A guy who proved himself a class act on the way out is City Councilmember Jerry Anderson. At his last meeting, Anderson requested that the discussion about the city's contract with Pima Animal Control be put off until his successor, Republican Kathleen Dunbar, was sworn into the Ward 3 seat, as that was an area in which she had a special expertise. He also told animal-rights groups that they would have a fine advocate in Dunbar.
Would that the rest of our pols would show as much class in office as Jerry Anderson showed leaving it. Thank you, Jerry.
NO SHIT, SHERLOCK: A recent Citizen piece pointed out the influence of the local NRA types in the election of Republicans Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt earlier this month. Defeated council candidate Paula Aboud's response? "I don't have a clue." And that is a fitting obituary for Aboud's entire campaign.
MAP MAKER, MAP MAKER: Make me a map. Brew me a brew.
And so they did. But in their overwhelming modesty, the makers don't want to come out and take a bow. They remain hidden, these people who stomped on a Pima County committee process to redraw supervisorial districts to balance seriously lopsided population.
One person is taking some credit. Leslie Nixon, the political operative who is chief aide to Democratic Supervisor Sharon Bronson, taunted Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll. A lawyer by training, Nixon caught Sugar Ray at the elevators in the supervisors' small lobby and had this to say: "Boo hoo, Ray. Boo hoo."
Sugar Ray was not crying, even though the secret redistricting, presented by Nixon and Bronson pal Linda Hale Barter for rubber-stamping by fellow Democrats on the redistricting committee, chopped eight northeast Republican precincts from his District 4, which covers the east side and Green Valley. Carroll was more miffed that Tom Bowen, the retired Air Force colonel who headed the redistricting panel, was shut out of the process and that the more balanced, logical map Bowen produced as a starting point was simply ignored in favor of a Democratic plan.
Bowen, chairman of the committee, was dissed. Barter and Salomon Baldenegro, appointed by supes chair Raúl Grijalva, and Elena West, appointed by Dan Eckstrom, slammed approval of the map that chiefly benefits, er, protects Bronson from 1) having to answer a whole lot of constituent calls and 2) facing or having a lackey replacement face a tough challenge in the next election. Bronson clung to the northwest, southwest and rural District 3 only through big money from the likes of legendary land speculator Donald R. Diamond in her narrow victory over Republican Barney Brenner last year, winning by just 1,404 votes. The new map allows her to shed nearly 7,000 Republicans while giving up only 3,445 Democrats.
Supes, particularly Grijalva, promised an open and legitimate redistricting process after the 2000 census showed huge population disparities. Districts 3 and 4 had grown while Districts 5 (Grijalva) and 2 (Eckstrom) had too few people. All that was flushed when the map was done off-campus, so to speak. It flew in the face of the state redistricting operation, done by an independent committee with countless hours of public testimony. Baldenegro, eloquent and passionate at several of those state hearings, presented different district configurations, but always praised the state committee for its work and openness.
Bronson's message to the northwest side and Catalina: Screw off. Republican Ann Day will get them along with Tortolita. Day and her staff, so far bamboozled by Grijalva and his staff, will get a rude awakening from the Tortolitans and northwesteners, along with the Sabino Canyon/Snyder Road folks out east.
Bronson dumped the northwest side, which voted strongly in favor of Brenner, along with Pascua Yaqui precincts that she carried on the southwest side that she moved to District 5, which Grijalva is threatening to leave soon to satisfy his dream of sitting in Congress. District 5 will have consolidated Yaqui precincts, with the southwest side going with Old Pascua Village off Grant Road. The split leaves Tohono O'odham voters with Bronson, whom they adore.
But Bronson has crawled into the city, all the way to Broadway and Craycroft, to absorb Democrats. She dumped thousands of Republicans to make District 3, previously represented by Democrat-Republican-Independent Big Ed Moore, even less balanced.
Eckstrom, the smartest and longest-serving supervisor with nearly 14 years, has played coy. He feigned surprise at the map. Critics say he knew full well what was going on because a little eastside precinct, 124, was carved into Carroll's district. Precinct 124 is the home of City Councilmember Shirley Scott, a conservative Democrat in her second term.
