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What About the Crime Victims?

We're tops in crime! Arizona's crime rates are the highest in the nation, according to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. Commission officials say that among the 50 states, Arizona ranks No. 1 for property crime and motor-vehicle theft, No. 5 for murder, No. 4 for burglary and No. 2 for larceny-theft. The good news: We're all the way down at No. 13 for violent crimes!

The report notes that the state's overall crime-index rate, based on criminal acts on a per-capita basis, dropped 17.3 percent between 1993 and 2003, but adds that the national decrease was almost 25 percent in the same period. Over the same period, Arizona incidents of murder increased by 11.3 percent, and rape increased by 12.9 percent.

Funding for law enforcement agencies has not kept pace with Arizona's population growth, and federal funds are on the decline, according to the report.

Tucson police suggest that when you remove beer theft, the rates drop considerably--which will no doubt relieve burglary victims around town.


What About the Children?

More depressing news from another survey: Arizona ranked 41st in the country in taking care of children, in the national Kids Count Data Book released by Baltimore's Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The good news: That's up from last year's ranking of 45th, as Arizona surpassed Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and West Virginia.

Among the worst indicators: Arizona (in a tie with Louisiana) leads the nation in the percentage of high school drop-outs, with 12 percent of kids not finishing school. The national rate was 8 percent.

The report also noted that only 23 percent of fourth-graders are proficient in reading, compared to 30 percent nationally (putting Arizona at 43rd); 16 percent of kids lack health insurance (48th); 22 percent of kids live in homes where the head of the household failed to finish high school (45th); and 36 percent of kids live in families where no parent has had year-round, full-time employment (41st).


What About the Pygmy Owl?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would seek to remove the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl from the Endangered Species List.

The tiny raptor's listing in 1997, forced by a lawsuit by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, dramatically slowed development on Tucson's northwest side and paved the way for Pima County to create the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Following a lawsuit by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, a federal appeals court ruled two years ago that the Fish and Wildlife Service erred in its original decision to list the owl as endangered. A federal judge in Arizona then ordered the federal agency to take another look at whether the owl, which has nearly vanished from Southern Arizona, is really in serious danger of extinction.

"Our re-evaluation indicates the Arizona population doesn't meet the court's standards," said Joy Nicholopoulos, the Fish and Wildlife Service southwest assistant regional director.


What About the Athletes?

Congrats to the 2005 inductees to the Pima County Hall of Fame, who were introduced at Tucson Electric Park last Sunday, July 31. The new members of the hall include: UA women's basketball coach Joan Bonvicini; boxing referee Bobby Ferrara, who has ref'ed fights by George Foreman, Boom Boom Mancini and Julio Cesar Chavez; Marana School District girls' basketball coach Mike Dyer; Sunnyside wrestling coach Bobby DeBerry; softball player/coach Stacy Iveson, who played for the UA and now coaches the Arizona Heat; bicyclist and El Tour de Tucson founder Richard DeBernardis; former Tucson Citizen sportswriter Asa "Ace" Bushnell; soccer coach Wolfgang Weber; rodeo photography Louise Serpa (who recently shot a beautiful portrait of TW newshound Cricket while visiting The Range's Flagstaff bureau); and Merle Miller, founder and first general manager of the Tucson Toros.

The induction ceremony is Saturday, Oct. 16, from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Cost of dinner is $45, and tickets can be had by calling the Hall of Fame at 296-3788. The Hall, in La Placita at 260 S. Church Ave., is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is $2 adults, $1 seniors, and free to kids under 14.

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