DEFYING HER ROYAL MAJESTY
Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller sure does feel threatened by retired businessman and former teacher Bob Dorson.
At a recent town hall, Miller asked a sheriff's deputy to boot Dorson out of the room because she didn't like the way he asked the crowd a question about the Rosemont Mine.
The incident was the latest exchange between the 62-year-old Dorson and Miller, a Republican serving her first term in office.
Dorson, who used to run Dorson's Furniture, first contacted Miller after seeing a report in the morning daily about her profligate spending on office furniture, staff lunches and other expenses unbefitting a fiscal hawk who opposes even spending a pittance so that fifth graders from a low-income school could afford to attend a science program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
Dorson visited Miller's office to see if he could get a look at her new $1,500 conference table, but Miller refused to meet with him.
Instead, a staff member talked with Dorson in the lobby of the supervisors' 11th-floor offices and promised to get back to him with details on the spending.
After getting an email that didn't satisfy his quest for answers, Dorson returned to Miller's office the next day—and this time, Miller had security guards and a sheriff's deputy toss him from the building, saying that he had acted in an angry and belligerent manner.
Dorson denied acting belligerent, although he did say that he mentioned that he might call the media to let them know that Miller was stonewalling him.
Nonetheless, Miller used the incident to justify calling 911 and saying that she was in fear for her life when a Tucson Weekly blog entry was posted that showed how she had directed road-repair dollars to be spent fixing a street in her own neighborhood. (For details on that lunacy, see "Ally's Follies," March 6).
All of that background brings us to Miller's March 20 Oro Valley town hall, where Dorson stood up during the Q&A and asked the audience how many of them would support the proposed Rosemont Mine if it was being built in the mountains surrounding Oro Valley.
"I was cut off by Supervisor Miller and told that if I had questions I would direct them to her because it was her meeting, and if I continued to disrupt the meeting, I would be escorted out," Dorson said. "As her constituent, I think I have the right to ask questions and I certainly wasn't trying to take over the meeting or anything like that."
Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Brett Bernstein filed a report saying that he was told by one of Miller's minions that he should pay special attention to Dorson, based on the earlier incident in the office lobby.
When Dorson began speaking at the meeting, Miller summoned Bernstein into the room, according to his report of the incident.
"At one point, I was called into the meeting room ... and told to escort this man out," Bernstein wrote in his summary. "Just prior to being summoned, I overheard a male ask everyone at the meeting to raise their hand if they had an opinion about a new mine being approved. Ms. Miller interrupted him and asked him to direct questions to her. They then got into an argument and Ms. Miller asked for him to be removed."
Bernstein noted that Dorson "did not appear threatening" and after he agreed to not make statements, Miller said Dorson could remain, provided he only asked questions and did not make statements.
Dorson "did not speak for the rest of the meeting, although he did raise his hand to ask questions and was ignored," according to Bernstein's report.
Dorson quibbled with some of the details of the official report, saying there was no real argument between him and Miller.
He also denied he poses some kind of threat to Miller.
"Let me just say that I don't consider myself in that mode at all," he said. "I have never hurt anyone in my 62 years on this planet. I have never threatened anyone."
At an earlier town hall last month, Miller objected to a Rosemont Mine opponent's plan to videotape her comments.
Miller told Robert Harris that she "would appreciate it if you didn't videotape this because we're doing this presentation in front of various groups and not everyone has seen it."
It was somewhat odd reasoning—did she really think Harris' YouTube broadcast of her presentation would be some kind of spoiler? Whatever Miller's thinking, Harris asked if taping was illegal and after Miller told him it was not, he said he'd go forward with his plans to record the session.
Miller's reluctance to have a camera rolling at her town halls seems at odds with her insistence on transparency, particularly when you realize that she has her staff down at the Tuesday morning Board of Supes taping the entire meeting so she can have different camera angles than the official county broadcast of the meeting. You'd think that her staff might have constituent concerns that come ahead of editing together YouTube segments for AllyTV.
"She is a very arrogant woman," Harris told The Skinny.
Miller did not return a phone call from the Weekly.
As March 31 approached this week, candidates for federal office were making pleas to help them make a solid first quarter with their FEC filings.
The weekend's biggest Republican fundraiser was a get-together for Congressional District 1 candidate Andy Tobin and Congressional District 2 candidate Martha McSally.
The guest of honor: None other than U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
A mere $500 got you lunch, $1,500 got you a souvenir photo with Boehner, and $10,400 got you a chance to sit in on an exclusive roundtable.
Provided she can dispatch her little-known GOP opponents (Shelley Kais, Chuck Wooten and Jim Brown) McSally will have a rematch against Democratic incumbent Ron Barber, whom she almost unseated in 2012.
Meanwhile, Tobin—who is now serving as Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives—is facing fellow state Rep. Adam Kwasman and rancher/oilman/hotelier Gary Kiehne in the August GOP primary that will decide the Republican nominee who will face Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick.
Representatives for the Democratic incumbents were quick to pounce on Boehner's past support for a Medicare overhaul that would replace the current system with a program that would require seniors to purchase private health insurance that would be subsidized by vouchers.
"Martha McSally should reject John Boehner and his reckless plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program that will hurt seniors," said Barber spokesman Rodd McLeod. "Southern Arizona seniors watched her welcome him with open arms—and her hand out."
Kirkpatrick spokesman D.B. Mitchell had a similar statement via email, although he also poked at the fact that Tobin doesn't actually live in CD1.
"It's clear that Arizonans want nothing to do with John Boehner and his plan to dismantle Social Security and Medicare," Mitchell said. "If Andy Tobin actually lived in AZ01, he would know those programs are vital to so many who live in the district."
Tobin's GOP rivals said the fundraiser revealed a thing or two about him.
"The establishment has their guy," Kwasman said. "This clearly shows that Andy Tobin is the amnesty, big-government, same-old, same-old for Arizona. It's a clear indicator to Republican primary voters of where they want to go. If they want the establishment, then Andy Tobin is their guy. If they want a conservative fighter, someone more in the ilk of (U.S. Rep. Matt) Salmon or (U.S. Rep. David) Schweikert, their clear choice is me."
Meanwhile, Kiehne poked fun at Tobin's struggles to raise money in the last quarter of 2013, when he pulled in just $235,000. Kiehne had raised $267,000 by the end of last year, although that included $105,000 from his own checkbook.
"Every monkey has a swing," Kiehne said. "If I was as desperate for money as Andy Tobin is, I'd probably be calling John Boehner myself."
Jim Nintzel hosts AZ Illustrated Politics, airing at 6:30 p.m. every Friday on PBS 6. The program repeats on 12:30 a.m. Saturday.