Thursday, April 7, 2016

Learn About the Pros and Cons Behind Prop. 123

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 1:00 PM

The Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization will host a debate about the fervently discussed, Gov. Doug Ducey-sponsored Proposition 123 this Saturday, April 9 at St. Odilia Catholic Church parish hall. 

The proposition, which voters will decide in a state-wide election on May 17, would "increase education funding by $3.5 billion over the course of 10 years by allocating money from the general fund and increasing annual distributions of the state land trust permanent funds to education," according to The Arizona Daily Star reports that the lawsuit was originally filed back in 2010 after the state "failed to adjust the base level per-pupil funding according to inflation as required by a 2000 voter-approved proposition." 

Supporters of Prop 123 say it would fulfill a long-overdue debt to Arizona schools, while opponents—notably led by Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWitt—say the state land trust money in question already belongs to the state's schools, according to the debate's press release. 

"The Debate on Prop. 123" on Saturday will feature four speakers—two arguing for the passing of Prop. 123, and two against it. Phoenix natives J.P. Twist, Let's Vote Yes Prop. 123 chairman, and Andrew Morrill, Arizona Education Association president, will argue in support of Prop. 123, while Tucson natives Morgan Abraham, No Prop. 123 chairman, and Brian Clymer, a local attorney, will argue against it. 

The debate starts at 3 p.m. and will run until 4:30 at 7570 N. Paseo del Norte. Learn more about Prop. 123 here

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tucson Might Look Into Mandatory Paid Sick Leave, But the Arizona Restaurant Association Isn't Happy About It

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 10:48 AM

If only it were as easy as hanging up your apron and taking a sick day. - CAGI
  • cagi
  • If only it were as easy as hanging up your apron and taking a sick day.
It's a scenario most of us are familiar with: you're working at a restaurant or two or three, trying to make enough money to get through college or life in general, and flu season hits. One of your coworkers is out of town, the other is also sick and another just won't answer their phone. Even if they did answer, it's not like you can afford to lose out on tip money for the day. So, you go in, try your best not to cough on someone's quesadilla and hope the six or so hours of sleep you get after is enough for your body to repair itself. Not only is this a germ nightmare when food is involved, it's also unfortunately common when you work for an employer that doesn't offer paid sick leave.

Well, during today's study session for Tucson's City Council, which begins at 1 p.m., officials will be looking into a proposal to change it so all employers will be required to offer paid sick leave. According to supporting materials for the day's session, four states and 20 cities already have put measures into place to ensure earned sick and safe time is offered. 

"The purpose of these laws is to assist all workers in addressing their own health and safety needs and the health and safety needs of their families by requiring employers to provide a minimum amount of earned sick time, including time for the care of family members. Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 23-364(I), the City of Tucson has authority to prescribe employee benefits related to earned sick time within the boundaries of Tucson." 

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Friday, January 2, 2015

TUSD Found in Violation of State Law

Posted By on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 at 5:11 PM

John Huppenthal, who is serving his final days as Superintendent of Public Instruction, notified Tucson Unified School District that it is in violation of A.R.S. §15-112.

The law in question prevents schools from promoting resentment towards a particular race among other, overthrowing the United States government, and advocating ethnic solidarity over treatment of people as individuals. If the TUSD is not found in compliance with the law by March 4, the Arizona Department of Education could decide to withhold 10 percent of the monthly apportionment of state aid each month until the violations are corrected.

From the press release:
“After a thorough review of materials from TUSD’s culturally relevant courses, I find that the district has failed to meet several provisions of the 2012 Settlement Agreement settlement and is once again in clear violation of A.R.S. §15-112. Furthermore, I am deeply concerned by the fact that the noncompliance appears to extend beyond classes taught from the Mexican American perspective and now also includes classes taught from the African American perspective.

“ADE staff has worked tirelessly to provide guidance and feedback as quickly as possible throughout the process so that district officials would have the resources needed to keep all culturally relevant courses in compliance with the law. This process has been made challenging by the fact that the district has failed to fully respond to several requests for information and has been inconsistent in its application of materials that have been provided.

“In issuing this finding before classes resume, I am hopeful that the district will take immediate action to comply with the law.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yahoo! Pits Tucson Against Phoenix For its Sick Pleasure

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The ongoing cultural war between Tucson and Phoenix has been taken from the streets to the failing web portal known as Yahoo!. The idea of having this conversation with a Phoenician makes the hair on the back of my neck stand. No one ever wins the discussion, but we do it anyway.

