SCHROEDINGER'S SKINNYOur ultra-efficient operation forces us to go to press before we'll know the results of Pima County's $732 million bond election, but through the magic of choose-your-own-analysis, we're gonna interpret the results anyway. Remember, both analyses are perfectly valid on a quantum level until the ballot box is opened.
Here's how it works: If the bonds pass, read the next Skinny nugget--"The Best of Times"--and skip the following one. If the bonds fail, skip "The Best of Times" and proceed directly to "The Worst of Times."
THE BEST OF TIMESImportant reminder: Only read this section if the bond package won on Tuesday. If the bonds failed, skip ahead to "The Worst of Times."
Pima County voters did the right thing earlier this week: They invested in cops and courts, in hospital rooms and clinics, and most of all, in open space and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. The greens were certainly the big winner on Tuesday, persuading the community to support a package that was more than five times the size of the most recent bond prop back in '97.
Indeed, between the passage of the bonds and the recent rapprochement between Mayor Bob Walkup and Supervisor Sharon Bronson, we think it may be a new dawn in the Old Pueblo. Is it possible that voters are ready to trust the county again? Does this mean a half-cent sales tax for transportation is right around the corner? Will the lambs lie down with the Sabino Canyon mountain lions? We know what Mayor Bob would tell us: Heck yeah!
The loyal opposition turned their lonely eyes to Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce president Jack Camper, who--as usual--talked a lot and fumbled his chance at glory. A couple of faxes and a letter to the editor were the best you could do, Jack? Even the Libertarians put up signs and spent more than a hundred bucks.
The remainder of the opposition boiled down to City Councilman Fred Ronstadt, who really needs to get a grip, and property-rights Republican Barney Brenner, who was recently spotted walking around with an anti-bond sandwich board--kinda like an "end-is-nigh" preacher who has read too many Left Behind books. Brenner took a break from his effort to oust Bronson in November to campaign against the bonds. We hear interest in Brenner among the money guys is rapidly evaporating, which means he may have to finance his own campaign, like he did in 2000, or pack it in.
THE WORST OF TIMESImportant reminder: Only read this section if the bond package lost on Tuesday. Otherwise, skip ahead to our next nugget of gossip, "Willing and Abel."
Pima County voters did the right thing earlier this week when they slapped Pima County's outstretched hand, finally saying no to yet another attempt to strip-mine the wallets of hard-working taxpayers.
Given the way the county has squandered the public's trust on previous bond issues, as well as the way that property taxes continue their stratospheric climb, it's past time that voters drew the line. Not even a slick campaign brought to you by a combination of no-growth-ers and the bulldozer lobby was able to fool voters into backing this monstrous $732 million turkey.
The defeat showed the political savvy of guys like Republican Barney Brenner. The property-rights activist has invigorated his campaign to oust District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson, who nearly lost to Brenner just four years ago. Bronson might want to start packing now.
So how did this rag-tag band of rebels knock down the bonds? The bond committee's under-the-radar campaign was headed for certain victory when, out of nowhere, disaster struck. Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce president Jack Camper, with the style and quiet dignity only he can display, wrote the most spot-on condemnation of government waste this state has ever seen. This document, quickly dispatched from Chamber HQ on St. Mary's Road to Arizona Daily Star editor Jim Kiser, had such an immediate and devastating effect on public support for the bonds that it will forever more be remembered simply as "The Letter." Published just one day before the election, Camper's missive exposed Pima County as a corrupt and bloated government. With the facade of county efficiency stripped away, support for the bond package crumbled into dust. Congrats on a political masterstroke, Jack!
WILLING AND ABELInterim TUSD Superintendent Roger Pfeuffer took some hits here recently, and it should be noted that he has made a few appropriate moves. He stripped predecessor Stan Paz's pet, Toni Cordova, of her preposterously inflated title of chief of staff and put her back in public relations. Patti Lopez has been called back to high-level duty, and Paz's second-in-command, Marla Motove, will have more time to shop for expensive clothes, because she has been taken down a peg.
TUSD's usually inept board, meanwhile, has ratified the appointment of Abel Morado as principal of the flagship Tucson High School. This is a good move. Morado has performed well at Santa Rita High School and did a stint in Paz's upper chamber. He is ready and, of all TUSD administrators, best equipped to run Tucson High.
