Friday, January 19, 2018

Brahm Resnik Nails Ducey On His Koch Addiction (Are There Rehab Programs For Funding Abuse?)

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 6:30 PM

  • Courtesy of Bigstock
Even if Doug Ducey, somewhere in his heart of hearts, wanted to advocate for higher taxes or put a brake on Arizona's private school voucher programs, he couldn't. He's addicted to the massive doses of dark money he gets from the Koch brothers network, and the Kochs are for lowering taxes and dismantling public (read "government") schools, ever and always. Ducey doesn't dare mess with the supplier even if he thought it would be good for Arizona, lest his vital flow of cash dries up. Lack of supply could lead to a painful withdrawal from public life.

On January 14, Ducey went on Sunday Square Off with Brahm Resnik. It was Ducey's first time on the show since he's been governor, and it may be his last, given the tough questions Resnik threw at him about his positions on education and his political debt to the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers. Before I get to the interview, some background is in order.

Doug Ducey first made a name for himself on the national anti-tax stage in 2012 when he was state treasurer and led the fight against Proposition 204, which would have added a billion dollars to education funding by increasing the sales tax. Anyone fighting a tax hike is a friend of the Kochs, and they showed their support by putting $1.8 million into the effort. Their money was instrumental in defeating the measure. [See Note at the end for a correction.]

In 2014, Ducey was running for governor, and he wanted to make sure his Koch connection was still solid.

The Kochs don't supply all the money for candidates and causes they support. Much of it flows from a loosely connected group of fabulously wealthy people who form the Koch network. They come together during regular summits at fancy resorts to plot their strategies and offer up the money necessary to put their political plans into motion.

Ducey attended the network summit in June, 2014, along with conservative favorites like Tom Cotton, Jodi Ernst and Cory Gardner. These gatherings are very secretive. Nothing is supposed to leak out. But someone managed to record the proceedings, including Ducey's moment in the spotlight.

Ducey was introduced to the gathering as someone who "really stood up to a lot of cronyism in the business community in Arizona and led the charge against a tax hike ballot initiative" — referring, of course, to his fight against Prop 204. Ducey followed his introduction with a five minute self-congratulatory talk which let the deep pockets in the room know he was their man. He told them about himself while he stroked their oversized egos, hoping to open their pocketbooks.

"I've been coming to this conference for years," Ducey told them. In politics, he continued, "You're known for the company you keep," referring to the ultra-rich members of the network and the politicians they support. He stated that he had “confidence in the messaging we have here at the conference.”

"I can’t emphasize enough the power of organizations like this," he said as he concluded. “I’m grateful for what this conference does.” What the conference does is fund candidates, both through direct contributions and infusions of dark money. That's "the power of organizations like this" Ducey was talking about.

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'Call Me by Your Name' Opens at Loft Today

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 4:48 PM

One of 2017’s better love stories, this sumptuously filmed romance set in Italy is a thing of beauty to look at. Lush settings, stunning locations, and two admittedly quite adorable leads in Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet contribute to a sweet, and heartbreaking, story by Andre Aciman (who wrote the novel), with a screenplay by James Ivory. Chalamet plays Elio, an American living in Italy with his professor father (Michael Stuhlbarg). When father takes an assistant in the form of Oliver (Hammer), Elio is smitten, and so is Oliver. They wind up having a fling that carries deep meaning for them, and for those who know them. Chalamet (who was also terrific in 2017’s Lady Bird) makes Elio so much more than a confused teen in love; this guy is really in love in a way that will affect his entire life, and the viewer feels it. Hammer continues to evolve as an actor, and this is his best work yet; he also gets high scores for his stellar dance moves whenever somebody play the Psychedelic Furs. As good as the duo are, my vote for best scene in the film goes to the underrated Stuhlbarg, who has a speech relating to his son that is an absolute showstopper. An overall sweet movie that features an end credit sequence that, well, just says it all.

The Tip-Off: Deandre Ayton and Arizona head to Palo Alto to face red-hot Stanford

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 4:35 PM

Freshman forward Brandon Randolph throws down a dunk against the University of Oregon on Jan. 13. - STAN LIU | ARIZONA ATHLETICS
  • Stan Liu | Arizona Athletics
  • Freshman forward Brandon Randolph throws down a dunk against the University of Oregon on Jan. 13.

The game of the season in the Pac-12 tips off tomorrow, pitting an Arizona team that looked god-awful when playing a woeful Cal team against the Brainiacs from Stanford.

The battle, which takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, will be the toughest in a while for Sean Miller’s club, with the Cardinal (11-8, 5-1) rolling off five straight wins, finding themselves in a tie for first place with the Wildcats.

The Cardinal, led by second-year coach Jerod Haase, feature a balanced offensive attack, spearheaded by Arizona natives Dorian Pickens and Michael Humphrey—who average 12.9 and 11.2 points per game, respectively.

Perhaps the greatest cog in the Stanford offensive machine, however, is Minnesota native Reid Travis—whose fresh-faced enthusiasm with the ball in his hands has produced a team-high 20 points per game this season, to go with 7.5 rebounds per game.

