August 31 - September 6, 1995

The Skinny

UNBALANCING ACT: While many local schools are facing overcrowding this year, one local high school is dealing with rapidly declining enrollment, much of it being lost to its sister school, which is bursting at the seams.

Desert View High School was built in the 1980s to relieve crowded conditions at Sunnyside High. (Both schools are in the Sunnyside District.) Boundary lines were drawn to ensure the two schools would have nearly identical enrollments. The schools were designed and staffed toward that end.

For a lot of reasons, Desert View has never emerged from the shadow of its more-established sister school and generally suffers in comparison to Sunnyside, academically, athletically and otherwise. Desert View is probably best known for being the site of an on-campus fatal shooting a couple years back.

The Sunnyside District has an intradistrict transfer policy, with the final say going to the school's principal. In recent years there has been an exodus from Desert View to the point where Sunnyside High now has more than 2,200 students, while Desert View has fewer than 1,400. This has created several problems.

For one thing Sunnyside has been forced to move up to a higher level of athletic competition, which is based on enrollment. Sunnyside must now compete with the likes of Amphi and Salpointe, instead of Palo Verde and Douglas. Desert View is also suffering athletically because of small numbers. The school is in danger of slipping into Class 3A, a division populated by the likes of small-town schools like Sahuarita and Coolidge.

Far more importantly, the schools have vastly different classroom figures. Sunnyside has several classes filled to overflowing, with 40 or more people in a class. Conversely, Desert View has class sizes in the teens and low 20s.

One disgruntled Sunnyside parent blames the imbalance on Sunnyside Principal Raul Nido. "He (Nido) is just a nice guy who can't say 'no' to people. Everybody who asks to come to Sunnyside, he lets in. He needs to be a little less nice so our kids don't suffer."

The Sunnyside School Board, which should have intervened long ago by either enforcing the existing boundaries or cracking down on transfers, reportedly won't do anything until a new middle school is a couple of years.

ALL THE TARGETS ARE IN THE SAME PLACE: Californication Governor and presidential hopeful Pete Wilson (R-Waffle House) was in town the other day and would've been ignored if it weren't for the pickets. Hispanic groups were out in force to protest Wilson's cheesy positions on illegal immigration and affirmative action.

Unfortunately they were playing into Wilson's hands--if they weren't there, he'd have to invent them to give him something resembling a constituency. Right now, it appears he's trying to peel some of the bigot vote off of Pat Buchanan (R-Nuremberg) and stick it with his self-described moderate posture as a pro-choice Republican. Strange mix, and we bet it doesn't work.

But that didn't stop a whole bunch of GOP lemmings from being sucked in behind Congressman Jim "I-want-to-be-a-player" Kolbe. (Jim, to be a player you've first gotta hold a decent hand, and Wilson isn't it.) Lining up with Kolbe are folks like state Sen. Ann Day, former Tucson mayor Lew Murphy and gubernatorial candidate Barbara Barrett--a rich and wonderful woman who should know better--as well as legendary land speculator Don Diamond and Pima County Supervisor Ed Moore. Oh boy, one-stop trashing.

HE'S BAAAAAAACK: The law firm of DeConcini McDonald Brammer Yetwin and Lacy, P. C., has placed a tasteful ad in the August/September issue of Arizona Attorney announcing that Dennis DeConcini, United States Senate, retired, has rejoined the firm and is available for consultation in the areas of government affairs, government contracts and intellectual property rights.

Note that the word not used was "lobbying"--because a federal statute prevents former high-ranking government types from doing so immediately after leaving office. We'd remind you that upon taking office Dennis DeConcini had a net worth of about $1 million, and upon leaving it 18 years later he was worth about $15 million--so much for the vicissitudes of public service. He now plans to milk that tenure some more by consulting on government affairs.

At least the ad was tasteful.

OOOPS: By statute, the Pima County Board of Supervisors is supposed to set tax levies and rates on the third Monday in August. Guess what--they forgot to put the items on the agenda and had to put out an addendum to comply with the law.

We've tried to tell you before that these guys are dysfunctional. They regularly meet on Tuesday. They only reason they had to show up on Monday was the item they forgot about.

