Skinny ON THE ROAD: We're hearing from the establishment media that there's big trouble at some recreational vehicle parks, with growing opposition to the 50-cent-a-day tax now being extracted from RV visitors. We're told it's driving the tourist biz to other, more charming, places--like Benson and Quartzsite.

The tax is earmarked to pay back the bonds used to build Pima County's new baseball park. It's a subsidy for rich white guys who own baseball teams, which stinks. So we can understand, on some level at least, why many RV folks are hacked off--many of them could care less about baseball and aren't here for the bleacher seats.

But maybe that's not the whole story: Old Tucson's attendance is down. Gee, could that be because all the authentic movie sets burned down and now the owners want to charge people more to look at a lot of ersatz movie props? And could it be that RV types and other snowbirds are pissed because our local leaders have seen fit to jack up the price of a round of golf, while states like Alabama are aggressively promoting all their wonderful golf courses? Could it be that other places also have more extravagant Indian casinos than Arizona, where for years a recently sentenced Governor harassed Native Americans who were only trying to build better lives through gambling establishments?


NAKED TRUTH: The Arizona Daily Star's Joe Salkowski recently decided it would be fun to poke around in the county computers to see what web sites the pols and bureaucrats visit on taxpayer-owned machines. Amazingly, David Dingeldine, the Pima County Attorney's chief civil deputy, went along with Salkowski's fishing expedition.

Accompanied by a not-too-willing county computer tech, Salkowski sat down and punched in at the desk of each county supervisor and staff member to see what naughty little things they've been viewing. Interestingly, however, we're told Dingeldine declined to allow the same access to his computer until it was cleared by his boss, County Attorney Barbara LaWall, several days later.

Now the Star has seldom showed much interest in getting recalcitrant local governments--like the Amphi School District--to comply with public records law. But these same clowns think finding a porn site visit on some pol's aide's computer is a real exposé!

We're as interested in acquiring legitimate public information as the next publication. But we don't believe rummaging through public officials' desk drawers or bookcases is kosher behavior, nor do we believe we have a right to view everything in their computer logs. And so what if they store material of a non-governmental nature on a hard drive? It's as irrelevant as what magazines they read.

Must all the books contained in a taxpayer-owned bookcase be applicable to county government? Can you put a picture of your family on a county-owned desk or hang your own poster on a taxpayer-owned wall?

Tucson City Manager Luis Gutierrez and city legal staff took a different position. They told the Star to bug off. Good for them. There's enough important stuff government tries to hide from the press to keep most thinking reporters and editors busy full-time.

WHO ARE THE REAL PYGMIES? The Growth Lobby's whining over any restriction that might be placed on blading and grading to preserve what few pygmy owls may be left around here illustrates just how little they care about this--or any other--endangered creature.

There are precious few pygmy owls left around here in the 10 percent of their habitat that hasn't been developed. They're endangered precisely because we've pretty much destroyed that habitat, and the niches of a whole bunch of other animals, somehow believing the hoary myth that population growth means prosperity for all people, and not just the Growth Lobby.

The growth-at-all-cost crusaders now want to take court action to eliminate the pygmy owl's endangered status, a status that took too damn long to achieve through heavy-duty court action.

Note closely just how pathetic the Growth Lobby's argument really is: There are still 500 of the little owls left in Texas and a few thousand in Mexico, which means it's really not "endangered." Sorry, but what it really means is that the greedy bastards around here don't really give a shit about life on this planet. Five hundred critters is a pretty low number when you're attempting to preserve a unique species. And the Mexican government cares even less than you do. Besides, whatever happened to preserving Tucson's magically unique eco-system, or at least its remnants?

STAR CHAMBER: The Arizona Daily Suckwad thinks the Tucson Rod & Gun Club should be closed because it's "too noisy." And they support this limitation on the use of public lands by condemning Congressman Jim Kolbe for "butting in" on the U.S. Forest Service's decision to close the range. In doing so the Star editorialists once again cite the totally discredited and rigged study alleging unsafe conditions at the range.

The Star simply refuses to concede that the Forest Service was caught red-handed with a phony report designed to reach a pre-conceived conclusion. In this case, the federal bureaucracy behaved in a sleazy manner, earning congressional scrutiny.

But the Star instead condemns Kolbe for interfering in the decision of a federal bureaucracy. Guess what: That's his job, and he ought to do it more often. We're supposed to be governed by those we elect, not by appointed, corrupt mandarins. We've been critical of Kolbe before--and we suspect we will be again--but on this issue he did the right thing.

That the Star has virtually ignored the phony safety report is bad enough. But it's appalling that its editorial staff actually want those we elect to abdicate their oversight responsibility. Apparently the Star believes we should just believe whatever the official report says. Hell of a newspaper ya got there, Mr. Pulitzer.

HIGH DIVE? Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods' standard position is that any law the Legislature passes is constitutional. So it's understandable that Woods' office is arguing against the City of Tucson's lawsuit that claims the 1997 state law on incorporation is unconstitutional.

But, on some related issues, the AG did a flip on its defense of that statute, in a separate case filed at the behest of Forest City Development against the Town of Tortolita. During a hearing on this second case, the AG's Office argued Tortolita was illegally incorporated based on the Appellate Court decision the AG's Office was supposed to be arguing on behalf of on appeal.

Meanwhile, the AG's Office recently filed its portion of the appeal on the 1997 law several days late, giving Tucson attorneys a chance to challenge that filing.

So the question we must ask Woods: Are you taking a dive, or is your staff just incompetent? TW

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