Skinny LORD HAVE MERCY: The Rev. Joel Ireland, who is currently serving his third term on the TUSD Board, had a little run-in with the cops on last Friday, August 28. Seems Ireland got into trouble when his sometime galpal Rebecca Covell was pulled by Sheriff's deputies for suspected DUI.

The 45-year-old Ireland, who's been handling insurance cases for Goldberg and Osborn since he was being dumped at local bigwig firm of Chandler Tullar Udall & Redhair, swooped like an eagle to the 32-year-old Covell's rescue.

Sheriff's officials gave this account, based on Deputy Benjamin Hill's report: Covell was driving her 1979 Mercedes north on Alvernon near 29th Street when Hill stopped her for DUI investigation just before 10 p.m. Ireland, who was trailing Covell in another vehicle, pulled up and let Hill know he and Covell were traveling together in their separate vehicles. Ireland, Hill reported, "came out of his car and yelled at the deputy that he was her attorney and that it was an illegal traffic stop among other things. Mr. Ireland was extremely uncooperative and belligerent."

So belligerent, in fact, that Hill called for Tucson police to handle Ireland while he administered a field sobriety test to Covell, who obviously flunked.

"Ms. Covell was arrested for DUI and TPD and other deputies dealt with Mr. Ireland," Hill wrote. "He was not arrested at this time."

Sheriff's spokesmen said this week that blood was taken from Covell at Kino Community Hospital. Results from the blood-alcohol test were not expected until next week.

The spokesmen also said that issues arising from Ireland's behavior were turned over to Tucson police for evaluation and possible action. Sgt. Eugene Mejia, TPD's spokesman, did not return The Weekly's calls.

CRISIS IN THE COP SHOP: The resignation of Tucson Police Chief Doug Smith late last week came as a surprise to no one. Sure, we believe that this new job is a wonderful career opportunity, that taking a $25,000 to $30,000 pay cut is a good career move, that he's felt honored to work for the Tucson Police Department and yada yada yada; we also believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Truth be told it was too hot in the kitchen. With more lawsuits in the wings and the rank and file running amuck with no leadership, it was time to go. Will he be missed? Other than the top staff, many said they'd maybe met him once or twice. They say Smith was more comfortable wearing his sparkling uniform for community fundraisers than fraternizing with cops.

Insiders say Assistant Chief Danny Sharp has run the day-to-day operations since Smith came on board. When Smith demoted Sharp over the "Danaher thing," everyone knew just what kind of guy Doug Smith was.

Though involved himself, Smith immediately distanced himself from the Danaher mess; and rather than deal with the facts and show some loyalty, he sold his officers down the river at the first sign of public outrage over an alleged cover-up of Danaher's drunken driving accident. Things haven't been the same since. Apparently clueless, with Sharp not at the helm, Smith decided on a quick exit.

Now, of course, we have the $64,000 question: Who'll take over?

It is a police department that is hurting, a department that is divided, and in some cases, a department that is out of control. Forget "serve and protect," TPD is barely functional.

We certainly don't want another carpetbagger like Smith plugged in to the chief's position to clean things up. We'd like to see a cop who knows the community, someone who knows the officers, someone who knows where the bodies are buried. And, ironically, Danny Sharp is just that kind of man.

The Tucson City Council should act quickly to appoint Sharp to the top cop spot. Every day's delay will worsen an already dangerously floundering police department. And when the cops in any community go rotten, it takes years, if not decades, to clean up the corrupt, putrid mess.

BUT WHO WILL CARRY HIS BAGS? What better way to put a positive spin on a troubled tenure as police chief than to spoonfeed your resignation exclusively to your favorite reporter? Set to announce his resignation last Saturday, Doug Smith reeled in Tucson Citizen cop reporter, a.k.a. Officer Dave Teibel, the cop shop's best and longest-serving PR man. Officer Dave obliged with a front-page piece that managed to be both obsequious and insipid.

Hey Officer Dave, it's time for a new beat. You've been hanging out, in the strip clubs and at the TPD bunker, with your cop buddies for too long. You're MIA when it comes to covering police misconduct and department mismanagement, like the Danaher mess a few months back.

Smith was hoping to stick it to the press that didn't give him or his wretched department a free ride, namely the Tucson Weekly and The Arizona Daily Star. But Officer Dave's pathetic fishwrap barely breaks through to 30,000 readers with its throw-away Saturday rag. After his press release from Officer Dave, Smith called the Star at 8 a.m. Saturday to announce that he would hold a press conference in an hour. No one is at the Star at 8 a.m. on Saturdays. And it's a blessing to get one of the young reporters to show up for the Saturday cop and general assignment shift by 9 a.m.

