News

Flashes

Stay Out of the Kitchen
Former governor J. Fife Symington III lost an appeal this month. The decision won't send him to prison, but it will keep Symington from doing KP in the kitchen of one of the Valley's best restaurants, Barmouche at 3131 East Camelback.

Symington recently asked Barmouche owner Mark Tarbell for an externship. After mulling the request for several weeks, Tarbell tells the Flash that Symington won't be prepping veggies anytime soon in either of his restaurants--Barmouche or Tarbell's.

"I'm not going to be offering Fife Symington an externship at either restaurant," Tarbell says.

Symington is nearing completion of studies at the highly regarded Scottsdale Culinary Institute. An externship is one of the requirements for graduation.

Although diners probably never would have seen the Fifester in his apron--he would have worked in the kitchen for $6.50 an hour--Tarbell says Symington's bank fraud conviction and subsequent resignation as governor stir up too much controversy for his taste.

"In all due respect to him, I run a restaurant, not a political institution," Tarbell says. "I just as soon keep it that way. I would rather not be involved in any controversy and, of course, controversy surrounds him."

Despite rejecting Symington's request, Tarbell says he's impressed with Symington's dedication to the culinary arts.

"He's as passionate about doing this as anybody I have ever met," Tarbell says.

Besides controversy, there's the likelihood that Symington could be trudging off to a federal prison camp in Nevada with little notice.

"He's pretty practical about it," Tarbell says. "He says, 'I may not be available to do this.' He knows that's a possibility. He accepts that. In the meantime, he just moves forward."

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been reviewing Symington's appeal for more than a year.

A decision could come any time.
Symington was convicted on six felony counts of bank fraud in September 1997 and sentenced to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Roger B. Strand in February 1998. Symington did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In case the Court of Appeals does overturn his conviction, the Flash suggests that federal prosecutors and the Fifester work out a perfectly practical and appropriate punishment: a plea agreement that requires him to open a restaurant in the Mercado, his empty, ill-fated downtown commercial development.

Flyn' Monkeyshine
This urbane, sophisticated Flash-About-Town was a first-nighter last week when the touring company of The Wizard of Oz blew into Gammage Auditorium, boasting a furiously mugging and ad-libbing Mickey Rooney in the title role while a less-than-subtle Jo Anne Worley made like the Wicked Witch of the Desert Southwest.

Despite the presence of such legends, the show was stolen by Toto--actually a canine thespian billed as Plenty, in a bit of nontraditional transgendered casting--who went about the night's work like a road-hardened vet. Despite the mayhem going on about her, she would often lie down casually until a line or two before her next cue, when she would rise with an all-right-let's-get-on-with-it air and present herself to Dorothy or whoever was supposed to pick her up.

Before the show began, the Mayor of Munchkinland (in the person of actor Eugene Pidgeon) came out in front of the curtain to present the Key to Munchkinland to the Mayor of Phoenix, Skip Rimsza--surely one of the more appropriate honors that could be conferred upon the Skipster.

Unless the Flash's ears were deceived, Hizzoner accepted the gesture with the quip: "Politicians and actors do have something in common--we both say things we don't mean."

The Flash held out some hope that Skippy might be prevailed upon to offer his rendition of "If I Only Had a Brain," but no such luck. He did, however, spectacularly demonstrate once again that he has no shortage of nerve.

Turn Your Head and Cough
Jeez. Just when the Flash thought it was safe to go back to the doctor's office. Those highly paid public servants at the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners have screwed the public out of its right to know again.

BOMEX--the geniuses who brought you the hits "Lethal Abortion" starring Dr. John Biskind, "Child Doctor/Child Molester" starring Dr. Marc Patton, and countless other malpractice melodramas--has decided if your doc was hitting the sauce or other substances, you don't need to know.

If you call the board's information line--602-255-3751, ask for Claudia--the staff will not tell you if an MD entered into a rehabilitation agreement with the board for drug or alcohol problems. The agreements are still public record, so you can request the information--in writing, possibly in triplicate forms--but don't expect anyone at the agency to tell you that.

The move shows that the agency hasn't gotten any better at protecting the public. The only cures BOMEX offers these days are snake-oil tonics and patent remedies for those gullible enough to swallow.

Fish in a Barrel
Jacqueline Schafer, new head of the do-nothing Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, can't even wipe out a species correctly.

When Schafer was head of the California state department of Fish and Game in October 1997, she ordered Lake Davis poisoned to wipe out the pike there. She ended up killing everything in the lake and adjoining waterways for miles, launching multiple lawsuits and a criminal complaint and costing the state $10 million in a settlement.

Guess what? The pike are back. The gnarly-toothed fish were found again in Lake Davis. The residents of the tiny communities around the lake--which were devastated economically by the fishkill--are worried that Fish and Game might try poison again.

Maybe Arizona could work out a deal--we'll put the pike in Tempe's new Town Lake if they'll take Schafer back.

Feed the Flash: voice, 602-229-8486; fax, 602-340-8806; online, [email protected]