The Skinny

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Ward 1 Councilman José Ibarra is living a charmed life. First, Yolanda Herrera la Fond took out papers to run against him in the September Democratic primary before dropping out of the race a few weeks later. Then Irma Yepez-Perez, a former aide to former Ward 1 Councilman Bruce Wheeler who'd been flying a trial balloon, decided she was not interested in the job, either.

We hear Yepez-Perez, who lost to Ibarra in a five-way primary waaay back in 1995, got leaned on pretty hard by local union officials, who made it clear to her that campaign wasn't such a hot idea.

So is any Democrat going to challenge Ibarra's run for a third term? Stay tuned--as Obi-Wan Kenobi cryptically told Yoda, "There is another --"

Republican Armando Rios is also still planning to run for the Ward 1 seat in the general election.

ROCKY ROAD OR PLAIN VANILLA? Reporters at the Tucson Citizen who top their (phantom) competitors at the Arizona Daily Star are getting special treats: $2 gift certificates to Baskin-Robbins. Wow!

They even get a nickel back in change on a single-scoop cone.

The cute morale booster is a brainchild of the Citizen's new management crew that includes former Citizen clerk/reporter and Star reporter/city editor Ann-Eve Pedersen, who in fact repeatedly scooped the Star when she was at the Citizen pre-1993.

Pedersen has been adept at transferring other skills. Citizen reporters and editors who please her can get--besides ice cream--little hand-cut paper awards, the kind used to lavish praise on pre-schoolers.

RICHARD PERLE'S REPLACEMENT: Why is Tucson High School's Brian Koppy limiting himself teaching American Government when he knows so damn much about that tinkerer from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein, and all of Iraq as well as North Korea?

Mary Bustamante, a longtime Citizen reporter who is known for being pretty damn accurate, sat in on a recent Koppy session and noted his response to a student who asked why the United States is not attacking nuclear-capable North Korea.

"Saddam Hussein," Koppy said, "actually used gas on his people; North Korea is just threatening. It's action versus talk."

Tell that one to the vast number of North Koreans starved to death by North Korea's evil little Kim. Oh, wait, you can't--they're dead.

Next: Koppy explains the motivational strategies used on Iraq's national soccer team.

HAZY RECALL: Superintendent Stan Paz has pissed off a core group of Mexican-American and African-American educators and activists with his preliminary restructuring of the sinking school district he took over nearly three years ago. Some think Paz spent too much time in Texas, as superintendent in El Paso, and as a big shot with a private education company and has become a vendido.

But the "Rescind or Recall" chant has simmered down, thanks in large part to the wisdom of Clarence Boykins, head of the Tucson chapter of the NAACP and a man who would serve the public well on any number of boards: TUSD, City Council, the Board of Supervisors ...

The talk of recall was particularly amusing. It was aimed at the TUSD board majority that voted to approve Paz's initial plan: Bruce Burke, Judy Burns and board president the Rev. Joel Tracy Ireland. Burke, by law, hasn't been in office long enough to recall, while Burns and Ireland are getting along. Ten years ago, Burns was one of those whose work to recall Ireland was mishandled. That would have save the community a lot of trouble.

Instead, the very people who want to boot Ireland are the ones who kissed his butt in four elections. Hell, they gave him a free ride in 2000. But at the last meeting, when a raucous crowd screamed and chanted while Paz continued to read through his reorg like a priest reciting pre-communion prayers, they yelled that the majority didn't "represent La Raza."

Mary Belle McCorkle played the audience expertly. She's bitching because she was shut out. It was always fine when she did the shutting. And when she threatened--she's real good at that--Paz with an "evaluation," Burns calmly and politely reminded McCorkle that the board, while McCorkle was president, failed to promptly evaluate Paz. McCorkle was furious and in tears after the meeting. Burke, who shares McCorkle's political mentor, Laura Almquist, had to calm her down.

CHILDREN'S CRUSADE: Meanwhile, on another front, TUSD is battling an effort at the Arizona Legislature to cut off the free flow of funds to desegregation programs. Rep. Steve Huffman is pushing HB 2357, which would limit the amount of money TUSD and other districts could get for desegregation programs, which allow property tax increases above and beyond the state limit.

Huffman's bill, as originally proposed, would have forced districts to seek voter approval for deseg funding.

In its fight against the bill, TUSD officials went as far as to recruit the schoolkids, sending home notices including names and numbers of lawmakers so parents could call them to tell them to lay off.

We're told Huffman was outraged by the letter, which appears to be blatant politicking on the taxpayer dime.

So what's up with Huffman's bill? Well, Sen. Slade Mead pretty much gutted it during hearings before the Senate Education Committee. Mead's amendments strips out all spending limits and just required the districts to make reports on how the money is being spent.

But now that it's cleared the ed committee, Huffman hopes to restore some of the teeth when the Senate Finance Committee hears the legislation. Stay tuned!

DOES SIZE MATTER? At exactly the same time last Saturday, a pro-war rally drew 3,500 people while an anti-war march drew 650. The Arizona Daily Star gave the picture on top of a joint story on both to the anti-war folks, while the pro-war side got a smaller shot off to the side. Worse, the anti-war bunch got 14 column inches, while the pro-war gang had to settle for six inches--part of which went to the allegations of an anti-war counter-demonstrator who claims he was attacked.

We don't blame the two reporters who covered both events as much as we blame the bias of the editor who picked the photos and cut the stories. We do wonder about the crowd counts, though, which appear to have been as given to the reporters by the organizers of both events.

Apparently "crowd-counting" is not an important enough skill for it to be used by those reporting them. Perhaps the Star has simply privatized the practice of printing intact the PR handout they use when reporting most government events.

BOB WALKUP, WELCOME TO THE NO-SPIN ZONE: Our pals at Fox News picked up on the local A Mountain controversy

As Fox reports, "The mayor of Tucson, Ariz., was hesitant to paint the huge letter "A" on a mountaintop outside of town red, white and blue because to do so would be a political statement in favor of war, reports the Tucson Daily Star."

Say, do they know something about the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Citizen merger that we don't?

"Anti-war protestors had painted the letter black over the weekend," continues the report. "Mayor Bob Walkup did not want to repaint it in the colors of Old Glory, instead suggesting it should be returned to its original white. Walkup eventually relented, however, and the letter was repainted during the week."

Man, did they only get the tip of the story. Look for updates on Bill O'Reilly's Outrage of the Day--or maybe just in News of the Weird.

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