THE P FILES
A tempest in a pot of some kind erupted last week after a conservative website alleged that Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik urinated in public while out on a jog.
Kozachik called the allegations "bullshit" after local right-wing radio jocks spent several days repeating the unsubstantiated claim, which was first made at the Arizona Daily Independent website.
Kozachik told TW via a blunt email statement:
"They're clearly desperate. Anybody can make an anonymous allegation, and that's all the ADI blog is. Nobody is ever on the record and so it makes it easy for them to put guys like me in the position of having to prove a negative. They smeared Ray Carroll during his campaign, and are so fringe that they've called guys like Bruce Ash and Al Melvin RINOs."
Kozachik continued: "It also says something about the journalistic professionalism of KNST and Journal Broadcasting that they're running this shit on the radio day after day, but I guess that's the small-minded echo chamber of hatred that the fringe right in this town seems to thrive on. Two weeks ago it was me 'testing' prostitutes through my efforts at offering a diversion program. Before that it was me having a 'gay wedding with my secret lover' that they had posted on Facebook. I won't be spending the next six months of this campaign giving them any level of relevancy by answering false and anonymous allegations, but I'm more than happy to put it out there with you this one time that this group of children needs to grow up. The fact is that they'll show that they're incapable of that and that'll validate the reason behind them being a bunch of losers in virtually every election in this region."
The Arizona Daily Independent article in question, like most of the content on the website, is bylined "ADI News Services." The nonattributed story cited anonymous sources who allegedly witnessed Kozachik standing against a wall in a neighborhood near El Con:
The City Councilman, an avid runner, stopped and urinated against a wall outside of Gabby Gifford's new neighborhood in full view of stunned passersby.
Kozachik was seen moments later, at approximately 10:16 a.m. near the Starbucks at El Con mall.
One witness to Kozachik's public indecency said, "He ran up to the wall, faced it, and just started peeing and peeing and peeing. It seemed like an eternity."
Witnesses had considered calling law enforcement for the public indecency, but feared retaliation. The Councilman is well-known for his angry temperament and with the mismanagement of the City budget it was unlikely, in their estimation that the cops could come any way.
The Skinny called Kozachik and asked him straight up: Did he pee on a wall?
"It's bullshit," he told us. "Folks, grow up."
Here's the deal: We don't know if Kozachik pissed against a wall. (And frankly, we wouldn't care all that much if he did; we don't make a habit of it, but we've been known to take a leak in appropriate places when desperate times call for desperate measures.)
But we know this: There's no police report. There's no photo. There are not even witnesses willing to go on the record that they saw the alleged act.
Bottom line: Anonymously sourced articles like this just don't pass the sniff test (if you'll excuse the expression in this case). If no one is willing to go on the record—including the author of the piece—you're simply not credible. It's amateurish and clownish.
Is this really the best that conservatives in this town can come up with when they're trying to criticize public officials? The way that the radio guys have seized on this nonsense is not a reflection on Kozachik. It just demonstrates that his critics have a hard time coming up with a substantive argument, primarily because they do virtually no investigating of anything. They're not engaged in journalism. They're engaged in epistemic closure.That's not a criticism based in ideology. Listen to how Emil Franzi, a longtime local GOP political consultant, went off against the ADI report on his own website, the Southern Arizona News Examiner.
"There is a totally unsupported claim made in a rather disreputable website that Councilman Kozachik was seen publicly urinating," Franzi wrote. "This is the same hit sheet that similarly smeared Supervisor Ray Carroll last summer with the claim that an 'anonymous source' told them he has solicited a bribe from them. In both cases, this website claims that they cannot divulge the name of the accuser because they 'fear retaliation.' Right."
Franzi continued: "While I realize feeling against Kozachik runs high on the right (I've stoked some of it myself) the public peeing story has no credibility whatsoever and those repeating it should be ashamed of themselves and knock it off."
Franzi is no fan of Kozachik, but he told The Skinny last week that there's no reason to believe anything you read on the ADI website.
"All you have to do is look at that piece of shit for about 10 seconds and you know there's something wrong with it," Franzi said.
Franzi, who hosts the Inside Track radio show on Saturday afternoons on KVOI 1030 AM, said the radio hosts who have been hyping the story "give talk radio a bad name with their complete inability to investigate a claim. They've been conned by a publication that's clearly a scam. You ever read that thing? There are no bylines. Why would you believe that source on anything? If you're going to use that as your source, there's something wrong with the way you're doing the news at your station."
GET YOUR MINT FIRED UP
Gov. Jan Brewer's continuing push for Medicaid expansion has slowed down a lot of the action at the Arizona Legislature.
We've written a lot about Brewer's Medicaid expansion in recent months, but in a nutshell it's this: Brewer is working with the business community and Democrats to pass a law so that anyone with an income of 133 percent or less of the federal poverty level would get health insurance through the state's AHCCCS program. Advocates argue that it would bring billions and billions of federal dollars to the state in the next few years and the hospitals would essentially tax themselves to cover the state's matching-fund requirement. Opponents, including most Republicans at the Legislature, say that it could cost too much someday and that the expansion is helping to implement the federal Affordable Care Act.
So while Brewer tries to lock in enough Republicans to get the measure passed, budget negotiations have gotten tied up in the debate. Many lawmakers are reluctant to get their bills passed by both chambers because they fear Brewer will veto them.
In short: There's a lot of horse trading and other maneuvers going on, but only a few bills are on a fast track.
Among the ones that are moving slowly along:
• SB 1439, which would allow Arizonans to make their own gold and silver coins, passed the House of Representatives on Monday, April 8, on a 36-22 vote. It was amended in the House to prohibit people from paying their taxes with their homemade coins, so it's headed back to the Senate to work out the details.
• HB 2573 was amended last week to prevent the state, cities and towns from implementing sustainable-development strategies as part of UN Agenda 21, which some Republican lawmakers view as a secret plot to eliminate property rights and force everyone to live in apartments or detainment camps or something. The bill passed the House of Representatives on a 34-24 vote on Thursday, April 4.