January 19 - January 25, 1995

[The Skinny]

DONNY, TOMMY, JOHNNY AND THE QUICK-SUCKING BUREAUCRATS: The dry facts are these: In 1991, the Federal Communications Commission granted a new FM license to serve the town of Oro Valley. That license was acquired by Maloney Broadcasting, Inc., which currently owns AM station KTUC and now broadcasts CD Country at 97.5 FM.

To expand coverage, Maloney leased a location at Ina Road and La Cholla Boulevard as a site for a l00-foot tower. Pima County issued a conditional use permit, and part of acquiring that permit required that Maloney get permission from adjoining property owners.

After communication with the FCC, Maloney decided to construct a 200-foot tower, but was told the existing site would interfere with another FM station's signal. Maloney then leased another spot some 300 feet away for the higher tower, believing that the permit was operable for such a move as long as adjacent property owners had not objected.

According to Tom Hassey, station manager and part owner, Maloney proceeded and received the modified conditional use permit for the higher tower at the newer spot in mid-1994. The station spent considerable time and money on engineering and in securing final approval from both the FCC and the Federal Aviation Administration.

But after all that trouble, Hassey was notified by the Pima County Department of Development Services on December 22 that the permit was rescinded because it had been issued "in error."

On December 20, Pima County had been contacted by the law firm of Mendelsohn, Oseran, Mance and Eisner representing Foothills Mall Investments, requesting the permit be revoked immediately, even though that corporation had yet to acquire the property, being merely in the process of doing so.

So much for the facts--now here's the good stuff:

Two days is about as close to "immediate" as you can get. This may have been the fastest move in the history of county bureaucracy. It takes longer than this for an interoffice memo to move 50 feet from the county administrator's office to a county supe. And anyone familiar with the county's creaky mail system knows it takes longer than that to get the mail opened, let alone acted upon.

Unless of course you're legendary land speculator Don Diamond, principal player in Foothills Mall Inc., and certified by a local newspaper as one of the top five power brokers in town. And you've made it known you're not real happy with Tom Hassey for keeping a guy named John C. Scott on the air taking constant shots at you.

The Pima Department of Developmental Services has been accused on several other occasions of being patsies for the big builders via a series of loose "interpretations" that have tree huggers gagging all the way to the state line. But the Diamond/Hassey response may bring them to a new low.

Once Pima County issues a conditional use permit and the person it's awarded to begins implementation, the county accepts massive liability for reversing the process, according to at least one high-ranking county official who prefers anonymity.

Which means that just because cause Donny is mad at Tommy for keeping Johnny on the air, we taxpayers may have to cough up to cover the actions of a bureaucracy busy sucking up to Donny.

One other irony. That Diamond is trying to blow Scott off the air (according to Hassey) may, in some people's minds, be his first major act of community service, regardless of personal motivation.

Maloney/Hassey has responded to Diamond/Pima County via his own attorney, basically claiming, "Huh?" And the county has determined the radio station needs to go through a public hearing to re-secure the tower permit they previously had.

The date of that hearing is January 25, and it could become quite a dog and pony show with KTUC/97.5CD filling the hearing room with employees and family. And the next step after that hearing, at which the hearing officer's report will recommend issuance of the permit, could be to place the whole matter in front of the Board of Supervisors.

That could be real fun, with KTUC having often been a forum for the GOP majority and Hassey himself an apologist for Supervisors Paul "Dim Bulb" Marsh and "Big Ed" Moore on numerous occasions.

It could also tell us a lot about how hard Diamond wants to turn the screws on his supervisor stooges in public.

We may already have the answer. Diamond's group may use the strategy of going after those who sub-leased the site to Hassey, a strategy less politically obvious and maybe even legally sound.

Stay tuned. Or maybe, in this case, you won't be able to.

SCHOOL BLAZE, SCHOOL DAZE: With school back in session two whole weeks, we thought we'd see how brightly things were burning at TUSD's Catalina High School, whose administration has been under fire lately. Did we say fire? We meant fires, plural. First day back, Tuesday, January 3, some fiendish pyros were apparently hard at work--fire trucks had to respond to a couple of blazes that were obviously arson. Just when we thought things were settling down, what with the all the fun publicity the school received before the holiday regarding discipline problems.

