ARIZONA, HOME OF THE OK QUARREL

HEY, WE'RE THE GRAND CANYON STATE. WE LIKE BIG SCHISMS.

when Bill Clinton recently brokered the historic handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat--the Kodak Moment that punctuated the accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization--we were filled with hope.

Hope that Rodney King wasn't nuts to think we all can get along. Hope that long-standing tribal feuds will occasionally find some resolution. Hope that agreement can be reached. Hope that peace, when given the chance, can indeed break out all over.

Then we turned to the next section of the morning paper, the one with all the local news.

And we were filled with dread.
Because Arizonans feud, too, and likely will continue to do so no matter who's doing high-fives on the White House lawn. In fact, conflict is among our proudest traditions: Kino versus the Wild Frontier, Geronimo versus the Cavalry, the Earps versus the Clantons, Phelps Dodge versus the Wobblies, Keno versus Bingo, Gary Peter Klahr versus Everyone.

We feud with each other. We feud with outsiders. We feud with nature. White people still feud with Native Americans, but now it's over slot machines. Universities feud with other universities over less trivial matters, such as football.

Face it. We're feudal. And we're that way unto death, or at least until the person we're feuding with moves to Salt Lake City. Outsiders new to the state must wonder: If Israel and the PLO can do the grip n' grin and be friends--after a century of exchanging hate mail--why can't Arizona's U.S. senators? Here's why. Presented in a concise format suitable for future scorekeeping, here are some of the state's juiciest feuds:

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: The Arizona Corporation Commission versus large utilities. Nature of feud: Regulatory. The Corporation Commission is the only entity standing between your checking account and gigantic, monopolistic utilities. The commission is ruled by a three-person panel of elected officials. The utilities are ruled by corporate greed. Recent history of hostilities: In the 1980s, the state's larger utilities became flush with cash--monopoly money, in a sense--and transformed themselves into bankers and real estate speculators. When the real estate market went belly-up late in the decade, the utilities became bankrupt bankers and failed real estate speculators. Thanks to the Corp Comm, the utilities have not been allowed to completely bail themselves out by billing ratepayers for their losses.

Status of feud: Ongoing. U S West Communications, though not the monopoly it once was, still occasionally acts like one. Its most recent request for a rate hike was somewhere in the neighborhood of $130 million, and would raise monthly home phone bills from $12.40 to $17.50, pay-phone calls to 35 cents from a quarter and triple directory-assistance charges. That whopper is still pending. In 1990, Arizona Public Service Company asked the commission for a 21 percent hike in electric rates. APS, allowed just a 5.2 percent bump then, has deferred a scheduled upcoming hike battle because of successful bond refinancing, but, notes APS boss Mark De Michele, "the interest-rate bonanza won't last forever."

Them's fightin' words: "I'm not denying that some of these things are unpalatable," said a U S West spokesman of that utility's most recent request. "But they are certainly not outrageous."

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Linda Nadolski versus Ruben Ortega.
Nature of feud: Historical. She was a Phoenix City Council member. He was Phoenix police chief. Recent history of hostilities: Ortega, a hard guy essentially accountable to nobody, ruled the force with an iron will. He fought with the local police union and openly criticized his men. He regularly pursued kooky law enforcement endeavors, such as a desperate attempt to drug-bust several Phoenix Suns, and the manufactured-crime sting known as AzScam. He also didn't like New Times.

After AzScam, Nadolski, who would prove to be a two-term councilperson, had the nerve to suggest that perhaps Chief Ortega had a tad too much power. He freaked.

Status of feud: Happily concluded. Ortega, after 11 years as chief, quit the force (he still collects upward of $80,000 a year in pension) and has now settled in as chief of police in Salt Lake City. Nadolski has not been heard from since losing her bid for reelection last year.

Them's fightin' words: "I have no regrets about leaving my job," said Ortega after resettling in the Beehive State. "I had maxed out as far as my pension goes. Hell, I was working for nothing."

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Karsten Solheim versus the Professional Golfers' Association Tour.

Nature of feud: Commercial. Solheim is founder of Ping, the golf-club company whose irons were banned from professional play by the PGA Tour in 1989. Solheim, an extremely rich local golf-club manufacturer, then sued the PGA, essentially a collection of extremely rich golf-club users, for $200 million. Recent history of hostilities: After racking up an untold fortune in legal fees, the feuding parties settled out of court.

