The sales tax debate has resurfaced in the race for District 1, where Democrat Byron Howard and Republican Ann Day are fighting to replace the retiring incumbent, Mike Boyd. Day, who opposes the sales tax, has accused Howard of waffling on the issue.
Last week in a radio appearance on Emil Franzi's dynamic Inside Track radio show (which can be heard every weekday except Thursday at 1 p.m. on KTKT, 990-AM), Howard declared he hadn't changed his position. He says he always supported putting a half-cent sales tax on the ballot for voters to approve.
But when Howard talked to the Weekly last July, he never said anything about a public vote when he expressed his support for the half-cent sales tax. In a discussion about the county's transportation and law-enforcement needs, he said the county needed to tap "new money sources." Asked what those sources were, Howard said:
"It's going to be a combination of a couple of things. Certainly the half-cent sales tax. One of the things I'm going to do is talk to Ray (Carroll) about the half-cent sales tax. We need it. I understand why he's done what he's done, because I think there wasn't accountability from his standpoint. I agree with him on that, but at the same time you can only play that card for so long. We need to solve the problem --. We need that half-cent sales tax."
Day has often been criticized for waffling in the legislature. In District 1, it looks like she's not the only one.
WHINE OF THE WILD: Outdoors writer Guy Sagi is a nice enough feller who has contributed to this rag in the past. But in an op-ed last week in the morning daily, Sagi revealed an astonishing degree of chutzpah.
Sagi is working the pro side of Prop 102, which would force any future wildlife propositions to pass by a two-thirds margin. This has been one of the most deceptive prop campaigns this year, with slick TV ads featuring children imploring voters to approve the measure to save bald eagles. The advertisements have carefully avoided mentioning the actual substance of the prop, which would strip voters of their rights.
The proponents of Prop 102 complain that out-of-state special interest groups will soon be invading Arizona to push initiatives to outlaw hunting.
In his op-ed, Sagi complains that these out-of-state groups are already hard at work, contributing to the campaign against Prop 102.
"Arizonans can tell out-of-state extremists to leave our wildlife alone by voting yes on Proposition 102," Sagi writes.
It takes some amount of gall for Sagi to complain about out-of-state funding, given the amount of out-of-state cash his group has received for the procampaign. They've been happy to take more than $150,000 from the Ballot Issues Coalition, a nationwide group that includes the National Rifle Association; $30,000 from the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America; $12,500 from the Foundation for North American Sheep; and $5,000 from the National Wild Turkey Foundation.
If out-of-state money is automatically evil, then Prop 102's backers are bound for the lower regions of hell.
FUEL'S ERRANDS: The bill for the state's $400-million-plus alternative fuel boondoggle continues to rise, although lawmakers are trying to find a way to break it down into chunks small enough for the budget to swallow.
In the meantime, Attorney General Janet Napolitano has begun an investigation into the relationship between House Speaker Jeff Groscost and Nathan Learner, owner of Mesa-based AZ Star Alternative Fuels and a lobbyist who helped write the now-notorious legislation. But as Napolitano has pointed out, greed, incompetence and stupidity aren't illegal. (If they were, think how many lawmakers would be indicted every week.)
And the legislature is even trying to get an ethics investigation off the ground. Gee, they might even censure Groscost. We're sure that'll smart.
Behind the scenes, we hear Republicans are so embarrassed by Groscost's mischief that Congressman Matt Salmon went to him, as Barry Goldwater once approached Richard Nixon, to suggest that he resign once he won the election. Groscost's response: Go pound sand. A resignation is not in the cards, if Groscost manages to win his state Senate race.
Another lawmaker who may suffer is Rep. Jim Weiers, the Phoenix Republican who was hoping to succeed Groscost as Speaker next year. Weiers bought a few cars under the program, although he now says he doesn't intend to apply for the tax credit. Sure, he just cared about making sure the air was clean!
Weiers is facing Republican Mike Gardner in the Speaker sweepstakes. Garnder's chances are looking better every day.
OUT OF BOUNDS: Real estate developer Bart Hackley has his panties in a bunch because the UA won't be naming its new weight room after his late brother, former UA swimmer Timm Hackley, who was killed in a car crash in 1969.
As revealed last week by Arizona Daily Star sports columnist Greg Hansen, Bart Hackley gave the UA $112,450 to rebuild McKale Center's weight room 10 years ago. The weight room became the Hackley Center.
But progress marches on. Next year, the UA is set to open a new weight room in the shiny new Eddie Lynch Pavilion. The new weight room will be named the Estes Family Strength and Conditioning Center, because Tucson developer Bill Estes wrote a $1.5 million check to the UA.
Hackley is so honked off that the new facility won't be named for his brother that he now says he's cutting the UA out of his will. He claims he was going to split his $70 million fortune between the UA and Pepperdine; now it's all going to the other school. And--what a shame for all of us who benefit from his wonderful presence--he's selling his Tucson home. He's even considering selling his UA basketball tickets. (Boy, it'll be hard to find someone to buy those!)
Hackley appears to worship money and believes his fortune should ensure we worship him. Instead, his childish behavior has besmirched the very name he wants remembered. The UA ought to name a row of tailgate portapotties after him.
CANDIDATE CLEARINGHOUSE: This week's issue focuses on the ballot props, but if you're still trying to make up your mind about state and federal candidates, we suggest you direct your web browser to www.vote-smart.com.
Project VoteSmart, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to researching candidates, has amassed an amazing amalgamation of information about the candidates, from their personal bios to their positions on issues to their voting records.
If you don't have access to the web, you can call Project VoteSmart at 1-888-VOTESMART. Your call will be answered by one of their hard-working interns, who will do their best to answer any questions you might have about the candidates.
RADIOFIESTA 2000: Want up-to-the-minute election results, peppered with salty commentary? Tune in to KTKT, 990-AM, beginning at 7 p.m. on Election Night. The Weekly's own Jim Nintzel and Tom Danehy will join KTKT regulars Emil Franzi and John C. Scott and Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll for perhaps the strangest play-by-play you'll ever hear.