Not all of Governor J. Fife Symington III's $25 million debt stems from construction-loan defaults and massive legal fees. Our bankrupt and indicted governor also appears to have splurged on undergarments--intimate ones at that. The Flash has reason to believe that the Fifester ran up a voluminous credit-card bill at Victoria's Secret over the past couple of years. The Flash will chastely resist the urge to speculate on what was purchased--and for whom.
Barwood's Link to the Viper Militia
Sumitomo's public relations firms weren't the only ones eavesdropping on residents opposed to the company's silicon-wafer plant. So was former Viper Militia spokesman Mike Johnson.
Johnson, an African American, is an unpaid spokesman for numerous local militias, including, until recently, the Vipers. Johnson claims the Vipers objected to his comments for a recent New Times article and fired him. But that hasn't kept him from attending Viper court hearings, where he was recognized by Sumitomo foes who remembered Johnson from their meetings.
Johnson says he attended the anti-Sumitomo meetings "to find out what was going on for a friend who has an extreme interest in the things that they were saying . . . I was hoping I wouldn't really be recognized, but it didn't work out."
The friend with extreme interest turns out to be Vice Mayor Frances Emma Barwood, whose district includes the Sumitomo project site. Residents angry over the city's rezoning for Sumitomo have vowed to recall Barwood.
"[Johnson] works on my computer occasionally," Barwood says. She says she appreciated what Johnson told her about the residents objecting to Sumitomo's plant.
"We're friends," acknowledges Johnson. "With all the Viper stuff going on, I don't know how good that's going to be for her."
Next, They'll Be Valet Parking
In the early '90s, the venerable Phoenix Country Club admitted its first African-American member. Art Hamilton, minority leader of the Arizona House of Representatives and an African American himself, says that's nice--but not nice enough to convince him to party there.
Apparently, Hamilton's fellow Democrats disagree. Maricopa County Democrats' Nucleus Club has signed a contract with Phoenix Country Club to hold monthly luncheon meetings there.
For years, Nucleus held monthly meetings downtown at the old Adams Hotel. In its current incarnation, the Adams--which has changed ownership many times--is the Crowne Plaza, the only union hotel in town. Nucleus chairman Steve Leshner says his club wanted a new site because of dissatisfaction with the Crowne Plaza and a desire to attract new, younger members.
"The vast majority of us decided that it was a good move for us," he says, adding that the country club no longer discriminates.
Although the Nucleus Club lost a few members in the switch, Lesher says the new arrangement is working well. "We have men, women, blacks, browns, Jews. We're accepted there. . . . They treat us very nicely," he says.
Hamilton says, "I think I've been to Phoenix Country Club once in my 24 years in the Legislature. . . . I've simply never been able to get past what I think is a long and historic record of insensitivity, at best, to minorities."
Hamilton adds that the country club is probably overjoyed to host "those crazy, wild, raggedy Democrats . . . But I'm not altogether sure we will conclude that we have done ourselves a service."
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