Monday, April 30, 2018

School Closures Continue Into a Second Week of Walkouts

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Red for Ed supporters hold down the movement in Tucson, lining Congress Street, on Friday, April 27. - LOGAN BURTCH-BUUS
  • Logan Burtch-Buus
  • Red for Ed supporters hold down the movement in Tucson, lining Congress Street, on Friday, April 27.

Five children straggled into the cafeteria at Thornydale Elementary to get some breakfast at 7 a.m. on Monday morning. They were greeted by two cafeteria workers and a mom with the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization. Outside, a maintenance worker ran a leaf blower. Other than that, the school was silent.

Three days into the teacher walkouts, students from low-income families who receive breakfast and lunch at their schools still needed to eat. About 20 kids came in the previous Thursday and Friday each, according to the two women serving in the Thornydale cafeteria.

The children, three little ones who go to Thornydale and their two older brothers who go to nearby schools, open their juice boxes, milk and breakfast bars.

As the Red for Ed movement goes into its second week of teacher walkouts, things become increasingly complicated for the school districts and families. As schools continue to announce closures day by day, parents are starting to wonder if the school year will be prolonged into the summer break.

Thornydale cafeteria worker Cathette Vartell says while she is still working, she has two grade-school kids at home whom she’s worried about.

Her oldest daughter is set to graduate in May, and while most local school districts have said they’ll host graduation ceremonies as planned, students will have to make up instructional hours for days missed because of the walkouts. How many days varies by district and even school and won’t be decided until the walkouts end.

Vartell’s daughter plans to leave for a two-month out-of-town trip with her church the Monday after graduation. Everything is paid for, and for a mother of two who makes minimum wage, paying more to change plans may not be an option.

“Of course I support our teachers,” Vartell says. “I also feel like our kids are the ones paying a price to make a statement.”

Christina Harris, Thornydale’s PTO vice president, is a stay-at-home mother of three who’s been volunteering at the school for 11 years.

She said the closures have been hardest because her son, a second grader who receives Title 1 services, needs to keep up on his reading skills or he’ll fall behind. Nonetheless, Harris has been an active supporter of the Red for Ed movement, and was out on Ina Road on Saturday morning lining the road red with many other teachers, parents, students and supporters.

Vartell and Harris are not alone in dealing with the complications and hardships of the shutdowns. But Arizona teachers are among the lowest-paid educators in the country, and education funding is among the lowest in the nation as well.

School funding in Arizona was cut following the 2008 recession and, while there have been increases in recent years, it has yet to return to where it was a decade ago. Educators are demanding a 20 percent raise for teachers, raises for all support staff and school funding restored to 2008 levels, which would cost the state an additional $1.1 billion annually.

Between crumbing school facilities, outdated supplies and their own struggles to make ends meet, many teachers felt they had no choice but to walk out.

Rachel Tankersley, a math and science teacher in the Vail School District, was out on downtown’s Congress Street on Monday morning, wearing red with a few hundred other educators and allies. She started at 7 a.m. and by by 8, the sun was already beginning to beat down on the crowd while they cheer and wave at the many passing cars that honk in support.

“Teachers are having to spend their own money on their classrooms all the time,” she said. “This is my job right now, to let people know this is not OK.”

Mid-April, as the Red for Ed movement was gaining support and talking about a walkout if their demands were not met, Gov. Doug Ducey announced he had a plan for the teacher raises and to restore recession-era cuts to education funding. Only, by his math, that would mean an additional $371 million, about a third what educators are asking for.

Ducey’s plan didn’t mention raises for support staff and critics accused him of using fuzzy math to come up with the revenue needed to pay for it. On Ducey’s website, it says the state will achieve the money for the pay hikes through a growing economy and reduction in state government operating budgets, “all without raising taxes while maintaining Arizona’s balanced budget.”

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Ahead of Its Time: How PuraEarth is Redefining the Cannabis Experience

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 5:34 PM


Thanks to the legalization of marijuana across various states, perception isn't the only thing that's changing. New state of the art technology allows for optimal control, allowing Master Growers to produce cannabis with specific medical benefits and effects. Want to have deep conversations with friends? Run a 5k? Give a presentation to the board? Enjoy more connected down-time with your kids? There are strains for that. With this newfound technology also comes a better understanding of this powerful plant's constituents. Cannabis used to come unlabeled in a ziploc bag, but companies like PuraEarth have elevated the playing field by subjecting all of their products to multiple state lab tests and proudly publishes the results for patients. Effectively, remedying the "grey area" with cannabis. Producing medicine patients can trust, that they know is safe. PuraEarth's transparency extends further than testing. Patients can reference the education tab on their website for more information, including how to obtain a medical marijuana patient card.


