Monday, May 15, 2017

If You Think the TUSD Board Election Was a Knock-down, Drag-out Fight, Take a Look at L.A.

Posted By on Mon, May 15, 2017 at 9:30 AM

  • Courtesy of CreativeCommons/Wikipedia

TUSD went through a rough-and-tumble board election last year, but compared to what's going on in the Los Angeles school board race, it was a half-hearted shoving match on the school playground. Two seats are up for grabs in Tuesday's L.A. school board election, and so far $12 million has been dropped into the races. Between Wednesday and Thursday, two of the candidates pulled in another $800,000.

Looking at the major battles over education being waged in Arizona as well as L.A., New York, Chicago and other hot spots, not to mention the national-level furor over Trump's Ed Sec Betsy DeVos and her privatization priorities, it's clear to me we're at a pivotal moment. The nation is fighting over the very soul of education. What happens over the next decade could very well decide how we educate our children well into the future.

What's unusual about the education battles is, unlike most national issues, they don't divide along neat political lines. Arizona's statewide educational fight is pretty straightforwardly conservative/progressive, Republican/Democratic. But the TUSD board battles created some mighty strange political bedfellows, and the L.A. education wars are even more complicated.

Unlike TUSD where all the board candidates are lumped together and the top vote getters are elected, L.A. board seats are divided by district. Each of the two hotly contested district seats has a pro-charter candidate and an . . . it's not correct to say an anti-charter school candidate exactly, more like a candidate who wants to slow down charter growth. Some of the pro charter money has come from the usual conservative sources: two members of the Walton (Walmart) family and the conservative co-founder of the GAP. But giving big money to the same side are former N.Y. mayor Michael Bloomberg and Steve Jobs' widow, neither of whom are firmly in the conservative camp. And at the center of the L.A. pro-charter movement is Eli Broad, a very rich Democrat who is a major player in the "education reform"/privatization movement and has a goal of opening up enough L.A. charter schools that they'll enroll half of the local students. The candidates on the other side are getting lots of their money from teachers unions and their allies in the labor movement.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Laughing Stock: Mirth for Mom

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 3:08 PM

Musical Mayhem Cabaret presents Keepin' It Classy: A Night of Classic Broadway for Mother's Day - FACEBOOK: @MUSICALMAYHEMCABARET
  • Facebook: @musicalmayhemcabaret
  • Musical Mayhem Cabaret presents Keepin' It Classy: A Night of Classic Broadway for Mother's Day

Stuck for a way to celebrate Mother’s Day? Tucson musical comedy veterans Musical Mayhem Cabaret celebrate moms with an “under-rehearsed and over-dramatic” performance, Keepin' It Classy: A Night of Classic Broadway.

The show includes several songs by Cole Porter and others from Broadway favorites like Fiddler on the Roof, Something Happened on the Way to the Forum, Wonderful Town, Company, and the sometimes-conflictedly mom-oriented, Gypsy. The show closer, from Chicago, also includes clogging.

Mayhem of course finds comedy in Gypsy’s mother-daughter songs, like If Mama Was Married and Rose’s Turn, then transforms them into mom-honoring parodies. But You’ve Gotta Get a Gimmick was tricky. In the play and the movie, strip-tease artists use the song to counsel a young Gypsy Rose Lee on tricks of the trade.

The company’s managing artistic director Nicolette Shaffer-Filippi says. “I told the cast, ‘Your gimmick is ‘How are you going to be goofy but family-friendly?’” Improv fan favorite Gretchen Dingman Wirges, who performs and teaches with both NBOJU (Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed) and The Comedy Temple, brings her powerful voice and character acting chops to the challenge. Shaffer-Filippi says, “She always surprises me with goofy things,”

Shaffer-Filippi’s performed in Tucson community theatre for nine years and serves in Arizona Theater Company’s outreach program for children. For the last two years, she also has acted in Beer With the Bard, a program of the Tucson Fringe Festival.

