Friday, January 24, 2020

Trailer Fire on Tucson's Northwest Side

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2020 at 2:30 PM

  • Northwest Fire

One local resident and two dogs are displaced after their home caught fire on Tucson’s Northwest side. 

Northwest Fire District responded to a report of fire at the corner of Carapan Avenue and West Palm Vista Street at 1:05 p.m. on Friday, said Brian Keely, Public Information Officer at Northwest Fire District. Crews had the blaze under control by 1:25 p.m., according to Keely. 

“We prevented (the fire) from spreading into any exposures on the other side,” Keely said. “It’s contained to just the one double-wide mobile home.”

Keely said it’s unknown at this time if anyone was home or if there were any injuries caused by the blaze at this time. 

Northwest Fire District fire investigators are on the scene. The cause of the fire has not been determined at this time. 

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tucson featured in BBC's new series 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 1:21 PM

BBC America's new documentary mini-series Seven Worlds, One Planet examines each of Earth's seven continents and how each area shapes animal behavior and biodiversity. The series, featuring obligatory narration from Sir David Attenborough, marks the first time the BBC Studio’s Natural History Unit has explored all seven continents for a single series. 
  • Courtesy BBC America
The new episode, "North America"  which premieres this Saturday, Jan. 25, features animals in Florida, Canada and right here in Tucson. The Tucson segment, filmed between May and June of 2017 and 2018, focuses on the greater roadrunner, only found in the deserts of North America.

According to Chadden Hunter, producer for the North America episode, the documentary crew filmed roadrunners in Saguaro National Park and on private ranch land around Tucson.

Also on the North America episode, camera crews achieved a first in their filming, using "low light technology and cable dollies with a motion control tracking time-lapse camera" to glide cameras through the forests of Mississippi and Ohio for slow-mo firefly shots.

Each episode of Seven Worlds, One Planet focuses on a different continent. The next airing episode is "North America" which premieres Saturday, Jan. 25 on BBC AMERICA, AMC, IFC and SundanceTV.

Watch the trailer here:

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Results-Based Funding: The Haves and Have-Mores

Posted By on Mon, Jan 20, 2020 at 2:16 PM


"This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites. I call you my base." George W. Bush
Bush made the comment at a high-rollers charity dinner where presidential candidates poke fun at themselves and their campaigns. Like any good self-deprecating joke, Bush's quip is on the money. In this case, literally on the money.

The HHM, the haves and have-mores. They're as much Doug Ducey's base as they were George Bush's. You see their fingerprints all over Ducey's education agenda. When he favors tax cuts over bringing schools back to their 2008 funding levels, that's all about the HHM. And he was thinking about their children when he created the results-based funding scheme. The way the funding is given out, the HHM's children are nearly certain to come out winners.

In my last post I compared how much results-based funding went to students in TUSD, Vail and the BASIS charter chain. Vail, it turns out, gets more than three times as much per student as TUSD. With one exception, every BASIS school is fully funded. That's because funding is based on the percentage of a school's students who pass the state's high stakes test, which is right in the wheelhouse of schools in high rent areas. For a district like TUSD which draws from many families living below the poverty level, passing the state test and qualifying for the funding is more hit-and-miss.

In a world where Ducey is governor and the legislature is majority Republican, the rich get richer, and their children get a richer education courtesy of results-based funding.

I decided to take a deeper dive into the data to see how the money is distributed to schools with children across the economic spectrum. I found funding inequities everywhere I looked.

Before I lay out the numbers, here are a few things I know for sure.

• A school doesn't deserve results-based funding just because it has no more than 10 percent of its students living below the poverty level.

• A school with 60 percent of its students below the poverty level is not 10 times more deserving of results-based funding than a school with 59 percent of its students below the poverty level.

• Any competent computer programmer could create a system for giving out the results-based funding in a more equitable way.

Continue reading »

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Friday, January 17, 2020

As Approval Ratings Plunge, McSally Snaps at CNN Reporter

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Sen. Martha McSally went viral yesterday when she responded to a reasonable question from CNN congressional reporter Manu Raju about whether she was willing to consider new evidence in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Instead, she said: "I’m not talking to you, You’re a liberal hack.”

McSally was clearly proud of the moment, tweeting out footage of her brushback and later going on Fox News Blonde Laura Ingraham’s show to dismiss the mainstream media altogether. “As you know, these CNN reporters , many of them around the Capitol, they are so biased. They are so in cahoots with the Democrats. They are so against the president. They run around trying to chase Republicans and asking trapping questions. I’m a fighter pilot. I call it like it is.”

Amusingly, the fighter pilot who calls it like it is then sidestepped the same question from Ingraham. ""I'm not going to tell everyone what my votes are going to be," she said in her usual evasive manner. (Remember this moment the next time one of McSally's allies says that her Democratic challenger, Mark Kelly, dodges tough questions.

