Closed Government
The Arizona Legislature thinks you're an idjet.
Yeah, you. Specifically you, sitting there, sipping your (insert name of tasty beverage here) and leafing through these pages. Your legislators think you're dumber than a bag of hammers, stupider than a dazed Dalmation, a rook short of a chess set, rode the short bus to school.

Need the Flash go on? Well, yes, apparently. Don't worry. This Bright Light, in deference to how our mighty leaders at the Capitol view you, will use small words.

See, the Leg is preparing several bills to keep information out of the hands of the general public, because, as mentioned above, you're just too thick to deal with it.

The first is House Bill 2506, written by the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association to keep emergency medical records secret. If a trauma center accidentally kills someone, you won't know about it because, on a need-to-know basis, patients are not considered among the truly needy.

Under this bill, the only info you'd get on emergency rooms would be every Thursday night on NBC. The bill is sponsored by Representative Susan Gerard, an otherwise lucid soul who apparently didn't take enough crap the last time she tried to cut off public access to medical records. The argument for this bill is that emergency rooms will be more honest in their recordkeeping if no one will ever find out they screwed up. The Flash has a radical concept for the hospitals, instead: Try not screwing up for a change.

Unless the Hand of God points the other way soon, this bill is considered a done deal.

The next is HB2333, a bill that would seal the personal information of all public officials from the grubby eyes of the public. The Leg is sure that there are stalkers out there who can't wait to get the address of the aide to the sergeant at arms of the Ajo City Council. That's right, folks, you wouldn't be able to find out where public officials live. The Flash envisions lots of absentee candidates.

And then there's Senate Bill 1119, which would make secret the performance evaluations of school administrators. Hey, just because a few schools in Arizona are still public is no reason to think the public has a right to see how they're managed.

Like this Strobe said before, this is a colossal insult to the taxpayers who actually fund all of these shenanigans. The nimrods at the Leg are pretty sure they can get away with this because, if you're too slow to handle the facts, you won't notice being shut out.

Ms. Clean
The Clean Elections initiative approved by Arizona voters in November is beginning to take form. Governor Jane Dee Hull announced her appointment to the Clean Elections Commission on Monday: It's Gene Lemon, a Republican and former corporate lawyer for Dial and Greyhound.

(Lemon is uniquely qualified to oversee campaign-finance reform, having maxed out with $760 contributions last year to Hull and her opponent, Paul Johnson, and then AG candidate Janet Napolitano, state records show.)

The ingenious folks that put the Clean Elections initiative together set it up so that different government officials from different parties would appoint the commission that will govern the radical campaign-finance reform. First, the Supreme Court's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments took applications for the panel, and set up five different slates of three candidates each.

Now the state's top officials, beginning with Hull, will appoint the five-member panel, choosing one person from each of the five different slates. The appointing officials will rotate by party, meaning that Democratic Attorney General Napolitano will get the next appointment, followed by Republican Secretary of State Betsey Bayless, Supreme Court Justice Stanley Feldman (who will get an appointment because no Democrat besides Napolitano holds statewide elective office) and Republican state Treasurer Carol Springer.

The law enacted by voters states that no more than two commission members can be from the same political party, and no more than two may be from the same county, ensuring diversity on the panel. It also makes it likely that if the first four appointees go Republican, Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Springer will be forced to appoint a member of a Green Party. That should be a real hoot for Springer, who while in the Legislature was one of the most partisan, rabidly right-wing lawmakers of recent memory.

Meanwhile, the people who really run Arizona--the Arizona Chamber of Commerce--asked the Supreme Court on Monday to overturn the initiative. The lobbyists who have a hammer lock on our system of government claim the Constitution forbids states from restricting how much money a candidate can rake in, and from whom. Read: The Constitution entitles them to buy elected officials, lock, stock and barrel.

Francie Noyes, spokeswoman for Hull, says the governor is named as a defendant in the chamber's complaint but nonetheless is "neutral" on its merits.

Say what? So much for Populist Jane. The Flash would have thought, as governor, Jane would defend the will of the people. But that's not what the lobbyists want.

Here are the remaining four slates from which the members of the commission will be selected (if you don't recognize these names, it may be because the law prohibits anyone who has held or run for elective office--including party posts--in the past five years):

Slate 1--Frank Sacton, Republican, Maricopa County; Richard Harlow, Democrat, Yavapai; George Pogue, Independent, Maricopa.

Slate 2--Ruth Jones, Democrat, Maricopa; Michelle Graye, Democrat, Pima; Daniel Dorn, Republican, Yuma.

Slate 3 is the one from which Hull selected Lemon. The two not selected were Steve Gallardo, Democrat, Maricopa, and Jeanine Dike, Republican, Yavapai.

Slate 4--Thomas Irvine, Democrat, Maricopa; Fredric Sclop, Democrat, Coconino; Carl Lopez, Democrat, Pima.

Slate 5--Kenneth Jacuzzi, Democrat, Maricopa; Claudia Elquist, Green, Pima; Shirley Chaplin, Democrat, Graham.

Isn't slate a cool word?

This Burst of Light must humbly confess to committing some rather grievous errors in last week's column:

The Flash abjectly apologizes for erroneously suggesting that Channel 12 anchorman Kent Dana was raised by wolverines. He wasn't; he was in fact raised by hominids. Furthermore, he was never caught incinerating insects with a magnifying glass while ostensibly toiling for Boy Scout merit badges. Contrary to the Flash's recent disclosures, Mr. Dana at no time has worn a floral Versace mid-calf skirt over Victoria's Secret garters while "doing" a 10 p.m. newscast. As nearly as The Flash can determine, he has never been "recumbent."

Lisa Allen, PR guru for the Maricopa County sheriff's office, was never a member of a harem kept by the Sultan of Brunei. In fact, she does not know the Sultan and has never known him. She does not have "a way with camels." Camels are not indigenous to Brunei. She does not, the Flash has ascertained, own a fez, nor lately consort with Shriners. Moreover, she is not really a guru. The Sultan of Brunei is dead.

The Flash regrets to report that Republic columnist Steve Wilson was not spotted at a spring training game, sweating profusely under a porcupine-skin cap while reciting from his column thusly: "The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them. And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee." In actuality, that passage is from the Book of Job, which, incidentally, is not a trade publication. Mr. Wilson is not spotted. The Flash did not intend to imply, nor for readers to infer, that Mr. Wilson was cited by Paradise Valley police for repeatedly driving past photo-radar installations at high rates of speed while holding a cardboard cutout of Bill Franke's face in front of his own. Nothing of the sort happened.

The Flash yearns for explication. Lacking any, however, this contrite correspondent must cite the planes. Entirely . . . too . . . many . . . planes. . . .

Feed the Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, [email protected]

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