The Skinny

MARQUEZ MYSTERY: No wonder Richard Yetwin, who has shared in the publicly funded fortune piled up by DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy, was tight-lipped about why U.S. District Judge Alfredo C. Marquez abruptly took himself off the historic Tucson Unified School District desegregation case. Yetwin declined to say last week that a granddaughter of Judge Marquez recently saddled up the DeConcini firm to represent her. That's fine. It's actually refreshing in Tucson when we don't hear some big-mouth lawyer brag about what clients they've picked up.

And the conflict? That was conveniently pinned on the judge. He bailed. You can bet Yetwin's firm wasn't about to tell its new client: "Gee, we'd love to represent you, but we can't unless until we tell our friends at TUSD that we can no longer represent them."

As long as TUSD keeps segregation alive, it can drain taxpayers of $60 million a year for "desegregation" efforts that after 25 years have produced the startling achievement of nearly all-white schools in some parts of town and nearly all-minority schools in others.

As previously noted, this case is out of the hands of Marquez for the first time in two decades. And Judge David Bury, who won the courthouse lottery for the deseg case, is a Bush appointee who may not take kindly to TUSD's all-tax, all-spend and no-results way of doing things.

FINAL ROUNDS: The friendly folks at the National Rifle Association held a big rally this week to support Democratic Vice Mayor Shirley Scott and Republican City Council candidate Armando Rios.

The NRA pointedly left off any mention of Republican Mayor Bob Walkup or his Democratic rival, former Mayor Tom Volgy. Whew! That ought to allow the mayor's wife to breathe easy.

While supporting Scott in her quest for a third term against Republican Mike Jenkins in southeast Ward 4, Todd Rathner, a member of the NRA Board of Directors, said she "has consistently defended your right to bear arms under intense pressure from anti-gun members of her own party and Mayor Walkup."

This may come as a shock, but the NRA does not think Volgy could do them any more harm than Walkup.

Rios, the NRA says, is "running against one of the most anti-gun, anti-freedom politicians Arizona has ever seen ... it's payback time. Now is the time to step up and throw this thug out of office."

Rios has an uphill battle against the lucky José Ibarra, who in all likelihood would not have survived a Democratic primary in westside Ward 1.

Ibarra picked up support from his onetime mentor, Congressman Raúl Grijalva, who sent out a tardy letter denouncing the negative campaign that Independent People Like You is running against Volgy, Ibarra and the light rail-themed transportation initiatives.

"What I find particularly offensive," the letter signed by Grijalva states, "is the anonymous political action groups, backed financially by special interests, which rather than win a fair fight have chosen the cowardly path of political smear and sleaze in an attempt to defeat José."

Spoken like the past master that Grijalva is. The campaign waged by Independent People Like You is disgusting, particularly in its lame and wholly inaccurate recitations of Volgy's record. Ibarra, though he has political instincts, has in fact been a lousy councilman--lousy to his own ward and its neighborhoods.

Grijalva failed to denounce "anonymous political action groups -- with their cowardly paths of political smear and sleaze" last year when his backers defamed Elaine Richardson, the former state senator and chief rival to Grijalva in his initial congressional race. Two of the dirtiest pieces of campaign mail against her were produced by such cowards that they were sent from faked or stolen addresses.

REAL KEENE: City Manager James Keene ripped the hell out of Arizona Department of Environmental Quality bureaucrats for not telling City Hall and Tucson Water wonks about gasoline pollution from Kinder Morgan's busted fuel line on the westside.

But hey, it turns out Kinder Morgan and the state environment officials had advised Kommander Keene's underlings at Tucson Water about a big puddle--10 feet deep--of gasoline sitting atop underground water.

Jay Gonzales, the city's spin nurse, offered a truly fabulous explanation during the City Council's emergency session on the pipeline and possible water contamination on Thursday. In comments repeated in the Arizona Daily Star, Gonzales, a former Star reporter, said the notification was brief and technical in nature.

There you have it! By all means, throw that brief and technical stuff about groundwater contamination in the trash!

TANKING: It's entirely up to the 7,000 voters in the Tanque Verde Unified School District whether to toss Dr. Sherrylyn Young from office as she approaches the final year of her maiden voyage in politics.

A new high school is the surface catalyst for the Nov. 4 recall that pits Young against Karen Close, a newcomer to Tanque Verde but an old hand from her many years on a Washington school board.

Support for a high school seemed easy at first. Any district trying to gain autonomy and sever ties with the foul Tucson Unified School District should be applauded. Young, a retired OB-GYN who ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1988, was elected to the school board three years ago in large part to bring the high school issue to resolution. A non-binding referendum showed support in 2001. But it has been a train wreck ever since, with dirty real estate deals and developer bail outs--including for a parcel that enriched Rodger Ford over the course of several hours but was not even within district boundaries.

Young has fallen in with two board members, Doug Hughes and Lisa South, who will likely end up costing Young her political career. They've gotta go.

A new site has been selected for a high school. But it is a real estate deal that also has too many unresolved questions. Young is facing voter enmity that actually is meant for Hughes, a meddling and smug strongman who is hanging Young out to dry. Her key backers from the 2000 campaign are now lining up for the chance to give her the boot. She has behaved badly at some meetings, but in all fairness, she has been subjected to wildly juvenile heckling.

Amazingly, student performance has not suffered in the most divisive school system since the rotten Amphi majority was recalled across town in 2000.

We thought the recall would be a cinch to support. Close is a fine candidate who has solid, positive ideas. She also has the right temperament. But then we saw Joel T. Ireland, the president of the TUSD school board, lurking in the audience of Sunday's Young-Close forum.

Ireland, in office since 1989, was pulled in by the Close camp. Not a smart move. He and his TUSD cronies are reasons enough for Tanque Verde to eventually build its own high school and quit paying TUSD for the handling of Tanque Verde high schoolers. But who knows? It could be that Tanque Verde parents are happy that their kids are happy at Sabino "High."

SCURRY-AN: It is just us, or is the latest ballyhoo from Pima Community College football coach Jeff Scurran about playing a game in Nogales this week a tad ironic? PCC ditched Santa Cruz County this year, ending its many years of providing classes there in a financial agreement with Santa Cruz. But the savior Scurran, who draws his players from all over the United States and even Germany (a kicker), tells our friend Greg Hansen at the Arizona Daily Star that "it's a trial balloon. We're going to have a fiesta after the game. It'll be fun."

For whom?

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