The Skinny

ANOTHER BERYLLIUM DEATH: Several friends and family members contacted The Weekly last week to give us some sad news: Rosa Maldonado, who suffered from Chronic Beryllium Disease after working at Brush Wellman's South Tucson plant for six years, has died.

Maldonado, 56, was profiled in our Feb. 19 cover story, "Something in the Air." She was one of 12 workers who sued Brush Wellman after getting sick, apparently because of beryllium exposure. That lawsuit was dismissed without trial because she accepted workman's compensation from the state, and Arizona law idiotically forbids workers from suing a company if they take worker's comp.

When we spoke to Maldonado last February, she was essentially housebound, forced to be on oxygen 24 hours a day because of CBD--caused by exposure to beryllium, which is toxic in its power form.

We'll have more on this in next week's paper.

WATER WORKS: The City Council finally approved Tucson Water's request to start charging a $1,416 hook-up fee for new homes. Republican Kathleen Dunbar and Democrats Steve Leal and José Ibarra wisely reversed their earlier vote against the fees, leading to a unanimous 6-0 vote. (Democrat Shirley Scott, who had also opposed the fees but had asked for reconsideration of the vote, was absent. We'd ask her how she would have voted, but she'd probably just tell us the question was too divisive.)

The fee's approval means that rates for residential customers will rise by only 1 to 2 percent every other year instead of 4 percent every year. The council members who flipped saved face by including a provision to revisit the fees when the council addresses other impact fees, which at this rate should happen sometime around 2025.

AT LEAST NOBODY HAD AN EYE SHOT OUT: The Tucson Police Department has its undercover Underoos in a bunch after a public defender outed a plain-clothed officer who had stealthily infiltrated an anti-war demonstration by the Women in Black, a top-secret alien-hunting government organization--no, wait, they're just lefties who oppose war with weekly vigils out on Speedway Boulevard and Euclid Avenue.

The special kids over at special investigations evidently got wind that some pretty wild stuff was going down at the demonstration, so in addition to eight to 10 uniformed officers, they dropped a couple of undercover dicks into the crowd. One of them was spotted by public defender Suzanne Crawford, who then told the crowd that they had been infiltrated by The Man--while looking right at the officer, according to his hysterical version of the incident. Hell, those peaceniks could have slapped him to death with their "No Blood For Oil" signs.

The cops say it's all one big misunderstanding--they were there for the crowd's own good. And you'd better believe it, or you'll face prosecution under Patriot Act 2--or at least indefinite detention as a material witness.

After looking into pressing endangerment charges against Crawford (hey, John Ashcroft would have taken the case!), the cops are now insisting on doing interviews with public defenders only over the telephone.

ICE CREAM AND MAYBE A MOVIE: Michael Chihak, editor and publisher of the Gannett colony, the Tucson Citizen, really showed the pain-in-the-ass movie theaters when he announced that overworked Citizen staff would no longer wait for those troubling, daily movie times. And the theaters promptly yanked their ads. Hats off, Mike!

Chihak and his managers are still rewarding scoops generated by crack reporters with ice cream. Citizen brass has replaced the $2 coupon for a Baskin-Robbins scoop with a store coupon good for Ben & Jerry's.

EXTRA CURRICULAR: All those cops at Desert View High School recently have nothing to do with career day. They are not quelling a little disturbance. They've been around to question students about the murder of a transient near the southside school on East Valencia Road. Sources there say some kids have preyed upon transients who hang out in the shrinking desert north of the school. Some stayed in shallow arroyos and some sold papers in the median at Palo Verde Road. Students have taken what little money these "bums" have had and have otherwise abused them. Those foul games may have escalated with the killing of one man.

IT GROWS ON TREES: The City Council majority stamped OK to a nearly $1 billion budget that includes the loot for the city's pioneering (Tom Volgy, author) matching funds programs for candidates for mayor and City Council.

Mike Jenkins, the Ronstadt Party candidate for the Republican nomination in southeast Ward 4, popped into John C. Scott radioland recently and tried to deflect any hint that he is a hypocrite. He is on a slim-to-none mission to knock out two-term Democrat Shirley Scott. As a failed legislative candidate, Jenkins derided the state's Clean Elections that also provides political funds.

We agree that the city's program is much better than the troubled Clean Elections. But Jenkins went on to justify his plans to dip into the city's till by saying: "It comes from contributions, not taxes."


After city candidates raise the required amount from citizen contributors, the city kicks in a match. Nearly all of that money for the political campaign matching funds is coming from the city's tax-supported general fund. Of $464,601 in the matching funds program, $450,000 is coming right out of the general fund.

INTO THE DRINK: Tucson police officers surrounded a UA-area home last week and arrested 74 underage drinkers, teaching all of those kids a lesson: If you're going to drink, become a cop first. Then you can get loaded, drive your kids around and avoid prosecution altogether.

ILL-FITTING SUIT: Attorneys for the surviving family members of 14 illegal immigrants filed a $41 million wrongful death suit against the federal government last week, alleging that the government had failed to put out water for border crossers entering the country illegally.

Sure, the U.S. border policy is horribly flawed, but it's not as screwed up as the argument that migrant workers are forced to enter the country in a dangerous location because other areas are too well guarded. Sorry, but the federal government is not obligated to aid people who are illegally entering the country--though we're glad that officials have since allowed Humane Borders to put out some water stations.

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