Status of feud: Everybody's feelin' groovy. Them's fightin' words: "Fore!"
@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Danielle Ammaccapane versus Dottie Mochrie. Nature of feud: Commercial. Both are star players on the Ladies Professional Golfers' Association Tour. Recent history of hostilities: The battle started at the 1985 NCAA championship tournament. Ammaccapane, who grew up in Phoenix and was playing for Arizona State, surprised everybody by defeating Mochrie, then playing for Furman University. Ever since, the two have bickered as playing partners (a colorfully contentious episode at the 1986 Curtis Cup tournament was recalled by Sports Illustrated last year) and as competitors. Status of feud: They're still coming out swinging. Them's fightin' words: "She's like a fly at a picnic," Mochrie told SI. "She just won't go away." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Dr. Howard Limmer versus Dr. Paul Blumberg. Nature of feud: Moral. The osteopaths had split a pair of Suns season tickets since 1982. In 1986, Blumberg got a line on an upgraded pair, and convinced Limmer, to whom the old seats were officially registered, to give up his old tickets and move.

Recent history of hostilities: Come playoff time last season in the new America West Arena, Blumberg decided not to share. Status of feud: Settled in Superior Court. Neither back cracker would comment on who's sitting where this season, though.

Them's fightin' words: "Shazam!" @rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Charles Barkley versus Mike Mathis.
Nature of feud: Moral. Barkley is the National Basketball Association's biggest star. Mathis is the NBA's worst referee. Recent history of hostilities: Countless bad calls against Sir Charles and our brave boys. Status of feud: Resumes shortly.

Them's fightin' words: "Mike Mathis is just a bad official, and he's hurting our team," says Mr. Barkley. "I feel [NBA Vice President] Rod Thorn has to have some balls and go after him." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Navajo versus Hopi.
Nature of feud: Tribal. Recent history of hostilities: Way back in the 19th century, the meandering Navajos herded some of their sheep onto what had been considered Hopi land, located somewhere north of here. The more stable Hopis noticed this but let it slide. In the 1960s, the U.S. government decreed that almost two million acres were jointly owned. In the 1970s, the U.S. government decreed that the land would no longer be jointly owned. But some of the Navajos didn't want to move, so in the 1980s, the U.S. government tried to help the tribes settle their trouble. Status of feud: About 150 Navajo families still haven't moved. Them's fightin' words: "John Wayne."

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: The Shoen family.
Nature of feud: Blood. L.S. Shoen, founder of the fabulously successful U-Haul company, in 1986 distributed his company stock to the 12 children he had sired by three women. Now split into two factions (outsiders L.S. and son Sam are trying to wrest control back from sons E.J. and Mark), the brood has been fighting over the fate of the $1.6 billion company essentially ever since.

Recent history of hostilities: In August 1990, Eva, wife of Sam, was shot to death in her Telluride, Colorado, home. Frank Marquis, a 38-year-old drifting loser and convicted rapist, was arrested for what police say was a bungled burglary. But not before the L.S. side of the feud could blame the other. In fact, Joe and Mark Shoen have sued their father for libel, saying he said they were somehow involved in the killing. Status of feud: Still descending into Haul. Them's fightin' words: "Save the trees," said Marquis after his arrest. "Build houses with straw." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: J. Fife Symington III versus the Resolution Trust Corporation.

Nature of feud: Regulatory. The fun began a couple of years ago, when the RTC said in a leaked memo that Symington, Arizona's governor for just a few months more, was involved in "blatant self-dealing" as a board member of the failed Southwest Savings and Loan. Symington was on the doomed thrift's board from 1972 to 1984. In that time, according to a suit leveled in December 1991 by the RTC against Symington and several of his board chums, the board voted to invest in five Symington-related endeavors, including the ill-fated Esplanade, an oversize strip mall at 24th Street and Camelback.

The RTC, which alleges that Symington broke the law by failing to excuse himself from deal deliberations that directly benefited him (development fees, you know), now deems that board's decisions "reckless" and "impudent." (The evocative "blatant self-dealing" line was somehow dropped from the government's paperwork between memo-leaking and suit-filing time. Too bad.)

How reckless? How impudent? Well, Southwest failed in 1989, and its estimated cost to taxpayers currently stands at about $950 million. The Esplanade alone will cost taxpayers about $40 million, it is figured now.

Recent history of hostilities: Symington's defense so far is that federal law didn't much pertain to all that Southwest stuff. And even if it did, the statute of limitations has run out, ha-ha-ha.

