Valley of the Drolls

New Times presents its first-ever Doofus and Darling Awards

This year, Lanning reclaimed Modified when former Stinkweeds employee Scott Tennant (who managed the venue for the last two years) decided to move to New York, and with the help of booking agent Leslie Barton, she's re-emphasized its commitment to local arts, even contemplating the creation of a night for filmmakers to show their work. And true to her nature, although it's her money that keeps Modified running, she doesn't see herself as the owner of the volunteer-driven venture. She prefers to think of herself as its "coordinator."

One Smart Sue: She made the switch this year from the House to the Senate, but Sue Gerard continues to top the IQ chart at the Arizona Legislature.

The central Phoenix Republican is astonished at how much her fellow senators rely on staff to do their work; that's simply not Gerard's way. But don't get us wrong -- she's no wonkish wimp with her head in a book. She's got a long history as a charismatic wheeler-dealer; Gerard is the last surviving member of the so-called Sue Nation -- a group of centrist female legislators who bucked the Symington trend. She also has a reputation at the statehouse for making her opinions known, and even making them multiply -- her colleagues often vote Gerard's way simply because she tells them to. And while her area of expertise is health care, when it came time last year to negotiate changes in education law, legislators turned to Gerard to lead the way.

Darling: State Senator Sue Gerard.
Timothy Archibald
Darling: State Senator Sue Gerard.
Darling: Attorney Tim Hogan.
Darling: Attorney Tim Hogan.


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Our only regret is that Sue Gerard is probably too smart to run for higher office.

On a Higher Plane: Not even a terrorist attack could keep Southwest Airlines grounded for long.

While most of the nation's airlines posted gargantuan losses in the weeks after the attack, Southwest Airlines turned a profit.

Its secret? Cheap fares, on-time flights, friendly service and a snappy Web site. The Dallas-based airline boasts Sky Harbor Airport as its largest hub, with 184 daily departures to 38 nonstop cities.

Southwest now books 30 percent of its reservations -- worth $1.7 billion -- online. It costs the airline only $1 to book a flight through its Web site. SWA passes along savings to customers with lower fares and double flight-mile credits for using It's this philosophy of smart business and customer satisfaction that is propelling SWA to the top.

While America West, Phoenix's hometown airline, grovels for a federal handout while teetering on the edge of financial collapse (again), SWA continues to expand its routes.

Southwest has led the nation in each of the last 10 years with fewest customer complaints. Meanwhile, in 2001, Fortune magazine ranked the airline the fourth-best company to work for in America.

What's the best thing about Southwest Airlines? The $99 nonstop flights to the East Coast. What a deal!

Hogan's a Hero: As the Center for Law in the Public Interest's only attorney in Phoenix, it's Tim Hogan's job to sue Arizona governments when they're not acting in the public interest.

In his 11 years in the position, he has become extremely good at what he does. That's why Hogan is probably the best friend you never realized you had.

In 2001, Hogan racked up a series of monumental court victories: In November, the state Supreme Court agreed with Hogan that grazing leases should go to the highest bidder, not just ranchers. More money for public schools is sure to follow. In December, Hogan successfully defended for the fourth time the challenges against Arizona's Clean Election laws that provide for publicly funded campaigns. Two weeks ago, the Legislature was forced to pony up money for classes for English-learners, again compliments of Tim Hogan.

This list goes on. Effectively stopping the state from giving river-bottom land away free to sand and gravel companies. Forcing state officials to prove that Arizonans need more electricity before approving any of the dozen or so gas-fired power plants companies hope to build in the state to profit from California's energy needs.

Hogan has several more lawsuits to be settled in 2002. Chances are, he'll once again prove himself to be the state's most effective public servant.

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