Skinny BULLDOZED: The environmental crowd got a wake-up call last week at the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, when the Growth Lobby successfully packed the meeting with hundreds of cementheads and succeeded in delaying--and maybe killing--a package of ordinances that would have tightened riparian and hillside protection.

Those much-heralded ordinances have to reach the Board of Supervisors before August, when a new state law prohibiting any restrictions that reduce property values goes into effect.

But first the proposed rules had to pass the county's Planning and Zoning Commission. They were scheduled, well in advance, for the June 24 P&Z meeting. And at that point the cementheads took control and knocked the greens on their ass.

Commissioner Bill Arnold was in rare form. Appointed to the Commission by former Supervisor Paul Marsh, Arnold has been the principal spearchucker for the cementheads throughout his tenure on P&Z. In the weeks leading up to the vote, Arnold sent out a memo from "HQ" regarding "planning the assault," which invited members of his stucco-posse to a meeting at the Viscount Hotel to develop a strategy for killing the proposed ordinances.

If Supervisor Ray Carroll had been on the ball, Arnold wouldn't have even been on the Commission. Carroll, after failing to get Arnold's resignation last year, didn't replace him when his term of office expired before this key meeting. Carroll claims he didn't know that Arnold would still be allowed to serve until replaced and thought the position was vacant. Well, Ray, you gonna to replace him now? Or does Arnold get to keep gumming up the works?

Meanwhile, several desert-friendly Commissioners were AWOL. Elinor Marcek, the Commission chairwoman, was out of town, and Lydia Grijalva (sister and appointee of District 5 Supervisor Raul Grijalva) had to leave early because of a family emergency--which left two desperately needed votes out of the room.

As a result, the Growth Lobby won as the Commission voted to "study"--(translated: stall)--the ordinances for a couple of months--and since the Supes can't vote on the proposals until P&Z passes 'em along, that means they can't beat that August deadline.

But here's the good news: There's still a chance the ordinances could pass. Bill Hausman, an appointee of Supervisor Sharon Bronson, has asked for reconsideration of the ordinances at the P&Z Commission's July 29 meeting. Meanwhile, Bronson is tweaking the ordinances slightly and asking the Board to send 'em in amended form in front of the Commission again.

If either of those ploys works, and if Carroll replaces Arnold, and if Marcek and Grijalva can manage to attend the meeting long enough to vote, they might just be able to get those new rules to the Supes in time for an early August vote.

But that's a whole lotta "ifs." It's time to see just how serious the Board is about restraining growth.

WHAT IF THEY HAD AN ELECTION AND NOBODY RAN? All six of Pima County's state senators are running unopposed by any major party candidates in both their primary and general elections. That doesn't mean we're happy with them--it means something's wrong with the system and with the leadership of the two major political parties, who seem unable to come up with opposition candidates.

The Arizona Daily Star's editorial staff opines that the problem is caused by "safe districts" and pushes the latest panacea, an impartial reapportionment committee. That's just one more phony attempt to take the politics out of politics. The Star also claims that raising legislators' pay would lure more candidates. BS--we used to get plenty of candidates when the pay sucked a whole lot worse, and "safe districts" doesn't explain why some of these bozos, specifically Republican Ann Day and Democrat Ruth Solomon, have no primary opponents.

Day almost had GOP opposition because she double-crossed Casas Adobes and Tortolita, the two towns whose residents hoped to settle their legal status with a new incorporation bill. Ted Schlinkert began running against her some time ago on that issue. Unfortunately, Schlinkert never bothered to tell his supporters that he was having a tough time gathering the paltry 400 or so signatures needed to oppose Day. Instead, he filed as a Libertarian at the last minute. Nice going, Ted. Sleep well, Ann.

How Schlinkert expects to keep even some of the Libertarian vote when he's a hard right-to-life supporter is another question, but indicative of just how far down the tubes the process has slipped.

It's time for the Star to quit rationalizing why nobody's running for things any more. They and the rest of the establishment media have consistently failed to report on the shortcomings of many of our incumbents in the legislature and elsewhere. In fact, they've pretty much quit reporting on local politics at all. Gee, wonder if that's a factor?

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? We always relish criticizing Salpointe High School because of the resulting barrage of vitriolic responses our words invariably provoke--yes, even we need to feel appreciated from time to time. Thus, it's with great pleasure that we note a quote from Salpointe's development director, Charlotte Harris, in response to the arrest of a former Salpointe basketball coach, Brian England, for allegedly transmitting sexually explicit depictions of minors over the Internet.

