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Howdy, Donors
As mayor of Phoenix, he successfully pushed an ordinance designed to keep guns out of kids' hands. He also advocated having confiscated guns melted down and turned into a memorial.

Now, as a candidate for governor, Paul Johnson is putting guns in the hands of kids--his own kids.

Last week, Johnson invited potential contributors to a holiday party at his home. The postcard invitation features Paul, wife Christa and their teenage children Paul Jr. and Justin in Western garb.

Both boys are holding pistols--in fact, Paul Jr.'s is pointed right at Dad's head. How Freudian is that? And is Justin flashing gang signs?

This is cheesier than a Nick Ligidakis entree. What's next--a family Cinco de Mayo portrait atop that burro in Nogales?

The irony of gun brandishment aside, the Flash assumes that this holiday greeting is designed to appeal to Joe Sixpack, to emphasize the candidate's brawny, aw-shucks, Western spirit, to distance him from the yeasty agar of elitist intelligentsia in which his vision steeps.

Naaaaah.

Imposter Boys
Except for a brief sputter of protest when the first graves-for-cash rumors spread, Washington's most famous war hero and talkative politician has fallen into surprising silence on the issue of whether the Clinton administration goofed in providing an Arlington National Cemetery grave for a heavy campaign donor who apparently faked his World War II Merchant Marine service.

John McCain's silence is understandable.
Like other Arizona bigwigs, McCain was taken in for years by the most elaborate war-hero hoax in memory.

A Navy jet pilot who was shot down in North Vietnam and held as a POW, McCain was an inseparable pal of Darrow "Duke" Tully, who seemed to share McCain's derring-do fly-boy qualities: Tully posed as a decorated Air Force fighter pilot-hero of the Korean and Vietnam wars for nearly two decades.

In fact, Tully never served a day of military service.
Just as the Clinton White House believed former Swiss ambassador (and campaign financier) M. Larry Lawrence's military resume, McCain bought Tully's wild claims of aerial combat and rows of military medals Tully displayed in public after he arrived in town to become publisher of the Arizona Republic and now-defunct Phoenix Gazette, or regular promotions Tully awarded himself, climbing from second lieutenant to full colonel.

In fact, the Dukester was so sure he'd bamboozled McCain, he boasted publicly that McCain was "my own United States senator."

Tully's hoax seemed complete when McCain and his wife presented Tully as godfather to their first child at an elaborate invitational baptismal for hundreds of worshipers in a Tempe church.

The greatest irony of all, however, was that Tully's downfall and revelations about his phony military record were engineered by another close McCain pal, master swindler Charles Keating, who later would provide McCain another humiliation as one of "The Keating Five."

Keating, who was warring with Tully at the time over a First Amendment issue involving pornography, convinced then-Maricopa County attorney Tom Collins to use his official position to check Tully's military record. Collins discovered Tully had never served, then told Keating, who spread the story, and informed R&G executives he'd publicly expose their publisher-impostor.

In a matter of days, Tully was gone as publisher of the newspapers.
Even after Tully's downfall, McCain told friends "he's still my friend." Over time, however, he did get out of the habit of saluting.

Kennedy Exits Paradise
Most attorneys working on legal staffs of Valley communities toil endlessly on tedious legal matters that would put the average person to sleep.

Not Paradise Valley town attorney Jill Kennedy, whose 20 months as the snooty bedroom community's chief (and only) legal eagle were turbulent, unpredictable and expensive.

Kennedy has resigned and is leaving in January.
Having served on the City of Tempe legal staff, Kennedy arrived on the Paradise Valley job on April Fools' Day in 1996, at a salary of $72,000. On departure, her pay will be $84,000--an almost 20 percent hike in less than two years.

But it's not just the salary that's been costly, in the view of her critics. One of her most astonishing acts was threatening to file criminal charges against Town Councilman Gerry Thomas, a retired corporate executive, for writing a letter to the editor of a neighborhood newspaper about business discussed by the town council in an executive session.

Kennedy's rationale: that Thomas had violated an obscure state statute about keeping executive-session business secret. The ensuing publicity stirred a round of guffaws among lawyers, and Kennedy quickly abandoned her inquisition.

Some of Kennedy's e-mail memos were considered rude by some town hallers, as though she was dealing with intellectual lessers.

But her crowning achievement was helping to engineer the town's largest--and maybe costliest--legal blunder: suddenly reneging on a deal to allow the City of Scottsdale to build a sewage lift station on Paradise Valley property condemned for the purpose. Not only were Kennedy's legal maneuvers rebuffed in Superior Court, but they've jeopardized Paradise Valley's dependence on Scottsdale to dispose of sewage, and puts Paradise Valley's treasury at risk for major legal costs.

A Paradise Valley overture to settle the tiff with Scottsdale for $500,000 was recently rejected--Scottsdale officials say they want $1.8 million.

So--having given Paradise Valley no-prisoners-taken legal advice that seems to have backfired--Kennedy is off to another job, leaving Paradise Valley to cope with the post-Kennedy years.

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