WHAT A DICK!The Arizona Daily Star has been getting a bunch of attention following its revelation last Saturday that members of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign demanded to know the race of a photographer assigned to cover the veep's appearance at the Pima County Fairgrounds.
"It was such an outrageous request, I was personally insulted," blustered Star managing editor Teri Hayt.
While we at the Weekly agree that such questions about race are highly inappropriate and worth noting, and most of us are certainly no fans of Dick "Fuck Off" Cheney, we'd be remiss if we didn't add a little context to the whole hubbub.
At least three Weekly writers--Connie Tuttle, Stephen Seigel and Curtis McCrary--attended the Cheney wingding, and none of these folks had to disclose their race. (Seigel and McCrary did not get press credentials, but instead went as members of the public in an effort to blend in as members of the choir Cheney preached to). Thus, we can't help but wonder if the Star is overreacting a little with its ongoing coverage; it does not appear that this racial profiling was part of a pattern. But then again, with all the crap the Bush-Cheney folks have pulled, who knows?
In any case, we're far more concerned at how the Tucson Police Department treated folks who dared exercise the First Amendment by protesting Cheney's brief Tucson stop. When one of the Territorial Newspapers' pressmen tried to hold up a sign that read "Arrogance and Deceit: Bush/Cheney" as the veep's motorcade zoomed down Valencia Road, he was threatened by some TPD honchos--even though he was on property being leased by the Weekly--and told to go inside, or else.
WIPED OUT?No Taxpayer Money for Politicians, the initiative effort to kneecap Arizona's Clean Elections program, may be dead. Ruling in favor of the supporters of the publicly financed campaign system, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Downie said the initiative was unconstitutional because it rolled two constitutional changes into one question.
The case is headed for an expedited appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, which should have a ruling by mid-August.
If the decision holds, it's a big win for Keep It Clean, the political committee working to preserve Clean Elections. It's a minor loss for the punditry, which now has even less to chatter about this campaign season. And it's a big loss for campaign chairman Eric Crown of computer company Insight.com, whose family poured at least $45,000 into the campaign, and lent it another $60,000.
No Taxpayer Money for Politicians had spent a total of $478,507 as of May 31, with all of it going to politi-cal consultant Nathan Sproul to cover the costs of gathering signatures and developing the campaign. The committee owed Sproul more than $111,000.
Other major contributors include legendary land speculator Don Diamond ($10,000), auto kingpin Jim Click ($15,000), billboard baron Karl Eller ($10,000) and developer Bill Estes ($10,000).
NOT-SO-TOTAL RECALLBackers of a possible recall effort against City Councilmembers Kathleen Dunbar, Fred Ronstadt and Carol West are shaking their heads in disbelief. Some of the community groups they hoped would support the recall may have been bought off, they believe.
Earlier this year, the three councilmembers voted to eliminate thousands of dollars of funding from dozens of civic organizations. These groups sponsor activities ranging from small neighborhood functions to huge citywide events.
When recall proponents began contacting them, thinking they might be interested in joining the effort, they had a surprise in store: They found that new car dealer Buck O'Rielly had beat them to the punch. He had sent many of the groups a check for the amount they lost from the city. Whether this is a one-time donation or a permanent arrangement remains to be seen.
Recall supporters doubt O'Rielly doled out the cash simply because of generosity. Skeptical of his motives, recall organizer John Kromko chuckles, "I'm sure Buck is doing this simply out of the goodness of his heart."
BRACE FOR IMPACTIn our last edition, TW informed readers about the city's new hardball policy of forcing developers in the Rincon Valley to agree to pre-annexation agreements before Tucson Water would provide service.
The city has now revised its contract. In addition to demanding a pre-annexation agreement in exchange for water, it also requires developers to agree to join in a lawsuit against Pima County over transportation impact fees if the county attempts to collect 'em in areas where the city plans to collect them.
As you'd guess, homebuilders see it as a step in the wrong direction. Ed Taczanowsky, executive vice-president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, says his organization doesn't support being bound to join legal action against the county.
"Why would anyone want to participate with that?" asks Taczanowsky. "If they have a problem with an action taken by a governmental agency, they have the right to sue anyhow. Why bind them to do that? We don't think it's the right thing to do at all."
Taczanowsky says the problem is that city and county officials aren't talking.
"What we're seeing here is a symptom of the fact that the city staff doesn't talk to the county staff," Taczanowsky says. "Maybe the city manager needs to talk to Mr. (Chuck) Huckelberry, who has an open-door policy."
