Congressman Kolbe's Query
U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe burst out of the closet last week, finally confirming a years-old open secret: He's gay.

Kolbe, a Republican whose district includes part of Tucson and all of southeast Arizona, made the admission after learning that a gay-issues magazine intended to out him. The magazine was preparing the story in response to a Kolbe vote against same-sex marriages.

Up 'til then, Kolbe had discreetly compiled a congressional voting record palatable to gays.

But back in 1992, Kolbe did something interesting while running against openly gay congressional hopeful Jim Toevs. He commissioned a poll in which 400 voters were asked whether Toevs' sexual orientation and outspokenness about gay issues would affect their vote.

Some observers called the survey a "hit poll," intended more to smear than to elicit attitudes. The poll question came to the attention of then-Tucson Weekly writer Beth Hawkins, who questioned Kolbe about it. The congressman flatly denied he was turning Toevs' sexuality into a campaign issue.

"You test all kinds of things in a poll," Kolbe told Hawkins. "It's not a campaign document--it's just testing how people feel."

Hawkins went on to write that Kolbe became "visibly angry. So angry that he never articulates an overall stand on gay rights."

Hawkins, who now edits for the Metro Times, a Detroit weekly, elaborated last week on how visible the congressman's anger actually was. "He was yelling, turning purple," she recalls.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Scrutinize This
We--that's the editorial we, i.e., The Flash and all his/her co-conspirators here at New Times--are soon to be tweaked by the Arizona Republic.

Reporter Bill Muller, the Republic's resident bluster-master and Arizona Journalist of the Year wanna-be, has been roaming the Glass House, cackling that he's got us cornered. We're quarry. We're trembling rodentia. We're owl pellets.

Oh, the terror.
Once Muller's piece runs the gauntlet of editors, expect him to make large noises about these . . . these absolute outrages: A New Times writer resigned recently; some people (sore losers, mostly) failed miserably in their quest to strip New Times' Timothy Archibald of his 1995 Photographer of the Year award; some journalists aren't fans of Michael Lacey or the papers he puts out; a New Times writer is ambivalent about the spoofs New Times occasionally produces. (Hey, this could be one of them!)

Oh, the shame.
On Sunday, July 28, the Los Angeles Times printed two long (by their standards, not ours), fairly evenhanded stories about New Times, Inc., and its recent expansion into the L.A. market. (For those not up on the news: New Times, Inc., recently bought two L.A. weeklies and is combining them into Los Angeles New Times, which debuts August 22.)

The L.A. Times articles prompted one insider to observe that the Republic took 27 years to decide to write a piece on New Times and then--typically, pathetically, predictably--got scooped.

Editor: So Sue Me
On June 14, Maxine Durham sued the Republic's parent, Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., for libel. The Flash saw it coming back on March 28, when it told of Republic managing editor Pam Johnson's memo re Ms. Durham.

Johnson's memo--dated March 13 and distributed to Republic staff--explains that in February, the Scottsdale bureau published a blurb claiming Jomax Road in Scottsdale was named after two prostitutes named Josephine and Maxine. A subsequent "update" reported that the road was actually named for the developer's sister, Josephine, and his wife, Maxine Durham, and that the original dispatch had "besmirched her honor."

Johnson wrote, "The elderly woman we called a prostitute has retained a lawyer. We have no defense. Our report was untrue; indeed, we admit we didn't investigate it. Our 'correction' simply made matters worse--compounding the libel, using the woman's full name and making light of the situation."

Johnson makes a compelling argument--for the plaintiff. Can you say "six-figure settlement"?

Sit-In at Clinton Gig
Entertainment at last week's opening bash for the Valley's newest movie megamultiplex, Arrowhead 14 (AMC), was provided by presidential brother Roger Clinton, fronting his band, Politics.

Beneath a lightning-streaked Glendale sky, the First Bro, decked out in white trousers and a Late Night tee shirt, got down with his bad self, and virtually no one else. Despite his encouragement, nary a soul of the many assembled got up to boogie to Rog's competently warbled renditions of "Mustang Sally" and the like. The partygoers sat listening respectfully, as to a chamber orchestra or an Al Gore speech.

But Barry Manilow, look out. Between sets, a large number of ladies did queue up for autographs.

Next, They'll Ration Mustard
Last week, Firebirds fans who went to get a draft beer for a baseball buddy at Scottsdale Stadium found signs at the tap that said, "One beer per customer."

The reason was House Bill 2144, an update of the state liquor laws passed in April. It defines the acceptable level of alcohol served to any one customer at one time as 32 ounces of beer, one liter of wine or four ounces of distilled spirits. The draft-beer cups at Scottsdale Stadium hold 20 ounces each, and so two cups would put the purchaser over the legal limit.

In the mid-'80s, according to Myron Musfeldt at the Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, legislators limited the number of beers to two per person at any one time. The restrictions were made in response to happy hours that offered two-, three-, even seven-for-one drink specials.

Of course, drinkers and drink dispensers found ways around the two-drink limit. Musfeldt claims that Lake Havasu joints were selling whole buckets of slush drinks as one "spirituous liquor beverage," prompting the new law change.

As if it would stop anyone bent on getting drunk.
America West Arena and Sun Devil Stadium, which sell 16-ounce drafts, can sneak two beers in at the 32-ounce limit. Scottsdale Stadium will probably follow suit, says Shawn Mattox, the general manager for the concessionaire there.

Meanwhile, expect to make two trips if you want to get a beer for your spouse--real or imagined.

As one stadium bartender put it, "It sucks."

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