The Range

Last Dance

The Arizona men's basketball season came to an end in the second round of NCAA play when the Wildcats fell to Villanova, 82-78, on Sunday, March 19.

The Cats, who had clobbered Wisconsin 94-75 to advance to Sunday's game, gave Villanova several scares in the final 11 minutes of the game, but could never take a lead.

The Cats' year was marred by Hassan Adams' DUI arrest, Chris Rodgers' temporary dismissal from the team and uneven play that led to a disappointing 18-11 regular season record. All we can say: Just wait'll next year!

Murder Most Deadly

Jurors in the trial of Dr. Bradley Schwartz heard a series of witnesses talk about how Schwartz had told them he wanted his former medical partner, Dr. Brian Stidham, either (a) killed; (b) set up for possession of child porn; or (c) badly injured in an accident that would prevent him from practicing medicine.

Prosecutors allege that Schwartz eventually hired Ronald Bruce Bigger to kill Stidham, who was found beaten and stabbed to death outside his medical office in October 2004. Defense attorneys argue that Schwartz would have been crazy--though not in the insanity-defense way--to hire Bigger to kill his former pal, whom he blamed for ruining his life, because he had told too many people that he wanted Stidham dead.

Museum Madness

Downtown boosters cheered the release of a feasibility study that showed that moving the Arizona State Museum and the Arizona Historical Society to new homes in Rio Nuevo would attract 332,000 visitors a year.

The museums, which would be located on the west bank of the Santa Cruz River near the proposed Tucson Origins Heritage Park, could generate a combined annual economic impact of $52 million, according to studies by ConsultEcon Inc.

"This is an important milestone in the revitalization of downtown Tucson," press-released Ward 6 Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, who complained about the number of studies related to Rio Nuevo during her council campaign last year. "When Rio Nuevo was first conceived and approved by voters and the Master Plan embraced by the community, the centerpiece was projects that preserve and celebrate our unique cultural heritage. Now we're moving those plans forward, and these studies show they're poised for success."

Lost in Translation

Federal Judge Raner Collins ruled last week that the $21 million that the state paid in fines for not resolving an English-language-learners funding plan by his deadline would be used to supplement English-language-learning programs in Arizona schools. Collins is expected to rule in early April on whether the GOP plan to fund such programs in the future meets his approval.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne objected to Collins' order, saying that the Arizona Legislature should decide how much money is spent on education programs.

"I have consistently argued that while it is good policy to ensure that everything is being done to teach English to English-language learners as quickly as possible, this is properly a legislative function," Horne press-released. "Details of education policy should not be dictated to the state by a federal court."

Shop Talk

Oro Valley voters overwhelmingly approved a deal to kick as much as $23 million in sales-tax revenue to shopping-center developer Vestar, which is planning to build a mall of national chain stores and restaurants at the corner of Tangerine and Oracle roads. The referendum was placed on the ballot after a lengthy court battle by opponents of the subsidy, who worked under the banner of Stop Oro Valley Outrageous Giveaways, which translated into the unwieldy acronym SOVOG.

The voters also gave a third term to Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis, who captured nearly 57 percent of the vote while defeating Amphi School Board member Nancy Young Wright.

Hey, Big Spenders

The fiscally responsible Republican leaders in Congress raised the nation's debt ceiling to $9 trillion to allow additional borrowing and prevent the United States from defaulting on treasury notes.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. John McCain introduced legislation granting the president a line-item veto to trim congressional spending.

"We must keep in mind that even strong line-item veto authority will not solve all of our fiscal problems," McCain said. "We also desperately need to reform our earmarking process and our lobbying practices--and we must remember that it is ultimately Congress' responsibility to control spending. However, granting the president line-item veto authority would go a long way toward restoring credibility to a system ravaged by congressional waste and special-interest pork."