Status of feud: In a press conference following the filing of the RTC's $197 million suit against him and his board buds, Symington said the action was "a Salem witch hunt," had "no merit," and called the RTC "reprehensible" and "government run amok" by "faceless bureaucrats who write grossly false memos." He also said the feds' "Gestapolike tactics" were "downright un-American."

Since then, the downright un-American Federal Bureau of Investigation and a federal grand jury have been peeking into Symington's developmental history.

Them's fightin' words: "Some people play golf for recreation," said Symington while blowing his stack at the press conference. "I'm going to go after the RTC for recreation."

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: J. Fife Symington III versus Grant Woods.
Nature of feud: Political. Woods, Arizona's attorney general and hot-dog connoisseur, wants Symington's, um, job.

Recent history of hostilities: It's hard to believe that the two actually campaigned together in 1990. Since then, the two have tussled over the ENSCO dump, the million-dollar booty in fines paid by the perp of a massive toxic-waste bust at Lake Powell, Indian gaming, and mandatory sentencing for white-collar criminals like thrift directors (guess which one is against that), among other things.

Status of feud: When the AG's staff played the governor's staff in a pickup basketball game, Symington's spear carriers showed up wearing "Woods for Attorney General" tee shirts. The AG's team, led by the photogenic AG himself, won, in overtime. Meanwhile, the AG's official spokesman acquired a bad Southern drawl and called up the governor's radio show to berate Symington for failing to support the AG's legislative program. In recent developments, the boys have been playing political football with the state's pesky crime problem.

Them's fightin' words: The Phoenix Gazette, listening in over lunch at the Arizona Center, overheard Woods deliberating out loud the merits of the RTC's case against his close friend J. Fife. "The ideal circumstance," the Gazette says he said, "is he gets tagged and the next day I announce." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Wacks versus Mods. Nature of feud: "Wack" is short for wacko, which is what the far-right faction (Waction?) of the Republican caucus at the Arizona State Legislature is called by more "mod"-erate GOP members.

Recent history of hostilities: The major dividing issues are, predictably, abortion and taxes. The Wacks, led by Mark Killian and Greg Patterson, believe those two things weigh approximately the same on the Lord's mortal-sin scale. The Mods, comparatively, are godless, atheistic Marxists.

Status of feud: Oh, who cares?
Them's fightin' words: "Hey, let's compromise."
@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Sam Steiger versus John Conlan.

Nature of feud: Fratricidal. In 1976, Sam Steiger was a five-term U.S. representative running in the Republican primary for a Senate seat. John Conlan was his Republican opponent. The race became so bitter (Steiger won the primary) that voters were completely turned off to the idea of voting for a Republican, and instead elected the Democrat in the general election, in this case the relatively unknown Pima County attorney. Recent history of hostilities: None. But people still talk about the Steiger-Conlan race, the granddaddy of recent Arizona political feuds, as if it were Zeus versus Neptune.

Status of feud: That Pima County attorney was Dennis DeConcini.
Them's fightin' words: "Government sucks," said Steiger, speaking at a campaign event during his most recent run for governor.

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Evan Mecham versus the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette. Nature of feud: Commercial. Political. Moral. Mecham, repetitive-stress political candidate for the beyond-the-fringe right wing, has feuded with the R&G since hot-type days. Says they're--are you seated?--too liberal. To counter the Commie tactics of the dailies, Mecham actually published his own rag for several years in the 60s, called the Evening American. Mecham dusted off his pointy publisher's cap for his 1986 governor's race, printing wildly successful hit-piece tabloids before the primary and general, perhaps the decade's most effective local print communication. After Mecham won the election, then-publisher Pat Murphy cluster-covered the guv with columnist John Kolbe (As far as I'm concerned, he's a nonperson, and that's it," said Mecham of Kolbe at one point) and reporters Michael Murphy and Sam Stanton. Recent history of hostilities: Late last year, Mecham had to ditch his most recent effort to demonopolize the Phoenix print media--a fantasy paper he would have called Arizona News Day--when repo men came for the newsroom telephones (which had only been used to pry money for the pipe-dream paper from the good people of Arizona). Status of feud: Is there an election year nearby? Them's fightin' words: When Stanton confronted Mecham on a blatant contradiction during a news conference, the governor got nose to nose with the reporter and fumed: "Don't ever ask me for a true statement again." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Cattle ranchers versus environmentalists.
Nature of feud: Some 1,200 ranchers in Arizona keep livestock on federally owned land, for which they pay monthly grazing fees (at a rate considerably lower than rates for private land). Environmentalists say the federally subsidized moo-cows stomp the fragile desert ecosystem and poop up endangered river habitats.

