SAY IT AIN'T SO, JOELike Annie Savoy in Bull Durham, we know that bad trades are part of baseball--but few stink like the one being cooked up between the city of Glendale and the Chicago White Sox, which would have the Sox rooming with the Los Angeles Dodgers at a new two-team stadium.
Pima County's elected officials and other suits around town are fuming about the proposed move, because it threatens the future of spring training in Tucson. You'd think that after we built that nice Tucson Electric Park, Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf wouldn't be slutting around Maricopa County. We're told he has a Paradise Valley home and doesn't like the commute down here to see his ball club.
One catch: The White Sox would have to find another team to take their place, or pay $28 million. With a shortage of Major League teams available, we hear they may try to stick us with some Japanese ball club. No arigato.
The proposed move is made possible by the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, which doles out money for stadiums. As it works out, Glendale is competing with the city of Goodyear, which also wants to build a stadium to house the Cleveland Indians (who, by the way, have zero interest in coming back to Tucson, so don't even think about it).
As it turns out, the legislation that created the sports authority back in 2004 actually forbids Maricopa County jurisdictions from poaching from one another--but there's nothing in there about Pima County. Yet.
All it would take is a minor language tweak to fix that little loophole--and with District 30's Tim Bee being Senate president, we think that pitch will be coming down the pike.
Here's another idea for future legislation: Make any community that wants a Pima County team put up $51 million up front for negotiation rights. Hey, it works for Japanese players.
THE STINGSpeaking of Senate President Tim Bee: He showed some real guts with last week's Monday Massacre, when he fired the four top-ranking members of the Senate staff. Now polishing up their resumes: Greg Jernigan, Rob Dalager, Nick Simonetta and Mark Swenson, a one-time Tucson Citizen reporter who frequently played the role of the man behind the curtain we were supposed to pay no attention to. Maybe Swenson should have spent a little less time trying to torpedo the Rio Nuevo extension in the last session.
Previous Senate presidents had vowed to bring down the ax, only to wuss out at the moment of truth.
It's a major shake-up, because the staffers--thanks to their experience--were often driving policy instead of implementing it.
Elsewhere in the elbowing-for-influence game at the Legislature: Rep. Phil Lopes of Tucson's District 27 was re-elected to the position of Democratic caucus leader.
SCRAMBLEWATCH '06: THE I-WISH-I-KNEW-HOW-TO-QUIT-YOU EDITIONWe know we promised to quit talking about the '06 election, but we're backsliding, because they finally finished counting the statewide vote over the weekend.
The news has gotten even better for Democrats. They gained six seats in the House of Representatives, leaving it split 33 Republicans to 27 Dems, and gained one seat in the Senate, which now has 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats.
One Republican who nearly got knocked out was House Speaker Jim Weiers, who had to spend more than $195,000 to hang onto his seat in Legislative District 10. Weiers' Republican seatmate, Doug Quelland--best known for his handlebar mustache--lost to a Democratic challenger, Jackie Thrasher, who finished less than 400 votes behind Weiers.
The final Pima County stats: Of the 435,391 registered voters, 284,935 got their ballots counted, which comes out to about 65.4 percent. That's a smaller percentage than the number of voters in the 2004 general election, when 369,321--or 82.4 percent--cast ballots. It's even a lower percentage than the 2002 midterm, which brought out more than 68 percent of the voters. But on the bright side of turnout, that 68 percent four years ago only represented 232,564 voters, because so many new voters have registered since then.
For the first time, early voters outnumbered the folks casting ballot on Election Day. Nearly 54 percent, or 153,793 voters, dropped their ballots into the mailbox, while 131,142 went to the polls.
Even though the majority are now voting early, Pima County voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative that would have mandated early voting--in other words, vote by mail--for most everyone in the state. Even among Pima County's early voters, 61 percent shot down the idea.
Rural radio-station mogul and failed congressional candidate Rick Murphy blew at least $433K of his own money to put Proposition 205 on the ballot and then completely dropped the ball when it came to running a campaign. Sure sign of trouble: They had waited until the last week of campaign '06 to start running radio ads. Uh, do you think early voters might have been the ones most likely to support Prop 205?
SCRAMBLEWATCH: CITY HALLPreviously in The Skinny: Democrat Clarence Boykins, last seen losing an Arizona House of Representatives race in GOP-dominated District 30, was rumored to have an interest in running to replace retiring Councilwoman Carol West in next year's city elections.
Other Democrats who may be interested in representing eastside Ward 2: Lianda Ludwig, the unabashed lefty who lost a primary to West in 2003. Ludwig, who is mostly watchdogging the vote-counting process these days, says she is thinking about a second try.
Hey, and what's this we hear about man-about-town Rodney Glassman--one of Congressman Raul Grijalva's henchmen--wanting to give it a shot?
And could Rick Grinnell, who has taken a couple of shots at Ward 2 on the GOP ticket, be considering a campaign as an independent? Might do better than being on a Republican ticket in this town these days.
Speaking of independents: Hot-dog vendor Bruce Gerowitz wants to take on Republican Mayor Bob Walkup. Gerowitz, who's been selling dogs outside TD's Showclub on Speedway Boulevard five or six nights a week for nearly 17 years, tells us he got into the race because he feels like Walkup isn't providing enough leadership. Gerowitz needs to collect roughly 19,000 signatures for a spot on the November ballot.
"Bob Walkup is a good man," Gerowitz says. "He's an educated man; he's a learned man; he's a well-spoken man. But he's got no opinion, and whatever the City Council sets in front of him, he gives it an OK stamp."
Gerowitz, who got his start in politics working for LBJ's presidential campaign when he was just 11 years old, is upset that the City Council passed new regs for street vendors, which have forced him to move his cart away from a prime location about 20 feet from the strip club's main entrance to the front of the building, which has cost him about 30 percent of his business.
"I don't get the out-of-the-bar business, the end-of-the-night business," Gerowitz says.
The 53-year-old entrepreneur complains about other council moves that have hurt the proverbial little guy, such as restrictions that block businesses from using A-frame signs or transients from selling newspapers on street corners.
"They don't go after anybody who's going to give them a headache," says Gerowitz. "They go after the guy who has least amount of power, the least amount of ability to stand up to them. It's gotta stop someplace."
Gerowitz said he would take a shot at qualifying for about $90,000 public campaign funds.