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Mayor Bob Walkup; his Republican doggie, Councilman Fred Ronstadt; and their master, City Manager James Keene, continue to bitch that the city won't be getting enough in the Pima County's $732 million bond program that goes to voters in less than two months. Ronstadt goes so far as to say that the county is shafting city residents with money that was spent on the Skyline Drive-Ina Road area for the La Encantada shopping center. As if Freddy would have voted against La Encantada if he were on the Board of Supervisors. He isn't fooling anyone. He would have had the biggest pompons and cheered the loudest for La Encantada.

All of it is ironic, because Keene, Walkup and Freddy will be pushing a new Foothills annexation plan to be unveiled April 5. Let's suppose that a majority of people or owners of property north of the Rillito would agree to become part of the city--as unlikely as that sounds. Wouldn't Fred want county-financed, jazzed-up roads at a foothills shopping center they want to annex?

And what's it gonna cost to take care of those Foothills residents, anyhow? Keep in mind that Police Chief Richard Miranda has repeatedly said he can't serve the city as it is with his budget and his force.

The final irony in this is that the city should be happy to be getting the roughly $180 million in new projects under the county bond program. Why? The city could never do it alone. It's already bumping too close to its bond and borrowing limit--it has only $80 million in bonding capacity--and will get more than double what it could afford.


ANTI-EX-GAY

Wingspan, Tucson's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center, has put out a call for volunteers to protest a day-long conference at the First Southern Baptist Church, 445 E. Speedway Blvd., this Saturday, March 27.

According to the good folks at Wingspan, the conference they're protesting is titled "More Than Words: Walking People Out of Homosexuality," and is led by an ex-gay fellow who believes homosexuals can be "changed" straight. As part of the protest, Wingspan and its allies plan to make signs and "peacefully line the public sidewalk along Speedway Avenue--outside of church property--holding LGBT-affirming signs" from 8-9:30 a.m.

There are many facts The Skinny could point out about the goals of this "ex-gay" conference. It could point out that science seems to be showing more and more that homosexuality is at least partially genetically determined, meaning it can't be "fixed" via counseling, or therapy, or whatever. The Skinny could also point out that gays and lesbians are valid members of society who aren't in need of fixing. And that Jesus never once mentioned homosexuality, ever, period.

The Skinny could even mention the names of people who were damaged--to the point of suicide--by their efforts to become "ex-gay."

But except for mentioning these things to say that we won't be mentioning them (a sneaky trick, we know), we'll hold our horses. Instead, we'll just quote protest organizer Cathy Busha, because she sums it up better than we could:

"While we respect and encourage freedom of religion and expression, we are concerned that these untrue and uncompassionate messages cause real harm to LGBT people, particularly youth struggling with coming-out issues, and that these messages lay the foundation and provide justification for anti-LGBT discrimination, harassment and violence."

Amen, Cathy.

Oh, and one request, to both the protestors and the attendees of the conference: There's already enough hatred, violence and harm spewed in the name of religion every day, so keep it peaceful and calm, OK?


SPLITTING THE SHEETS IN ORO VALLEY

For their entire Oro Valley Town Council careers, Dick Johnson and Bart Rochman have been the Bobsy twins, voting almost identically--particularly on development issues. Some say it's because Rochman simply does what Johnson tells him; others claim to have even heard Bart admit to it.

Oro Valley voters fill five council offices on May 18: three seats for four-year terms and two seats for two-year terms. Johnson and Rochman have been pursuing the two-year seats with a joint campaign featuring joint material and joint signs promoting their joint experience. But in the March 8 primary, they came in third and fourth in a five-way race behind Conny Culver and Ken "KC" Carter.

Since then, both have been trying to tear the sheet. Johnson, who ran third, is moving to the far side of the lifeboat, while Rochman is looking for some new alliances. The issue is further clouded by the Golder Ranch Firefighters' endorsement of Culver and Rochman.

In a breathtaking show of independence for Oro Valley observers, Rochman also joined Mayor Paul Loomis and Councilwoman Paula Abbott in delaying the massive subsidy deal for the proposed Vestar development at Tangerine and Oracle roads, which is sort of like Rio Nuevo for the rich. The council votes again on the issue at the April 6 meeting.

