Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Zona Politics" Talks with Supervisor Sharon Bronson, Councilman Paul Cunningham

Posted By on Sun, Nov 30, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Zona Politics Eps.7 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's "Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel": Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson talks about roads, the county's vote-counting process, the future of Colossal Cave Mountain Park and more. Then Tucson City Councilman Paul Cunningham talks about the future of Broadway Boulevard, the search for a new city manager and other city issues.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Murs and ¡Mayday! Bring a Little Miami Hype to The Rock on Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 11:30 AM

¡Mursday! will perform at The Rock in Tucson this Saturday. - COURTESY OF ¡MURSDAY!
  • Courtesy of ¡Mursday!
  • ¡Mursday! will perform at The Rock in Tucson this Saturday.

The Strange Music collaboration of rapper Murs and Miami-based Latin hip hop group ¡Mayday! might seem like an unlikely mash-up, but both sides agree it’s all about the intensity.

“I feel like I have cannons behind me,” Murs says.

The live set-up, which you can experience for yourself at The Rock on Saturday, November 29, features all members standing and performing. Murs says the passion and energy of their live shows “has to be seen to believed.”

“It’s like when you’re playing pinball and then you get the extra ball,” Murs explains. “I’m the extra ball.”

Obviously Murs, who is known for his love of comic books, hasn’t lost his geekiness in the merger. After all, ¡Mursday! has a song called “Bitcoin Beezy.” However, both Murs and Gianni Cash of ¡Mayday! agree that the lyrical content of the ¡Mursday! project is lighter and “more laid back” than their other work.

“They add pop hooks,” Murs says. “We’re trying to bring credible music to the mainstream while not compromising our integrity.”

“We really want to get a Latin Grammy,” Cash says jokingly.

With Murs based in Tucson and ¡Mayday! having performed in the city on previous tours, the group says that they’re excited to return. Murs says he sees Tucson’s scene as one that integrates elements of hip-hop culture equally, be it graffiti, rap, or B-boy dancing. That being said, Murs admits that he’s seen first hand that the scene has some growing to do still.

“There’s a lot of self-loathing in Tucson,” Murs says. “More kids should take pride in it and stop looking at it as a second-rate city.”

While Murs and ¡Mayday! say they originally saw the ¡Mursday! project as a one time collaboration, being on the same label means they’ll be working on solo projects together in the future a lot. Currently, you can download a three-track EP from Mursday through Boost Mobile or you can check them out at The Rock with local rappers Marley B and Cash Lansky beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 29. The show is all ages with tickets available in advance for $20 through

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Can Children Under 13 Opt Out Of "The Test"?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 10:15 AM

  • Image courtesy of

Opposition to high stakes tests is growing. More parents and teachers are joining the movement to decrease the frequency and impact of those standardized tests which distort classroom education into an exercise in "teaching to the test" and can result in students being held back or not graduating, teachers and administrators being fired and schools being shut down.

The question: How do you transform concerns about the high stakes tests into action? The answer: Opt out of the test. Parents, teachers, sometimes entire schools are saying, "Hell no, we won't test or be tested." But it's not that simple. A long list of federal requirements, state laws and school district rules make it difficult for parents to pull their kids out of the test, and teachers and administrators put their jobs on the line if they refuse to give the tests.

Now there's a new opt-out strategy. Parents may be able to use existing federal law to refuse to allow children 12 years old or younger to take the test.

In 1998, the federal government enacted Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to stop online companies from collecting information from children under 13. Parents can enter the information, but not children since they can easily be duped into giving out information like their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to companies that are up to no good.

How does this apply to high stakes testing? If the test is given online, parents may be able to refuse to allow their children to enter personal information on the test, and if that's true, parents probably have the right to say the teacher can't enter the information without the parent's permission.

