Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We, Like, Kick Ass or Something

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 3:53 PM

As loyal readers of this blog know ... the boss, the ad director and I headed to beautiful Portland, Ore., last week for the annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. A good, educational time was had by all, and while we were there, we picked up some awards that are worth noting.

In the annual AltWeekly Awards contest, the Tucson Weekly nabbed four awards—putting us among the Top 10 alternative newsweeklies in the country in terms of the number of awards won.

Tom Danehy won first place in the Column (less than 60,000 circulation) category for “A Jury’s Strange Decision May Let a Murderer Back on the Streets in a Decade” (March 2, 2006), “The UA Showed a Lack of Heart When It Revoked Sarah Low’s Music Scholarship” (April 27, 2006) and “An NCAA Committee Shows That Efforts in the Name of Gender Equity Can Go Too Far” (Dec. 21, 2006). This is the second time in three years that Danehy has earned an AAN award for his column.

Margaret Regan and John Peck each won second-place awards, in the Immigration (less than 60,000 circulation) and Food Writing/Criticism (less than 60,000 circulation) categories. Regan took her third AltWeekly award in the last five years for “Back to Mexico” (Sept. 7, 2006). Peck earned his first AltWeekly award for “The Modern Maitre d’” (Jan. 26, 2006), “Cheese With Care” (July 13, 2006) and “In the Kitchen” (Dec. 14, 2006).

Finally, we won third place in the Web Site Design category (less than 60,000 print circulation) for the second year in a row.

Congrats to Tom, Margaret, John Peck and everyone who contributes to our Web site, from John Banks and the good folks at DesertNet to corporate Web dude Sean Fitzpatrick to the loyal commenters on our blog.

For more on the awards, click on his here link.

Hey, Christian Drivers

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 8:16 AM

The Vatican has issued "Ten Commandments for Drivers."

This reminds me of the time my friend flipped off a nun while driving. I wonder what that means for my friend's soul.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

And Speaking of Garbage: No More Water Fees

Posted By on Sat, Jun 16, 2007 at 5:22 PM

You may recall how we all kicked and protested when we heard about the $14 garbage pickup fee. (I recall vividly.) And how one politician practically put her whole platform on removing that fee.

Well, we still have the fee and if the city of Tucson has its way, we'll have more soon enough. Those of us who live in urban infill will be supporting others in far flung places.

Get a petition and get it signed by like minded folks. Fight back! No more water fees!  The deadline is drawing near to get signatures.

Merry Pranksters

Posted By on Sat, Jun 16, 2007 at 9:56 AM

The Yes Men are back!

The political pranksters—former Tucsonan Andy Bichlbaum and his partner in crime, Mike Bonanno—have slipped into conferences and onto cable news networks posing as representatives of the likes of the World Trade Organization and Dow Chemical.

Some of their adventures were chronicled in The Yes Men, a hilarious documentary that’s available at Casa Video. The giant inflatable penis/television monitor that inflates at a textile conference is worth the price of admission alone.

The Yes Men’s latest prank involved crashing a Canadian oil expo as alleged ExxonMobil bigwigs and announcing that the company had found a way to extract a new fuel source from dead bodies.

Their description of the event:

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC) representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000 attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, who is also the chair of the study.

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of people who die into oil.

“We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said "NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left."

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit "commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who, still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the rationale for Vivoleum.

"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells. Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects every year. That's only going to go up—maybe way, way up. Will it all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

The Gas and Oil Expo folks responded with a very amusing press release.

See Ya in Court

Posted By on Sat, Jun 16, 2007 at 9:49 AM

Wal-Mart says it's looking out for Tucsonans this year with the Consumer Choice initiative, which--if passed by voters on the November ballot--would bust the city’s ban on grocery sales at Big Box stores. Good ol’ Wally-Mart says it’s unfair that the city is blocking it from undercutting grocery stores that have union workers and pay decent wages.

We’re hearing whispers from City Hall that the proposed proposition may face a legal challenge, because it involves zoning law, which isn’t subject to the initiative process.

Pete Zimmerman, the political consultant handling the initiative drive, says he thinks the effort is on solid legal ground.

