Monday, March 30, 2015

Luke's on Speedway Has Closed

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 2:30 PM

  • Luke's on Speedway Facebook
Luke's on Speedway has closed, after being locked out of his restaurant for failure to pay rent. Luckily, there are other Luke's locations to keep your belly happy. 

From the Luke's on Grant Facebook:
A Message to Our Valued Customers of Lukes Restaurants.
As some of you may have heard, the Lukes location on Speedway Blvd has closed it's doors. Sometimes there are just too many obstacles to overcome. As disheartening as this is, we would like to ensure our customers that we will continue to proudly serve you at our Lukes on Grant location as well as the Lukes on Alvernon, Lukes on Ft. Lowell, Lukes on Thornydale, Kenney D's on 22nd Street, and the Lukes on Indian School in Phoenix. All of Tucson is feeling the crunch, not just business but individuals as well. Lukes has desperately tried to keep our prices low enough for hard workers to afford a decent home cooked meal. We appreciate your patronage of local small business and will continue to strive to provide great food to the Tucson and Phoenix area. We are not perfect...sometimes we make mistakes...but we always strive for the best. Our family has put our hearts and souls into this business for over 50 years and hope to be able to continue that tradition. It has never been easy but it is so worth it when we see a smile on a customers face. We hope to see you soon. Thank you.

The owner of Luke's on Speedway, Jason Amadori,  issued the following notice on Facebook after being locked out:

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Sen. Steve Farley: "This Is Not Your Father's TUSD."

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 11:30 AM

  • Courtesy of PhotoSpin

Late Wednesday night at the state legislature, SB 1120, the bill to create a forensic audit of TUSD's desegregation budget, was in front of the House Appropriations Committee. Superintendent H.T. Sanchez made a strong, detailed statement at the hearing. Senator Steve Farley, who represents part of the Tucson district, followed. He began his statement by saying,
"I hope you've been able to see from talking with our new superintendent that this is not your father's TUSD. There is a whole new spirit at TUSD. As a father and parent at TUSD [Farley has a child at Tucson High], I checked it out very carefully. I visited the classrooms. I see the great job the teachers are doing, and the administrators are doing. As a parent, I am very happy with the direction TUSD is moving."
The bill went nowhere, thanks in good part to Sanchez's statement and his detailed answers to questions from the legislators. Unless someone figures out a way to attach it to some other bill at the eleventh hour, the forensic audit is dead.

It did me good to hear Farley's endorsement of TUSD. With so much negativity enshrouding TUSD like a cloud obscuring the daily good work of teachers, support staff and, yes, administrators, the problems in the district are overemphasized and its successes are too often overlooked.

For those who have forgotten or are too young to remember, Farley was paraphrasing an old car ad whose tagline was, "It's not your father's Oldsmobile." Don't dismiss the Olds, the ad urged. Take another look, it's not the car it once was, it's not the car you think it is. That's what Farley was talking about. "There is a whole new spirit at TUSD," he said. Take another look.

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Trevor Noah Named Next Daily Show Host

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Comedy Central has picked a new host for the Daily Show. Trevor Noah, who just joined the show in December, is a South African comedian. He's been only been on the show three times so far.

From the New York Times:
The appointment of Mr. Noah, a newcomer to American television, promises to add youthful vitality and international perspective to “The Daily Show.” It puts a nonwhite performer at the head of this flagship Comedy Central franchise, and one who comes with Mr. Stewart’s endorsement.

“I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Mr. Stewart said in a statement. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.” Mr. Stewart added that he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”

But the decision also invites questions about Mr. Noah’s experience and visibility (or lack thereof), and why the network did not choose a woman to crack the all-male club of late-night television hosts.

Michele Ganeless, the Comedy Central president, said in an interview: “We talked to women. We talked to men. We found in Trevor the best person for the job.”

