Single-File, Please!

No more Mr. Nice Gardeners: The feathered fiend on Mayor Phil's idiot stammerings after the big undocumented-workers' march

"We did discuss calling it Across From Bianco," McCarville wagged. "Then we'd never have to give directions."

Susan Poole didn't want to comment on any disagreements she may have had with Dawson. But Hoskins sure wanted to discuss the alleged slapping incident Dawson described.

"She's completely off her rocker!" Hoskins declared. "That night she was in a screaming match with Susan over at Pizzeria Bianco. It was like a bad episode of Jerry Springer. When she stepped back into the restaurant, she got on the phone with the city and was leaving a message at the top of her lungs, screaming. That's when I told her I could no longer be associated with her and left out the back door."

The ex-partner said she left Dawson all the money in the Ruby Beet bank account. "I was thinking along the lines that she would be buying me out," Hoskins stated. "What she did was change the locks on the door."

Paper Chase

If you're living in the East Valley, The Bird's guessing you've noticed something different about your "community" edition of the Arizona Republic. Namely, that it looks more like New Times.

Yep, the Republic's envied us for a long time. The East Valley community inserts tucked into the Republic have gone tabloid. And, if unreliable sources can be trusted (more on that later), the entire Republic may soon follow.

Here's the skinny: Last June, the Republic debuted this new all-tabloid format in some West Valley 'burbs. Instead of devoting a section of the paper to zoned local news, it offered West Valley readers a special "community newspaper" in tabloid format, three or four days a week, depending on the location. Sort of like YES!, but without beautiful people, and, alas, with the same old boring stuff about city council zoning hearings.

The remaining West Valley suburbs followed in October. On March 15, the Republic released similar tabloids for Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, Ahwatukee and Mesa.

The goal, according to Republic publisher John Zidich, is to "extend our footprint." Rather than being buried in a fat daily, the new tabs can stand alone. And that means the Republic can use 'em to sell local ads. (Which's what the Republic's all about; it sure ain't about stellar news coverage, too.)

Zidich said the Republic's now distributing an estimated 50,000 tabloids, four days a week, to targeted households and to grocery stores and Laundromats (huh?) everywhere.

"It all goes back to what we can do better than anybody in the marketplace, which is deliver quality local news," he twittered, without a note of irony. "But to do it with greater frequency and reach into the market."

The première editions in the East Valley included a letter from Paul Maryniak, the Republic's general manager for the Southeast Valley, touting the new compact style and attempting to head off reader complaints.

"Our research shows that most readers find [the new format's] a more dynamic and cleaner presentation of all the news you want about the people, issues, and events in your community," Maryniak wrote in the Tempe version. "Readers have told us they think the compact form is easier to store . . . and they appreciate how our concise, fact-packed format fits their busy lifestyle."

Now, considering its employer, this faux falcon's always been more than a little fond of tabloids. But it's got to ask: If tabloids are so great, why is the Arizona Republic itself still a broadsheet?

Maryniak wasn't talking. But he was writing e-mails, one of which was leaked to The Bird. In the missive, Maryniak was apparently responding to an annoyed Chandler Republic reader. "I think it's absolutely awful," the reader concluded. "If this format were really better, you'd do it to the entire newspaper."

To which (get this!) Maryniak responded: By the end of the year, the Scottsdale Republic will go tabloid. And after that, who knows?

"We have discussed taking the entire paper to a compact," Maryniak wrote, "but obviously there are huge considerations given the bulk of certain days when we publish."

Maryniak acknowledged, though, that he didn't know exactly where discussions by the paper's hierarchy stood on the issue.

Publisher Zidich insists they've not even gotten started.

"We haven't discussed the main sections of the paper becoming tabloid," he said, flatly. As for the Scottsdale edition, even, Zidich insisted, "We haven't discussed any further rollouts at this time."

At this time? Does The Bird detect wiggle room? After all, don't Scottsdale residents deserve something concise and fact-packed, too? Don't they deserve a product that's at least shaped like New Times?

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