But that's not to say that we wouldn't like to get rid of a few of these bad elements.
In that spirit, welcome to our second annual Get Out of Town! Issue, featuring 17 people, groups and businesses the Old Pueblo could do with out. You may be surprised at who is getting the boot.
Next week, in the spirit of the holidays, we'll put down the naughty list and pick up the nice list, to honor local heroes.
Steve Groesbeck and Pat JohnstonLet's get right to it: Steve Groesbeck, the overpaid gypsy boss of Lotus Broadcasting operations in Tucson, and Pat Johnston, the general manager of KJLL radio, are cordially invited to leave town.
Groesbeck gets ousted for canning relevant local talk radio on KTKT 990 AM, idiotically signing up Associated Press radio and lying about his commitment to staffing a real news department.
Groesbeck first ran off Emil Franzi, the wisest of political wise guys in Tucson (and, of course, a longtime Weekly contributor). Franzi was too smart and smelled Groesbeck's game; he fled to KJLL 1330 AM. Left hanging was Ronald J. Ulm, known by his on-air name, John C. Scott. Who cares if Ulm, er, Scott never learned a thing from his mother, who taught English in Independence, Kan.? We grew fond of his "incestual," when he described the nepotism in local government, his "refuge" for the landfills full of refuse and his "ethenticity" for ethnicity. Scott's show was relevant and necessary for political discourse in Tucson, even when he'd suck up to the pols who advertised with him and screamed about the pols who didn't buy into his coercive advertising demands.
Groesbeck bullshitted the Weekly in November 2003 by saying he'd hire news people. He hired news readers who couldn't pronounce City Manager James Keene's name. It's not that KTKT eventually dumped news completely and went with Spanish music; it's that Groesbeck didn't have the balls to say what he and the Los Angeles-based owners of Lotus were really going to do.
Johnston is to be commended for cutting a deal that brought Franzi, Mike Tully and Saturday sidekick Tom Danehy (yes, that Tom Danehy) to KJLL on the weekend. It is the best electronic news and talk; the recent pro and con interviews and discussions on the proposed sale of Tucson Electric Power Co. are the prime examples.
But, Pat, KJLL doesn't spell "Jolt." Quit marketing the station as the Jolt; it's the Jill, or the Jell. Not the Jolt.
You're not getting run because you canned Fred Imus and Nicole Cox. Fred is infinitely funnier on his brother Don's famous show from New York. Cox's scurry-for-the-news-release and darn-that-dirty-Fred act got old.
You are getting run for the chicken-shit spiking of Fred's conversation with his brother during Don's Nov. 5 show. It all started at 8:27 a.m., when Don Imus asked his brother what happened to his radio career.
"The place is not for me," Fred said. "I sort of dread going in."
Just as we were going to have some laughs, KJLL monkeys switched off Imus in the Morning. There was dead air, then a series of ads including Nicole Cox rattling about training and job opportunities for paralegals. Then came some old Joe Walsh, probably from the James Gang. Then more commercials.
Don Imus found a way to get back to Fred's dumping while talking to ex-Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw. "You can't," listeners were told, "refer to your general manager as an idiot."
Maybe Johnston's not an idiot, but he's certainly a coward. It doesn't matter that he wasn't at the station the day the plug was pulled on the Imus brothers' chat--the buck stops with Johnston.
The Ads at Loews Catalina TheaterWe went to catch a matinee of Sideways the other day at the Catalina. Before the movie started, we were treated to an ad for a delicious soft drink. And an environmentally friendly car. And a breath-cleansing toothpaste. And a luxurious soap. Not to mention public-service announcements about curing cancer and turning off your cell phone. By the time all the crap was over, we got two lousy trailers for upcoming movies.
C'mon, Catalina. We're happy you make the effort to bring something besides big-budget, fuck-witted Hollywood crap (though, all things considered, we'd rather be watching the big screen at the Loft). But the on-screen advertising has got to go. If bombarding us with this crap is the only way you stay in business, then shut your doors.
