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El Chisme

Pima Supes wannabe Chew spits out unconstitutional 'hate crime' meme

'Verbal attacks' on Border Patrol, cops should be illegal, candidate says

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.

Why Felicia? Ideas to chew on

Felicia Chew, who's running for the Board of Supervisors in a Quixotic attempt to oust District 3 Democrat Sharon Bronson with a primary challenge, and says she's at the same time pursing (again) a seat on the Amphitheater Unified School District Governing Board in 2020, has made another in a long line of curious bizarre impossible policy proposals:

"In regards to the rhetoric condemning and demonizing Border Patrol agents: Perhaps it is time to classify attacks (verbal and physical) on law enforcement officers (and political persons) as hate crimes, and charge them as such," she posted, using her recent technique of posting a meme of her own face and a quote from herself on one of her numerous Facebook pages. Chew's meme was a response to a political cartoon by David Fitzsimmons over at the Daily Star that referenced offensive comments recently reported to have been made by BP agents, although he left out the line calling those being detained "disgusting subhuman shit."

Chew apparently took more offense at Fitz's cartoon than at the people who said those things while being employed by taxpayers, invoking the patently absurd idea of charging someone with a "hate crime" for something that's not even against the law in the first place. Hint, folks: being critical of our government, and the people who work for us, is not against the law — even if you're being mean AF about it.

Chew — who we promise you still has a Geocities page, complete with blinking alien icons — has run for office before. In a (literally) sing-song 2017 run, she came within 800 votes of the winner in a three-way Tucson City Council primary — with the top vote-getter in that Democratic race ordinarily almost sure to take a seat on the Council with only an independent as a general election opponent. But, wagging tongues within city offices indicated that if Chew had won that primary, a slew of top Democrats were poised to immediately back the campaign of Gary Watson, partisanship be damned. Chew flipped that script and endorsed Watson herself, saying she had been in the primary race to defeat the eventual winner, Paul Durham.

Failing that despite the endorsements of some rather prominent local Dems (most of whom wish they'd never heard of her at this point), in 2018 she was booted off the Amphi ballot for failing to gather enough valid signatures, despite making a convoluted case to the court that amounted to something like the "intent" of a voter to live in the district was more important than complying with the law that they be a resident when they signed her petition.

After the response to her suggestion last week that political speech be criminalized wasn't as supportive as she may have anticipated (to say the least), Chew attempted to back-peddle while still standing behind her words, in a sort of rhetorically contorted performance art that she's become an expert at.

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"I am not anti-political cartoons, nor anti-journalism, nor anti-free speech. I am pro-responsibility," she said in another installment in what she's dubbed the "Felicia Memes Project." Chew derides people who attempt to explain things to her as "gaslighting," while she continually creates new posts to supposedly "clarify" her earlier statements (tagging multiple people in them), while completely dodging giving responses to direct questions about her proposals.

"Bad things happen when we glump (sic) people together," she wrote on Facebook. "We can see the downhill spiral among some community members, and the mounting aggression in regards to Border Patrol agents. We have been down this path before. We cannot forget history, because it repeats itself."

Referencing her work as an English teacher, Chew used "glump" several times over the weekend, seemingly to mean "clump" or "lump." While the term she typed won't be found in any standard dictionary, Urban Dictionary tells us (fittingly?) that "glumping is a term used to describe someone who is zoned out from the present situation."

Chew, who's joined the illustrious ranks for kooky (supposed) lefties who are invited on local right-wing talk radio (see also, Croteau, "Green Party" Dave) as examples of kookery, said during her attempts to explain her reasons for her post that "My understanding is that Hate Crimes are an exception to First Amendment Rights." Of course, as Tucson attorney Stacy Scheff and others (including some of your faithful Chisme correspondents) attempted to explain to her on Facebook, even if criticizing government agents was a crime, those supposed "victims" aren't members of a protected class and thus such a (ridiculously unconstitutional) law could not be charged as a "hate crime."

Friday, Chew  — poised to soon reach both "perennial candidate" and "gadfly" status — declared "Flat earth is a perspective" that she would teach students in a science class as part of her methodology.

Chew then advocated that editorial cartoons be required to come with some sort of "Disclaimer Statement."

Chew has blogs scattered about different platforms, and a grab bag of too many different Facebook pages to keep track of: Vote Felicia Chew, First Fridays with Felicia - Bowling!, Safe Space Project fka Save Golden Pin Lanes, Felicia Chew Tutoring Services, Tucson Zines, Tucson Quilt Project, Domestic Violence Support Services, City Issues and Events, and more (forgive us for not linking; they're all conveniently to be found on her Facebook profile and campaign website).

Among her recent postings, she advocated that the city stop spending money on health benefits for employees: "$1M to $3M for health benefits in the City... what if we used that money for more healthy opportunities... like Intramural sports, art programs, walking paths, and parks that have bathrooms?"

