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El Chisme: How could you let this happen?

What's news for political people in the Old Pueblo

Welcome to El Chisme: Actually factual tidbits, gossip, rumors and alternative truths about politics and public life in Tucson. Lovingly compiled and artisanly curated by a small group with widespread sources, who keep an ear to the ground and will let you know what chatter is an omen and what's just for the birds.

Not fake news, but sometimes not the kind of stuff our tipsters really want their names connected with either — let's go panning for gold among the nuggets'of information kicked our way.

Candidates point fingers as they open palms

A giant pile — more than 285,000 — of Pima County early ballots were dropped in the mail this week, Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez tells us. With our efficient mail service trucking everything up to Phoenix and then back to Tucson via Calgary and Malta, you'll probably see those start to show up in mailboxes any day now.

And the commencement of early voting has plenty of political candidates (and their consultants) on edge, and making some silly mistakes — and some are just about accusing their supporters of not being supportive enough. As in, they want more money. Now.

David Garcia, who we think is running for Arizona governor, sent out a mass email on Wednesday with the sender identified as "David Garcia for Congress." We're wondering which congressional candidate in Iowa was identified as running for Arizona governor in a fundraising email.

And speaking of d'oh and dough, Garcia's among the candidates pressing his backers for more campaign funds.

Wednesday, he added to the deluge with a missive with subject line, "HOW could you let this happen, Theodore?" (or whatever the recipient's name might be). The email urged an immediate contribution, as "donations have come to a SCREECHING HALT. [????]"

The pitch was accompanied by a bar graph that showed contributions being lower at 4 p.m. than they had at noon.

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"This is the worst possible moment for donations to plummet. If we can’t get our campaign back on track, Republicans will steamroll our campaign...."

Garcia's consultants are no doubt working for 57 different candidates, which might explain how somebody forgot which office he's seeking.

That's a bit better than a recent printed mailer from the U.S. Senate campaign of "Krysten" Sinema.

Mad stacks

One candidate who thinks he's got enough money is congressional aspirant Yahya Yuksel. He tweeted at the Star's Joe Ferguson and his former campaign consultant Kenny Jacobs (who bailed out back in June) that he "Had 4 local fundraisers lined up this month, but we don’t need them anymore."

He also announced (read this in your best Bert Lahr voice): "You thought this was over, you'll see."

KVOA video vanishes

Speaking of Yuksel, who chirped that one of your Sentinel scribes is a "bias pundant" on the Twitters, the Channel 4 news team finally assembled to do a story on his travails, living up to their new motto of "More than 2 weeks late, Less than half the story."

KVOA featured Yuksel and former wrestling announcer Sean Mooney bemoaning that the candidate was "chased from his headquarters" by a "mob" with "pitchforks ready to go."

The story included plenty of tape of Yuksel playing the victim, and a brief appearance by Pima County Dems chairwoman Jo Holt, who was among the Democratic executive committee members to vote, with no dissents, to disavow any party support for the candidate.

It also included prominently displayed pull quotes from the 10-year-old police report on an allegation that Yuksel sexually assaulted a drunk teenager — quotes from his friend saying that the incident was "consensual." It didn't include any lines from the girl's side of the story from the police report, such as her statement that she tried to push Yuksel away and "blacked out" during intercourse.

Nor did it include any information from any of the others who were there the day of Yuksel's trainwreck of a press conference, in which he twice fled from questioners.

Thanks to our donors and sponsors for their support of local independent reporting. Join Robert Boysen, Stefan Myslicki, and Margaret Iverson and contribute today!

While KVOA didn't send any reporters to that July 15 event, their story did include multiple video clips of it — video that was lifted from work posted by Star reporter Joe Ferguson. Without even any credit, much less permission. In journalism-land, we call that "plagiarism" and "copyright infringement."

Which is probably why the video of Mooney's story is no longer to be found online.

Accurate quotations aren't child's play

Definitely not plagiarism is a large quote painted on the wall of the Children's Museum Tucson: "Play is the highest form of research — Albert Einstein."

Any junior Sherlock could tell you pretty quickly that Einstein never said that.

What he did say is that "The desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of a vague play with basic ideas. This combinatory or associative play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought."

Granted, the paraphrase is just a bit catchier.

Buzz about justice

Over in the justice of the peace race in Precinct 5, which covers much of Midtown, Keith Bee is running for a seat on the bench that pays six figures.