Unscrewed’s Rob Sparks gets a workout as the only male member of Mayhem’s Mother’s Day cast. He performs Friendship from Anything Goes with Wirges and, according to Shaffer-Filippi, “He's our one male so he gets to play everyoneb's duet.” She adds, of the Company entry, Being Alive, “That will be our crying ender. It’s about man looking for a woman, but we're making the show about our love for our moms.”

Keepin' It Classy: A Night of Classic Broadway is at 6 p.m., Sunday, May 14, at Unscrewed Theatre, 3244 E Speedway Blvd. Tickets are family-priced at $10, or $7 in advance via
Musical Mayhem performs the second Sunday of every month. Auditions will be held at 6 p.m., Monday, May 22 and noon, Saturday May 27. Visit Musical Mayhem Cabaret on Facebook for more information.

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The Weekly List: 12 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Celebrating Moms

The Mamma Mia Sing-A-Long. With the main auditorium getting a makeover, the Loft is taking its show on the road and hosting a huge Greek wedding you won’t want to miss. Spend Mother's Day with singing along with the music of your favorite Swedish pop group! Don't worry, if it's been a little too long since you rocked out to “Super Trooper,” the lyrics will be on the screen. All guests will get goodie bags with mini props and surprises inside that you can use throughout the movie. So what are you waiting for? Get up and jive, dancing queens! 2-4 p.m. Sunday, May 14. Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road. General Admission: $10, Children 12 and under: $8.

Mother's Day Brews & Jewels. Just about all moms love sparkles and booze, right? Celebrate Mother's Day the right way with drinks and jewelry. Get mom tipsy and shop with her for the perfect necklace or bracelet by Stella & Dot. Drink specials are $1 off draft beer, $1 off 32 oz growler, and $2 off 64-ounce growler fill. Wine and $3 mimosas will also be available. 1-4 p.m. Sunday, May 14. 1912 Brewing Co., 2045 N. Forbes Blvd.

Manly Manlesque Mother's Day Show. Calling all slightly wild matriarchs: Treat mom to a sexy show to thank her for all she's ever done for you. This Manly Manlesque show claims it puts the "burly" in burlesque, including all the muscle, tattoos and blue collars of (some) women's dreams. 9 p.m. to midnight Sunday, May 14. Surly Wench Pub, 424 N. Fourth Ave. $10 general admission and $20 VIP.

Free Yoga for Mom. Flexibility and core body strength is important across generations. Cash in on that and spend time with your mama  when you choose from a variety of classes (with mom in for free) thanks to Barefoot Studio and its two locations. The classes are gentle and power flow at the Thornydale location and Yin, gentle and power flow at the Oracle location. This might be the only time you can find inner peace with your mom beside you! (Just kidding. Mostly.) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 14. Barefoot Studio, 7352 N. Oracle Road and 6781 N. Thornydale Road.

Muffins with Mom. Want something tangible to commemorate this Mother's Day? Get artsy with Mom this year—and enjoy muffins and beverages while you're at it! The price includes a reservation for two in the studio, but make your reservation ASAP on the Tucson Mall website. 10 a.m. to noon. Sunday, May 14. Color Me Mine Tucson Mall, 4500 N. Oracle Road. $25.

Downtown Fun

Second Saturdays Downtown. It’s another Second Saturday downtown, with fun for the whole family throughout the day. You can check out Etherton Gallery’s spectacular new show, Color Theory, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.; learn about frontier life at Living History Day at Presidio San Augustin de Tucson; and bring the kids to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum’s Train Day at the Depot (beginning at 10 a.m.), which will feature choo-choo rides, model trains in Amtrak lobby and a free outdoor screening of The Little Mermaid at 7 p.m. Among the musical acts in the evening: Nick Stanley is playing at La Cocina (7 p.m.), the Ronstadt Generations are peforming on the Club Congress Plaza (7 p.m.) and the Tortolita Gutpluckers will be at Borderlands Brewing Company (7 p.m.). And if you need a nostalgia fix, The Fox will be showing American Grafitti at 7:30 p.m. ($7). Find out more details about all the fun at

Animal Love

10th Annual Howling for the Hounds. Presented by the Wolves Motorcycle Club and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, come enjoy door prizes, live music, raffles and food for homeless animals. All of the proceeds will be going to the HSSA. Plus, the first 100 people get a free T-shirt. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 13. Wolves Motorcycle Club Clubhouse, 2702 N. Flowing Wells Road. $20.