FOLKS DRESSED UP WITH NOWHERE TO GO: Rumors have been rife that GOP state Sen. Keith Bee (R-Dist. 9), who was recently married, will retire in 1996 and go to law school. As usual, a number of folks including state Reps. LouAnn Preble and Bill McGibbon, were rumored to be seeking Bee's spot along with several others.

Once again, small problem. Nobody bothered to ask Bee. He's running again, which is just as well--he's one of the few Republicans we send to Phoenix who has only one head.

AND IN DISTRICT 11: We told you earlier to expect Demo state Rep. Elaine Richardson to move up for the state senate seat now held by retiring Demo Peter Goudinoff. Now you can expect a primary, with the district's other Demo rep, Jorge Garcia, also trying for the higher post. That will leave two vacant house seats in a safe Democrat area.

Bet on Richardson. She's one of the few members of the state house from down here with a brain stem, and she regularly runs well ahead of Garcia, who's not a bad guy himself.

IMPACT FEES UPDATE: The Pima Board of Supes held a meeting to discuss development impact fees and a possible moratorium on August 21. The Southern Arizona Homebuilders Ass. packed that meeting with as many bodies as they could, ranging from real estate types to developer employees to contractors and subs. Seems they shot themselves in the foot.

There wasn't room for half the crowd and the speaker system wasn't functioning outside the board hearing room, so Deputy County Attorney David Dingeldine ruled the item would have to be continued at a time and place that would allow all of the public to hear and participate. The supes then moved the hearing to 7 p.m. Monday, September 11, at the TCC.

SAHBA spokesman Alan Lurie opined that it would be better to hold the hearing during the day. Yeah, you bet--that would mean it would be easier for the Slumbuilder's Ass. to bring in the suits and harder for the real folks to make it. Now at least the neighborhood types have a chance to fill the other half of the room, and we'll see how many construction-feeds-my-family folks SAHBA can bring. (Do people who work as drug counselors have bumper stickers that say "Narcotics Addiction Feeds My Family"?) Moral--next time you want to pack a board hearing, little piggies, don't bring too many people.

SEEING STARS: Opponents of the UA's Mount Graham observatory may have been outmaneuvered by the university once again. Last week, Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-District 5) announced that he planned to take the telescope issue back to Congress so lawmakers could "clarify" their intentions when they first gave the UA an exemption from the Endangered Species Act.

As longtime followers of the issue may recall, the university's plan for a compound of telescopes atop Mount Graham ran into trouble back in 1987, when it was discovered that the Mount Graham red squirrel was not extinct, as believed, but merely endangered--and thus, the telescope project was nearly sidelined by the Endangered Species Act.

The UA got around that little spot of trouble by hiring a high-powered Washington law firm to lobby Congress to grant an exemption to the law in 1988. Unfortunately for the UA, the exemption specified where the scopes could go, which became a problem a few years later when they realized the planned site wasn't nearly as good as a nearby location.

The UA got permission from the U.S. Forest Service to change the site, but environmentalists sued to stop the move. A federal judge in Tucson agreed with the greenies and told the UA they couldn't make the switch without conducting an environmental impact statement, a decision which was upheld a few months back by a federal appeals judge in San Francisco.

So now Kolbe has decided to help the UA make an end run around the courts once again. He wants to take the issue back to Congress to allow lawmakers to revisit--and no doubt expand--the 1988 exemption.

We all know that members of this Congress, who have already said they want to flush the Endangered Species Act altogether, would give the UA permission to cut down enough trees to put a toxic waste dump on the mountain. Looks like the university is about to win another round in this ongoing struggle.

MO' MONEY: Since The Weekly's feature last week on campaign finance, three City Council candidates have filed new reports.

Ward 1 Councilman Bruce Wheeler, who is challenging Mayor George Miller in the Democratic primary, has now raised $22,219 and applied for matching funds, which means he'll have more than $40,000 to battle Miller. Of course, if he spends all of it, he won't have anything left for the general election.

Meanwhile, Jose Ibarra, who hopes to take Wheeler's seat by winning the five-candidate Ward 1 Democratic primary, reports raising another $2,345, bringing his new total to $8,811. Ibarra also has applied for matching funds. Among Ibarra's recent contributors are Mayor Miller and his wife Roslyn, who both kicked in $10.

Ward 4 Democrat Shirley Scott has applied for matching funds. She reported raising $6,445.

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August 31 - September 6, 1995

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