Ms. Ganeless added: “You don’t hope to find the next Jon Stewart — there is no next Jon Stewart. So, our goal was to find someone who brings something really exciting and new and different.”
Jon Stewart has not announced when he will be leaving the show, but I expect that news will be coming now that a replacement has been selected. 

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'Let's Ditch Common Core' Bill Lands in the State Senate Floor for Debate Today

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Ducey visits Countryside Elementary School in Surprise, Arizona. - COURTESY OF GOV. DOUG DUCEY'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of Gov. Doug Ducey's Office
  • Ducey visits Countryside Elementary School in Surprise, Arizona.

The Arizona Sate Senate is debating legislation that would rid Arizona of the Common Core standards. A Senate committee said yes to HB 2190 a couple of weeks ago. 

The committee passed the bill with an amendment allowing the state Board of Education to collaborate with the Arizona Education Standards Steering Committee (committee would be established if the bill gets the green light) in adopting new standards and redeveloping new assessments.

If it becomes law, the state would go back to the standards that were in place in 2010, while new ones are established. The board and committee would have until Aug. 1, 2017 to re-work the standards for English language arts, American history, science and math.

Opponents of the bill, which is sponsored by Oro Valley Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem, say the state has already spent tons of money establishing Common Core in the classrooms, and that ditching those for new ones would cost another few million dollars. But people who hate the standards, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, say they are too federally-driven. 

Last week, Gov. Doug Ducey said Arizona doesn't need to get rid of Common Core. While he isn't a fan, he asked the Board of Education to conduct a thorough review of the language arts and math standards to better adapt them to Arizona. 

He asked for the involvement of parents, students and teachers from around the state.

"We can learn from others, but at the end of the day the standards need to come from Arizona and they need to help us achieve our objectives," Ducey told the board. "And in any instance during your review, you find situations where Arizona standards can outperform the ones already adopted, I ask you to replace them."

The Senate previously trashed two other anti-Common Core bills—SB 1305 and SB 1458.

Last year, efforts to kill the standards failed, including a bill that was vetoed by then-Gov. Jan Brewer.

More than 40 states have adopted Common Core. 

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

RIP, Ernie Menehune: Hawaii's Suntanned Irishman Has Died

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 4:25 PM


I learned today from local drummer Winston Watson that Ernie Menehune, Hawaii's suntanned Irishman, has died. I haven't tracked down the details, but Menehune was in his early 90s.

Menehune was inducted into the Tucson Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Gene Armstrong profiled him:

Ernie Menehune has been performing music of all styles—including country, pop, big-band jazz and Irish music—but he is most famous for his elaborate Polynesian revues, including a big band, a chorus of singers and dancers. He has been professional entertainer in excess of a half-century, and a fixture in the Tucson music community for more than 30 years.

At 84, Menehune looks about 20 years younger with his deep tan, white teeth, sparkling eyes, Hawaiian shirt and puka-shell necklace. He arrives at an interview driving a massive red-and-silver sport van.

"My kids want me to give up the show and all that, but I say no, because I still enjoy it," he says. "The day I walk on that stage because it's just work, just a job to make money, that's the day I quit."

Billed for years as "Hawaii's Suntanned Irishman," he was a huge nightclub draw in the 1960s and '70s throughout the Western United States, playing the supper club circuit—everywhere from Caesars Palace to Tucson's once-glamorous-but-now-in-ruins Spanish Trail, on Interstate 10.

I was lucky enough to see Menehune perform a few times at the Airport Lounge, Ye Olde Lantern and the Tucson Polynesian Club at Tucson Meet Yourself. He was always charming, hysterical and fun to talk with.

I first heard of Menehune when my friend Peter Gilstrap came to Tucson to interview him for the Phoenix New Times.

Gilstrap's whole profile is worth a read, but here's how he described Menehune's act:

So let's say it's some Phoenix evening in the late Fifties. We enter a club with the Menehune name on the sign outside, score a nice table, the candle is winking through its bamboo holder, the drinks have been delivered. What happens?