Modern-day marijuana patients are able to combine in-depth information with a desired effect, and unleash a plethora of experiences. Sure, this may bring back images of the '70s and '80s "Just Say No" days of anti-pot propaganda, where the plant is misunderstood and stigmatized for encouraging slacker behavior. The old slang about cannabis is changing, and for good reason. Some companies are even encouraging cannabis use at work. Take Flowhub for instance, a Colorado-based software company, who allows employees to consume edibles, juices, and sodas that contain THC. In an interview with CNN, Flowhub founder Kyle Sherman said, "Our philosophy at Flowhub is to get s*** done, If [cannabis] helps our employees get work done, then we don't care if they consume at work."


Modern, forward-thinking companies aren't the only ones opening up to cannabis use. UltraMarathoner, Carolyn Ford, says cannabis consumption makes her 100+ mile training sessions more bearable. "Running while stoned is therapeutic" Ford says, "It helps me concentrate on small movements of my body." Carolyn Ford isn't the only athlete talking about cannabis. Former Philadelphia Flyers left wing, Riley Cote, said his hockey career was like "getting punched in the face for a living," and he found unmatched pain relief with cannabis. After retiring from professional hockey in 2010, Cote founded the Hemp Heals Foundation, an organization focused on sustainable agriculture and holistic health through cannabis.


As with all things in life, cannabis is best consumed in moderation. Hal Gibbs, Founder and President of PuraEarth, a cutting edge cannabis concentrates company based in Phoenix, recommends patients start with 1-2 puffs of the Uncut vape cartridge for optimum motivation. "Our vapes are great because patients can easily take small and controlled micro-doses. Pura patients don't worry about wasting medicine, like they might after packing a full bowl or rolling a joint. On top of that, nicotine vapes are becoming increasingly common, so patients are not at risk of standing out with our Uncut vape cartridge product line. There is also no marijuana smell so the (vape) pens are incredibly discrete," Gibbs said. "We encourage our patients to live a life that is fueled by cannabis, with the right combination of knowledge and dose, cannabis can be the spark that lights the flames of success."


Starting in April of 2018, PuraEarth began their "Puradise" campaign, a movement that encourages it's cannabis patients to live enriched lives with passion and confidence. "Cannabis makes the greens greener and the blues bluer, and releases our patients from the burden of their ailment. I think everyone can benefit from a cannabis lifestyle."

PuraEarth premium products can be found at the following dispensaries spanning the greater Tucson area:

The Prime Leaf
4220 E Speedway Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85712

6205 N Travel Center Dr
Tucson, AZ 85741

Green Halo
7710 S Wilmot Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85706

Hana Green Valley
1732 W Duval Commerce Point Pl
Green Valley, AZ 85614

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The Teachers Are Right. Their Strike Makes Sense. I Know Because Ducey Said So.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:20 PM

Three encouraging takeaways for me from Thursday's walkout.

A Sea Of Red: 50,000 to 75,000 teachers and supporters filled the streets of Phoenix and gathered in front of the state Capitol. Thousands of others lined the streets in Tucson and, I imagine, other cities as well. A terrific show of unity.

Good #RedforEd Ink: The media appeared to be awed by and delighted with the teachers and the walkout. The Yays! far outweighed the Nays in print and on TV news.

The Governor's Seal Of Approval: Ducey had nothing but positive things to say about teachers Thursday. No talk of political theater. Nothing about teachers deserting their classrooms and their students. In a televised interview, he said, "I'm listening to these teachers. I think citizens have a voice. They have a right to petition their government. I think they want to be heard, and they are being heard."

Ducey's almost-endorsement of the walkout is huge, as is his acknowledgement that teachers deserve a 20 percent raise. Governor One Percent got religion a few weeks ago and increased his salary offer twenty fold. He even said—be still my heart—that the work Arizona's teachers have done makes them worthy of a raise.
"These teachers have earned the pay raise. They're getting the results and outcomes inside the classroom. . . . Our public districts and our public charters are improving faster than any state in the nation."
The improvement he's talking about is Arizona's scores on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress ( NAEP) test, which went up while most other states stayed flat.

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Claytoon of the Day: A Cosby Sweater

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 12:37 PM


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Thursday, April 26, 2018

In the Flesh: The War on Drugs

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 3:30 PM

The War on Drugs played the Rialto Theater on April 17. - C. ELLIOTT PHOTOGRAPHY
  • C. Elliott Photography
  • The War on Drugs played the Rialto Theater on April 17.

The thousand or so folks that poured into the venerable confines of Tucson's Rialto Theater on Tuesday, April 17, were treated to a night of pulse-pounding, soul cleansing rock and roll.