Will COPPA allow parents to circumvent federal law, state law and school pressure and allow students 12 and under to opt out? The only way to find out is to test the idea in the real world. Student Privacy Matters, has more information.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dance for Thanks Benefit Aims to Keep the Folk Fest Free

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 1:00 PM

click image Can you dig it? - THE WAYBACK MACHINE
  • The Wayback Machine
  • Can you dig it?

Prepare your ponchos because it’s time to get folky. On Saturday, November 29, local folk musicians like The Wayback Machine, Clay Brown, and Stefan George will be hitting the Boondocks Lounge stage in support of the 2015 Tucson Folk Festival.

Joining those performers are Shanti Foster, Gene Holmes, Les Merrihew, Gary Mackender, Mitzi Cowell, Bryan Dean, and Amochip Dabney. The event also promises some mystery guests.

According to the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association website, the concert’s proceeds will “raise funds that help keep the Folk Festival free,” which means if you pay $10 to go to this show now, me and you and everyone we know can go to the Tucson Folk Festival for free next year. Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily be free for you because you’ve already paid $10 for it.

Regardless, if you’re in for a night of noodling and jamming, the Dance of Thanks 2014 folk fundraiser will be at Boondocks Lounge at First Avenue north of Fort Lowell Road. Music starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday and goes until 12:30 a.m.

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What You Need to Know Before You Go to That Poutine Place, U.S. Fries

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Cheese curds, gravy, and fries: easy, right? - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • Cheese curds, gravy, and fries: easy, right?

The prospect of a restaurant that serves only poutine dredges up some complicated emotions. There’s the side of you that wants to eat French fries, gravy, and cheese curds all night and forget about all of the locally-grown, artisanal stuff for a little bit—it’s hard to be responsible all of the time. Then there’s the side of you that kind of wants to punch a wall at the gimmickiness of it. Unfortunately, you probably won’t feel too resolved on either front after a visit to Fourth Avenue’s newish restaurant: U.S. Fries.

In terms of set up, there are a few issues out of the gate with this fast casual restaurant, located just south of Seventh Street. First off, there’s only table seating for ten people so once there are ten people eating poutine, you have to grab one of the tableless high chairs that line the storefront window and eat off of your lap. Not exactly dignified, but hey—you’re eating a box o’ poutine.

This wouldn’t be so frustrating if there wasn’t so much empty, unused space in the restaurant. U.S. Fries could likely double the seating capacity with some creative rearranging or if they just bought high top tables for those chairs or they can be happy feeding only ten people at a time, though that model doesn’t seem particularly viable for a fast casual spot.

Seating issues aside, the restaurant is decorated like a fast food joint, but insists in pricing that it is fast casual with $5 to $7.50 for a regular size and $8 to $11.50 for a large. The bright, abrasive primary colors say "leave" nearly as much as the lack of seating. Additionally, the futuristic soda, plasticware, and napkin dispensers make the place feel sterile.

While the food itself isn't bad, the restaurant is kind of unpleasant to be in. - HEATHER HOCH
  • Heather Hoch
  • While the food itself isn't bad, the restaurant is kind of unpleasant to be in.

Despite the restaurant’s lack of any semblance of ambiance, the service was actually very friendly and quick. Choosing between gussied up options like, chili topped with chives and cheese, cheeseburger topped with pickles, and a questionable combination of ham, pineapple, gravy, and cheese curds, all atop a bed of fries, might be a little rough on your first go so start with the traditional.

Admittedly, a $5 regular-sized poutine was more than enough food to fill up, holding true to the restaurant’s obnoxious motto that “it’s not poutine, it’s a meal.” However, the brown gravy was too salty and the cheese curds were too large and remained off-puttingly cold in the center. If you’re touting a food with just three elements, those elements should be dead on. Plus, would it kill them to put some chives or something on top so I can maintain some illusion of healthiness? A little green never hurt anyone.