The Arizona Daily Star quotes Harris as saying England's job as coach, "wasn't a very significant position."

Excuse us, but any position working with students--from groundskeeper to principal--is a significant position. Maybe we're finally getting to the root of the problems at Salpointe--blatant idiocy.

England was a subsitute teacher at Salpointe on a fairly regular basis, and he worked at the Brian Peabody Summer Basketball Camp for at least two summers. He occasionally drove one of the vans when the Salpointe basketball players went to California. He was an unpaid volunteer coach for at least two seasons in addition to the one season he was paid.

Instead of downplaying England's role at the the school, Salpointe officials should be checking with every kid who came in contact with this guy.

BOARD OF MEDDLERS: It's been a June to remember. At their first meeting, TUSD Board members shuffled a large deck of school administrators.

One of the moves has backfired. Parents, teachers and students are howling over the transfer of the popular Paul Hatch from Tucson High to Catalina High. As an assistant principal at Tucson, Hatch is credited with making that previously turbulent, violent campus safe. Tucson High groups are protesting and asking the TUSD School Board majority--The Rev. Joel T. Ireland, Gloria Copeland and Brenda Even--to reverse their decision.

But the Tucson High group's dedication--picketing in 105-degree heat--seemed to spur the troika to further meddling. Ireland, Copeland and Even then modified a suspension for William Reed, a former assistant principal at Catalina, where Ireland's brother will now serve as an assistant principal.

Reed was suspended for five days without pay for failing to submit teacher evaluations to North Central Association accreditation folks on time. The majority modified district policy to allow administrators the right to appeal. The Ireland/ Copeland/Even majority then handed back Reed's pay. Confusion has reigned over whether Reed took a similar job in California while on board-approved leave. Staffers on leave are forbidden from taking other jobs.

District brass actually contended they couldn't determine if Reed was working at Nogales High School in Rowland Heights, Calif. Yep, that would be a tough phone call.

TUSD is governed by a tyranny of a majority: Ireland, Even and Copeland, the one they drag along with promises of pork.

There is a side benefit. Even, who is running for the Board of Supervisors in a special Republican primary on September 8, encourages people to check her record at TUSD. Voters in District 4, covering the eastside and Green Valley, will see that record is one of meddling and arrogance.

At TUSD there is little hope because opposition is feeble. Board members Mary Belle McCorkle and James Noel Christ dissented on the Reed issue last week, with McCorkle saying: "I do appreciate it that the majority of the Governing Board did change their own policy so they could do this. I do object to, I guess, the fact that I think the Governing Board is meddling in something that we should not be."

"Yeah, Mr. Ireland," Christ said, "I just want to add to what Dr. McCorkle said. I believe that the district should create policy and then carry out that policy based upon, uh, interpret that policy based upon the needs of individuals--whether those individuals are parents, students or employees. And in this case I see that the district, uh, instead of that, rearranged its policy to fit the needs of its employee; and did so, I think, to the detriment of the district."

That's where credibility is absent.

You see, Jimbo has his own little conflict, though not an official one. He teaches English at Sunnyside High School. His wife, Mary, is a counselor there. (They're good enough to take Sunnyside taxpayers' money, but too good to live in that district.) Their boss, the Sunnyside superintendent, is Mary Garcia, the wife of the TUSD Superintendent, George Garcia. Christ votes on his boss' husband's salary, among other matters.

It gets worse. Jimbo had no problem violating TUSD policy in 1996 and 1997 when he and the board allowed TUSD social worker Luis Araiza to take leave. Araiza soon got a teaching job with a charter school. But no complaints from Jimbo. That's because Araiza also became one of his bosses at Sunnyside, winning election to the Sunnyside School Board in 1996.

As radio talk-show blabblermouth John C. Scott would say, "It's incestual!"

WILL THIS EARLY BIRD BAG THE WORM? While pols seeking a place on this fall's ballot were filing their petition signatures last week, one local candidate was getting a head start on next year's Tucson mayoral race. Democrat Paul Wallace, Jr. recently filed his intention to seek the office--15 months before the city's primary election.

Wallace, 50, has lived in town since 1985. He's retired from the military and for the past 10 years has been a SunTran bus driver.

He got started so early, Wallace says, because he's an unknown in local politics and thus he'll need the time to get his name recognized. So he's already started collecting petition signatures and money for his shot at George Miller--provided Miller decides he wants to run again. TW

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