McSally has sidestepped any and all questions about whether President Donald Trump’s shakedown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was appropriate. Instead, whenever she is asked about the trial, she flips the question and says Democrats are to blame for investigating the matter. And while she has given lip service to the notion that she’s going to be a fair juror who listens to all the evidence in the impeachment trial, there is zero chance that she would actually turn on Trump as that would be political suicide—and if there’s one thing McSally cares deeply about, it’s Martha McSally’s political ambitions.

It’s a standard feature of the 2018 Martha McSally model, which now comes loaded with extra Trumpiness. Unlike the earlier versions, which were critical of Trump and aimed to present the image of a reasonable moderate as she navigated the political currents of a competitive Southern Arizona congressional district, the 2018 McSally model has fully embraced Trump and his brash and insulting style. It likely cost her the 2018 election against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, but she’s bought her ticket and she’s gonna ride.

It also helped McSally distract from more bad news. As The Skinny reported this week, multiple polls have shown McSally with lousy approval ratings. And yesterday, ahead of her attention-grabbing dismissal of CNN’s liberal hack, more bad news emerged: Her approval ratings continue to dive, according to Morning Consult’s quarterly tracking poll.

The Skinny mentioned this week that McSally has a “meh” rating in the ratings released in October, with 39 percent of surveyed voters approving of the job she’s doing and 37 percent disapproving, giving her a net plus-2-percent positive score . The latest numbers show that she has dropped 5 percentage points, to a negative-3-percent score. According to the survey, 37 percent of voters approved of the job she’s doing, while 40 percent disapproved. The survey showed that she suffered a huge 9-percentage-point drop among Republican voters as she dropped from 49 percent approval to 41 percent approval.

So McSally’s exchange with Raju served two purposes: It distracted from the news of her tumbling approval and it helped her with the GOP base that appears to be souring on her. We’ll find out in November whether it helps her with the independent and female voters who supported Sinema over her in 2018.

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Town of Florence Blindsided by Ducey's Decision to Close Prison

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 11:11 AM

  • Courtesy photo
The Town of Florence says they had no idea of Governor Doug Ducey's intentions to close the Florence state prison until he announced it publicly during his State of the State address on Monday, Jan. 13.

In a statement posted on the town's website, it says staff were "startled" by the sudden announcement but they are "committed to work closely with our colleagues at the State, in the State Legislature, at Pinal County, and with our partners at our local correctional facilities to  better understand the impacts of this decision and to strive to find a solution that is appropriate for our community, our residents, and the many employees that call Florence home for eight to twelve hours per day."

The Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence is Arizona's largest and oldest prison. It has existed for over 100 years and currently houses about 3,800 incarcerated men.

In his address, Ducey said all existing staff at the Florence prison will be relocated to Eyman prison, less than three miles away. The Governor’s Office says additional staff will allow the Eyman complex to be fully staffed, eliminating vacancies and “providing inmates with better access to programs and other services, such as enhanced second chance programs.”

They say no correctional employees will lose their jobs as a result of the move, and taxpayers will save an estimated $247 million over three years.

While their jobs are still secured for now, the Town of Florence believes this new development will still have lasting effects on their community.

Their statement says:
"We are concerned for our residents, who for so many years have shouldered the burdens and stigmas associated with being called a 'prison town.' Without legislative action, resources currently used in the community could dry up and could radically change this historic community and the county seat of the state’s fastest growing county. Preliminary estimates on impact show that the Town could lose up to 3,600 prisoners and hundreds of permanent jobs upon the closure of the facility. The loss of these residents and their associated revenue could equate to a $1.3 million direct impact on Town services (or about 13% of its total state-shared revenue). To a rural community like ours, this is not inconsequential."

The Florence closure is part of Ducey's shift toward a more treatment-based approach to corrections. This decision was coupled with the announcement that the Arizona Department of Corrections will be rebranded into the "Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry."

While closing the state's largest prison is a statement within itself, the effects it will have on the incarcerated population are still unknown. Ducey's plan offers no details on whether inmates at Florence will be eligible for early releases, nor does it provide a path to reduce prison populations at all.

Florence still anticipates a need for carceral facilities, adding in their statement that "should new facilities be desired, Florence has available land that is zoned and planned for this type of use."

Their full statement can be viewed here.

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Results-Based Funding: A Tale Of Two Districts And a Charter Chain

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 10:56 AM


If Doug Ducey bragged about adding $70 per student to the K-12 education budget, the news would be received with yawns from the vaguely interested and howls of outrage from people who know Arizona needs to add a thousand dollars per student to reach Mississippi funding levels, two thousand to reach Arkansas and three thousand to reach Louisiana. In Arizona funding dollars, that translates to an added one billion, two billion and three billion dollars respectively.

So $70 per student, about $72 million total, doesn't even qualify as small potatoes compared to the funding Arizona needs to equal some of the poorest southern states, let alone the rest of the nation. It's chump change.