Archbishop Raymond BurkeWhen it comes to Roman Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke, we say get (and stay) out of town. Hailing from St. Louis, Burke rolled into Tucson in late October to preach the word that good Catholics should vote for anti-abortion George W. Bush.
Even worse is that Burke was invited to a "Restoring the Family to Christ" conference by locals--in this case, the Tucson chapter of Catholics United for the Faith. "It's to make available to Catholic families the teachings of the church and to have a weekend to learn," Chairman Mike Mohr told the Arizona Daily Star. "Archbishop Burke is highly, highly regarded and one of the holiest priests I've ever met."
Earlier this year, his great holiness joined Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs in saying that Catholics who vote for pro-choice politicians--meaning John Kerry--would be committing a grave sin.
We have three responses to such blather.
First, it's a touch unsettling for Catholic leaders to be preaching about grave sin to anyone these days, considering the church managed to ignore grievous sins committed by its own buggering priests for decades.
Second, how could it have been more moral to vote for George W. Bush, who has needlessly condemned more than 1,300 soldiers to death in the Middle East? Apparently, until we can march fetuses into battle (and who knows, we may need them soon), clerics such as Burke will remain pompous, pro-war fools.
Third, we're wondering just when the Catholic Church plans to drop its tax-exempt status and sign up as a political action committee.
And that's why we're telling Archbishop Burke to get out--and stay out--of town.
(P.S. Kudos to Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas for keeping presidential politics away from his pulpit.)
Russ DoveRuss Dove and his knuckle-dragging goons known as U.S. Constitution Enforcement should get out of town for attempting to disrupt minority voting, for sheer fashion ignorance and for being general assholes. Dove began making headlines in September, when he appeared at an anti-Proposition 200 and "Get Out the Vote" gathering, and started taking pictures of the crowd. As always, Dove was adorned in his trademark, goofy black T-shirt with "U.S. Constitution Enforcement" emblazoned on the back.
This self-appointed constitutional cop--who manages one of those frothing, anti-immigrant-border-hysteria Web sites--says he was just upholding his duties as an American by scaring away minority citizens.
In a way, perhaps he's right. Maybe intolerance has become the posture in America at-large, and in Arizona in particular, where Proposition 200--which limits immigrants' rights--passed decisively.
But Dove's blackshirts outdid themselves on Election Day, when they loitered around a southside polling station and began aiming video cameras at Hispanics entering to vote. The harassment drew TV crews, alarmed calls to congressional offices and outraged poll watchers in the predominately poor Mexican-American neighborhood.
Dove, a professional handyman, defended his gang's hulking handiwork. "The law simply states that to be a naturalized citizen, you must speak English," he told The Arizona Daily Star. "How many people are voting today that don't speak English? You do the math, and tell me there's no voter fraud."
But it's likely the only fraud occurring on that day, at that polling station, was Dove's contention that love of democracy--rather than pure racist thuggery--was his driving force.
Ham-Handed CopsThe cops who manhandled peaceful, post-election protesters on Fourth Avenue ought to get their blue butts out of town. This isn't the first time that Tucson's finest have inserted themselves brutally into the middle of Americans expressing their free-speech rights. One needs only recall those undercover dicks who infiltrated a peaceful Women in Black protest against the Iraq War a couple of years back.
In their latest overreaction, police fired PepperBall bullets and pepper spray at protesters on Fourth Avenue, and at least two marchers were hit during the Nov. 3 rally. The following week, those battered protesters arrived at a City Council meeting to air their displeasure.
"I was outraged over the police attacks on the peaceful protest the day after the elections," said activist Keith McHenry. "The sad thing is, in this city, this has become commonplace."
Another protester, Walt Staton, told the council that citizens have little power to fight back against police abuse. "When they attack us, we don't have anyone to call. We can't call the police and have them arrest themselves."
