AMARI'S NEW GIGJane Amari, who retired as editor and publisher of the Arizona Daily Star in June, is hooking up with the same company that owns the Tucson Weekly? Yup, it's true.
Amari has been named editor and publisher of two Arizona community newspapers owned by Wick Communications Company.
She will oversee the San Pedro Valley News Sun in Benson, and the Arizona Range News in Willcox. In July, Amari purchased 460 acres 17 miles north of Benson on the San Pedro, where she and her husband, Roberto, are building a home and facilities for their American Saddlebred horses.
Her first day with the company was Monday, allowing for a transition period with publisher Brendan FitzSimons, who announced he will be retiring at the end of the year.
"I am very fortunate to be able to work in the area I love," Amari said. "I have family in Southern Arizona, and we plan to stay here. I am looking forward to meeting the people in Benson and Willcox and getting involved in the community."
Amari has 38 years of experience in the newspaper business. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Illinois and an MBA from California State University. Prior to retiring from the Star, where she was also vice president of news for Pulitzer Newspapers Inc., she held management positions at Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Times Mirror and the Kansas City Star.
Does this mean payback time for The Skinny after years of chiding Amari?
"Not a chance," said Weekly publisher Tom Lee, who also hired Amari and oversees Wick's newspapers in Arizona. "Jane's background is in traditional newspapers, not alternative newsweeklies. We may see her role expand to help our other newspapers, but Jane and I agree the Tucson Weekly would not be a good match."
NEW KID IN TOWNThe Arizona Daily Star has a new publisher:
John M. Humenik, editor of the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa. Humenik, 42, comes on board following the departure of David Stoeffler, who lasted less than six months in Tucson.
FLAMING THE FANS OF DEMOCRACYFormer KVOA-TV news anchor Patty Weiss last week confirmed rumors she's interested in running for the congressional seat being vacated next year by Republican Jim Kolbe.
"I'm a great fan of democracy," says Weiss, a longtime Democrat. "I've always thought I would run for Congress." Well, really, who hasn't?
Weiss declined to name any strategists who she's tapping for advice, saying only that she has "a number of smart people who have been involved in campaigns for years and years who are giving me lots of help, and I'm talking to possible campaign managers and so forth."
One minor problem: Weiss, who has nice digs near the Arizona Inn, doesn't actually live in CD8, according the records at the Pima County Recorder's Office. But that's nothing that a good Realtor can't fix.
Weiss' entry into the fray--with trusted name ID that's worth a fortune--presents a fresh challenge for state Sen. Gabrielle Giffords, who had hoped that her experience, connections and big bucks would allow her to barrel over the other candidates climbing into the ring. If Weiss decides to run, the Democratic primary promises to be, at the very least, a lot more bruising.
Weiss' political ambitions show why Giffords was shrewd to give up her legislative seat, even though she was only one month shy of the five years required to qualify for a state pension. She's been rolling through the Rolodex to lock in endorsements and financial commitments--which, she informs us, are already somewhere around a quarter-million bucks.
Also entering the race this week: Democrat Alex Rodriguez, who has great name ID, although that's tempered a bit by the fact that it's mostly been earned New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, not by TUSD Board member Alex Rodriguez. Our A-Rod says that he's the only candidate with "both military and security policy experience," earned while serving in Bosnia and the Pentagon as a member of the Army Reserves.
That will come as news to Jeff Latas, the Gulf War Air Force vet who also worked at the Pentagon before retiring and taking a job as a pilot for Jet Blue. Though he hasn't raised much money, Latas says he's been sewing up a grassroots base.
Still in the race, despite losing to Kolbe last year by about 24 percentage points: Eva Bacal. Maybe she has a leftover box of campaign flyers she doesn't want to see go to waste. Now out of the race: Tim Sultan, who lost to Bacal in the 2004 CD8 Democratic primary. Earlier this week, Sultan was angling for appointment to the District 28 Senate seat that Giffords vacated.
On the GOP side of Scramble watch '06, Ray Carroll announced that he would not be leaving the Pima County Board of Supervisors to run. Sugar Ray said he wanted to spend more time with the family. Isn't that sweet?
That leaves Republicans still trying to figure out who they can find to sideline Randy Graf. Rep. Steve Huffman wants to run so, so bad, but the GOP establishment has--to put it kindly--mixed feelings about him. And Mike Jenkins, a mechanic who has lost bids for the Arizona Legislature and the Tucson City Council, announced his candidacy over the weekend, but the GOP establishment didn't really notice.
Other potential candidates are emerging. State Sen. Tim Bee says he's giving it serious thought. But running for Congress means giving up his longtime ambition to win the post of Senate president in 2007. Then again, term limits would force him out in 2008.
Bee is popular in a legislative district that covers a lot of ground in CD8, so he could eat into Graf's support. He sees himself as conservative enough to win the primary but not so conservative that he'd lose the general.
Another Republican who may be considering the congressional seat: Developer Bruce Ash, who was looking to land Carroll's seat if Sugar Ray decided to run for Congress. Ash has enough of his own money to buy a slot in the race, as well as connections that could help him raise plenty of funds.
CASHING OUTBack when the Tucson City Council races were just getting underway, we asked Democrat Tom Volgy, the former mayor, whether an ongoing arms race by independent campaigns was undermining the publicly financed campaign program he helped design.
Volgy said he didn't think it was an arms race, because Democrats would never be able to raise as much as deep-pocketed Republicans.
Well, surprise, surprise. The Democratic team backing Nina Trasoff and Karin Uhlich outspent the Republican gang on their way to steamrolling GOP candidates Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar.
When you add up the money spent by the candidates and the independent campaign, Democrats spent somewhere around $313,000. That includes $82,220 by Tucsonans for Accountable Government, which targeted the Republicans with attack ads on TV, radio and mailers--which was exactly the kind of thing that the city's program was supposed to prevent. More than half of TAG's funding--$44,000--came from the Democratic Party. The second-biggest chunk came from United Food and Commercial Workers union, which kicked in $15,000.
The GOP candidates and their independent campaign committee, Tucsonans for Bipartisan Government, spent about $256,000. The indie committee itself, which launched a lame effort to try to link the Republican candidates to Democrat Steve Leal before coming up with some ineffective attack ads, spent a total of $67,990.
The same folks behind that effort launched a spin-off independent campaign, Independents for Dunbar, which was formed in the final days of campaign '05. It got $6,000 from four people--Don Diamond and his wife, Joan, along with David and Ellen Goldstein, all of whom delivered checks on Nov. 1. The committee got another $4,500 funneled from Tucsonans for Bipartisan Government after the election to cover outstanding debts.
Diamond's name is notably absent from the Tucsonans for Bipartisan Government contributor list. Could that be because Diamond was warned against contributing to any independent effort that would help Ronstadt? Or did Don just not want to give Fred a hand?