by David Safier
It looks like Sen. Al Melvin is a staunch defender of the First Amendment — except in restaurants in his district.
The Republican lawmaker, who was just re-elected to a second term representing Legislative District 26, tried to bully an Oro Valley restaurant into getting rid of a Tucson Weekly rack that makes the paper available to patrons.
We're told that Melvin entered the diner last week, ordered a cup of coffee and asked to speak with the owner. When she came over to find out what was on his mind, he began complaining that the Weekly was a leftist paper that was too critical of Republicans, and that he wanted the rack gone.
The owner of the restaurant politely declined to get rid of the paper, so Melvin paid for his coffee, skipped his breakfast and said he wouldn't be coming back.
From what I heard from one person who was in the restaurant, Melvin didn't pull the owner aside and talk with her quietly. He berated her in front of all the customers, then stormed out. Classy.
So this is how things are supposed to be in Melvin's world. Shouting your hatred of the President is fine. So is calling Democrats traitors. But allow a free weekly newspaper Melvin doesn't like to offer its wares in your establishment, and expect the Wrath of Al to come down upon you.
I write an occasional column in The Explorer, a free weekly carried in LD-26. I wonder if Melvin will insist my half page is ripped out before it's offered on news stands.