The Range

Guns and Rosé

As Daily Show correspondent Ed Helms pointed out last year, there's a "bizarre loophole" in Arizona law that bans guns in restaurants that serve alcohol. But the Arizona Senate attempted to fix that last week with a bill that would allow people to carry firearms inside bars and restaurants, as long those who pack abstain from drinking. The bill, which passed 17-11, now goes for consideration to the Arizona House of Representatives.

Given that 78 percent of voters surveyed last month were opposed to mixing booze and bullets, we imagine Gov. Janet Napolitano will be delighted to veto this one once it hits her desk.

Speaking of guns and bad PR, the House reversed course last week just before almost passing a bill that, in the words of Capitol Media Services anchor Howard Fischer, would have "let people carry weapons--including guns, grenades, rockets, mines and sawed-off shotguns--into schools, polling places and nuclear plants if they claim they're only trying to protect themselves." Sponsor Doug Quelland wasn't even aware of the full impact of his legislation, according to Fischer's front-page story last week.

Lawmakers were so buried by the angry flood of calls spurred by Fischer's story that the Quelland killed his own legislation. Nice one, Howie!

Free at Last!

Hide your china and compost! Domestic diva Martha Stewart is on the loose following five months behind bars on chickenshit charges so that the feds could look like they gave a shit about white-collar crime.

Elsewhere in the federal justice system, former Worldcom CEO Bernard Ebbers told a jury that he just plain didn't understand what those tricky accountants were up to when they were cooking the telecom's books into an $11 billion fraud disaster. Jurors were still deliberating his fate at press time.

In local criminal-justice news, Pinal County Attorney Robert Olson said he would not seek the death penalty against Bradley Schwartz and Ronald Bruce Bigger, who face first-degree murder charges in the killing of eye doc Brian Stidham. Prosecutors allege that Schwartz hired Bigger to kill Stidham after the two doctors had a falling out. Stidham's body was found beaten and stabbed in the parking lot of his medical office on Oct. 5.

Batter Up!

Don't tell the boss, but The Range--now a nationally recognized expert on Tucson's Cactus League--was on the scene at opening day at Hi Corbett Field last Friday, March 4, where the Colorado Rockies hosted the visiting Chicago White Sox. Show-biz commitments meant we had to leave in the top of the fifth, but we can report that the grass was green, the bats were cracking and all was right with the world.

Unless, of course, you're counting on selling tickets to make a buck, in which case you're a little behind in the count. Opening day attendance was officially 3,019, and the crowd looked even more sparse than that. (In truth, we kinda prefer the smaller turnout over sold-out crowds.)

Range stats wizard Chris Limberis informs us that attendance in the first week at TEP was shallow, drawing 26,495 in five games, or 5,299 on average in a joint that can hold 11,000. The D'backs-Sox game on Sunday brought in a respectable 9,563.

C'mon, people! Call in sick and get out to the ballpark!

In other sports shorts, the UA Wildcats men's basketball team finished out the regular season with a pulse-pounding 70-68 triumph against the ASU Sun Devils when Salim Stoudamire dropped a 14-footer with less than a second remaining. We suspect he walked on the play, but there was no whistle.

The win was Coach Lute Olson's 305th Pac-10 victory, breaking John Wooden's record of 304.

Following the Money

The economy continues on an upswing, with the Tooth Fairy Index up by 12 percent in the last year. Officials from the economic indicator, which follows the amount of money left under pillows in exchange for baby teeth, say this year's average is $1.78, up from $1.58 a year ago. The low was 10 cents; the highest was $25, which seems plumb loco to us.

The survey was released by Securian Dental, which reminds you to brush and floss after every meal.

In other economic news, the state's books remain flush, with tax collections up more than $350 million over the original budget forecast for the year, according to the latest report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. Forecasters warn that the surplus will be eaten by formula-driven budget growth next year.