Tom Horne Drops the Ball. The Star Stupidly Blames the City Council.

By Tom Prezelski

Cross-Posted from Rum, Romanism and Rebellion

This week, there was a settlement in the State of Arizona's case
against two Tucson Transportation Department supervisors who
misappropriated at least $83,000 in public resources for personal gain.
They will each have to pay just $5000 to the city.

This result is a failing by state, rather than city, officials. This fact cannot be allowed to get in the way of The Arizona Daily Star's usual narrative about the city, so the once-great morning daily chose to write about something else entirely.

First,
they create a controversy where none exists. The story states that
"officials were divided on whether the restitution is adequate," but the
two quotes which follow do not support this statement. Councilman
Kozachik is quoted calling the settlement "a lousy deal," while other
city officials, including Mayor Rothschild, are quoted saying that they
did their "due diligence." The two sentiments are not at all contrary,
so it is hard, at least from what is written, to see evidence of
this reported disagreement.

Next, they are dismissive of those who point out that this was the Attorney General's responsibility. The Star
writes that city officials "said state prosecutors and the courts were
responsible," as if this notion was merely someone's opinion. The
equivocation in this regard is particularly troubling.

The
prosecution of official corruption is the province of the Attorney
General. This is well established in statute and by precedent. This is
not someone's opinion, or something someone "said." It is a
well-established fact and should be reported as such.

City
officials did their job by identifying the problem and handing the
evidence to the Attorney General's office. Their responsibility ended
there. It is Tom Horne's office that deserves the blame for the
inadequate response. The real scandal here, the one that is missed by
the Star's reporters in their eagerness to toss red meat to the likes of Jon LoGiudice, is what this says about what has happened to the Attorney General's office.

Tom-hornDuring Horne's scandal-plagued tenure,
he has packed his office with political hacks, then made unnecessary
and counterproductive reorganizations of his department to make room for
even more political hacks. His legal problems have been more than a
minor distraction, as his staff have been made to deal with them on taxpayer time.
It should come as no surprise that his office is no longer equipped to
aggressively pursue this sort of case. The divisions that handle fraud,
civil rights, and consumer issues have been eviscerated as well. All of
this is the product of having an Attorney General whose priority is
grandstanding rather than actually doing the work of the people of
Arizona.

Part of the settlement requires that each of the two
defendants pay $1000 into a fund that the Attorney General maintains to
pay for efforts to prosecute racketeering. This is ironic considering
that Tom Horne's office barely does such cases any more.

There are plenty of things for which the City deserves criticism. In this case, however, the Star's
very pointed reporting is, as it is too often, misdirected. Once again,
in their enthusiasm to make the Council look bad, they have ignored the
real story.

0 responses to “Tom Horne Drops the Ball. The Star Stupidly Blames the City Council.

  1. David Safier

    Thanks for the clarification, Tom. The Star’s latest guy on the city beat, Darren DaRonco, doesn’t look to be as vile as his predecessor Rob O’Dell, but he’s definitely continuing the Star tradition when it comes to coverage of Tucson government — accuse first, partially explain later. It almost makes you think the orders come from higher up the food chain.