El Chisme: CD2 race turns testy; Kovacs outstanding - in parking tickets
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 dish:
Kirkpatrick hauls out a dick joke
Savvy political observers would be forgiven for thinking that if a load of snark were to be dropped in the middle of a debate of Democratic CD 2 candidates, it'd be coming from Matt Heinz.
But at the most recent such Q&A session, it was apparent front-runner Ann Kirkpatrick who took a poke at her fellow candidate.
"Matt's running a very misleading ad" alleging that Kirkpatrick voted to cut Medicare, the former CD 1 congresswoman said.
Kirkpatrick described the measure as "bipartisan," with 380 co-sponsors, that allowed disabled people to build up a medical savings account — "to pay for that, it cut Medicare reimbursement to physicians, and it lowered Medicare reimbursement for erectile dysfunction drugs."
"So, do we have a male doctor in this campaign?," she asked with a Cheshire grin, to whistles and "oohs" from the crowd.
After a beat, Heinz declined to pick up the bait: "Alright, so, what I heard was, my opponent voted to cut Medicare," he said,
Kirkpatrick, facing a mostly progressive crowd, was catcalled and booed several times over her stances: she broke with the majority of the candidates in not calling for increased oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and not supporting federal legalization of marijuana.
But, Kirkpatrick did draw appreciative laughter as she wound up the night by declaring that "Donald Trump's presidency is a walking anxiety attack."
Early ballots in the primary go out the first week of August, with Election Day on August 28. Also in the race are Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, Billy Kovacs and Mary Matiella. Some other guy's name will also be on the ballot.
Kovacs outstanding — in parking tickets
Speaking of Kovacs, say what you will about his campaign — and he's outperformed what political observers initially assessed as "who the fuck is Billy Kovacs?" — but he's become outstanding — in unpaid parking tickets.
Kovacs — who's pledged to get himself down to Park Tucson and City Court and get things squared away ASAP — had a $98.60 ticket for "overtime parking" from June 8 on the books.
Oh, he also had unpaid "overtime" tickets from February, April and May 2017 and two in June of last year, along with a ticket for parking in a residential spot just down the block from the Shanty that month, and a "parking too far from curb" ticket from way back in 2013 still on the books as unpaid, with them totaling more than $1,540.
Kovacs said he has a paid permit for the city-run parking lots on Toole Avenue where he was tagged with all of the "overtime" tickets.
He told reliable Chisme sources that he was "unaware of the outstanding parking tickets" and "I should have caught this error and will rectify the situation."
Arizona Dems don't know Baja Az
You might think that, with Southern Arizona being a solid, reliable, steadfast, trustworthy bastion of Democratic votes, the state party folks up in the land of Pumpkinville and Tempe Normal School might have some idea of where it is or what it looks like on a map.
Thursday, the Az Dems blasted out a fundraising message to the "Team" (meaning everyone on the email list) about how "television pundits and pollsters are paying attention to Arizona" and how although "certain congressional districts have been labeled 'competitive,' the Dems are "competing in all of them."
The email includes a nifty little .gif image that maps each of the currently "red" Republican-represented districts successively turning blue.
The problem being, that map shows CD 2 being wholly within the bounds of Pima County. It's probably news to the folks in Cochise County that they're suddenly being represented by Democrat Tom O'Halleran and not Republican Martha McSally.
There are quiet campaigns, and there are campaigns that fall further off the radar than those F-35s that President Trump seems to believe are actually invisible.
Lea Marquez Peterson is leading handily in the fundraising race over on the GOP side of the ledger of CD 2 hopefuls. But candidate Brandon Martin is making a strident (if low budget) appeal to "patriots" to support him instead of "Left Wing Lea."
Martin (who's got all of 488 likes on his campaign Facebook page, compared to LMP with an even 2,222. Kirkpatrick's got 47,000 over on hers.) has been touting endorsements from the likes of Minutemen border activist Jim Gilchrist, and blasting Marquez Peterson because she's backed by the "RedforEd, Common Core Supporting, Gun Grabbing Governer (sic)" Doug Ducey.
