS ARE ALL WRONG: Republicans Matt Salmon and Andrew Thomas sank on election night, but if the decision had been up to Arizona's schoolchildren, the results would have been very different.

In this year's Kids Voting, 43 percent tossed their support to Salmon, while just 34 percent supported Democrat Janet Napolitano. Wonder if that means they support vouchers?

Meanwhile, Thomas, the conservative fruit loop clobbered by Democrat Terry Goddard in the Attorney General's race, grabbed 49 percent of the kids' vote, while Goddard picked up less than 38 percent.

The youngsters also elected Democrats Ruth Solomon as State Treasurer and Jay Blanchard as Secretary of Public Instruction.

The kids supported the 17-tribe Indian gaming prop while rejecting the other two gambling questions and, unlike their adult counterparts, gave a big thumb's up to the medical marijuana initiative. Like the rest of us, they shot down a raise for lawmakers.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: You may have noticed that for some time now, the Arizona Daily Star's book reviews are all reprints from other sources, with no local authors or reviewers presented. This is one more example of how the Amari/Buehl administration is aiding in its small way in the effort to homogenize America.

Once upon a time, writers broke into print with book reviews for their local papers for little or no pay. But that required hiring somebody to review and edit their work. It's much cheaper just to pull them down from the wire services.

While the cost was inconsequential compared to the millions in profits Tucson Newspapers Inc. shovels back to their home offices every year, it does aid the corporate careers of those who comply with the constant cost-cutting measures from the home office bean-counters. That it's also one less reason to open the morning fish wrapper has apparently escaped them.

FLAKEY GOOF: Whoops! Last week, we identified the new Speaker of the House as Jeff Flake, who in reality is an Arizona congressman. The new Speaker is actually Jake Flake of Snowflake.

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