Friday, May 19, 2017

Can Voters Defeat the Vouchers-For-All Law?

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 5:03 PM

This could be the opening paragraph of an article in an Arizona paper the day after the 2018 election.
Voters decisively rejected the will of the . . . Legislature and governor Tuesday, defeating what would have been the nation's most comprehensive education voucher program in a referendum blowout.
That's an actual opening paragraph of an article, but not here in Arizona. It's from Utah's Salt Lake Tribune (I put three dots where the state name should be) on November 7, 2007. A recently formed group, Save Our Schools, has begun collecting signatures to put a similar referendum on Arizona's November, 2018, ballot to overturn the bill expanding empowerment scholarship accounts to all Arizona children. If the referendum succeeds, Arizona journalists have their opening paragraph written for them.

Since 1990, people across the country have voted against vouchers every time they've had a chance. The No votes have ranged from 60 to 71 percent. The last vote was in Utah in 2007, and the circumstances were similar to ours. The Utah legislature passed its voucher law by one vote. This year, our legislature passed SB1431 by three votes in the House and Senate. With one more Democratic representative and senator, it would have been a one vote margin. (Two more Democrats in either the House or the Senate, and the bill would have gone down.) Utah's voucher opponents collected 124,000 signatures. This year Arizona needs 152,000 valid signatures. In Utah, the teachers union led the signature gathering effort. At this point, Arizona's teachers unions haven't been a visible presence, though it's still early.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Weekly List: 14 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 8:51 AM

Your Weekly guide to keeping busy in the Old Pueblo.

Nature & Plants

Desert Cacti Garden Workshop. Embrace the heat already and turn your backyard into a desert wonderland! Join Catalina and Green Things for a free class to learn how to make a cacti garden. Bring a pot (or purchase one there) and learn the dos and don'ts of how to keep a cactus alive. This free class will only pay for supplies used during the demonstration, the rest is all up to you. RSVP on their Facebook event so the crew knows how much supplies to provide. 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. Green Things, 3384 E. River Rd. Free but bring money to buy more materials after the class.

Reid Park Zoo Summer Safari. After-hour summer fun is returning to the zoo. Yessir! You'll dig live music, family friendly animal features, special dining options and discounts in the gift shop. Bring a blanky and enjoy the outdoor concert (there’ll be beer or wine for purchase, but no drinking with the monkeys). Among other activities, you’ll be able to chat with zoo keepers and encounter cool animals—but remember, animals who want their evening privacy may be in for the night, while others will be out and about. It all starts this week with music by The Just Intervals as the zoo walks us through "The Bear Necessities." The festivities begin Friday, May 19 and continue every Friday through Aug. 4. 6-8 p.m. Reid Park Zoo, 3400 Zoo Court. $3-$25.

International Museum Day. Into going on a safari? Tucson is a little low on savannas and jungles for you to traverse, but you can get a similar (and slightly more ... dead) vibe up on the west side. Take advantage of International Museum Day with all-day free admission to the International Wildlife Museum! 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Thursday, May 18. International WIldlife Museum, 4800 W. Gates Pass Rd. Free.

Beautiful Beneficial Bean Trees. There’s food all around us—do you know where to find it? Meet the mesquite, ironwood and palo verde trees. These trees create rich environments under their canopies where both plants and animals survive and thrive. Head down to the Co-Op to learn more about the wonders of those tasty pods. 6-8 p.m. Monday, May 22. Food Conspiracy Co-Op, 412 N. Fourth Ave. $10. Register online with 24 hours notice.


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Summer in the desert means a lot of things—but mainly, it means avoiding the outdoors until after sunset. Every Thursday through August, head over to the Tucson Museum of Art in the evening for some cinematic delight courtesy of Cinema La Placita. Bonus: Cafe a la C'Art will be open, offering a special menu for movie night. This week, watch Paul Newman and Robert Redford deal with life on the run after a series of robberies. “The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles!” 7:30 p.m., May 18. Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.

Girlfriend From Hell. The Loft’s Mondo Monday series is always worth attending, but the cinema has perhaps outdone itself celebrating the return of Twin Peaks and it’s star’s ridiculous early films. This Monday brings us the story of a shy young woman, possessed by the devil and forced to seduce men and steal their souls. See Dana Ashbrook (Your Bobby Riggs) ‘Chasing’ down Liane Curtis’ Maggie in this silly, less the subtle comedy-horror film.