Most Democrats find both the head of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Arizona's GOP governor to be far too cozy with Trump to be considered anything but rightwing, but for Martin and his core supporters, they're RINO lefty betrayers, or something.
We might know more about how the candidates stack up against each other, but the Republicans have dodged holding a primary debate that's free and open to the public. Instead, they've even given the boot to Republican-registered, ticket-buying journalists, rather than giving more people a glimpse of why they're running.
You can learn more about at least one of them, though. Douglas candidate Danny Morales will represent from the GOP side, as he debates one-on-one with Kovacs in an unusual cross-party primary meeting on Tuesday, July 31, in Green Valley. That'll go down at the Joyner-Green Valley Library starting at 5:30 p.m., so you can hit it after getting dinner at a buffet.
From Lea, meanwhile, we haven't heard much at all. Quiet confidence, or is she holding her fire too long? GOP voters will tell us soon enough.
Chew's puzzling stances
It's been a while since we've had a political candidate who has consistently caused as many puzzled looks as Felicia Chew.
"Not your typical politician" is the tired line that gets tossed around about every pol who's trying to come off just a little bit different.
In Chew's case, that doesn't mean an effort to cast herself as Everywoman.
During last year's Tucson City Council primaries, she got up and sang original songs during debates, a capella. More than once.
She garnered the endorsement of outgoing Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, but lost in the primary. A Democrat winning the Ward 3 race in the general was pretty much a given — there wasn't even a Republican on the ballot, and Paul Durham coasted his bike to victory.
But, reliable sources indicated that a whole flock of Dem heavy-hitters were ready to immediately endorse independent candidate Gary Watson in the general election if Chew had won the three-way primary. Chew then flipped that script and endorsed Watson herself, saying she had been in the primary race to defeat Durham.
This year, Chew's continued to raise eyebrows among some Dems, especially with her online antics.
She's gathering signatures to run again, this time for the Amphitheater school board (a nonpartisan race — nominating petitions are due August 8, with 392 valid signatures required. Also running for the two positions up in November are incumbent Susan Zibrat and former state lawmaker Matt Kopec).
Although still registered as a Dem, she's posted a promo for a fundraiser for Republican legislator Todd Clodfelter's 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 recent racist remarks for "sparking discussions" and "disrupting complacency."
And she stirred the pot to overflowing when she said "who has never made a mistake" in the wake of the unveiling of the decade-old rape allegation against CD 2 candidate Yahya Yuksel, and his dismissive reaction to it.
"I heard it was bad. I still believe that one mistake doesn't mean he should be ostracized," Chew said in a Facebook thread about Yuksel's trainwreck of a press conference that prompted a storm of discussion.
Asked Thursday morning for comment on which Republican candidates she was supporting, and why, and which party's help she was seeking in her Amphi campaign, she declined to answer immediately, saying she "was just thinking that I should write something" and would post on her blog "within the next two days."
"I ask that you give me some time to formulate my answers in the way that is the least offensive to our community. As we know, I have already hurt several people in the community who are confused with my statements (ergo, the questions you are posing)," she said.
Thursday afternoon, she said of the Clodfelter promo, "Oh, that was supposed to be on the City Issues and Events page" — one of a multitude of Facebook pages about Chew's takes on local social and political issues that she has set up. Instead of responding to a couple of simple questions, she instead sent along multiple paragraphs from what she said was her Council race concession, about seeking "common ground."
Yahya's not out, but campaign finance update still not in
Kovacs may have gone from unknown to a pretty savvy up-and-comer in the course of a political year, but it's the real neophyte trailing in the polls and the alphabet who is probably now wishing he'd never left his bedroom and that no one had ever heard of him.