Ernie smiles and squints from 1996 all the way back. "The lights would be off, and I would come out with a conch shell. I'd blow the conch shell, there'd be a drum roll, and then—'Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present Hawaii's Suntanned Irishman, Ernie Menehune and his Polynesian revue!'—Ta da da. The girls would come out with the gourds and the skirts and the whole thing, very flashy. Then it would calm down to a happy medium, music, singing, jokes, then POW again and we'd go out. I used to do the flaming-knife dance as a finale. That was fun, fun, fun."

From the late Fifties well into the Sixties and Seventies, fun for the Menehune nightclub tribe reigned supreme. Bookings were constant, and Ernie added Anglo aspects to his act when necessary.

"I saw that after the floor show was over, they always had a house band for dancing. So I decided to capture both ends—all that Tony Bennett, Eddie Fisher type of music was in—so I started rehearsing my band with that type of music so that people wouldn't get tired of Hawaiian music all night long. We'd have country, rock, everything. We did all that Aquarius stuff."

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Zona Politics: Broadway Widening, Obamacare Anniversary & AZ Legislature's Final Days

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 7:00 PM

Zona Politics Eps.23 from Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel on Vimeo.

On this week's Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel: Attorney Jeff Rogers and occasional radio host Shaun McClusky talk about the city's plans to widen Broadway between downtown and Country Club Road, a proposed Tucson crowd-control ordinance, the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Martha McSally's latest border-security bill, the rush to pass bills before the end of the legislative session and much more. Tune in online here or watch us at the special time of 8 a.m. this Sunday on KGUN-9.

Grijalva: "The United States Is Leading a Global Race to the Bottom" With Trans-Pacific Partnership

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 6:00 PM

The New York Times reported earlier this week on a crucial detail in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement now being hammered out. The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision would allow foreign companies to sue over the United States over regulatory policies that hurt the corporations' bottom line. From NYT:

An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

Backers of the emerging trade accord, which is supported by a wide variety of business groups and favored by most Republicans, say that it is in line with previous agreements that contain similar provisions. But critics, including many Democrats in Congress, argue that the planned deal widens the opening for multinationals to sue in the United States and elsewhere, giving greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers.


Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) joined with his Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison (D-MN) today to criticize the "investment chapter" provision:

“The text of the Investment Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership validates concerns repeatedly raised by the Progressive Caucus about one of the biggest trade deals in history. Expanding ISDS increases foreign corporations’ ability to challenge U.S. policies outside of the U.S. court system, and demand monetary compensation for the loss of their ‘expected future profits.’ This erodes the power of Congress to establish vital health and environmental protections that protect consumers.

“The United States is leading a global race to the bottom that isn’t good for families anywhere. Good trade deals should not expose our consumer protections to legal attacks by foreign corporations.”

Mark Kelly Watches His Twin Brother Launch Into Year-Long Space Mission

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 5:30 PM

Mark Kelly gives his twin brother Scott a fist-bump through a glass quarantine window.
  • Mark Kelly
  • Mark Kelly gives his twin brother Scott a fist-bump through a glass quarantine window.

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly writes about his twin brother Scott's launch for a year-long stay aboard the International Space Station:

He's off the planet — and on his way to the International Space Station.

Earlier today, I watched as my brother, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and two Russian cosmonauts launched to space aboard a Soyuz rocket. They left from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome, the oldest space launch facility in the world. They went from zero to 17,500 miles per hour in about 12 minutes.

After docking with the space station, opening the hatch, and floating out of their capsule and into the space station — which is about the size of a four-bedroom house — Scott will settle in for his yearlong mission.

Gabby watched with the NASA team at Johnson Space Center's Mission Control.

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World Flute Concert

World flute virtuosos Gary Stroutsos and Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos come together for an evening of meditative soundscapes… More

@ San Pedro Chapel Fri., Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m. 5230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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