Eckstrom is hardly afraid of Shirley Scott. He has smelled a challenge, however, that was, in his mind, accentuated by her Democratic ally Jesse Lugo's failed runs for the state House of Representatives last year and for City Council in southside Ward 5 this year.
Still, life is easier without a challenge from an elected official with some name ID. Moreover, Eckstrom, like Grijalva, wants smooth paving for his anointed successor, be it state Rep. Victor Soltero, a South Tucson Democrat, or state Sen. Ramon "Radar" Valadez, a Democrat also from southside District 10. Stuffing Scott's precinct in Sugar Ray's district meant that either Eckstrom knew what was coming or the map makers wanted to please him in anticipation.
In Sahaurita, Sugar Ray, Eckstrom and Bronson will split portions of the seven-year-old town. Comments reported with a straight face in the Tucson Citizen from Mayor Zachary Freeland were ludicrous. Said Zach: "This is not necessarily a bad thing. It would give us the opportunity to have our interests represented by three supervisors."
Have fun, Zach, making appointments with all three. And forget the concept of community of interest. The map makers did.
Map-making required computer programming and some work. No one is owning up to who, precisely, was behind it all. Because of the slam-dunk vote by Barter, Baldenegro and West, questions of Open Meeting Law violations have surfaced. Were there some secret discussions among the Democratic majority? Was there secret polling to allow the quorum to try to circumvent the Open Meeting Law?
To compound the sham, the committee, except for Bowen, has been absent at the series of ill-timed midday public hearings. The committee, the Democratic supervisors and county administration have left that work to Martha Durkin, a former county personnel lawyer and now an assistant county administrator who oversees the director-less Elections Division, among other departments.
Supervisors won't officially dirty their hands with the map until December 4. Afterward, the maps and underlying data will be shipped off to the Justice Department for a check of compliance with the Voter Rights Act on the effects on minority voting,
THE CATALINA TWO-STEP: But the sleight of hand in the county redistricting may go even deeper, and a couple of players may be about to out-fox themselves.
On December 4, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will hear a controversial rezoning in the Catalina area that would add 416 homes on 183 acres and greatly re-arrange that unique semi-rural community. Representing the petitioner is the firm of Tetra Tech, which took over the well-connected engineering firm of Collins-Piña, distributor of numerous campaign contributions and benefactor of largesse from the Board of Supervisors and particularly the Democratic majority of Dan Eckstrom, Raúl Grijalva and Sharon Bronson. Raul Piña has been working the Catalina rezoning and has at least two hard votes in Bronson and Eckstrom.
The rezoning explains part of the reason Bronson dumped Catalina--folks there don't like this rezoning a bit, and besides, they were just a bunch of bitching rednecks anyway, always eating up valuable staff time with their complaints. In the new map, Catalina goes to Republican Ann Day, who will vote for the rezoning "if it's a good plan." Right.
Supervisor Ray Carroll balked, causing the matter to be delayed while it was determined if there were sufficient protests against parts of the plan to require a supermajority of four votes.
That makes things a little sticky. Grijalva has announced opposition to the plan; considering his history, that was to be expected. And Carroll may join him in denying the supermajority if it's needed.
One item that the board has left out of the discussion so far is the impact on the Amphitheater School District. All those new houses will dump lots of new kiddies into that system--and under the new rules of school construction adopted by the state, the district may not build a new school for any of them as long as there is existing capacity in other parts of the district. There is, but it's all at the far other end, about 15 miles away, which means either Amphi buses some kids 15 or more miles or the district realigns all school boundaries and destroys current neighborhood alignments while it buses many kids a shorter distance.
But so what? Day and Bronson have safe districts, right?
Can you say P-R-I-M-A-R-Y? Apparently, Bronson was so busy counting Dems and Reps that she never considered the Amphi precincts in her new district outside of Catalina that she's about to screw over. And Day has even more of them.
In the meantime, the tree-hugger community is so enthralled with the Desert Conservation Plan that they'll let crappy rezonings like this slide as long as the "plan" gets the support of the fake conservationists on the current Board. Hustle me once, shame on you.