The Red Balloon and White Mane. The most recent French election sure went better than the most recent U.S. Election, eh? Bring your kids into the mix and celebrate good things coming out of France when the Loft Jr. presents a double feature of The Red Balloon and White Maine. Mildred & Dildred will get the party started at 9:15 a.m., and the film starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13. The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Free.

Silver Bullet. Twin Peaks is gearing up for its much anticipated return to pop culture relevance, and to celebrate the Loft is dedicating this month of Mondo Monday to the stars of the show, and the movies they probably regret making. Watch Big Ed Hurley (er, I mean Everett McGill) as Reverend Lowe in this over-the-top Stephen King piece based on Cycle of the Werewolf. 8 p.m. Monday, May 15. The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. $3.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. In addition to dedicating this entire month of Mondo Monday showings to The Stars of Twin Peaks, the Loft Cinema is also marking the show’s return to television with two screenings of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Venture all the way back to 1992 when you arrive an hour early to either screening, wrap yourself in plastic and join in the Black Lodge for a Twin Peak Party, with free “damn fine” pie, coffee and donuts, commemorative Twin Peaks coffee cups, a cherry stem-tying contest, and a Twin Peaks costume contest with oh-so fabulous prizes! 10 p.m. (9 p.m. for the party!) May 12-13. The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. $6.

Public Safety

Women's Self Defense Seminar. Taught by Celia Webb, a second-degree black belt and owner of Ultima Krav Maga, this class is designed specifically for women on protections against the most common attack techniques. You can never be too prepared when it comes to personal safety, so why not take advantage of this kick-butt opportunity? Spots are limited, so sign up online. Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13. North Tucson Fit Body Boot Camp and PTI, 6430 N. Swan Road. $40.

2017 Ride of Silence. Don't want to die (or kill anyone!) horribly in a car/bicycle accident? Put that cell phone down and take a stand against distracted driving and support cyclists in this worldwide ride, while honoring the memory of cyclists who have been killed or injured by distracted driving. Don't forget to stretch beforehand because the ride is roughly eight to 10 miles total. 5-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 17. Reid Park, 900 S. Randolph Way. Free.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How To Treat Mom Right on Mother’s Day

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 5:20 PM


This year, Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 14, and as usual, a lot of Tucson eateries are doing something special to honor the woman that gave you life. To make your moments with mom even more enjoyable, it is well advised to call ahead and be sure they can fit you in.

Neo Malaysian Kitchen + Sushi is hosting a brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. serving up delicacies such as Kendo sweet and sour fish and black bean mussels for only $19.99 per person with $5 bottomless sangria. 520-747-7811.

North Italia will be offering mom a red wine glazed short rib ($25), diver scallops ($19) and grilled branzino ($27) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 520-299-1600.

Wildflower opens at 10 a.m. and will be serving their regular lunch menu with added varieties such as a wild mushroom quiche ($11), slow roasted sea bass ($32) and a blue crab omelet ($17) for mom this Sunday. 520-219-4230.

Pastiche presents a Mother’s Day brunch until 4 p.m., which includes baked ancho chile chicken chilaquiles ($14), brioche French toast ($12), brie and walnut stuffed pork chop ($22), a smoked salmon quiche ($13) and something called The Bloody Mary from Hell!, featuring chipotle infused vodka for $8.25. 520-325-3333.

