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TROUBLE WITH CONCENTRATION

Republican gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater made national headlines last week after The Arizona Republic's Spanish edition reported he wanted to put illegal immigrants in concentration camps so they can build a border wall for us.

U.S. Sen. John McCain wasted no time in firing off a statement condemning Goldwater's proposal: "I strongly denounce Don Goldwater's deeply offensive suggestion that illegal immigrants should be incarcerated in concentration camps along the border, and pressed into forced labor. That Mr. Goldwater is either unaware of or indifferent to the loaded symbolism, injustice and un-Americanism of his 'plan' to address the many serious issues caused by illegal immigration reveals his flaws as a candidate, and a stunning lack of respect for the basic values of a generous and decent society. I hope that Arizona Republicans, no matter how passionate they feel about the issue, will not want Barry Goldwater's Republican Party to be associated with such an obviously inappropriate messenger."

Congressman Jim Kolbe was similarly appalled: "The very suggestion of establishing a system of 'concentration camps' to hold undocumented persons crossing the border is utterly abhorrent and offensive to all fair-minded Americans. ... If true, he has demonstrated his complete unworthiness for public office, and I am confident will be soundly rejected by Republicans from the party of Barry Goldwater, who consistently demonstrated his compassion and respect for all people of whatever race, ethnicity or economic circumstance."

And it's not like Kolbe is likely to be all excited by the idea of Len Munsil's candidacy, so he must have been really disgusted to get mixed up in the middle of this fight.

Goldwater, a proud member of the Minuteman movement, didn't actually use the words "concentration camps," but he has advocated incarcerating illegal immigrants in tents along the border and forcing them to build a wall. Which, when you think about it, sounds more like a World War II-era internment camp, with a vigorous exercise program. And we all know what a proud moment in U.S. history that was!

Details on this idiotic and contemptuous idea--like how security would be maintained in these camps--have yet to emerge from the Goldwater camp. But maybe we can make illegal immigrants work as guards, too! Because forcing anyone to hang out in the Arizona summer watching over this tent city sounds cruel and unusual to us.


AIKEN GETS THE AX

Speaking of the GOP's right wing: Steve Aiken, who was fired from his job as congressional candidate Randy Graf's spokesman two weeks ago after news broke about his mid-'90s conviction on charges of corrupting the morals of two teenage girls, has now been axed from his gig as host of Straight From the Hip, his weekend radio show on Christian station KVOI AM 690.

Aiken, who served about two months behind bars, probably shouldn't have had local TV news crews come down to KVOI as he denied charges that he kissed, groped and had sex with 17-year-old girls who were in his Christian counseling program for wayward teens back in Pennsylvania. KVOI General Manager Doug Martin probably wasn't too happy seeing Aiken in front of his radio station logo when the TV reports aired.

"Some may view this as an act of cowardliness on the station's part; I simply see it as an obstacle to overcome for the causes I so believe in!" Aiken announced on his Web site. He said he was looking for another station to host his program, though even he admitted the chances of landing a new gig were slim.

Well, he can always get back into the youth-counseling biz.

Footnote: Former Weekly automatic-weapons editor Emil Franzi has snatched up Aiken's air time. Uncle Emil's Inside Track can be heard from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays now. He's given up his Sunday morning show.


NUMBERS GAME

From the Scramblewatch '06 desk: Former newscaster Patty Weiss, who is seeking the Congressional District 8 seat being given up by U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, released a poll last week showing she was leading the pack in the Democratic primary.

Weiss' poll showed she had the support of 32 percent of those surveyed, while former state lawmaker Gabby Giffords came in at 22 percent. The other candidates in the race were polling in the single digits: former Air Force pilot Jeff Latas at 7 percent, TUSD board member Alex Rodriguez at 6 percent and Francine Shacter at 1 percent.

But 32 percent of the voters remain undecided, which is hardly surprising at this early stage of the campaign.

Weiss' big numbers reflect her unparalleled name ID as a result of being the Queen Mum of TV news for about three decades. The Weiss campaign's poll also showed three out of four voters polled knew who she was, and 63 percent had a favorable view of her. Meanwhile, only 40 percent knew who Giffords was, with 34 percent having a favorable view of her.

Giffords is sitting on a whole bunch of money (we'll have exact amounts once candidates file their quarterly reports at the end of June, but we're guessing it's more than three-quarters of a million bucks), which will translate into a lot of advertising time to get her name ID up. Will it be enough to allow her to overtake Patty? Well, that's why we have elections.

Giffords, incidentally, picked up the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters last week. That follows her endorsement by the Sierra Club.

Giffords has also been endorsed by EMILY's List, the national political fundraising network for pro-choice women. While that won't directly translate into many votes in the primary, it will help the campaign raise money across the country.


WAGE RAGE

Arizona labor unions, working with church groups and other social-justice types, managed to collect more than 200,000 signatures to ask voters to increase Arizona's minimum wage. Given that they only needed 122,612 sigs, it looks likely that the initiative will make the November ballot.

The unions and their allies poured more than $140,000 into the signature-gathering effort, according to reports filed with the Arizona Secretary of State's office.

Though they gave themselves a fat raise a few weeks ago, the U.S. Congress has no interest in raising the federal minimum wage, which has sat at $5.15 an hour since 1997. So it falls to the states to enact their own minimum wage. If the initiative were to pass, Arizona's new minimum wage would be $6.75 an hour starting in 2007. (The figure would be annually adjusted for inflation.)

The Arizona Democratic Party has jumped behind the proposal, possibly because they noticed a poll out of Northern Arizona University that showed that 81 percent of those surveyed supported the boost.

Democrat Jim Pederson, the Maricopa County developer who is challenging U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, has challenged the incumbent to take a stand on the proposition. Kyl, who has opposed efforts to increase the federal minimum wage, has said he'll wait to see if it makes the ballot before he comments.

"The minimum wage hasn't been increased in nine years, and thousands of Arizona's working families suffer because of that," Democratic Party Chairman David Waid press-released this week. "Jon Kyl showed how out of touch he is with Arizona when he voted against the increase last week, and these signatures drive that point home."

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