Skinny BALLOT BLUNDER: Up until last December, Demitri Downing, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the Ward 3 City Council race, was registered as a Republican.

"Obviously, no one really cares about voter registration too much until it comes up," explains the 25-year-old Downing. "I generally tend to re-register for primaries. If I feel there's no choice in the Democratic Party, I'll re-register Republican so I can influence the election in a certain way. You waste a vote otherwise."

That's an interesting explanation, considering that Downing has never voted in a primary election in Pima County.

In fact, despite a lot of talk about how he's crawled, walked, biked and rode piggyback around Ward 3, Downing never even voted in a general election in Pima County before the 1996 general election, even though he moved back to Tucson from college in May 1994.

Asked about his spotty voting record, Downing says he can't remember if he voted.

"Huh," he says. "I don't know exactly that information.... I suppose if it said I didn't, I didn't."

CAMPAIGN COLLAPSE: As we predicted, Republican Dan Copeland, who was seeking the Ward 3 City Council seat in the November general election, dropped out of the race on Tuesday, August 26.

Copeland, whose campaign had fallen to pieces after the resignation of his treasurer and chairman, sent a letter to City Clerk Kathy Detrick announcing his withdrawal:

"Subsequent to much introspection and consultation with advisors, I have determined it prudent to withdrawn (sic) my petition for the Tucson City Council," Copeland wrote. "This have (sic) been an extremely educational and worthwhile endeavor. Unfortunately, financial constraints prevent from continuing with my grassroots campaign."

Those "financial constraints" came in the wake of former campaign treasurer Mary Preble's allegations that Copeland had failed to properly report his campaign contributions and expenditures. Following Preble's accusations, local Republicans had begun to hold tight to their wallets when Copeland was around.

The effect of Copeland's decision on the police investigation into his campaign finances is unknown.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL: Does anyone else find it ironic that Gov. J. Fife Deadbeat III's best chance to avoid conviction rests with a 74-year-old senior citizen who apparently couldn't even figure out what he was charged with?

Now we have a better understanding of why con men like to target little old ladies.

THOSE TITTERING TWITS OF TV NEWS: We haven't seen so many blow-dried heads bobbin' on a Phoenix street since, well, the last time some other bozo governor got his boney little hubristic ass whacked in public. But the TV news reporters--even some (wow!) anchors--have been out in force for the last couple of weeks, slavering like the pack of rabid morons they are for the Big Story--J. Fife Deadbeat III's jury verdict.

There was Guy Atchley, who wouldn't know a real news story if marched up, pumped his hand and shouted, "Howdy-odie, stranger!" trotting after bulldog defense lawyer John Dowd. Meanwhile, the ever-saccharine Savannah Guthrie busied herself interviewing ignorant customers at a pizza joint near the courthouse, until she landed an interview with quasi-lucid Mary Jane Cotey following the absurd turn of events that saw the 74-year-old dismissed from the jury. (Cotie has become such a media star in Phoenix we're wondering how soon she'll have a book deal.)

Ask yourself this, TV news viewers: Where were these so-called "reporters" when the real Slymington story was breaking? Did they, or more precisely, their fabulously rich "news-gathering" organizations, deem it worthwhile to dig into gubernatorial candidate Slymington's business dealings?

Nope. The overpaid airheads were too busy taping promos informing us all how wonderful and devoted to their craft they really are--when they're not busy hugging orphans, that is. Or covering yet another boring government meeting. ("A full report at ten!")

So instead of real reporting, we got showbiz crapola; instead of real news, we got the gussied-up presentation of pre-scheduled media events (too bad nobody could tell them just when, precisely, the jury would return); instead of insightful analysis, we got, well, someone with a good head o' hair and a plastic smile.

It's shameful, really, what passes for local TV "news" these days. If the average news show were an ice cream treat, you'd have to scrape the dirty corporate fingerprint smudges off the downsized cone before you licked the artificially colored and flavored non-dairy dessert substitute, and then braced yourself for the inevitable anal leakage.

WHY DO CEMENTHEADS OBJECT WHEN YOU NOTICE? Oro Valley Town Councilman Bill Kautenberger was labeled a "friend of developers with a long record of support for development interests" in a recent mailer sent to Oro Valley residents by folks trying to organize the Town of Tortolita. Kautenberger took exception to the charge and, at last week's packed hearing involving the new string of Oro Valley annexations, he demanded that one of the Tortolita speakers prove that charge.

Kautenberger once dismissed riparian Honey Bee Canyon as "just a bunch of rocks and cactus." He showed his true colors when he voted to continue annexing Tortolita into oblivion by supporting the moves by owners of vacant land for Oro Valley annexation, including Vistoso Partners and Wolfswinkel's latest request to slam some more empty dirt, currently zoned low density, into the town.

Why do you think they want that, Bill? If they planned to build the existing zoning, they wouldn't care where it was, would they?

