November 2 - November 8, 1995

The Skinny

CONSIDER THE SOURCE: Have you noticed the people who want to directly deliver CAP water to us always refer to it as Colorado River water? Well, whatever CAP water is, by the time it reaches Tucson, it ain't Colorado River water.

Once the water from the Colorado River reaches the dam at Lake Mead, for all practical purposes it ceases to be what the users of the term want you to believe it is. At Lake Mead the so-called river water is now held up in its downstream journey, while each day the City of Las Vegas dumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of secondary-treated sewage into the lake.

From there the water flows downriver to Lake Havasu City, where officials close the beaches every now and then because the waters pose a health risk. The locals refer to the health risk by its technical term, "floating turds."

By this time, the water flowing from shit-lined Lake Havasu has long ceased its identity as Colorado River water. Eventually it's on its way to Parker Dam, from which point it snakes in open canals through the enchanting pesticide mists of Arizona farm country, on its way to Tucson, where, if the fatcats have their way, once again it will be treated with all sorts of chemicals to fuel uncontrolled growth.

LUBRICANT, PLEASE--WE'RE GOING FOR FOUR! First the University of Arizona buys the old IBM site on the far, far eastside for corporate bail-out number one. They tell us it's gonna make a great campus--so what if it just happens to be near some land owned by legendary land speculator Don Diamond. And so what if former Regent and close Diamond associate Donald Pitt picks up a half million bucks as the lawyer for the deal.

Then we're told they're really going to use it for a research park, and we discover we're cutting a deal with Microsoft to move in. And the UA wants local governments to cough up another $4 million of taxpayer money to cover the costs of subsidizing Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men. We're told it's a hell of a deal and they'll hire 1,200 people at an average wage of 36 grand a year. Corporate subsidy number two.

Since then we've discovered as many as half those jobs will be part-time temps with no bennies. And this week we find out that after taking 8,000 applications, Microsoft is advertising in other cities for employees. And the folks who engineered this deal now tell us, Hey, there were no guarantees.

Those familiar with Microsoft's corporate needs have said there were probably not that many Tucsonans who would qualify for the higher paying jobs anyway, meaning the game plan was always to bring in new folks, who will, of course, need housing. And we suspect those who pushed for the deal, many attached to the development industry, knew it all along. Which means we were had--again--with corporate subsidy number three.

Proving just how easy the pols and media in this valley are to hustle.

BIG BUCKS RULE: If you want to run for City Council in Tucson and participate in the matching-fund program, you get to jump through a lot of hoops. Every $10 check is closely scrutinized, copies of those checks must be submitted, and full information is required about the contributor--including occupation and phone number. Contributors are often called to verify they made the contribution.

But there's a different set of rules if you're a big corporation opposing a city initiative. Attorney Larry Hecker, treasurer of Citizens For Safe Water, No On Proposition 200, recently filed a financial statement with the city clerk. The group collected about 30 grand on the first pass, and didn't even give the addresses of the corporations and individuals from whom they received money. The report listed items like "$5,000 from BPC, Inc."--whoever the hell they are.

The city clerk's office then asked Hecker & Co. for clarifications, so a week or so later they coughed up addresses--some of which are P.O. boxes. And under the headings "employer" and "occupation" Hecker wrote "N/A." So they don't even have to tell us what these corporations do--and, according to city personnel, state law says that's perfectly legal.

Which means the 50 grand or so of big corporate money financing the "No" on Prop 200 campaign may actually get identified by the election. But it'll be too late for us to tell you about it.

Maybe it's time for our supposedly all-Democrat, supposedly liberal rah-rah Common Cause council to get off their asses and make big corporations jump through a few hoops, too--and impose some real penalties for non-compliance.

In the meantime, we wonder what it is that Mr. Hecker doesn't want us to know

ONE DOWN, $IX TO GO: The lengthy suit against Pima County by seven long-term bureaucrats defrocked in the early moments of the current GOP majority's take-over of the Board of Supervisors has been reduced by one plaintiff. The county settled with Gwyn Hatcher for $250,000 and re-instatement to her former pay grade in a job away from her current boss, who was accused of making racial slurs. Hatcher's claims on the alleged slurs were supported by reports from both federal and state EEO officials.

Which raises a question no one has asked: If Hatcher's former boss, Carol Bonchalk (one of those elevated by former county manager Manoj Vyas), was in fact guilty of uttering racial epithets, what are the supervisors going to do about it? Obviously, three members who voted to settle with Hatcher must have thought the lady had a case, or they wouldn't have given her a quarter of a million bucks. Shouldn't there be some repercussions for Bonchalk's expensive behavior?

We suspect that by the time this case is settled, the other six bureaucrats will collect more raw dollars than all 6,000 employees of Pima County will get in raises this year. And you wonder why they can't fix the roads or hire enough deputies.

IRKSOME IRELAND: When resident TUSD Board flake Joel Ireland starts addressing a crowd with "My dear people, we are at a crisis," you know you and the audience of teachers calling on the beleaguered board to renegotiate a contract agreement with the teacher's union are in trouble. So when Ireland went on to grandstand at last week's raucous meeting we weren't surprised. And we certainly weren't surprised at his backhanded compliment to TEA, which he delivered to the gaggle of mostly TEA members: "We as board members are used to seeing the TEA nuts here. We are used to seeing the TEA goons. What we're not used to seeing are teachers and parents throughout the district talking to us." He went on to glorify the teachers and their commitment to students to the point where we nearly forgot he wanted to close down inner city Catalina High School last year, eliminating a whole bunch of faculty and staff jobs. His continual sneaky comments about how the press gets stories "from downtown,"--meaning TUSD offices at 1010 E. Tenth Street--about inconsiderate teachers who don't care about students, is annoying at the least and at best severely divisive in bringing anybody back to the bargaining table, which he claims he wants. We think Ireland should name names and stop the secretive BS (board shtick). Of course the Rev. can say anything he wants now--he's not running for re-election.

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November 2 - November 8, 1995

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