Silence = Complicity?
Rep. Martha McSally declines to comment on Roy Moore's pursuit of teen girls
The stampede of Republican lawmakers retreating in horror from Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is quite the spectacle. Moore, who appears to have crawled straight from the pages of a particularly icky Stephen King novel, has become so toxic that GOP senators can't tweet out their disapproval fast enough. Both of Arizona's senators have called for him to exit the race (and Jeff Flake has even said that he would vote for the Democrat in Alabama!). And on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell even said that he believed the women making accusations against Moore.
But there's a possible Senate candidate in Arizona who has yet to say anything regarding Moore. According to well-sourced press accounts, Congresswoman Martha McSally has told colleagues that she's getting into the Senate race, but has yet to announce her plans. (C'mon, Martha, it's time to get this fucking thing done, don't you think?)
McSally has a lousy record on women's health, having repeatedly voted to restrict abortion rights and to deny low-income women the ability to choose their own healthcare provider (if that healthcare provider happens to have the initials PP). But she has held herself up a champion of women's rights, and has chaired the House of Representatives' Women in the 21st Century Working Group, a panel McSally launched in July 2016 to "dig into the root causes of barriers that women face."
Well, given what we've heard in recent months, we think there's a "root cause" that could use some discussion the next time the working group gets together. (That doesn't happen often; in the 15 or so months since it was formed, the working group has had two meetings in which they have heard testimony from companies that expanded opportunities for women. There's been no associated legislation and McSally herself has said that she's not sure government even has a role in this arena.)
Anyhoo: We reached out to McSally spokeswoman Kelly Schibi to see if Congresswoman (and possible Senate candidate) McSally wanted to comment on the creeper who was reportedly hanging out at malls in his mid-30s to pick up high school girls, but she didn't get back to us.
No Love for Kids
The dust settles in Election '17 as voters rejected props for kids, support zoo animals.
It was a rough night for kids when voters went to the polls last Tuesday, Nov. 7. Propositions to hike taxes to fund early childhood education in Tucson, improve schools across the region and build a park in Oro Valley all went down in defeat.
• Prop 204, which would have hiked the city of Tucson's sales tax by a half-cent per dollar to pay for scholarships for 3- and 4-year-old kids to attend preschool, was rejected by about two-thirds of Tucson voters. Republican voters were opposed to Strong Start Tucson because they hate taxes, but what really killed the prop was opposition from the Democratic establishment that the proposition lacked enough accountability to ensure the dollars would be properly spent. It didn't help that Tucson voters had just approved a temporary half-cent sales tax hike to fund transportation improvements just last May.
The Strong Start chair Penelope Jacks was disappointed that the proposition lost, but "you live to fight another day," she says. "It's a bend in the road, not an end." Jacks said she would like to see all those Dems who opposed the proposition to bring something to the table to address the problem of a lack of affordable early childhood education, something which study after study shows benefits children and families in numerous ways. Jacks said she wants to see Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Democratic city council "present a better way." She doesn't want them to just hold a meeting, but to bring a game plan to the table.
• Up in Oro Valley, voters crushed a $17 million bond prop to begin a significant makeover of Naranja Park to include lighted ball fields and other improvements. The bonds would have required Oro Valley to implement its first-ever property tax, which was clearly a bridge too far for OV voters. The supporters of the bond ran a big-dollar campaign supported by Oro Valley developers and other members of the biz community, but it wasn't enough to overcome the voter's phobia of property taxes.
• Voters in the Tucson Unified School District, Sunnyside School District and Marana School District all turned down budget override or bond proposals.
But voters in the Flowing Wells School District approved a bond to borrow $24 million for school building renovations and school bus purchases.
The proposition was widely supported by the Flowing Wells community, and won by a 61 percent margin.
Flowing Wells Superintendent David Baker said that he had been cautiously optimistic about the election's outcome.
"We are very excited and incredibly thankful and appreciative of our community for supporting us and believing in the work that we are doing," he says. "We have worked really hard to be good stewards of the schools, and for kids and parents I think there's a lot of history there."
Baker said the support of the community played a large part in the success of Proposition 455. And that's one of the keys to success in passing a prop: Make sure the community is behind you.
