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Green New World

Mayor Bob Walkup delivered his ninth State of the City address, embracing the new buzzword of "sustainability."

"The truth is that economic sustainability and environmental sustainability are equally important," Walkup said. "Both are required to achieve a sustainable Tucson. We must pursue policies that improve our economy and serve our environment at the same time. And we must do so regionally, strategically and comprehensively."

The Republican mayor, who won his third term after being opposed only by a Green Party candidate last November, called on the city to focus on five areas:

• The "sustainability plan" that adds more police and firefighters, fixes streets and invests in Parks and Rec;

• A new regional-development plan with other jurisdictions;

• A revamp of the city's land-use plan to encourage more infill;

• Better planning for water use in the future; and,

• A push for more green technology, including solar energy. Walkup also promised no new tax increases to balance Tucson's strained budget. That tough tax talk comes after Walkup led fights to increase sales taxes, trash fees, property taxes and water bills.

Walkup concluded his speech with a call for everyone to just get along.

"The business and environmental communities must come together," Walkup said. "Neighbors and developers must come together. We must move forward. I have laid out today the

opportunities I see to begin to bend old swords into plowshares and build a better future for all of Tucson."


Securing Critical Habitat

Our friends at CEDO, aka the Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Oceanos (or the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans), announced they had secured the title to their desert lab located in Rocky Point, Mexico.

The research facility, which has been studying the Gulf of California for more than a quarter-century from its headquarters in the booming Las Conchas neighborhood, had been threatened by nearby development. The title transfer caps a three-year battle over CEDO's future.

Peggy Turk Boyer, CEDO's executive director, said the organization still needs to raise about $100,000 to pay various legal bills.


Doldrum Index

So much for the holiday bump! The latest report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows December's sales-tax revenues were just about the same as December 2006, and $32.4 million below the original forecast.

Overall, in the first half of the fiscal year, the state is $393 million below projections. State lawmakers are now scrambling to come up with a plan to cover a projected shortfall that could range from $870 million to a billion dollars.

Other economic indicators: Employment is slightly up from last year, but there have been major job losses in the construction sector; home prices are continuing to decline; and business leaders remain pessimistic about conditions.


Sick and Tired

Feeling a little queasy? The Arizona Department of Health Services announced that the flu was now officially "widespread" in Arizona, with 954 confirmations that the bug had struck in 13 of the state's 15 counties. Pima County had only 63 cases, compared to Maricopa's 488 cases.

The morning daily also reports new cases of "winter vomiting disease" have hit Tucson.

Health officials recommend getting flu shots and frequently washing your hands.


Giant Victory

The New York Giants upset the New England Patriots' bid for a perfect 19-0 season with a 17-14 win at Super Bowl XLII, right up the street in Glendale. The big game brought a flood of well-heeled celebs such as Snoop Dogg, John Travolta and Paris Hilton to Arizona, where they hobnobbed at high-priced parties thrown across the Valley of the Sun.

In other sports news: The Arizona men's basketball team split a series out in Los Angeles. The Cats beat the USC Trojans, 80-69, but their four-game win streak came to an end when they fell to the UCLA Bruins, 82-60. At the end of the series, the Cats were 15-7 on the season, and 5-4 in Pac-10 play.

More by Jim Nintzel

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