Recent history of hostilities: Bruce Babbitt, from an Arizona ranching family but now U.S. Secretary of the Interior, this summer announced a grazing-fee hike from $1.86 per head to $4.28.

Status of feud: Even ranchers are jumping on the leaner-beef bandwagon.
Them's fightin' words: Jack Metzger, a honcho of the National Cattlemen's Association, called Babbitt "a political snake." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: The University of Arizona versus the Mount Graham red squirrel. Nature of feud: Commercial. UofA, which reaps vast sums in grant money for its astronomy department, wants to keep building telescopes atop Mount Graham near Safford, which happens to be the only habitat in the world for the eight-ounce squirrel, which has been recognized as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1987. Recent history of hostilities: The university attempted to infiltrate antitelescope activists by sending in an undercover cop, whose cover was partially blown when he showed up at a vegetarian potluck toting a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Status of feud: The university's stargazers generate at least $10 million a year in grants. Estimates place the squirrel population at fewer than 350. You do the math.

Them's fightin' words: "People and squirrels live together fine," says UofA astronomer Peter Strittmatter. "They are whores," says Robin Silver, an emergency-room doctor in Phoenix who has led the battle against the university's telescope builders. @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Dennis DeConcini versus Dick Mahoney. Nature of feud: Political. DeConcini, an unelectable U.S. senator up for reelection next year, was enraged when Mahoney, Arizona's current secretary of state, began to make noises about running last year.

Recent history of hostilities: Mahoney's sister, Mary, has worked in DeConcini's Washington, D.C., office for more than a decade, and Dick's dad, William, was one of DeConcini's most influential supporters when he first ran for the Senate in 1976. But when DeConcini recently announced that he was getting out of the race, he peppered his press conference with stabs at Mahoney.

Status of feud: Jon Kyl, the Republican candidate in the race, can count on at least one Democratic vote.

Them's fightin' words: "I did not call Dick Mahoney," said the Aerostatic One after announcing his retirement from the Senate. "Do you think I'm crazy?"

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Dennis DeConcini versus John McCain.
Nature of feud: Political. Arizona's senators, united only by their onetime supplication to Charles Keating, have been going at it for years.

Recent history of hostilities: This summer, the boys tangled over a proposed $190 million federal courthouse for Phoenix (McCain tried to block the DeConcini pet project, calling it an example of Congress' "out-of-control spending practices"). They've also tangled over the need for a regional airport, and, less recently, during the Senate Ethics Committee hearings on their respective Keating intimacies.

Status of feud: DeConcini still has 15 months to depants his foe. Them's fightin' words: During a Senate floor debate over the courthouse, a C-SPAN microphone reportedly overheard DeConcini say, "How would you like to have a colleague like that from your state?"

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Arizona State University versus the University of Arizona.

Nature of feud: Political. When the territorial pork was first handed out a century ago, Tucson got the land-grant university, Phoenix got the state mental hospital. Decades later, the Tempe school had to take a name change--from Arizona State College to Arizona State University--to a statewide referendum vote, because the UofA patsies in the state legislature and on the Arizona Board of Regents wouldn't get off the pot.

Recent history of hostilities: UofA has had a medical school since 1961. Phoenix is the largest metropolitan area in the nation without one. Recently, doctors from the Maricopa County Medical Center floated the possibility of forming a partnership with ASU to train minority primary-care doctors. Down at UofA, where most of the med-school graduates are ritzy disease specialists, administrators immediately dumped on the idea, concluding that their current statewide monopoly on grant funding was worth preserving. Status of feud: UofA's reputation continues to be somewhat academic-oriented, with well-regarded departments of space, social and behavioral sciences and, of course, basketball. ASU's reputation remains strong in the antisocial and misbehavioral sciences, witnessed by the landlord-tenant dispute between the school and its Theta Delta Chi fraternity (settled when the boys trashed their digs; though the university placed estimates of the damage at a sky-high $300,000, no criminal charges have been leveled at any of the fraternity men) and its domination of this fall's Women of the Pac-10 pictorial in Playboy.

