Skinny HEY HONEY! NOW'S THE TIME TO CANCEL OUR BORING STAR SUBSCRIPTION! Rumors persist that top brass at that cold, gray fishwrap, The Arizona Daily Suckwad, have been given the following orders by their Pulitzer Publishing overlords: Increase circulation by 15 percent, or heads will roll.

Are you tired of the morning daily's non-coverage of local politics; its weirdly mincing editorial-page style; its incredibly dull Sunday edition; its bootlicking reliance on the official government version of what's supposedly going on here? Well then, if ever there were a time to cancel your subscription, this is it.

Send a message to the top-heavy turkeys basting in all those bucks at Pulitzer Central: Tucson needs a paper that's not afraid to kick ass and take names. We need a paper whose top editors aren't afraid to offend the local power structure, who don't give a damn what the boys at the country club will say the next day.

Hey, wait a minute--that's us! Uh, never mind. Guess we like the Star just the way it is, thanks. That crack executive editor Steve Auslander is the best thing that ever happened to Tucson journalism. His news judgment is worth every penny of the $40 million or so in profits Pulitzer sucks out of this community every year.

FUN TIMES AT THE WEASELS-AND-WIMPS BALL: Last week's jolly spectacle in Pima County Superior Court points up just what it is about The Arizona Daily Star we here at "another paper," as the daily media so kindly refer to us, love so much.

So there's Steve Auslander and Star Managing Editor Bobbie Jo Buel cooling their heels in the courtroom of new-kid-on-the-bench Judge Kenneth Lee. They're waiting for Lee to rescind his idiotic restraining order which prevents the Star from printing a simple news story--a situation that's practically unheard of in the annals of First Amendment freedom.

The news story concern's how TUSD officials attempted to keep secret their thousands of dollars worth of sex-harassment settlements on behalf of a longtime administrator, Ed Arriaga. In other words, the Star, Tucson's mightiest news-gathering organization, was apparently blocked from telling its readers how TUSD officials are spending public funds. TUSD officials argued that the information, which the Star received anonymously, was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Their argument was utter hogwash on its face, and yet another example of how some meddling TUSD Board members--and Joel Ireland in particular--have twisted TUSD into the service of their good-old-boy network. Judge Lee's interference with a newspaper's First Amendment right on such a flimsy argument speaks poorly of the caliber of superior court judges these days. And the Star' editors' meek submission to such ill-informed and moronic reasoning speaks volumes about their lack of guts.

Obviously, the Star isn't the public's watchdog; it's merely a lap dog for powerful commercial interests. And when a lap dog is threatened with the back of the hand, it usually cowers in fear, which is exactly what the Star did in this case.

So the Star brass were sitting there in Lee's courtroom, like good little children, when someone brought in a few copies of The Weekly, which had just printed the Arriaga story. We wish we'd been there when someone read from TW's table of contents: "Here's everything The Arizona Daily Star wanted to tell you about TUSD last week, but was too chickenshit to print..."

It's only fitting, isn't it, that the bigwigs who control our pretend morning newspaper should be shelling out $150 an hour to hear something like that read in open court? Too bad for the community they weren't forking over that kind of cash instead defending themselves for printing the Arriaga story in the first place. That's what a real newspaper would have done.

G-L-O-R-I-A, GLORIA: Elsewhere at TUSD, meddling Board member Gloria Copeland, who is seeking re-election on the November ballot, undid Palo Verde High School's previously successful method of curbing tardiness. Monitors sweep up tardy students and place them in a 55-minute or 90-minute detention. Students used to be able to sit, ostensibly to study or do homework. But they turned it in to a daily social, with lots of primping and deliberate, coordinated tardies. Principal Carole Schmidt and her staff then copied Pueblo High School and took away the cushy seating. Late students now get to stand for the duration of the class they missed. Reports from Palo Verde say the switch helped drop the number of stragglers dramatically.

But when a parent whined to Copeland that her tardy child had to stand, Copeland appeared at the school to snort at three assistant principals and order that the students be allowed to sit. Schmidt confronted her. The principal won praise from staff by telling Gloria that she and other meddling TUSD Board members have no right to charge onto campuses to issue orders and undermine administrators.

Schmidt should be commended for telling Gloria, valedictorian of the Ed Moore School of Government, to hit the road. The spineless lackeys in TUSD headquarters, however, lacked Schmidt's resolve. They buckled and ordered Schmidt to restore those poor, suffering, tardy students' right to chill on their pampered little asses.

Hey Gloria, if there's a problem, do what you were elected to do. This was no emergency. Bring it to the full Board for a public--we repeat, public--discussion.

APOLITICAL: The Star continued its tradition of avoiding politics by skipping two forums seven of the nine candidates for the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board appeared at last week. Two seats are open in the November 3 general election. Mary Bustamante of the Tucson Citizen covered the first forum and did a good job reporting it. One thing that became very clear is how shallow and ill-prepared Laurie Ann Grana is. She's the put-up candidate of the Tucson Education Association and TUSD Board President Joel Ireland.

Grana is ignoring election law. She has not included the legally required disclaimer on her literature that says who's paying for the material. Candidate Diane Carrillo, who missed both forums last week, also has campaign literature out that fails to state who's paying for it. Both candidates will face fines if authorities enforce the law.

AND SPEAKING OF TUSD CANDIDATES: We noted with pleasure Pila Martinez's piece in last Sunday's Star updating us on Arizona International College, that plucky start-up that moved this year to the UA campus from the sterile environment of the UA Science and Technology Park way out somewhere near Benson.

"I hated it out there," Professor Edwin Clausen told Martinez, adding that all the talk about the wonderful surrounding was just "delivering the party line"--which is apparently the smart thing to do when you don't have tenure, which AIC profs have been denied as part of grand experiment by the Board of Regents.

Clausen's comments echo what Weekly reporter Margaret Regan observed repeatedly in her award-winning work on AIC over the last three years. For her efforts, former AIC provost Celestino Fernández blackballed Regan, primarily because he found her stories to be too negative--meaning she turned a critical eye to his rosy bullshit.

Now the slick Fernández has left AIC and returned to his tenured position (which, of course, he never surrended) in the UA Sociology Department. He's already taken leave from that position to seek a seat on the TUSD School Board, which should leave voters wondering: If elected, will Fernández once again defer to the "party line" when it comes to running TUSD, rather than do what's right? Tucson Unified needs more watchdogs, not another running dog of the status quo. TW

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