Much of this uniformed brutishness is rooted in the fiasco of 2001, when rioters ran amok on Fourth Avenue after the Wildcats lost the college basketball championship to Duke. But might we suggest there's a world of difference between a bunch of brawling, drunk, pea-brained sports thugs and a group of Americans expressing their constitutional rights?
Listen up, cops. Maybe George W. Bush did get re-elected. Regardless, last time we checked, this was still America. Start acting like it--or get out town.
Idiot Left-TurnersWe're of the opinion that 98 percent of our traffic problems could be solved if people who make certain types of left turns were no longer among us.
You know the gang I'm talking about: The ones who are in front of you in parking lots or side streets, who have all the time in the world to wait for two or three lanes of traffic to clear so they can make a left. Happens every day in this town. They just sit there and sit there while traffic rolls on by, while we fume behind them, helplessly trapped and hopelessly late (again).
And how about when they inch out of Circle Ks and gas stations, hoping that if one lane of traffic stops, the rest will, too? How many times have you seen that lead to a horrible squeal of brakes and a harrowing crash?
Oh, the horror of a weekend shopping excursion along Oracle Road, when you find yourself behind one of these lefties who's waiting for a chance to make a break for the median. Sit back and relax; you're not going anywhere soon.
Is it too much to ask that these people just make a right turn and reverse direction somewhere downstream? Some of us have places to go.
We hereby banish these inconsiderate dolts. Get out of town, bad-left-turn makers!
George JohnsonThere have been a lot of crooked scam artists and earth-raping scum-buckets among Arizona's developers over the years, but George Johnson has got to be one of the most deplorable.
Johnson has casually bulldozed riparian areas, disregarded historical sites and put a major hurt on the last remaining bighorn sheep in the Ironwood Forest National Monument.
Last year, Johnson was pushing the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to rezone 22,000 acres of his land to allow him to build 67,000 homes. Yes, 67,000 homes. That adds up to 175,000 residents, which would make this development the eighth-largest city in Arizona.
Even more astonishing, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors appeared ready to grant him his rezoning, at least until nearby military officials started bellyaching about the impact of having an entire city springing up in the midst of their training area.
When the gears on the deal started to jam up, Johnson put 5,000 goats on the land. The goats promptly jumped the fence into Ironwood Forest National Monument and started giving syphilis and other diseases to the endangered bighorn sheep. Some of the sheep went blind and started falling off cliffs, while others found their muzzles grotesquely caked with open sores.
The solution? Going up into Ironwood and shooting the goats.
Carl Hiaasen couldn't make this shit up.
It's all standard operating procedure for George Johnson. He's been socked with the largest fine in state history--$80,000--for water pollution violations related to an earlier Pinal County project and has faced repeated investigations by state and federal authorities for violating environmental regs.
Johnson recently sold his land to another developer, but he still deserves a swift kick in the ass. Get outta town, George Johnson--and take your fuckin' goats with you.
Linda LopezUnder the old rule in Tucson politics--the one handed down years ago on the eve of critical Pima County elections by a screaming Emil Franzi in the office of then-Deputy County Manager Bruce Postil--losers must leave town.
Now it is a winner's turn. Linda Lopez, a Democrat who won a third term in the state House of Representatives in November while also winning back a seat on the Sunnyside School District board, deserves a swift kick out of Tucson.
First, there's the insufferable arrogance and conflict that comes with her serving in two political spheres. Lopez did a poor job in her previous four terms at Sunnyside, bringing in an incompetent superintendent, Mary Warner. Lopez literally cried when Warner left Sunnyside, and then she voted against a perfectly capable successor, Raul Bejarano. Warner and Lopez had more in common than the joy of the district-supported steak barbecues Warner hosted at her foothills home. Warner traded on her husband's last name, Garcia, for cache in the southside, largely Mexican-American school district. George Garcia, you'll recall, was the shiftless superintendent of Tucson Unified School District and the world's largest amoeba.