But wait, you say: The city doesn't even charge impact fees, so what are they worried about?
Well, it's been a long time coming, but the Tucson City Council appears to be on the verge of approving impact fees in September, with actual collection beginning sometime early next year.
Based on a consultant's study, city staffers have prepared a report calling for residential impact fees for transportation and parks that will vary depending on the size of the home. The recommendation calls for fees close to $3 per square foot, which means that the average 1,875-square-foot home will run roughly $5,500--or almost twice the current fee charged by Pima County. (There's a 23 percent discount for projects inside the city's core.)
Taczanowsky says his organization is willing to accept impact fees but thinks the current recommendation is a little steep.
Under the staff recommendations, shopping centers would pay $3,976 for every 1,000 square feet; general office space would pay $4,724 for every 1,000 square feet; and industrial and warehouse spaces would pay $2,039 for every 1,000 square feet.
Mayor Bob Walkup says those figures are too high and wants to see them trimmed back roughly to the level now charged by the county.
HELLON TO WEEKLY: SHOVE IT!Aw! It seems The Skinny has pissed off state Sen. Toni Hellon. The campaign manager for Congressman Jim Kolbe's re-election effort, Hellon is so hoppin' mad at us she's blackballed TW from interviewing Kolbe. We're a little unclear on how preventing the good congressman from responding to charges from Republican primary opponent Randy Graf is punishing us, but we're sure Hellon will have a good explanation for her boss.
Anticipating that Kolbe had a busy schedule, we called Hellon in early July to set up an interview. Hellon said she'd take care of it, but we never heard back from her.
When we called her last week to see if an interview was still possible, Hellon informed us that she'd ignored our request after hearing that The Skinny had discussed her voting record a few weeks ago. "You went to the bottom of the pile," she told us.
And what was our Great Offense? Well, after the Arizona State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Graf, Hellon told the morning daily it seemed "odd" to her that FOP would endorse someone who had sponsored a bill that would have allowed firearms in establishments that serve liquor, because the police organization had opposed the bill during the session.
Hellon says she was only trying to point out the hypocrisy of the FOP endorsing Randy, but we can't help but suspect she had a subtext to her comments--mainly, look what a wackjob this Graf guy is!
So it seemed "odd" to us that Hellon had voted for the bill as well--which we pointed out in this space, to her evident consternation. In our conversation last week, she reiterated that she thought allowing guns in establishments that serve booze was good public policy.
So we popped another question: Was it an anti-cop bill? After all, we wanted to know if the FOP had a valid complaint.
"This isn't about me!" Hellon protested.
It's a shame she didn't adopt the same selfless attitude when scheduling Kolbe's appointments.
GOP TO HELLON: SHOVE IT!Meanwhile, Toni Hellon's former hubby, Mike Hellon, looks like he's just gonna have to live with the fact that he's been booted out of his national committeeman's post.
Hellon, who lost out to the conservative's champion, Randy Pullen, by five votes back at a GOP get-together in May, alleged that voting fraud had cost him the race.
An investigation by GOP chief Bob Fannin revealed that some fraudulent activity may have taken place, but he declined to call for a new election for fear that all legal hell might break loose. Plus, he doesn't need to give the peasants with torches and pitchforks a reason to storm his castle.
Hellon griped that the failure of party leaders to act was detrimental to the GOP's reputation.
"Democrats in Chicago do this stuff. Republicans don't," Hellon told Barrett Marson of the morning daily.
Uh, hate to break it to you, Mike, but all your superiority aside, it seems like Republicans actually do participate in these kinds of crooked games--at least, if your claims are to be believed.
ELECTION DAY!Yes, a month ahead of time. Early voting is now underway for the Sept. 7 primary. If you're one of the growing number of voters who cast early ballots, you can get one by calling 740-4330.
If you're not yet registered to vote, it's time to bust a move. Deadline to register is Monday, Aug. 9.
Other shout-outs for political junkies: Democrats David Bradley, Ted Downing and Dan Lawrence, who are fighting for two District 28 House seats, will debate at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, at Catalina High School, 3645 E. Pima St.
Republicans Marian McClure, Jonathan Paton, Doug Sposito and David Gowan, who are fighting for two District 30 House seats, will debate at 2 p.m. at the Green Valley Library, 601 N. La Canada Drive in Green Valley.