PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS: In a patriotic flip-flop of Olympian proportions, the Democrats on the Tucson City Council caved big-time and voted unanimously with the Republican council members to paint the A atop A Mountain a dazzling red, white and blue until the conclusion of Operation Iraqi Freedom--which could last for some time, if we are to believe the Iraqi Ministry of Information.

So ends, for now, the battle of A Mountain. For those who came in late: Beginning on March 22, the A got painted black (by anti-war protestors), white (by the city), and red, white and blue (by a gang of law-breaking vandals that included a pair of morning-show DJs and council members Fred Ronstadt, Kathleen Dunbar, José Ibarra and Steve Leal). Next, a peace symbol was added to the A and some other city residents painted part of the A white again before police shut down all action atop Sentinel Peak.

The council members then held an emergency Sunday meeting on March 30 to resolve this burning issue, only to be deadlocked 3-3 on two motions: The Republicans voted to paint it red, white and blue, while Democrats made a peculiar push to leave it in the hodge-podge condition that was kinda red, white and blue with a peace symbol in the middle and white paint running down one leg.

But the Democrats started melting like Popsicles soon after the vote. By Friday, Ibarra's Ward 1 office was assuring callers that despite all reports to the contrary, José had voted in support of the patriotic colors, and that the media and City Clerk's Office had everything backwards. A Skinny spy who phoned in was told José had voted in favor of painting the A red, white and blue, but had opposed the Republican proposal because it allowed Fred Ronstadt to privatize the painting process, or some such retro rationalization.

As one of the publications whose coverage was called into question by the Ward 1 office, The Weekly stands by its story last week. We find it curious that José didn't raise any of above points when we'd talked to him earlier in the week. In fact, he told us that he had nearly worked out a compromise with Ronstadt, but neither peacemaker could get their respective tribes to go for it.

José's 360-degree spin, from painting the A to opposing painting the A to supporting painting the A, was a wonder to behold, but did he really have to send the staff out to lie for him? Seems pretty chickenshit to us.

Meanwhile, Ward 4 Councilwoman Shirley Scott, who now claims to have led the council on this issue, announced on Emil Franzi's radiofiesta that she was the first council member to support painting the A red, white and blue. She wondered why anyone found her position to be a mystery.

Gee, maybe it's because when The Weekly asked her how she would have voted had she attended the emergency Sunday meeting, she said the issue was too divisive and declined the opportunity to share her position. Instead, she proposed that a giant flag be raised on A Mountain. What's confusing to us is why she obfuscated rather than clearing up any confusion when she had a chance.

Incidentally, Scott may want to straighten out her quasi-ally Ibarra. Part of the disinformation coming out of the Ward 1 office included the claim that the peace symbol was all Shirley's idea.

WASHED UP: Someone at the Arizona Daily Star's northwest satellite--or, more likely, one of the paper's readers--is in a snit over Pima County's rare wise move to name a park in memory of Dan Felix, the 10-year county parks director and three-year city parks and rec director who died of cancer in January. The park is at River Road and Camino de la Tierra and has been called Pegler Wash Park, only because it is next to Pegler Wash.

It's the least the county can do for Felix, who took over a county department in 1989 that reeked of old-school corruption. Felix was classy, quiet, dedicated and talented, in his hyper-bureaucratic way, in quelling many a neighborhood/political/ constituent dispute. He also showed strength running the larger city parks and rec department, where he inherited even greater good ole boy messes.

The area of Dan Felix Memorial Park was once a small neighborhood that the flooding Rillito wiped out in 1983. The county bought out landowners, relocated residents and the property was tidied up as Pegler Wash Park.

Pegler comes from Westbrook Pegler, the nasty, if decorated, newspaper columnist and Bircher who settled on Tucson's northwest side in 1941. He won a Pulitzer Prize that year for his articles in the New York World-Telegram that exposed labor union corruption and racketeering. He once wrote a piece praising a lynching--committed in response to a murder--and loved, then hated, Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, although he saved most of his venom for Eleanor Roosevelt. Pegler died of stomach cancer in 1969.

The Star scoffed at Pima Prime Minister Chuck Huckelberry, who noted that Pegler Wash Park lacked "any historical or cultural significance."

The old Star would have been repulsed by a Pegler Park, which should have had a special playground honoring the Red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy, to whom Pegler supplied information.

ANOTHER GRAND OL' MISTAKE: The Pima County Republican Party wasted more money having a second grand opening at its southside branch office on South 12th Avenue in the heart of the Democrats' Mexican-American stronghold. Republicans are paying Lori Lustig, the failed congressional candidate and nurse/lawyer/businesswoman/ candlestick maker. Lustig also has hired on at the growth cartel, the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

This incursion comes from a local GOP headed by John Munger, a lawyer who lives in the Tucson Country Club. Munger is a longtime, highly paid state government lobbyist for Pima County. While on that contract 10 years ago, Munger not only was among those who wanted to cram a huge landfill on the southside but turned around and lobbied his clients, the Board of Supervisors, on behalf of a private waste company. Then the giant dump coulda been filled with trash exported from, say, New Jersey.

The funny thing about the GOP southside branch is that from day one to day end, it will be a favorite hangout for the crews that report to Raúl Grijalva, the freshman Democratic congressman. Republican candidates, after all, must please Fernando Zepeda, the local Republican busybody with close ties to Grijalva.

CONTINUING LEGAL ED: TUSD Superintendent Stan Paz fucked up royally by listening to his lousy legal advisers and then telling the district's Sacrificial Three--Associate Superintendent Becky Montaño and regional bosses Gene Benton and Larry Williams--to stay home with pay for the remaining four months of their contracts. We could have told Paz, for free, that state law forbids gifting of public money.

Now Paz is trying to rescind the offer. Take lesser jobs, he says, or burn some of the outrageously high sick and vacation time, which totals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The smartest thing Williams has done in decades was to hire lawyer Stephen Weiss. He has called Paz's, er, Jane Butler's bluff by accepting a job at Sahuaro High School. He will serve as an administrative mentor. Didn't Steve Wilson quit? His replacement needs no mentoring from Williams.

HEY, AT LEAST WE'RE NOT THE GAMECOCK STATE: That on-again, off-again 2004 Arizona presidential primary that Republicans want to cancel is already getting Arizona publicity across the nation.

In a piece on Democrat John Edwards' bid for the White House, Charlotte Observer reporter Tim Funk quotes S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian as saying about the Grand Canyon State: "If you're looking for the gila monster vote, go to Arizona."

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