Dorothy Parvaz

Near the end of the President’s remarks at the White House Correspondents dinner the other night, he remarked on how much danger many journalists put themselves in every day just to get the truth out. The camera panned to members of the audience that nodded in appreciation. The cynic in me wanted to slap a few of them and say, “He ain’t talking about you, you primping, pampered lap dogs. Stop yourselves.”

Looking around a room like that, it’s easy to forget the risks some of their brothers and sisters are willing to take.

Those of you that cruise news sites may have noticed that several of them have banners or notices about Dorothy Parvaz. Parvaz flew to Syria to cover the burgeoning democratic movement there for al-Jazeera. She landed on Friday, and hasn’t been seen since.

Some of you may have heard the story but may not know that Parvaz has local ties. She got a masters degree in journalism from the University of Arizona in 1997, and wrote on music for the Arizona Republic. She’s one of ours.

There is a Facebook group of supporters. You can join up but also remember to keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

The Realm of Possibility

I read this morning that the Icecats, officially a student “club team,” has been taken over by the U of A’s Campus Recreation Department and long time owner/coach Leo Golembiewski has been pushed aside.

So, when does the legislature get involved in this? I’m sure that Andy Biggs will soon have some bill to make it impossible for the U of A to do this. He’ll put the management of the club where he thinks it belongs: in the hands of a committee picked by his fellow legislators. How long before we get the overwrought, cynical missive from Bruce Ash decrying the U of A’s takeover of one of its own institutions? No doubt, it’s being done because someone that Ash doesn’t like wants to run for something. Right?

Not like they have ever thought of doing this in reaction to any such action by the University, of course.

More Voices Against HB 2067

I was going to call some of my erstwhile legislative sources this morning, but they finally had sine die at around 5:30 AM. If any of them had bothered to answer their phones, any reports I would have had would have been a combination of hostility and incoherence.

Come to think of it, that’s probably a good summary of the legislative session.

I recieved an e-mail from one member of the faculty at the College of Medicine who gave me a thumbs up for what I wrote about HB 2067. Thank you for the encouragement, sir! The Star has also written a decent article on the dispute and what it might mean for the future of UMC and the College of Medicine.

I don’t know if the e-mail I got was for public consumption, but there is a statement from G. Michael Lemole Jr., MD, the Chief of Neurosurgery at UMC, going around that expresses much the same sentiment:

As an academic neurosurgeon, I came here to join the University of Arizona to become part of a large, integrated academic enterprise, rather than just seeking employment at a community hospital.

More than a year ago, all of the faculty were encouraged by the direction the hospital, the physicians group, the College of Medicine and the University were taking to bring our medical efforts into alignment. And we perceive this progress is being threatened by the current legislation. We have to ask `how does this legislation improve the functioning of the enterprise?’ `How does it improve patient care?’ And if those questions are not easily answered I have to ask why are the legislators inserting themselves into this issue?

At the end of the day, when you are running an effective enterprise you do best when you are coordinated by your `general,’ by someone who has that broad strategic view. That, in my mind, is why the hospital needed to join the physicians’ group and needed to be brought under the umbrella of the University – so we could strategize together…everyone getting together with someone with that `10,000-foot’ view and oversight. This is where we need to concentrate our resources, this is where we need to strategize for the future, it seems to me.

This bill…would only lead to the type of fragmentation that was so frustrating prior to the last year.

The bill passed, by the way, and will be submitted to the governor for a signature or, hopefully, a veto.

A Couple of Other Notes From Up North

Just two things, ’cause I feel like eating a pear.

La Cervecera’s plans regarding making state employees “uncovered” by civil service protection appears to be dead right now. I’d like to think it was because legislators thought the plan was unworkable, unfair and smacked of the worst Gilded Age machine politics, but it was more likely that they didn’t want to get saddled with that much work this close to sine die and aren’t happy with some of the governor’s vetoes.

– The scheme to get the legislature involved with the Board of Regents’ plan to overhaul their relations with UMC has gone to a conference committee. The bill still takes control of UMC away from the Regents, but it has an 18 month limit. At the end of 18 months, if no other action is taken, things will revert to the status quo ante. Supporters of the Regents, Steve Farley among them, pushed for this (even though they oppose the bill) in the hopes that cooler heads will be running things later.

DuVal Steps Aside

One bit of news emerged from today’s Democratic Party meeting: National Committeeman Fred DuVal announced he is resigning his membership in the DNC.

DuVal was recently elected President of the Board of Regents. The two roles would have been hard enough to juggle in any event, but it’s been made harder now that members of the legislature are hell bent on connecting anything good for the universities to some imagined partisan agenda of DuVal’s. The rhetoric from supporters of Andy Biggs’s latest proposal to mess with the U of A College of Medicine is exhibit A.