They want Oro Valley because they know it'll be a softer touch than either the current Board of Supes or the potential town of Tortolita--a softer touch personified by Councilman Bill Kautenberger's voting record.

CADDYSHACK, THE SPEED TRAP THAT KEEPS ON GROWING: The Town of Oro Valley just bagged a federal grant of $600,000 to train and hire eight new cops. Apparently President Bill Clinton and the GOP Congress' anti-crime bluster has resulted in a whole lot of new cops not going to high-crime areas, but to sleepy suburban neighborhoods with low crime rates, like Oro Valley.

Oro Valley has the highest police-to-resident ratio of anywhere in Pima County. While this may help them keep their crime rate low, there are also demographic factors involved: There aren't a lot of people with blue hair on the most-wanted list.

If the Oro Valley Council and their citizens want to pay for lots of cops, that's their business. Having plenty of them is really what gives Oro Valley its well-deserved reputation as a speed trap--the town's cops write so many tickets because they have plenty of time to do it. Eight more will increase their traffic-enforcement muscle.

But it's ridiculous for the feds to put eight more cops there that the rest of us pay for, when most of the real crime is going on elsewhere. As far as we know, nobody ever pulled a drive-by shooting from a golf cart.

ANOTHER POTTED PLANT EMERGES: Newly elected Marana Town Councilman Mike Reuwsaat looked like he might be a breath of fresh air for the wretched Dogpatch Council. Reuwsaat is employed by--and a close political ally of--Dick and Shari Kelly, who run Kelly Green Trees. The Kellys have long been active in Alliance Marana, which has been responsible for several efforts to clean up the putrid cesspool that is Marana politics. Dick Kelly ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Ora "Mammy Yokum" Harn in the recall election a couple of years ago.

Reuwsaat has been in office for a few months now, and he votes about the same way as the rest of the hacks, rolling over for every sleazy, gerrymandered annexation that comes along.

On several occasions, Reuwsaat's ignored the wishes of folks who didn't want to be assimilated and voted to pass annexation ordinances on the consent agenda. He has consistently supported the moves of Marana's corrupt bureaucracy.

Only thing that's different about this political potted plant is that he works for a nursery and can maybe learn how to water himself.

Meanwhile, some Marana residents are beginning to ask what's in it for them with all these hokey land grabs.

WANTED: RICH PEOPLE WITH TIME TO KILL: The buttoned-down boys at Madden Publishing have released the premiere issue of Tucson Monthly, and it's mostly consumerist fluff--certainly not the edgy, creative approach that made City Magazine such a legend before its big financial bellyflop.

We suspect the monthly's premier issue isn't going to get much better either, what with the untimely death of feature-writing guru and former City Mag honcho Dick Vonier, who had been advising the Madden fluffmeisters on the nature of real journalism. He will be missed.

Since the Madden boys are mailing the monthly only to upper-crust zip codes in town (the rest of us can pay $2.95 for the privilege of gazing at all those full-color developer and real estate ads), we doubt this publication will have much more impact than its smarmier, slicker competition, Tucson Lifestyle magazine, which has carved out quite a niche for itself publishing bad photos of ugly white people attending various boring parties.

And with advertisers like Diamond Ventures buying full-page displays, you can bet the monthly will never attempt a hard look at the real issues in this town, nor will it ever offer anything but the standard party line.

For example, in its big spread on Tucson's growth issues, the monthly mentions big-time lobbyists pushing to change the state's municipal incorporation law, but it never mentions who might have hired all those lobbyists to do all that pushing. It's not real hard to figure out why, given the giant Diamond Ventures ad in the front of the magazine.

We live in a harsh desert environment that kills people left and right; as a species we're greedily trashing a unique bioregion with land-raping development, urban sprawl and pollution. Our population is a wild mix of cultures; and our politicians are just as sleazy as those in any American city. So why, oh why, does local journalism have to be so bland?

GIMME SHELTER: Sunnyside High School is a closed campus, with school district monitors and Tucson Police Department officers prowling the grounds to keep folks both in and out. Sadly, these dedicated servants end up standing in the blazing sun, a routine broken only by the occasional soaking rainstorm.

They have to endure these miserable conditions because Sunnyside High School Principal Mary Garcia (wife of TUSD Superintendent George Garcia) doesn't seem to consider their comfort important.

On one occasion, a small, air-conditioned building was donated to the cause, but the school's honchos worried that the lowly and low-paid monitors might goldbrick if they were out of sight indoors, so the building was usurped for other purposes. Several makeshift ramadas have blown down over the years, leaving the monitors and cops without shelter.

Several monitors have come down with heat rash and heat stroke this summer. TPD officers, meanwhile, are sweating bullets because they're forced to wear those stupid, dark uniforms. Principal Garcia hasn't been able to find the funds to keep them out of the sun and rain, but she did recently acquire about $10,000 worth of new office furniture. Guess noblesse oblige isn't just for the Catalina Foothills. TW

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