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Full Speed Ahead

The Regional Transportation Authority Board finally settled on a $2.1 billion, 20-year transportation plan that's now making the rounds of local jurisdictions for rubber-stamping. RTA officials hope to ask voters to approve the plan--and the half-cent sales tax to pay for it--next May.

Still in the plan: a six-lane widening of Grant Road between Swan and Oracle roads, and the urban streetcar that would run between University Medical Center and Rio Nuevo.

Out of the plan: the $200 million extension of Barraza-Aviation Parkway from Alvernon Way out to Valencia and Interstate 10. Quick: Call your state lawmakers to see if they'll pay for that one!

Never really considered for the plan: A Snyder Road bridge across Sabino Creek. The decision to leave out the bridge prompted some area residents, who evidently never noticed the lack of a bridge when they bought their homes, to complain to the Arizona Daily Star that they now had no choice but to launch a campaign against the proposal. In this town, that may be enough to kill it!


The Bush Slump

A lousy week for the Bush administration: Conservative opposition forced him to abandon plans to install his pal Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court in favor of a proven right-wing judge, Samuel Alito; the death toll of U.S. servicemen topped 2,000 in Iraq; oil companies reported record profits after jacking up gas prices; and, of course, I. Lewis Libby, right-hand man to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald on charges of lying and obstructing justice.

Sen. John McCain, on a swing through town to endorse City Council candidates Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar, said that he hadn't seen the indictment of Libby, but reminded the media that Libby was innocent until proven guilty.

On the other side of the partisan aisle, Congressman Raul Grijalva blasted the White House.

"This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information," Grijalva said in a statement. "This case is about how the White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president."

Cats Win!

The UA Wildcats finally managed to win a Pac-10 game, defeating Oregon State 29-27 behind freshman QB Willie Tuitama, who made his first career start. In a reversal of the typical Wildcat luck this season, Oregon State had seven turnovers. Junior Michael Johnson was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for pulling in three interceptions and making nine tackles, while junior Nick Folk was Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week for his outstanding punting performance.

Could this be the start of an Arizona surge? Find out this Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Wildcats face No. 7 UCLA in the homecoming game at 4 p.m. at Arizona Stadium.

Spare a Can?

The cupboards are bare at the Community Food Bank. The organization hasn't been this low on food in 10 years, according to Food Bank Development Director Sherie Steele, who blames the shortage on resources being shipped out of state to help hurricane victims while the busy season for the Food Bank is just starting up.

Give cash or food to the Food Bank by calling 622-0525.

We're in the Money

Capitol number-crunchers are predicting, based on first-quarter performance, that the state could end the fiscal year with a $357 million surplus. That's up from the $31 million they predicted when the budget was passed.

The surplus is on top of the state's plan to sock away $417 million in the rainy-day fund, as well as a possible $61 million shortfall in health and education spending.

The Range imagines Gov. Janet Napolitano and state lawmakers will just want to throw all that money onto a bed and roll around on it together!

Stoeffler Stuffs It

Arizona Daily Star Publisher/Editor David Stoeffler called it quits after less than six months at the helm of Tucson's morning daily. Stoeffler also announced he would be taking a leave of absence from his job as vice president of news for Lee Enterprises, the Star's new owners.

In an e-mail to Star staffers, Stoeffler said he was contending with "minor health issues and my separation from Rose, my wife of 27 years."

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