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The Skinny

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Reporters have been grousing about the difficulty of getting public information out of City Hall related to budget planning and spending by Mayor Bob Walkup and City Council members.

Well, City Manager Jim Keene has fixed that little problem by publishing his own newspaper. (Evidently, the Downtown Tucsonan, which drinks from the city trough, isn't newspaper enough.) In last Sunday's Arizona Daily Star, the city distributed a 12-page insert created by the city of Tucson's Ministry of Propaganda--er, we mean the Public Information Office.

Admittedly, the slick tabloid, titled "One Community, One Future," didn't go into detail about Walkup's Hawaiian getaway or Councilman Frodo Ronstadt's Christmas Eve dinner on taxpayers at McMahon's Steakhouse. (Frodo, perhaps suffering from an evil elf's confusion spell, can't remember who he dined with that night, but we're betting it was Merry, Pippin and Sam.)

But the insert did delve into all the great things happening in our town and included a nice, fat, full-page message from Mayor Bob on Page 2. We found out the city is fixing streets, so all those potholes are just in your imagination; that our citizens clamored for a fee to pick up our garbage, so city leaders courageously responded with a $2-a-month charge; and that the city is developing a habitat conservation plan, which is kinda surprising since Mayor Bob told us last week that the city is "absolutely not" doing its own plan.

The whole propaganda piece cost the city about $16,000 to print, according to Jay Gonzales, spokesman for the city. Gonzales couldn't estimate how much staff time was spent writing and designing the piece.

Gonzales, who was hired less than a year ago as city flack at $80,000 a year, says the city published a similar report for the first time last year, with a printing cost of roughly $13,000.

So the city has spent at least $29,000 the last two years during a budget crunch that has forced the city to start charging kids for swimming lessons. Of course, that's just peanuts compared to the hundreds of thousands it spent promoting its doomed transportation proposition last year.

Gonzales says the timing of the publication was related to the end of the fiscal year and certainly had nothing to do with the fact that there's an election in less than five weeks. He added that waiting until after the election would have turned the information into "old news."

"If the implication is that this was related to the election, nothing could be further from the truth," says Gonzales.

LIEN ON ME: As he was quickly exiting his job as executive director of the Pima County Republican Party, Ed Parker was thrilled to get some attention from the Arizona Daily Star.

He joked in the morning daily that his "whole purpose in life was to get rid of Dan Eckstrom," the Democrat who retired after 15 years on the Board of Supervisors.

Perhaps Parker's mission should be to pay his taxes and bills.

Parker, a longtime GOP stalwart in Tucson, is a federal and state lien all-star. Public records show a whopping 20 Internal Revenue Service liens, including a couple of bell ringers: $51,108 filed in May 2001 and $13,838 filed in January 1999.

Parker and one of his companies, Appliance Installers of Tucson, also ducked state taxes and owed the state Department of Economic Security. Public records show five releases of federal liens and the release of two state liens. The lien pile is so deep that Parker filed two "disclaimer deeds" asserting that the home from which he now plots his comeback is solely his wife's.

Sounds like Parker's running his business the same way Bush and Co. are running the country. Whatever happened to all those old fiscally responsible deficit hawks, anyway?

JANET WON'T GET JACK: Gov. Janet Napolitano can pay off some Republican debt with an appointment to the Arizona Corporation Commission for a seat that, thankfully and finally, is being vacated by the slimy Jim Irvin, just as he was headed for impeachment.

Jack Jewett, a former legislator and current member of the Board of Regents, was one of the big-shot Republicans who helped the Democratic Napolitano edge Matt Salmon, the hard-right, but clumsy Republican last year.

There is lots of talk about how Tucson needs to be represented on the commission that determines phone, electricity and gas rates. But Jewett is apparently too happily ensconced in a high-end job at Tucson Medical Center. He is staying put.

Other moves are open, even though the new ACC person must be a Republican. Napolitano can look to another Republican who has made a career out of appointment, Betsy Bayless, now head of the state Department of Administration. She also held that job under Gov. J. Fife Symington III. Bayless was appointed to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and later as Secretary of State. She was hoping to be appointed governor, but Jane Dee Hull hung on, and Bayless could not defeat Salmon in the Republican primary, despite all the help she got from Clean Elections and her state elections office.

Napolitano can reward Bayless for her help in the election with the appointment to the corporation commission. That will open up a big slot for Napolitano to fill with another Republican--or even a Democrat.

REAL ESTATE GAME & FISH: While they continue to toy with the idea of selling off the popular Ben Avery Shooting Facility for an auto mall, strip center and subdivision, the members of the state Game and Fish Commission should note that Ben Avery scored a Best of Phoenix in the New Times two weeks ago.

New Times, never really a gun nut refuge, was particularly impressed with Annie Oakley Sure Shots at Ben Avery.

The heavy guns of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors, 10 days after The Weekly examined the crummy politics of the Game & Fish Commission's real estate ploys, unanimously adopted a 10-point resolution urging that Ben Avery be protected.

The North Phoenix range has been in operation for 46 years and hosts hundreds of thousands of shooters each year for myriad events or simple practice.

NO MO' MACK-DADDY MACKOVIC: Forget Mike Price, even though we've got Curves and TD's. We've got the proven genius, Jeff Scurran, right here. Let Price take over for Scurran at Pima Community College.

Scurran can step right in for the Wildcats, and he can bring his chief assistant, Doug Holland. That way every--and we mean every--UA football player will be eligible. Holland was a magical in keeping Scurran's Sabino High players eligible, even when they flunked. Not only did Holland move with Scurran to the gridiron, he has become, according to some cheerleading press, the dean of instruction at PCC East Campus.

Holland's academic appointment is a huge insult to faculty, students and administration throughout PCC history.

Pima ain't big enough for Scurran anymore. It now has two blimp-sized egos with the addition another overrated, self-aggrandizing "savoir" coach, "Basketball" Brian Peabody.

SCHOOL'S IN: The screwed-up Tanque Verde High School is back on track, thanks to a muddled opinion by the Arizona Court of Appeals. Any more spending on this school should await the recall election of Tanque Verde school board President Dr. Sherrylyn Young on Nov. 4. It is the real high school referendum.

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