Fun in General

Cars, Karts and Coffee. Who says Go Karting ain’t for adults? A little competition is always a good thing—and going fast is hella fun. If you haven't hit up Autobahn Indoor Speedway yet, you're missing out. Enjoy a reduced price of $24 for two races around the track and fuel up with a warm cup of coffee before you hit it! 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, May 21. Autobahn Indoor Speedway and Events, 300 S. Toole Ave. $24.

4th Annual Summer Reading Kick-Off with Pima County Library. Summer reading is important, especially here in Tucson where you can only spend an hour outside before suffering dehydration and a serious sunburn. Get the kiddos excited to tackle their library stack when you bring the whole family for a free children's book giveaway and tour the library's Bookmobile. Your youngsters will even get a visit from a famous monkey, Curious George! 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. Tanque Verde Swap Meet, 4100 S. Palo Verde Rd. Free.


Band of Horses. Sweet-voiced bandleader Ben Bridwell pens tunes that effortlessly blend elements of The Band with soaring pop of, say, Big Star, and some good-old southern rock like Marshall Tucker Band (yes, the MTB!) But they sound wholly up-to-the-moment, as they should. Bridwell recently told Tucson Weekly what he remembers about his formative teen years living in Tucson in the mid-'90: "Fucking outrunning trains with my car while delivering pizzas on mushrooms. I got the cops called on me and they drew their shotguns when I shut down the fratbar's power every night." So now you have an idea what to expect if you didn't already know that Band of Horses songs "Casual Party” and "Larado" are two of the ten best pop songs released in the last decade. Truth. Let's hope that two recently departing band members won't diminish the band. (See the music feature in this week’s ish.) Tuesday, May 23, at the Rialto Theatre. $30-$35. All ages.

Shonen Knife. Since 1991, Osaka, Japan's Shonen Knife has blended the hard riff rock of Thin Lizzy and The Runaways with simple Ramones-y melodies, added dollops of Shirelles/Ronettes girl-group magic, and kneaded it all into an infectious rock 'n' roll din, while (re)defining how women, particularly Asian women, are viewed in rock 'n' roll and in society. Yes, these women advanced rock 'n' roll as a female cultural force and have not received the respect they deserve. Now, a full 20 studio albums later, they are still kicking ass but not taking names because, well, they don't need to know your name. You just need to know theirs. Tuesday, May 23, at 191 Toole.

Food, Booze, and Food Business

Arizona Food and Finance Forum. Tucson is a great place to eat—but every restaurateur has to take a moment to put their recipe book down and think about their business. Everyone who contributes to Arizona's local food system are invited to gather, network and learn new skills at this event. Nationally-recognized speakers will be presenting on critical topics such as: farming, food system development, local food marketing, building local and living economies, bridging the gap between farmers, local food entrepreneurs and access to capital. Get growing! 8 a.m. Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday. Thursday, May 18 - Friday, May 19. University of Arizona Institute of the Environment, ENR2 Building, 1064 E. Lowell St. $59-$99.

Coloring and Beer Nights. Adult coloring books are not—I repeat, NOT—a trend. They’re here to stay. They’re a useful tool for calming down and flexing those artistic muscles your boring office job completely ignores. Every Tuesday, grab a beer at Casa’s film bar, and bring an extra $5 for a desert-themed coloring book and a little peace of mind. The bar provides the crayons, and won’t give you any side eye if your strokes don’t stay within the lines. 5-8 p.m. Every Tuesday. Casa Video Film Bar, 2905 E. Speedway Blvd.


Las Adelitas Meet and Greet with Felicia Chew. Politically, things are a little rough right now. Let's keep all the horrors of The Handmaid's Tale categorized safely as fiction and speak out about challenges facing the community. Las Adelitas works to help engage Latinas in the political process, and you're invited to meet and chat with Ward 3 candidate Felicia Chew on her most important platform issues. 5:30-7 p.m. on Friday, May 19. Monterey Court Studio Galleries and Cafe, 505 W. Miracle Mile. Free.


California Modern with Mark Mussari. Even though we’ve reached the epitome of style with Southwest design, it can’t hurt to check out what California has going on. Art and design writer Mark Mussari will expose patrons to the development of California Modernism as its European roots evolved through the post-war artists movement. The presentation will occur alongside the Etherton Gallery’s Color Theory exhibit featuring local artists Kate Breakey, Andry Burgess and Gail Maruc-Orlen. Tune in to the talk at 7 p.m. Friday, May 19. Etherton Gallery, 135 S. Sixth Ave. Free.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A 'Fat Cat Tax'?

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:47 PM

  • Courtesy of Bigstock Photos
A Fat Cat Tax. I like the sound of it. The imagery is so much better than saying, as I often do, that we should tax the rich, or, more gently, that the wealthy should pay its fair share. It's the same thing no matter how you say it, except for the visuals.

