BUSTING THE BIG DIGIt was a rough-and-tumble Tuesday, as the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 16 unanimously opposed a butt-ugly mine proposed for the Santa Rita Mountains. In a room overflowing with miners, enviros and corporate suits, there was plenty of teeth-gnashing and finger-pointing--more than an hour's worth, actually--before the board finally hunkered down to vote.
The final tally was a huge triumph for the mountains' imperiled Rosemont Valley. It was also a beefy win for District 4 Supervisor Ray Carroll, who'd spent several lonely months dangling in political breezes as the only on-the-record opponent of mine plans hatched by Canada-based Augusta Resource Corp. In the end, it wasn't Carroll's resolution, but a similar measure floated by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, that finally passed--but then only after a couple of weasel words were yanked, and amendments urging greater land protection by the feds were inserted by District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson.
Even as the dust clears, Rosemont Valley's future is hardly certain. Pima County hasn't the power to actually stop Augusta. Still, part of the mine operation would fall on U.S. Forest Service land, and a lengthy federal review will undoubtedly consider local sentiments.
Judging from Tuesday's raucous crowd, those sentiments ain't pretty.
PHONE ORDERSpeaking of that Rosemont Mine issue: We don't want to brag or nothin', but it seems that Tucson Weekly readers may have been responsible for telephonically sticking it to the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
The cover of the Jan. 11 issue (That was last week!) implored Tucsonans to call the supes--or show up at the Jan. 16 meeting--and urge them to tell the Canadian mining company that wants to ravish the innocent but alluring Rosemont Valley to "go to hell!" So many took that request to heart that the voicemail boxes of supervisors Ann Day and Ray Carroll were overloaded during the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
"Yeah, it was the Rosemont mine," volunteered Valerie Samoy, special staff assistant to Day, when she was told the office's voicemail box had been filled. She estimated that at least 15 messages had been left, along with "many more e-mails."
Rebecca Baker, a clerk answering the phone for supervisors Ramón Valadez and Richard Elías, said they had received some 31 phone messages relating to the mine, along with numerous faxes.
And Lauren Harmon, special staff assistant to Supervisor Sharon Bronson, said on Tuesday, Jan. 16: "We received 10 today and probably another 20 to 25 (before that), as well as many e-mails."
WAR STORIESPresident George W. Bush unveiled his secret plan to win the war in Iraq last week: Send another 21,500 troops to try to quell the country's growing sectarian civil war.
Why didn't anybody think of that before?
Wait--plenty of folks did. We seem to remember that even before the invasion began, Bush was told that he needed more troops to establish security so the country didn't descend into the chaos that we now see on the streets of Baghdad. But Bush--and his pal Donald Rumsfeld, that sexy defense chief who said things would naturally be "untidy" for a bit--just ignored them.
So here we are, talking about a surge in troops long after the American people have lost their patience with the bungled effort to remake the Middle East. Or, technically, talking about another surge, since we've put more troops into the country for several special moments, such as the elections that were supposed to solve everything.
In her first big meet with the press since being sworn into office earlier this month, newly elected Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords busted on Bush's plan.
Giffords said she had "great concern that the policies right now in Iraq are not requiring the Iraqi people to really step forward and take responsibility. This new plan that the president has put forward ... is not a plan that is going to ensure real success in Iraq. To add 20,000 troops to a failing plan is not one that I can support."
Giffords said she favors "a strategic redeployment from the area" and a new focus on Afghanistan, which "has not received the attention it needs."
But she sidestepped the challenge issued last week by Arizona Sen. John McCain, a big supporter of putting more troops into Iraq. Last week, McCain told the press that critics who want to withdraw troops "have a responsibility to tell us what they believe are the consequences of withdrawal in Iraq. If we walk away from Iraq, we'll be back, possibly in the context of a wider war in the world's most volatile region."
Asked what would happen if Americans troops pulled out, Giffords said: "I frankly believe that it's not up to the American people, the American government or the American troops to determine what the future of Iraq will look like. It's up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. ... And that doesn't mean we pull 100 percent of our support out because, although I did not support initially going to Iraq, we are there now, and I believe it our responsibility to help this new government. But when it comes to continuing to add troops when we have really lost the hearts and minds of the majority of the Iraqi people, that's not the best approach."
SCRAMBLEWATCH '07 UPDATEMayor Bob Walkup has picked up another potential opponent in this year's re-election effort: Democrat Michael Toney, a frequent--and frequently unwashed--attendee of City Council meetings who, among other things, has proposed an alternative to the Rio Nuevo science center. While Toney's plan has struck us as harebrained, it's looking practically feasible compared to the UA's $166 million pitch.
Walkup's other opponent so far is independent Bruce Gerowitz, who sells hot dogs outside a local strip club.
Meanwhile, over in Ward 2, where Carol West is stepping down after two terms, Democrat Clarence Boykins, who lost a bid for a state House seat last year, has picked up an information packet, although he has not yet formally filed as a candidate. Also considering a Ward 2 run: Democrat Robert Reus, a public-access TV producer who is preoccupied with the idea of creating a strong-mayor form of government.
Democrat Rodney Glassman, a former aide to Congressman Raul Grijalva, and Republican Lori Oien, an activist with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, have formally filed as candidates in Ward 2.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Shirley Scott has officially filed for re-election and faces no opposition so far.
Meanwhile, no candidates have filed in Ward 1, where Democrat José Ibarra is finishing his third term. The juiciest rumor we've heard so far: TUSD board member Adelita Grijalva, daughter of Congressman Raul Grijalva, may be considering a run.
MORE MATROMANIALawmakers are already pushing for a new constitutional ban on gay marriage. Republicans Russell Pearce, Trish Groe, Sam Crump and Rick Murphy in the House and Linda Gray and Chuck Gray in the Senate have sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 2023, which limits marriage to one man and one woman. The measure, if passed by the Legislature, would have to be approved by voters on the 2008 ballot.
The backers seem to have learned something from the rejection of a proposed ban on gay unions in last November's election. They have trimmed off a ban on domestic partnerships and other forms of civil unions, which doomed the citizen initiative pushed by the Center for Arizona Policy.