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The Skinny

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GEARING UP

When Pima County finally finished counting ballots on Monday, Nov. 19, there was one more surprise result: The citizens of Tucson narrowly approved Proposition 409, a measure that will allow the city to sell $100 million in bonds to start fixing our roads.

Prop 409 won by just 953 votes. That's 72,483 in favor, and 71,530 opposed.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild told The Skinny via email: "I want to thank the people of Tucson for voting to fix our roads. (City Manager Richard) Miranda and I intend to assure that the trust and confidence that has been given us proves to be well-placed. This is a good first step toward repairing and rebuilding our city."

Councilman Steve Kozachik, the lone Republican on the council, said he was "pleasantly surprised" that the bonds passed.

"I thought they'd fail due to both the state of the economy and trust issues that have built up related to the city, and the transit department in particular," Kozachik said via email. "But now the burden shifts to us to do exactly what we said we'd do with the taxpayers' money and not politicize the choices of which roads get fixed first. TDOT needs to decide where the money is allocated based on need; the bond-oversight committee needs to make sure that process doesn't include any political games, and if that happens, we'll take a big step toward rebuilding the trust that should exist between a governing body and their constituents."

Prop 409 opponent Shaun McClusky, who has unsuccessfully sought a City Council seat and the mayor's office, said he was outspent on his anti-bond campaign.

"Simply put, Tucson has been anti-business for a long time; now, they are anti-homeowner as well!" McClusky told The Skinny via email. "I made one tactical error in this race, and have learned from my mistake."


THE LATEST MCCAIN RAMPAGE

Mitt Romney's presidential press staffers at Fox News tried as hard as they could during the presidential campaign to turn the attack on a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, into a big issue.

But it never took off with voters—and even backfired on Romney during the second presidential debate, when Barack Obama issued his famous "Please, proceed, governor" invite to Romney, who ended up crosswise with moderator Candy Crowley, of CNN.

Now Arizona Sen. John McCain, assisted by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is beating the Benghazi drum.

McCain is demanding a special, Watergate-style investigation into the Benghazi attack, in which four Americans were killed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ruled such hearings out, saying that the current congressional investigations will be sufficient.

McCain is so wound up over the attack that he spent most of Wednesday, Nov. 14, doing press conferences and appearances on Fox News shows to drum up support for his special investigation. He was so busy complaining about not getting enough information, in fact, that he skipped out on a classified briefing on the Benghazi affair.

The next day, McCain snapped at a CNN reporter who asked him why he missed the briefing. McCain told the reporter he had no comment, and when asked why he wouldn't explain why he didn't attend the meeting, told the reporter: "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment, and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?"

According to CNN, this is what happened next: "When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, 'I'm upset that you keep badgering me.'"

Yes, God forbid a reporter asks such impertinent questions!

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers did a bit of explaining later in the day, telling CNN that McCain had "a scheduling error."

McCain has focused his ire on Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who, after the attack, went on the Sunday talk shows and relayed some CIA talking points that omitted any mention of terrorist activity, and portrayed them as developing out of a spontaneous demonstration against a wacky video that was offensive to Muslims.

McCain's crusade against Rice drew a sharp rebuke from President Barack Obama, who told the press last week that he considered McCain's comments "outrageous."

"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone, they should go after me," Obama said. "When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me."

McCain has been threatening to filibuster if Obama were to nominate Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But it's far from certain whether McCain has a great deal of support among his fellow Republicans. Even his pal Graham told NBC's David Gregory over the weekend that he isn't leaning toward blocking a potential Rice nomination.

On Sunday, McCain announced on CBS' Face the Nation that he wanted Rice to come on the Sunday chat program and admit that she was wrong as a way of getting back in his good graces.

As for why Rice didn't mention the terrorist connection in the first place, The Associated Press reported last week that David Petraeus, the former CIA director, said in closed-door testimony before the House and Senate intelligence committees that there was a reason that detail was removed from the talking points: "The recently resigned spy chief explained that references to terrorist groups suspected of carrying out the violence were removed from the public explanation of what caused the attack so as not to tip off the groups that the U.S. intelligence community was on their trail, according to lawmakers who attended the private briefings."


HOPE AND EXCHANGE

Gov. Jan Brewer said last week that she'd be taking advantage of an extended deadline to decide whether Arizona would set up a health-insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Some other Republican governors, including Texas' Rick Perry, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Ohio's John Kasich, have rejected the idea of setting up exchanges, which are designed to be a way for consumers to shop for private health-insurance plans on the Internet.

Brewer has already spent millions in federal grant dollars to lay the groundwork for an exchange, but she hasn't yet committed to moving forward with it. Conservatives say creating an exchange is a surrender to the dictates of Obamacare, while supporters of the exchange—including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce—say that if the state doesn't do it, the federal government will step in and do it for Arizona, which will mean that the state has less control over how it works.

Brewer has until mid-December to make her decision, but that's not the last word: The Arizona Legislature would also need to approve the exchanges.

One key element that will have to be determined: Should abortion coverage be offered by plans sold on the exchanges?

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