Friday, October 30, 2015

Ducey Scores Big Political Win With School Funding Package

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 11:50 AM

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With a quickie special session coming to a close, the education-funding package that settles a major education-funding lawsuit is passing out of the Senate today, giving Gov. Doug Ducey a big victory in delivering $3.5 billion in additional dollars to schools over the next decade.

The deal—which will have to be approved by voters next May—is fairly complex, but the most troubling element is how much of the state land trust dollars will be diverted to ongoing education expenses.

That element had both legislative Democrats and Republican such as state Treasurer Jeff DeWit and former state treasurer Dean Martin complaining that the plan busts the state trust in a significant manner. And they’re right: Never before have state leaders moved to get such short-term gain over long-term growth with the state land trust dollars.

The state land trust now basically pays out the interest that is earned from the trust, which grows as state land is sold or leased and the proceeds are deposited in the trust. (It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the gist.) The idea, which dates back to statehood, is that the land trust would grow in perpetuity while providing annual payouts for the schools.

Right now, the trust pays out a steady 2.5 percent of its value to the schools every year. The plan increases that to 6.9 percent annually for the next decade.

Today, the trust is worth about $6 billion. In 10 years, if you leave the current rules in place, it’ll be worth about $9 billion and will generate about $180 million a year for schools. If you go forward with Ducey’s plan, in 10 years the trust will be worth a little more than it’s worth today—and will only generate $100 million a year for schools. (All of those numbers are estimates that depend on how much land is sold over the next decade, what happens with the stock market, etc.)

Continue reading »

There's No Good Reason to Not Go to Cyclovia

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 10:08 AM


Last year I attended Cyclovia's April event. Having no idea what to expect when I went there, I assumed it was just another bike race. What I found was a community event unlike any other.

There were people doing zumba in the streets normally infested with cars, children riding skeletal horse bikes, full drum kits being towed by bicycles and and live music on every turn. I chose it as this week's #1 event to attend for City Week for a reason. Even if you don't like bikes, go check out the one of a kind experience that Cyclovia offers.  

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sun Bones Release Seasonally Appropriate Día de los Muertos Themed Music Video

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Tucson's Sun Bones just came out with a new video for their song arms and it's just the kind of thing to get you in the spirit of the season. While All Souls will celebrate loved ones lost, incorporating bright colors and ornate alters, Halloween is coming up too and that's all about being spooky and maybe even seeking sweet, sweet revenge. Well, folks, the "Arms" video has a little of column A and a little of column B.

Compared to Sun Bones' typically lush and a little funky jams, "Arms" is much more sullen and sparse. The video follows in suit thematically, using automata from Hoodoo Projects and sculptures from Bryn Fraker, all through the lens of director Timothy Reckart. There are also a few great homages to some favorite Old Pueblo spots, both here and gone. 

So, check it out:

Sun Bones - Arms from Timothy Reckart on Vimeo.


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Oro Valley is the Place to be During a Zombie Apocalypse, Apparently

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 2:58 PM

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Did you, like me, naively think that we had exhausted the zombie apocalypse genre for a while? Apparently not.

Just in time for Halloween, a real estate company (seems like the obvious choice?) has released a list of the communities from each state best suited to survive an attack of these flesh-munching monsters. 

Oro Valley ranks in the middle of the list nationally, but as the safest place in Arizona. 

MSN lays it out:
To assess the zombie-readiness of each place, they judged each city by a combination of three factors: resources, defense, and demographics. The higher the overall score, the better equipped the region is to survive.

The cities that scored highly in the resources category were those with lots of hardware stores, sources of water, grocery stores or crop farms.

Your first instinct when faced with the possibility of total human destruction may be to just run, armed with whatever you may have picked up, with no particular destination in mind. But keep in mind that fighting off the undead is half the battle of surviving a zombie apocalypse—the other is making sure you have enough resources to keep yourself alive. Without a source of water, access to food (whether it’s canned or grown), and tools to create or reinforce a shelter, you might as well offer up your brains on a platter. With these metrics in mind, the Midwest, Pacific Northwest are the best places to build your zombie-proof home.

If you want to make sure you can defend yourself, areas with access to guns, ammunition manufacturing and military bases are the best places to go.

Luckily, areas with high concentrations of gun stores and ammunition manufacturing are scattered all throughout the country (especially in Nevada). If you weren’t a fan of the Second Amendment before, all it takes is an army of frenzied zombies to make you a convert.

Finally, towns with low population density and predominantly young, educated populations were deemed fit to adapt best to such an apocalyptic event.
I'm personally not sure how Oro Valley is pulling out ahead in any competition that favors a "predominantly young" population. Still, if the next guy you match with on Tinder seems a little too into your brains, head north. 


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South Carolina Sheriff: "When they call us, we're going to take a law enforcement action."

