Although Democrats have high hopes, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said he has no specific time frame for a decision about whether to get into the U.S. Senate race.

"I want to see what Gabby (Giffords) is going to do, if she's going to do anything," he said. Although some of those leaning on him to run are Giffords supporters, Carmona said he still does not have a clear answer about what lies ahead in her political career as she continues to recover from the Jan. 8 shooting.

Carmona, who had to make many a split-second decision as a member of the Pima County Sheriff's Department SWAT team, is taking this one slow.

He said he's been buried with political advice in the past month from numerous elected officials, as well as state and national politicos.

Carmona said part of the holdup is he hadn't considered a career as an elected official, noting he's been relatively apolitical since his return to Tucson. What's more, he hasn't been a straight-down-the-line partisan, having supported both sides of the political spectrum. "This is new territory for me, and I'm really struggling with this," he said.

If he needs help figuring out which way to jump, we'd suggest he not call on former state Democratic chairman Don Bivens.

Bivens, who spent four years boosting other Democratic candidates for office, announced last week he will become one himself, running for the same Senate seat Carmona is pondering.

One is a lonely number

Former Republican state Sen. Jonathan Paton challenged local Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers to a debate about Rio Nuevo.

The Democrats portrayed the Rio Nuevo board, on which Paton sits, alongside Republican mayoral candidate Rick Grinnell, as a do-nothing board - which got Paton's hackles all busy.

Rogers, who is seldom at a loss for a sharp retort, declined to take the bait. "I'm not an expert on Rio Nuevo," he demurred, suggesting Republican Councilman Steve Kozachik fill in for him, since Kozachik has also raised questions about the board's efficacy.

Paton said he was disappointed that Rogers wouldn't go one-on-one, but plans to go forward anyway - possibly with a paper cardboard cutout of his missing opponent.

Since that sounds more of a soliloquy than a debate, he'll have no excuses if he doesn't win.

In the eye of the beholder

Back in August, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry decided it was time for a public art project in the lobby of the county administration building. In particular, he wanted a piece by glass artist Tom Philabaum.

He got a bit of a push-back from reps of the Tucson Pima Arts Council, who noted they prefer awarding art commissions through a competitive process. They suggested that while Philabaum is clearly a significant artist, there are other local glass artists as well who would appreciate the opportunity.

Huckelberry said that since the county has a policy of steering 1 percent of a construction project for public art, and since the renovations of the county administration complex have run about $7 million, he's still recommending Philabaum get the contract for $70,000. Why? He's Tucson-based and he has experience doing the kinds of glass installations that Huckelberry said will work best.

As the old saying goes, whether the glass is half-full or half-empty depends on whether you're pouring or drinking.

Grijalva at music forum

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva will be a featured presenter at the Future of Music Policy Summit this week in D.C. You can put away the earplugs. He promises he won't sing - although you know how reliable political promises can be.

Grijalva will be part of a panel discussion looking at current trends in the industry. He'll be the Democratic representative in a conversation that will also include band members from Ozomatli and Cheap Trick, as well as less flashy representatives from the U.S. Copyright Office and the Federal Communications Commission.

Grijalva said he plans to make use of the pun about how music can be an instrument for change.

But musician he is not. He tried the harmonica in high school and envies those who can tickle the saxophone, but said he's not only tone-deaf, he sings like a worse version of Bob Dylan.

The future of music is safe, apparently, as long as he limits himself to the legislative stage.

Contact reporter Rhonda Bodfield at or 573-4243.