Earlier this month, she proclaimed that Arizona should eliminate mandatory liability insurance for vehicles, and that the city could implement an annual online quiz to improve driving habits, charging just $1 for each test to fund a pot of money to provide medical treatment and repair vehicles.

Chew demonstrated her ability to relentlessly advocate for a position with no foundation in reality, refusing to even accept the fact that your liability insurance covers the damage that you cause, claiming that "insurance is paid for by the victim."

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"Mandatory insurance perpetuates the cycle of poverty," she said, ignoring the many lower-income people in this city who have their cars smashed and rack up hospital bills because they were crashed into by someone else.

Although Chew's repeatedly tried to don the mantle of a progressive, and cultivated support from local liberals, she has also proposed instituting new criminal statutes. In the case of car insurance, she proposed that judges issue harsher sentences to those who don't take an annual driver-ed course she wants to establish in the city — yet another of her ideas for a new law that there's no legal authority to enact in a jurisdiction.

Speaking of science classes, Chew has shown a unique understanding of the space-time continuum, stating that she cast a ballot for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016 so that Stein could take part in a presidential debate. Most people realize that the debates take place before the election, not after.

Last year, she several times suggested that she be appointed to the Supreme Court instead of Brett Kavanaugh, the justice whose confirmation was dogged by accusations of high-school age sexual assault and drunkenness. Chew cited her having "been through the Court System with Family Law" as a qualification (again using the sort of pseudo-Germanic inappropriate Capitalization that's usually a sure Sign of having spotted the Spotted Breitbart Comment Lurker in the wild).

Chew had earlier in 2018 run into a firestorm of criticism for her support for the clearly doomed congressional candidacy of accused sexual assaulter Yahya Yuksel, after those allegations of an incident in his high-school days were publicly reported.

Also last year, although she's proclaimed herself to be a Democrat, Chew posted a promo for a fundraiser for Republican legislator Todd Clodfelter's (failed) reelection effort, and frequently posted right-wing memes about race and immigration, under the guise of "sharing narratives to help us understand the 'other side's' perspective." She raised plenty of ire when she praised Roseanne Barr's racist remarks for "sparking discussions" and "disrupting complacency."

Earlier this year, she proposed that all local political campaigns be limited to a $1,000 budget, that anyone who owns a business in a ward should get a vote in the applicable city election, regardless of whether they live in that ward or within the city, that voters not have a limit on the number of nominating petitions they can sign, and that polling places be open for two weeks.

She also proposed fines for "negative campaigning," and that all candidates should receive a free bus pass.

This winter, Chew tried to "save" the Golden Pin Lanes bowling alley on Miracle Mile, which was purchased by Pima County for use as offices for community service agencies. Chew wanted to transform the space into a "community center" with the bowling alley kept in place, along with home ec classes, a craft market, food bank, library and — here's what raised more ire among some local activists — a location for a "victim-offender dialogue program" where domestic violence victims could engage with their abusers in "restorative justice."

Chew set up a GoFundMe for that concept, pulling in $200 but falling $2,649,800 short of the goal.

Chew's several times said on Facebook that she deals with criticism by putting on her "breathable elephant skin," (a phrase for which, not surprisingly, this column will be the sole actual Google result) and posted long and seemingly stream-of-consciousness screeds.

Feel free to peruse more of Felicia's buffet of random socio-political suggestions on a Facebook page or two. Just don't fill up on word salad.

Crimes & mis-readers

Last week's appointment of a new constable in Precinct 8 in Midtown raised concerns about respect for the law — and the breaking of it — in some quarters.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors had to appoint a new constable, because Mary Dorgan is resigning at the end of the month. (One of the chief tenets of the Pima County Way is to resign after the halfway point of your term, so your successor can be appointed and run as an incumbent.) Three people applied for the position, which is a terrible gig: constables mainly deal with people at some of the worst moments of their lives as they serve orders of protection in domestic violence cases, eviction notices, and other court orders.

With the position being an elected office, with a four-year term, the law required that the post be filled with someone from the same party as Dorgan. So the supes had to choose from among the trio of Democrats who applied.

But that choice came with some raised eyebrows, partisan objections, and whispers of illegality.

Getting the nod on a 3-2 party-line vote was Kristyn Landrum, er, Kristen Randel, er, Kristyn Randall, or something. (Hey lady, you say you want to run for election when your appointed term is up next year. Pick a damn name so people who actually make it that far down the ballot know who to vote for.)

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The potential problem? Landrum/Randall is a federal employee — a hydrologist with the Department of the Interior. And there's a pesky little federal law called the Hatch Act that makes it just a little bit (read: very) illegal for a federal employee to run for elected office. As we mentioned, like the county sheriff, each constable is an elected law enforcement officer.

And so... nothing to see here, move along. While the Hatch Act prohibits all sorts of political activity by federal workers, especially being a candidate for an elected office, nothing in it bars being appointed to such an office. Go figure.

