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The Skinny

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MOLLY'S MOVIDAS: County supervisors Dan Eckstrom and Raul Grijalva have different camps on the southside, but both came together in strong fashion for Democratic mayoral candidate Molly McKasson last Saturday, October 9, at a big rally at the John Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson.

In her eight years in the midtown Ward 6 seat, McKasson benefited from good relations with both Eckstrom and Grijalva, the Hispanic members of the Board of Supervisors (although Eckstrom has some obvious trouble with a few of McKasson's goofier advisers).

McKasson was a class act, speaking Spanish that, while not the best, got the job done. She beamed that she hadn't felt so good since her full-tilt energy announcement in February. Such strong support from Eckstrom and Grijalva and their crews cuts deeply into Republican Bob Walkup's southside forays, although the GOP candidate has good guy Manny Herrera on his side.


EARLY BIRDS: An early-ballot request for the city elections hit GOP mailboxes last week, courtesy of the state Republican Party. Featuring pleas from Gov. Jane Dee Hull, Congressman Jim Kolbe and City Councilman Fred Ronstadt, the mailer implored voters to support the Republican slate of Bob Walkup for mayor and Council candidates Rick Grinnell and Ray Castillo.

Meanwhile, local Democratic Party leaders, who earlier said they lacked funds for any campaign mailers, have dug into the piggybank. Jesse George, chairman of Democrats of Greater Tucson, says the Democratic Party is sending out 12,000 absentee ballot requests to Democratic voters this week.

An effort to work a joint campaign effort between mayoral candidate Molly McKasson, Ward 1 Councilpunk José Ibarra and Ward 2 candidate Carol West collapsed earlier this week when West dropped out of the effort.


JUST VOTE -- PLEASE: The Tucson Business Alliance, which has put up all those "Just Vote" signs across town, may contain a number of Democrats, but it's clear by a simple check of campaign donations that the membership supports this year's crop of GOP city candidates, particularly mayoral hopeful Bob Walkup. So why have they spent most of their efforts on an apparently non-partisan effort just urging people to vote?

They have acquired an old political affliction that becomes an article of faith with those who support losers and losing trends. They have a mind-set that says, "If all the folks who don't vote would just come to the polls, my side would prevail and we'd be able to crush the small minority that's only in charge because they're the ones who vote."

Sorry, but that's really never been true. It has supported denial in a lot of folks, from Pat Buchanan all the way back to Lord Cornwallis, the Brit general who spent the last couple of years of the American Revolution wandering around the South trying to recruit all those loyal Tories he just knew had to be there.

The Tucson Business Alliance is motivated by the same false premise. Like Buchanan, the members do not recognize that the majority doesn't agree with them on most issues. They really believe that a higher turnout will benefit their candidates, particularly Walkup. They have left out of the analysis one important factor: higher turnouts usually bring out voters who want to end the status quo. Yet almost the entire TBA supported our present mayor, George Miller, in both his campaigns. To shake up the status quo, a higher turnout would accrue to its challenger, Molly McKasson.

Meanwhile, the McKasson campaign has begun piggybacking on the Alliance's campaign by placing "Molly" signs beneath or to the right of the "Just Vote" message.


MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY: Amphi Superintendent Robert "Bubba" Smith isn't the only school district chief shuffling off stage.

After much self-congratulation, Mary Warner Garcia resigned Tuesday night as superintendent of the Sunnyside Unified School District. She and her chief ally on the board, the politically delusional Linda Lopez, wept as Garcia broke the news.

The resignation, effective June 29, 2000, comes several months after a bizarre midnight to 2 a.m. executive session from which Garcia emerged shaken with the clear message that she should resign rather than face firing. She mishandled the district, resulting in the food service scandal, poor student performance, and horrible employee morale.

Hit the road, Mary, and take your husband, George Garcia, the I-Can't-Be-Bothered superintendent of another poorly run school system -- the Tucson Unified School District.


CHECK-OUT TIME: Local real estate developer Humberto Lopez lectured us last week on the El Con controversy with a guest op-ed piece in the Tucson Citizen. Lopez, owner of the downtown Holiday Inn and Clarion Santa Rita, explained that he didn't mind having a 24-hour megalomart next door to his home in midtown El Encanto and that his neighbors were selfish to object to El Con's plans.

"We protect ourselves best by putting narrow, personal interests aside," Lopez wrote. "No matter how privileged one part of the community might be, it is still, undeniably, part of the larger community and is obligated to it as such. We're all responsible for meeting the needs of the entire community."

Lopez's dedication to such sacrifice is certainly noble, but maybe in his next column, he can explain why, when he was asked to help fund the downtown Business Improvement District, he insisted his own hotel properties be gerrymandered out of the district. At that point, he certainly seemed to be clinging to his own "narrow, personal interest."

Now Lopez has his hand out again. If the Rio Nuevo proposal passes in November, he'll get $8 million to help subsidize construction of another downtown hotel. Sometimes, it seems more like we're all responsible for meeting the needs of Bert Lopez.


JOHNNY GIBSON'S GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY: While everybody is trying to figure out how to revitalize downtown, there's one dude who's stuck it out in the same place on Sixth Avenue for the last 50 years. Johnny Gibson is about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his barber shop's present location.

Johnny, 79, won't be around for most of the celebration. He'll be in Holland with a group of other veterans of the 101st Airborne Division at a reunion of those who jumped as part of the operation featured in the book and movie A Bridge Too Far. Johnny was also with the 101st on D-Day.

It's probably time to declare both Johnny and his barber pole a historic site. What else to you call a great old-fashioned barber shop that sports animal heads as part of the decor?

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