Sam I Am Ticked
Scottsdale's head cheerleader isn't the most popular girl in the class right now.
Mayor Sam Campana, who clawed her way to the top of Arizona's Outdoor Mall from humble beginnings as a baton twirler in Filer, Idaho, has doubled her negative ratings in a recent, top-secret poll commissioned by some of her political enemies.
Campana's positives have remained the same, according to the pollsters, which means that the same number of people still like her (and her hair). But there has been a giant leap in the number of people who have gone from having no opinion about Mayor Sam to now, well . . . loathing her (but not her hair).
Maybe it has something to do with Campana's relentless sucking up to developers, her shameless shilling for the Scottsdale Fashion Square, Los Arcos arena project and the Scottsdale Waterfront, handing out tax breaks like so much cactus candy. Then there's her little quarrel with Phoenix Mayor Skippy Rimsza--a development cheerleader in his own right.
The poll numbers should hearten Campana's opponents, who are casting about for someone to challenge her in the upcoming elections. If this kind of resentment exists against Mayor Sam without any effort, just think what could happen after two or three months of negative ads reliving Sam's greatest hit: calling 911 for directions when lost in her own city.
The 13 Percent Solution
Well, it looks as though Tony West has made good on that campaign promise to bring his high standards of ethics to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Last week, West and longtime pal Carl Kunasek agreed to raise the salaries of their top aides to $73,882 a year. That's a 13 percent salary increase over the raise they got a year ago, and $882 more than the commissioners themselves make. West and Kunasek made the decision in an internal memo, and made the raise retroactive to March 1.
One might wonder what the aides are doing to earn this extra cash, given that utilities deregulation is still in limbo, most of the Valley is still angry over the three-way area code split and consumers are still being shut out of the supersecret deals going on at the Corporation Commission.
West, showing his usual openness to the public, refused to discuss the raise with the press. But, hey, there's a lot the big guy doesn't want to talk about. West--best known for drawing a retirement pension while still working for the state and steering state biz to private buddies--barely squeaked by in the general election, only to face a Supreme Court challenge to his office because he--whoops!--ran for office while holding a securities license, which the ACC regulates. The lawbook say that's a no-no. (Our Supreme Court, whose chief recently took the Superior Courts to task for wasting time, has been considering a special challenge to West's election since February 23. No urgency there, guys. Whenever.)
The salary hike, by the way, comes after a closed-door meeting where West and Kunasek overrode odd man out Jim Irvin to appoint a new executive secretary for the commission. Brian McNeil, a deputy director for the state Department of Health Services, will fill the post held by Jack Rose, who started packing his bags last year.
Mesa City Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh complains that the Mesa Tribune is waging a "demonization" campaign against anyone who questions the $507 million football stadium and convention center dubbed Rio Salado Crossing.
And Tribune publisher Karen Wittmer is so busy promoting the Arizona Cardinals' drive for the stadium, she doesn't have time to read her own paper's sports pages.
Asked about Tribune staff writer Lee Rasizer's relationship with City of Mesa public information officer Andrea Rasizer, Wittmer asks, "Who?"
Told that Lee Rasizer is her paper's beat writer covering the Arizona Cardinals, Wittmer sounds befuddled.
"I don't know him well," Wittmer says.
Apparently she doesn't know much about her paper's other sportswriters, either. Which is surprising, because its sports pages are the Tribune's strength.
"I'm not a sports fan," Wittmer says. "I don't follow our sports pages, so I'm not familiar with this reporter's work."
Wittmer was asked about her football writer after questions arose over whether city flack Andrea Rasizer should handle press releases on the Rio Salado Crossing project while being married to a reporter who covers the Cardinals.
Wittmer says she sees nothing "sinister" in the link.
Nor does Andrea Rasizer, who says that no conflict exists because "my husband doesn't work for the Cardinals." Besides, she says, "everyone knew about it"--meaning her husband's job.
Well, everybody but Wittmer, apparently.
Told of the Rasizers' jobs, Vice Mayor John Giles says a marriage binding the city's public relations officer with a reporter who by the nature of his assignment needs friendly relations with Cardinals management is "a little bit too incestuous for me."
Mesa assistant city manager Mike Hutchinson defends Andrea Rasizer, saying she is a "great professional person," and any notion that there might be a conflict of interest is "a stretch if there ever was one."
Overheard and/or read:
* From Ned Flanders, on the TV show The Simpsons:
Well, I guess Heaven is easier to get into than Arizona State.
* From the April 2 Wall Street Journal, in a piece titled "Murder of an Auditor in Thailand Reflects Grim Culture of Fraud":
The affair leaves expatriates in Thailand and across Asia nervously pondering the lessons for their own security, as work takes them out of the relative comfort of the big cities. "I don't think anyone appreciated enough that once you get out of Bangkok, it's Arizona out there," says a diplomat closely following the case. . . .
* The daily "Periscope" column in Newsweek's online edition for April 13 contains the following item concerning Arizona transplant Dan Quayle and the Indianapolis Star, sister paper of the Arizona Republic:
That's Quayle with a Y
Is there a Democratic mole at the Indianapolis Star, the newspaper owned by Dan Quayle's family? An article about the former vice president in Monday's online edition misspelled his name in a headline ("Quale's Backers See History in the Making"). Not only that, the word "duh" mysteriously appeared following a supporter's quote expressing confidence: "I think he has an excellent chance to win." The headline was fixed at 9:50 a.m. EDT, but as of 5 p.m., the "duh" was still there.
The story, concerning Quayle's declaration of his presidential candidacy this Wednesday, wasn't all that kind, either. Writer Will Higgins noted that so far this year, the Dan Quayle Center & Museum in Huntington, Ind., Quayle's home town, has attracted only 1,300 visitors so far this year--300 of them at a recent chocolate Easter egg giveaway.
If you read that last sentence again, you'll note that Newsweek's own online editing could stand some improvement.
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