Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Yahoo! Pits Tucson Against Phoenix For its Sick Pleasure

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The ongoing cultural war between Tucson and Phoenix has been taken from the streets to the failing web portal known as Yahoo!. The idea of having this conversation with a Phoenician makes the hair on the back of my neck stand. No one ever wins the discussion, but we do it anyway.

Worst picture for the Phoenix vs Tucson argument.
  • Worst picture for the Phoenix vs Tucson argument.

Leave it to Seattle author Christy Karras to write the Yahoo City Smackdown: Phoenix vs Tucson. Karras does a good job, and brings up some interesting facts that I didn't know about both cities (Did you know that Orange is the New Black's Taryn Manning is from Tucson? I fucking love that show). But was it too hard to find someone that actually resides in Arizona? 
Specialty Cuisine: Tucson is as close as you’ll get to really authentic Mexican food north of the border. The Mexican here isn’t Southwestern; it’s Sonoran. And it’s often dirt cheap. Try Paco’s, El Sur, El Güero Canelo, BK’s, or Poco & Mom’s. Try Sonoran hot dogs, a local specialty: They’re wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon, grilled, and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, and condiments ranging from mayonnaise to Jalapeño salsa. Olé!
She talks about the modern streetcar, San Xavier, Sonoran dogs and UA sports, of course. I would have mistaken her as a Tucsonan if I didn't know she was based out of the Emerald City. Honestly, she makes good arguments for both sides, and paints a pretty picture for the red headed step sister of the north.
Must-Do Nightlife: Bar-hopping along the Fourth Avenue Historic Shopping District (also home to an eclectic collection of locally owned shops and restaurants) is a time-honored tradition. Grab an “adult snowcone” at Che’s Lounge, pay homage to America’s largest tiki head at The Hut, or see a drag show at IBT’s. If nerd chic is your thing, head to Sky Bar: solar powered by day and an astronomy-themed bar by night, complete with telescopes.
Obviously, the Old Pueblo layeth the smacketh-down on Phoenix by taking 87% of the votes since Wednesday. Granted, there has been 1078 votes since writing this. We take our victories where we can get them.

Am I right, Tucson?

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Monday, June 9, 2014

In Which I Discuss The Nature Of Blogging

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 4:30 PM

  • Image courtesy of

I truly love the comments on my posts, including the ones from people who disagree with me. I often read them multiple times. Lots to learn from both sides of the argument. That being said, some people without much to say figure they're making a point by commenting about my failings rather than the issue at hand. Why did you write a post about someone else's post? Run out of things to say? All you do is trash BASIS. Don't you have anything better to do?

Then there are those commenters who figure it's really gonna hurt if they call me a lousy journalist, and, furthermore, The Weekly is really going downhill by letting this miserable excuse for a journalist write on its website.

Here's the thing. I'm not a journalist. Don't pretend to be. I'm a blogger. I write on a blog. There's not a clear, bright line between journalism and blogging, but they're two distinct forms, with some overlap. Here's how I see the basic difference.

Someone once said, "Journalism is the first rough draft of history." Well, blogging is the first rough draft of journalism.

What good journalists tend to do is gather a big stack of information on a subject they're writing about — pulling together background, attending events, doing interviews, that sort of thing — then figure out how to pare all that material down to a story of reasonable length that captures the subject as well as they can. Tomorrow, things may change, but the story is supposed to give the reader an honest look at what's happening on a given issue at a given moment.

What a blogger like me usually does is take one or two pieces of the data journalists find in their pile of information and write about it. There's no attempt to cover the topic thoroughly like a journalist does, though sometimes that happens. It's me saying, "Hmm, this looks interesting to me, you may be interested too," or "You may not have thought of this topic this way. Let me explain how I see it."

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Friday, March 28, 2014

UA Struggles to get Funding for Veterinary School

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 8:31 AM

PHOENIX — Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott) stood up on the Senate floor last week and attempted to get $4.2 million for the University of Arizona to start a veterinary program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Shortly after he finished talking, the nay votes overwhelmed the yeas, and the amendment was voted down.