Fat cat tax. That's one of the ideas in the Britain Labour Party's election manifesto where it proposes a tax hike on the top 5 percent. The party's new platform is more radical than anything our Democratic Party has suggested or is likely to suggest, but Labour is trying to get back to its left-wing roots which it abandoned during the Tony Blair era. Based on its weak numbers lately, the move to the right hadn't done it any good. Getting a little radical and earning some extra media can't hurt. See for example: Bernie Sanders.

Here's the plan. The vast majority of Brits, 95 percent of them, would pay no more taxes than they do now. Taxes would rise for anyone making more than the equivalent of $103,000 American. The rate would go up still more for those making over $159,000. Now, here's where the "fat cat tax" part comes in. Companies would pay an extra 2.5 percent in taxes on every salary more than $425,000, and an extra 5 percent for anyone who makes over $645,000.

Why does the Labour Party want all that extra money? Because it wants to spend more, of course, on things like getting rid of university tuition, building homes and improving health and social care. Call them the "tax and spend" Labour Party if you want. I'm good with that, except I would rephrase it. "Tax and spend" is a phrase the right wing came up with to make it sound like the left wants to tax people for spite and spend money for the hell of it. A more accurate way to say it is, "Tax so you can spend on things the society needs."

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Cinema Clips: Norman

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Richard Gere delivers one of his very best performances as Norman, a New York “businessman” who doesn’t really have a business or a job.

A mysterious, earbud wearing, graying old man riding the trains and grabbing crackers for dinner at the local synagogue, Norman, nevertheless, has big aspirations. A self-professed “good swimmer” fighting to stay afloat, Norman finds himself in the company of an upcoming Israeli politician (an excellent Lior Ashkenazi), and in a moment of generosity/desperateness, buys the man a pair of shoes. That gesture earns him some good favor as the politician becomes the Israeli Prime Minister, and Norman’s act of kindness earns him the man’s friendship. With big friends, comes more notoriety, and Norman finds himself involved in political intrigue and rising responsibility in the NYC Jewish community.

Gere, who basically shrinks himself under a sun cap and trench coat, sparkles in the role, making Norman a memorable, likeable, and appropriately annoying character. Supporting performances from Dan Stevens, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Steve Buscemi round out an excellent cast. Director Joseph Cedar presents the story in surprisingly layered, often funny fashion, with a definite tragedy at its center. Gere’s work here is some of the year’s best so far.

Celebrating and Showing Off the Best of Tucson

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Perhaps Tucson doesn't exactly shine in May—or perhaps it shines too much. Either way, the question is: Where shall I take my summer visitors? - BIGSTOCK
  • BigStock
  • Perhaps Tucson doesn't exactly shine in May—or perhaps it shines too much. Either way, the question is: Where shall I take my summer visitors?

I've lived in Tucson my whole life—Well, I grew up in Oro Valley, but try not to hold that against me. I flirted with the idea of moving to a bigger city when I was in my late teens, but somehow I couldn't quite bring myself to leave. These days, I'm not even tempted. For better or worse, I've fallen for this place and I don't see myself packing up in the near future.

There are places in Tucson that I love and visit more than others and they, of course, usually get my vote when it comes to Best of Tucson. This year, I'm looking at my ballot under slightly different lighting: I've got some family coming to town and next week my full time job is entertaining them.

The visitors are my dad, and his wife and daughter. Dad lived in Tucson for years, but left almost 15 years ago. My stepmother is visiting the United States for the first time, and my sister hasn't been here since she was a toddler. This city is essentially new to them, which means it's up to me to make it look good.

Thoughts like that run through my head now, as I'm filling out my Best of Tucson ballot. Time is running out for me to decide what is going to make the cut on my little family tour of Tucson—they fly in on Friday. But you've got until May 31 to fill out your ballot and tell me all about what you consider the Best of the Best the Old Pueblo has to offer.

Get voting!

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Quick Bites: Summer Eating

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 11:30 AM

The Bisbee Breakfast Club's Broadway location teamed up with their neighbor Cashew Cow to offer the Cashew Cow Affogato: A scoop of Cashew Cow vanilla, doused with a double shot of espresso from Ombre Coffee, whipped cream and crumbled house biscott. Ice cream can count as breakfast during the hot summer months, right? - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • The Bisbee Breakfast Club's Broadway location teamed up with their neighbor Cashew Cow to offer the Cashew Cow Affogato: A scoop of Cashew Cow vanilla, doused with a double shot of espresso from Ombre Coffee, whipped cream and crumbled house biscott. Ice cream can count as breakfast during the hot summer months, right?