No, not the Keith Bee who's served as a justice court judge, dealing with small claims cases, DUIs, traffic tickets and such. He's leaving the bench.

It's Keith Bee II who's on the ballot in the Republican primary — the 21-year-old son of the current judge. He describes himself as a "life-long Republican."

So, three years then.

Also on the GOP ballot is defense attorney Doug Taylor, who's been practicing for more than 15 years.

And, prompted by the "shadow campaign" of the younger Bee (he's dodged reporters' calls and seems to just be drafting on the goodwill of his father's name), running in the Democratic side is Alisa Cunningham, wife of City Councilman Paul Cunningham.

Cunningham dropped her name into the race at the very last minute, so her name won't be on the Democratic primary ballot. She's a write-in, and needs 555 voters to scribble her name on the appropriate line to be eligible for the November general election.

Alisa Cunningham isn't likely to run a vigorous campaign if experienced attorney Taylor wins the GOP nomination, but the longtime social worker will work to capitalize on the many hours she's spent in courtrooms during her career if Bee ends up being the Republican candidate for November. The only legal qualification for the lower-court post is to be at least 18 years old. The rest is up to the voters.

Up for the challenge?

JoAnn di Filippo, the chief advisor to Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller, was recently overheard at a Picture Rocks community meeting pledging to run in 2020 for the District 3 seat on the Board of Supervisors now held by Sharon Bronson.

Miller would likely love to have a political ally on the county board; she thought she was gaining one with the election of Supervisor Steve Christy in District 4, but the pair of Republicans quickly had a falling out — not unlike the friction that developed between Miller and former Supe Ray Carroll.

Last time out, Miller backed the candidacy of Kim DeMarco against the Democrat Bronson, who won reelection in the district that stretches from Midtown all the way west to Ajo.

If di Filippo is in the race, don't bet on Bronson — first elected in 1996 — deciding to walk away from her seat. If Bronson were to win again, she'd have a term that would keep her in office through her 28th year as an elected official. She's already the longest-serving supe ever in Pima County.

Realtors sponsor 'progressive' campaign ads

Out on the West Side, in LD 3, the Arizona Realtors Association is running social media ads backing two Democrats. Ads from "Responsible Leadership for Arizona" call Alma Hernandez and Olivia Cajero Bedford the "progressive voices needed at the State Capitol." The group has also sent out mailers touting Hernandez (yes, she's the sister of Daniel Hernandez).

Why's a "dark money" group backed by big bucks from the real estate lobby pushing Democratic candidates on liberals? Shrug.

Cajero Bedford has said she doesn't accept the group's endorsement, and would never accept "dark money" from them.

She's termed out in the state Senate, so is seeking one of the district's two state House seats, teaming up with Andrés Cano. Betty Villegas is also campaigning with the pair, seeking the Senate seat.

Sally Ann Gonzales, termed out in the LD 3 House seat, is also running in the Democratic Senate primary, while Hernandez — who's been mum about the real estate backing — is running for the House.

'Mea culpa'

Cano, for his part, faces accusations — being pushed hard by Dem activist Robert Rowley, and shared by TUSD Governing Board member Rachael Sedgwick (Cano's ex-boyfriend, Adam Ragan, is running for school board this year, and is one of several supporters of Cano's campaign on the LD 3 committee) — that he was fed the questions prior to an LD 3 debate.

Back in June, Cano and the other five candidates took part in a forum. He responded to a question about environmental concerns by running down his take on immigration, SB 1070 and mass incarceration.

The next question posted by moderator Margo Cowan was about criminal justice reform, to which Cano responded, "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa," before again talking about mass incarceration. That led Alma Hernandez to wonder if Cano had "memorized" the questions beforehand, and mixed up the order.

Cano firmly averred that he didn't have any idea what the questions would be, and that he had thought the earlier question posed had been about his top legislative priorities — a claim somewhat supported by the previous respondent's detailed rundown of various bills in the Legislature.

"I'd already talked about education, which is my top priority, in response to an earlier question and didn't want to talk about that again," Cano told TucsonSentinel.com.

"I'm happy to take the criticism; this is what I signed up for (in running)," he said. "But I'd rather talk about the issues than see this sort of in-fighting in a Democratic primary."

