LANGUAGE BARRIERFrom the "If at First You Don't Succeed..." files: Republican lawmakers last week sent two bills aimed at resolving the ongoing battle over educating English-language learners to Gov. Janet Napolitano, who vetoed them both. While the battle goes on, the state is facing fines of a half-million dollars a day. But since they're going into a fund that will pay for programs for English-language learners, what's the rush?
Earlier this week, right around press time, Napolitano offered her compromise, which even included the controversial corporate tuition tax credit, which she wants to dedicate to English-language learners. (Check out this week's feature, "Trust Fund," page 22, for details on that dispute.)
Whether this will do much to ease tensions at the Capitol remains to be seen. Relations soured even more this week after Napolitano used a line-item veto to cancel out parts of a pay-raise package Republicans sent her last week. Napolitano liked the wage hikes, but didn't like the part about stripping state workers of their civil-service protection. Now GOP leaders are threatening to sue Napolitano, saying she abused the powers of the line-item veto.
At this rate, we're in for a long session. And we're going to need a bigger judiciary.
GARBAGE POLITICSTucson Mayor Bob Walkup made another one of those State of the City speeches last week, which he launched by letting us know he was not running for Jim Kolbe's congressional seat.
Walkup reassured the Chamber of Commerce crowd that "the state of the city is strong." Now that's a relief.
But Bob did warn that the city has quite the to-do list: We need to pave more residential streets, put more cops on the beat, build more parks and revitalize more of downtown.
And, he insisted, we're not going to do it without a garbage fee, which brings in somewhere around $20 million a year.
"The desire to reduce or eliminate the garbage fee is understandable, but the dollar we save today will cost us and our children many more dollars later," Walkup said. "We must keep revenues stable and begin significant, sustainable investments in areas of critical need."
Whether the Democrats on the council, who complained mightily about the garbage fee last year, decide to keep the $14-a-month charge remains to be seen. But so far, the Dems' proposals for spending cuts are few and far between. (The Democrats have managed to find new spending priorities, like a half-million bucks for JobPath. And they've been pretty good about cutting back fees, like the family-friendly plan to trim the cost of a beer permit in city parks.)
Bob also leaned heavily on the idea of more regional government, pitching the notion of "a new commission to address our water and wastewater issues in a comprehensive and regional way."
Hey, maybe we'd better wait to see how voters respond to that regional transportation plan before trying put control of our water resources under Tucson Water. (Does anyone really believe that Tucson Water would surrender authority to the smaller operations around the valley?)
SCRAMBLEWATCH: INS AND OUTS
State Rep. Steve Huffman announced this week that he was jumping into the Congressional District 8 race to replace retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe. Huffman, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, says he won't resign his legislative seat while he pursues the congressional seat.
Huffman will be battling Mike Hellon--the former Republican national committeeman who announced last week--for funding from the business community and Republican establishment.
That's good news for Republican Randy Graf, who has secured the right wing of the party with his pro-gun/ anti-abortion/secure-the-border platform.
Also joining the GOP primary: dark-horse Republican Frank Antenori, a former Green Beret who now works for Raytheon. Antenori, who moved to Tucson after his retirement from the military in June 2004, has seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq and other global hot spots.
On his Web site--www.vote4frank.com--Antenori says that during the current Iraq war, he "received a Bronze Star for Valor for personally destroying two armored vehicles and their crews with anti-tank missiles, another light skinned vehicle with a machine gun and disabled another with shot from a sniper rifle."
We have no doubt Antenori could silently kill each of his GOP opponents, along with smart-ass punks in the media, if it came to that.
Other candidates in the GOP primary: auto mechanic Mike Jenkins and local physician Wayne Peate.
Officially out: Republican Bruce Ash, who tells The Skinny that his dad's health problems will keep him from the fray.
On the Democratic side of the race: Former news anchor Patty Weiss made a whistle-stop tour of the district to formally kick off her campaign; TUSD Board member Alex Rodriguez formally launched a Web site ("Photos include Alex in diverse leadership roles such as working at the Pentagon with General George W. Casey Jr., current Commanding General of Multi-National Forces in Iraq," boasts the press release); and both Jeff Latas supporters got really mad at The Skinny for not mentioning last week that's he's clearly the best candidate in the race. We're certainly sorry for the oversight
Another candidate entering the fray: Green Valley resident Bill Katzel, best known for sporting a stylish red-white-and-blue jacket at meetings of the Regional Transportation Authority and other jurisdictions he decides to harass.
Katzel declared his independent candidacy at a recent meeting of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. In a press release, he said he would not be collecting any campaign contributions so that he would be "beholden ONLY to the constituents of District 8 and their respective ISSUES. ... Like the character in the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, my integrity and office will not be for sale."
Except in the movie, Mr. Smith actually went to Washington ...
CLEANED OUTRepublican David Burnell Smith was finally booted from the Legislature after the Arizona Supreme Court took a look at his case and determined he wasn't likely to prevail in court. Smith has vowed to win back his seat this year, but we're not sure voters in his Scottsdale district will buy his spin of how he was a victim of an out-of-control agency.
Is there more trouble brewing on the Clean Elections front? We hear whispers that Attorney General Terry Goddard is weighing whether to bring indictments against candidates who used misused public funds to win legislative office.