Tucson boasts three Sauce Pizza & Wine restaurants and this summer they will be introducing a sampler deal starting June 1 going until Aug. 31. For just $22, you and your friend can enjoy one of their inventive salads, delicious pizzas and two glasses of wine. Some of the new salads being introduced is a Watermelon & Arugula that features roasted pumpkin seeds, crunchy jicama, red onions and feta cheese then gently tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette and two new pizzas for under $11, a wild mushroom and spicy chicken sausage.

Dante’s Fire is hosting a service industry night, every night, starting at 10 p.m. So when you are done with your shift, head on over and receive 20 percent off all food items on their late night menu and imbibe in a well needed $4 cocktail. The only catch is, you are at the bartender’s whim, so be prepared to sip on something that you probably weren’t expecting.

All three Bisbee Breakfast Club locations are reintroducing their $5.99 early bird special, Monday - Friday from 6 a.m. – 8 a.m. This deal gets you two eggs any style, home fries or hash browns, toast or biscuit and coffee or tea. But it is the Broadway location that will help you beat the heat as they have teamed up with their neighbors Cashew Cow and have created something called the Affogato which comes equipped with a scoop of Cashew Cow vanilla, a double shot of Ombre Coffee espresso then topped with real whipped cream and crunchy biscotti bits. Yum!

Jonathan’s Cork is hosting something called the “Patio Pig,” which is a full pig roast every Thursday in June from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. This is a full on luau buffet style and if the Cork is doing it, you know it’ll be something special. They will also be doing bar specials Monday – Thursday beginning at 4pm. On Monday you can feast on homemade meatloaf, Tuesday is fish taco day, every Wednesday enjoy green pulled pork and Thursdays will get you a juicy cheeseburger served with house cut fries. There is also a late night menu Thursday – Saturday from 10 p.m. – close and be sure to see what they got for their happy hours Monday – Friday 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 3 p.m. – close for deals on appetizers and drinks.

Laughing Stock: Improv 'Til You Drop and Smiles for Soldiers

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 10:15 AM

For $20, including $10 for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Tucson comedy fans can watch 18 hours of improv, comedy and performance art May 26 and 27.

Tucson’s first Improvathon includes ambitious amateurs from the community, as well as players and established teams from improv companies Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed, Comedy Temple and the host company, Tucson Improv Movement. Stand-up comedians and performance artists, both accomplished and aspiring, also will perform.

TIM’s Daniel Kirby is the event’s wrangler, coordinating the schedules of nearly 100 performers. “There's a community aspect of it,” Kirby says. “We have several opportunities for community members to jam with improvisers, and a special block late on Friday night and early Saturday morning that we're saving for bit shows.

“The idea of a bit show is that you have one joke and you try to make that into a five- or ten-minute show. They can be very loosely improv-related. We only ask that they be comedy.” Kirby says he’s seen a bit show in which improv team members invented characters that all spoke like Saturday Night Live’s Don Pardo. In another, team members brought pizza to audience members at and had conversations with them.

Some weekly TIM shows are featured in their regular time slots. Immediately following an Improvathon kickoff at 8 p.m., TIM’s weekly Soapbox show features offbeat, nationally syndicated cartoonist Max Cannon. On Saturday, the kids’ show, FOMP, goes on at 1 p.m., and TIM’s popular game show, Throwdown starts at 9 p.m.

Marathons have been popular with improv companies nationwide since the Upright Citizens Brigade held the first Del Close Marathon 19 years ago. “Most people who do improv just wish they could do it all the time,” says Kirby. “This is an opportunity to test yourself to see if you can actually do too much improv!”

The Improvathon takes place at TIM Comedy Theatre, 329 E. 7th Street. Visit for details.

Smiles For Soldiers

L.A. Improv comedy duo Rollin’ in Riches brings their high energy and quick wits two three nights of benefit performances for Ayuda of Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that connects vets to free dental services. Funds raised go to dental hardware and other material costs. Each show is at a different site, May 18, 19 and 20. Dinner and a cocktail, or two cocktails, are included in the $20 ticket price. Visit for details and reservations.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Streets of This Town: Don't 'Toilet' in Front of Mailbox!

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM


"Streets of This Town" is a little photo series featuring random pics I take on long walks through Tucson.

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Staff Pick

Frida al Fresco

On the fourth Friday of every month, the Gardens will be the center of all things Frida… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Fourth Friday of every month, 5-8 p.m. Continues through May 26 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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