And last Friday, a parent called to tell us she was on her way to the nurse's office when she saw a couple of kids in the stairwell setting a fire. When she got to the office, she heard the incident being reported over the nurse's radio. The parent, who says her kid is temporarily out of school, wants to know what these kids were doing hanging out on the staircase anyway. That's an easy one, they're allowed to. And they're still allowed to eat their lunch anywhere they want--which apparently accounts for all the garbage lying around waiting to be set ablaze.

Anyway, what she saw was only one of the fires that was set Friday. There were two others. One burned up a student locker in the main wing. Friday also featured its share of vandalism--a long fluorescent light bulb was smashed in the upper deck of the gym, and five hand-held radios were stolen.

We hear it was the end to a rather gloomy week. A gang fight started off the week Monday; everybody seemed to know it was going to take place but no one bothered to call TUSD's Gang Prevention Unit, apparently including Principal Linda Schloss, who was told the fight was going down. After the fight started, somewhere near the gym, monitors arrived on the scene. At this point, the circle of kids watching the fight locked arms so monitors couldn't break through to stop the fight. It was broken up, but in a not particularly unusual move, started up again down by the stadium. The folks from gang prevention were never called--before, during or after. No word on whether the Crips or the Bloods came out on top of that one.

In the school's good news-bad news department, faculty was told of new attendance and discipline policies during their first week back. The written attendance policy is basically your teacher-take-care-of-it-at-all-costs-don't-bother-the- principal-unless-you-have-to kind of directive. After a teacher-directed conference, call home, letter home, and finally some stay-after school time, the administration says they'll take a look at why Bobby hasn't been in class for two weeks. Otherwise, they're kind of busy.

And nobody from Catalina's front office, like Schloss or one of the three assistant principals, Mary Matts, Dorothy Gonzales or Al Watson, apparently managed to get the discipline policy into writing. That hasn't thrilled the faculty. The librarian requested something in writing and was given a sheet of paper that only spelled out one complete policy--anyone involved in the now notorious "birthday beatings" will receive an automatic three-day suspension. Parents from the school's Committee to Address School Safety aren't happy they don't have anything in writing about the new policy, either. That's one of the things they'll be requesting at their upcoming PTA meeting, along with a request for designated areas for lunch, consistent forms of discipline and supervised detention during the day.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

Oh, by the way, has anyone found out who keeps breaking into the food service supervisor's pantry? At least leave the snack bar alone--if that closes down, where would Catalina's feral youths get all the paper they need to set ablaze?

We hope all the high-paid bigwigs from 1010 E. 10th St. who toured the Catalina campus recently, including head of curriculum Tommy Harper, Region IV Superintendent Larry Williams, Assistant Superintendent Monte Littell, finance guy Bob O'Toole and Lynn Webster from engineering, enjoyed their visit. Schloss told the faculty the visitors were interested in making TUSD better and thought they'd start with Catalina.

We'll believe it when we see it.

SCREW YOU, BUT GIVE US SOME MONEY: In a typical display of the University of Arizona's arrogance, The UA Foundation sent out a letter last month asking for cash from UA graduates. Among the reasons they cited for being worthy of our hard-earned dollars was the presence of Pulitzer Prize-winning faculty. One of these faculty members is assistant professor of journalism Virginia Escalante. (Escalante last taught in the department in the spring of 1992. Makes you wonder how valid everything else they say is, doesn't it?)

You'll recall the journalism department has been put in a state of limbo with threats of termination by UA President Manuel Pacheco.

On one hand the money-grubbing engines of the UA are citing the awards and accolades of a department, while on the other hand the administration is doing its damnedest to kill that same department--is that a new level of bureaucratic stupidity, or what? Even dumber, they sent this letter to journalism alumni.

Is it just us, or do you think the administration would like nothing better than to eliminate a bunch of journalism students who have an annoying habit of poking into what they're doing?

MIKEY THE FRIENDLY GHOST: Former Pima County Supervisor Greg Lunn was notorious for putting in a minimum amount of time on the job. But while he was incredibly lazy, Lunn was also incredibly smart, and he usually knew more about what was going on than many of his colleagues who spent considerable time on the job.

His successor, Mikey Boyd, hardly fits that last description. Boyd usually looks like a guy who doesn't have a clue and who is as out of it as Paul "Dim Bulb" Marsh. But Marsh at least feels obligated to come around and try to earn the $42,000-plus he collects. We're told Boyd is showing up in the office even less than Lunn used to, which is almost physically impossible.

In some parts of the country they call this a "ghost payroller."

