The Skinny


Those poor ol' car dealers! It appears that auto brokers are just driving them to the poorhouse. Fortunately, the Arizona Legislature is here to rescue them from the dangers of competition.

Turns out there are some people who don't much like dealing with car salesmen. (We know--it's hard to imagine.) Those nuts contact an auto broker--like the folks at AAA Arizona--to negotiate the deal and deliver the wheels.

That means car dealers don't have a chance to play their fun negotiating games and offer all those little extras like a bumper-to-bumper triple-deluxe Turtle Wax warranty. So lawmakers have stepped into the breach with the House Bill 2386--aka the Jim Click Protection Act--which would ensure the buyer have some sort of contact with a dealer. It's being sold as a safety issue; if buyers don't meet with the sellers, they might not be able to figure out how to work the seatbelts! And besides, car dealers have to fill out all sorts of paperwork in the wake of Sept. 11. If we don't pass this bill, then the terrorists win.

Or at least that's what all the lobbyists swarming over this piece of crap are arguing. One of them is Matt Salmon, the onetime congressman who is now chair of the Arizona Republican Party--and who will evidently do just about anything for a buck. The way Salmon is leaning on lawmakers to support it is Exhibit A in why lobbyists shouldn't be running political parties.

The Jim Click Protection Act has already passed the House, but back then, it was just a bill saying you had to get your neighbor's permission if you were going to park a car for sale on the front lawn.

It wasn't until it got into the Senate that it was transformed into its current form and passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee. (Why the Transportation Committee instead of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee? Because Commerce would have killed it.)

Two Republicans on the Transportation Committee--Carolyn Allen and Thayer Verschoor--voted against the bill. You can thank Tucson Democrat Vic Soltero for casting the swing vote to keep it alive.

As of press time, the bill had to pass the Rules Committee before going before the full Senate.


The Legislature has missed its self-imposed--and delusional--deadline to adjourn within 82 days and has yet to produce a budget, but lawmakers have been plenty busy. A round-up of recent action:

· A $50 million radar system for the border: Alive.

· Ban on selling human eggs: Alive. Sell 'em while you can!

· Ban on feeding wildlife: Dead.

· Proposal to put American flags in all K-12 and college classrooms: Alive. Open your flag store now!

· Eliminating the refresher course for carrying a concealed weapon: Alive.

· A one-hour cut in the time spent in traffic school: Passed and signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano. Big win for the people of Arizona!

· Letting police bust illegal immigrants on the charge of trespassing on public or private land: Alive.

· Giving married couples preference over singles when adopting: Alive.

· A resolution supporting the preservation of the Fantasy Island bike trail on state trust land: Alive.

· Letting people practice law without going to law school: Dead.

· Extending downtown's Rio Nuevo: Alive.

· A vehicle-registration break for seniors: Dead.


Looks like the Center for Arizona Policy may be having a little kink in their petition drive to ban gay unions and other forms of "counterfeit marriage" in Arizona.

Last week, Cathi Herrod, CAP's director of policy, sent out a frantic e-mail message urging folks to pick up the pace, or the group wouldn't be able to collect the minimum 183,917 signatures to put the Protect Marriage Amendment on the 2006 ballot.

"Unless we start collecting more signatures quickly, the Protect Marriage Amendment could fail to make the ballot for lack of signatures," Herrod warned.

The Center for Arizona Policy is having a tough time hiring signature gatherers and is relying on a volunteer effort. Herrod urged supporters to collect signatures, turn in completed petitions and pray.

"We can't let Arizona be the first state in which a marriage amendment is defeated!" wailed Herrod in her e-mail.

Actually, we think it'd be just fine if that happened.


More news from candidates seeking to replace retiring Congressman Jim Kolbe: Democrat Gabby Giffords made an end-o'-the-reporting-period appeal to supporters, urging them to "grow a saguaro" in Washington by helping her raise $5,000. By the end of the week, she'd collected more than twice that.

Something tells us that when we see those FEC reports later this month, Giffords will be the leader over her fellow Democrats, who include former TV news anchor Patty Weiss, airline pilot Jeff Latas, TUSD board member Alex Rodriguez, retired federal worker Francine Schacter and Dwight Leister, who has distinguished himself among the competition by declining a request for a TV interview because the experience would be too stressful. Good luck with the rest of the campaign, Dwight.

In other Scramblewatch news: Latas, a former Air Force fighter pilot, announced he had picked up the endorsement of former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who lost both legs and part of one arm in the Vietnam War.

"When the paid political assassins come after the Democratic candidates in this race, and they will, Col. Jeff Latas is the one whose battle-tested courage and conviction to serve his country will carry him to victory against any Republican candidate," Cleland said in a statement.

Latas, who was scheduled to open up his campaign headquarters earlier this week at 3325 N. First Ave., said he was honored to have the endorsement of a "real all-American hero."


Big-shot Republicans all took a pass at challenging Gov. Janet Napolitano this year, leaving a field of mystery candidates. Get to know 'em before they become heavy hitters at a candidate forum this Saturday, April 8, featuring Don Goldwater, Len Munsil, Jan Smith Flores, Mike Harris and Gary Tupper. Get to Catalina High, 3645 E. Pima St., for a meet-and-greet at 8 a.m. followed by a two-hour debate moderated by Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll at 9 a.m.


Early voting for the Regional Transportation Authority's plan to spend $2.1 billion over the next 20 years to fix streets, increase bus service, install a downtown trolley and build sidewalks starts next Thursday, April 13. It can all be yours, if you're finally willing to pay an extra half-cent sales tax.

Still trying to figure out what you think about the plan?

RTA booster Steve Farley debates RTA critic Ken O'Day on Wednesday, April 12, on KUAT-TV's Arizona Illustrated at 6:30 p.m. and midnight. Moderators are Arizona Illustrated anchor Bill Buckmaster and your Skinny scribe, Jim Nintzel.

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