Kneel, Giuliano

The Flash has always seen Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano as a pretty slick politician. Glib, marginally informed, a relatively progressive Republican. He doesn't end sentences with prepositions. His political future looked rosy.

Then he started a slap fight with the United Way and the Boy Scouts. He might as well have torched the Stars and Stripes while rescinding Mother's Day. What a mo-ron.

Now financial trader A.J. LaFaro is leading a groundswell to recall Giuliano, one of the nation's most prominent openly gay pols.

The recall effort appears to be off to a fast start. LaFaro says a half-dozen volunteers gathered more than 1,000 signatures in the first four days of the drive, which needs 3,982 valid signatures to force a new election. The Citizens to Recall Neil Giuliano Committee has until February 1, 2001, to submit the signatures to the city.

LaFaro, a 14-year Tempe resident who twice voted for Giuliano, says the signatures were collected over the weekend at Tempe Public Library.

"It's been nonstop," LaFaro says. "People are driving through, we go to the car, give them the petition and they sign it."

LaFaro says another 200 or so volunteers are circulating petitions throughout the city. Giuliano was targeted after telling the United Way that City of Tempe employee contributions to the United Way could not be forwarded to the Boy Scouts because the Boy Scouts discriminate against gays. The city has since reversed the policy.

LaFaro says the United Way gaffe was the latest in a series. The recall statement accuses of Giuliano of wasting millions of tax dollars on Town Lake and the Rio Salado Project, making the city noisier by agreeing to the expansion of Sky Harbor Airport, failing to ferret out corruption in the city courts (a city judge was convicted) and overseeing a transit system that loses millions of dollars a year.

Even before the recall drive was launched, Giuliano faced unpleasant repercussions resulting from the city's vote to construct a light rail project in Tempe. Rich Bank, an unsuccessful candidate for city council in the past two elections, says Giuliano and the council illegally voted to build light rail after telling voters that the city planned only to study the project.

According to Bank, the Committee to Let's Ask the Judge is raising funds to file a lawsuit seeking to block the rail construction plan. A $20-a-head fund raiser will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 1, at Casey Moore's Oyster House, 850 South Ash Avenue in Tempe.

The backlash against Giuliano comes just months after the 44-year-old Arizona State University administrator handily won reelection to this fourth term. A proposition on the ballot simultaneously extended the mayor's term of office to four years.

The result: Giuliano's two-year term became four. Confused? It's just part of the "Tempe Way."

Old Baggage

The dimly remembered name of Deborah Vasquez has bobbed to the surface of Arizona's political swamp.

Vasquez -- a key source during a prosecutorial brawl that saw County Attorney Richard Romley's attempt to eviscerate former assistant Arizona attorney general Rob Carey -- has sworn out an affidavit that found its way into the feds' criminal fraud case against J. Fife Symington III.

Vasquez was Carey's executive assistant from December 1993 to May 1995, and she provided much of the fodder for Romley's probe of Carey, Grant Woods' right-hand man. In the wake of Romley's full-court press, a private-donation-fueled "event fund" at the AG's office was reimbursed and Carey resigned for mismanaging some of it over a four-year period.

Vasquez's affidavit -- sans any explanatory memo from a lawyer working on the Symington case -- is a conspiracy theorist's larded buffet, a litany as entertaining as it is nonsensical. What any of it has to do with the prosecution of the Fifester is not clear.

What is clear is that Vasquez has not been shopping at the rationality boutique since she shuffled out of the headlines in 1996.

She tells incredulously of the get-Fife environment at the AG's office during her tenure; of alleged clandestine meetings among Woods, Carey and Symington operatives Jay Heiler, Wes Gullett and Chuck Coughlin; of shadowy agents, possibly from the National Security Agency, who told her, "As far as you are concerned, we don't exist."

"I have evidence which will prove to this court, without a doubt, a clear picture of who actually killed reporter Don Bolles as well as pieces to the assassination of John F. Kennedy . . . ," Vasquez tells the court.

An equally stunning disclosure: ". . . documents evidencing that Roger Strand, the sitting judge during the District Court case against Symington, and who attempted to bury the evidence of jury tampering, was also the judge on the [Conley] Wolfswinkle hearing."


Finally, amid all the blather, the Flash espied the apparent justification for the filing of Vasquez's statement: her opinion that the wrongly accused Fifester's legal bills should be paid by the government.

". . . A number of individuals have appeared in my life," she swears, "providing me with documents. . . . Each piece provided to me confirmed what I knew to be true from the outset: that Fife Symington had been set up and that the cases against him, in the District Court and in the bankruptcy court, were merely vehicles utilized in the ambush.

". . . These cases are not about Symington. They are about each and every one of us. These cases are exemplary patterns of corruption so extreme, it is unfathomable."

Cue Twilight Zone theme music.


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