ELEVATED THREAT LEVEL: Last week, musician Stephan Smith was performing in front of about 100 people at the UA Student Union. When he launched into "You Ain't a Cowboy," a little ditty hammering President George W. Bush, somebody went electric and called the cops, saying Smith was "inciting terrorism."
UAPD officers took a break from hassling underage drinkers to investigate, but cooler heads prevailed, and the show went on. But, as Smith said later, "When a call about a song gets police with guns to respond, what are students supposed to think?"
ISN'T THAT SPECIAL? We're not sure what Gov. Janet Napolitano was thinking when she called the ongoing (never-ending?) special session underway at the Capitol, but it may have been her first major political misstep since taking office.
The special session is supposed to be tackling issues that need to be addressed: major funding (and space) shortfalls in the prison system and major problems with Child Protective Services.
But the Republican lawmakers who control the Legislature are still pissed over the way Napolitano outsmarted them with the budget, so they're not willing to play along and give her what she wants, which is mo' money for prisons and substantial reforms for CPS.
Lawmakers have countered with a private-prison plan that Napolitano opposes, creating another stalemate at the Capitol.
This is why recent special sessions weren't called until legislative leadership and the governor's office had hammered out the framework of an agreement. But with the current poisoned atmosphere between the two, this session has just dragged on and on.
The only real accomplishment has been a bill giving the Independent Redistricting Commission another $1.6 million to pay their lawyers to defend the political boundaries that have left Arizona more polarized than ever--and that's something Napolitano didn't even want to do in the first place.
Now the papers are beginning to focus on the cost of the special session, which is hovering at roughly $43,000 a week, including the additional per diem bucks that lawmakers are getting. But hey, at least it gives them a little extra money for holiday shopping. Maybe that was Napolitano's plan all along: a little economic boost for the fourth quarter.
RIO BANDIDO: Joe Burchell and his Arizona Daily Star sidekick Tim Steller exposed enough City Hall lies and shell games that Tucsonans can see just why city officials are so anxious to get their hands on Pima County bond money.
City Manager James Keene and his City Council are busy telling the county just what needs to be in the bond package slated to go to voters in May. Kommander Keene and his councilmembers also are demanding that most of the county money go into the city.
This practice of city demanding a piece of the action began during the planning for the county's bond program that voters approved in 1997. The Board of Supervisors was too timid to tell the city to stuff it then, and then-King Supe Raúl Grijalva harbored ambitions of running for mayor in 1999. So the county acquiesced.
But at least the city, back then, pledged cost sharing.
Burchell & Steller exposed the moves by Keene & Co. to rewrite the Rio Nuevo package that voters were promised when they passed it in 1999. Huge shifts of money--promised projects have been deleted, and new ones have been added elsewhere.
We're told the Star stories were put off until after the election, but surely that had nothing to do with harming Publisher Jane Amari's pal, Mayor Bob Walkup. Still, it's a little odd--kinda like the way that neither the Star nor any other press showed when Gov. Janet Napolitano came into town to endorse Walkup's Democratic challenger, Tom Volgy. Wow! We know the Star no longer does windows or endorsements, but not showing up when the governor is in town?
When it comes to Rio Nuevo, the city wants to use some Enron/Arthur Andersen-type accounting to claim credit for its Rio Nuevo match of state tax increment financing moola.
All this shows that the city wants to latch onto county bond funds to supplant the Rio Nuevo funds it now can't find.
MAXIMUM CARNAGE: TW film critic James DiGiovanna turned us on to a new web site the other day: www.carnageaz.com, your one-stop shopping source for all the crime news in our state.
In addition to running a daily round-up with links to crime stories in Arizona newspapers, the site offers a few other highlights that the tourist bureaus and chambers of commerce won't tell you about, such as Death Row Inmate of the Week. It also features crime stats and revolving lists of deadbeat dads, most-wanted criminals and missing people. And there's even a search engine that allows you to enter your ZIP code to search for registered sex offenders in your neighborhood.
CATHODE CONFESSIONAL: Nonie Reynolds, the Tucson High drop-out prevention counselor who made a big splash last May with her trashy spread in smutty OVER 50, is groping for a second 15 minutes of fame. This time it's care of Oprah, whose lackeys were in town this week filming Nonie for some kinda 15 minutes of regret show.
Nonie should have left well enough alone when OVER 50 reached young hands and eyes everywhere. She resigned, insisting she took the high road and certainly saving her middle-school-aged son further embarrassment after TUSD brass put her on leave.
Perhaps Oprah should invite TUSD Board President Joel T. Ireland on the show. The good Rev. Ireland was curiously silent when the naked truth about Reynolds' layout was unveiled.
Ireland and Reynolds go way back to 1991, when Ireland, then a fresh lawyer and in his first term on the TUSD board, represented Reynolds in her divorce from a Waste Management worker, court records show.
Ireland was then working for the top-tier firm, Chandler Tullar Udall & Redhair. Chandler's rainmakers don't generally spend time on low-end divorces where folks are haggling over a three-year-old Hyundai and $432 in monthly support, but Ireland was there for Reynolds through a tough time.
Reynolds, who started at TUSD in 1990, soon got a better job at Tucson High. Though she's not a political animal, Reynolds showed her support for Ireland with a token $15 contribution at a Sept. 4, 1996 re-election bash, according to records at Pima County's Division of Elections.
PROTEST PUNK'D: In last week's paper, Jimmy Boegle interviewed Mary Bull, a self-described "Gapatista." She, along with her fellow "Boycott The Gap" brethren and um ... sistren had planned a protest--including some PG-13 nudity--outside of the Tucson Mall on Nov. 12, trying to bring awareness to the public about how environmentally unfriendly Gap big-wigs are.
We say "planned," because the protest never happened. It turns out the transmission of the truck hauling the Gapatistas' main prop--a slice from a large redwood tree that The Gap folks cut down--crapped out on a Los Angeles freeway.
But never fear: They plan on coming back. Gapatista spokesperson Mary Pjerrou says they'll try the protest again in a week or two as they make their way back from Florida, where the Free Trade of the Americas talks are going on Nov. 20-21.
We'll keep you posted as best we can with all of the funky holiday headlines and whatnot.