Worst picture for the Phoenix vs Tucson argument.
  • Worst picture for the Phoenix vs Tucson argument.

Leave it to Seattle author Christy Karras to write the Yahoo City Smackdown: Phoenix vs Tucson. Karras does a good job, and brings up some interesting facts that I didn't know about both cities (Did you know that Orange is the New Black's Taryn Manning is from Tucson? I fucking love that show). But was it too hard to find someone that actually resides in Arizona? 
Specialty Cuisine: Tucson is as close as you’ll get to really authentic Mexican food north of the border. The Mexican here isn’t Southwestern; it’s Sonoran. And it’s often dirt cheap. Try Paco’s, El Sur, El Güero Canelo, BK’s, or Poco & Mom’s. Try Sonoran hot dogs, a local specialty: They’re wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon, grilled, and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, and condiments ranging from mayonnaise to Jalapeño salsa. Olé!
She talks about the modern streetcar, San Xavier, Sonoran dogs and UA sports, of course. I would have mistaken her as a Tucsonan if I didn't know she was based out of the Emerald City. Honestly, she makes good arguments for both sides, and paints a pretty picture for the red headed step sister of the north.
Must-Do Nightlife: Bar-hopping along the Fourth Avenue Historic Shopping District (also home to an eclectic collection of locally owned shops and restaurants) is a time-honored tradition. Grab an “adult snowcone” at Che’s Lounge, pay homage to America’s largest tiki head at The Hut, or see a drag show at IBT’s. If nerd chic is your thing, head to Sky Bar: solar powered by day and an astronomy-themed bar by night, complete with telescopes.
Obviously, the Old Pueblo layeth the smacketh-down on Phoenix by taking 87% of the votes since Wednesday. Granted, there has been 1078 votes since writing this. We take our victories where we can get them.

Am I right, Tucson?

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Monday, June 9, 2014

In Which I Discuss The Nature Of Blogging

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM

  • Image courtesy of

I truly love the comments on my posts, including the ones from people who disagree with me. I often read them multiple times. Lots to learn from both sides of the argument. That being said, some people without much to say figure they're making a point by commenting about my failings rather than the issue at hand. Why did you write a post about someone else's post? Run out of things to say? All you do is trash BASIS. Don't you have anything better to do?

Then there are those commenters who figure it's really gonna hurt if they call me a lousy journalist, and, furthermore, The Weekly is really going downhill by letting this miserable excuse for a journalist write on its website.

Here's the thing. I'm not a journalist. Don't pretend to be. I'm a blogger. I write on a blog. There's not a clear, bright line between journalism and blogging, but they're two distinct forms, with some overlap. Here's how I see the basic difference.

Someone once said, "Journalism is the first rough draft of history." Well, blogging is the first rough draft of journalism.

What good journalists tend to do is gather a big stack of information on a subject they're writing about — pulling together background, attending events, doing interviews, that sort of thing — then figure out how to pare all that material down to a story of reasonable length that captures the subject as well as they can. Tomorrow, things may change, but the story is supposed to give the reader an honest look at what's happening on a given issue at a given moment.

What a blogger like me usually does is take one or two pieces of the data journalists find in their pile of information and write about it. There's no attempt to cover the topic thoroughly like a journalist does, though sometimes that happens. It's me saying, "Hmm, this looks interesting to me, you may be interested too," or "You may not have thought of this topic this way. Let me explain how I see it."

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Friday, March 28, 2014

UA Struggles to get Funding for Veterinary School

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 8:31 AM

PHOENIX — Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott) stood up on the Senate floor last week and attempted to get $4.2 million for the University of Arizona to start a veterinary program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Shortly after he finished talking, the nay votes overwhelmed the yeas, and the amendment was voted down.

In his office, Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) who has his two University of Arizona diplomas hanging behind his desk, remains on a mission. Early in the week Orr, a former associate professor at the university, thought he could get the funding from the House, despite the lack of success of veterinary appropriations in the Senate. But later this week, the House only agreed to give the university $3.5 million for Cooperative Extension support. Without the support of the House and Senate, Orr will have to come up with some other way to squeeze the money he wants to create the University of Arizona’s first veterinary school and surgical program — before the budget is finalized.