• Tucson voters may not like kids very much, but they do appear to like the animals. Props 202 and 203, which hiked the city sales tax by one-tenth of a cent for 10 years to fund improvements at the zoo, were narrowly approved by voters.
• Finally—and no great surprise—Democratic candidates swept the Tucson City Council races. Democrat Steve Kozachik is going back for a third term in Ward 6, Democrat Richard Fimbres (who faced no opposition) is going back for a third term in Ward 5, and Democrat Paul Durham won his first term in Ward 3, replacing the retiring Karin Uhlich.
Democrats have the advantage in city races, given that they outnumber Republicans by a roughly 2-1 margin. That doesn't mean that a Republican can't win; over last 20 years, the city had a Republican mayor, Bob Walkup, for three terms and Republicans have represented Wards 3 and 6. But in this political environment, with President Donald Trump as the head of Republican Party, there was zero chance that a Republican would prevail. And in recent years, as Republicans have grown increasingly conservative, the local GOP is doing a lousy job of recruiting candidates.
Mariano Rodriquez, who lost to Kozachik, was a prime example of a candidate who was not going to appeal to Democrats or independents in the city: A Trump-supporting Republican who demonstrated little understanding of what the City Council even does. Still, Rodriquez appears to be hooked on politics. On Election Night, as the returns came in, he told the Weekly: "This has taught me a lot, and I'm not going to go away. We'll see what happens in the future."
Ally vs. Chuck, Round 786
County Administrator Huckelberry once again demolishes Miller's loony allegations
The Skinny reported a few weeks back about how Pima County District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller was spending October listing various options the county had for road funding without raising taxes.
We also mentioned that Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry was explaining, in long memos, exactly why Miller's various solutions were either illegal, or just plain dumb.
Huckelberry has since released two more memos debunking various proposals Miller has put forward. While they are too long to go into in this space, there are some spectacular highlights:
• Miller is unhappy that the county has spent $358,000 since 2001 on water stations in the desert designed to save the lives of undocumented migrants and other lost hikers who are dying of thirst.
Huck's response: "Saving people, including county residents, from dying in the desert is a proper, just and humane use of these funds."
• Miller complains that the county is spending $36 million on solar panels for county facilities.
Huck's response: While the Board of Supervisors did indeed approve a $36 million contract to install solar panels, the decision only means that the county will be paying the solar panel company instead of a utility company. And since the county will paying the solar company less for energy than it would have been paying the electric utility, it's actually a cost savings for the county, so, as Huckelberry writes, "based on the calculations provided in the contractors' bids, Pima County will accrue estimated cost savings over current and increasing grid-supplied electricity of approximately $32 million over the 20-year contract term." Regardless, Huckelberry notes, the $36 million would have gone to electric bills, so the "funds would not have been available to fund road repairs."
• Miller complained that the county set up an incubator space for technology startup Accelerate Dynamics, which cost nearly $1.9 million. Huck's response: Accelerate has gone from 20 employees to more than 120 employees, with average salaries of more than $79,000. He also notes: Through their first three years of lease payments to the county, Accelerate fully repaid the cost of tenant improvements and invested an additional $1.2 million of their funds into making improvements to the county's buildings. When accounting for the next three years of lease payments, the total economic return to the county will be over $6.4 million on our investment of $1.89 million. Pitting the proven expansion of good-paying jobs against road repairs does not make sense."
• Miller suggested that the county shouldn't be spending $17.5 million over five years to replace old furniture. Huck's response: "Supervisor Miller, who has redecorated her office at least twice at taxpayer expense, should be better informed. As Supervisor Miller is well aware, county furniture is subject to wear and tear and must be replaced periodically. The county has built or renovated several buildings requiring new furniture or furniture systems. It is a normal cost of business. ... To suggest that county employees should be required to use old, worn out, broken or unserviceable furniture while Supervisor Miller redecorates her office is inappropriate."
Additional reporting from Danyelle Khmara, Logan Burtch-Buus and Jaime Verwys.
The televised edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs 6:30 p.m. Fridays on the Creative Tucson network, Cox Channel 20 and Comcast Channel 74. The TV show repeats Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. The radio edition of Zona Politics airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM.