Monday, January 15, 2018

All School Districts Are Not Created Equal in Ducey's Budget

Posted By on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 3:59 PM

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Chandler, Queen Creek and Vail school districts all have more than their share of students from higher income families. Over two years, beginning with the 2017-18 budget and continuing with Ducey's proposed budget for 2018-19, all of them share in $152 million to build schools in their districts, assuming Ducey's budget makes it through the legislature intact. Tolleson is the only district getting part of the construction money whose family income is close to the state average.

Ducey's proposed education budget is filled with items worth discussing, but I want to start here, with new money for school construction, because it's one of the indications that all school districts are not created equal when it comes to our meager state funding. Four districts will build new schools or expand existing schools, three of them in high rent districts. It may be a reasonable move. Population growth may have their buildings bursting at the seams. But at a time when additions to most school district budgets are being doled out by the teaspoon, these districts are getting money by the steam shovelful.

If you subtract the money going to the four districts from the two year education budget total, it gives the lie to Ducey's claim that he's spreading lots of new education dollars around the state. His claim is a wild exaggeration to begin with, considering how far we have to go to get back to 2009 spending levels, but even that exaggerates the benefits to most districts. Ducey says his 2018-19 budget proposal will bring $214 million in new education spending. Add that to last year's total, $163 million, and you get a two year total of $377 million. But about 40 percent of that figure, $152 million, is going to build schools in four districts. That leaves $225 million over two years for everyone else.

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Marbles Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 at 9:20 AM

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Hi, I’m Marbles!

I am an energetic 1 year old boy who can’t wait to meet the purr-fect family! I am a very outgoing and friendly boy. I love to play with the feathers here at HSSA and enjoy getting treats!
Come fall in love with me at HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd., or give an adoptions counselor a call at 520-327-6088, ext. 173 for more information.

Lots of Love,
Marbles (849604)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Will Congress Find an Agreement That Protects the DREAMers From Deportation?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 5:32 PM

Protesters defend DACA in Tucson last fall, after Donald Trump ended the Obama-era protections for young immigrants. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Protesters defend DACA in Tucson last fall, after Donald Trump ended the Obama-era protections for young immigrants.

The fate of DREAMers is uncertain, but one one Tucson DREAMer is confident Congress will find a legislative fix to replace Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Jesus Lucero, a member of Scholarship A-Z, an organization that works for access to higher education and equal rights for young immigrants, recently spent two-and-a-half weeks in the halls of Congress, telling politicians his story.

The morning after Thanksgiving, Lucero and about 20 other people loaded into two vans at 3 a.m. and drove 48 hours to Washington D.C. Many of them were DREAMers—the swath of American-grown youth brought into the U.S. as children without the legal status.

The group used the “bird-dog” approach—waiting for Congress members to come out of voting. Lucero said that often, Republican senators were the ones who took stopped to listen to his story while both Democratic and Republican congress members ignored him by getting on their phones.

“It’s really heartbreaking to open your heart to someone and have them shut you down,” he said.

Lucero’s been in the U.S. since he was 2. He’s about to turn 19. He was never able to get DACA because of a technicality. Among other things, in order to qualify, DREAMers had to prove they’d been in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007. Lucero says he was but lacked the documentation to prove it.

Although he is confident some form of DREAMer legislation will pass, he doubts it will be a “clean DREAM Act,” meaning free of other immigration enforcement measures. Many Democrats and even the occasional Republican have expressed the need for a clean DREAM Act.

Donald Trump has long said any protection for DREAMers needs to be attached to stricter border security measures, although on occasion, he’s flipped his position.

Trump prepared to ring in the new year with an ultimatum. On the morning of Dec. 29, he tweeted “The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!”

Then, in the first week of 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump clarified what he had in mind: $18 billion for his “big, beautiful wall. And he wants American taxpayers to pick up the bill, rather than Mexico, the country he has repeatedly said would pay for it. The billion-dollar plan would construct and replace barriers along 700 miles of border, which would cover just under half of the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

And this week, on Tuesday, Jan. 9, in a rare televised meeting with members of Congress, Trump initially agreed with Sen. Dianne Feinstein that Congress should handle a DACA fix first, then move on to immigration reform. A Republican senator had to jump in and explain to Trump what he was agreeing to.


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On Trump’s Watch, Another Surge of Unaccompanied Minors at The Border

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 4:08 PM

College Place, before it was converted to a UAC detention center now called Estrella Del Norte in Tucson. - UCRIBS
  • Ucribs
  • College Place, before it was converted to a UAC detention center now called Estrella Del Norte in Tucson.
In a clear sign that the number of unaccompanied minors is again surging at the southwest border, a shelter for these youngsters hosted a job fair last month.

After a drastic and steady decrease in 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 23 percent increase in the number of “unaccompanied alien children” apprehended at the border from October to November of 2017.

Pima County, which shares about 100 miles with Mexico’s border, is home to a Southwest Key Programs facility, providing shelter for children and adolescents often fleeing violence in Central America. It was once an apartment complex called College Place, its leasing office designed like a hotel lobby, welcoming university students to their new home. But, these days a stay here is nothing like going to college.

The shelter is contained by a black iron security fence and concrete block walls. Near the central courtyard, a mural has been painted with kid-friendly colors, striking a garish contrast against the drab stucco that surrounds it.

Last month, 50 applicants showed up to Southwest Key’s Estrella Del Norte job fair in Tucson by 10 a.m. looking for anything from food service to clinical casework positions. Nearly all the job seekers were 25 to 35 years old, and Hispanic, according to a job hopeful who spoke with The Chronicle of Social Change.

Southwest Key is one of a number of private agencies that contract with the federal government to provide housing for unaccompanied minors and families detained at the border or apprehended in the U.S. and awaiting deportation proceedings. Of late, it is on a hiring spree. The agency had more than 200 open positions listed from Arizona to Texas as of December.

“This position is seasonal and is staffed as necessary in response to fluctuating business operations,” reads the agency’s job listing.

As The Chronicle reported in November, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is suddenly desperate to find beds for unaccompanied minors. The department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which oversees the so-called Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program, has reached 85 percent capacity among its network of providers, according to a memo obtained by The Chronicle in November.

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Survive and conquer: Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins guide Arizona past Oregon State, 70-62

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 3:01 PM

Rawle Alkins scored 11 points in Arizona's 70-62 win over Oregon State on Jan. 11. - STAN LIU | ARIZONA ATHLETICS
  • Stan Liu | Arizona Athletics
  • Rawle Alkins scored 11 points in Arizona's 70-62 win over Oregon State on Jan. 11.

The fate of the Arizona Wildcats flipped on a highlight reel, rim-rattling dunk by sophomore guard Rawle Alkins.

Alkins, who finished Thursday’s game against Oregon State with 11 points on 4-9 shooting, poked the ball loose from OSU guard Stephen Thompson Jr.

What happened next sent the 14,000-plus people in attendanceat McKale Center ablaze, as the Brooklyn native soared through the Arizona night—slamming home a reverse dunk to give Arizona a 29-26 lead.

Alkins, who missed the Wildcats’ first eight games with a broken foot, was rather nonchalant about the slam, laughing with teammates as he sprinted back on defense.

The rest, to use Alkins’ words in his post-game press conference, was “all adrenaline,” as the Wildcats’ attacking defense drove the Beavers into oblivion, outscoring Oregon State 41-31 in the game’s latter half.

“They doubled the guy on the pick and roll, and I tried to read the guy’s eyes, and I just read ’em,” Alkins said. “I got the steal, and I had a lot of adrenalin. Before I got hurt, that used to be my favorite dunk, so I was us like whatever.”

Alkins’ slam, in combination with a dynamic offensive performance turned in by fellow guard Allonzo Trier, propelled Arizona to a 70-62 victory, on a night with almost as many turnovers (27) as field goals (44).

Trier and the Wildcats recovered from a dismal offensive start, shooting 9-24 (37.5 percent) against the Beavers’ zone defense.

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Laughing Stock: Seven-Year Niche

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 1:12 PM

Musical Mayhem turns seven. - STACY SKROCH LESTER
  • Stacy Skroch Lester
  • Musical Mayhem turns seven.
It’s been seven years since Donnie Cianciotto first made mayhem of Broadway’s greatest hits with a cast of actors and improvisers in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2012, he moved the project to Tucson, where his artistic vision, Musical Mayhem, grew such strong roots it survived its founder’s success. The company continued to thrive even after Cianciotto left to seek his fortune in New York City.

The prodigal returns to celebrate Seven Years of Mayhem at 6 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, at Unscrewed Theatre. Tickets are $7 via squareup.com/store/musical-mayhem-cabaret; $10 at the door.
As director, Cianciotto brings fresh perspective to the anniversary show, based on his recent experience directing and acting in off-Broadway productions. Among other projects, he produces the popular Trans Voices Cabaret at the legendary Duplex Piano Bar and Cabaret Theater in Greenwich Village. That show spotlights transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer musical theater performers.

