The Skinny

COOKING UP A STORM: Joe and Christine Andaloro have returned from a New York exile amid much fanfare for their underdone cooking show Dish It Up that appears on KGUN Channel 9 Sunday afternoons.

In and out of a football-induced coma, we tripped over the show on Dec. 14 and were positively shocked to see Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, with a fab new 'do, fixing up what she called a "fantasy salad."

We'll pass.

The show, the first of two parts, was taped at the home of Tucson lawyer Lloyd Rabb III, known to his friends as Chip.

The Andaloros once dished it up at a little deli at Fort Lowell Road and Campbell Avenue. They went first class on the electric upgrades. But they failed to meet the payment schedule set out in a promissory note and were hauled into court by Amanti Electric Co. to pay up. Records in Pima County Superior Court show the Andaloros satisfied the Amanti debt.

Take a number.

Their February 1996 sale of the Italian deli was so problematic that lawyers got involved again, on matters including an item that LaWall, a two-term Democrat, usually brags she is hungry to avenge: bad checks.

The Andaloros hired Edward Marsh to peddle the deli, and when he found buyers in experienced restaurant operators Jim and Maria Sklias, Marsh was to be paid $8,000. Marsh's commission agreement, signed by the Andaloros on Feb. 19, 1996, called for $3,000 to be paid at the close of escrow, $2,000 60 days later and the remaining $3,000 within 120 days.

Marsh got stiffed.

The Skliases agreed to pay $88,000 for Andaloros deli, with $35,000 down and $53,000 at $1,000 a month, according to a copy of the agreement included with court papers. Just before the sale, a pizza oven was stolen, and the Andaloros agreed to chop the price by $8,000. Christine Andaloro wrote a check to Maria Sklias for that $8,000 on Feb. 23, 1996.

It did more than bounce. It ricocheted back from First Interstate Bank, the Wells Fargo predecessor, stamped "Account Closed." Several months into the purchase contract, the Skliases withheld monthly payments.

They also enlisted Michael Vingelli, a been-around-the-block Tucson lawyer, who filed suit on their behalf as well as for Marsh, the broker, on Aug. 26, 1996.

The Andaloros responded with David Lipartito, who filed a counterclaim alleging that the Skliases disposed of equipment without their knowledge.

Lipartito also asserted this defense: Christine Andaloro explained to Maria Sklias that she and Joe were having financial problems and that the $8,000 check should not be deposited until the Andaloro home sold.

Vingelli replied that the check was not dishonored for "insufficient funds," but because it was written on a closed account. That violated state law, Vingelli said in court papers.

The pizza wars stalled when the Andaloros split for NYC. When push came to shove in May 1997, neither the Andaloros nor Lipartito showed before Judge Michael Alfred, a wonderfully fair but no-nonsense jurist. Indeed, the Andaloros failed to file a response to Vingelli's motion for summary judgment, and Alfred ruled on June 25, 1997 that the Andaloros owed the Skliases $16,000 (twice the amount for issuing a check on a closed account) plus 10 percent interest per annum; Marsh was owed $5,000 plus interest. Alfred also ordered the Andaloros to pay Vingelli $4,422 for his trouble.

The Skliases still have not been paid.

The case also exposed one bit of shockingly bad lawyering. Searching for the Andaloros, who boasted about a similar cooking show in New York and were easily found via the Internet, the Skliases were forced to enlist some New York lawyers picked by Vingelli. They had the guts to report back, with a bill, that they could not find either Jim or Maria Sklias in New York!

That's because they--the plaintiffs, not the defendants--never left Tucson. They now operate a sunny Greek spot near the University of Arizona.

BEHIND THE MIKE: For all the talk about the loss of relevant talk radio under a remake of KTKT 990-AM, focus has been diverted away from the man who makes several of the shows click. He is Mark Ulm, producer of the John C. Scott Show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, and Inside Track, the Emil Franzi vehicle that has followed Scott for an hour except for Thursday. He also has helped Alan Zeman sautÉ his weekly Dinner Hour on KTKT.

Ulm, the son of John C. Scott personality John Scott Ulm or Ronald J. Ulm or whatever his name is, is a talented, creative, polite, earnest, fun and hardworking dude who collars both newsmakers and callers to the shows. He will be critical to the success of a new John C. Scott venture--anchoring morning news during the week and hosting a Saturday talk show--and the new Franzi show that will precede Scott on Saturdays and also air on Sundays.

HOCKEY NITE IN GLENDALE: And, according to a wildly incorrect headline above a wildly misleading article in the Dec. 26 Arizona Daily Star, its all free.

Put reporter Barrett Marson in the penalty box for this lead: "Tucsonans taking an excursion to the Phoenix valley will not be socked with the bill to provide a luxurious new home for the Coyotes pro hockey team."

The 17,653-seat arena, which pulled the Coyotes out of America West in downtown Phoenix, "will not cost taxpayers," claimed the headline. A subhead was pure squid on ice: "City of Glendale, team owners footing the bill."

Please, Daily Star, tell us: Who is the city of Glendale? Who provides the money to the city of Glendale?

Though he swallowed the shot from Glendale City Hall, Marson managed to contradict himself and the headline at several points in the story, saying the bonds for Glendale's share of the new arena will be repaid with sales taxes collected at the arena and other venues in the area. Sounds like a taxing district and tax-increment financing.

Taxes in Glendale may not have immediately gone up. They might not increase specifically for the arena. But taxes from real live taxpayers, be they fans from the Valley or little ol' Tucson, are sure as hell paying Glendale's share.

We understand the point that unlike Bank One Ballpark, which required a quarter-cent sales tax throughout Maricopa County, the Glendale arena debt is not be retired with new or outside taxes.

SNAKES FOR SALE: Jay Zucker is looking to either sell the Tucson Sidewinders or seek a major cash infusion for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate that he purchased four years ago. Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan is interested, but Zucker refuses to swing on Ryan's plan to move the club.

SO LONG, BETTY: Betty McKasson was full of and bigger than life. She was a singer, Phi Beta Kappa, social activist, mother and grandmother, and a Republican. She died on Christmas at age 86. Many newcomers may have known her only as Molly's mom. Molly McKasson, the playwright, thespian, politician, teacher and journalist, served two terms, from 1989-1997, on the City Council from central Ward 6. She also lost her Democratic bid for the mayor's office in 1999. Betty McKasson was utterly unpretentious and a kick in the pants. Along with condolences to family and friends, we offer a big round of applause to a life well lived.