Tim Bee, Lame-Duck State Senate President, Explains Why He's Evicting News Media From Senate Building

Outgoing State Senate President Tim Bee's says he decided to move the media out of offices in the senate building they've inhabited since the 70s because reorganizing offices is "normal."

In a statement to New Times (reprinted below), which blogged about the relocation yesterday, the Republican senator from Tucson doesn't offer much more of a clue as to why the media needs to move now.

He says shuffling offices around is a normal thing to do between legislative sessions. Yet the media's been there for about 30 years, making the move rather abnormal.

He says another office became available, but that doesn't explain why the media must leave their current office.

Finally, he pulls out the "security" card, saying the senate wants to move some private rooms to the building's second floor. But the media rooms aren't private, and Bee says the first floor will become a "more accessible area to the public." So security can't really be the explanation for booting out the media, either.

Maybe one reason for the move is that Bee thinks the media wronged him in his failed bid for Congress. Last month, Bee lost big-time  in the race for Arizona's Congressional District 8 against incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords

As reported on the Web site, Elaine Chao, the Shrub-appointed U.S. Secretary of Labor, traveled to Tucson in May for the specific purpose of speaking about how the media was screwing Bee over and how he "needs to get his own message out."

Whether Chao was right about the media bias, we haven't analyzed. However, at this same meeting, Chao told members of Tucson's business community that, contrary to what some people thought, the country was not in a recession and only going through a "rough patch." Not exactly a beacon of good judgment, that Chao.

The media has enjoyed the senate offices for a long time, and it was probably inevitable they'd get kicked out at some point. The new offices on the fourth floor of the Old Capitol building may be suitable, though some concerns remain about access past 5 p.m. and how quickly phone and computer hook-ups can be installed.

Even if the new digs are awesome, though, the rule of real estate is "Location, Location, Location."

And it seems like the media is being forced to the other side of the tracks.

Bee's e-mailed response New Times follows:

Reorganizing offices in the Capitol Complex is a normal part of the transition between legislative sessions. Room has become available in the Old Capitol building that until recently housed Library and Archives and I have asked the media to relocate to this space as part of this reorganization.

This move will allow the Senate to move towards our goal of increasing security - by moving private offices now housed on the first floor to the floors above - and making the first floor a larger, more accessible area to the public. I know new leadership and staff are interested in working with the media to make this transition as smooth as possible.

-- Ray Stern

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.