Why the Sonics Rule
Contrary to the popular rumor, it's absolutely not true that when his grandchild was christened, Jerry Colangelo offered the ceremony to relatives on pay-per-view.

But The Flash certainly understands how Phoenicians might suspect it to be true.

If you've followed the Suns' first-round playoff showdown against the Seattle SuperSonics, you know that the only way to see this week's two home games from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy was to shell out to the Suns and the cable cabal known as Cox Communications.

You can thank a five-way marketing agreement involving the Suns, Turner Broadcasting, Cox, Channel 45 and NBC. This deal is harder to figure out than Sam Cassell's forwarding address. It basically gives Cox dibs on all home playoff games not picked up by NBC.

In the early rounds, NBC has traditionally taken only weekend games, which means that unless you're a fat cat with season tickets, Valley residents who hoped to watch the home playoff games had to shell out for pay-per-view or drive to a TV outside the Turner blackout area to get it for free.

Suns officials say the current contract won't expire for five years.
When that time comes, they may want to take a tip from Seattle, which this season scrapped pay-per-view for its home playoff games. In fact, the Sonics are actually spending money to make sure their home playoff games are available to their hometown fans over the airwaves.

"We decided we owed it to the fans," says Sonics spokesperson Susan Mortensen. "After last season, after all the support they showed us, we decided this was the right thing to do."

We needn't worry about the Suns suffering such a fit of generosity.

How About "I'm Guilty"?
On the eve of Governor J. Fife Symington III's May 13 criminal trial, newly released federal court records reveal that Symington's attorneys proposed a civil resolution to the criminal investigation.

In May 1994, Symington attorney John Dowd proposed ending the grand jury investigation into the governor's personal and business finances in exchange for a civil settlement, terms of which were not disclosed.

The civil settlement, which was rejected by federal prosecutors, would have included "certain public statements and acknowledgments by Mr. Symington."

The settlement proposal was included in the fourth of five lengthy letters prepared by Dowd. The letters, which Dowd marked "confidential," were prepared in response to questions from federal prosecutors.

Excerpts from the letters were released by federal prosecutors last fall, but there was no mention of a proposed civil settlement. Symington's defense team disclosed the civil settlement proposal last week in a motion seeking to prevent Dowd's letters from being presented in the governor's upcoming trial.

Symington is charged with 23 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, perjury and extortion.

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Strand heard a series of crucial pretrial motions on April 29. The judge says he will rule by May 7 on the motions, which will define how much and what type of evidence can be introduced in the trial.

Perhaps more important, Strand also will decide whether the prosecution must prove that allegedly false financial statements submitted by Symington to lenders were material, or essential, documents in the lenders' decisions to make loans.

If the motions go against Symington, look for him to cop a plea and resign as governor.

Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall
The University of Arizona's controversial Mount Graham telescope project suffered a setback when two tons of molten glass leaked during casting of the world's largest telescope mirror.

UofA astronomers building the mirror, which is 10 meters in diameter, discovered that about 10 percent of the glass leaked from the mold during a cooking process in January at the university's Mirror Lab.

Astronomers will now attempt to slowly reheat the $12 million mirror and pour additional glass into the mold. The risky procedure could crack the existing mirror or leave it flawed because of a poor bond between the old and new glass.

The process will add about half an inch of glass in the center of the mirror and about an inch on the edges.

The mirror is to be the first of two installed in the UofA's Large Binocular Telescope under construction on Mount Graham in the Coronado National Forest in southeastern Arizona.

Environmental and Native American groups have steadfastly opposed construction of the telescope on the 10,800-foot mountain west of Safford. Environmentalists say the telescope supporters sidestepped numerous environmental laws and that its construction threatens several endangered species.

Native American groups, including the Apache Survival Coalition, are fighting the telescope project because it desecrates a sacred ground in Apache religion.

Last summer, the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation notified the U.S. Forest Service that the telescope complex was in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. In December, Illinois Representative Sidney Yates asked President Clinton to order the Forest Service to stop telescope construction on the mountain and consider revoking UofA's permit.

Earlier this month, the Apache Survival Coalition's attorney asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order an injunction to stop construction of the telescopes on the mountain, which the Apache call Dzil Nchaa Si An.

The Apache appear to believe that supernatural powers contributed to the UofA's mirror-casting problems.

A fax from the Apache Survival Coalition boasts, "Apache Gaan [spirits] avenge Mt. Graham desecration, UA mirrors jinxed."

Jar Heads
Bad blood between impish pop tunesmith Freedy Johnston and venerable Phoenix rock dive the Mason Jar percolated to the surface during Johnston's tax day concert at Union Hall.

Going into the last song of his show, Johnston introduced his band, thanked the crowd, and said he hoped to see them again on his next pass through the Valley. "Guess it won't be at the Mason Jar, though," Johnston said. "I heard it burned down."

The guitarist apparently had "the Jar" confused with the Rockin' Horse, a Scottsdale nightclub that went up in flames last June.

A male voice from the audience corrected him, calling out, "No, it didn't."
"Oh yeah?" asked Johnston. "Too bad!"

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