Returning former members will bulk up the current Mayhem cast for the anniversary special. They’ll appear in person and via video, both live and recorded. Alumni featured include Jillian Mitchell, China Young, Morgan Smith and other audience favorites. The full cast includes Veronica Conran, Kirsten Cummins, Abigail Dunscomb, Cinder Elliot, Lety Gonzalez, David Gunther, Melanie Kersey, Tristan Kluge, Melanie Kondziolka, Katie Popiel, Alyson Precie, Jessica Pryde, Cameron Rau, Nathalie Rodriguez, Mandy Ressler, Nicolette Shaffer, Morgan Smith, Brin Wassenberg, Lani Villanueva, Deborah Witchey.

The company creates new musical skits for every show. For the anniversary, they’ve re-imagined songs from Rent, Wicked, Reefer Madness, My Fair Lady, Side Show, Book of Mormon, Les Misérables, Oklahoma and animated favorites Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Frozen and others. Expect classic tunes to show up onstage as puns, send-ups, dress-ups and even new story lines, under-rehearsed and over-dramatic in the Musical Mayhem tradition.

Mayhem found its permanent home at Unscrewed Theatre after spending its formative years at the former Colors Food & Spirits, New Moon and Fluxx Theatres. The last time Cianciotto performed with Mayhem at Unscrewed Theater was in their five-year anniversary show, just before he returned to his New York City hometown to star in a critically acclaimed musical and New York Times Critic’s Pick, Southern Comfort.

“It was quite the jump to go from under rehearsed and over dramatic to adequately rehearsed and appropriately dramatic,” says Cianciotto, “but performing at the world-renowned Public Theater (A Chorus Line, Hamilton) was a dream come true for me.” Cianciotto now lives in the Bronx with his wife, former Mayhem cast member Rebecca Cianciotto.

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T.H.R.E.A T. Watch: Immigration, Libel, Treason

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 12:00 PM

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It's a three-legged T.H.R.E.A T. stool, solidifying Trump's authoritarian positions. Actually, a soccer metaphor is even more fitting. Trump performed a T.H.R.E.A T. Watch hat trick. He pounded home three of his administration's authoritarian goals, attacking immigrants, the media and dissent.

The most obviously vile, but not necessarily the most dangerous, of Trump's three recent statements is Thursday's reference to Haiti and African countries as "shitholes." Trump is a master at painting enemies in the worst possible light with his descriptors, and "shitholes" ranks among the best of them. It refers to a hole dug under an outhouse. While the rest of us walk on clean land, Trump's image has people living in those countries wallowing in the most disgusting kind of filth. For Trump, an admitted germaphobe, the image must be especially revolting.

The president has removed any remaining doubt that he's a racist. Up to this point, only a fan could question his obvious racial animus, but when Trump called countries populated by people of color "shitholes," even his most ardent supporters have their work cut out for them — at least those who are interested in defending him from the "racist" label. I'm sure white supremacists everywhere are overjoyed.

Immigrants of color, even those living here legally, have growing reasons to fear for their safety and security.

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Governor, You're No Don Quixote.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 11:00 AM

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Monday as I waited for Doug Ducey's State of the State Address, I wrote a post predicting what he would say about education. I guessed he would speak in glittering generalities about the importance of education, and that he would promise more funding without talking dollars and cents. And I guessed he would ask us "to dream the impossible dream of raising teacher salaries, spending more money on educational supplies, fixing our crumbling schools and replacing our old buses without raising taxes."

It didn't take a soothsayer or an entrail reader to get that one right. It's what he always says.

Don Quixote, who sang about dreaming the impossible dream in a musical based on the great 17th century novel, had gone mad from reading too many stories about knights and chivalry. He  put on a suit of dented armor and rode forth, determined to right the wrongs of the world. He honestly thought a peasant woman was a princess under the spell of a wicked enchanter. He believed with all his heart that windmills were evil giants he could joust against and defeat while riding on the worn-out nag he thought was a noble steed. He believed in his own beautiful folly. His audience has spent five centuries laughing at him and crying with him, wishing they could believe as well.

Governor, I read Don Quixote. I knew Don Quixote literarily and think of him as a friend of mine. Governor, you're no Don Quixote.

Ducey isn't deluded. He knows his promise to add significant education funding to the state budget is a con job, because there's not enough money in the budget for a serious increase, and he has pledged to the state's businesses and wealthiest individuals — and to his greatest benefactors, the Koch Brothers — that he would only lower taxes, never raise them. His only mention of taxes in the address was an increased exemption for military retirement pay.

Ducey spoke of holding the line on prison spending, then said,
"Let’s spend these dollars – tens of millions of dollars combined – where they can go to better use: In our public schools and for our teachers."
Some simple math. We have about a million K-12 students in Arizona. "Tens of millions of dollars" translates to tens of dollars per student. In a 30 student classroom, that comes to $300 a year. Ducey knows it. Everyone who understands the size of the education budget knows it. But Ducey hopes he can con potential voters into thinking he promised something real.

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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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