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Political Buzz – June 2011


The question of what to do with leftover city council office money is causing yet another rift in the Tucson City Council.

Councilman Steve Kozachik wanted to use the $85,000 left over in his council office budget to fill potholes in the ward he represents, midtown Ward 6. It was on the consent agenda for this week's council meeting, but it was pulled and the council voted 5-2 to pool all their extra money and decide later how to use it.

Each office gets the same amount at the beginning of the budget year, July 1. In the past, the leftover money has been used in whatever way the councilmember from that ward chooses. If it's not used, it gets swept into the general fund for the next budget year.

Kozachik calls the move to pool the funds the "poster child of hyperpartisanship." He said pooling the money means less will be spent on what people his ward want.

Should the funds be used in the same ward as the savings? Or should all the wards/citizens benefit from any year-end savings? It's a debate we expect to hear more about.



The Fiesta Bowl scandal and subsequent news just won't go away. The latest update: the Bowl is asking politicians to repay it for past trips, tickets and contributions.

This comes after a spring full of revelations that the Bowl was misspending money, including making illegal campaign contributions and extravagant spending. Several lawmakers rushed to revise their financial reports after the scandal broke, hoping to report gifts of tickets and trips from the bowl, even though they hadn't previously reported them.

Three local officials are on the list of those from whom the Fiesta Bowl seeks repayment, according to a list the Arizona Republic published, showing how much the Fiesta Bowl spent, and what officials have already repaid.

The bowl wants $16,846 State Sen. Linda Lopez, $3,755 from former State Rep. David Bradley, and $30 from State Sen. Paula Aboud. About is the lowest dollar amount on the list. Senate President Russell Pearce is at the top of the list, with a bill for $37,930.

Fiesta Bowl legislature,


Last December's lame duck session of Congress was hailed as the most productive period in many a year for our elected officials. It came despite much sniveling and whining, largely by Republicans, that the session was cutting into their holiday break.

Now comes word that it might happen again, this time for the sake of keeping the U.S. government afloat and avoiding a global fiscal meltdown.

The AP reported today that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to talk to members of the Democratic rank and file about possibly canceling a scheduled July 4 break so work can continue on negotiations for raising the debt ceiling and cutting federal spending.

Get ready for more sniveling and whining.


Your friendly neighborhood members of Congress are on recess for the Independence Day weekend. But wait; isn't Independence Day next weekend? Like four days from now?

Yes, but they needed an early start so they could meet and greet their constituents, none of whom should be too happy with what these public non-servants are doing at the moment.

It's one week since the big Republican walkout from the negotiations dealing with the federal budget deficit and the debt, which now has cleared the ceiling and is poking skyward through the shingles.

Our very own Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, was the last to depart the talks on behalf of his party. Should make all Arizonans feel proud.

And then there was Rep. Raúl Grijalva's countenance on the local TV news Monday evening touting a new solar energy facility in Tucson as he stood in the shade on a 112-degree day. Repeat: He was in Tucson. Not in Washington where the work needs to be done.

Appropriately, during Grijalva's time on camera, a freight train blew its whistle and rumbled by in the background.

He and every other member of Congress need to take a reality pill. They think they're engineering the train, but in actuality, it's left the station without them.


Gabrielle Giffords' doctor, Gerard Francisco, was on Capitol Hill this week to discuss rehabilitation efforts as part of the country's health care system, and he spoke with the Website POLITICO about her recovery.

"I think in about a year or so, we will have a better idea of what her functional abilities are going to be eventually," Francisco said. He added that it would be unfair to Giffords to speculate about a timetable or what might occur.

Read the full story here.


U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' staff is taking on the federal deficit and spending argument in her absence. Her staff announced in a Friday press release that in conjunction with the Concord Coalition, it will host a town hall next Thursday to discuss deficit reduction methods.

The Concord Coalition's Website describes it as a non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to educating the public about the causes and consequences of federal budget deficits, the long-term challenges facing America's unsustainable entitlement programs, and how to build a sound foundation for economic growth."

Among the speakers will be David Walker, described by the Washington Post as a "deficit hawk", and others who specialize in trying to figure out how to fix the federal financial problem.

The goal of the two-hour is laudatory: "to cut through partisan rhetoric and ideological divides to engage in a realistic dialogue about our nation’s financial future," according to a press release from Giffords' office.

Cutting through partisan rhetoric is a terrific goal and perhaps even achievable at this forum. Achievable in political reality? Don't hold your breath.

About Political Buzz

News, commentary, analysis from the AZPM political team: Christopher Conover, Andrea Kelly, Michael Chihak.