As for that campaign contribution . . .

"I was insulted," Bebbling says. "I've given to every city councilman, every mayor . . . He's a very intelligent guy, but I think he lacks common sense."


Jamie Peachey
Morgan Bellinger

When Hallman was up for re-election earlier this year, he ran virtually unopposed. (His write-in opponent, an 18-year-old ASU student, staked his candidacy on the not-so-controversial claim that people ought to have more than one choice for mayor.)

Hallman lined up virtually all the city's power brokers — and won 81 percent of the vote.

His council still looks at him with horror.

They have some justification. He can't stop showing off. At one budget meeting, Hallman used the word "paucity" in a sentence — as in, "given the paucity of numbers on this page" — then added smugly, "You can add that to your vocabulary list." Later in the meeting, he used the word "fulsome."

And though everyone is willing to concede that Hallman is the smartest guy in the room, he still seems determined to prove it anew at every single city council meeting, just in case someone is watching at home.

At the council's issue-review session last month, longtime Councilman Ben Arredondo and Hallman seemed close to blows. Hallman kept insisting that Arredondo was going to chair the city's bond committee. Although Arredondo made it clear he didn't want to, Hallman refused to let the matter drop, concluding a bit facetiously that he knew "Mr. Arredondo and Mr. Mitchell" — meaning Councilman Mark Mitchell — would enjoy the task.

"Mr. Mayor, you don't speak for Mr. Arredondo and Mr. Mitchell," Arredondo interrupted, visibly agitated.

"I know that," Hallman said, looking at Arredondo sharply. "I just thought that given your experience, you'd want to be doing it." A few minutes later, when Hallman began railroading through a change in bus service, despite Arredondo's objections, the veteran councilman got up, walked out of the room, and did not return.

Hallman has been able to put together deals and get the council to sign off on them. But when it comes to pet projects, like the property tax rate rollback that Hallman was determined to get last month, the majority has refused to yield.

In fact, in the most recent municipal election, the mayor suffered quite a blow. As is his practice, Hallman refused to endorse anyone for council. But everyone knew whom he wanted to win — and, in a crowded slate of candidates, both of his allies lost. One of them, Hut Hutson, was an incumbent who vocally supported the mayor on most budget issues.

Hallman may be incredibly popular with the electorate, but Harry Mitchell's shadow still looms large.

One veteran observer of the Tempe political scene says that the two new council members are both likable — but more important to their success was that they had Mitchell's stamp of approval. "Harry Mitchell likes them," the observer says. "That was a big deal."

Hallman doesn't have that kind of coattails. But surely he would add a "yet" to that statement.


So here's how Sandra Day O'Connor and Hugh Hallman ended up dancing.

The Paradise Valley home where O'Connor lived as a young lawyer, an adobe, had been sold and slated for demolition. O'Connor wasn't happy about that. When she complained, some of the Valley's most-connected citizens were there to listen.

One of them called Hugh Hallman. And partly because Hallman is crazy about historic preservation, partly because Sandra Day O'Connor is a strong woman like his late mother — and he respects that — the old adobe was suddenly slated to move to a brand-new spot in Tempe's Papago Park.

The Tempe City Council didn't even hear about the plan until it was virtually a done deal. (No, they weren't happy about that, but they acquiesced.)

The O'Connor House Foundation is raising the money to move the house and run it, as Hallman is quick to point out. Yes, the city is supplying in-kind help, and it's providing the land. But that's it.

Tempe, of course, is also donating its mayor for a surprise dance number. It just doesn't know that yet.

The benefit is at the Tempe Center for the Arts. And though Hallman originally opposed putting the center on the shores of the Town Lake, on this evening, it is beautiful.

The crowd is a mix of old-money Paradise Valley and the smart set in Tempe. There are also more than a few politicians: Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock is there, and so is Jim Weiers, the Speaker of the House.

The dance has been scheduled for the very end of the benefit — and it's so top secret that it isn't even listed on the program. Most of the people in attendance have no idea that O'Connor has a surprise planned.

So after the hors d'oeuvres and the chatter, after the pianist and the jazz band, Hallman takes the stage and calls for O'Connor to join him.

The audience is perplexed: What now?

And then the band breaks into "Gary, Indiana" and Hallman and O'Connor start singing:

Tempe, Arizona; Tempe, Arizona;

Tempe, Arizona

That's the place we'll move her house

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2 comments
Cissyie
Cissyie

It's sad, but I see a lot of older men who are afraid to "come out" after being raised in an atmosphere of unwritten gender-identity rules and old-tyme religion. I know that for me it was a challenge to face my fears about faith and god and the ways we accept or reject ourselves, but I'm young. It saddens me to see men who've spent their whole life trying to cover-up a compulsive, barely awknowledged, and yet incredibly rich and complex side of themselves. It's not a sin to be left-handed, but it may be a sin to always be writing with the right hand just to keep the "love" of those close to you. It's a sin because that isn't real love; it's fear. Don't betray yourself in order to not betray another. That is the highest betrayal. BiLoves.com is a good place for people to come out.

Celinna
Celinna

It's sad, but I see a lot of older men who are afraid to "come out" after being raised in an atmosphere of unwritten gender-identity rules and old-tyme religion. I know that for me it was a challenge to face my fears about faith and god and the ways we accept or reject ourselves, but I'm young. It saddens me to see men who've spent their whole life trying to cover-up a compulsive, barely awknowledged, and yet incredibly rich and complex side of themselves. It's not a sin to be left-handed, but it may be a sin to always be writing with the right hand just to keep the "love" of those close to you. It's a sin because that isn't real love; it's fear. Don't betray yourself in order to not betray another. That is the highest betrayal. BiLoves.com is a good place for people to come out.

 
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