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Will There Be Finger Bowls?Just what democracy needs: a kinder, gentler poll tax.Out of civic duty, yadda, yadda, the Millennial Arizona Republic will conduct a panel discussion Wednesday, September 27, on the Citizens Growth Management Initiative at the Arizona Historical Society Museum. The public is welcome, sort of. And the...
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Will There Be Finger Bowls?

Just what democracy needs: a kinder, gentler poll tax.

Out of civic duty, yadda, yadda, the Millennial Arizona Republic will conduct a panel discussion Wednesday, September 27, on the Citizens Growth Management Initiative at the Arizona Historical Society Museum.

The public is welcome, sort of.

And the panel will represent both sides of the issue, sort of.

The Republic is charging the general public $15 to attend the forum. The price tag, they say, is necessary to help recoup the cost of renting the Historical Society and serving beverages. (No, they're not pocketing the money -- the Historical Society really isn't cheap.)

If the price is too steep for you to be an informed voter, don't worry. If you are an advertiser with the Republic, you can get complimentary tickets to the forum.

Now, who are the big advertisers with the paper? Right, developers and real estate folks. And the first advertisement for this public forum just happened to be located in the middle of the stock pages, which also tends to reach that certain special cha-ching demographic.

Initially, to ensure a good preaching to the choir, Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club was only one of six proposed panelists who supported Proposition 202, the Citizens Growth Management Initiative. Bahr doth protest enough, though, so Joy Herr-Cardillo, an attorney with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, was added to the panel.

Bahr and Herr-Cardillo will face off against what Bahr says are four anti-202 panelists, Grady Gammage and Rebecca Burnham-Pieroni, both developer attorneys, Steve Davis, president and regional general manager of builder Kaufman and Broad, and Jay Butler, director of real estate at ASU's Real Estate Research Center. Republic editorialists have labeled Proposition 202 "draconian."

"It's just absurd," Bahr says. "But we'll be okay. We can hold our own."

"We're getting used to this kind of stuff," she says. "Every day, I think we've seen the worst of it, but then every day, we see a new low."

The Flash suggests that the Republic spice up the forum by giving all panelists polygraph examinations.

Not-So-Loudspeakers

For the first time in years, Sun Devil football fans had the opportunity to enjoy an entertaining game without being bombarded with nonstop audio and visual advertising. What a relief!

The sharply curtailed advertising blitz during Saturday's home opener allowed fans to effortlessly build cheering momentum that culminated with ASU upsetting Colorado State, 13-10, on Mike Barth's 41-yard field goal as time expired.

Another notable improvement was ASU's stellar pass defense. A strong rush and timely blitzes hammered the Rams' powerful attack with at least a half-dozen sacks. The defensive backs did their part as well. After years of failing to turn around and look for passes in the air, the Sun Devil defenders swatted one ball after another away from frustrated CSU receivers.

Overall, ASU looked far more organized than in recent years, with the only glaring weakness at quarterback. Facing a much-improved Pac-10 led by UCLA, USC and Washington -- all ranked in the Top 10 -- the Sun Devils have the opportunity to regain national recognition when conference play begins at UCLA on September 30.

The Sun Devils will need quarterback Ryan Kealy to play like he did his freshman year if ASU wants to make a run for the Roses. Kealy was reinstated on the team last week after being suspended the first two games following his arrest last summer on DUI charges.

One That Got Away

As Arizona Diamondbank fans suffer through their team's late-season wither, ESPN's Web site weighs in with a trenchant analysis of what has turned out to be one boneheaded trade. To wit:

"Diamondba[n]ks trade Tony Batista and John Frascatore to the Blue Jays for Dan Plesac.

"Everyone knows this trade as one of the most lopsided in recent memory, if not in baseball history. The Diamondba[n]ks, blinded by their irrational desire for an experienced left-hander in the pen, traded away Tony Batista, an outstanding power-hitting shortstop, for the once-great Dan Plesac. Since the trade, Batista has hit 64 home runs in 233 games, while Plesac has pitched just 66 average innings of short relief.

"The impact the trade has had on the Diamondba[n]ks this year has gotten very little press. A year after leading the league in runs scored, the Snakes have had trouble pushing men across the plate in 2000, ranking around tenth in the NL in runs despite another mind-boggling performance by Steve Finley and a repeat performance by Luis Gonzalez . . .

"You can make two easy arguments why Arizona should have kept Batista. First, given the ages and histories of Jay Bell and Matt Williams, it was pretty likely one would get hurt. Williams did, to the point where his season has been a complete zero for Arizona. Second, Batista is simply a better hitter than Bell or [Tony] Womack. The trade easily cost Arizona two to three games in the standings this year."

D-Banks manager Buck Showalter is apparently prickly about the results of the trade. The Tribune's Scott Bordow reported last month that Showalter had asked the scoreboard operators at Bank One Ballpark to stop displaying the American League home run leaders, of which Tony Batista is one.

To their credit, they haven't. Painful though they may be, Batista's gaudy numbers are still regularly displayed to the denizens of BOB.

The Worst of Phoenix

And speaking of painful, let's discuss the Tragically Hip Rep's Best, which hit the streets Sunday, just days before the model for all such Arizona "best of" publications, our own Best of Phoenix.

Shameless aping, that's what it is.

The theme of the 92-page Tragically Hip Rep's Best was "In the Pink." But judging from the conspicuous dearth of advertising in the section, the Flash supposes that "In the Red" might have been a better title.

The genuine article, the Best of Phoenix edition you hold in your ink-stained hands at this very moment, is a herniatic 384 pages. 'Nuff said.

Next, let's discuss Republic reporters who are compelled to cover their beats -- and considerable posteriors -- by snooping on reporters for competing publications.

The Republic, routinely embarrassed by New Times' penetrating journalism, has taken to filing public records requests for the purpose of monitoring New Times' records requests.

It's a novel idea: By seeing what records we're seeking, they just might be able to find out what's going on in the community, perhaps even beat us on a story. Getting a scoop shouldn't be such a tall order for the Republicans -- they have about 20 times the editorial staff, 313 more editions each year, and substantially more money.

Yet on June 19, Republic bird dog Susie Steckner filed a records request with the Arizona Department of Health Services, seeking "Copies of all public records requests under the Arizona Public Records Law regarding Value Options."

Value Options is a contractor charged with administering mental health care programs -- and the subject of numerous recent New Times stories.

As desperate as such a ploy might be, who among us can blame Republic scribes for their clumsy espionage? How else can they be expected to get a clue?

But now the Flash hears that the editor of this rag is engaging in counterespionage, having his "agents" submit decoy records requests to throw the panting Republic news poodles off our trail. Synchronize your decoder rings.

It's fun playing against kids!

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