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 11:15 AM

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From the moment the resource officer was involved, it was an arrest. When a sophomore girl in a South Carolina high school refused to stop using her cell phone, then refused to leave the room as her teacher ordered, the school resource officer arrested her. As part of the arrest, he slammed her to the ground while she was still sitting in her desk. He also arrested another girl who stood up in outrage and shouted at the officer because of what he was doing. The charge for both girls: Disturbing schools.
Both she and another student who verbally challenged the officer's actions during the arrest still face misdemeanor charges of disturbing schools, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail, Lott said, although in most cases, judges impose alternative sentences that keep students out of jail.
Until I read about this incident, I had no idea how many hardened criminals I had in my classes during my thirty-plus years as a public high school teacher. I always thought when students disturbed the school or disturbed my classroom, they were behavior problems. Times have changed. School discipline issues, even with no violence of threat of violence involved, can now be cause for arrest, fines and possible jail time. Mouth off in class, refuse to obey a teacher's order to put away your cell phone, and you may take a ride on the school-to-prison pipeline.

Let's assign some blame here. At the very top of the list is the culture of criminalizing student behavior. But let's look at the individuals first.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ash vs. Evil Dead: Is There a Better Halloween Watch This Year?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 5:30 PM


Is there a better Halloween watch this year than the debut episode of Ash vs. the Evil Dead? I'm personally a little zombied-out right now but if the rest of the Starz's 10-episode series is as good as the first four minutes posted online this week, an army of deadites couldn't stop me from devouring it. 

Den of Geek has more.

Arizona Republic: State Gives Multi-Million Private Prison Contract to Company Facing Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 4:30 PM

COURTESY OF PHOTOSPIN
  • Courtesy of Photospin

A company being sued by the federal government over sexual harassment allegations at an Arizona correctional facility was granted a multi-million-dollar contract by the state to run a private prison near Kingman, according to the Arizona Republic

The GEO Group will take control of an existing contract for the prison—yes, the one where there was a riot during Fourth of July weekend that resulted in the facility being severely damaged; more than 1,000 inmates were evacuated; and nine prison staff and seven inmates were injured—and fully operate it by Dec. 1. Staff training will begin in November, the article by the Republic's Craig Harris said. After the riot, Gov. Doug Ducey gutted a deal with the previous contractor, Management & Training Corp. 

The Florida-based company already runs private prisons in Florence and Phoenix, and has been a "major donor to campaigns that helped elect Ducey," the article said. It beat four other companies that were interested in the Kingman prison. 

From the article (read the rest on the Republic's website):
The contract with GEO will run through 2023, according to Corrections. It calls for the state to pay the company $60.10 a day per inmate, the same amount paid to MTC, for up to 3,298 inmates. That translates to about $72.3 million a year. The state then would pay much lower per diem rates to house additional inmates, up to 3,508 prisoners.

...

The contract comes as GEO faces a second federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit, filed in September.

The EEOC alleges that at least eight male GEO employees sexually harassed a female colleague at one of the company's two private prisons in Florence that house Arizona inmates. The woman was fired after she complained of mistreatment, according to the EEOC.

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We Have a Federal Budget of Sorts

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 3:42 PM

On his way out the door, House Speaker John Boehner was able to lift the ol' debt ceiling past the 2016 election and busts the sequester spending caps, at least for now. Next step: U.S. Senate.

Our Southern Arizona members of Congress all voted in favor of it.

Republican U.S. Rep. Martha McSally's statement:

Today’s vote is about providing certainty to Southern Arizona families, businesses, and seniors and strengthening our national defense. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement takes us away from the harmful partisan brinkmanship and salami slice-style budgeting that has weakened our military and hurt our readiness. It provides stability to our brave men and women serving in harm’s way, whom the President has shamefully been using as a political bargaining chip over the last month. This deal puts an end to his grandstanding by setting a minimum defense budget for the next two years.

The agreement also takes many positive actions like preventing a Medicare premium spike on millions of seniors, avoiding a catastrophic default on our debt, and restoring Congress’ ability to make appropriations that reflect our country’s priorities.

However, today’s deal does not replace the need for a defense authorization bill, which the President vetoed last week. We still have work to do to ensure the provisions I fought for protecting the A-10 and EC-130H next year are signed into law, and I’ll continue to work to make that happen.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva's statement (with fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison): 

While the proposed budget meets many of the budget principles laid out by the Progressive Caucus, it is not a visionary budget. We need to raise revenue and end sequestration. We need to invest in infrastructure, work force training, medical research, education, and environmental sustainability. We are concerned that this deal could force Social Security Disability Insurance recipients to jump through unnecessary hoops to get the benefits they have earned.

This deal meets the minimum requirements for the Progressive Caucus. It merely keeps the lights on, and does not fully address the needs of working Americans. In the coming months, Congress needs to uphold this deal by passing a final appropriations bill free of harmful partisan riders that could jeopardize support and force a government shut-down.

We need to end to austerity budgeting once and for all so we can invest in the American people and build an economy that works for everyone.

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