Citizen No More

The Tucson Citizen has announced that it is printing its final issue tomorrow.

UPDATE: Gannet’s press release on the shut down:

McLEAN, VA – Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) today said it will cease print publication of the Tucson Citizen. The Citizen will continue operating its web site, The last print edition of the Citizen will be published on Saturday, May 16.

“Dramatic changes in our industry combined with the difficult economy – particularly in this region – mean it is no longer viable to produce two daily printed newspapers in Tucson,” said Bob Dickey, president of the U.S. Community Publishing division of Gannett. “We are pleased that the Citizen’s web site will continue its role as a place for a separate community conversation. Its staff will focus on stimulating public engagement in local affairs. We look forward to moving in this exciting direction.” Dickey said that the parties’ partnership with Lee Enterprises, Inc. in Tucson, TNI Partners, will print a Tucson Citizen editorial in the Arizona Daily Star weekly to expand the reach of the Citizen’s voice. Lee publishes the Arizona Daily Star.

Dickey added “we applaud the hard work of our employees at the newspaper. Their dedication to journalism and to the community of Tucson deserves the highest praise.”

Gannett has owned the Tucson Citizen since 1976. The Citizen was founded in 1870, and it is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona. The Citizen has reported on some of Arizona’s biggest stories, including the 1881 gunfight at the OK Corral and the 1934 arrest of bank robber John Dillinger.

Gannett’s joint operating arrangement with Lee under the Newspaper Preservation Act will also terminate on May 16. Gannett and Lee will continue to be equal partners in TNI Partners.

Reaction to Pew Survey

Water Cure circa 17th centuryI was disturbed but unfortunately not surprised by the results of a poll of evangelicals that found that 62 percent believed that torture is justified. Given how important word-for-word knowledge of the Gospels is to evangelicals, I wondered, exactly what part of the Gospels were they reading?

(51% of my fellow Catholics agreed. We are only marginally better, maybe worse since it means we’ve learned nothing from some of the worst chapters in the Church’s history.)

What gave me some hope is an article that has been making the rounds by David Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University. The article is written as a letter to Jesus. Money quote:

What is this thing called “Christianity” in this country, Lord Jesus? Does it have anything to do with you? It seems a strangely Americanized thing, a disastrously domesticated faith toward which people can nod their heads in loyalty as long as it doesn’t conflict with their full participation in whatever this country feels like it wants to do.

Here We Go Again?

Janet NapolitanoAs many of you know, Janet Napolitano is being mentioned as a possible nominee to replace David Souter. The crew over at First Read are hinting that she may have an inside track, but whether this is based on insider knowledge or just pundits trying to say something interesting is hard to tell.

Should she get appointed, it end the dreams of many a Democrat that predicted that she would run for the US Senate in 2012, or even 2010.

What is also interesting is that Ken Salazar has been mentioned. If this happens, it has the possibility of shaking up Southern Arizona politics. Should Salazar get appointed, that would open up his spot at Interior for the guy that he barely edged out for the job…Raúl Grijalva. For those of you who remember those heady days of January, everybody with any standing in local politics, from Richard Elías to Nina Trasoff to Jennifer Eckstrom were mentioned as possible candidates in a primary. I have my doubts that Salazar gets the nod, but if he does, let the fun begin.

Dems to Gov: Put Up or Shut Up…Well, At Least Say Something

Jan BrewerHouse democrats complained in yesterday’s media briefing that La Cervecera is not active enough in the budget debate. The governor’s staff, to her credit, has been talking to members of both caucuses, but the complaint is that she hasn’t done much in those meetings except to reiterate her vague outline of a “five point plan,” which is a poor substitute for a real budget that can be debated.

The thought among some is that she is playing the same sort of game that Janet Napolitano used to play: wait until the Republican caucus came to an impasse, then ride in with a plan and a ready made coalition of folks who would vote for it. There is a very important difference here. Napolitano had her own budget that was part of the discussion and ready to go when the smoke cleared. Other than these “five points” (the most specific proposal of which is to end “fund sweeps”), what alternative has she presented when the time comes?

Another important difference is the involvement of the governor’s staff. When she was first appointed, even lefty wags like me were impressed by the firepower she brought to bear on her office, people like Doug Cole and Chuck Coughlin. The complaint is that these two haven’t been around in budget discussions and that the staff handling the budget is, as one railbird put it, “the JV Squad.” I suppose when you don’t have your own solid proposals to discuss, it is hard to go all in.

She’s even allowed what few specific proposals she was pushing to become amporphous slop. For example, the billion dollar sales tax hike she was excited about only a few weeks back has now become something that can only be paraphrased as “let’s raise some money from somewhere, or something…maybe…”

You can’t fight something with nothing, and so far the only alternative proposal is that given by House Democrats. Although parts of their budget have been proposed as amendments to the budget, it isn’t as much part of the legislative discussion (if you can call it that) as an executive budget would be. It’s unfortunate, but true. That is why the governor had an obligation to offer a plan that amounted to more than “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” when this whole thing started.

NB: Jan Brewer drawing by Arnulfo Bermudez.

I Call Bull…

John EdwardsThe tale of John Edwards staffers looking to “sabotage” his campaign if it looked like he would win would make a good plot for a Richard Condon novel, but it smacks of operatives trying to make themselves look better, especially after Elizabeth Edwards’s revelations last week.

Think about the plausibility of this: these operatives were so disgusted by the behavior of Edwards that they continued to campaign for him. Then, over a year later, they tell a reporter their tale of being creeped out by this and their “secret plan” to scuttle the campaign should he look like he would be the nominee. This was supposed to be for the sake of the party. How a probable nominee’s campaign colapsing later in the year would be good for the party is unaddressed.

This is all said anonymously, so no one can ask, why not just quit the campaign? Having several staffers quit may have scuttled the campaign back then. There were plenty of political jobs available at the time too; few competent operatives would have been unemployed for long.

Since the source of these tales is anonymous, it is impossible for the rest of us to evaluate whether or not the folks spinning this yarn were higher ups, staff or the volunteer that emptied the headquarters trash on alternate Thursdays. If this turns out to not be true, what does it say about the folks that peddled the story? Heck, for that matter, it doesn’t say much for the folks involved in the unlikely event that it turns out to be true either.

Irony Watch

I heard about a kerfuffle between National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Rathner and Jim Norton of the Chamber of Commerce outside of the House chamber. According to the Arizona Guardian and witnesses I talked to, they had a dispute over an amendment to a bill and shouting became shoving and Bill Konopnicki tried to break it up. When Rathner returned the next day, he was told he was no longer welcome in the building.

One witness I talked to said that at some point, one told the other to “take this outside.” The irony: the bill that started the argument was the so-called “guns in parking lots” bill.