Lopez was born in Indiana. She acquired her last name from a marriage that didn't last, yet she continues to disgracefully milk it. Give it up, Linda. Give up bragging about your seats on the National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Most of all, Linda, when you go to Phoenix in January to waste taxpayers' money, don't come back.
John MungerServing as Pima County Republican chieftain through the recent election, John Munger elevated nasty partisan sniping to an art form and railed against detractors with an uncanny, Bush-like arrogance. Nowhere did Munger's pit bull nature growl more clearly than during his red-faced appearances on KUAT TV's Arizona Illustrated opposite his much more courteous Democratic counterpart, Paul Eckerstrom.
We'll resist the delicious temptation to plump Munger into a broader symbol of national Republican swagger, but we will add that he's also a hypocrite: Munger raised irony to a new level by refusing to welcome his political brother--Joe Sweeney--into the Pima Republican fold. Sweeney, you'll recall, is the perennial candidate who won the District 7 Republican primary. Though a bona fide wacko, his xenophobic, homophobic and racist views tapped the secret yearnings of far more Republicans than Munger admits. After all, Sweeney actually out-polled incumbent Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, in several parts of the district.
So how did Munger acknowledge Sweeney's success? By dissing him. "The Pima County Republican Party, as an organization, has neither endorsed nor disavowed his candidacy," Munger told the Tucson Citizen. "We thought that was appropriate under the circumstances. Many people, acting as individuals, have related to me that they think his qualifications are dismal."
Yeah, dismal enough to pull in a passel of GOP votes.
In the end, it was Grijalva himself who summed up Sweeney's appeal. "Whether people want to admit it or not," Grijalva told the Citizen, "he is a cousin in the Republican Party, and he is the standard-bearer for the party, like it or not, in a race that is third from the top of the ticket."
Olive GardenDarden Restaurants, the pabulum-serving conglomerate that owns 1,300 restaurants in which it shovels 300 million meals a year, says it employs 140,000 people. We can save Darden's workers in Tucson's three Olive Garden restaurants. No longer will they have to serve fugazi Italian food. They can get honest work. You needn't listen to me. Just call up the reviews by patrons on the Internet.
Says one: "Italian and Olive Garden shouldn't be said together." True!
Says another: "Olive Garden is an insult to Italian food." Indeed!
Says another: "Olive Garden is a disgrace. The only thing worse than waiting for a table (when tables are available) is waiting for one in a bad restaurant." You said it!
Still another praised Olive Garden chefs for masterfully thawing the frozen junk sent to each location. Sadly, the service is no better. You'll get the same in Aurora, Colo. as in Aurora, Ill. --they don't know the difference between minestrone and pasta fagioli. (It is not pasta "fah-zool.")
I see the terrible lines at Olive Gardens and hear that stupid "when you're here, you're family" ad, and think about diners truly being family at Dolce Vita, which prepares the best soups from scratch to go along with their other favorites. At FioRito's, they don't stammer when you make a special request for a terrific risotto bianco.
I've promised to turn over a new leaf, to be positive. So let me recommend that you positively avoid the prepackaged, fake food at Olive Garden and get real Italian at Mongelli's, Capriccio, Amerenos, Jersey Joe's, Michelangelo's, Tavolino, Trattoria Pina, Viro's, Vivace, or even Caffé Milano. You want Italian? Go see real Italians and those who can prepare it.
Lionel WaxmanRegular watchers of The Daily Show know that Jon Stewart and his peeps have bestowed upon Robert Novak--the conservative, senseless pundit who released the name of an undercover CIA operative--the Congressional Medal of Douchebaggery.
In that spirit, we here at the Tucson Weekly would like to award Lionel Waxman with the Tucson Medal of Douchebaggery, along with a one-way ticket out of our fair city.