He'll have his hands full. Who knows what counselor will show up in a porn magazine, what high administrator will be granted a pass through drug court, or whose cousin will be hired? It's always Fast Times at Tucson High.
Just last week, students who were constantly harassed by campus monitor liaison Tino Perez howled when South Tucson police busted Perez on charges of selling crack cocaine. Perez brought his severely mentally handicapped daughter, age 8, along for the alleged drug deal, police said. Perez is a fixture at Tucson High, on the payroll since 1991 and in with the hip crowd of administrators and teachers who hang at Rocky Point.
Meanwhile, a Tucson cop was forced to make an intervention of sorts at Tucson High this month. A teacher asked the policeman to talk to a class about the perils of drinking or getting high and driving. The cop noticed that the teacher was bombed and took him outside to the woodshed.
Bueno suerte, Abel.
SEE YA IN COURTU.S. District Court Judge John M. Roll, a new Tucson Weekly fan, has set the start of the retrial of the wrongful arrest/death case brought by Tyrone Johnson's survivors for the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Jurors could not reach a required unanimous verdict (four of the 10 apparently believed Johnson was more than 50 percent responsible for his death in August 1999) on May 4.
Roll told lawyers in a hearing on Monday that he wants to seal a photo of the chart jurors used during deliberations to allocate percentages of fault to Johnson, police, paramedics and EMTs for possible appellate review. And he wants to bundle up Weekly coverage of the trial and to include a question, for members of the next jury pool: Do they read the Weekly or, better yet, do they "subscribe to it"?
Don't look for a settlement. It's too lucrative for the city's defense team. The city's lawyer, Daryl Audilett, has been paid $198,115 as of the last billing, and other city costs, including for experts, have exceeded $51,000, according to figures provided by City Hall spokesman Jay Gonzales.
PCC SHELL GAMEPima Community College brass is trying to outrun criticism of its burgeoning football budget by imposing a $2.50-per-credit student fee that, it is hoped, will cover the athletic budget without prolonging a subsidy from Pima County taxpayers.
PCC's whole property tax scheme is a scam that school founders promised would not occur. Property owners now pay $1.49 per $100 of assessed valuation. That works out to $149 a year for the owner of a home on the tax rolls for $100,000.
And Pima's dependence on property taxes shows no sign of letting up. Pima College, just like Pima County, increases its take of taxes even when rates dip, as they did slightly this year. Pima is raking in $3.2 million more in property taxes.
Not all of that is bad. The improvements authorized by voters in the 1995 bond election are pleasant enough, and they would be even greater if PCC Board Member Brenda Even would forget, once and for all, trying to stuff her wellness center businesses into PCC facilities. It's a conflict of interest that Even has carried over from the TUSD board, where she sat for two terms.
PCC board member Scott Stewart, a Libertarian who spends the public's money like an FDR Democrat, and his colleagues rolled over for Jeff Scurran, the pied-piper of football self promotion, when they authorized the school's first-ever football program three years ago.
Stewart and the board cowered before the runty Scurran and allowed him to brand the team with its own name, the Storm, even though all other PCC teams compete under the Aztec brand. Stewart and his colleagues justified the football expense and the dangerous dance with Scurran's jumbo ego by rationalizing that local talent would be used.
Scurran's go-to guy is Doug Holland. (Flunking Sabino High players remember how Holland kept them eligible when Scurran had his "Program" there.) They scurried to get players from all over the country, Canada and even Germany. Holland now is the athletic director at PCC's East Campus, home of the Storm. That's a superfluous job. PCC has an athletic director, Randall Moore.
We really enjoyed last season's gushy coverage in the dailies about star Storm players from Illinois, Washington, Ohio, Florida, Kansas and other states. Some were buried under academic trouble, but they signed up for incredible course loads--some more than 20 units a semester--and miraculously "got right."
The Storm Web site brags about 49 signees for the 2004 season. Ten are not from Tucson; seven are from out of state. More telling, according the Storm's Web site, is that 11 of the 19 players who are signed up to move on with their careers at four-year schools were not from Arizona.
Scurran has already planted his strategic whines among his agents that the Storm will suffer because he'll be limited to locals. But Scurran has repeatedly snubbed talented locals who would have enjoyed staying and playing here at least for two years. Several ended up at those small, four-year schools in Colorado and New Mexico that are members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.