But the legislative appropriations game is only part of a bigger conversation surrounding the proposed veterinary program — one between two veterinarians, Dr. Shane Burgess, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dr. Wayne Anderson, of the Arrow Service Groups of Animal Hospitals, a co-op of veterinary hospitals in the Phoenix area.

Anderson says he has letters from over 30 private practices in the state, all of which state that they don’t support a veterinary school program for the university. But if you talk to Burgess (or Orr, or any other supporter of the program) they’ll tell you that the University of Arizona, as a land-grant university, has a responsibility to its citizens to create this program.

“We take this very seriously in my college; our job is to do whatever we can to benefit the state,” Burgess said. “My job is to do whatever I can to improve the state’s economy by improving the number of jobs, by improving the incomes of the private businesses, and by making our state a better place to live for everybody.” In Burgess’ view, that means giving Arizona students a better opportunity to become veterinarians — but with rising costs in tuition throughout the country, it also means creating a program that would minimize costs.

Currently, a program called the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education allows for Arizona students to pay in-state tuition to out of state schools in return of the students spending at least four years working in Arizona after they graduate.

“Even with that, a lot of veterinarians I know still leave with like a hundred grand in debt after veterinary school,” said Chris Cromwell said, a junior who is a veterinary sciences student at the University of Arizona. “Really, there in no cheap option for veterinary students in general, but especially veterinary students in Arizona.”

Most of the veterinary schools in the country are state schools and typically admit more in-state students than out of state students, which doesn’t leave much room for Arizona students like Cromwell.

To help Arizona students, Burgess has two ideas. One is to streamline the program, providing six different entry points into the program. The other is to use the resources that the university already has, including a distributive education model that would place students in clinics throughout the state.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Budget Negotiations Stall in Phoenix

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 5:41 PM

PHOENIX - In a rare move, 6 Republicans walked down to the pressroom in the League of Cities and Towns to express their dissatisfaction over the stalled budget negotiations on Wednesday.

The group of six, made up of Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson), Rep. Bob Robson (R-Chandler), Rep. Jeff Dial (R-Chandler), Rep. Douglas Coleman (R-Apache Junction), Rep. Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix) and Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek), had just rejected a counter-offer to their budget proposal because they felt it didn’t meet the state’s needs.

“I think when one side is reaching out, giving you the best offer, and the other side comes back and is playing games and basically says no to everything, then it’s a problem.” Dial said.

The negotiations have stalled because of the differences between the priorities of the six moderates and those of the conservative faction of the Republican Party. The priorities of the moderates is funding for Child Protective Services and K-12 education.

“I truly believe that education, like I say, is an economic development issue that makes us a stronger state, is business friendly and I’m ready to stand up for it.” Coleman said.

The group feels that the current budget doesn’t adequately reflect the needs of children in the state.

“All our budget focus has been around kids and what we believe are the priorities for the future of Arizona,” Carter said. “There are some things that we have seen in the budget that we like but when you look at the budget in totality there are critical items that are missing.”

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Friday, March 14, 2014

"Captain Al" Melvin Toeing the Line on Campaign Ethics

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 3:55 PM

On Sen. Al Melvin’s (R-Tucson) legislative bio, there is a sentence that directs readers to in order to contact him.

That website is a violation of campaign ethics according to Sen. Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix).

“It’s definitely illegal for him to utilize the state website to promote his gubernatorial campaign so it should definitely be taken down,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo plans to take the violation to Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) so that the ethics committee can review the issue and determine if sanctions need to be taken against Melvin.

Melvin has announced his campaign for governor of the state and if one were to go to the website, a prompt asking for a five dollar donation pops up immediately.

“I think it is not fair for the other candidates that are running for governor when you have a state paid, taxpayer paid website and you’re using it to promote your candidacy for governor,” Gallardo said.

Constantine Querard, Melvin’s campaign manager doesn’t think that the link is a big deal.

“It’s not a link it’s another way of reaching somebody if the business is non-legislative,” Querard said, “There’s no advocacy or using state resources to campaign or that certain aspect. It’s been there for six years and no one’s ever cared and quite frankly it’s operated by the senate staff.”

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Staff Pick

Family Fun Day: Exploring Frida's Winter Garden

This popular, fun-for-all-ages, family event features hands-on activities that explore the exhibit Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life.… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Mon., Jan. 16, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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