June 29 - July 5, 1995

The Skinny

STAND BACK, EVERYONE! Outrage plays an important role in journalism, or at least it should. In proper doses it motivates reporters to root out incompetence, corruption and collusion. But if a journalist is too cloistered, too little exposed to the hurly-burly world, then perspective suffers.

Steve Auslander, head cheese of The Arizona Daily Star, recently revealed his outrage. In a June 13 memo to everyone at Tucson Newspapers, Inc., he wrote:

"To the scum-sucking, low-life, piece of crud, foot scuffing mal criado who scuffed up the new paint job outside the Star lobby: Your mother raised you badly, and your soul should burn in eternal damnation--you are lower than an (sic) newt, an eft, a maggot. Trash your own place, you filthy piece of crud."

Leaving aside the run-on sentence and lack of hyphens in compound modifiers, one would hate to think of his invective toward anyone who did something really bad.

Then again, he isn't likely to stick with his outrage. A memo that came out an hour later offered an apology:

"To those were (sic) offended by my vocabulary in the effort to put a stop to the scuffling, I am very sorry. I was outraged and let my disgust get the better part of me."

Some well-placed outrage and disgust could go a long way to improve our milquetoast morning paper, Steve.

DOGPATCH-FREE SKINNY: For the second week in a row, we have absolutely nothing to say about the town of Marana, festering pustule that it is.

SAGGAU BLOWS OFF WATER HEARINGS: The City of Tucson held a series of four public hearings on a very important subject--water. The fine folks at The Arizona Daily Scar and KVOA-TV's Eyewitless News thought the subject was important enough to give those hearings massive coverage--one of the better things done locally by the press in recent memory. Hundreds of people attended.

One guy never showed for any of these hearings, even though he was listed as the co-host of the opening session--City Councilman Tom Saggau. Nor did he apparently bother to inform any of his colleagues he wasn't coming. Calls to his council office from several constituents drew the response from his staff that "he was very busy with his plumbing business." Gee, now we know somebody who makes out when CAP water ruins your pipes.

Saggau has become a giant disappointment to the liberals and environmentalists who helped elect him--many of them have noted that since his problems with the law over the charge that he took kickbacks from former staff members, a charge that was deemed insufficiently solid for criminal prosecution, he has become little more than an obedient toady for Mayor George Miller. Latest example was Saggau's vote in favor of pursuing the ill-conceived annexation of legendary land speculator Don Diamond's Rocking K subdivision. In the meantime, Saggau's council participation has been minimal.

Others observe that lack of interest in public affairs is nothing new for Saggau, who registered to vote only after years in the community, and only then when he decided to run for public office.

WAITE TRIES TO WEASEL OUT: Republican County Chairman Rex Waite stepped on it when he described President Bill Clinton as an "exciting" politician and complained that the GOP didn't have anybody who was as good a candidate. He got quoted first in USA Today and then in the Tucson Citizen.

Naturally, this enraged GOP types. Waite tried to justify his remarks, and now has a letter in to the Citizen claiming he was "quoted out of context." Twice.

While we usually find it difficult to come down on the side of the vast and boring Gannett chain on anything, many other Republicans were at the meeting and heard Waite say exactly what he was quoted as saying.

Rex, baby, quit trying to weasel out of this one. Next time, try to think about what you say. You've become a total embarrassment.

ORO VALLEY VS. DEVELOPER SCUM: It's hard to call them Caddyshack since the new council took over and elected that marvelous Cheryl Skalsky mayor--the folks in Oro Valley are actually trying to get a hand on the rampant development screwing over what was once a pretty nice town. But the new Town Council has to face a massive legacy of dumb decisions and roll-over moves by their predecessors.

One of those was a massive apartment rezoning the new council passed on May 17 allowing 424 units on Lambert Lane. The council did so, but it also initiated actions to condemn the property for a potential park site. In the meantime, a group called Citizens for Positive Action gathered 720 signatures in just 13 days to put the matter on the ballot via referendum. They needed only 341 signatures, so the development is now on hold until next spring's OV election.

