Skinny MERCY, MERCY ME: So now we have the spectacle of former Gov. J. Felonious Symington III pleading for mercy from the court as the day approaches for him to start serving that scandalously brief, two-and-a-half-year prison term he got for defrauding his many lenders.

Old Fife, it seems, is scared he may be in danger behind bars.

Hey, we don't blame him--prisons are miserable, frightening places.

But Symington, who'll be doing time in a "country-club" federal facility, spent much of his political career making our state prisons a wretched, horrible place to do time. He eliminated concepts like parole in his zeal to achieve truth-in-sentencing. He pushed a successful initiative to automatically send violent teens to adult court, no matter what the circumstances of their crimes. He ignored most of the pleas for reduced sentences that came to his desk. And he loved to talk about how prisons were for punishment, not for rehabilitation.

Now that his own fraudulent history has come to light, what does Fife want? Mercy.

Not that he's willing to say that himself--he's still joking that it can't be any worse than boot camp.

But his attorney is begging the court to keep him out of the joint while his appeal winds through the system. Attorney John Dowd says there are some federal prisoners who want "to work the guy over."

It's amazing, really--especially when you stop to realize that this is the same Fife Symington who so often complained that prisoners had too many avenues of appeal.

FLOWING PAINS: The Tucson City Council is expected to take up the topic of recharging Central Arizona Project water again at its upcoming meeting this Monday,
March 16.

While no official plan had been released as of press time, we hear city staff has been working to develop alternatives to the so-called "no-frills" recharge projects proposed by the Pure Water Coalition, a group of citizens who put the successful recharge issue on the ballot in 1995 and prevented its repeal in 1997.

We hear staff will recommend a CAP recharge plan in the west channel of the Santa Cruz River, but they're still trying to avoid dumping CAP water into the Rillito. Instead, we're told, the water department will recommend recharging effluent in
the Rillito.

Which means, of course, that staff continues to work to sabotage the will of Tucson's voters.

OF COURSE, IF THEY WANTED TO CALL IT 'SKINNY AVE.,' WE'D GET BEHIND THIS PUPPY: If city bureaucrats are hell-bent on pissing away taxpayer money putting up those fake street signs promoting the United Way, high-school graduation and other causes, don't you think they ought to waste a little more money and take the stupid things down once they've served their utterly worthless function?

Well, since we put it that way...

We're irked that the big gem show has been over for a while now, but those bogus street signs are still up on Broadway calling it "Gem Show Blvd."

Instead of putting up fake street signs, that same city crew ought to go around chopping down all the weeds that blight the edges of Tucson roadways this time of year. That would do a lot more to improve this town than merely adding to the general visual clutter in an expensive, officially sanctioned graffiti campaign, which is exactly what the fake street sign program is.

TACK ON A COUPLA EXTRA MILLION FOR GOOD WILL: The Wall Street Journal, a real newspaper, recently reported that Pulitzer Publishing Co., which owns The Arizona Daily Suckwad, a mostly fake newspaper, is trying to unload its broadcast properties for "well in excess" of a bazillion bucks.

The Journal article went on to quote Wall Street lounge lizards on the likelihood Pulitzer will dump its newspapers, too. The family trust which holds voting control of Pulitzer Publishing expires in 2001, the Journal notes.

Frankly, we don't give a flying Philadelphia fandango whether the company sells its string of mediocre rags, because nothing could be worse than the current state of the Pulitzer-owned paper in this crass cowtown.

Here's a daily newspaper that has no political reporter, and hasn't for months; can't seem to hire a reporter to cover the Arizona Legislature; and it's got a newshole the size of a mouse's bung, so even there were actual reporting going on, instead of the mindless "press release-to-print" process that has passed for the bulk of Star "journalism" for so long, it wouldn't really make much of a difference; it's got editorial writers who apparently live in ivory towers and who write in some obscure Elizabethan cadence; it's got a daily business section that's not quite as useful as the rubber band that comes wrapped around the paper each morning; and, really now, when was the last time you read a feature story in the Star's Accent section? Accent on what, precisely? Sludge?

This from a company that hauls tens of millions a year out of this burg to support a bunch of stuck-up St. Louis yuppies. And the last time we saw an issue of Pulitzer's flagship Post-Dispatch, it looked like something had crawled onto a pile of newsprint and died.

Even Gannett, the McDonald's of American journalism, could do a better job covering Tucson than these Pulitzer putzes. Oh, we forgot, Gannett is purportedly covering our town. What was that paper called again?

SAME OLD STORY: Meanwhile the new kids at The Arizona Daily Suckwad, as well as the woefully underpaid children/reporters at other local media outlets, have been getting all worked up about recent deaths in our state's kiddie gulags. In the past, even the lowly Tucson Weekly has done stories on the deplorable conditions in these holding pens for "troubled" teens--in fact, the media morons seem to discover this hideous little canker sore on the face of local society every couple of a decades or so.

Hey, there's nothing new here: Conditions suck, untrained people are asked to do more than they're capable of, teens die. If the Star's hotshot new city editor, Ann Eve Pedersen, really wants to make an impact on this matter, perhaps she should resolve to take names and repeatedly kick the sorry asses of the sleazy state legislators who permit these sorts of businesses to continue here.

But that won't happen. For the most part the Star's motto should be: If it doesn't come in an official government press release, it doesn't belong in the public's face.

GET A GRIP, LIONEL: Normally, we ignore Inside Tucson Business columnist Lionel Waxman because he's painfully irrelevant. But we were so tickled by his March 9 column that we just have to share part of it with you. Waxman writes:

"I am convinced that the professional environmental activists are in fact the shock troops for the command-and-control, one-world government elite. Their organization is essentially hierarchically controlled and monolithic. They enjoy tax-free status and are internationally organized. They are in the business of activism. Most of them have no other occupations...The environmentalists have captured the government. Armed with the laws passed at their behest and financed by huge, tax-advantaged contributions, they have powers no one ever granted to any level of government..."

Now there's a guy who really misses the old Commie threat. Seen any black helicopters hovering around your compound these days, Lenny baby? TW

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