All that being said, it’s still just fries with gravy and cheese and that tastes pretty good no matter who you are (they even have a vegetarian option). It’s not like this is the sort of place that should be a regular stop in your dining roster, but maybe if you’ve had too many drinks at Che’s on the weekend, it’s worth it to walk down and try it out. After all, they are open until 3 a.m. Thursday through Sunday and 10 p.m. the rest of the week.

Just maybe consider taking your poutine to go.

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Team Barber Gets Its Day in Court: Will Disqualified Ballots Get Back Into the Mix?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Kevin Fink wants his vote counted.

He dropped off his early ballot at a polling station on Election Day, just like plenty of other folks. But his ballot was disqualified because his modern-day signature didn’t match the one he put on a voter-registration card he filled out some dozen years ago.

He remembers he got word from the Pima County Recorder’s Office: He had a day to get back to them or his vote wouldn’t be counted. He called a hotline number and left a message, but no one called him back. And then the deadline passed and his vote was tossed out.

Fink is a partner and chef at the award-winning Zona 78, and while he’d love to say that the restaurant gets it right 100 percent of the time, he knows that mistakes get made. But given that the state is going to recount the ballots early next month, he wants to see his vote included in the mix.

“I realize there are going to be problems, but when it’s so close like this, I thought it was really important to be able to sway the political situation here in Arizona,” Fink said. “The number one thing I hear from my generation is that it doesn’t really matter if you vote.”

Fink is among at least 133 people whose votes indeed did not count for various technical reasons—and whose ballots Congressman Ron Barber’s legal team is now trying to get back into the mix ahead of a December recount of the Congressional District 2 race. It’s a big deal: Barber, a Democrat who won Gabby Gifford’s former congressional seat after she stepped down in 2012, trails his Republican challenger, Martha McSally, by just 161 votes.

As Team Barber attorney Kevin J. Hamilton put it at a press conference earlier this week: “The voters cast their ballots in accordance with federal and state law, in some cases at the specific direction of poll workers, but their ballots weren’t counted. … If you do everything right, if you’re entitled to vote in this election, and you cast your ballot, that ballot ought to be counted.”

Hamilton knows his way around recounts. He and attorney Ezra Reese, who is also on Barber’s legal team, have between them worked on several recounts, including in a 2008 Minnesota contest in which Al Franken came back from a deficit of a few hundred votes to win his U.S. Senate seat and a 2004 recount in the Washington governor’s race that put Democrat Christine Gregoire on top. Since the election, they’ve worked with Team Barber to send operatives door-to-door talking to voters whose ballots had been disqualified and collecting declarations.

The lawyers are due in federal court today, seeking an injunction to prevent Secretary of State Ken Bennett from certifying the election next Monday, Dec. 1. Over the last week, Hamilton and Reese have asked the boards of supervisors in Pima and Cochise counties as well as Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett to delay a certification of the election until more investigation—and perhaps legal action—could put some of the disqualified ballots back into the mix, but the supervisors in both counties and Bennett rejected the idea. Bennett is scheduled to do next Monday, Dec. 1.

Team Barber’s legal team case rests on whether the deadlines and other rules to remedy the disqualified ballots were arbitrary. They say these ballots were rejected even though the voters followed the rules, so the ballots should be counted ahead of any recount. As the lawyers argue in their petition, “there are few harms greater and more impossible to repair than being stripped of the constitutional right to vote. … And it is beyond dispute that there is a compelling public interest in protecting the voting rights of Arizona citizens and ensuring the integrity of elections.”

Team McSally has asked that the entire case be dismissed. (If you'd like to see all the legal mumbo-jumbo, Arizona's Politics been following the play-by-play and posting the arguments.)

Among the plaintiffs: 81-year-old Lea Goodwine-Cesarec, who says with considerable pride that she hasn’t missed voting in a congressional election since she first became eligible to vote some six decades ago.

Goodwine-Cesarec moved just before the election and believed she had updated her address with a phone call to the County Recorder’s Office. But when she ended up in the wrong precinct on Election Day, she says she was told to vote a provisional ballot instead of being directed to the proper polling place.

