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Bat-Battering Boys Will Be Boys
In his August 23 column, Arizona Republic sports columnist and Devil worshiper Bob Jacobsen reported one of the "light moments" out of the Arizona State University football camp in Payson.

Seniors Juan Roque and Jake Plummer had tossed a moving bat into the freshman cabin as a prank, Jacobsen wrote, adding, "The story goes that freshman fullback Darrin Ransom grabbed a fire extinguisher and squashed it. And the rest of the frosh tore it up.

". . . Darrin should just be happy it wasn't a spotted owl," Jacobsen quipped.

If the story is true, however, the bat-squashing was itself a crime. Mike Evans, formerly of Common Cause, says he called both the Republic and the ASU athletic department to point out that all bat species are protected in Arizona, and trapping, killing and dismembering protected animals--even groggy bats--are against the law. In response, Evans says, he got conflicting versions of what really happened at Camp Tontozona.

ASU's athletics spokesman Mark Brand says the published account was mistaken. "When the athletes found the bat, it was dead. The reporter, Mr. Jacobsen, has told me that he got that part wrong." And about the freshmen ripping it to pieces? "That part I don't know," he says.

But Jacobsen denies he'd gotten things wrong. In fact, he says he's checked his taped conversation with Juan Roque, and the footballer makes a reference to the bat moving. "I guess I may have misinterpreted that," he says.

"Look, I'm not going to get the kids in trouble," Jacobsen says.
No siree; that would go against his job description.

Missive: Impossible
If there ever was a play whose success is a triumph of casting over content, it's A.R. Gurney's Love Letters. A two-character piece in which an actor and an actress simply sit at desks and read letters aloud, the nonplay racked up lengthy runs in both Los Angeles and New York thanks to a revolving stage door of performers that changed weekly: Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson, Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner, Carol Burnett and Leslie Nielsen, and Helen Hunt and Matthew Broderick, to name a few.

So what dynamic pairing has fledgling producer Todd James Smeltzer rounded up for his New Year's Eve presentation of the play at a $175-a-head fund raiser?

Drumroll--KTAR-AM radio's Pat McMahon and his wife, Duffy!
Asked about the casting--McMahon's wife, a former PR flack, is not well-known--Smeltzer confesses he'd originally hoped to stage a Wallace & Ladmo-themed version of the play teaming McMahon with Cathy Dresbach, who, like McMahon, once performed on the defunct kids' show.

"Cathy really didn't want to do it," says Smeltzer, who was still casting about for a replacement when Duffy McMahon offered her services.

Already anticipating a possible revival of the show next year, Smeltzer says he's thinking of back-to-back gay and lesbian productions--even though the play is rife with gender-specific references to pregnancy, a torn dress and the like.

"I would rather not rewrite it," says Smeltzer. "I think it stands on its own. So what if the [characters'] names [Andy and Melissa] sound a little strange?"

Fateful Flub for Friend of Fife
After a tumultuous year in office, Cochise County Superior Court Judge Ramon Alvarez appears headed for the sidelines to join his daughter, Annette Alvarez, as another beleaguered ex-appointee of Governor J. Fife Symington III.

The judge's last chance to get his name on the ballot vanished when he lost a lawsuit challenging state election laws.

Alvarez, appointed by Symington last year to a newly created judgeship, filed suit last month after failing to meet the June 27 deadline to submit nominating papers and petitions to stand for reelection. Alvarez claimed Superior Court judges in rural counties are selected in "nonpartisan" elections and are not subject to the same deadlines for filing nominating petitions as other elected positions. (Voters in urban Maricopa and Pima counties cast ballots only to retain or dismiss sitting judges, who are appointed.)

Pima County Superior Court Judge Robert Donfeld ruled on August 16 that the election of a Superior Court judge is not "nonpartisan" and that the deadline for submitting petitions was June 27.

The ruling leaves Judge Alvarez with only one dismal option for remaining a judge: running as a write-in candidate.

Alvarez refuses to return phone calls, so it's not known why he missed the deadline.

Annette Alvarez was Symington's top trade adviser, a position she quit in 1992 after questions were raised about her personal relationship with the governor, her failure to pay $10,000 in state and federal taxes and her botching of the opening of a state trade office in Japan.

Oh, Those Toxic Substances
While the Sumitomo Sitix silicon-wafer plant goes up in north Phoenix, efforts to stop it go on in Maricopa County Superior Court. The claims are familiar: The city didn't provide adequate notice of public meetings to neighborhood residents, and during those meetings city officials discussed zoning changes without revealing Sitix's name or the nature of the plant that would be going in.

But court filings reveal another city blunder: Not only were the zoning changes done surreptitiously, they were also a major screw-up.

Not wanting to come out and say, "We want to put a humongous silicon-wafer plant which uses hazardous chemicals about two thirds of a mile from homes," the city instead rezoned the area for various uses, including "light manufacturing . . . where the raw material is considered a clean nonhazardous material."

Sitix apparently realized that even with its high-tech air scrubbers and double-walled water pipes, it couldn't render some materials "clean" or "nonhazardous." So in a September 15, 1995, letter, Sitix's attorneys at Fennemore Craig suggested substituting another description: "light manufacturing . . . where any raw material is maintained entirely within enclosed structures" (emphasis added).

It's this language that was adopted by the city, after the public process was complete. That's a big no-no, say attorneys representing the citizens opposed to the plant, who want Judge William T. Moroney to yank the zoning changes and halt construction of the plant.

In the meantime, the Fennemore Craig letter could have other consequences. Opposition leader Steve Brittle points out that the letter was written by the same attorneys who are defending Sitix in the lawsuit. "Our attorney is going to move to have them bounced," Brittle says.

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