A reminder: this is why you ask journalists to moderate debates. We don't concern ourselves with who might "win," we certainly don't tell anyone (neither partisan organizers, nor candidates) what the questions are going to be, and we'll actually moderate and tell the candidates when they haven't answered the question that was just asked.

GV News 'boycotted' by dozens

Speaking of journalists and forums: Green Valley News editor Dan Shearer got an earful at a recent GV/Sahuarita Republican Club brown-bag lunch.

Shearer was there to hear three candidates run through their campaign spiels, but ended up in a heated back-and-forth with Eric Sloan, who's running for the Arizona Corporation Commission. Sloan took shots at the paper for what he called irresponsible reporting after the GV News broke the news that he'd been canned his state job in 2016 over staff claims he ran things like a "frat house." (El Chisme told you last week how the Arizona Republic trailed on that story.)

Shearer, sitting in the audience, didn't say anything until Sloan started talking about ethics. Then he raised his hand and reminded Sloan that the report that led to his firing indicated that Sloan considered his ethics to be "situational." The candidate disputed the results of the state-run probe into his management practices, and the pair were off to the races.

The event ended after the wife of state Senate candidate Bobby Wilson (he of the tragically bonkers "shot his mother when she shot at him and the whole house burned down from gasoline he had storied in his bedroom and oh yeah his sister was killed in the incident, too" story) went to the front of the room, pointed at Shearer, and recounted the details of an editorial cartoon the paper had published about President Trump, which had suggested he is a racist. She then said nobody should ever read the paper, and the room erupted in applause — from all 12 attendees. There's no word on whether Shearer reflexively joined in the clapping.

A day earlier, the GV News reported that Wilson's law license had been suspended in Texas and that he had been found guilty in a fraud case in the 1990s.

Back in the middle of July, Shearer got in as heated an exchange as is possible on AZPM's Arizona 360 (so, not very much), when he challenged Ernesto Portillo of the Star/La Estrella, with Shearer maintaining that Trump isn't a racist.

Adios

Several noted community members left us this past week or so, including three (Brousseau, Decker and Walker) who were generous supporters of TucsonSentinel.com, always ready with kind words and gentle critiques.

Georgia Cole Brousseau, 73, was a forceful and lifelong advocate for quality public education. She was an elementary and middle school teacher, and then principal of Wheeler Elementary. She was ever-present at TUSD Governing Board meetings, with officials and activists on all sides of every issue seeking her input, whether it was the appointment of a new superintendent, the district's Mexican American Studies program, budgets and curriculum. One of the first members of the PCC Governing Board, Georgia was a longtime member of the Pima County Merit System Commission and Law Enforcement Merit System Council. She died just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. We'll update with information on services when we get it.

Randy Decker, 55, was a retired staffer of the Service Employees International Union and a tireless political activist. Known for his sarcastic wit and quiet fortitude, Randy — who described himself as "a gentle spirit trying to make sense in a world gone astray" — lived with HIV/AIDS for more than three decades. He devoted much of his time to AIDS organizations, such as TIHAN. He died of complications of the disease, including a bout of Valley fever. A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. on August 18, at Rincon Congregational Church, 122 N. Craycroft Rd.

Tom Walker was a retired reporter and editor (ex of the Star) who became a novelist ("Contrary Creek") and grantwriter for local nonprofit such as Interfaith Community Services. After spending more than 30 years in a newsroom, Tom had a ready wry response to nearly everything, and an inherent sense of justice that was a product of his upbringing on a rural cattle ranch. He died after spending more than six months in hospice. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, August 7, at 1 p.m. at St. Mark's United Methodist Church, 1431 W. Magee Rd.

James T. Webb, 78, died while on vacation with his family in Rocky Point. The president of Great Potential Press and founder of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) focused his work on education and psychology for gifted children.

Jim's work extended far beyond his Southern Arizona home; the Sentinel received a request from the Australian Mensa society to reprint his obituary. No word yet on services.

About some of your Chisme crew: Nobody knows Tucson better than Hugo O’Conor. After all, he founded the place. A. Nonie Maus needs little introduction, as she’s everywhere and nowhere, always. Kchryystjgeyån Gärbøjhé-Phyrr likes shining a light into dark places, but needs to brush up on her Latin. Dylan Smith’s some guy who owns a notebook.
Got a juicy bit of info? Keep those cards and letters coming: chisme@tucsonsentinel.com


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