These sorts of mix-ups are not uncommon on Election Day; there usually aren’t enough votes involved to sway a race one way or another. But this is a congressional race with a 161-vote margin, so there’s a scramble on to make every vote count.

Goodwine-Cesarec sure thinks her ballot ought to be counted. She still can’t believe her vote was “thrown in the trash.”

“I really think that it was just plain wrong,” Goodwine-Cesarec says. “It’s pretty irritating to think that my vote was not counted because I wanted to vote. I got out and voted. I submitted the vote and it did not count. And that’s just wrong.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don’t Be Bored on Thanksgiving Eve, Go to One of These Concerts Instead

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 2:00 PM

click image Things might get a little weird at Congress. - MR. GNOME/ FACEBOOK
  • Mr. Gnome/ Facebook
  • Things might get a little weird at Congress.

As the Tucson ex-pats start flooding back into town for Thanksgiving, it might be easiest to just corral the old gang at one venue for one event and stick to it. Dancing and DJs, local favorites, and even a bit of burlesque are on the list—all you have to do is get everyone to agree on one thing. Good luck with that.

Club Congress

Don’t let the first two and a half minutes of that video phase you. Behind all of the weird arty visuals and creepy storytellying, Mr. Gnome treads the line between chill art rock and danceable pop that is perfect for a night out with your (21+) best buds—even if those buds are just wallflowers. With local openers Katterwaul and Acorn Bcorn, as well as out of towners Young Tongue, you’ll get a good bang for your concert buck with this four-band line-up for $10 at the door or $8 in advance.

District Tavern

Maybe your idea of dancing involves more head nodding and a fair amount of head tossing. Well, District Tavern is hosting Still Life Telescope, along with La Cerca and Kicking Leaves. You’ll want to make sure to come early (which means 10 p.m. because that’s when this show starts) because if you’ve heard La Cerca’s new album, you know the mellow garage psych band is worth a listen. Plus, it’s Kicking Leaves’ first show.

Rialto Theatre

You’ve been playing it proper in front of the folks, but if you’re ready to get geeky and freaky, head over to Rialto for the Suicide Girls’ burlesque showcase. The event promises sexed up takes on Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, and Donnie Darko. If you’re willing to shell out $26, it’s definitely going to be quite the spectacle.

La Cocina

For something a little more mellow and with a good dose of Tucson twang, pull up a chair and order some polenta fries and a beer at La Cocina. Ms. Lana Rebel will be crooning her sweet folksy tunes accompanied by Kevin Michael Mayfield from 6:30 until 9:30 p.m.

The Flycatcher

Last but not least, Flycatcher is hosting a sort of DJ free-for-all called “The Night Before Yum-Yumz.” Much like that aunt that insists on bringing dessert but it also always on some weird diet, it’s hard to say what you’re going to get. It’ll probably be fun though and it’s also free.

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The Loft Cinema Is Showing the UA/ASU Game Friday

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM


If you don't have tickets for Friday afternoon's match-up between the Arizona Wildcats and the football team from Girls Gone Wild University and Casino, well, you're going to need to find somewhere other than the stadium to watch, since the game has been sold out for awhile.

However, the fine folks at the Loft Cinema have jumped through the necessary hoops to show the game in their main theater (the home of the largest indoor screen in Southern Arizona) and they're airing the game for free. What a deal, plus, in case you've forgotten they sell beer and wine at the Loft (good stuff even!).

The game is at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28. More info on the gridiron showdown at the UA athletic department's page. More info on the Loft (including the news that they're celebrating Godard's filmography in January) at

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Staff Pick

Art Walk Sundays

Join us for our weekly wine and cheese party at Madaras Gallery. Diana Madaras will attend as… More

@ Madaras Gallery Sundays, 1-4 p.m. 3035 N Swan Rd

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