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What The Range Did on Summer Vacation

"Start spreading the news!" Guided by Zagat, The Range has "all-out adventure" exploring the "concrete jungle" of New York City ("just a cocktail party on the street"). Warwick Hotel (built by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst "for his paramour" in 1926) delivers "midtown Manhattan luxury" at "wallet-busting prices." Taping of The Daily Show reveals "fiendish brilliance" of Jon Stewart despite "mind-numbing" pre-show wait. SpamAlot is "sacrilegious but delicious" Broadway musical send-up by way of Holy Grail. Day game at Yankee Stadium offers "slow-moving pitchers' duel" in "miserable August humidity." Dinner at "hidden treasure" Bianca with "witty" TW film critic James DiGiovanna is "Italian delight." Improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre is "sadly lame" and "really not that funny." "Mouth-watering" brisket at Virgil's BBQ nearly as good as "senses-shattering" Chinese at Shun Lee. Special thanks to Jack V. for the "stunning" view from SpongeBob SquarePants' 40th-story HQ in Times Square.


State of Emergency

Gov. Janet Napolitano declares "state of emergency" in four counties because feds have "failed to secure" U.S.-Mexico border, leaving state threatened by "violent gangs, coyotes and other dangerous criminals." Coming three days after similar move by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, declaration allows for $1.5 million for Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties to counter "devastating" illegal immigrant tide. Fans say Napolitano takes "bold action"; foes say "too little, too late."


Pygmy Power

Congressman Raul Grijalva writes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to "express my disappointment" with "misguided proposal" to remove cactus ferruginous pygmy owl from endangered species list. Suggests feds made decision "based on political expedience" and "special interests" while "ignoring science." Calls for "public hearings" so "constituents may weigh in."


Cult Hit

Attorney General Terry Goddard uses new state law to take on "crazy religious cult" that has "fleeced" school district in Colorado City on Utah border. In court filing, Goddard accuses Colorado City School District officials of "gross fiscal mismanagement." Particularly bizarre: The purchase of "210 Cessna airplane for $200,000," making the Colorado City "only Arizona school district that owns an airplane." Plane, along with religious sect's leader, is currently in "undisclosed location."

Other financial hoodoo: six-figure "landscaping contracts"; nepotism in hiring of district governing board member as pilot for Cessna "at $50 an hour"; and "excessive spending" on "travel, cellular phones, computer equipment, credit cards (and) vehicles."

Sect members, known for taking multiple and "frequently underage" wives, say they're all about "family values," "religious freedom" and "Second Amendment rights."


You've Got Busted!

TPD unveils "E-citation pilot project" that allows motorcycle officers "to issue citations" from new gizmo "similar to a personal digital assistant or PDA." New technology promises that "citations are legible" while "eliminat(ing) data entry ... and eliminat(ing) the need to store paper copies of citations."

Meanwhile, cops are keeping "sharp eye" on school zones as children return to classroom. "Fast-driving assholes" are urged to ease off gas pedal.


Over a Barrel

"Drivers get no break" as gas prices "hit a new high" in Tucson; AAA Arizona reports gallon of unleaded costs $2.4111 in Pima County (up 5.8 cents from last week). Oil prices climb to record $66 per barrel, but "consumer demand continues to rise," leading AAA Arizona spokesgal Yvette Lopez to predict oil and gasoline prices "racing to new record highs." Lopez warns retail prices "could rise another 5 cents."

AAA advice: "Carpool, ride the bus, bike or walk" to save gas. Also: Stay clear of flooded washes.


Solid State

"Preliminary" numbers from Joint Legislative Budget Committee show state ending with "big-ass" surplus revenues "in the range" of $600 million. Total FY '04-'05 general fund revenues: $7.94 billion, up 18 percent from previous year ("largest percentage increase in 30 years") and $828.9 million over original '05 projection. Big jump in sales taxes (11.1 percent), income taxes (28.9 percent) and corporate income taxes (42.1 percent) over '04 revenues.

Revenue growth driven by "brisk real estate market," "stock market capital gains," "rising dividends" and "improved corporate and small business profitability."

More by Jim Nintzel

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