THE L WORDWard 1 Councilwoman-elect Regina Romero and Ward 2 Councilman-elect Rodney Glassman will join the Tucson City Council when they take their oaths of office at 10 a.m. next Monday, Dec. 3. (We have a city charter that actually sets the precise time of the swearing in of new council members. Those founding fathers sure did concentrate on the important stuff, didn't they?)
That means we'll be bidding farewell to the retiring Ward 2 Councilwoman Carol West and Ward 1 Councilman José Ibarra, which brings us to the L word: Legacy. What will the two council members be remembered for, by those few who remember council members?
We didn't always agree with West during her two terms in office, but she proved herself to be both a smart and tough cookie. She had experience as an aide in the Ward 2 office before she won the seat, so she knew the ropes right from the start and delivered when it came to constituent service. She also had a real reluctance to pander to voters if it meant doing the wrong thing for the city.
Her biggest accomplishment? In the long term, it was her decision to be one of the four votes to implement a $14-a-month trash fee. By freeing up more than $20 million in the budget, West helped ensure that the city would have enough money to deal with long-neglected streets, hire more cops and firefighters, and expand park services.
To get the trash fee passed, West had to break from her fellow Democrats and team up with the Republicans who were then on the council, but we don't imagine that partisan considerations ever entered West's mind. Indeed, when she started to take some heat about working with Republicans from Democratic Party leaders, she went ahead and quit the party, declaring herself an independent.
And what will Ibarra be remembered for after his three terms? He was the wunderkind who won a council seat while in his mid-20s and sadly proceeded to self-destruct right in front of our eyes as he failed to exercise impulse control. His tendency to let his temper get the best of him frayed his political relationships and eroded his base.
His inability to control his mouth reached a climax during his last re-election campaign, when he accused an employee in the Ward 1 office of stealing about $4,000 in cash that had been brought into the office by local residents to pay their water bills.
Since Ibarra couldn't prove the charges--an investigation basically suggested Ibarra's lax management had allowed anyone to dip into the cash box with the expectation that the money would be paid back--the employee sued the councilman for damaging her reputation. The city ended up paying her $160,000 and racked up $50,000 or so in legal fees, meaning Ibarra managed to turn a $4,000 cash theft into a $200,000-plus legal mess.
After that, Ibarra tended to be a little more circumspect about what he had to say. He even stopped attending executive sessions of the council just so he wouldn't be tempted to tell anyone what was said behind closed doors. And when his term ended this year, he slipped away with a whimper, not a bang.
CROSSER CRAPSHOOTWe read in the morning daily that Border Patrol is recognizing that it may not be so easy after all to put every illegal border-crosser in the Tucson Sector into detention.
Now there's a surprise.
The folks on the back end of the justice system--such as U.S. Marshal David Gonzales--have been saying for a long time that even the current number of arrests of illegal immigrants is overwhelming Arizona's federal court system. There just aren't enough courtrooms, law-enforcement agents, prosecutors, defense attorneys, interpreters and other staffers to make it possible to detain the flood of illegal immigrants who come across the border.
Now the Border Patrol suggests that instead of detaining every illegal immigrant, they'll just do 100 a day, which will still create a logistical nightmare. And for what? So they can send a message that justice in the United States is based on a lottery system?
This is what you get when you trade comprehensive immigration reform for a get-tough-and-secure-the-border approach: Big bills for taxpayers and a system that remains broken.
RUN FOR PRESIDENT!My fellow Americans: There's still time for you to land your spot on Arizona's presidential primary ballot! Last week, the Tucson Weekly debuted Project White House, a foray into reality journalism that's encouraging readers to launch their own campaign for president.
You'll find all the details online in our last edition, but here are the basics: It turns out that all you have to do to get your name on the Feb. 5 presidential-primary ballot is fill out a form that's we've posted online. Feel free to download it, get it notarized and send it to Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer.
But if you want us to cover your campaign, you should send your platform--even if it's nothing more than an essay of 250 words or less about why you're seeking the White House--by Friday, Dec. 7. Then our judges will decide whether we consider you newsworthy. E-mail us or drop a package into the mail to P.O. Box 27087, Tucson, AZ 85726.
If we like what you've got to say, we'll cover your campaign and even notarize your nomination for free!
One of our first contestants is Robert Mac, a comedian who calls Tucson home when he's not out on the standup circuit.
Mac sent the following to Project White House:
Mac will be launching his campaign as part of this weekend's Comedy Fiasco, which features a Christmas 2008 theme. ("Only 389 shopping days left. Standup, skits, songs, game shows with prizes and possible humiliation.")
Why I Want to Run for PresidentBy Robert Mac (age 39 1/2) (almost)
The other day, my mom Pat came down to the garage even though she's not allowed to without permission, and we were watching the news from Washington and she said at this rate I'm smart enough to be president. Why would she say that? Well, I'm always thinking about problems--I'm a problem thinker and I have the doctor's note to prove it. And I'm old enough to be president: I'm 39 and a half almost.
I have a lot of good ideas. My brain is so dense with ideas. I don't want to make it sound like I'm bragging, but I'm probably the densest candidate ever.
For instance, I know how to solve the immigration problem once and for all. My "Shorter Border Order" will bring income into our country AND make the border easier to protect. It'll kill two birds with one stone. That's just one idea.
My war plan will make fighting the war easier AND cheaper. I just killed another two birds.
I have simple plans to reduce global warming (everyone needs to run their air conditioning all the time with their windows open--doy!), fix the health care system and scare away terrorists.
Plus, my Alaskan Energy Conservation Plan will both supply oil AND get oil-producing countries off our back. Two more birds!
In summary, my mom Pat is right. I'm going to be a great president. So, vote for me: I kill birds!
You should so totally go check out his act at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 1, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Tickets are just $7.
And in the meantime, launch your own campaign with Project White House!