A good story—plus video—just ran in the Capitol Times on the subject of merit selection of judges—if we do say so ourselves.

The back-patting has nothing to do with any work done by me or Arizona Attorney Magazine. It arises from the fact the John Phelps, the State Bar of Arizona CEO, was interviewed and featured prominently in the article. In fact, he was videotaped for an interview. Take a look.

The story and photo are by Cronkite News Service writer Channing Turner. (You can read the story here.)

He reports that a compromise—SCR 1001—was hammered out that would allow the State Bar to continue to have a role—albeit diminished—in the selection of those who would serve on the judicial nominating commissions. Who in turn would recommend names of judicial candidates to the Arizona Governor. Who in turn would make a judge appointment.

The Bar’s role is attenuated, yes, but as John Phelps says, the alternative was that the Bar would have had no role to play in judicial selection. Given that Arizona’s attorneys are the ones who interact most regularly with state court judges, that would have been an unfortunate result.

The compromise will head to the ballot for an up or down vote by Arizonans.

As I said, the Cronkite reporter’s story was a good one. But inquiring viewers have to ask: As he taped and interviewed, did he spy anything out of the ordinary in John Phelps’s office? Did anything surprising just beyond John’s right shoulder catch the reporter’s eye?

Was that … a crown?

Hmmm. As John Phelps was communicating the position that the Bar is not elitist and out of touch, there sat a bejeweled crown on his credenza. (OK, it’s a “cabinet,” but “credenza” sounds more elitist.)

Well, hold up. I am not here to blow the lid off a Bar that is a mini-Versailles in the desert. It is not. There is a perfectly good explanation. Honest.

As the Royal WeddingTM approached last Friday, some unnamed souls thought it would heighten the revelry at the Bar’s Board of Governors meeting held the same day to offer the headgear—temporarily—to the Bar’s own President, Alan Bayham Jr. Kind of Will + Kate + State Bar.

John Phelps, kingmaker, speaks, as Alan Bayham abdicates.

At the appointed moment, John Phelps did indeed offer Alan the crown. He donned it in good spirits, but swept it off his royal head before I was able to snap a photo—though I did manage to catch Alan setting it down on the Board table. Uneasy lies the head, y’know.

And no. No one said, Let them eat cake.

We’ll have more on SCR 1001 as it moves toward the November ballot.

John Junker (Tom Tingle/AP)

How long, do you think, it will take to get Fiesta Bowl activity back to business as usual?

  • A week
  • A month
  • A year
  • We’re back now. Nothing’s changed.

I leave you to vote silently. I have my own opinion.

This week’s series of stories by the Arizona Republic is a feather in its cap, really excellent reporting. It is likely, in fact, that some journalism awards may be in the offing for the reporters and editors involved. Congratulations to Craig Harris and everyone else over there.

But long-term change at the Bowl, or in the bowl structure overall? Hmmm. Our answer is likely to come at the Altoids Hold-Your-Breath Bowl.

The possibility for long-term change dropped like a poorly played ball when it was disclosed that top BCS official Bill Hancock (and other BCS officials) had himself received gifts from the Fiesta and Orange Bowls. Suddenly his tough talk morphed into words of caution and not pass-rushing to judgment.

Hancock’s earlier warnings, uttered just days earlier, that they “take these allegations seriously” seem like ancient history today.

Of course, a criminal investigation is a different matter. It is likely that this much smoke will lead to at least a small fire of an indictment or two.

But the entirely predictable lesson that we—and other Bowl executives—are learning is that the now-disavowed business practices worked—and worked well—for a really long time.

It reminds you of a decades’ worth of bad mortgage-lending practices. Even though they were later revealed to be corrosive, there is no denying that they made billions of dollars for many people for a long time. So which lesson do you think the industry will remember? Corrosive? Or billions?

So now we move from Junk Bonds to Junk Sports.

A pretty good roundup of the Fiesta Bowl scandal appears in yesterday’s Arizona Capitol Times. Among the facts regarding the 276-page investigative report, the following line struck me: “[T]he investigation report said now-ousted bowl chief John Junker thought it prudent to cozy up to elected officials.”

Yes, hubris and overreaching appear to have caught up with Junker and others. But his oh-so-prudent decision to cozy up to elected officials? That appears to have been a master-stroke, and exactly the uncomfortable factoid that will make lawmakers and bowl executives charge after these improprieties with less than full-throated zeal.