Yahya Yuksel ran off rather than answer questions about a claim he sexually assaulted a drunk girl when in high school a decade ago, and entirely missed an opportunity to address questions about the rest of his police record and the incomplete and odd campaign finance reports he's filed with the Federal Election Commission.
That was almost two weeks ago. Nobody seems to heard a peep from him since, but it's been a week since Edip Yuksel — his father, and campaign treasurer — told a reporter that a new FEC report had been filed.
Although that agency's website is updated in pretty much near real time — even on weekends — there's still not an amended report to be seen.
So it's not quite clear how much Yuksel paid to campaign consultants — no payments to any campaign staff were reported at all. Nor what he might've blown nearly $15,000 in campaign donors' money on at a cell phone store.
One of those staffers whose paychecks aren't showing up in the mandatory public ledger is Kenny Jacobs, who somehow worked some magic to get Yuksel on the ballot in a vanishingly short period of time. His candidate got the petition sigs, and Jacobs got paid, but that's not in the filings.
Jacobs, who walked away from the campaign back in June, dropped a short thread on Twitter on Wednesday, delivering some of his thoughts. Jacobs, familiar to local pol-watchers from his work for Gabby Giffords and others, said he's restricted by a non-disclosure agreement, but ventured that "Yahya's political aspirations are dead. Edip's psychological imperative of insinuating his ego into his son's campaign helped to kill the campaign, like a parasite killing the host."
"Edip Yuksel is one of the least responsible persons I encountered during my time at the campaign. Cut to the chase - the filing is inaccurate AF," Jacobs wrote. "No, it's not an intern's fault. I believe Edip Yuksel purposefully filed that way to mask particular disbursements."
Republic lifts stories, won't tip cap
It's not just the state political parties that manage to lack awareness of Southern Arizona, if not actively dismiss us.
Arizona's self-proclaimed "newspaper of record" may be so diminished that corporate-behemoth owner Gannett is selling off it's downtown Phoenix headquarters, but you'd think the Arizona Republic could at least offer an appropriate hat-tip when grabbing a story from a Tucson reporter and running with it. It's considered a baseline ethic of journalism to credit the reporter and publication that first bring something to light, if you're doing a story prompted by their work.
In the same column in which he first published the allegations against Yuksel, the Arizona Daily Star's Joe Ferguson headlined with the story of an Arizona legislative candidate — Bobby Wilson — who told attendees of a forum on gun violence here about how, back in 1963, he shot to death someone who tried to shoot him while he was asleep. What Wilson didn't say during the Moms Demand Action event, but Ferguson told us, was that the person killed was Wilson's own mother. Also killed in the incident was Wilson's sister. The family home burned down the night of the shooting, set alight by broken containers of gasoline that Wilson kept in his bedroom.
Ferguson caught some flack himself locally, for putting that rather out-of-the-ordinary story atop the Yuksel brief. But he got little credit from the Republic, which followed the story the next week with their own version of it, embedding a tweet from Ferguson online but only referencing him as "a reporter with the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star."
Without his work, AzRep would've never known about the newsworthy juxtaposition.
At least the first report got a minor nod in that story. With another recent report, the original work got no public notice at all.
On July 3, Kim Smith and Dan Shearer of the Green Valley News reported on a Corporation Commission candidate, Eric Sloan, who was fired in 2016 from the Arizona Department of Administration over hostile workplace allegations. Some employees called their office a "frat party" and "absolute chaos."
Shearer, the editor of the GV News, was kind enough to allow TucsonSentinel.com to republish the piece.
It was a week later that AzRep ran a story on Sloan's firing.
It may take a while for copies of the Star and GV News to find their way that far north, but we've been in the (sadly pretty damn empty) Republic newsroom. We know they've got the Internet hooked up to a couple of computers. That's how they're editing stories for newspapers a thousand miles away from Van Buren and 2nd.
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. 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 some guy who bought a fedora once.
Got a juicy bit of info? Keep those cards and letters coming: email@example.com