Here We Go Again
The Flash tore up this week's column after hearing that the bank-fraud conviction of former governor J. Fife Symington III had been overturned by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 2-1 court ruling, announced Tuesday, states that the judge in Symington's federal fraud trial improperly dismissed juror Mary Jane Cotey after other jurors had complained that she was incapable of contributing or participating in deliberations.

During a Tuesday news conference, the Fifester told reporters that the ruling proved, "I was forced to wrongfully leave office."

Yet he claimed to harbor no bitterness. "It would be easy to be consumed by anger, if not hate . . . but that's not the case here," Symington said. "Forgiveness is a large part of that. . . . I won't let this consume me, and I'm determined to keep it that way."

He lauded Cotey as "a very courageous person" and said that while he respects the efforts his trial jurors gave, "they certainly came up with the wrong verdict."

When reporter Howard Fischer, who runs his own news service, noted that the appeals court had not embraced Symington's claim that there had been insufficient evidence against him, Symington snapped, "I'm not going to get into arguing legalities, Howie . . . I want to enjoy the day."

Symington, who is enrolled in culinary school, seemed to relish his exchange with reporters. Before commenting on the ruling, Symington told Fischer, "Every time I saute a catfish, I think about you."

Colorado Catfight
Does anyone out there still like Bruce Babbitt?
Once upon a time--between his stint in the governor's chair and his quixotic run at the presidency, to be more specific--it seemed as if our current Secretary of the Interior was regarded as one of the few basically decent guys out there on the political barricades.

Ah, but then he joined the Clinton team. Since then, he's been probed by an independent counsel, held in contempt by a federal judge and watched as his image has been stained like Monica's dress.

Babbitt can't even play his old reliable tune--"I'm a Concerned Environmentalist"--without getting heckled these days.

The Sec was droning on at a three-day conference on Western water policy at the University of Colorado recently (boy, does that sound like a hot ticket) when a protester with a bullhorn shouted him down for gutting the Endangered Species Act.

That young lady was escorted out of the room, but then more activists in the audience began to ask tough questions about Babbitt's alleged failure to protect the cute-and-fuzzy lynx from expansion of a Vail ski resort. Babbitt passed the buck, of course, despite the fact that documents show government biologists wanted to protect the little critter, and a Babbitt flunky overruled them.

The resort, of course, is a big-time contributor to the Democratic party.
Just think: Babbitt was this close to getting a Supreme Court nomination.

Feud for Thought
The July issue of Phoenix magazine highlights "The Valley's Hottest Feuds."
The cover features the quarreling caricatures of Sheriff Jo[k]e Arpaio and County Attorney Richard Romley, as well as Jerry Colangelo and Bill Bidwill.

Other tiffs on the fight card are "Robin Silver vs. U.S. Forest Service," "Skip Rimsza vs. Sal DiCiccio," "Sierra Club vs. Developers," "Steve May vs. Karen Johnson, et al.," "ASU Sun Devils vs. UA Wildcats," "The Radio Wars: KMLE vs. KNIX," "John McCain vs. Dan Quayle," "Renz Jennings vs. Tony West," "Phoenix vs. Scottsdale" and "The Roadrunner vs. The Coyote."

Of course, the Flash is saving the best for last: "The Arizona Republic vs. New Times."

Phoenix mag says the Republic-New Times rivalry "[s]eems like an absurd mismatch--the Republic's hundreds of reporters and editors against about a dozen New Times writers. The Republic's weekly page total runs well over 1,000, while New Times puts out about 175 tabloid pages a week. Why would the lordly Republic, which dominates the state's news agends, worry about New Times, which most elected officials in the state routinely curse and belittle?

"Maybe it's because New Times routinely kicks the Republic's ponderous duff when it comes to investigative reporting, feature writing and in-depth coverage."

Updates on a couple of these feuds:
In the Jennings-West contest, Jennings won.

And a recent Rocky Mountain Poll of Arizona Republicans put McCain (26 percent) well ahead of fellow transplant Quayle (11 percent) among presidential hopefuls. But McCain trailed Texan George W. Bush, who was the preference of 30 percent of those polled.

What the Traffic Will Bear
How many journalists does it take to cause a traffic jam?
At least two, judging from the Tribune's new weekly column, "Getting There."

The column, which debuted Monday, contains not one but two mug shots--of John Yantis and Guy Webster--and is billed as "Your weekly guide to Valley commuting."

"Getting There" is the Trib's response to the Republic's scintillating "Bumper to Bumper" column, which contains only one mug shot, that of Bob Petrie.

Of course, "Bumper to Bumper" appears every weekday, which means that when frequency is taken into account, it would take 10 "Getting There" columnists to equal one "Bumper to Bumper" scribe.

It would take a similar amount to equal Petrie's hair quotient.

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