“I’m not a lawyer, but our lawyers think otherwise,” says Zimmerman, who remains hopeful that his signature gatherers will have enough petitions to make the ballot. “We’re operating from a standpoint that this is a restraint-of-trade issue.”

More on the initiatives in next week’s Skinny.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 10:42 AM

Had to laugh today at Pima County Democratic Party chairman Vince Rabago's explanation of why the Democrats didn't field a mayoral candidate.

As Rob O'Dell of the morning daily reports:

Rabago said there's not as much energy in this race as in 2005 for the Democrats because the party now has a solid majority on the council, whereas in 2005 they were the minority with three seats out of seven on the council.

There is also not one big, driving emotional issue this year, Rabago said, unlike 2005 when outrage from the raising of the garbage fee inflamed the passions of voters.

Last time we checked, that garbage fee was still in place, despite the fact that, as Rabago points out, the Democrats now control the council and the 2005 candidates, Nina Trasoff and Karin Uhlich, railed against it. Funny how that's no longer an issue, isn't it?

Budget Breakthrough

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2007 at 10:41 AM

While state lawmakers have gone home for the weekend, leadership may have finally made a budget deal.

We're told that House Speaker Jim Weiers, who had tried to push through $60 million in tax cuts in the House budget plan, is settling for about $3 million. If that's the case: What a victory! I'm sure the members of his caucus are happy they stuck around for the last month while that was carved out.

Lawmakers will have a chance to approve the package when they get back to work next week.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And They're Off!

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2007 at 2:43 PM

The roster is finally set for this year’s city elections with yesterday's deadline to file petitions.

Mayor Bob Walkup’s moderate ways appears to have won over Democrats, seeing how they were unable to scare up a candidate to challenge him. And, sadly, Bruce Gerowitz, who sells hot dogs outside of a Speedway strip club, decided against running as an independent.

So that leaves Dave Croteau, a Green who made the legalization of pot the centerpiece of his campaign against Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, as the only guy who’s willing to take on Walkup.

We’ll just go ahead and congratulate Bob on his re-election right now.

But, with the retirement of City Council members Carol West and José Ibarra, we will see some changes by the end of year.

In Ward 1, where Ibarra is stepping down after three terms of steady political self-destruction, the GOP failed to field a candidate. That means the primary, which will be limited to Ward 1 Democrats, will decide the race between Regina Romero and Ken Green.

Romero has the Grijalva political machine at her back; hubby Ruben Reyes works as an aide to Raul.

Green is a pastor and president of the A Mountain Neighborhood Association.

Over in Ward 2, where Carol West is retiring after two terms, we’ve got a Democratic primary as well: Rodney Glassman vs. Robert Reus.

Though he’s just turned 29, Glassman already has a lengthy political resume, including a stint as an aide in Grijalva’s congressional office.

Reus, who owns an art shop on Fourth Avenue, doesn’t have the same kind of political connections. The thrust of his campaign revolves around changing the current form of government to give the mayor more power and go for an alderman-style council—a topic he has often brought up at council meetings and on his public-access TV show.

Even Reus admits that he’s the underdog in the race because Glassman has more name ID, more organization and more money.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Lori Oien in the citywide general election. Oien, a native Tucsonan, has been active in the Bear Canyon Neighborhood Association.

Finally, in Ward 4, Councilwoman Shirley Scott is facing a challenge from Republican Dan Spahr as she campaigns for a fourth term. Spahr, a financial planner, is making his first run for public office.

“I have always, my entire life, been a servant,” says Spahr, who moved to Tucson about four years ago. “I’ve always been doing things to help out other people. This is next step in the journey."

Spahr says he wants to develop a “faith-based” effort that will team up the police and church groups in the fight against crime. “I call it “servant evangelism,” he says.

We’ll tell you more about the candidates in next week’s Skinny, but if you want to see them for yourselves, they’ll all be on display at a Nucleus Club form at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Viscount Suites, 4855 E. Broadway Blvd.

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Lamplight Reading Series

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@ Casa Libre en la Solana First Sunday of every month and First Sunday of every month. Continues through July 7 228 N. Fourth Ave.

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