DEANIACS LOVE NINA!It's not as impressive as Linda Ronstadt's seal of approval, but Ward 6 City Council candidate Nina Trasoff has won the endorsement of Democracy for America Tucson, a spin-off of the Dean for America organization that was all the rage in political circles until Howard Dean uttered that infamous howl in last year's presidential primary.
Democracy for America member Steve Cody said it was a tough pick between Trasoff and graphic artist Steve Farley, who will be squaring off in the September Democratic primary to see who gets to take on Republican incumbent Fred Ronstadt in November. Cody called both Dems "strong progressive candidates."
Democracy for America Tucson, which bills itself as a progressive, non-partisan organization, also endorsed Democrat Karin Uhlich, who is trying to knock off Republican Kathleen Dunbar in Ward 3, and Democrat Steve Leal, who is seeking his fifth term in southside Ward 5.
ALL TALKWe've noted repeatedly that radio talkaholic John C. Scott Ulm serves a public purpose, if only because he gets his pol guests, including those he worships, to say stupid things during his two-hour show weekday mornings on KJLL 1330 AM. Still, Erin White's puff-file of John C. in Sunday's Arizona Daily Star had us choking on each paragraph. Her best line: "... the former TV anchor could rest on his laurels--his dialogue-based format has been profitable for many, many years ..."
That'd be news to his creditors. Scott and his ad-sales wife, Amy, filed for bankruptcy on May 24. It is his second such petition since 1993, when he dived into bankruptcy to stay a defamation suit brought by then-City Councilman Michael Haggerty, a Democrat. At that time, Scott also had a stack of federal and state tax liens, which have since been released.
Erin, there is a library, with talented researchers, at the Star.
ODDS ON THE ODDWhile on assignment south of the border last weekend, The Skinny discovered Rocky Point's Caliente sportsbook is already offering odds on the 2008 presidential race.
Rudy Giuliani is the favorite in the GOP race, going off at 2-1. Arizona Sen. John McCain's odds are 5-1, as is Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist. Perhaps the worst bet of the 18 potential Republicans is Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose odds were at 17-1, even though he's ineligible to hold the office.
In the Democratic field, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson and John Edwards shared 5-1 odds. The longest shot: Bill Maher at 150-1.
FOLLOW THE MONEYDr. Bradley A. Schwartz may have been far too erratic and far too hooked on painkillers and other drugs to be a sophisticated money man, but his financial trail has gone cold enough that the judge presiding over his murder case cannot determine whether Schwartz has enough green to pay for his defense, a tab so far picked up by Pima County taxpayers.
Nearly seven months into the proceedings, Judge Nanette Warner of Pima County Superior Court still lacks a clear idea if Schwartz had or has assets sufficient enough to pay for all or part of his defense that has been provided by Brick Storts. The trial is scheduled for about five months from now. Schwartz is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the Oct. 5 slaying of Dr. David Brian Stidham, a former associate in Schwartz's ophthalmology practice, Arizona Specialty Eye Care. Schwartz is accused of hiring Ronald Bruce Bigger, an Indiana criminal, to kill Stidham.
Warner examined Schwartz--briefly--last week, along with Schwartz's ex-wife, Joan; his former corporate lawyer, Steven Bossé; Carl Macpherson, a lawyer who has handled payment issues after the couple's 2004 divorce; and Dennis Rosen, the attorney who is now representing Joan Schwartz.
After all that, Warner reviewed materials again in her chambers and said, "Upon further review of the testimony and records, the Court is unclear as to the manner in which past due child support and spousal maintenance were calculated. The Clearinghouse records show that more child support was withheld than what was due. No records of spousal maintenance were provided. Dr. Schwartz signed the proposed judgments without doing any calculations or research to determine if the amount of the judgments was correct."
Schwartz testified, looking back at his ex-wife, that he just signed the judgments, lacking the information or inclination to review what was being paid and when. "It wasn't much of a decision," he said. "My children need to be supported."
Genial and down to earth, Joan Schwartz nodded and smiled at her ex-husband several times and extended a hand to him as she walked past the shackled and cuffed father of her three children, ages 12, 9 and 4, to and from the witness box. With a tone set by Warner's early question about how the two get along, Joan Schwartz testified as if chatting with Warner. They both laughed at remarks, questions and answers. Warner noted for the first time in the case that she was the head of the Superior Court's domestic bench and at one time presided over the Schwartz divorce, though she had nothing to do with the final settlement or post-settlement actions.
The settlement provided a fairly clear road map to the couple's division of assets, but that map was muddled by slow and sloppy lawyering and lack of attention by the court. For example, Macpherson wrote an order for a second amended judgment on Feb. 11 that put Dr. Schwartz in the hole by $40,949.60 in spousal maintenance and child support that was to be $11,200 a month combined. There was no follow-up document, showing either that Dr. Schwartz had paid or that Joan Schwartz gave up. Case records typically show that judgments have been satisfied.
Joan Schwartz testified that the doctor had indeed paid. He was using disability insurance from five Northwestern Mutual Insurance policies at one time. Two were canceled when the insurer invoked a clause barring payment when one is incarcerated. The three others add up to $5,335 a month, she said.
Warner gave Macpherson until June 17 to provide details how the past support was cleared up--two earlier judgments had the past-due amount at $18,000 and $29,000.
With the doctor in the slammer, Joan Schwartz said she closed down his practice, collecting on accounts receivable--about $38,000--and paying bills. She also had Bossé sell the building at 5190 E. Farness Drive in the Tucson Medical Park. That sale brought $300,000. Those handling the sale never filed sales data, including an affidavit of value. What is in the record is what Joan Schwartz said in court: Part of the money, $110,000, was used to pay off the bank note. There were other bills, and there is $70,000 for equipment that Schwartz had delivered but was unable to unpack because of his arrest. Rosen has tried without success to get the $70,000 on the equipment, which was returned. Warner ordered that the $70,000 be held pending further decision of the Court regarding (Schwartz's) indigence.
Not discussed in court was Joan Schwartz's Jan. 1 sale of Pinnacle Ridge Drive home she once shared with Dr. Schwartz. It sold for $830,000 in cash, records show. She bought a Sabino Canyon area home for $435,000, including $240,000 in cash, according to county property records.
Joan Schwartz also testified that she paid for her ex-husband's $18,000 MICA medical liability insurance premium at the conclusion of his practice--known as "tail coverage." He needs it. Schwartz, his practice and his ex-wife are defendants in two ongoing medical malpractice lawsuits that claim his treatment or lack of proper follow-up injured two young patients.