CITY HALL SHUFFLE: Mayor Bob Walkup's bipartisan handlers from the growth lobby have been busy for two months trying to get a huevos-breaking aide to replace the suddenly shy, suddenly sheepish, previously cocky, but mostly ineffective Andrew Greenhill, the chief of staff.
Greenhill is, simply put, not happening. He's botched too many things, including the transportation plan and its companion half-cent sales-tax increase, the City Charter revision, annexations and even the imbroglio arising from the welcome party for Davis-Monthan personnel who served in the abbreviated Iraq operation.
The plan was to ease Greenhill, who is paid more than $60,400 a year, into another role with the cover that he needed to spend more time at home with the changed priorities of fatherhood. While the mayor's kitchen cabinet went about seeking new ingredients, Walkup, showing his utter disdain for politics, botched the search with clumsy moves like scheduling quiet meetings in front of round-the-clock political gossips.
Though delayed, the transition for Greenhill is set for July. One key holdup has been final approval from the mayor's wife.
One of Walkup's other ineffective aides, Kenna Smith (she made lots of people happy as general manager of Comcast), is set to move to a big job paying in the city's information technology department, with a slight bump in pay from $52,336 to $53,399. This is a frightening thought for several reasons, according to some City Hall veterans who say they'd be afraid to have Ms. Smith punch in a telephone number. But the good news is that it's a provisional position that is slated to be completed in six months. We'll see if there's anyone around to find her a job after November.
More featherbedding is planned out of the northeast Ward 2 City Council office of Democrat Carol West. Aide Karen Leone, who makes $51,143, is seeking reincarnation as Queen of Rio Nuevo, replacing the city's former Mr. Fix It, John S. Jones, who opted out of Kommander James Keene's regime.
Don't laugh. Ward 2 is a catapult for ambitious political hacks. Marie Pearthree set the bar for the golden parachute a few years ago when she rose from lowly aide to Janet Marcus--West's Democratic predecessor and former boss--to deputy director of Tucson Water with an 84 percent pay raise in three short years.
And in westside Ward 1, Valerie Vidal keeps vowing to make good on threats to leave for real work or a master's degree or a life. One question for Valerie: Why aren't you in the Washington, D.C., office of Raúl Grijalva?
IF THEY REZONE THIS PROPERTY, THEN THE TERRORISTS WIN: What the hell is wrong with legendary land speculator Don Diamond? Diamond is now bringing his Midas touch to the southside, seeking rezoning to build close to 1,000 homes right across the street from Raytheon. Company officials took time away from their busy task of rebuilding the shield of the motherland to oppose the rezoning because having 4,000 new neighbors across the street might put a crimp in the company's future growth.
Look, it's one thing to run roughshod over the federal government to get them to pay outrageous sums of money for your land, or to twist the Board of Supervisors into allowing you to turn the Rincon Valley into a red-tile-roofed stuccopolis.
It's another to try to shake down one of the community's best employers, not to mention a key player in our never-ending War on Terror. What's the endgame here? Raytheon pays a tidy sum for the property and Don puts another notch in his belt?
Hey, Don, quit dicking around with Raytheon and try to figure out how to keep Old Tucson open for more than 45 minutes a day, wouldja?
NAPSTER'S NUMBERS: Gov. Janet Napolitano once again outfoxed the GOP dopes in the Arizona Legislature with the skillful wielding of her line-item veto. Napolitano shifted around some $65 million and managed to preserve education funding, social services and the Heritage Fund dollars designated for environmental conservation--all of which Republicans were ready to sacrifice so that we'd have enough money to tell kids to not have sex until they were married.
Napolitano didn't get everything she wanted in the $6.4 billion budget--it ended up at least $300 million less than she had proposed. But she probably got all that she was going to get without sending the budget back for another round and risking a government shutdown.
QUIEN SAHBA: Alan Lurie, the dignified Air Force general, is retiring from his executive VP job in the waffle iron that is the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association.
The California hot-shot who is scheduled to replace Lurie will pale in comparison.
You didn't have to like or respect Lurie's message, but you had to respect and like him--and feel for him, what with dealing with the politically inept, stuck-in-the-'50s home builders.
SPIT UP YOUR STARBUCKS: We're about to say something nice about recent pieces in the local media.
Tom Beal should read more P.J. O'Rourke if he and his friends at the Arizona Daily Star want to set him free for another series on New Pueblo, but he did one hell of a nice job on the profile of lawyer Richard Parrish. A onetime rabbi and accomplished author, Parrish has been handed the impossible task of defending filthy, guilty murderers. For all the anguish the Star's pre-set, pre-determined, pre-packaging causes in the newsroom, and the laughter it causes outside, this one worked for Beal's recent front-page story on Parrish.
The same can be said for the recent piece that recent hire Michael Marizco did on the human weigh station that is Altar, Sonora. Pre-packaged, but a nice job with decent art. The New York Times followed, perhaps without making up details.
Out of state-run television, KUAT, in recent weeks came the outstanding work of Ted Robbins. That is not unusual. He is smart, perceptive, subtle and clear.
His work was exemplified by the montage on triple and long jumper Yuliani Perez, whose odyssey of tragedy and triumph from mother-less in San Diego to Cuba to penniless in Tucson, has been documented. Robbins put together nice interviews of the Pima Community College athlete along with some of her jumps, talks with her coach and the guardian angel bus driver who pointed Perez in the right direction.
Perhaps more impressive was the June 6 story Robbins did on Isabelle Stubblefield, a former body builder whose job it is to clean the glass of Biosphere 2. Robbins let Stubblefield, daughter of a copper-miner and grandmother to three, do the talking while she worked. Robbins is so good because he does what the new little hairdos can't. He gets out of the way.
Robins, along with Celeste Gonzales, was just nominated for a Rocky Mountain Emmy award for reporting on border issues.
In total, KUAT-TV picked up an impressive seven Emmy nominations in the Rocky Mountain region, which also includes stations in Utah, New Mexico, California, Texas and Wyoming. Two of them went to smooth and savvy Arizona Illustrated anchor/managing editor Bill Buckmaster for his work on the state's economic issues and last year's devastating wildfire season.