Agustin Kitchen does mom proud by serving succulent Korean BBQ duck confit bibimbap, a veggie-infused lobster pasta primavera and an eight-hour braised brisket benedict from 10-3 this Sunday. 520-398-5382.

Blue Willow offers a tempting variety of quiches, berry scones, fresh squeezed juice and good house made coffee all for $15.95 per person…and on a fantastic patio to boot!

The Parish has a down-home Southern brunch deal for mom which includes a tangy BBQ shrimp bowl, smoked ham benedict and croque madame sandwich starting at 9 a.m., ranging from $12-$28. 520-797-1233.

The Oink Café
will give mom a free mimosa with her meal of choice that involves a flurry of delicious scrambles and a salmon benedict all going for $12.99 per entrée. 520-296-6465.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse has a three-course prix fixe brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring lobster basil stuffed shrimp and a crabcake benedict going for $39. Be sure to save room for their refreshing blood orange screwdriver. 520-299-4275.

Elliott’s on Congress does cocktails correct and your mother will enjoy a $3.50 Bloody Mary or a $2.50 sangria to go with the duck omelet, huevos rancheros and savory French toast they will be cooking up for her and the rest of the family all day Sunday. 520-622-5500.

Ducey's 'Education Budget,' Part 2: 17 Percent of Schools Will Get A Big Bonus (Hint: It Helps to Have Lots of Rich Kids)

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 3:42 PM

Governor Ducey signed a new program into law, Results-based funding. It will give 17 percent of the state's schools a sizable chunk of change, enough to give their teachers a 5 to 10 percent raise and still have half the funding left over to put to other uses.

Before I begin, let me admit most of the numbers I'm using here are approximations, and I can't guarantee I'm 100 percent correct on the consequences of the new results-based funding, but I think I'm reasonably close. The problem is, I haven't read anything near a thorough analysis of the new funding scheme, so I'm venturing into new territory. Consider my analysis and my numbers a starting point for further discussion. Oh, and a word of warning. This post is going to get wonky in a hurry, so if you're not interested in lots of digging into the numbers and intricacies of results-based funding, run while you still can.

Results-based funding is a new spin on a proposal Governor Brewer tried to put into law a few years back, unsuccessfully. The basic idea is, the most "successful" schools—meaning those where their students are achieving at a high level—should be rewarded for their success by getting more money. That's contrary to what most industrialized countries do, which is to give money, mentoring and resources to underperforming schools to help them improve. But let's put that aside and see how the Arizona plan works.

Next school year, about 17 percent of all district and charter schools will get results-based funding, which will amount to either $225 or $400 per student. The other 83 percent won't get a penny. To put the funding into perspective, Prop. 123 gave all Arizona schools about $325 per student. True, that was less than what schools need (and less than the courts ordered), but it was still a significant amount of money. The results-based funding numbers are in the same general ballpark. The program will cost $37.6 million, which is a bit more than the $34 million the legislature saw fit to allot for statewide teacher raises, yet it will go to fewer than one-fifth of the schools.

Of the 17 percent of schools that make the cut, those with fewer than 60 percent of their students on free or reduced lunch will get $225 per student. Schools with more than 60 percent on free or reduced lunch will get $400 per student. The law states that half or more of the new funding will be used for teachers. Ducey says that's specifically for teacher raises, though the law opens the spending up for other teacher-related uses. But if half of the money—$112.50 or $200 per student, depending on the school—were spent on teacher raises, that would mean a raise of approximately $2,250 or $4,000, somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. Those schools would be instantly more attractive to teachers and would see their teacher shortages disappear. Teacher applications would start flooding in, allowing them to fill their classrooms with top applicants.