In his office, Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) who has his two University of Arizona diplomas hanging behind his desk, remains on a mission. Early in the week Orr, a former associate professor at the university, thought he could get the funding from the House, despite the lack of success of veterinary appropriations in the Senate. But later this week, the House only agreed to give the university $3.5 million for Cooperative Extension support. Without the support of the House and Senate, Orr will have to come up with some other way to squeeze the money he wants to create the University of Arizona’s first veterinary school and surgical program — before the budget is finalized.

But the legislative appropriations game is only part of a bigger conversation surrounding the proposed veterinary program — one between two veterinarians, Dr. Shane Burgess, the dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dr. Wayne Anderson, of the Arrow Service Groups of Animal Hospitals, a co-op of veterinary hospitals in the Phoenix area.

Anderson says he has letters from over 30 private practices in the state, all of which state that they don’t support a veterinary school program for the university. But if you talk to Burgess (or Orr, or any other supporter of the program) they’ll tell you that the University of Arizona, as a land-grant university, has a responsibility to its citizens to create this program.

“We take this very seriously in my college; our job is to do whatever we can to benefit the state,” Burgess said. “My job is to do whatever I can to improve the state’s economy by improving the number of jobs, by improving the incomes of the private businesses, and by making our state a better place to live for everybody.” In Burgess’ view, that means giving Arizona students a better opportunity to become veterinarians — but with rising costs in tuition throughout the country, it also means creating a program that would minimize costs.

Currently, a program called the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education allows for Arizona students to pay in-state tuition to out of state schools in return of the students spending at least four years working in Arizona after they graduate.

“Even with that, a lot of veterinarians I know still leave with like a hundred grand in debt after veterinary school,” said Chris Cromwell said, a junior who is a veterinary sciences student at the University of Arizona. “Really, there in no cheap option for veterinary students in general, but especially veterinary students in Arizona.”

Most of the veterinary schools in the country are state schools and typically admit more in-state students than out of state students, which doesn’t leave much room for Arizona students like Cromwell.

To help Arizona students, Burgess has two ideas. One is to streamline the program, providing six different entry points into the program. The other is to use the resources that the university already has, including a distributive education model that would place students in clinics throughout the state.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Budget Negotiations Stall in Phoenix

Posted By on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 5:41 PM

PHOENIX - In a rare move, 6 Republicans walked down to the pressroom in the League of Cities and Towns to express their dissatisfaction over the stalled budget negotiations on Wednesday.

The group of six, made up of Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson), Rep. Bob Robson (R-Chandler), Rep. Jeff Dial (R-Chandler), Rep. Douglas Coleman (R-Apache Junction), Rep. Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix) and Rep. Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek), had just rejected a counter-offer to their budget proposal because they felt it didn’t meet the state’s needs.

“I think when one side is reaching out, giving you the best offer, and the other side comes back and is playing games and basically says no to everything, then it’s a problem.” Dial said.

The negotiations have stalled because of the differences between the priorities of the six moderates and those of the conservative faction of the Republican Party. The priorities of the moderates is funding for Child Protective Services and K-12 education.

“I truly believe that education, like I say, is an economic development issue that makes us a stronger state, is business friendly and I’m ready to stand up for it.” Coleman said.

The group feels that the current budget doesn’t adequately reflect the needs of children in the state.

“All our budget focus has been around kids and what we believe are the priorities for the future of Arizona,” Carter said. “There are some things that we have seen in the budget that we like but when you look at the budget in totality there are critical items that are missing.”

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Friday, March 14, 2014

"Captain Al" Melvin Toeing the Line on Campaign Ethics

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 3:55 PM

On Sen. Al Melvin’s (R-Tucson) legislative bio, there is a sentence that directs readers to in order to contact him.

That website is a violation of campaign ethics according to Sen. Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix).

“It’s definitely illegal for him to utilize the state website to promote his gubernatorial campaign so it should definitely be taken down,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo plans to take the violation to Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) so that the ethics committee can review the issue and determine if sanctions need to be taken against Melvin.

