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El Chisme

Caught napping? News going to the dogs, Bond backers mum, Arpaio's blown chances

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.

Bonds on road to nowhere?

It's still primary season, with most candidates at least maintaining the public stance that they've got a chance at the fall playoff. So not yet getting much attention is a $430 million bond for road fixes that'll definitely be on November's ballot.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted a month and a half ago to send the question to voters: Do you want better roads? Do you want to pay for 'em?

As of press time, or at least the last time we looked, no "Yes" committee has yet been formed to pave the way for passage of the measure. None of the three four supervisors who voted for it have taken an active, aggressive "Yes on bonds" stance or offered their assorted machines (which are really more mechanical push mowers than giant Caterpillar grading equipment) to provide the political support necessary to get it passed.

Makes sense. It's not like their entire legacies and the county's future as a blue zone hang in the balance, or anything like that.

Meanwhile, over in one corner of the 11th floor of the county building, Republican Supervisor Ally Miller — along with staffers Lori Hunnicutt and JoAnn DiFilippo — is actively fostering the "No" campaign. A "Stop Prop. 463 Road Bonds" committee has already filed to oppose the measure, helmed by Miller ally Chris King.

Will proponents get busy, or will another bond measure get steamrolled?

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No wonder Joe's so tense

Did former Maricopa sheriff and convicted-then-pardoned (recently incorrectly tagged as "felonious" by the Editorial Board of the failing New York Times) Joe Arpaio blow his chances in the Senate race?

One of a slew of right-wingers to be suckered by satirist Sacha Baron Cohen, Arpaio said on the (increasingly one-note) Showtime series "Who Is America?" that he'd accept an "amazing blowjob" from Donald Trump.

"I may have to say yes," Arpaio told "OMGWhizzBoyOMG."

Arpaio's staff said that they had to explain to the sheriff, who's 86 years old, what a blowjob is.

Almost makes you feel sorry for him, doesn't it?

But then, Arpaio directed his campaign to look at buying ads on Infowars, the website of scumbag huckster and semi-sentient colostomy bag Alex Jones, who said that the murder of our friends and neighbors here in Tucson was part of a "staged mind-control operation." Jones's coprophagic acolytes will eagerly lap up whatever lunatic sewage dribbles from his mouth, so it's important to make a stand for "free speech" on his behalf.

A Joe who is relaxed

Supervisor Miller, who at last week's county board meeting was either modeling the latest proposed Pima County Adult Detention Center uniform or found an old Hamburglar costume while rummaging through her closet, took to her Facebook to mock a reporter for having the temerity to allow himself to be photographed while blinking during Tuesday's meeting.

She shared a pic of Joe Ferguson "of the Red Star" — which had been posted by a worn-out sockpuppet for one of her coterie of backers who graces public meetings with nearly silent but purportedly deadly commentary — with either his eyes closed or downcast, looking at his phone while placing an audio recorder behind him.

Saying the "Taxpayer Watchdog was Asleep on the Job," the Republican supervisor then commented that "He may have had one too many of the Pothole Filler Imperial Stout Beers brewed with black strap molasses."

Miller is obviously misguided, again. It's common knowledge that Ferguson only naps after a healthy slug of Pappy Van Winkle.

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Take the trash out

Hey, Tucson, learn to take out the trash.

Councilman Steve Kozachik's got one of the more informative email newsletters of any local politician. Agree with his take or not, he packs each week's with plenty of info.

Among the recent gleanings was the fact that Tucsonans simply don't know how to recycle, and it's costing us money. Recent regulation changes by China, where much of the United States' recycled stuff heads, means lower prices for contaminated materials. And we're apparently pretty bad about that.

It's a balancing act trying to rinse out food containers while not wasting water in a parched desert, but Steve K's got some info on how to increase the value of what is in our blue barrels. He's also floating the idea of reducing the frequency of recycling collections — not everybody is filling up a barrel every week, the data shows.

The Russians are coming!

China might be rejecting our cast-offs, but Russia is buying into the Arizona Senate race.

An analysis of tweets tagged with #AZSen showed that @kelliwardaz is a favorite of Russian bot accounts. Kelli Ward was pushed more than 200 times — but Ted Cruz, by comparison, was Texas-large with more than 3,000 messages pushed by Russkie robots.

Careless whispers

A Facebook commenter who's apparently not too familiar with LD 3's Andrés Cano opined on one of the Democratic candidate's ads that "idk that those are his kids. He looks like he might have a little sugar in his tank."

We're almost as confused as that poor citizen: How again is snidely implying that a candidate is gay supposed to hurt him in a Democratic primary?

Anyway, if Cano's in the closet, it's because he's picking out a new outfit.

They're his godchildren, anyway, if you're wondering.

Today in dumb campaign emails

Candidate X needs to bring in another $2,345 before midnight. Why not set your sights on $4,567? Sad. Low energy.

