BEHIND IN THE COUNTTucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce boss Jack Camper put on his usual bombastic show last week, warning the Tucson City Council that they need to figure out how to save spring training baseball in Tucson.
That won't be an easy task. The Colorado Rockies want some upgrades at Hi Corbett Field, including new clubhouses, new office space, a new minor-league facility and other renovations. Estimated price tag: $20 to $30 million.
That's a lot of money to ask taxpayers to shell out, especially since there are no guarantees that the Rockies will remain in Tucson, even if they get their remodel. The Rockies, like the Diamondbacks, want to have at least three teams in Tucson. With the White Sox headed to Maricopa County, Pima County will need to lure a third team to Tucson Electric Park, or we risk losing spring training completely.
That would totally suck--partly because we like baseball, but also because, as Camper and Co. pointed out, spring training brings an estimated $30 million in tourism and related economic activity to Tucson every year.
The financing problem: Maricopa funds its sport authority with taxes on rental cars and hotel rooms. We've already got pretty high taxes in those departments, so baseball boosters are going to have to look elsewhere to fund some kind of regional authority. So far, they're keeping mum on their options, though they say there are a bunch of ideas out there.
They'll be coming back to the Tucson City Council in 45 to 60 days with more details on forming a regional sports authority that would support spring training and amateur sports.
SEE YOU IN COURTTucson attorney Bill Risner will soon be back in Pima County Superior Court on behalf of those election-integrity-loving Pima County Democrats.
On Monday, Feb. 25, at 3 p.m., Risner goes before Judge Michael Miller to ask the court to look at objections Risner filed against Miller's findings of fact from his December ruling in the Dems' public-records lawsuit against the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Another topic to be addressed at the hearing: Risner's request for about $300,000 in attorney's fees, including $40,000 to pay election-integrity activist Jim March for his paralegal work during the lawsuit.
Expect Risner to return to court later on another motion he filed Feb. 13 to request a hearing on the disclosure of all election-data files going back to when the county began to use its Diebold system in 1997. "What's the harm in getting us stuff that's 10 years old?" Risner asks. "We now have all the 2006 election files and all the RTA files. There's no security risk."
Risner says the Dems need the files to compare the 2006 and Regional Transportation Authority election files that the Democrats are analyzing. The group suspects the early files are clean, but they could be helpful in comparing the files they think may stink.
See all of Risner's legal documents at blog.tucsonweekly.com.
ASSHAT ON PARADEThere's only so much harassment a farmers' market can take.
That's what market manager Alan Ward and two vendors were thinking on Wednesday, Feb. 13, when a certain attention-hungry Mexican-flag burner descended in front of the downtown Bank of America building to get on his bullhorn.
When Asshat turned his bullhorn in the direction of the farmers' market--with some not-so-kind expletives about the bleeping vendors--Ward and two vendors got all Martha Stewart on the anti-immigration yahoo with some fabric and a few umbrella poles.
The trio went to the BofA and blocked him out, using the fabric and poles as a sort of curtain. According to Ward, no one talked to Asshat. They just stood there covering the protester, outside of his little circle of protection.
Then Asshat began to hit the poles with his bullhorn. This led to a gaggle of Tucson Police Department officers handcuffing him and taking him away in a police car.
Ward says one of the vendors was asked if they were interested in pressing charges, but she declined. She probably should have pressed charges: Asshat responded by unlovingly filing a harassment injunction against Ward on Valentine's Day.
Yes, that's right: Big, bad Asshat went running to the courts for protection from umbrellas. Sounds like Asshat needs to man up a little bit.
Ward says he was served the papers at his home on Saturday.
"He claims in the injunction that we attempted to steal one of his banners and attempted to tear down his property," Ward says. "It's crazy. Now I'm wondering if this were actually approved, what would happen to the market? How would I manage the market if I couldn't be here?"
Earlier this week, Asshat sent out his semi-regular e-mail bulletin. In the latest missive, he announced that a Tucson Municipal Court judge has issued an order prohibiting him from protesting near the farmers' market Never fear: He says he's still planning on being there this Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the BofA building "rocking and rolling and burning Mexican flags."
Asshat claims his protest is about evil American corporations taking advantage of Mexican labor. If that's really his POV, then why not burn an American flag and a doll of George W. Bush?
BONDAGE FESTThe economic bad times have County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry telling county department supervisors that he needs to see a reduction of 2 to 5 percent from each department.
Do budget woes mean a 2008 bond election is off the table? Not exactly. While Huckelberry has said new libraries and parks could be delayed, the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee continues to plan a bond proposal to bring before the Board of Supervisors. The committee continues to look at everything from libraries and parks to conservation acquisition, aka open-space land purchases.
The next meeting is Friday, Feb. 29, at the Manning House, 450 W. Paseo Redondo. More than $1.4 billion in project-funding requests are on the table. The committee will look at whittling that down to about $700 million.
Friends at the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection said they hope open-space land acquisition stays at about $285 million, in order for the county to hold up its end of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. They'd also like an additional $10 million to go toward flood plain acquisition.
Hopefully, someone will be there to receive the e-mail--and not looking for a new job.
WHO WANTS TO BE A SUPER DELEGATE?So we're hearing a lot about these super delegates and how they might have the power to decide the Democratic presidential race. Perhaps you're wondering how you can become a super delegate yourself. How does it work? Do you have to be bitten by a radioactive presidential candidate?
Actually, you just need to win a spot as a first vice-chair of the county Democratic Party. And it turns out there's an opening, because Donna Branch-Gilby is giving up her first vice-chairmanship as she prepares to challenge Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson in the September primary.
The new first vice chair will be elected at the state convention on April 26. Want to apply? Call Pima County Democratic HQ at 326-3716.