The Skinny


Looking for insightful analysis of the primary election? Well, you're just gonna have to wait a week, because we're pumping out this edition before all the votes are counted.

But while we're awaiting results, we can gnaw on the bones of some last-minute shenanigans in Southern Arizona's most fascinating legislative race, the GOP primary in District 30. Why was it so interesting? It featured an open seat being vacated by Rep. Randy Graf, independent spending by a cutting-edge 527 nonprofit and a crusade by cultural conservatives to punish a moderate, Rep. Marian McClure, who was in the contest for the two House seats with three other Republicans--Jonathan Paton, Doug Sposito and David Gowan.

See if you can follow this shell game: McClure and Paton were raising money from private donors, while Sposito and Gowan were participating in the state's Clean Elections program. Although they didn't qualify for public funding until after early voting started, both Sposito and Gowan ended up with more than $42,000 for their campaigns.

Most of that--roughly $25,000--came in the form of matching funds they received based the amount of money McClure and Paton spent, as well as additional money courtesy of Mainstream Arizona, Arizona's very own 527 nonprofit advocacy group.

Mainstream Arizona sent out some lackluster pieces asking voters to "thank" McClure, even though they didn't cross the advocacy line and actually use the magic words "vote for." The group's leaders, including former lawmaker Jack Jewett and former attorney general Grant Woods, believed that the mailer wouldn't result in more matching funds for the publicly financed candidates.

But the Clean Elections crew disagreed, so Mainstream Arizona's spending on behalf of McClure poured a couple thousand additional dollars into the pocket of Gowan, who happens to be just the type of batty Republican the mainstream crowd would prefer to keep locked up in the attic.

As if that wasn't ironic enough, Gowan--whose conservative principles curiously didn't prevent him from signing up for political welfare--took the money and used it to aim a negative campaign at McClure, accusing the incumbent in mailers and phone messages of failing to secure the border.

Gowan's strategist in all this, as we reported last week, was Constantin Querard, a right-wing political operative who has recently found himself in hot water after hijacking tens of thousands of early ballots up in Maricopa County.

Last week, McClure struck back, filing a complaint with Clean Elections alleging that Gowan had illegally spent campaign dollars before he got his check from the state and that he was laundering his spending through Querard rather than dealing directly with vendors. McClure is having a hard time figuring out how Gowan could have turned around his campaign materials within days of getting his first check from the state without having production of yard signs and other propaganda underway. McClure's complaint remains under investigation.

Both dailies slept through the filing of the McClure's complaint, although they did finally find Querard's diabolical scheme in Maricopa County interesting enough to run short stories over the weekend. Oddly, both accounts neglected to mention that Querard had done work for Gowan and Graf.

Querard, by the way, has taken a part-time job with Arizona Right to Life, which evidently has no problem with hiring a contemptible little weasel who remains under investigation by the attorney general's office and under legal assault from the Maricopa County Republican Party. Because, y'know, they've got those high morals that the rest of us can't live up to.


Way back in February, the City Council faced the question of what to do about downtown's Greyhound Bus station. The current site, at downtown's eastern entrance, has to go so that the city can get on with the lengthy process of building a new Fourth Avenue underpass.

Staff originally suggested that the bus station be temporarily moved to vacant land near Interstate 10 and Congress Street until a permanent home could be built somewhere else. But the wise council decided it would be better to postpone moving the station until the permanent home was found, figuring it would be cheaper in the long run.

Now, seven months later, following the city's botched effort to relocate Greyhound to South Tucson, the council is back to the original recommendation. At its next meeting, the council is expected to discuss a temporary location at I-10 and Congress while a permanent location is built at Toole and Sixth avenues.

Here's the latest twist: At the request of the council, the city transportation department is having a consultant study the feasibility of combining both the Greyhound station and a local bus center in one facility. The new transit center would replace both the Greyhound station and Ronstadt Transit Center--sort of a goonie-golf version of NYC's Port Authority.

The new proposal comes from the Tucson Downtown Alliance, which wants to free up retail space along Congress Street. Because, after all, there's so much demand for retail space downtown now. ...

We hear the city will spend up to 150 days to study whether the Sixth and Toole Avenue location can accommodate a combo bus station. If the physics--to borrow from civil engineering parlance--don't work, the consultant will investigate other locations.

In other words, despite what we've heard from elected officials and city staffers, this ain't settled yet.


For several years, the Arizona Department of Transportation has been pushing to install a $1.5 million rock-containment project near a rest stop outside of Patagonia. Environmentalists and local residents--who gripe that the project will destroy valuable birding habitat, which attracts flocks of tourists--point out that transportation officials have yet to demonstrate there is any actual danger from rock slides onto State Route 82.

Nonetheless, the project will soon be underway, mostly for reasons related to potential liability. Years ago, the transportation department commissioned a study that showed the Patagonia pullout at the top of the list for potential rockfall problems. So even though nobody can cite an instance in which bouncing boulders actually caused an accident, the state agency had to act--because if they didn't, and some motorist was injured by a falling rock, the state could be on the hook for some major legal damages.

So the transportation department is moving ahead with the construction plans, once again attempting to protect us from every conceivable danger except real ones, like highway motorists jabbering on their cell phones.


The Skinny's favorite voter-registration movement, the Tucson Suffragettes, have another big night planned downtown this Saturday, Sept. 11. To commemorate the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Suffragettes will be found at the showing of Post No Bills at the Screening Room and art openings at Hotel Congress, Biblio, Heart 5, Vaudeville and the Flash Gallery. See this edition's City Week (page 28) for more details on this political action, and if you're not yet registered, remember that the deadline is Monday, Oct. 4.
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