Patriot Games

The grass has got to be greener someplace else

This was no meaningless fling. At one point, as the two were contemplating marriage, Thompson even sat down to dinner with Baier's father — and fired up a joint right in the middle of the restaurant ("Uncle Gonzo," Paul Rubin, March 3, 2005).

With moments like that, I suppose none of us should be surprised that the relationship eventually ended. But Baier's second act can hardly have been anticipated. She ended up working for Republican pols, including then-Governor Fife Symington.

Campaign records show that Symington and his wife have since anted up generously for her council campaign — and that, in fact, Baier has the support of virtually the entire power elite in Phoenix.

AP/Wide World

Strangely, for someone who used to be known as an archconservative, Baier has also won the support of the powerful firefighters union. One reason may be her connections: Baier's brother, Bob Khan, is the Phoenix fire chief.

But it gets a lot more complicated.

Baier's opponent in the runoff is a guy named Jon Altmann. Altmann, who's making his first bid for elected office, has spent recent years writing and editing a Web site,, that's owned in part by Pat Cantelme. Cantelme was president of the firefighters union for 20 years and still has considerable throw-weight within the organization. Now in the private ambulance business, Cantelme has also discussed, in recent years, entering the Phoenix market — taking work currently performed by members of his old union.

Cantelme and his partner in the ambulance business, Bob Ramsey, have provided much of the juice for Altmann's campaign. Cantelme threw a fundraiser for Altmann earlier this summer. And the two men, their wives, and their employees kicked in close to 40 percent of Altmann's total contributions.

Oddly enough, District Three isn't the only competitive race where Cantelme is on the opposite side of his old union. In District Seven, the union endorsed — and is campaigning heavily for — Michael Nowakowski. But Laura Pastor's Web site touts an endorsement from "former president of the Phoenix Fire Fighters Association," Pat Cantelme. (There's no mention of Cantelme's current job.)

The firefighters union used to be the most powerful force in city politics. But these days, I can't help but think of the Biblical adage about the house divided against itself.

If you haven't been reading the Gospels lately, let's just say it doesn't end well for the house.

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Steve Weiss
Steve Weiss

Regarding Patriot Games story: The writer of this story is quite the Jill Come Lately.It was obvious from the start that CityScape would be a commercial center with a speck of public space. RED's experience is primarily building shopping "Power Centers", not designing a functioning and people-beneficial public park with shopping amenities. The best description still rests with artist David Therrin's public comment that our city center park is now "a walkway to P.F. Changs". Too bad New Times and the City were too hung up on what the park was, rather than what it could have been.

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