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Value Judgments

You know our soaring housing prices? Turns out many of us, thanks to our lousy wages, can't afford to buy a home anymore! Our little burg made its debut on the Forbes.com's Top 10 list of Most Overpriced Places in the U.S. last week, at No. 7.

The online mag notes that the median home price skyrocketed nearly 25 percent in the last year, to $248,000 in the first quarter of 2006, while paychecks have remained miserably low.

"Tucson residents are feeling the burn on both their skin and their wallets," notes reporter Lacey Rose. "While housing prices may still be low compared with the hottest areas of the country, the housing boom pushed them up considerably, according to the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce."

So the good news: If you're an out-of-town investor, you can still afford to sink money into a Tucson home. The bad news: If you're a Tucson resident, you probably won't even be able to afford rent soon.

Essex County, Mass., was the No. 1 on the Most Overpriced Places in the U.S. list, which also included San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Honolulu; Cambridge, Mass.; New York City; Oakland, Calif.; Boston; and Los Angeles. Why do all the other places sound so much cooler than Tucson? Then again, as legendary local punk band Bloodspasm once noted: We got cactus!


Hammered

Nimbus Brewery owner Jim Counts may have a sour taste in his mouth! Counts, who has been trying for more than a year to get the city to approve his plans for a downtown brewery and condo complex at Stone Avenue and Franklin Street, may have found himself squeezed right out of the project.

Members of the Tucson City Council's downtown subcommittee said they liked the latest plan from Town West Development Inc., which calls for 140 condos and a brew pub, but Counts now must show both the city and his potential partner the money in the next 90 days.

"It's now incumbent upon Nimbus to demonstrate it has the financial capacity to deliver on its part of the project," said Rio Nuevo boss Greg Shelko. "They're in the deal, and it's their deal to make. ... He has to move quickly."

Shelko also said the University of Arizona will have to come up with most of the funding for the proposed $350 million Rainbow Bridge to house the planned downtown Science Center.

"The Science Center is going to happen, I believe," Shelko said. "It's the University of Arizona's bridge, not the city's bridge. I don't believe there's mayor/council/city manager support to give them the kind of money they need to build the Rainbow Bridge."

Shelko suggested the UA scale back the plan to a less extravagant bridge and locate the Science Center closer to other proposed historical museums.


Stupid Turks

UA professor Elif Shafak, who teaches in the Near Eastern Studies Department, is facing up to three years in a Turkish prison for defaming "Turkishness" because she referenced the World War I-era genocide of an estimated 1 million Armenians in her novel The Bastard of Istanbul, a Turkish best-seller. The Los Angeles Times, which reports that 47 writers are facing similar charges, notes that the prosecutions are damaging Turkey's hopes of joining the European Union.


The Killers Among Us

The Tucson Police Department issued arrest warrants for Manuel Calletano Montano and Armando Ramirez in the shooting death a Quik Mart clerk last Saturday, July 15, as well as a warrant for 17-year-old Hector Taner Karaca for violating his parole on burglary charges and being wanted for questioning in the shooting. The suspects remained at large as of deadline.

The police announced they were forming a homicide task force of patrol officers, detectives and various specialists to hunt down the three men captured on surveillance video stealing beer shortly before Christopher Cottle, 50, was gunned down outside the convenience store at 3499 S. Wilmot Road.


Comic Genius

Congrats to "Doonesbury" creator (and longtime Range hero) Garry Trudeau, who popped into Tucson last week to receive the President's Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Vietnam Veterans of America, who were holding a convention here.

"Garry Trudeau has been one of the most influential artistic voices of the Vietnam War generation for more than three decades," VVA President John Rowan said in a statement. "We are honoring him for his entire body of work and for creating B.D., a character who resonates strongly with Vietnam veterans. B.D., like us, is a Vietnam veteran, and his service in the war--and as a National Guardsman in Iraq--continues to have an impact on his life."

More by Jim Nintzel

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