TOMMY, COME HOME: Tucson City Councilflake Tom Saggau was due back last Monday, September 19, but he missed yet another meeting. His staff told us he wanted to be there, but he was "delayed."
His continuing absence has begun to even trouble his staunch allies on the council. Mayor George Miller, who just a few weeks ago assured us Tom was on his way back to town and eager to return to council business, told the morning daily this week the situation was "very serious. That office is not being represented by a council member. He needs to get back here right away."
Others on the council are ready to give him the boot. On Tuesday, September 20, Ward 5 Councilman Steve Leal fired off a memo to Miller, saying that Saggau's problems are "preventing him from honoring both his commitment to our community and to the Mayor and Council, who need his presence in matters requiring a vote. While it is not my intention to further complicate his life, I feel that we must ask for his resignation and then set about the business of replacing him for the duration of his term."
Saggau might just hold onto his seat. Seems his absences have been excused, although nobody seems to remember granting him a leave of absence. Although he has no recall of actually excusing him, Miller announced at each meeting that Saggau was "absent, excused," which may have let Tommy off the hook.
Most observers are wondering just exactly what his "excuse" might be, besides hiding from his wife, who has some papers to serve him.
We're also told by high-ranking city sources that the only phone number for Saggau that's operative is a national paging service which can chase him down in whatever state he's in--possible locations include Massachusetts and West Virginia. Saggau then returns the call, maybe, within a couple of days.
TOTALED RECALL: After nearly certifiable Supe Special Ed Moore began his pen-pal relationship with Master of Earth and Sky Bill Gates, Tucson City Councilwoman Janet Marcus declared Moore should be recalled. Her suggestion was seconded by the increasingly weary Tucson Citizen, which ran an editorial calling for a recall campaign if Ed didn't resign.
Well, we suspect Ed won't be stepping down anytime soon, but we also think a recall campaign would be an enormous waste of time. Here's why:
Let's assume, for argument's sake, that it will take about a month for a group to get organized to begin collecting signatures--probably a best-case scenario. The group would have 90 days to gather sigs, which is no easy task in spread-out District 3.
But say recall supporters work their asses off and gather enough signatures. They'd turn in their petitions somewhere in mid-January 1996. The signatures would be validated and then the supes would set an election date six months down the line, which would be June 1996--about the same time folks would be registering to run in the District 3 primary. And that timeline assumes Moore won't delay the recall process through the courts, which he probably would.
So, in less than half a year, we'd have a recall election, a primary election and a general election.
So what should all those candidates who want Moore's seat do? Should they jump into the recall? Hang back and run in the primary against him? Run as a Demo in the general?
Elections are complicated affairs that involve spending both by taxpayers and by the candidates themselves. And the candidates have to gather both signatures and contributions to run a successful campaign. Campaigns also depend heavily on the work of volunteers, who burn out quickly enough during a regular race. Tossing in a recall would only compound that problem.
In short, a recall against Moore would be an expensive waste of everyone's time. The suggestion shows an astonishing lack of political sense by Marcus, who should know better, given her experience working with groups like Common Cause. And seeing the Citizen support the idea just reminds us how pathetically clueless the paper remains about the local political scene.
THE QUICK AND THE DIM: Pima County Supervisor Paul Marsh recently heard some complaints about speeders on an eastside street. Seems the residents had requested speed bumps and more patrols by the Sheriff's Department.
Marsh reasonably pointed out to them why speed bumps would be impractical. He then urged them, through their neighborhood association, to write and call the Sheriff's Department and put the pressure on for more patrols.
Wait a minute--isn't this the same Paul Marsh who wanted to cut the sheriff's budget? And isn't this the same Paul Marsh who is chairman of the Board of Supervisors? Isn't the chairman able to pick up the phone and call the sheriff himself? All he did was send a copy of his letter asking citizens to call the sheriff to the Sheriff's Department. How's that for constituent service? Excuse us, Paul, but your title is Chairman of the Board, not Chairman of the Onlookers. It's part of your job to follow through, not ask your constituents to do it themselves.
DOGPATCH DOODLING: Last week, we mistakenly noted the rubes out in Dogpatch-Marana were trying to annex a trailer park on Oracle Road. It should have read Orange Grove Road. Sorry--hope folks on Oracle didn't panic.
And Marana has some other annexation problems: The state Supreme Court has sent back to Superior Court the suit brought by the City of Tucson claiming Marana illegally annexed what's now nearly Marana's entire revenue base in the Ina-Thornydale area. Dogpatch Town Manager Hurvie "Lonesome Polecat" Davis says not to worry--even if the annexation is thrown out, they'll just re-petition the area because they believe most of the merchants will want to remain in Marana.
Maybe, but that does raise a small problem. If the 1992 annexation is ruled illegal, why would the Marana goons get to keep the millions in sales taxes they collected under an illegal annexation? How about a class action suit, Price Club and Kmart customers?
NICHOLS FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: State Rep. Andy Nichols wrote a long, meandering op-ed piece for the ever-dwindling afternoon rag in which he attempted to tell his side of a now famed sign incident. At least famous to him, or he wouldn't have spent all that ink defending his blatant stupidity.
Nichols complains about an article in The Weekly that made him look like the bad guy over having a citizen arrested for removing one of Nichols' campaign signs last election. It's interesting that he chose the Tucson Citizen for a response instead of sending a letter to us, which we would have published. That may be because we would have responded.
Furthermore, the issue of where the sign was located revolved about the inability of the arresting officer and the Nichols campaign to comprehend the legal difference between a right of way and an easement. Nichols defends the practice of putting signs in rights of way, ignoring that the sign in question was on an easement.
OK, Andy, one more time: It's illegal to put signs--any signs--in rights of way, and for a damn good reason: They block people's view and are traffic hazards. That the law is rarely enforced against candidates or homebuilders doesn't justify breaking it. And an easement, as the county attorney figured out after your campaign forced the homeowner to acquire a lawyer, remains private property in all other regards, and politicians do not have an inherent right to slap signs on them without the permission of the owner.
Nichols' response shows he still doesn't grasp that politicians are not licensed to put signs wherever they want, be the property public or private. He still believes that use of public places has long been part of our political tradition, claiming that means signs in rights of way are OK. And he complains that we called him ignorant and arrogant.
Andy, you're obviously ignorant. And you're still arrogant.
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