Filler The Skinny

CHARTER FRIGHT: A few weeks ago, Pima County supervisors put us on the track toward charter government, that white-knuckled legislative thrill ride that allows us to elect a panel of citizens who will draw up a new blueprint for self-governance.

Just think: We could eliminate elective offices! Double the number of supervisors! Restructure our tax laws! Ban alcohol! It's practically the end of history.

Once the charter is written, we give it thumbs-up or thumbs-down in an election sometime in July or August of 1997.

Which, we think, is a big problem with the process--a mid-summer election ensures low turn-out, which is generally good for big-money interests and bad for La Raza. The supes should have had us elect the committee last winter, so we could be approving the charter in November, when lots of folks will be going to out to the polls to vote for powerhouse Bob Dole. As it now stands, when it comes time to approve this thing, everybody's going to be in San Diego.

But our quibbles with the process aside (Who expects this board to do anything right, anyway?), we think the folks running for the charter panel bear close watching. We've kind of got our hands full right now, but any of the scorps at the dailies or the TV stations can feel free to pick up the beat anytime. That is, if you're done interviewing people at the airport.

AND SPEAKING OF PICKING UP THE BEAT: As the September 10 primary approaches, you still can't tell by reading The Arizona Daily Star.

Nevertheless, Pima County government faces the possibility of big changes. The District 3 seat is up in the air, we're getting a brand-new county attorney and there's the aforementioned charter business. But not a word--or a by-line--from the Star's purported political reporter, Joe Salkowski.

Salkowski finally broke his long silence on Sunday, July 28, with a piece about polling data on Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III. We're told Salkowski's planning his trips to the two national political conventions, which means the Star will give us a third-string local slant on two boring coronations in lieu of local political news many still consider relevant, even if the Star doesn't.

We don't grasp the Star's motivation in this. Salkowski is still getting paid, so it isn't even budgetary. And the vacuum his apparent lack of interest--or his editor's--has caused has been partially filled by Capitol Media Service's Howie Fisher, who's been writing stories about statewide polls on state issues and personalities--usually from Earl deBerge's Rocky Mountain Poll, a source we don't trust because of deBerge's political connections. One recent Fisher promo for deBerge covered what ordinary Pima County folks supposedly think about teen problems. Gee, hasn't that one been beaten to death already?

Now if the Star would only cover what the folks running for all those offices in Pima County--from school boards to county attorney-- think about teen problems, maybe we could call it a newspaper again.

AND WHILE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THAT PRIMARY: Yes, the September 10 primary is just a month away--and the deadline for registering to vote is nearly upon us. If you haven't signed up with the Democrats or the Republicans by midnight on Monday, August 12, you don't get to take place in that grand experiment we call Democracy. Not that it'll stop you from complaining about how the whole damned country is going straight into the shitter.

THE RIGHT TO ARM BEARS: A Skinny source familiar with Mount Lemmon tells us the current problem with too many aggressive bears up there was formerly resolved on a regular basis by transporting the bears to...Mount Graham! But since the University of Arizona began its arrogant endeavor to build an astronomical enclave on Mount Graham, the practice of exporting bears there was halted.

Also, oldtimers tell us there were often bear sightings in Reddington Pass east of town, and that many of the fanged, furry critters were probably Mount Lemmon bears transported to Mount Graham who were simply trying to return home.

All of which tends to back up many of the environmental arguments about the UA's rape of Mount Graham, and the belief there was a whole lot more being disturbed besides red squirrels.

STEIGER SUES WOODS: Radio talk show host, columnist, and former Congressman Sam Steiger has sued Attorney General Grant Woods in a taxpayer action to recover the 100 grand or so Steiger claims Woods illegally appropriated to cover his legal fees in the recent whitewash investigation conducted of Woods' office.

We've touched on the whitewash and the illegal appropriation earlier, but the only local coverage of the Steiger suit was an inane editorial in the Tucson Citizen.

The Citizen, like most of the establishment media, has its nose up Woods' ass for reasons we don't grasp. But their editorial staff's incompetence showed once again. In giving Woods one of their usual political blowjobs, they referred to Steiger as a former aide to Governor Symington. It was Governor Mecham, dweebs.

NOLAND NEXT SECRETARY OF STATE? Should Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III get convicted or take the plea bargain in return for his resignation--which we all know will be offered--Secretary of State Jane Hull will become governor, and acquire the power to appoint her successor. Strong rumor is that she'll choose outgoing Pima County GOP state Sen. Patti Noland. Noland served in the State House of Representatives with Hull when Hull was speaker and the two are good friends and close political allies.

OUTING MCCLAIN: Is it possible we may no longer have Tucson Water Director C. Kent McClain to kick around any more?

Tucson City Manager Mike "The Spike" Brown told The Skinny McClain could be replaced by former Deputy City Manager

Bill Ealy.

Ealy, who is bright and plays his cards close to the vest, is the guy responsible for the current system of management--or non-management--at Tucson Water. He mentored under the Prince of Darkness Himself, former City manager Joel Valdez. Tucson Mayor George Miller is said to be supporting the idea of replacing McClain. City Hall insiders are saying it's possible Miller could put together strong support for Ealy, who, we are told, will only take the job if he can head the department as a private consultant. Ealy also wants the ability to get staff "support from inside and outside the department."

Other pay and "conditions" on the table include a $120,000 annual salary and an equal amount for Ealy's severance pay--should he need it.

So what will happen to McClain? For now, says Brown, if Ealy is brought aboard, McClain will be asked to perform "special assignments."

Insiders say Miller will have to ask for support from Councilwoman Molly McKasson to bring Ealy aboard. Miller, it seems, is getting the cold shoulder from Councilman Michael Crawford, who is opposed to replacing his buddy McClain. TW

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