Even with the economy doing better, it's still important to look for value whenever possible. With concert tickets often starting at a hundred bucks a pop and movie tickets costing in the double digits, it's hard finding good entertainment for a low cost. Well, I think I have just the thing along those lines.
For a cost of zero dollars and zero cents (except for the cost of transportation, which is shockingly low these days due to the Obama Oil Glut), you can have the entertainment opportunity of the year. It has drama, passion, humor, conflict, and even a hint of danger. And it can all be found at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
This is great fun, watching the five elected officials just sit up there and take it as every retired old dude in the Tucson valley goes to the podium and takes his turn shouting "Stay off my lawn!"
Now, let me make it clear: There is nothing wrong with being old. I, myself, hope to be old someday. I don't ever want to be "Stay off my lawn!" old, but regular old is cool.
(Just before I sat down to write this, I saw a thing on the news about a 94-year-old driver who drove his car through a car wash at 40 miles per hour, just missing hitting a worker before crashing into a wall at the far end of the property. He claimed that he had mistaken the accelerator for the brake.)
I think it's great that somebody would wait until he's 94-years-old before trying driving for the first time. But he should have taken a course first. And, if it wasn't his first time, it damn well better be his last.
But even that guy could take a cab to the Board of Supervisors meeting and blame Sharon Bronson for placing the gas and brake pedals too close together and yell at Ramon Valadez for not putting speed bumps in the car wash.
In all seriousness, this call to the audience is Andy Warhol Hour. Everybody gets his 15 minutes of fame, complaining about God knows what. To be perfectly honest, I agree with the outcry to end the practice of individual Supervisors giving away leftover money from their budget to charitable causes in their respective districts. The potential for abuse is always there. For every homeless shelter in Ray Carroll's district, there's some nutbird who wants to use county money to run a Kids' Krackpot Kamp during the summer so they can all grow up to be like Ally Miller.
The call to the audience is actually democracy in its purest form—rambling, messy, and often off-topic. Unfortunately, it sometimes gets personal and that's either not so much fun or even more fun than usual. Such was the case not long ago when self-proclaimed community activist Richard Hernandez got into it with the Supes.
Hernandez is quite a character. He talks like an auctioneer on amphetamines. When he gets going, you want to yell, "Dude, breathe so we can breathe!," but you never get the opening. Still, he gets a lifetime pass from most of us for having spearheaded the recall effort that brought the Sunnyside School District back from the brink.
Even on that point, Hernandez is not happy. He claims that, even with the mostly new school board, many of the cronies of the now-deposed former superintendent are still ensconced in six-figure, do-nothing administrative jobs while many of the district's teachers are having to take second jobs just to make ends meet. (His words, not mine.) But that's another story for another time.
Hernandez gets around a lot. One night, he's at Pueblo High School with Margo Cowan for an informational meeting on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The next day, he's at the UA for some other thing. (I'm not sure what; he was talking too fast.)
At the first Board of Supervisors meeting of 2015, Hernandez got up and made New Year's resolutions for each one of the Supes. Some of the resolutions were snarky, while others were ... well, they were all snarky. He went after Ramon Valadez for not paying more attention to South Tucson (which is in Valadez's district). And he lit into Sharon Bronson for her having used the gavel to close a previous meeting before all of the individual lawn complaints could be registered.
Hernandez, a registered Independent, seems not to know what to make of relatively moderate Republican Ray Carroll and he generally avoids any criticism of Tea party outlier Ally Miller. It's the three Democrats—Bronson, Valadez, and Richard Elias—who generally feel his wrath.
After Hernandez was done and was walking out, Supervisor Elias said, "Richard, you take care of yourself." And that's when the feces hit the spinning blades. Hernandez felt that it was a not-so-veiled threat and is considering legal action against Elias.
"If you just read those written words on a page, you might see it as a genuine, honest statement. But I worked in (law enforcement) for 22 years and I can read people's vocal inflections and body language. The way he said it, it was a threat."
I actually saw Richard Elias the other day and he said, "Hello."
What do you think he meant by that?