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Letcher, Kozachik destined for loggerheads?

The council has taken a break in the middle of a debate about whether to adopt City Manager Mike Letcher’s budget fix proposals.

Some initial thoughts on how it’s going so far:

• New Councilman Steve Kozachik appears unwilling to play the game the way the council’s been playing it the past few years. Normally, the city manager brings a proposal to the council and the council either votes it up or down or sends him and staff back to the drawing board with requested revisions, or their staple when the decision is difficult – more study. But Kozachik, rather than offer his opinion on Letcher’s budget cutting proposal, has decided to put his public administration degree to work and has pored over the budget and come up with his own suggestions for cuts. Bully for him. But Tucson is a strong city manager form of government. Micro managing from the dais is bound to put The Koz and Letcher at odds. So far, Letcher’s voice is sweet in discussing Kozachik’s numbers but his body language sure seems miffed.

• Did a new council member for Ward 5 get elected? Someone wake up Richard Fimbres and tell him there’s a council meeting going on. Fimbres is definitely not his predecessor, Steve Leal, who was famous for going on and on and on at council meetings back in the day. Fimbres doesn’t seem to have much to say, or much to add to the debate. Certainly he’s not overwhelmed, he’s the most experienced, government-wise, of all the council members. Maybe he’s just biding his time.

• Shirley Scott may finally have an ally. She and Kozachik seem to be in agreement on how to balance the budget. She’s always been the wild card on the council and almost always by herself. This will be an interesting alliance, if there is one, to watch.

• Mayor Walkup is having trouble keeping his cats herded. It’s a good thing this a study session with an open-ended “discussion or action” agenda item because the council is all over the place trying to score points and give key constituencies opportunities to pound the bully pulpit. Letcher and crew are having trouble following the debate and keeping track of what the council wants him to do.

• Council factions that seem to be developing: Kozachik and Scott (maybe); Uhlich, Romero and Fimbres; Glassman; Walkup (assuming single council members can be a coalition). The next year will be quite interesting to see how this council gets along and what policies come out of it. Without a ruling coalition, chaos may reign, as it appears to be at this study session.

Session is back on. More later.

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