For those of you not familiar with Mr. Waxman, he's a columnist and commentator whose work, if you can call it that (and you really can't), appears in Inside Tucson Business and The Daily Territorial (both of which, it should be noted, are published by the same company as the Weekly), and on KJLL 1330 AM. His work is best described as being right of center--by about 14,228 miles, with a dash of hate and a truckload of nonsense thrown in. He comes off as a rabid beaver who has been listening to Rush Limbaugh for too long.
In the Nov. 29 Inside Tucson Business, his point (well, I think it was his point, but that was hard to tell) was that it's easy to rob banks, because people don't step in to stop ne'er-do-wells anymore. "There comes a time when the entire community must involve itself in curbing crime," he blabbers. "I don't recommend jeopardizing your safety to do it. But if there's one of him, and three of you and he's showing no gun, bring that sucker down!"
OK. This advice was of great benefit to Tucson's business community, wasn't it?
But my personal fave Waxman screed came in the Oct. 4 issue of Inside Tucson Business. Long story short, he wrote a column bitching about the fact that American Indians can sell tobacco products tax-free, while he--a white, male lawyer--can't. He ended his column, sniveling: "... (T)hose are businesses that are denied to me, a mere native American. Solely because of my race, I am denied benefits and opportunities that other people in this country enjoy. Will the ACLU step up to vindicate my rights?"
What a cretin. It's time to get out of town, Lionel. Don't forget your medal.
Precision Toyota of TucsonIn September, Attorney General Terry Goddard alleged that Precision Toyota falsely advertised new cars for sale at 50 percent off the manufacturer's suggested retail price. A lawsuit is pending. It all started during the Summer Olympics, when Precision advertised this whopping sale on radio and television stations, as well as some area newspapers. Excited consumers went to the dealership and, according to Goddard's formal complaint, were told the sale applied only to leases. Things got worse in October, when Precision was kicked out of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona for failure to respond to BBB requests to substantiate its advertising. "Failure to respond" seems to be the theme of the day.
A Weekly staffer's significant other recently requested an Internet quote on a Prius from Precision and didn't get any reply; guess they're too busy trying to figure out what to say in their depositions. So it's with glee that we kick Precision Toyota out of town. We don't need any more dishonest car dealerships in Tucson, so pack up your Tacomas, Corollas and Celicas, Precision Toyota, and hit the highway.
TweakersSnorting or shooting meth gives a tweaker plenty of energy--which too often is put to use figuring out how to rip you off.
Once in the grip of methamphetamine fever, people will do some strange and sick shit. Steal mail. Dumpster dive. Piece together shredded documents. And it's all to get enough names and numbers together to steal your identity and access your bank accounts.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department recently popped John Matthew Kelley, who has created such a complicated web of identity theft that the Pima County Attorney's Office had to drop charges until detectives can sort through all the evidence they've collected: phony IDs, Social Security cards, checks and crude counterfeit bills. They allege that Kelley had his tweaker pals cash checks and commit other fraud, screwing any number of honest people who don't need this kind of shit in their lives.
Then there's the damage these creeps leave behind after they're done mixing the meth: toxic waste so foul that the SWAT team has a special unit just to handle the chemical cleanup.
Tweakers get theirs, eventually. The drug eats away at their sinuses, their veins and their minds, leaving them gibbering wrecks. But we'd rather they go someplace else. Get out town, tweakers! We know a nice institution in Florence if you don't have anywhere else to go.
University of Arizona TannersThe medical literature is clear: Indoor tanning is not safe. The ultraviolet light cooks your skin into cancer. So what? The indoor tanning biz is so popular that a joint, the Bada Bing, just sent out tacky direct-mail discount offers. Silvio Dante, whose Bada Big strip club is a busy hangout for the Sopranos, should sue. Wait, he and the boys don't sue. They settle out of court.