GREAT READING FOR STUPID, HORNY TEENS: That statistical-loving, survey-adoring Arizona Department of Health Services is at it again. They recently released less-than-shocking results in a report entitled "Teen Pregnancy 1983-93," admitting the staggeringly high teen pregnancy rate in this state hasn't changed in 11 years. And last year "four out of every five teenage mothers were unmarried, and in three out of every four cases, the delivery costs were paid by taxpayers." Well, knock us over with a pacifier. How many more years do we have to hear these overwhelming numbers before ADHS stops reviewing old computer printouts and starts doing something about changing the curve?

We love this quote from head hot-air man Dr. Jack Dillenberg, referring to the fact that Arizona has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation: "Although our report offers nothing new in this regard, it does provide a more detailed look at the problem and could spark creation of a program to encourage teenagers to delay sexual activity." Could spark a program? When, sometime before the next generation of teens starts dropping babies around the end of the century? Try calling Planned Parenthood or better yet, how about getting off your duff and lobbying the state and the feds for more money for organizations already in place that are willing to tackle this problem. No more surveys or reviews of surveys. We've smelled the same diaper for 11 years, now change it.

YET MORE LAWYER PORK: December billings from various law firms hired to defend various actions by bizarro Pima County officials are in. For openers, Andy Schubart of Stubbs and Schubart, the law firm representing the Board of Supes against the seven top bureaucrats unfairly purged a while back, got his last score in on December 15. The tab was more than $30 grand, bringing the total to close to $70,000 for these guys.

But that's small change compared to Si Schorr of Lewis and Roca, who hired to handle the board's side of the Alan Lang fiasco hearings early last year. We reported that Schorr came in with another $10 grand or so in December, raising his total to more than $170,000.

And he wasn't done. On December 30, Schorr got in one more bill, for $2,325, on the Lang matter.

AND MIKEY'S STILL MILKING THE MILEAGE COW: Supe Mikey Boyd has once again turned in a mileage bill, this time for November for $42.63. He's creeping up, we hope creeping high enough that Pima County Attorney Steve "I-Swear-I'm Moving-To-New Zealand" Neely will finally decide if the Maricopa County Attorney was incorrect when he told his supes such mileage claims are illegal.

BUT 19TH CENTURY COURTROOMS ARE SO CUTE: Recent press coverage over a fight about transcribing preliminary court hearings and a follow-up editorial in The Arizona Daily Star seemed to miss a couple of very large points.

There's more than one way in this information age to accurately record what transpired at any hearing about anything. The traditional--and expensive--method of using a trained transcriber with a special note-taking machine is an anachronism.

Besides, it costs too much and it slows things down.

Sorry 'bout that to the court reporters' lobby, but improvements in both video and audio tape should put you out of business, or at least put a dent in the massive expansion of your business that's part of the massive expansion of crime.

Which is what Superior Court Presiding Judge Mike Brown was trying to do by allowing videotaping at preliminary hearings, a practice acceptable in many civil hearings. Only problem was, the major press types never quite explained the alternative and allowed themselves to be manipulated (once again) by those wonderful folks at the Pima County Attorney's Office, the only visible opponents of modernizing the procedure.

And why would the prosecutors defend the old ways so vigorously?

Because making access to records easier for defendants by making those records cheaper to acquire would accrue to defendants. Prosecutors can get whatever they want transcribed now on the taxpayers.

Remember that next time Steve "Yep-I'm-Really-Gonna-Do-It--Gonna-Really-Really-Move- To-New Zealand" Neely tells you how he wants to save tax money and those big bad judges make him waste it.

YOU AIN'T JUST WHISTLING DIXIE: Up at the Capitol, the states' rights rebellion is in full swing. Last week, 10 state senators--including Tucson's own Ann Day, R-Dist. 12--and four state reps filed a concurrent resolution called the Government of the People Amendment.

The resolution requests the Congress of the United States to "propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to establish a mechanism to nullify federal laws and regulations if the states determine that these laws or regulations exceed the authority of the federal government under the Constitution of the United States."

In other words, if state legislatures decide that federal laws are too burdensome, they can just vote to ignore them.

We may be wrong, but it seems to us this debate got settled at the Appomattox Court House back around 1865. We sure wish the folks up in Phoenix would quit wasting time trying to figure out ways to avoid meeting federal regs and start worrying about ways to keep our air clean and our resources from being plundered.

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January 19 - January 25, 1995

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