ACHTUNG, BABYThird-term City Councilwoman Shirley Scott, a Democrat, is headed to jail--the Pima County jail, that is. Scott will serve as a program administrator for Democratic Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
Scott, who represents the southeast Ward 4, will develop and oversee some inmate-education programs. She's an expert in German and has taught the language at various levels for years, which is coincidentally convenient. Wasn't there some Aryan muscle flexing at the jail just a couple of weeks ago?
First elected in 1995, Scott will be filling a job left vacant when Richard Fimbres was tabbed by Gov. Janet Napolitano to head her office of highway safety. Besides, Clarence likes having pols on his payroll. Fimbres has served on the Pima Community College Board of Governors since 1997. City Councilman Steve Leal, the southside Ward 5 Democrat who employs Fimbres' wife, also works for Dupnik at the jail. Leal is paid $38,831 for the jail job. Martha Cramer, one of Dupnik's top guns, has served on the elected, but unpaid, board of Metro Water.
Council members get $24,000 a year for their part-time gigs. The city-county ties and county supplements aren't new. Sharon Hekman, the Democrat appointed to the City Council when Tom Volgy left the Ward 6 seat to make his first run for mayor in 1987, was a longtime staffer for the Pima County Attorney's Office. Likewise, Michael Crawford, who was appointed to the Ward 3 Council seat after councilflake Tom Saggau blew town back in '95, was employed at the county's Public Defender's Office.
SLIDING SCALEAides to Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll have taken the unheard-of step of cutting their pay. The move allows Sugar Ray, a Republican, to free up space under the salary cap (not really, but it sounds good) in the category of his annual budget used for staff salaries.
Scott Egan took the biggest hit. He can afford it. He was making $64,108 and has dropped to $59,106--an 8 percent decrease. Vel Robertson went from $49,651 to $47,651. And Paul Campbell dropped from $33,466 to $31,466.
No one else on the 11th floor took a hint from Carroll's crew.
Barbara Gelband, top aide to District 1 Republican Ann Day, is pulling down the highest salary--$62,400. Also in District 1, Valerie Samoy-Alvarado's annual rate is $48,544; Jacqueline Miller-Andrade is at $40,709; and Mark Wynn's annual paycheck is $24,960.
Across the hall in Ramon Valadez's southside District 2 office, Jennifer Eckstrom is making $60,320; Benny Gomez and Sarah Smith are at the annual rate of $32,406; and Michael Lundin and Andrea Molina are at the annual rate of $29,120.
In District 3 Democrat Sharon Bronson's office, top adviser Leslie Nixon receives $60,706 in salary; Diana Durazo-Grubb earns $49,063; Kristin Ann Barcelo is paid $30,812; and Katie Modafferi is paid at the annual rate of $23,532.
Richard Elias, the Democrat who installed a new crew after taking over District 5 when Raúl Grijalva left his lifetime seat on the Board of Supervisors for his lifetime seat in Congress, is paying Keith Bagwell, a former reporter for the Arizona Daily Star, $56,692. Andrea Altamirano, who moved up from the County Administrator's Office, is at $50,232; Helen Wilson's annual rate is $50,000; and Manuel Ruiz makes $20,800.
Supes, by the way, will get an increase in their current $54,600 pay if favorable legislation is approved.
WACKING THE WHACKOSConservatives are encountering tough sledding at the Arizona Legislature as many of their pet bills circle the drain while the session grinds on.
A proposed constitutional amendment to limit spending increases to the rate of inflation, adjusted for population growth? Dead. Another constitutional amendment to force voters to approve tax increases at the ballot box by a two-thirds majority? Dead. A push to have judges confirmed by the Senate rather than simply appointed by the governor? Dead. An effort to tell the feds to go blow regarding the federal No Child Left Behind education mandates? Dead.
Hell, the Senate can't even find the votes to support a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The conservative revolution is going to straight to hell--just like all those sinners who are blocking their agenda.
Meanwhile, with the session nearing its 80th day, both chambers are struggling to come up with a budget that can find support from a majority of lawmakers. The GOP leadership wants to hold spending at $6.8 billion, while Gov. Janet Napolitano has submitted a $7.2 billion budget plan. Doesn't anybody know how to use Quicken up there?
ANIMAL INSTINCTGov. Janet Napolitano, fed up with the Arizona Game and Fish Department's contemptuous dismissal of both her administration and public opinion throughout the Sabino Canyon mountain lion fiasco, has suggested that she should have the power to hire and fire the head of Game and Fish.
Under the current system, the Game and Fish director reports to the Game and Fish Commission, which is appointed by the governor.
We think there are problems with the makeup of the current commission, but we're not ready to put that kind of power into the hands of any governor, especially since Arizonans have a habit of electing Republicans who would delight in firing a director who actually stood up for wildlife. Change the appointment process for the Game and Fish Commission, maybe. But keep them in charge of setting policy for the department.
ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDERThe Tucson Unified School District's investigation into mismanagement at Maxwell Middle School--including allegations of improper activity by a teacher during camping trips he arranged for students--continues. The big question for Principal Ruben Ruiz, who has been placed on leave, reminds us of the famous Watergate question pressed by then-Sen. Howard Baker, a Tennessee Republican. To localize Baker: "What did the principal know, and when did he know it?"
For all the alleged concern by TUSD brass on reporting requirements and its supposed zero tolerance for administrators who fail to report incidents, what the hell is going on at Tucson High School? There, a student brought a gun to school, stashed it in a garbage can, then retrieved it to show off to another student. Naturally, he mishandled it, and it went off. No one was hit. Police were not notified until the next day. By law, they should have been called immediately.
YOUR TWO CENTS--FOR WHATEVER IT'S WORTHWith Tucson facing a $26 million shortfall in the upcoming budget year and an estimated $3.9 billion in unmet needs, it's clear we're in a bit of financial jam. A citizens committee appointed by City Manager James Keene has recommended a whole bunch of potential tax and fee increases, from a monthly garbage fee to taxes on rental income. Check the report out yourself at cityoftucson.org. (Just don't try cityoftucson.com unless you're interested in obtaining a Russian bride.)
But we digress. You have two chances to sound off today, Thursday, April 1. Democratic Council members Steve Leal and José Ibarra are teaming up for a town hall at 6 p.m. at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, 101 W. Irvington Road. For more info, call 791-4040.
Meanwhile, on the eastside of town, Democrat Shirley Scott is hosting her own town hall at 6 p.m. at the Student Center at the Pima Community College Eastside Campus, 8181 E. Irvington Road. Info: 791-3199.