Star reporters were neither annoyed nor shocked by Smith's little trick. They came back with a thorough piece Sunday that reached more than six times the readers bored by Officer Dave's fluff in the Citizen.

COMING UP NEXT--AN INTERVIEW WITH THE POPE: Last week we reported a rather bizarre incident on the new KNST talk-show hosted by former jock commentators Eric Thomae and John Schuster. We dissed both of them for their ineptitude. We also dissed their guest, U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, for some dumb remarks about the Clinton/Lewinsky fiasco.

Oooooops! Turns out it wasn't Kyl, but merely some guy claiming to be Kyl. He conned not only Eric and John, but our spy as well. Our guy was so otherwise unimpressed by the program that he hasn't tuned in since to hear KNST's profuse apology to Kyl.

Now it's time for our apology. While some of us may not like Kyl's politics, the remarks reported were out of character for him, which didn't prevent us from getting conned too. Sorry, Senator.

Meanwhile, our disdain for pathetic putzes Eric and John only increases. And here's a couple of hints these radio bozos: United States senators and other high-ranking muckety-mucks don't call in blind; they usually have their staff call ahead to request a convenient time. When somebody claims they're somebody important it's not too hard to tell if they're phonies, so the next guy who claims he's Jon Kyl or Pope John Paul, John Lennon, John the Baptist or maybe John Wayne should be easy to spot--if you have a brain. Which, we recognize, is the hard part.

WHAT IF THEY HAD AN ELECTION AND NOBODY CAME? Recent reports from other counties indicate there may not be enough folks who want to sit in voting places all day long and act as poll watchers. And without 'em, we've got a problem with legal elections.

The problem is more acute in Maricopa County, where the economy is better and the pay for this one-day gig barely exceeds minimum wage. Secretary of State Betsey Bayless has warned us that we could have a shortage there and elsewhere to comply with the statutory provisions about the number of poll workers per precinct, a minimum of six.

Here's your problem: It's a dumb law. Some precincts have a couple thousand voters and need more than six workers; others don't even have six voters! This archaic law, left over from territorial days, is one of the reasons Arizona elections are so damn primitive. These election-day jobs were originally created as low-grade patronage for the two major political parties who dolled them out. Now neither party has enough loyalists to fill them up.

So maybe it's time to change the law, allowing election officials more flexibility in where they install people. Having six election workers in the many precincts with less than 100 voters is just plain stupid and a waste of tax money. Legislative candidates, please note: No high-priced lobbyist will ever write this bill for you, nor will most of the party hacks support any change. You'll have to do it yourself.

PETITION POSITION: While the Tucson City Clerk has held up the initiative drive to secure ward-only elections, a state initiative of questionable validity has been placed on the November ballot by a court order. Proposition 202 asks all federal candidates to pledge (or not) to eliminate the federal income tax. The process of petition validation by sample came up short--if they drop below 105 percent of the sigs needed, then all signatures must be verified by the 15 county recorders.

The Maricopa County Recorder argued she didn't have time to verify all the signatures, so the matter went to court. The ruling by Judge Donald Daughton was simple: The unverified signatures are presumed valid, and the voters can decide. In other words, unless you can prove signatures on petitions are invalid, they're good. No one loses by letting the folks decide an issue.

The matter was settled long ago by the State Supreme Court in Save Our Public Lands v. Stover, 135 Ariz. 461.662, p.2D 136 (1983), which spelled out the requirements of petitions under ARS 19-121.04. We pass this on to those in the Tucson City Attorney's Office, which may be ignorant of both the statute and the principle involved in the case law, and to City Clerk Kathy Detrick, who has clearly acted beyond her legal capacity in holding up an initiative measure based on her as-yet-undefined "suspicions."

It's ironic that Tucson voters will be denied the opportunity to consider an initiative measure validated by the Pima County Recorder, while statewide voters will get to rule on one that was clearly questionable.

The big questions: What happened to all those heavy hitters who ran the ward-only petition drive here? Why haven't they hauled the city into court to get the measure placed on the ballot? Are they too broke or cheap to hire a lawyer? Or are they just cowed when a bureaucrat makes an outrageous decision? A "pending investigation" is not sufficient legal grounds to deny the voters who signed all those petitions the fundamental right to have the matter submitted to the electorate. TW

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