Developers are now in a box in OV. Even when they get the council to go along with a new zoning, the natives have become so restless that they can grind things to a halt via a referendum with relative ease. The irony here is that those same developers got themselves annexed into Oro Valley to take advantage of former roll-over public officials. They apparently never factored the referendum into their equations.

COUNTY CANDIDATES SPOTTED FOR 1996: The Skinny is told that a former Amphi School Board member is considering a run at the District 3 Pima County supervisor's seat held by Big Ed Moore. Vicki Cox Golder would run in the GOP primary. In 1992, Golder was Big Ed's chairman--guess Ed just can't keep up a relationship.

And in District 4, retiring Pima Community College Board member John Even is cranking up for a run against Supe Paul Marsh in that Republican primary.

Rumors that retiring state Sen. Patti Noland, R-District 13, will run against Mikey Boyd may be premature. The Skinny is told Noland plans to run for the office of Clerk of the Superior Court, a post former Tucson mayor James Corbett was re-elected to last fall. For the seat to be up again in 1996 would require Corbett's resignation and retirement.

But the real hitch for Noland is that the governor appoints the interim replacement, and by law it has to be a Democrat. Noland is not exactly on J. Fife Whiteguy III's approved list, so we expect he'll be looking for a Democrat to run for the seat, probably one who supported him against Eddie Basha last November.

Some ask why Noland would want this rather low-key spot. As Corbett once said, "Do I get the same pay, the same bennies, the same retirement and the same free car as a county supervisor? Do I ever have to vote on a rezoning or raise anybody's taxes?"

CAP DIRTY TRICKS: The supporters of the CAP water initiative have gathered more than enough signatures to qualify the measure for the city's November election. The next question that has to be answered is: What tactics will the opponents of the initiative use to keep it off that ballot or to pre-empt it politically?

Legally, the opponents of the measure could challenge the validity of the petition signatures in several ways. They could use the cheesy and disgraceful "print-is-not-the-right-size" attack used so unsuccessfully in Marana. Or they could opt for "the-circulators-weren't-qualified" method employed in the Rocking K case. Or maybe it will be a new, even more absurd argument.

The other option the opponents to the initiative might take is to appear to be moving toward the same solution for our water problems that the measure demands. Under this deceptive scenario, the Tucson City Council, prior to the November election, would vote to recharge most of the CAP allocation, thus making the initiative unnecessary. Unnecessary, that is, if you trust the council members to do what they say they'll do. We'd sooner trust O.J. with a blonde and a great big knife.

Whatever the tactics, it's likely the policy and political opponents of the initiative will do whatever they can to keep it off the ballot in November, or to make it look obsolete by that time. After all, can you imagine George Miller, who has voted for CAP right down the line over the past 18 years, wanting to run for election with a meaningful water initiative on the ballot at the same time? Stay tuned.

WELFARE SPORTS: This community's elected leadership is falling all over itself trying to convince Jerry Colangelo and his mega-rich partners to support a downtown location for a new baseball stadium. They think, apparently, that it'll have some "economic development" impact, like creating more peanut-selling jobs for Tucson.

But who'll pay for the new stadium? It's certain that Colangelo and his buddies won't want to--that just isn't the way the baseball industry works. The car-rental tax recently hiked by the state legislature won't bring in nearly enough to pay for a new facility. So that leaves you, dear taxpayers.

Whether it's through a "creative financing" technique, the oddly named "certificates of participation," or some other method, it is almost certain that local taxpayers will foot the bill for the stadium. This funding won't come through normal bonding, either, since that would require a vote of the people. Our corrupt elected leadership knows these bonds would never pass, so they'll work out something to avoid asking the voters their opinion.

The Skinny suggests calling the new place Subsidy Field after those who'll pick up the construction tab. That way, while Colangelo and his friends, including our elected whores, are in their luxury boxes and the rest of us are in the cheap seats, the stadium at least would be identified with the working people who paid for it.

Oh, and while they're at it, the politicians should also rename the pointless football game we'll all pay $360,000 for this year. It should be called the "Weiser Lock Copper Bowl, Brought To You By The Taxpayers Of Tucson And Pima County."

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June 29 - July 5, 1995

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