But Ducey is getting away with bragging about $72 million for schools by spending it, using words from his State of the State speech, "to reward and replicate success in our best public schools." Those "successful" schools will get either $225 or $400 per student from a program with the impressive-sounding name, results-based funding. True, only a quarter of the state's district and charter schools get any money, but it's supposed to be a reward for success, which sounds like a good thing.

Except that "success" is measured by the percentage of a school's students who pass the state's AZMerit exam, and as most everyone knows, students from higher income families tend to do a whole lot better on the tests than students from lower income families. So if it's all about passing rates, all the money would go to schools in high rent areas, and that would be too obviously, grossly unfair, even for Governor Ducey.

What to do?

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick Says She's Taking Leave of Office To Enter Alcohol Recovery Treatment

Posted By and on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 11:01 AM

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick: "I will receive treatment that I have struggled to ask for, to treat my alcohol dependence."
  • Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick: "I will receive treatment that I have struggled to ask for, to treat my alcohol dependence."

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick announced today she was taking a leave of absence from the office to enter treatment for alcohol addiction.

“Beginning next week, I will receive treatment that I have struggled to ask for, to treat my alcohol dependence,” said Kirkpatrick in a prepared statement.

Kirkpatrick, 69, said the decision was precipitated by a serious fall that will require physical therapy.

Kirkpatrick is up for reelection following her first term representing Southern Arizona’s Congressional District 2, considered one of the most competitive in the country. She had previously represented Congressional District 1, which includes Oro Valley and Marana as well as Flagstaff and eastern Arizona.

“I am finally seeking this help after struggling to do so in the past, and I am ready to admit that I, like countless other Americans, suffer from this disease,” Kirkpatrick said in her statement. “Hard work and determination—which have brought me success in life—have not been enough to win this battle. Other than being a wife, mother, and grandmother, the most important job in the world to me is representing my fellow Arizonans. I know I must get better in order to do my best in each of these roles.”

Kirkpatrick said her offices would continue to run in her absence.

“During my absence, my congressional offices in Washington and Arizona will be fully operational, processing all constituent requests, meetings, activities and correspondence,” Kirkpatrick said. “My positions on all recorded votes will be submitted to the Congressional Record and made publicly available.”

Kirkpatrick’s 2020 campaign manager, Michael Sheridan, said Kirkpatrick remained committed to running for reelection this year.

“Congresswoman Kirkpatrick is very grateful for all the outreach and support she’s received,” Sheridan said. “Ann wants her constituents to know that she is standing by them 100% and fully intends to run for reelection this fall and hopes to earn the support of all voters across her district.”

Two of Kirkpatrick’s potential Republican opponents wished her well in her effort at recovery.

“Alcoholism is a serious disease many Americans and their families face daily in our nation,” said Republican Brandon Martin in a Facebook statement. “It's a difficult decision for individuals to address and admit they need help. I'm happy to hear, Mrs. Kirkpatrick, is seeking professional help to combat her illness and is taking the steps necessary to recover. I wish her, and her family the best as she begins her journey to a full recovery.”

Joseph Morgan shared a similar sentiment.

“I hope she gets the help she needs,” Morgan said.

Pima County Democratic Party Chair Alison Jones said the party “wishes Ann Kirkpatrick a speedy recovery from her fall. Almost every family is affected by the disease of alcoholism. We are confident Rep. Kirkpatrick, with the support of her family and friends, will get the treatment she needs while continuing to execute the duties of her office.”

Continue reading »

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Bonnie Schock Named Executive Director At Fox Theatre

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 9:51 AM

  • Courtesy photo
Hailing from the Sheldon Theatre of Performing Arts in Red Wing, Minnesota, Bonnie Schock was selected to lead the Fox Theatre. She will begin her tenure March 9, 2020.

Schock said she is delighted and honored to join the Fox Theatre, built in 1930 in downtown Tucson.

“I believe in the performing arts as a space for community building, where we get to know ourselves, our neighbors, and our world better,” Schock said in a statement announcing the move. “And, after 30 years in this work, I have come to know that historic facilities play a particularly vital role in the arts ecosystem, for all the memories they hold and the connections they foster.

Schock has been the executive director of the Sheldon Theatre since 2015, and was found after a national search conducted for the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation Board of Directors. She will fill the position left vacant by former longtime executive director Craig Sumberg, who was recently selected to lead The South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, New Jersey.

“The Fox is truly a rare treasure - the kind of special place that works across time, as a tangible link between past, present, and future,” Schock said. “I am excited to begin work with the board, the vibrant Tucson arts and cultural community, the Fox's many and diverse supporters, and the skilled staff to build on the Fox's many past and current successes, and to imagine together a vibrant future."

The Fox announced that informal community meet and greet events are in the planning stages to welcome Schock to Tucson and the rest of Southern Arizona.

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Staff Pick

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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