Last week the Flash had some fun with state Representative Richard Kyle, when he, of all people, introduced an ethics bill for legislators.
Kyle, R-World's Largest Cul-De-Sac, is best known for getting into trouble; he allegedly sexually harassed two female pages and brazenly spent some of his campaign contributions for dubious purposes. But some who know Kyle -- a moderate to liberal Republican -- say he's a standup guy.
The Flash has to agree in the case of Kyle's proposed legislation in support of fellow (and generally more conservative) Representative Steve May, which is now undergoing scrutiny at the Capitol. Titled simply "Representative Steve May," the bill is an open letter in support of May addressed to President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and the United States Congress. It blasts the Army's ongoing investigation of May, which is seen as a prelude to his dishonorable discharge.
May, a decorated Army reserve lieutenant who happens to be gay, was recalled to service in early 1999 when the Kosovo war escalated. His public pronouncements about his sexual orientation to New Times reporter Amy Silverman ("Confessions of a Gay, Right-Wing Mormon," April 29), published shortly before he reported for duty, flouted Clinton's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
"By all accounts," Kyle's bill says, "[May] distinguished himself as a well-trained, competent and highly rated Army officer among his commanders, peers and soldiers. The issue of his sexual orientation has not negatively impacted on his unit's performance, cohesiveness or morale. . . . The threat of negative action against him is an affront to all legislators and violates the principles of legislative immunity found in both the United States and Arizona constitutions."
Nice gesture by the Kyleheimer, but this bill has about as much chance of passing as Oliver Miller has of modeling for Victoria's Secret. Lawmakers like Barbara Blewster -- who has compared homosexuality to cannibalism -- and Karen Johnson -- whom May blasted over her homophobia during a legislative hearing last year -- are more likely to carry the day.
Out With the Old
For as long as the Flash can remember, the venerable Lorraine Frank has served as Arizona's representative on the Democratic National Committee. But Frank recently announced she's stepping down, and the battle to elect her replacement once again pitted the party's Old Guard against the New Guard, and once again the New Guard prevailed.
Janice Brunson, an ally of New Guarder/party chairman Mark Fleisher, beat Old Guarder Carolyn Warner at Saturday's state meeting, racking up 57 percent of the vote.
The win is significant, not just because Warner is a household name in Arizona Democratic politics (she's a former gubernatorial candidate and held the job of state superintendent of public instruction for 12 years), but because of her endorsement list: Frank, Steve Owens, Art Hamilton, Diana Jennings, Rose Mofford and party chairs from Pima and Maricopa counties.
The Flash is told that Warner hadn't shown her face much at party headquarters in recent times, while Brunson has been a tireless worker who rallied the rank and file. Who said stuffing envelopes doesn't pay off?
What remains to be seen is whether Fleisher can make nice with the oldsters -- they did occasionally get elected, after all -- and keep the party from crumbling further.
Who's Kidding Whom?
On Monday, the Millennial Arizona Republic ran a front-page story headlined "A look inside overcrowded Arizona State Hospital." An exquisite photograph by Mark Henle showed a human figure -- presumably a youngster -- silhouetted against a barbed-wire fence and a dark-blue sky.
The photo caption stated, "At the children's unit, a fenced yard squeezed between two buildings is the only place kids have to play. The high fence is finished with razor wire, which mercilessly consumes basketballs until there are no more."
The cutline and the story create the impression of disturbed little ones who aren't even allowed the freedom to scamper.
Trouble is, according to hospital officials, there is no "children's unit" at Arizona State Hospital, and there hasn't been since the 1970s.
"Currently," the Republic says, "the hospital has 145 civilly committed patients, and 133 forensic patients. The facility also houses 15 adolescent patients."
Where are the "children"?
Not here. They're in less restrictive placements such as residential treatment centers, therapeutic foster care or special day-care facilities.
Nice picture, though.
Veteran political scribe Joe Klein scored a major literary coup with the best-selling Primary Colors, his thinly disguised, fictional account of Bill Clinton's White House quest.
At first, the name of the novel's author was kept secret, but Anonymous eventually turned out to be Klein.
Now, Klein is preparing to unveil another campaign book, The Running Mate, and Salon, the online magazine, places U.S. Senator John McCain high on the list of possible models for that novel's protagonist.
As Salon's Craig Offman reports, "Klein vowed in 1996 that he would give the Republicans an equally hard time on the next go 'round. . . ."
"'This time, the novel is about Senator Charlie Martin, a Vietnam War hero and hot political property. Facing an election year in this era of spin, marketing and vicious personal assaults, Martin is forced to confront the two biggest challenges of his life: a charismatic political opponent who has no scruples, and a dazzling, difficult woman who loves him, but is appalled by his life's work.'
"Already the speculation has begun about the real identity of Klein's fictional senator. No one's saying which party Charlie Martin hails from, but we can make a few nonpartisan guesses about the character's real-world counterpart: John McCain of Arizona, recently retired Bob Kerrey of Nebraska or John Kerry of Massachusetts -- decorated Vietnam veterans all. Though several columnists have guessed that it was McCain who inspired Klein's opus (Klein is covering the McCain campaign for the New Yorker), insiders familiar with the book say that's news to them.
"A more crucial question for Klein's publisher is this: Can any of these men -- including McCain -- when converted into a fictional character, pique the interest of as many book buyers as Jack Stanton, Klein's cipher for President Bill Clinton, did? After all, the 1991 vintage of Bill Clinton, even when savored in 1996, was far more complex than McCain, Kerry or Kerrey -- and none of them seem likely to win the highest office in the land this fall."
The Running Mate is supposed to hit the shelves in April.