Melvin has announced his campaign for governor of the state and if one were to go to the website, a prompt asking for a five dollar donation pops up immediately.

“I think it is not fair for the other candidates that are running for governor when you have a state paid, taxpayer paid website and you’re using it to promote your candidacy for governor,” Gallardo said.

Constantine Querard, Melvin’s campaign manager doesn’t think that the link is a big deal.

“It’s not a link it’s another way of reaching somebody if the business is non-legislative,” Querard said, “There’s no advocacy or using state resources to campaign or that certain aspect. It’s been there for six years and no one’s ever cared and quite frankly it’s operated by the senate staff.”

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Friday, March 7, 2014

The Week (At the Arizona Capitol) March 3-7

Posted By on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 11:26 AM

In the week after the drama over SB1062, the legislature turned back to the usual routine. The deadline to file bills has already passed, so now the committees in the House and Senate are in the process of going through the bills that have passed through the other. In that spirit the House has been spending long hours on the floor debating and voting on bills to get them over to the Senate.

But first the toy race cars. On Monday, all members of the House were greeted by toy race cars on their desks from Phoenix International Raceway … but that would only be a minor distraction from the long list of bills that were to be heard during the week by the Committee of the Whole….

A bill that would make it illegal for teens to use phones while driving passed through the committee without any debate. The bill makes says that that those with Class G licenses (the licenses given to teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 18) could be fined for using cellular devices while driving. However, the police would be unable to pull over someone suspected of using a cellphone unless they were violating another motor vehicle law. The bill is unlikely to make it through the Senate, however, because Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) has consistently let laws addressing texting while driving die.

A ballot measure that would put funded measures up for a vote every 8th year passed through the Committee of the Whole after some debate. Democrats feared that the bill was an attempt to discourage voters from approving funding-based measures. “If we think there are some voter-approved measures that are problematic and obviously, there are some, let’s refer those individual ones back to the voters.” Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Phoenix) said.

Majority Leader Chad Campbell agreed. “We can already do this. If the voters feel that something is not working they can send it to the ballot any time,” he said. “This is simply another, what I think, backdoor way to oppress voters.”

Republicans disagreed. They felt that asking voters to re-approve measures was reasonable because it would enable new voters to have a say on legislation. “The voters would have to pass this. That’s why it’s beyond me if we don’t even want to ask the voters,” Rep. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) said. “I don’t see the harm in that.” If the bill passes through the Senate it will be on the ballot in November.

A bill increasing safety measures for trampoline courts passed through Committee of the Whole without debate. The bill was brought forward by the family of 30-year-old Ty Thomasson, who died after breaking his neck while jumping into a ball pit at a trampoline park. The tightened regulations would force the trampoline courts to have insurance, which would result in more frequent inspections and stricter safety standards. The bill passed through the House on Thursday.

A bill that would provide protections for companies that market outer-space flights against liability from passengers passed through the Committee of the Whole. The bill is an attempt to get companies promoting commercial space flights to move to Arizona and to help out World View Enterprises and Paragon Space Development, both of which are based in Tucson.

Rep. Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) sponsored the bill and he said that he feels that Arizona can become a major player in space activities with the help of this bill. It passed unanimously, without discussion. The bill passed through the House on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the House canceled all the committee meetings and went through a large thirdread calendar to address most of the bills from the Committee of the Whole that were heard last Thursday.

On the list was a bill that would make it legal for the Department of Health Services to do spot checks on abortion clinics. The abortion-clinic bill would allow for the Department of Health Services to randomly check abortion clinics without a warrant. To do an inspection, there would have to be reasonable cause, as determined by the director of the department.

Democrats pointed to the last time that a state law allowed unannounced checks, in 1999, when that law was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court. “We’re wasting money; we’re wasting time on an issue that was already decided,” said Rep. Stefanie Mach (D-Tucson). “This is something that we all need to accept, that it’s unconstitutional.” The Republicans disagreed because of new regulations on the abortion clinics that went into place in 2010.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Glendale) went on to argue that this bill should be a non-partisan issue about safety for women. “This is not a pro-life vs. pro-choice issue.” she said, “This is about the healthiness of a facility where a woman goes to get a procedure done. That is what this bill is about.”

