by Jim Nintzel
Patrick McNamara of Inside Tucson Business looks in at relations between Republican lawmakers and Republican Councilman Steve Kozachik, who is sticking up for Tucson residents in the face of proposed state laws that would cripple the cities:
The councilman said he has asked Pima County GOP chairman Brian Miller to facilitate a meeting between local elected leaders from across the region and state legislators. To date, a meeting has not been called.
He said his efforts at direct diplomacy have fallen on deaf ears.
"In essence, they say ‘drink your milk and eat you cookies.' It's very condescending," Kozachik said.
State Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said he hasn't heard anything from Kozachik other than what he has read in opinion pieces.
"He hasn't reached out to anybody," Antenori said, adding that he was unconcerned with Kozachik's comments. "He doesn't represent the people I represent. The majority of the people I represent pay taxes, probably the majority of people he represents don't - or receive some government subsidy."
Antenori said he thinks Kozachik is trying to curry favor with Democrats, liberals and other people outside the Republican Party. By doing so, Antenori said Kozachik risks alienating the GOP base that helped put him in office.
"I think it's a flawed strategy, but he's probably not aware of it because he's a political novice," Antenori said.
The senator also questioned Kozachik's comments regarding the Legislature's decision to exclude Pima County from Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM) funding. State lawmakers were angered at Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's comments last year about SB 1070. The sheriff implied he wouldn't enforce the law, which now is subject to a federal lawsuit.
"They (Pima County) should have a sheriff that doesn't run his mouth and enforces the law," Antenori said. "I'm surprised that Steve would be sticking up for him."
Despite the apparent rift, Antenori said he wouldn't engage in a public argument with Kozachik.
"The media would love that," the senator said. "All the lefties love it when a Republican picks on another Republican."
Kozachik said his comments and writing have been aimed at protecting the interests of Tucson and the people of his ward. He said he welcomes the chance to sit down and have a real conversation with the Southern Arizona legislative delegation.
"This is about good public policy," Kozachik said, "not about (political) party."