Oblivious to the dangers of the tanning biz are the happy little UA coeds who stream into the handiest Maui Beach Sun Centres at 1107 N. Park Ave. It's a short schlep when the kids have a break or are cutting class.
Don't get in their way--these are NASCAR-capable drivers who are behind the wheel of whatever Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Grand Cherokee or Hummer that mommy and daddy let them to take to college. (Is that what UA President Peter Likins means when he preaches diversity?)
I'd like to hear the parents' anguished conversation. "Well, what are we going to do about Caitlin? What will she drive to ... where is the UA? Tucson?"
"Oh, just give her the ML 500."
Then Caitlin and all the other future melanoma cases fly into the cramped, congested parking lot Maui Beach shares with a busy Circle K. Cell phone first, gas pedal second. Look later. Take the handicap spot. And cuss. Cuss at the other drivers. Cuss about your professors. Cuss about the lame party last night. And best of all, tell that no-good boyfriend to go screw himself.
And then pay $8 for 20 minutes of skin-cooking. Take the high-intensity upgrade for another $2.
Discount packages are available.
So tan yourself out of town, so to speak. Tan yourself to death.
Bright Lights ...Tucson is hailed all over the country for the Dark Skies Ordinance, that eminently sensible rule that helps keep our astronomy-friendly skies velvety black. Just recently, Preservation Magazine praised the city for requiring low-intensity bulbs on streetlights and for insisting on streetlamp covers that cast the light downward, not up toward the stars.
So why is it that people light up their own yards like the all-night parking lots of the 24-hour grocery? All over the city, you can see houses with outdoor lights so bright they hurt your eyes when you drive past at night. The neighbor in the house behind me installed a row of floodlights along his roofline so blinding, they'd be right at home in a prison. Another neighbor, this one across the street, put up an uncovered white light by her front door, bright as a car's high beams. Still another neighbor, the one next door, is a night owl disinclined to draw the curtains. All night long, he leaves on his high-watt ceiling lights, illuminating the driveway--and my bedroom--like a Hollywood set.
You've heard the expression "traveling at the speed of light?" Light travels--fast and far. Your lights not only shoot up into the stratosphere, erasing our stars; they zip right into your neighbor's house, crashing through blinds, shooting through curtains. And if you think you're cutting down on crime, you're wrong. You're only creating deep shadows where the bad guys can hide. Dave Crawford of the Dark Skies Association says that the glare of overly bright lights "blinds you. They're criminal-friendly. They cause you to lose vision."
So if you're not down with Dark Skies, get into your car, shift on those high beams and get out of town. Or you can repent and unplug. Divest yourself of those bright bulbs, unscrew those floodlights and learn to love the dark desert nights.
... Big CityThe friendly folks at the Tucson-Pima Public Library tell me that the skyrocketing population of metropolitan Tucson is now about 718,000, 843,000 if you count all of Pima County.
Any way you look at it, that's too many people for this parched desert land, a place growing more desiccated by the day. Our rivers died years ago, and so did the lush trees that used to line their banks, killed by a swelling population. Our ground water is dissipating; our allotment of Colorado River water is uncertain; and officials are threatening to make us drink ever-saltier concoctions of CAP water as the years go on. (Ever taste the putrid water in Phoenix? That's what we're headed for, folks.)
Our cacti are being felled as houses advance outward across the desert. The bighorn sheep have all but disappeared from the Catalinas. And pity the poor mountain lion; our suburbs are encroaching ever more on their turf, and this past year, we started to kill the ones that got in our way.
With apologies to Paul Simon, I'd like to make a modest proposal that will solve all the problems of runaway growth. Get out of town, everybody, and I mean everybody--all 843,000 of you (and me). Hit the road, Tucson. Slip out the back, Catalina Foothills. Make a new plan, Marana. Don't need to be coy, Casas Adobes. Don't need to discuss much. Just drop off the key, Oro Valley. Hop on the bus, us. And set the desert free.