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MONDAY, JUNE 30

MUCKRAKER'S CHALLENGE! Candidates for the Pima County Board of Supervisors turn in their campaign-finance reports reflecting contributions and spending through May 31. Incumbents have a big advantage over challengers: In District 1, incumbent Republican Ann Day has raised $63,816, compared to GOP challenger Joe Higgins' $5,039; in District 2, incumbent Ramón Valadez had raised $34,712, compared to Democratic challenger Robert Robuck's $1,465; in District 3, incumbent Sharon Bronson had raised $126,033, compared to Democratic challenger Donna Branch-Gilby's $22,838 and Republican challenger Barney Brenner's $22,962.

Find out more about the campaign-finance reports at ScrambleWatch.com, where you can dig through online reports and win big prizes as part of our first Muckraker's Challenge!


TUESDAY, JULY 1

MEET THE NEW BOSS: It's the first day at work for new Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen, who takes the reins of the largest school district in Southern Arizona. Celania-Fagen replaces Roger Pfeuffer, a longtime TUSD administrator who came out of retirement to run the district in 2004.


WEDNESDAY, JULY 2

POINTS OF INTEREST: Gov. Janet Napolitano tells Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services that she didn't want speeders caught by the state's upcoming photo-radar enforcement on highways to get points on their driver's licenses, because it would create too many administrative headaches and cost too much to enforce.

"The idea is that people will be more inclined simply to pay the tickets if they're not getting points," Napolitano says.

The photo-radar program, which will include 50 fixed cameras and 50 mobile vans, is expected to raise $90 million this year through fines of $165 per ticket.


THURSDAY, JULY 3

BEE'S BUSH BREAKFAST BASH: The Range gets an invitation to a little breakfast bash being thrown for Senate President Tim Bee this month. The guest of honor: None other than President George W. Bush. But we're having trouble coming up with the $10K we need for a VIP reception and photo at the Friday, July 18, fundraiser, which is being held at a private home. We're not even sure we can afford the $1,000 ticket to the breakfast.


FRIDAY, JULY 4

KOLBE BREAKS UP WITH BEE! A hat tip to fellow Wick News Service reporter Bill Hess of the Sierra Vista Herald, who breaks the news that former District 8 Congressman Jim Kolbe will no longer be actively campaigning for Republican Tim Bee, who is challenging Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Although Kolbe declines to tell Hess why he's breaking up with Bee, the move comes one week after the Senate president cast the deciding vote to give voters the option of putting a ban on gay marriage in the Arizona Constitution. Kolbe, who is openly gay, had been an honorary co-chair of the Bee campaign.


SATURDAY, JULY 5

KIDDIE-PORN KINGPIN: America's Most Wanted features a segment on former Tucsonan David Creamer, who fled our fine city after being hit with a 23-count federal indictment that included charges of peddling kiddie porn, transportation of obscene materials and money laundering. Creamer ran a lucrative CD-ROM distribution outfit that federal authorities say dealt in images of child porn and bestiality. He vanished in December 1997 after failing to show up for a pre-trial urine drop. Creamer is now on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 10 Most Wanted list.


SUNDAY, JULY 6

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES: Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry appeared on CBS' Face the Nation to complain that running for president has changed Republican John McCain. Kerry, who had talked with McCain about taking a vice presidential spot on the 2004 Democratic ticket, said: "John McCain has changed in profound and fundamental ways that I find personally really surprising, and, frankly, upsetting. It is not the John McCain as the senator who defined himself, quote, as a maverick. ... This is want-to-be president John McCain. The result is that John McCain has flip-flopped on more issues than I was even ever accused possibly of thinking about."


DATELINE MARS: WHAT'S UP WITH THE PHOENIX

There's trouble on Mars! UA Lunar and Planetary Lab scientists warn us that the plucky Phoenix Mars Lander has a short circuit in one of its frammistats.

The electric trouble means that the next sample delivered to the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, which is designed to bake and analyze soil and ice, could be the final chance to get readings from the TEGA instrument.

"Since there is no way to assess the probability of another short circuit occurring, we are taking the most conservative approach and treating the next sample to TEGA as possibly our last," said Peter Smith, who is heading up the Phoenix mission.

Scientists had hoped to get eight samples out of the TEGA, which has been used once on the mission. The extra-clumpy Martian soil didn't pass through the screen, and a subsequent effort to vibrate the sample triggered the short circuit.

The next challenge for the crew: programming the robotic arm to deliver the sample quickly enough so that the ice does not sublimate, or melt from a solid to a vapor before the test can begin.

The robotic arm spent the Independence Day weekend delivering a new sample to the wet-chemistry lab aboard the lander, which will transmit new data that can be compared against a wealth of data delivered a few weeks ago.

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