Will Bart get back in line? Will Dick be able to deliver for his Scottsdale contributors? Will they cut their campaign signs in half? Will Oro Valley voters wise up and just flush them both? Stay tuned.


MARCH MADNESS

The first upset of the tourney struck in the Wesley Clark bracket earlier this month when Erik Trevino, a UA aerospace engineering senior and political Cinderella, beat gubernatorial aide and former state Sen. George Cunningham to win a spot as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July.

Trevino, a talented and unassuming San Antonio native, outmaneuvered Cunningham for a slot as a Pima County delegate for Clark, the retired U.S. Army general and former NATO Commander in Bosnia. Trevino did so, in part, by tapping the senior vote from Green Valley. See, you forgot about Democrats in that Republican Shangri-La.

Trevino was front and center (or any other place Clark needed him) when Clark toured Tucson, Sierra Vista and other points in Southern Arizona in the Arizona primary that was won by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Cunningham can do nothing but appreciate the clock cleaning, even though some of his officious groupies embarrassingly insisted on recounts. Trevino gave props to Cunningham, who once was a young whiz kid who served as a top legislative aide, assistant city manager of South Tucson, director of the Pima Association of Governments, UA administrator, chief of staff to Gov. Rose Mofford, member of the House of Representatives, state senator, and now the chief budget adviser to Gov. Janet Napolitano. He also failed to unseat Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe (2000) and missed, sadly, in his bid for the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2002.

Trevino, also a part-timer with the Alliance of Construction Trades, broke into local politics with the failed Luis Gonzales campaign in the crowded Democratic primary for the new Congressional District 7 two years ago. Raúl Grijalva easily won that race, but Trevino learned from Gonzales and Jesse Lugo, an unsuccessful candidate for City Council and the Legislature, to absorb, never whine and to move on.

He has. He is expanding his new network with Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez and that Democrat's patron, Dan Eckstrom, who tore tortillas with Trevino at Rigo's last week before the youngster headed off to Washington, D.C., and a visit with Grijalva.


BIG CHILL

Political socialite Rodney Glassman is streamlining his Tucson operations with the sale (by his super-rich Fresno farming family) of the Gateway Ice Center to David Williamson, of the super-rich Alberta oil and land family.

The key question is whether Williamson will replace the huge Glassman portrait that hangs above the rink entrance like some make-believe Commissioner of Hockey.

Williamson is scheduled to take over in mid-April. Glassman used his ice palace to curry favor with pols, dishing out tickets to their favorite groups. Williamson is no stranger to the same pols, having sucked up to each and every one while threatening to blade and grade the Canoa Ranch, south of Green Valley. He intimidated Pima County enough to get Raúl Grijalva, who asserts an ancestral claim to the land because he dad once worked there, to spend $6 million to buy up a big portion of the ranch. Williamson and Fairfield Homes were left with a big chunk to develop. And he and his dad have continued to feed Grijalva's congressional campaign bank.

We have picked on Glassman a few times, and even bestowed a special Get out of Town honor on him late last year. But we must salute the boy. First, we noticed that the Weekly was still available at Gateway Ice Center at a recent visit to the rink. And second, he has remained polite.

Still, few employees or skaters will shed tears when Rodney skates off the ice.


PLAYING THE FIELD

The issue of the day was the Equal Rights Amendment, so when a busy little reporter buzzed up to Rudy Castro, onetime member of Tucson City Council and the Pima College board, to get an assessment of the ERA, the coach promptly replied that one must look not only at the ERA (earned run average) but also win-loss records.

You gotta love The Coach. Even if you never played for Castro, creator of the Cholla High School baseball program in 1969, he's still The Coach.

A Barrio Anita native, Castro was a multi-sport star at Tucson High School. He and his crew never lost a game in state back-to-back basketball championship seasons in 1948 and 1949. He also was an infielder for a state championship baseball team before going on to serve in the U.S. Marines and then on the UA basketball and baseball teams.

The Coach will be honored April 17, first with the dedication of the Rudy A. Castro Cholla High School Baseball field and then with a roast and toast dinner. Tickets are $25 and benefit the Cholla Alumni Foundation's scholarship fund. Contact Jesse Lugo, LugoAz@msn.com, or Fred Riesgo at 512-5934.

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