Stuff about the evil Arizona Republic:
* In an editorial Tuesday, Arizona's largest daily lamented that too many of us are enthralled by the 50th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, and too few are paying attention to the Pathfinder's exploration of Mars.
"A sensation-addled public, flitting from one improbable junk science-fiction incident to another, need merely flip on the television to see interplanetary history being made. This is the wonder of real science."
Fortunately for us sensation-addled junk science-fictioners, the Republic is amply filling our needs. It sent reporter Richard Ruelas to cover the Roswell anniversary. It sent nobody to the Jet Propulsion Lab to cover Pathfinder's mission.
The only Valley print reporter dispatched to the JPL is the Mesa Tribune's Guy Webster, who was downsized by the Republic in January.
Republic officials defended their dearth of Pathfinder coverage by noting that columnist Marianne Moody Jennings is on Mars.
* Last week, the Republic's restaurant reviewer, Penelope Corcoran, confessed that she "doesn't do" certain foods. Among them: sweetbreads, oysters on the half shell and raw beef. What's next? The Flash wonders if the paper's other critical mediocrities will now feel free to bare their own screwy fetishes. We're waiting for Bob Fenster to announce that he can't follow foreign-film subtitles. Kyle Lawson will report that he's never met a show he didn't like. Ken LaFave will stay home whenever the symphony programs Tchaikovsky. Steve Wilson will disclose that he has an aversion to news. And if Richard Nilsen fell down, and no one was around, would he make a sound?
* Republic officials announced that Controversial Columnist David Libidowits has challenged a condemned man to a televised mumblety-peg match.
Memo of the Week
In the tradition of mechanics who have their own cars up on blocks and carpenters who can't get around to fixing doorknobs in their own houses, we present the Memo of the Week, which is about a warehouse and lab belonging to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
In an undated memo (written before June 20), Buddy Walker, a safety officer for the department, wrote:
Recently I was requested to complete a site hazard assessment of the 3033 North Central 'South Mall' warehouse and Lab where various agency programs maintain their sampling supplies and equipment. The results of the hazard assessment were unsatisfactory. The hazard assessment revealed the following problem areas: unidentified chemicals stored, flammable chemicals improperly stored, paint cans and chemicals stored together creating possible fire hazards and improper disposal of hazardous chemicals.
Walker sputtered like Porky Pig when asked for details and referred The Flash to the agency's public information officer, who has not yet called back to explain exactly why the memo didn't mean what it said.
It was only a matter of time before the exploits of Valley sewer visionary Richard Lloyd Carr got some national ink. The July 7 issue of Forbes paints a less-than-flattering portrait of Carr--almost as unflattering as our own ("Carr Wrecks," April 10).
The Forbes piece is titled "Moonshine bonds," and warns, "When sales people prattle to you about the beauties of public-private partnerships, make sure tax-exempt bonds are not involved in the project."
Carr is the pied piper of "public-private partnerships," a phrase that makes politicians in cash-strapped municipalities positively drool. Take Apache Junction. For years, AJ voters had resisted paying a tax to build sewers. Then, in 1992, Carr talked the city's elders into creating a not-for-profit municipal district which could issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the system. The bonds were to be paid by user fees. Taxes would not be raised and a referendum would not be needed.
Carr's company, Interwest, put the whole deal, including the feasibility studies, together. In late 1994 and early 1995, Allstate bought $32 million in 20-year tax-free municipal bonds, and construction proceeded.
There was just one problem: Interwest's projections were grossly inflated. Without the revenue to support itself, the district filed for bankruptcy in January. Allstate is now suing.
Undeterred, Carr has approached the Arizona Department of Transportation about building a $330 million toll road around South Mountain. He also has a $160 million toll-road project on the table in South Carolina.
Officials here have taken a wait-and-see approach, refusing to comment on whether they plan on cutting a deal with Carr. Their counterparts in South Carolina, though, are eager to move forward with the toll road.
Of course, first, they'll have to find someone willing to overlook Carr's track record and buy all of those bonds. You can bet it won't be Allstate.
Feed The Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, firstname.lastname@example.org
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