The law assures that schools with more low income students, those getting $400 per student, will be included in the program. The clever folks who wrote the bill make it look like they're including an equal number of schools in both the higher and lower income groups, but the way the money is allotted, nearly 25 percent of schools with students from higher income families, those with fewer than 60 percent of FRL students, will be included, compared to 10 percent of schools with more than 60 percent of FRL students. Here's how they created the disparity.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Cinema Clips: A Quiet Passion

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 5:30 PM

History has already told us that poet Emily Dickinson had a lonely, isolated life. Writer-director Terence Davies has made a film that also shows us she may’ve been completely miserable.

Cynthia Nixon is heartbreaking as Dickinson, one of the world’s most infamous poets, a title she didn’t get to enjoy during her life. Her poems were rarely published while she was alive, were often heavily edited, and were even published anonymously. It wasn’t until after her death, a death graphically and mercilessly depicted in this movie, that Dickinson got noticed.

The film starts with Dickinson young (played by Emma Bell, who was badass in the wolf horror movie, Frozen). Misunderstood at a private school, her father (an excellent Keith Carradine) brings her home, where she will spend most her remaining days, writing her poetry in the dark, early morning hours, and rarely leaving the house.

Davies conveys the contradictions of the times. While Emily’s dad encourages her daughter’s writing and denounces slavery, he grumbles when a woman dares to take a stage to sing. Nixon lives up to the title of the movie, delivering searing passion in a film that is mostly quiet, although there are moments when Dickinson lets loose, and Nixon imbibes those with fury. When Dickinson falls ill, Nixon gives the depiction of her declining health a tremendous, tragic energy.

The movie is not fun, and Dickinson’s life is depicted as somewhat of a nightmare, a nightmare that inspired some incredible lines of poetry.

Ducey's 'Education Budget,' Part 1: A 25 Cents an Hour Raise for Teachers

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 4:13 PM

It's no surprise Ducey wants it to be known as his "education budget." He can read the writing, and the polling, on the wall. Education is Arizona voters' number one issue, and for all his posturing in that direction, Ducey hasn't exactly earned himself a vote of confidence.

A recent KTAR News/OH Predictive Insights poll tells the story. Education is "the most pressing issue facing Arizona," according to 43 percent of the respondents. By way of comparison, jobs, the economy and health care totaled a combined 29 percent. When asked what grade Ducey has earned on education, respondents gave him a C—just average. More people gave him an F than all his A's and B's added together. As with all polls, these results should be taken with a few grains of salt, but even if the numbers are off a bit, it's clear, Ducey has earned a resounding "Meh" from the voters regarding what he's done for education. And that's not a good thing when he knows his 2018 Democratic opponent is going to be slamming him on education and pushing for more funding.

So Ducey is selling his education accomplishments, hard. Right now, that means pushing what he calls his "education budget." But if you look at the numbers carefully, you'll see it's a mixture of smoke, mirrors and bullshit.

Take a look the graphic-heavy, information-lite page titled, BOUNDLESS OPPORTUNITY: Education Budget 2017 on the governor's website. The only honest words in that title are "Budget 2017."

Here's what the page says under Teacher Pay Raises: "$68 million for a 2% teacher pay raise." If I were feeling generous, I'd call those figures misleading. Since I'm not feeling generous, I'll call them what they are: bullshit. This year, the budget adds 1 percent to teacher salaries, which will cost $34 million. Ducey assures us the raise will go up to 2% next year, but that's just talk at this point. It'll have to be negotiated again in the next budget.

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Dakota Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 10:35 AM


Hi, I'm Dakota!

I'm a pretty 1.5-year-old girl, and I'm looking for a home! I was transferred to HSSA from a different shelter, and am so happy to find a family in Tucson.

I'm a very active girl, and love to go for my daily walks and to play group! If you have a current dog, you should bring them over to do a meet and greet so that HSSA can make sure everyone gets along well.

If you're looking for a sporty dog to join your home I might be the perfect fit! Stop by HSSA Main Campus at 3450 N. Kelvin Blvd. to meet me today, or give an adoption counselor a call at 520-327-6088 ext 173 for more information!

Lots of love,
Dakota (838950)

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