Missing In Action

Tucson City Council Appointee Michael Crawford Short Sheets The Job.
By David Devine

IS IT A case of deja Saggau all over again for the City of Tucson's Ward 3 residents?

Numerous people have commented that City Councilman Michael Crawford, who was appointed to replace the missing Tom Saggau, is often not to be found in the Ward 3 office himself.

Shortly after he was appointed, complaints about Crawford's invisibility on the job began to surface. Individuals and representatives of groups reported their requests for meetings with him were ignored or canceled. The new councilman, it seemed, was too busy with his Pima County Public Defender's job, or only wanted to hear the city staff's side of an issue.

Crawford's unavailability reached a low point when he didn't seem to have any time for the members of the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Tucson. They had to resort to protesting about the situation to Steve Leal, Crawford's champion for appointment and now apparent mentor on the City Council. Only then were the neighborhood types able to meet with the new councilman.

While acknowledging some problems might have existed, and blaming them on staff changes and the holiday season, Crawford said recently he was committed to looking at all sides of an issue before making a decision. He also said his office would be constituent oriented and he and his staff would be attending as many Ward 3 neighborhood association meetings as possible.

Of course, before he was appointed to the City Council, Crawford said he'd cut his Public Defender's duties to part time and would devote as much time as necessary to his new job. This he has not done. He works full time for the county and now says he intends to continue to do so.

This "tell-them-anything-to-get-into-office-and-then-do-as-you-please" philosophy is another Saggau-like tendency Crawford has displayed. Almost everyone who applied for the Ward 3 position agreed to devote full time to the job. Michael Crawford was part of that consensus.

But according to Crawford, he had to finish the trial work he was involved with when he was appointed. Now that those cases are wrapping up, he says his skills with computers are needed full time in his county job for at least the next six to eight months. In the meantime he promises to put in two or three afternoons a week plus some evening and weekend time for the city taxpayers as well as attend the Monday council meetings.

pix He said he'd discussed this time allocation with his boss, former City Councilwoman Sharon Hekman. Apparently they agreed this full-time/part-time job arrangement would be satisfactory both to county and city taxpayers.

But is this really enough time to oversee a $600-million budget, a water system in chaos, the constituent needs of almost 70,000 ward residents, a community with a record murder rate and all the other aspects of a City Council job?

Michael Crawford believes he should spend more time on his county job than in serving the people of Tucson. Based on his decision, there are a few things he should remember:

• Just as one of his personal pet peeves is someone who says one thing and then doesn't follow through, so people who expected him to be a full-time councilmember when he was appointed might be disappointed in his failure to follow through.

• Hekman's comments on trying to hold down two jobs simultaneously may not be the best source of advice. After all, one of the major reasons she lost her City Council seat in 1989 was her failure to devote enough time to the job.

• The voters just increased Crawford's salary to $18,000 a year. For this, and the very attractive benefit package which goes with the job, people might expect more than a part-time effort.

• Finally, Crawford should know that no appointed city council member has ever been elected to the office in the next election. If he wants to break this tradition in 1997, he should devote more time to his city constituents and spend less time with county computers. TW

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