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THE WRITE-IN STUFF

Turns out that reports of a campaign death are greatly exaggerated.

Last week, we mentioned that Bruce Gerowitz, who sells hot dogs outside TD's Showclub on Speedway Boulevard five or six nights a week, had decided against running as an independent against Mayor Bob Walkup in this fall's city election.

But Gerowitz says he just gave up on collecting the 1,500 or so signatures he needed to actually have his name on the ballot in November. Gerowitz says he couldn't find 1,500 independent voters to sign his petitions.

"It was impossible," Gerowitz complains. "The whole thing is made so the little guy can't get it."

Instead, Gerowitz plans to run as a write-in candidate, which drops his odds of winning from about 1 percent to .000001 percent.

Gerowitz still hopes to qualify for city matching funds. To do so, he'll have to collect at least 300 contributions of $10 or more from city residents. If he's successful, he'll get a dollar-for-dollar match as long as he doesn't spend more than roughly $180,000--a limit which shouldn't be a significant handicap for him.

Meanwhile, council candidate Ken Green, who is facing Regina Romero in the Ward 1 Democratic primary to see who is going to replace retiring Councilpunk Jose Ibarra, says he didn't return our phone call last week because he never got our message.

Green, a pastor who recently started his own ministry, says he's focusing on "quality-of-life" issues like sidewalks and speed bumps on neighborhood streets. While he doesn't have anything critical to say about the current council members--Ibarra "is doing a great job, and I have nothing bad to say about him"--he believes the city "needs some change" on the City Council.

Green, who also heads up the "A" Mountain Neighborhood Association, was oddly evasive when we asked about his age, saying that he was in his "early 40s." But he did tell us he came to Tucson when he was 22 years old, and he's been here for 24 years, so we suspect he may be fudging the whole "early" thing a bit.

Green is serious enough about the race that he's quit his job with Veterans Affairs, as required by the Hatch Act, which prevents most federal employees from pursuing partisan office.

"The race was important to me," he says.


IMMIGRATION SHUFFLE

Looks like this is another big week for immigration reform in Washington, with the White House attempting to push the Senate into passing the even-grander bargain by the end of the week.

How's it going to go? Who knows? Follow along with us in real time at blog.tucsonweekly.com.

We notice that the Arizona Republican Party continues to be wildly split when it comes to immigration reform. Check out last week's edition of the AZGOP Tusk Times, a newsletter e-mailed to party faithful.

The second item in the bulletin praises Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe for fighting to derail the immigration bill and urges readers to sign an online petition that urges senators to "vote against the immigration bill currently being considered in the Senate and to oppose any future effort that undermines our national security or grants amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants."

The third item in Tusk Times is a message from Sen. Jon Kyl explaining why the immigration package should pass with added enforcement provisions.

Kyl points out that some critics "argue that no bill is better than this immigration bill. That's a hard argument to make when illegal immigrants (over 10 percent criminals) continue to pour across our borders, burdening our schools, hospitals and judicial systems, and crime and violence are rampant. Moreover, doing nothing really equates to silent amnesty for those who are here illegally."

It's a little odd to see an Oklahoma senator get top billing over an Arizona senator in an Arizona GOP newsletter, but we hear relations are pretty strained between Kyl's office and GOP state chair Randy Pullen.


TGP'S TROUBLES

Tucson Greyhound Park, the southside racetrack with an atrocious reputation among animal lovers, has been receiving a lot more bad press lately.

You may have seen or heard reports earlier this month about three greyhound trainers who were found to have either marijuana or cocaine in their systems, after a tip led state racing officials to order up drug tests.

Two others refused to submit to the tests, and one of those two reportedly threatened a racing official with bodily harm. TGP was forced to cancel a spate of races when the licenses of all five were summarily suspended.

"This is a very serious matter," said Geoffrey Gonsher, director of the Arizona Department of Racing. The five cases have been referred to Gonsher for review; he said hearings will be scheduled for July or August.

Tests in December 2006 also turned up five trainers, kennels owners and other employees with marijuana and cocaine in their systems.

On Friday, June 22, the Arizona Department of Racing held a preliminary hearing for "coolout" Rebecca L. Minor, who had been cited for failing to take proper care of kenneled dogs. (In local greyhound-racing lingo, a coolout is an employee of a kennel owner who lets the dogs out to exercise four times a day.)

Gonsher said he has yet to see any of the details in the Minor case.

Last week, Susan Netboy, president of the Greyhound Protection League, wrote to Gonsher, urging him to look into reports about inexperienced coolouts being given the challenging task of caring for 60 to 70 greyhounds each in the wake of the drug-related trainer suspensions.

Netboy said the coolouts are the latest in a parade of poorly trained people who have been given wide latitude in overseeing kennels. She urged the department to conduct frequent, unannounced inspections.

Let's recap all the scandals that have been heaped upon TGP lately, shall we?

The park "lost" dozens of dogs after turning them over to a hauler last year, sparking a controversy that got national attention. A mother complained to the Tucson Weekly that TGP officials tried to scam her out of money she raised for her disabled daughter's medical bills. Now there are allegations of drug use among trainers and handlers, threats against state officials and rumors of general mistreatment of greyhounds at this end-of-the-line track.

That's why it was particularly galling when TGP CEO Tom Taylor suggested to KOLD Channel 13 that now is the perfect time "to settle back and let the industry regulate itself a little bit."

Even if Taylor's preposterous idea did get traction with state regulators, TGP officials shouldn't breathe too easily: Netboy and other greyhound activists are focused like lasers on seeing that those who do dogs wrong get what's coming to them.


TAKE ME TO YOUR LGBT LEADER

The good folks at Wingspan, Tucson's LGBT community center, have hired a new executive director to fill the shoes vacated by Kent Burbank, who was at the organization's helm for the past six years.

An 11-member search committee sifted through 60 applications, conducting interviews and holding public forums, before unanimously selecting Joseph Bodenmiller for the job, according to Laura Olguin, president of the Wingspan board.

Bodenmiller has worked with homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 21 for the past five years in New Orleans and also served as executive director of an AIDS organization in Nashville, Tenn.

He starts Aug. 6.

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