The Steve and Kenny Show

In the movie “Carlito’s Way”, Al Pacino plays a former heroine dealer who is freed from prison on a technicality by his lawyer, Sean Penn – it is actually one of Penn’s best roles. Penn’s lawyer character also represents a mob figure, with whom he has been less than honest. Penn does a superb job of portraying his character’s descent from successful lawyer to a drug-crazed thug. At one point, Carlito (Al Pacino) is thinking out loud, and in reference to his lawyer friend he says, “You’re not a lawyer anymore, you’re a gangster now.”

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) plan and associated tax increase are coming up for a vote next month (click here for the website). An approximately thirty-five-member citizen advisory committee was formed. The committee included the usual suspects, plus the potential leaders of opposition groups; namely, Steve Farley (transit champion), and Carolyn Campbell (environmental champion). Unfortunately for the RTA, it did not include Ken O’Day, president of the Campbell Avenue Neighborhood Association.

Early on in the RTA “debates”, Steve took the lead in supporting the plan, while Ken took on the role of chief opponent. I went to an early one and watched Steve get frustrated at being challenged, and Ken get giddy when he thought he landed one on Steve. My fear was that these things would degenerate into a second rate “Steve and Kenny” drive time radio show. I was wrong. In a way, it’s worse.

I tuned in “Arizona Illustrated”, a locally produced television news magazine broadcast on the government network. The perennial host, Bill Buckmeister, had the Steve and Kenny Show on along with Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly. Both Steve and Ken were dressed nicely (Steve looked quite dapper). Smiles slammed onto their faces as they were introduced in turn. As they spoke, their deliveries were polished, well modulated, and almost always positive. Even when Steve called Ken a liar – of course, he did not use that term, he did it with a smile. They were smooth, long-winded, very up beat and positive. Poor Jim could hardly get a question in edgewise. In every way, they were like two opposing candidates running for office.


Boys, you’re not activists anymore, you’re politicians now.