The Skinny

Turning in his Badge

Sheriff Clarence Dupnik announces retirement after more than three decades on the job

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik confirmed last week what many had anticipated for some time: He's decided to retire rather than run for a 10th term in 2016.

Dupnik, 79, announced his plans to resign from office, most likely sometime this year, during an appearance on Bill Buckmaster's radio show last Friday, Jan. 30.

"We need to be put out to pasture sometimes and I probably should have been put out some time ago," Dupnik told Buckmaster's noontime audience on KVOI 1030 AM.

Dupnik also endorsed his chief deputy, Chris Nanos, as the man to replace him—again, not a surprise to those who have seen Dupnik praising Nanos at public events.

Dupnik called Nanos "one of the first cops I've ever worked with. ... I think he's going to be a great sheriff."

The Pima County Board of Supervisor must appoint a Democrat to replace Dupnik for the remainder of his term, but he said he believed that if the Board didn't appoint Nanos, Nanos will still run for the seat.

Dupnik told Buckmaster that the Sheriff's Department had a lot of problems when he was first appointed to head it up in 1980. "It was not what you would call a fine professional organization."

And it was clear that he wanted his leadership team to remain in place after his departure.

"We've put together a really fine organization and we've really put together a good group at the top," he said, "and it would break my heart to see someone come in and do what maybe happens in Maricopa County and that could happen overnight."

Dupnik has not been a stranger to controversy—his comments about gun violence in the wake 2011 mass shooting at Gabby Giffords' Congress on Your Corner event made him a hero to some and a villain to others—but unlike some sheriffs in Arizona, he never stooped to using prisoners as political props or humiliated a class of human beings just to raise some money.

And he's right to be concerned about what comes after him: An Arpaio in Pima County could easily deliver that sort of ugly policing.

A Wing and a Prayer

D.C. fight continues over the future of the A-10

President Barack Obama has once again targeted the A-10 jet in his latest budget proposal.

The proposed funding for the A-10 was reduced from $810 million in the current fiscal year to $428 million.

Last year, the Obama administration told lawmakers it wanted to retire the Warthog to "save over $4.2 billion through FY 2019. The joint force will retain several multi-mission aircraft capable of performing the close air support mission."

Getting rid of the A-10 could be a blow to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, so local leaders have been battling to save the endangered Warthog. Last year, Congress passed legislation to protect the plane, but the Pentagon still wants to retire it.

In a prepared statement, Congresswoman Martha McSally vowed to fight for the A-10.

"Even as we're seeing the A-10 play a crucial role in the fight against ISIS and EC-130s being deployed from D-M, the President is again making the irresponsible decision to retire these aircraft ahead of schedule," said McSally, a former A-10 pilot. "Not only will this decision weaken our defense capabilities and jeopardize our national security, it will endanger the lives of American troops deployed in harm's way."

Smoke 'Em While You Can

Pima County Boss Huckelberry Wants Supervisors To Take on Big Tobacco

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is once again considering what to do about employees who smoke.

Pima County Administrator has made two basic proposals: One would be to refuse to hire anyone in the future who smokes, and the second would require smokers to pay more for their health insurance.

Huckelberry says that smokers drive up the county's insurance rates, so he wants them to pay their fair share—and he'd prefer not to have new smokers on the staff.

From what we hear from supervisors, there's probably support for the higher insurance rates—private-sector businesses do that kind of thing all the time—but the supes aren't likely to go along with the ban on hiring smokers in the future.

The Board of Supervisors is schedule to consider the proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Election Autopsy

League of Women Voters program examines election trends, dark money

Your Skinny scribe, Jim Nintzel, recently joined a League of Women Voters discussion with fellow reporters, politicians and political consultants about the 2014 elections, the influence of dark money on the campaigns and the reluctance of some Republican candidates to debate in the run-up to Election Day last year.

On hand for "Is Democracy For Sale? Can the Voters Afford It?": GOP gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones, Democratic Secretary of State candidate Terry Goddard, political consultants David Leibowitz, Barrett Marson and Max Fose, and reporters Joe Ferguson of the Arizona Daily Star and Jeremy Duda of the Arizona Capitol Times.

You can see the entire show, ably moderated by the League's Roxanne Housley, on 8 p.m. Thursdays and noon on Saturdays through Feb. 21 on Access Tucson, Channel 20 on Cox Cable and Channel 74 on Comcast Cable. Or you can call the League of Women Voters at 520-326-7652. We'll have highlights on an upcoming episode of "Zona Politics."

"Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel" airs every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on KGUN-9. This week's guests include Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez, Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero and David Higuera, the Southern Arizona director of the Children's Action Alliance.

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