The move will allow work to move forward on building a new Fourth Avenue underpass, which in turn paves the way for the ongoing downtown makeover that will include two-way traffic on Congress Street and Broadway Boulevard, retail and residential development on Congress, a UA science center and a big honkin' bridge over I-10.
Council members José Ibarra and Steve Leal voted against the move. Leal says the Greyhound station should remain downtown as a vital element to a multi-modal transportation hub that includes the recently remodeled Amtrak depot.
Anti-billboard activist Mark Mayer accused Republican council members of secretly arranging the deal to allow more billboards to be built at the South Tucson location.
Fish and Wildlife estimates that fewer than 50 owls are left within the species' Southern Arizona range.
"We wish these homebuilders fanatics would take a break here and realize the owl is endangered because of their agenda," says Daniel Patterson of the Center for Biological Diversity, which first filed suit to list the owl as endangered. "If anything, the owl is even more endangered now because they fight the recovery efforts every day."
Critics of the plan, including City Council members Steve Leal and José Ibarra, question Keene's math, saying the cost of hiring more cops and firefighters, paving more streets, managing more parks and providing other city services may exceed the new revenue, meaning that lower-income Tucsonans will be subsidizing wealthier foothills residents.
Those foothills residents have traditionally resisted annexation efforts, but now the city has so much to offer them: Our cops investigate 10 percent of all burglaries! We're charging for garbage collection! We'll barely raise your property taxes!
In honor of the annexation effort, The Range officially launches our first-ever reader contest: What should the city's slogan be as it tries to sell foothills residents on the idea of signing an annexation petition? The winning entry will receive six general admission tickets to a buck-beer Tucson Sidewinders game, co-sponsored by your friends at the Tucson Weekly. E-mail your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
To force a recall election next spring, backers of the effort would have to collect as many as 17,515 valid signatures, depending on the candidate. That's a lot of work to try to knock out council members Ronstadt and Dunbar, who face re-election next year anyhow.
The good news: State revenues were a lot higher than anticipated by state number crunchers last year.
According to the most recent report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, total tax receipts for May were $70 million above a January estimate and more than $53 million more than the state collected in May 2003. Overall, the state collected $505.9 million more through the first 11 months of this fiscal year than it did in 2003.
The additional dollars will trigger $102 million in spending for various areas, including school repair and child care programs, as well as contributions to the state's budget stabilization fund.