The Skinny

THEY'RE IN, THEY'RE OUT, THEY'RE IN, THEY'RE OUT: We hear Yolanda Herrera La Fond is ready to take on City Councilman José Ibarra in the Ward 1 Democratic primary this September. Yolanda's got some name ID from her civic work about town, while José has burned his share of bridges. Sure to be an entertaining undercard to the mayor's race. Speaking of which, is Tom Volgy going to announce soon or what?

Meanwhile, Ward 6 Councilman Fred Ronstadt is finding tough sledding in the effort to find a fellow Republican for his new nemesis, Ward 4 Democrat Shirley Scott. So far, the only Republican to emerge is an unknown, Bruce P. Murchison. If Fred does dig somebody up, we wonder if his wife, Pam Ronstadt, will run the campaign? It's a nice way to supplement the Ronstadt household income with city matching funds. Although, come to think of it, when Pam was running retread Ray Castillo against José in Ward 1 four years ago, she earned every penny.

Meanwhile, in Ward 2, Democrat Carol West is sitting pretty. We hear Democrat Clarence Boykins has lost interest in challenging her in the primary and the Republicans remain so happy with her that they're discouraging candidates.

KXCI SHOOTOUT POSTPONED: Members of the community radio station board punted their meeting from Jan. 16 to Feb. 20 in another attempt to rid their world of pesky volunteers and programmers. It won't work. Sooner or later, the board will be overhauled to be less insular and handpicked. It will become more democratically chosen.

Even the ousted Irish, replaced by a scab, have dropped their demand to have their long-running show reinstated and instead are only pressing for board reform and for management to end its mistreatment of programmers, volunteers and donors. ¿Que onda, Neto?

MORNING AMNESIA: The Arizona Daily Star's abominable memory was showcased in a front page story on the looming Pima County deficit that, on a billion-dollar annual budget, could be more than $30 million.

"The deficit, the first one affecting county government in officials' recent memory--" the Star wrote, in a chilling admission that it couldn't be bothered to either remember or call up the library to get the stories from 1999 when the county was $60 million in the hole.

That deficit was cut by the Board of Supervisors' illegal raid of restricted school district funds and borrowing from the always-rich sewer department. And those tricks were "corrected" in 1999 by a huge increase in property taxes, the third consecutive tax increase levied by Democratic Supervisors Sharon Bronson, Dan Eckstrom and then-board member Raúl Grijalva. But the Star scurried around last week to quote, with a straight face, Bronson saying a tax increase was unlikely because "it would hurt the people who can least afford it."

This from an imperious supervisor who not only jacked up Pima property taxes to the highest in the state but who also has pushed for a first-ever county sales tax.

COWTOWN: Given city government's deep budgetary problems, the council might consider our suggestion last April that it raise some quick millions by selling the cattle ranch it owns on the far, far eastside. When the City Council discussed the issue in August, it decided instead to explore the possibility of using the land as a mitigation bank for developers building on other environmentally sensitive property. The ranch item is expected to return to council later this month, however, and the financial need to sell the land is expected to be a major topic of conversation.

HAPPY ENDING: We reported in November about $22,000 mysteriously transferred from the bank account of the Santo Domingo Sister Cities program. Just as strangely, the money was returned the day after our story appeared. Those from the umbrella Sister Cities Association of Tucson who had obtained the funds claimed they voluntarily gave it back. But it appears Bank of America officials, after being contacted by the Weekly, actually decided to return the money.

FLAKEY IDEA: Speaker Jake Flake of the Arizona House of Representatives has suggested one means of addressing the state budget deficit is to privatize state parks. "We may have to privatize parks, or sell parts to private people who can keep them open," the Snowflake rancher said. "I think they are going to have to take cuts, but we are not going to shut down parks." We look forward to visiting Roper Lake, near Safford in Flake's district, after Disney buys it.

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