Them's fightin' words: "The goals are admirable," sniffed Dr. James Dalan, dean of the UofA's College of Medicine, at the thought of training doctors anywhere but Tucson. "I just don't see that the answer is a new medical school." @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Tempe versus Phoenix. Nature of feud: Aesthetic. Airplanes from Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport almost always land and take off over Tempe. Recent history of hostilities: Tempe has spent $1.6 million in legal fees fighting the noise, and continues to block discussion of a proposed third runway for the airport, touting instead the development of a totally new regional airport on someone else's border. Status of feud: Tempe wants half of the takeoffs every day to go in the other direction. But takeoff direction is dictated by wind direction, something that isn't covered in Robert's Rules of Order. Them's fightin' words: "Roger, Southwest Three Two Niner, you're cleared for takeoff!"

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: America West Airlines versus Southwest Airlines.
Nature of feud: Commercial. AW headquarters here and employs some 7,000 locals, give or take a few thousand or so laid-off workers. SW is based in Texas but hubs here, employing some 3,000 residents and making roughly that many landings and takeoffs every day.

Recent history of hostilities: Over the past few years, AW has cut wages of all employees it didn't lay off, decreased its plane-fleet size from 115 to 85, eliminated 15 cities from its route system and conducted fire-sale ticket deals while continuously skirting going belly-up. Meanwhile, SW has been one of the country's very few profitable airlines.

Status of feud: Last spring Herb Kelleher, SW chair, served on a 15-member advisory panel called the National Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry. Among the panel's recommendations was to limit the ability of certain bankrupt carriers--no names, please--to set prices for the whole industry. Them's fightin' words: "Peanuts?"

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: America West Arena versus Veterans' Memorial Coliseum. Nature of feud: Structural. Recent history of hostilities: After moving his Suns from the dumpy old Coliseum (on the dumpy old State Fairgrounds) to the shiny, new downtown arena, team overlord Jerry Colangelo tried to get the independently owned Roadrunners, a minor-league hockey franchise, to move, too. Then he tried to buy the team, which would have robbed the state-run Coliseum of its final full-time sports tenant.

Status of feud: When the runners signed a five-year contract with the Coliseum, Colangelo went straight to the National Hockey League and arranged to have several big-league hockey matches played at his place this season. Them's fightin' words: "Here comes the Zamboni!" @rule:

@body:Feuding parties: Ticketmaster versus Dillard's Ticketing Systems. Nature of feud: Commercial.

Recent history of hostilities: Dillard's owned the town until the summer of 92, which is when Ticketmaster began local operations. Status of feud: Dillard's sells tickets for events at ASU's Activity Center and Gammage Auditorium, Phoenix Civic Center, Herberger Theater, the Sundome, America West Arena, Mesa Amphitheatre and Compton Terrace. The upstart Ticketmaster handles a few lesser venues, including Celebrity Theatre, Scottsdale Center for the Arts and several smaller nightclubs, but has a lock on the busiest local concert venue, Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion.

Them's fightin' words: "Who needs tickets?" @rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Phunk Junkeez versus Gin Blossoms.
Nature of feud: Phunk Junkeez are popular local white-boy rappers who play to hundreds of clubgoers every week. The Blossoms get played on MTV and have a gold record. Recent history of hostilities: In an interview with New Times contributor David Koen, Phunk Junkee Joe Valiente labeled the Blossoms sellouts. "They've got no heart and no balls," he said. Status of feud: The Blossoms' record seems to be headed for platinum. Them's fightin' words: In a letter to New Times following the Junkeez profile, Blossoms front man Robin Wilson wrote to ask, "Who the hell are the Phunk Junkeez?"

@rule:
@body:Feuding parties: Dimitri Drobatschewsky versus James Sedares. Nature of feud: Drobatschewsky, the Arizona Republic's sublimely authoritative classical-music critic, occasionally finds fault with the Phoenix Symphony, conducted by Sedares, who doesn't take criticism well. Recent history of hostilities: Dimitri's review of the last symphony show of the season--printed beneath the headline "PSO season ends with a whimper"--took issue with the maestro's use of ritardando during the third movement of Beethoven's Fifth. "The season ended unimpressively with an all-orchestral program featuring a war-horse," wrote the critic, "offered in an execution that was no better than a ho-hum effort."

Status of feud: Drobatschewsky, writing later about the ork's upcoming schedule, said, "The most sensational event of the 93-94 season is a concert in which the orchestra does not participate," actually a solo recital by Anne-Sophie Mutter. Them's fightin' words: "And a-one, and a-two. . . .

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...