Defense might be an issue for both teams, with the Cardinal ranking 250th in Division I in points allowed (75.1), with Arizona sitting at 156th, giving up 71.4 points per game.

Miller in his weekly press conference on Monday stressed how important the Cardinals’ combo of experience and skill is, with two seniors, a junior and two freshmen in their usual starting five.

“With Stanford, they have a lot of experience, maybe the most returning experience in our conference,” Miller said. “But, I also know they've battled through a significant amount of
injuries in the non-conference season.”

Both of those tenets were on full display on Thursday, when Stanford rolled past ASU in Palo Alto, 86-77, thanks to 37 points from the combo of Travis and Pickens, to go with a Herculean effort by bench players Josh Sharma and Oscar de Silva, who scored 14 points apiece against the Sun Devils.

The Cardinal’s recent resurgence has gotten them within the top-100 of Friday’s rankings—up four spots from the start of the week.

Turnovers galore

A major problem for the Arizona offense of-late has been its inability to hold onto the ball—committing 21 turnovers against the Bears in Berkeley on Thursday.

The Wildcats rank 111th in the nation in turnovers per game, at 12.6, which speaks to their continued inability to effectively move the ball, and their lack of a true point guard to
guide the offense forward.

They’ll need better ballhandling from upperclassmen, like junior guard Allonzo Trier—who has committed at least two turnovers in each of his last five games, in order to escape Palo Alto with a win.

The Wildcats should get a shot in the arm on Saturday, with sophomore guard Rawle Alkins returning from a foot injury.

Miller will need Alkins and senior guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who had 14 points and a team-best six assists on Thursday, to be in top form at Maples—where Arizona’s conference
title dreams have died in the past.

The longtime Arizona coach expects a daylong battle in the South Bay on Saturday, given Stanford’s run of-late.

“Stanford's a good team, and seems like they're playing their best, with a lot of confidence,” Miller said. “And in fairness to them, they're healthy.”

How to Watch: Arizona and Stanford tip off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, with CBS airing the game live.

How to Bet: Vegas has Arizona as a six-point favorite over Stanford

Who to Watch: Stanford has five players averaging more than 10 points a game—Reid Travis (20.0), Dorian Pickens (12.9), Michael Humphrey (11.2), Kezie Okpala (10.9) and Daejon Davis (10.4). Perhaps the most exciting player of-late, however, has been seven-foot junior Josh Sharma, who scored 14 points against ASU on Thursday.

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Laughing Stock: Felipe Esparza and the Lone Stranger

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Felipe Esparza comes to the Diamond Center
  • Felipe Esparza comes to the Diamond Center

Tough luck kid makes comedy gold.

Whatever else Bill Cosby may have done, we owe him the unique, improbable and occasionally perilous career of Felipe Esparza.

Based on a Cosby record he loved as a child, Esparza wanted to be a comedian. It was all he could think of when a rehab counselor asked him to list five goals for his future. At 18, he’d already had the kind of life that leads inevitably to rehab, if not to jail.

But Esparza cared enough about comedy to work the next 16 years in the salt mines of comedy oblivion, plying his craft in small clubs until he could open for the likes of Gabriel Iglesias and Paul Rodriguez. In 2010, he busted out of obscurity as a winner in Last Comic Standing. He went on to produce two, hour-long comedy specials, one on Netflix and one for HBO. He’s been the spokesperson for a national Honda campaign and a national campaign for Target Mobile.

Many fans know Esparza from his recurring TV roles on The Eric Andre Show; NBC's Superstore, TruTV's World's Dumbest and Russell Simmons Presents Stand-Up at the El Rey.He now hosts a popular podcast called What’s Up Fool, on the All Things Comedy Network.

Esparza performs at the Desert Diamond Casino’s Diamond Center in Sahuarita at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27. Tickets for the age-18-and-older show are $20 to $40, available at

Hi, ho, Steve!

A bone-hard progressive, I expected to rant about how a farcical shadow of the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto, misrepresents our Native American friends and neighbors in Gaslight Theatre’s production The Lone Stranger. But even the magnificent equine Silver is an articulated brown cardboard affair named Steve, so it’s complicated.

I laughed, hard, with this seasoned company of fine melodramatic actors, who sing and dance with more finesse than we could expect. The word “Indian” never comes up. “Renegades” harry a wagon train with arrows for a minute, but the real villain is a greedy, rich white guy after Nell’s ranch.

"Tonka", played by the ever scene-stealing Joe Cooper, is the smartest and funniest of the bumbling cast of characters. His outfit is hardly more outlandish than others’, but I winced at his stereotypical broken English. It would be funnier if he’d learned perfect English with, say, a Swedish or Italian accent.

And if Tonka can’t have a horse, the production should at least give him a motorcycle.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Where I Went Wrong in My Earlier Budget Post

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Monday I wrote a post about Ducey's proposed 2018-19 budget. I got some of the facts wrong. I thought Ducey had proposed $214 million in new education spending, including $88 million to build or expand schools in Chander, Queen Creek and Tolleson. My numbers were wrong on both counts. I'm going to try and get closer to right in this post. No guarantees I'll be exactly on the money.