Yuksel stands alone

Yahya Yuksel, whose name seems to be appearing on Democratic ballots in CD 2, held a meet-and-greet at a library on Sunday, intending to respond to lingering public concerns about a decade-old sexual assault allegation in the wake of one of the most epically failed press events in the modern age. The 28-year-old posted a statement about the incident last week that was a repeatedly revised hodgepodge of self-justification and #MeToo references. At least most of the slut-shaming and attacks on the press got left on the cutting-room floor.

Yuksel'd announced that he would be taking questions, but didn't provide TucsonSentinel.com with a time or location. One of your Chisme correspondents got up late Sunday morning, ate some pancakes (with prickly pear syrup), and then promptly took a long nap on the couch with a snugly pit bull.

Not tracking down Yuksel for more answers was the popular choice. Ferguson shook off his afternoon slumbers to take a gander. Other interested parties were reportedly not in evidence. Nobody else showed up. Nary a soul.

KVOA going to the dogs

The investigative team over at Channel 4 is like a dog on a bone when it comes to reporting on the Pima Animal Care Center.

Sam Salzwedel's spent months digging into a couple of "dog bites man" stories, calling the local pound "a threat to public safety."

County staff have objected to what they think is an overblown mischaracterization by Salzwedel and crew, noting that he "has admitted to being a dog bite victim and his reporting has been biased toward reporting that PACC endangers public safety."

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KVOA tried to pull a bait-and-switch interview with PACC head Kristen Auerbach, sending reporter Matthew Schwartz instead of Stephanie Weaver — who'd set up an appointment — out to work on Salzwedel's series of stories. Auerbach wasn't having it.

Neither was Pima County chief spokesman Mark Evans, who told KVOA that because Salzwedel's "reporting seeks to cast PACC in as negative of a light as possible even though the facts do not support his contentions... Pima County staff will not agree to on-camera interviews with Sam Salzwedel, or his reporting surrogates dispatched by KVOA."

Blasting him for being "agenda-driven and lacking objectivity," and KVOA overall for being "deceptive," Evans said that the county will continue to provide the station documents and responses to written questions.

KVOA's take was that Auerbach "refused to do a scheduled interview." The station didn't cover a detailed report released that day by the county that covered PACC's adopting out a record number of pets, and work to lessen the number of dogs put down.

The report showed that "there has been no significant increase in biting animals in Pima County, despite the fact that PACC has dramatically reduced euthanasia by placing record numbers of pets," officials said.

In its story, the station claimed that "as is the industry standard, KVOA usually does not submit specific written questions to interviewees."

Of course, numerous emails from Salzwedel and Schwartz to county officials include copious written questions. There's a point to getting someone to answer questions in person, certainly — it's easier to follow up if someone's trying to dodge a question. It also looks more dramatic for TV if you film yourself walking through a door to talk to them.

Another KVOA story on PACC is due to air Thursday. Expect a ponderous soundtrack pulled from Schwartz's "17 Dramatic Themes for TV News Investigations" CD, and maybe an appearance of a leather jacket.

That story may end up delayed, though, as the entire Channel 4 team has been dedicated to filming a full-length documentary about the closing of Fuddrucker's, including an oral history from a bunch of people who never ate there and didn't realize it was still open discussing their vivid lack of memories of the place.

KVOA is up for sale, along with 10 other stations belonging to national chain Cordillera Communications.

Disclosure: one of your Sentinel scribes has a houseful of drooling, hulking beasts, including some bailed off death row at PACC at the last minute. They're only dangerous if you try to steal a spot on the couch.

Keepin' it local

Hey lady running for state superintendent of public instruction, if you are going to hire a company to do a robo-call, you could at least pick a company that will use an Arizona area code.

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Stars shift

Stephanie Innes, a longtime health reporter for the Arizona Daily Star (with a stint at the Citizen before that), is moving north to handle that beat for the Arizona Republic. Innes, named the 2017 Virg Hill Journalist of the Year by the Arizona Press Club, is among a couple of top-notch Star reporters to head for the exit recently.

Murphy Woodhouse dropped the Star's rewarding county beat to become an Hermosillo-based correspondent for KJZZ's Fronteras Desk — joined by Kendal Blust, ex of the Nogales International. Star reporter Yoohyun Jung also left the paper a while back, returning to her native Korea.

In other news about the news, Andrea Kelly's cemented her place as the news director at Arizona Public Media, which means we'll be seeing much less of her own very capable reporting. And over at the six or 17 papers that make up Tucson Local Media (the Weekly, Explorer, etc. etc.), Danyelle Khmara is now the associate editor, helping Jim Nintzel keep track of which editions are left to crank out every week.

About some of your Chisme crew: Nobody knows Tucson better than Hugo O’Conor. After all, he founded the place back in 1775. 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 recently bought a pack of pens.
Got a juicy bit of info? Keep those cards and letters coming: chisme@tucsonsentinel.com

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Former PACC dog Mr. Mingus is on high alert for ambushing reporters and impertinent lizards.