Philadelphia-based sextet The War on Drugs, making their first appearance in the Old Pueblo in seven years, packed the downtown venue.

They didn't disappoint, performing virtually the entirety of their 2017 album, "A Deeper Understanding," while mixing in fan favorites from albums like "Lost in the Dream" and "Slave Ambient."

Singer Adam Granduciel and company played for 108 minutes of uninterrupted beauty, before taking a few minutes to catch their breath at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

They returned to thunderous applause for a three-song encore, playing deeper cuts from their latest album, before walking off the stage for the final time.

The band's mixture of high-energy music and high-tech LED stage lighting, which beamed through a veneer of mineral oil to create a bars of light in front of the stage, was all part of a can't-miss experience that attendees will remember for a long, long time.

Granduciel waxed nostalgic on various bits of Tucson nightlife, remarking on his first trip to the region some years ago, playing at Plush (now known as The Flycatcher).

It was quite clear that Granduciel and his bandmates share a high level of camaraderie, given how in-sync they were on Tuesday, and how happy they seemed to be playing together.

The highlight of the night for me came just before the band's momentary break, when they launched into a rendition of the band's first AAA chart hit, "Under the Pressure."

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Laughing Stock: What, Now?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 3:21 PM

“We thought the name, What, Now?, would evoke the unpredictable nature of the show,” says Amber Frame, who co-founded the quarterly comedy show with Mo Urban. “What we really love about it is interrupting storytellers halfway through their story … and then an improv team comes up and acts out how they think it ended.” At the end of the show, the storytellers get to say how they planned the story to end, and the audience is allowed to ask questions of everyone who has performed in the show. There’s hardly a point in the evening that anyone can guess what happens next.

Each What, Now? show has a theme. For the one upcoming April 28, it’s April Fools. “It’s pretty open-ended,” Frame says. “It can be about times people acted like fools, or April Fools pranks they played.”

What, Now opens with Frame and Urban performing stand up sets, followed by local standup favorites Charles Ludwig and Cindell Hanson. The storytelling begins with standup newcomer Tammy King making her storytelling debut. Frame says, “Her (standup) comedy tends to be narrative and her stories unfold in engrossing ways.”

A second storyteller is chosen from the audience, so readers who are fools, have been foolish or made a fool of someone else may have a chance to take the stage.

The show is at 9 p.m., Saturday, April 28 at Tucson Improv Theatre, 414 E. 9th St., between Revel Wine Bar and The Coronet. Tickets are $5 at

The Hangover’s Mr. Chow comes to the Fox.

Comedian Ken Jeong performs at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 3, at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Visit for tickets and more information.

Jeong is best known for his role as the mobster “Mr Chow” in The Hangover movie franchise. The role won him an MTV Movie Award. He also played the villain in Judd Apatow’s Role Models, and the Spanish teacher Señor Chang (later Kevin) in the critically acclaimed TV series, Community.

Comedy Support for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness

Local comedians Jon Jon, Stacy Scheff, Tony Bruhn, Roxy Merrari, Tony C and Leigh Spencer perform on May 12 in a free variety show, Together We Act, raising awareness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The event represents 2.5 million with CFS in the US who urge more research funding by the National Institute of Health.

The show is from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 12 at Monterey Court, 505 West Miracle Mile.

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Claytoon of the Day: Swifty Naked Waffle Shooter

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 2:32 PM


In the Flesh: David Byrne at Centennial Hall

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 11:37 AM

The thinking man's rock star - ELLIOTT
  • Elliott
  • The thinking man's rock star
Attempting to make sense of a paradoxical world, on Sunday, April 15, David Byrne presented American Utopia, the ex-Talking Head’s first solo album in 14 years, to a sold-out audience at UA Centennial Hall.

As the house lights dimmed, a single beam of light shone upon a folding card table. There Byrne sat, clad in grey suit, holding an anatomical model of a human brain. Playing along to pre-sequenced tracks, musicians and singers, also attired in the very same grey uniform, entered the stage barefooted marching with instruments. As the stage slowly illumed, a futuristic and Spartan set bordered by a chain curtain was revealed as the tribal drums to “Here” pounded.

Like an academician Byrne pointed out the lobes of the cerebrum. “Here is an area of great confusion/Here is a section that's extremely precise/And here is an area that needs attention/Here is a connection with the opposite side.” Filled with both cynicism and wonder, Byrne said of his latest work, “It portrays the state of the country: Who we are, who we hope to be.”

Comprised largely of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, the crowd rose to greet their hero. Byrne met their enthusiasm. ”People of the desert, Thank you.”

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