That doesn't mean that the two Republicans on the county board didn't have a few things to say during Tuesday's meeting.

Both Superviors Ally Miller and Steve Christy made cases for voting against Landrum (Christy said in an interview on the Buckmaster Show on Friday that he wouldn't have voted for any of the three who applied). Both referenced Landrum's volunteer appointment to the Community Law Enforcement Partnership Commission — "CLEP-C" sounds like some sort of social disease and the local GOP certainly think the commission set up to advise on grant requests by the Sheriff's Department is a plague.

Christy said that Landrum "spoke against law enforcement, against our sheriff, against the law enforcement community in general. And my concern is for someone to take a position as constable requires a belief in the fundamental values of upholding the law."

Supervisor Ramon Valadez, the Democrat who moved to appoint Landrum, noted that "she comes from a law enforcement family."

Miller expressed concerns about the about-to-be-appointed Landrum's statement in her application that she wanted to be "a resource for education, an advocate for my district and a conduit for needed services."

Miller read aloud from the Code of Conduct for constables in Arizona, but seems to have glossed over the meaning: "Constables may assist citizens in identifying available procedural options and in understanding and complying with court procedures; constables shall not advise a particular course of action."

Landrum, who had the endorsements of both Democratic and Republican constables, seems to think it's reasonable to be a little bit helpful to people at horrible times in their lives. Opinions differ.

Called on the carpet

This tidbit's been left on the cutting room floor a few times, but it's still got legs. Four of 'em, so....

A change in leadership generally involves some moving of furniture. In the latest arrangement atop the county building, Supervisor Richard Elias has been demanding to be referred to as "chairman" of the Board of Supervisors. Officially, as it were. A while back, county staff had to send out a memo about it and everything. When predecessor Sharon Bronson held the gavel, she wanted to be called "chair," without the gender specificity. Ramon Valadez got the memo, but he's still working on those TPS reports. Steve Christy turned his in already, and Ally Miller calls him something else entirely.

Tyler in a quick pickle?

Speaking of which, word from the listening devices planted within the walls of the District 1 offices: Whisperers on the top floor of the county building say Tyler Mott, chief of staff for Miller, is out of the office. Canned. We don't have confirmation that he's on the dole yet, but the scuttlebutt is that Mott was fired last week after working for the D1 Republican for only about four months.

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Also recently out in Miller's office is Sandy Russell, who was reportedly summarily fired upon giving notice that she was accepting another county position. Joining Miller's team last month (and apparently still there) was Bill Beard, the former chairman of the Pima County Republican Party and ex-member of the Election Integrity Commission.

80-proof reading

It's generally a good idea to get a sober set of eyes to review words before sending them along to the public, as our local political parties have shown us lately.

The Pima County Democratic Party recently circulated a news release about "How to pay for the Green New Deal" event. At the bottom of the emailed document was the line: "WAITING FOR QUOTE FROM ALISON HERE ABOUT WHY PCPD THINKS THIS IS IMPORTANT."

Alison being Ms. Jones, the chair of the county Dems. It's wrong... but she's going to let it go now.

Not so much a typo, but equally vague on the details, was a pronouncement from the local Republican Party right around the same time. In a laundry list asking if fellow GOPers could "imagine not having Donald Trump as your president" that got a little bit syntactically tangled up regarding whether Trump is responsible for a "crumbling VA system" and "ignoring the Opioid epidemic" or not, they were asked to "imagine if your local government was run by Republican officials."

Of course, no matter which side of the tedious and idiotic social media arguments about whether we live in a democracy or a republic you come down on (it's both, dummies — those describe different factors), it takes people running for office to be elected and in charge of things. If wishes were horses, local Republicans might get someone saddled up enough to actually get on the ballot.

Yet this year, with two open City Council seats and an empty mayoral chair in Tucson, the Republicans aren't fielding a single top candidate to lead the city who's likely to make that ballot, yet alone have a credible chance of winning in November. There's but one solid GOP candidate for Council — and ex-TUSD Board member Mike Hicks was out-raised in the Ward 4 race $780-$16,000 by Democrat Nikki Lee, according to the first campaign finance reports. Ouch.

The deadline to submit signatures on nominating petitions is this Wednesday at 5 p.m. Stay tuned; it may be news to some aspiring candidates that they won't actually be on the ballot.

About some of your Chisme crew: 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. And John Behan? He’s was sheriff of Cochise County during a small incident at the OK Corral, but was also later the business manager for the Tucson Citizen — once taking over the newsroom for several days, armed with a pistol, as he demanded payment from the owners. Dylan Smith’s looking for a place to park outside City Hall.
Got a juicy bit of info? Keep those cards and letters coming: chisme@tucsonsentinel.com

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Not a meme (or quote) taken from any of Felicia Chew's pages — official mandatory 'Disclaimer Statement'