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CRAZY CATS: Too much blocking out and fouling at the line of students at the University of Arizona wanting to claim their rights to the trickle of tickets available for the nation's number-one basketball team. Something tells us the new system still has some kinks.

Some of the students just sell the tickets. We got stuck behind a nice enough fellow of about 80 years on a ramp at McKale last season. He was a little stooped and not too happy when a ticket taker demanded to see a student ID to go with the student ticket he was carrying.


CAGED HEAT: Ann Weaver Nichols, widow of the idealist state Sen. Andy Nichols, penned another recent note to her favorite morning paper in Tucson to pour some courage into politicians. Modestly describing herself as a professor and parent, Nichols said new taxes were necessary to improve our state's schools. Budget stabilization, she said, requires more than closing of those loopholes. It requires "small amounts of added taxes spread over many households and businesses."

We agree.

Nichols should be paid more than the measly $42,702 she gets for a now-part-time gig as professor of social work at Arizona State University.

Nichols had more to say this week, when she predictably commended the Star for running the self-serving trash from Frank Jarvis Atwood, the monster who has slithered about on Arizona's Death Row for 15 years since he was convicted for the 1984 kidnap and murder of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson.

Atwood is utterly unrepentant. Radio General Emil Franzi had it right when he barked that the Star would be much more honest in its attempt to give voices to all, including those in prison, if the headline above Atwood's junk simply read: "From the Mind of A Psycho Scumbag."

Nichols busied herself noting the "defense of the First Amendment." Right. Nichols and her political operative daughter fought fiercely and successfully a couple of years ago to get all sorts of media, including The Weekly, to kill stories about the XXX-rated relationship she had with cop/doctor-killer Anthony Lee Chaney. Dear Tony was executed two days after Valentine's Day in 2000.

Maybe we should also raise taxes to build a conjugal suite at Death Row.


STAR GAZING: The city desk at the Arizona Daily Star gets a change with the replacement of Anita McDivitt with Hipolito Corella. A graduate of Pueblo High, Poli arrived at the Star from Albuquerque 10 years ago. He has covered cops, courts, county, city and K-12 education. His dad, Pat, is second in command at the Tucson-Pima Library System.

Poli wasn't on his last assignment--politics--to generate any heat, dirt or action. Not that the Star wants any. But we expect big things out of Poli and his team. McDivitt is off to have a baby. Best wishes. Mr. McDivitt, a.k.a. Joseph Barrios, remains on the court beat at the Star.

And Rhonda Bodfield, the Brenda Starr action reporter at the morning daily, also is off politics and onto, well, the Rhonda beat. Whatever Rhonda wants to spear. She's so beautiful that the Star should pop her onto TV.

The new sheriff of Star politics will be C.J. Karamargin, who after bamboozling the weak sister Tucson Citizen, is bailing to get his name in lights. Connie (or is it Gus?) knows next to nothing about Tucson politics. His Rolodex is full, though, with just one name--Richard Grand--and all the numbers of the self-promoting lawyer. Gus (or is it Connie?) is just what the Star brass wants to cover the city election that kicks off in January. The Star doesn't want anyone who will write critically of Republican Mayor Bob Walkup or his boss, City Manager James Keene.


GO FIGURE: Once every two years, on the 40th day of the fall term, high schools across the state of Arizona must report enrollment figures to the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) for the purpose of realigning the state's schools into enrollment-appropriate classifications (A through 5A), and then for breaking each class into geographically compatible divisions. Most of the schools in the Tucson area fall in Class 4A, for schools with enrollments between 1,300 and 1,900 students.

Every school with an enrollment of more than 1,900 must play in 5A. (Tucson's Salpointe Catholic and other Catholic schools in Phoenix, which are allowed to recruit athletes, opt to play in 5A even though their enrollments are less than 1,900.) The 5A includes all schools over 1,900, including several schools in Mesa with enrollments of nearly 4,000 students in only three grades.

Obviously, competing in 5A can be brutal, especially for those schools at the low end of the enrollment ladder. It's not hard to see why some schools would consider an enrollment of 1,899 to be greatly preferable to one of 1,901. It's better to be the big fish in the medium pond than to be the smallest fish in the ocean.

The reporting of enrollment figures is done strictly on an honor basis, and every time it's done, inevitably, eyebrows are raised all across the state. Schools come up with some surprising numbers, and in almost all cases, these figures allow the school to stay in the lower classification. (Back in the 1980s, a local private school came in exactly one student under the cutoff point for five consecutive reporting periods.)

Next year, Amphi, whose enrollment has dropped to around 1,650 after the opening of Ironwood Ridge, will be competing in 4A for the first time in the school's history. Sabino will also be dropping down to 4A after losing students to the newly opened Vail Cienega High.

Rincon-University (1,885), Sunnyside (1,894) and Pueblo (1,897) came in just under the wire. All three schools were in 5A until the late 1990s, but the three dropped down and found greater success in 4A. (Sunnyside, for example, is the defending 4A state champion in football.)

We've learned that at least one local school recently went to some extreme lengths to stay in a lower classification. Several dozens students at the school were dropped from the rolls one day, then re-admitted to school the next day after the official enrollment tally had been conducted and submitted to the AIA. The official reason given for the drops ranged from multiple absences to discipline problems, but all of the students who were dropped were eventually re-admitted.

Technically, this isn't illegal, since only the 100-day count involves school funding. But what is it teaching young people when administrators are willing to go to such lengths just for a shot at athletic glory?


YOU'RE IT, TUCSON! The Greater Tucson Economic Council recently announced a new logo for the community: TUCSON--opportunity accelerated. GTEC spent $50,000 having this marketing program developed, but we at the Weekly think our readers can do even better.

So here is your chance to tag Tucson. Send us your proposal for a catchy phrase which really fits our town--something like "Piss Poor and Proud" or "Stupid, but Sunny"--and we'll publish the best ones.

E-mail your entries to mailbag@tucsonweekly.com.

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