I tried my damndest to pull together the details of Ducey's budget proposal by reading a bunch of accounts in the media, but my damndest wasn't good enough. Better would have been to go directly to the source, the official State of Arizona Executive Budget Summary, Fiscal Year 2019. Near as I can tell, Ducey's proposal contains $190.4 million in new money for K-12 education beyond adjustments for inflation and student growth. Here's the part of the proposal listing the education numbers.

Add together the two "Initiative" lists, and you get $190.4 million.

See the item near the bottom, "$5.1 million, New School Construction"? That's the first of 25 yearly payments to cover the $88.1 million needed to build or expand three schools in Chandler, one in Queen Creek and one in Tolleson Union High district. That means every year for the next 25 years, $5.5 million for those schools will be part of the education budget.

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The Weekly List: 23 Things To Do In Tucson This Week

Posted By and on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 12:30 PM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

See a Show

Bernstein: Kaddish. Leonard Bernstein, most famous for composing the music for West Side Story, did a lot more than compose the music for West Side Story. For example, his Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish,” is based on the Jewish Prayer and was dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy (who died just weeks after the first performance of the piece). At this performance, hosted by the Tucson Symphony and the Tucson Desert Song Festival, Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein, will narrate. 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 19 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21. Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. $15 to $86.

Outside Mullingar at ATC. John Patrick Shanley, the author of Doubt and Moonstruck, also wrote this Tony-nominated play set in the farmlands of Ireland. It’s a light and lovely romantic comedy about two introverts—Anthony, the cattle farmer, and Rosemary, his next door neighbor who is determined they will be together. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded about all of the love in the world. Shows Saturday, Jan. 20 to Saturday, Feb. 10. Dates and times vary, but this week, there’s an 8 p.m. preview show on Saturday, Jan 20, a 7 p.m. preview show with a post-show discussion on Sunday, Jan. 21, and 7:30 p.m. previews Tuesday, Jan 23 through Thursday, Jan. 25. Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Preview shows $25 to $45. Regular shows $41 to $63.

MOMIX: Opus Cactus. UA Presents is hosting MOMIX, the dancer-illusionist company that you pretty much have to see to understand. It’s a lot of art forms coming together—dance, music, gymnastics, light work, feats of strength—for a performance that the New York Times praised for its “ingenuity, theatricality and cunning imagination.” So it can’t be all that bad, right? And this show is all about the Sonoran Desert, depicting lizards, snakes, insects and our beloved saguaros with dynamism and humor. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. $20 to $65.

Shop Local

La Encantada Fine Art Festival. Let’s get this party art-ed! Dozens of visual fine artists are coming together in the foothills so that you can look at their gorgeous work against the backdrop of Tucson’s gorgeous mountains, and take your favorite pieces home with you! There will be metal and leather work glass designs, watercolor, silver jewelry, metal sculptures, ceramic, woodwork, photography, oil paintings and mixed media. Plus live entertainment and free parking! 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21. La Encantada Shopping Center, 2905 E. Skyline Drive. Free.

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Let's Listen to the New Calexico Single "Under the Wheels"

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 11:30 AM

Calexico's new album, The Thread That Keeps Us, drops next Friday, Jan. 26. I can tell you I've had an advance listen and it is, as usual, great. (Granted, I'm a Calexico superfan, but I'm sure you'll agree once you hear it.) Ahead of the release date, there's a new single, "Under the Wheels." Give it a listen!

Guero Canelo Has Won a James Beard Award

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 10:18 AM

Tucson's Guero Canelo—celebrated for its Sonoran Dog—is one of five eateries that won a James Beard Award in the American Classics category. From the James Beard Foundation:

The Sonoran hot dog evinces the flow of culinary and cultural influences from the U.S. to Mexico and back. Decades ago, elaborately dressed hot dogs began to appear as novelty imports on the streets of Hermosillo, the Sonoran capital. Today, Tucson is the American epicenter, and Daniel Contreras is the leading hotdoguero. A Sonoran native, Contreras was 33 in 1993 when he opened El Guero Canelo. The original stand is now a destination restaurant, outfitted with picnic tables and serviced by a walk-up order window. Fans converge for bacon-wrapped franks, stuffed into stubby bollilos, smothered with beans, onion, mustard, jalapeno sauce, and a squiggle of mayonnaise. Contreras operates three branches in Tucson, one in Phoenix, and a bakery to supply the split-top buns.

Staff Pick

The Zoppe Family Circus

The Zoppé Family Circus, set to make its seventh trip to Tucson in as many years, taking… More

@ MSA Annex Fri., Jan. 12, 7-9 p.m., Sat., Jan. 13, 1-3, 4-6 & 7-9 p.m., Sun., Jan. 14, 1-3 & 4-6 p.m., Mon., Jan. 15, 1-3 & 4-6 p.m., Thu., Jan. 18, 7-9 p.m., Fri., Jan. 19, 7-9 p.m., Sat., Jan. 20, 1-3, 4-6 & 7-9 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 21, 1-3 & 4-6 p.m. 267 S Avenida Del Convento

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