The Republicans had the final say. The bill narrowly passed 34-22, with four people not voting.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More on Brewer's Veto of SB 1062

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 7:08 PM

PHOENIX-Governor Brewer vetoed SB1062 on Wednesday night.

In a press conference in the rotunda of the 9th floor of the Executive Building, the Governor explained her reasoning for vetoing the bill.

“Senate bill 1062 does not address a specific or present concern relating to religious liberties in Arizona,” Brewer said. “I have not heard one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated.”

The announcement was received by celebration on the Capitol lawn. Groups that had come to protest began chants of “Thank you Jan!”

Among the throngs of people with rainbow flags and signs that said “Arizona is open for everyone”, Democratic legislators joined in on the celebration and encouraged people to remember this bill in November.

“I think that Gov. Brewer realized that Arizona is just now coming out of a recession. Our economic development is just now coming back.” Sen. Lynne Pancrazi (D-Yuma)

The major reason Gov. Brewer cited for killing the bill was for the effect that it would have on Arizona’s economy. Sen. Pancrazi talked about how she was around when former Gov. Evan Mecham didn’t acknowledge Martin Luther King Day and during SB1070 and how this bill was similar to those discriminatory pieces of legislation.

“People of every background, every race, every socioeconomic level, were all coming to the state of Arizona and this bill, if it were to pass, would have just cut that off and stifled it completely,” Pancrazi said.

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SB1062 Explained

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 11:06 AM

There is a lot of information out there about SB1062, so let's try to break it down.

How this came to be: There's a group called the Center for Arizona Policy and they were scared of a case in New Mexico where a lesbian couple sued a photographer for not photographing their wedding (they were able to find a cheaper photographer in time to shoot their wedding, but still sued for discrimination and won the lawsuit). So this group proposed a bill and got Sen. Steve Yarbrough to sponsor SB 1062 in the Senate and Rep. Eddie Farnsworth to sponsor another version in the House.

Legal issues: The LGBT community is not a protected class in Arizona or the United States, but they are a protected class in some cities, like Phoenix and Tucson. So technically, if you're gay you could be denied service from a gas station in Casa Grande right now, even without this law because you're not protected. However, with this bill, state law trumps city law which could cause problems in Tucson and Phoenix.

How the Democrats see this bill: This is a discrimination bill. This bill was designed for the sole purpose of discriminating against the LGBT community. Even though there is no law protecting the LGBT community now, this will provide a safeguard years from now when there is a law protecting the LGBT community (Republicans can see the writing on the wall). Even if this bill doesn't defend people who are discriminating against gay people, it will give them a "legal" defense that can only be overturned in court. That means theoretically a businessman can turn a gay couple away and just take his chances on whether or not he will be taken to court. This will hurt business in Arizona. Just look at the companies that are calling for the Governor to veto the bill. If she signs this into law the economy will be significantly damaged because companies won’t want to move to Arizona’s hostile culture.

How the Republicans see it: This bill is being blown out of proportion. The LGBT community isn't protected, so this changes nothing for them. All it does is protect people's religious beliefs. People who are religious shouldn't be forced to violate their religion because the government says so. This bill also tightens up the language on the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act from 1999 (similar to the federal one from 1993) and makes it so that there has to be a substantial burden on a person's religion in order for a business to turn them down. Their goal is so that it protects churches that don't want to marry gay couples or doctors that don't want to perform abortions. It's not intended to protect bigoted business owners that don't want gay people's money. The Democrat’s claims that people will be discriminated based on religion, race and sex are unfounded. All three of those classes are protected by federal law, which trumps state law.

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Carnival of Illusion: Magic, Mystery & Oooh La La!

This top-rated illusion show is "Revitalizing Magic" by blending an international travel theme with all the charms… More

@ Scottish Rite Grand Parlour Saturdays. Continues through April 14 160 South Scott Ave

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