DuVal will be devoting his full time to the Board of Regents and promises to be a “full throated and passionate advocate” for the universities. Unfortunately, I don’t think the misguided attacks on the universities will cease now that DuVal has put away his partisan hat.

By the way, he also announced that he will not be a candidate for senate next year.

Oh, And You Missed Something Else

One of my ongoing frustrations with the way we talk about the current legislature is the rather lazy phrase “Wild West Legislature.” As if the fact that some of them seem to have an obsession with firearms means that they are just like the legislators in territorial days.

Actual history, is of course, more complicated. For example, our university system and the Board of Regents that governs it was established by the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature, one given the Wild West monikers of “Thieving Thirteenth” and “Bloody Thirteenth,” that ran from 1885-1887. A legislator from Tucson named Selim Franklin shamed the body into appropriating money for a publicly funded college in his town and a “normal school” in Tempe. Franklin served on the Board of Regents that governed the university in a few of its earliest years.

In another Wild West move, the money to buy the land for the University of Arizona was provided by the only local citizens with enough liquid capital: gamblers and saloon keepers.

So, the actual residents of the Wild West were, you know, thinking about the future and building something. Go figure.

Okay, a bit of a round about way to get what I really should be talking about:

Did you notice the Senate Appropriations Committee moved forward a proposal to abolish the Board of Regents?

The “Approps” hearing was nearly twelve hours long and featured debate (strong word for what actually happened) on a variety of controversial subjects. It wasn’t until near the end of the meeting that chairman Andy Biggs put forward two proposals: one to put a referendum on the ballot to dissolve the Board of Regents, and the other to replace ABOR with Boards of Trustees at each of the state universities.

Oddly, Biggs sells this proposal as a way to streamline our higher education system. How replacing one authority with several smaller bureaucracies would accomplish this is left a bit unclear. How much clarity you get from any discussion a little after 1:00 AM is always a problem, though.

What it does do, however, is set up a situation where the various universities will be in competition with one another. Yes, there is competition now, but having a Board of Regents responsible for the state has been a check on that. They’ve been a powerful, unified voice for higher education. And, in recent decades, they’ve understood their statewide mandate and established branch campuses in communities across the state.

What we’ll end up with should these bills pass is a “system” for higher education where several bodies are fighting with each other over scarce educational resources. Frankly, it doesn’t bode well for the future of either the University of Arizona (where Biggs attended law school) or Northern Arizona University as so much political power becomes more concentrated in Maricopa County. The cynic in me wonders if the intention is to give more power to the legislators as these new boards get played off of each other at budget time.

Whatever the true intentions here, the whole idea seems poorly thought out.


I recieved a note from Ken Chapa, son of Art, about the illness that took the life of his father and a fund that the family has started in Art’s name:

H.Pylori (Helicobacter pylori) is a stealth virus that lives in the stomach lining of nearly 60% of the world’s population. If left untreated, over time, it can develop into a highly aggressive form of upper gastrointestinal cancer, especially in hispanic populations. The cancer is preventable by asking your doctor to perform a simple blood or breath test. If positive, the virus can be eliminated within 2 weeks using prescribed doses of antibiotics.

The Chapa family in cooperation with the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health have established the Art Chapa Fund for Awareness of H-Pylori Induced Cancer. The purpose of
the fund is to raise awareness of the risk of the virus domestically but also in Mexico where the virus is believed to be responsible for frequent and devastating accounts of stomach and upper gastrointestinal cancer.

Contributions may be sent to the Art Chapa Fund for Awareness of H-Pylori Induced Cancer c/o the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, 1295 N. Martin Ave., Tucson, 85724
We also recently started a Facebook page which will be updated soon with fund raising activities and a store with all proceeds going to the fund.

Art Chapa

I was very surprised yesterday to find out that attorney and former Regent Art Chapa was seriously ill. This afternoon the news came down that he passed away. He left us way too young.

Chapa was a graduate of Salpointe Catholic High School and the University of Arizona. He did a stint in the Army, working in Army intellegence and at the Pentagon. He had an extensive involvement in our local and state politics. In addition to his time on the Board of Regents, he worked in the office of Morris Udall. He also was well known as a political fundraiser, raising money for Ed Pastor, Raúl Grijalva and numerous other candidates. His counsel was valued by numerous leaders in our community as well. Gabrielle Giffords sought him out when she was first elected and he served on her transition team.

His charity went beyond politics. I spoke to his good friend Dan Eckstrom yesterday and he said that when it came to anything that was good for kids, “he was always ready with a check.”

Chapa was a great community leader and he will be missed.