The Range

Senior Moments

After news reports revealed that surprise inspectors had discovered a number of violations at the Arizona State Veteran Home--including patients who burned holes in their clothes while smoking, a patient sitting in soiled sheets for almost an hour and and a patient who was struggling down a hallway when a call for help went unanswered--Gov. Janet Napolitano accepted the resignation of Pat Chorpenning, the state's director of Veterans Affairs. Chorpenning, who had fired five staffers in the wake of the report, told the press his name would be cleared by an investigation.

Smelling blood, Republicans at the Capitol swiftly moved to form a bipartisan committee to look into the incidents and busted on Napolitano after she announced that she had asked an attorney the law firm of Coppersmith Gordon Schermer & Brockelman to look into the situation--even though the firm was already representing the hospital's administration.

Republican Sen. Jack Harper took it one step further, blaming the mess at the state facility on Congressman Harry Mitchell. Other Republicans quietly asked Senate President Tim Bee to put a tighter leash on his mad dog.

Bush v. Planet

Environmental groups, including Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Center for Biological Diversity, released internal documents last week showing that the Bush administration was proposing regulation changes that would gut the Endangered Species Act.

"It was basically rewriting all the definitions" says Daniel Patterson, southwest PEER director and a potential Tucsonan mayoral candidate who also makes a guest appearance in this week's Skinny. "It would have completely changed the law."

Elsewhere in the War on the Environment beat: The Washington Post revealed last week that the inspector general for the U.S. Department of the Interior found that a Bush appointee had been rewriting environmental reports to make life easier for developers. Julie MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, also stands accused of sending out confidential files to opponents of the Endangered Species Act.

Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Bush administration with a 5-4 ruling that global warming pollutants such as carbon dioxide are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

"Today's ruling is a watershed moment in the fight against global warming," press-released Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

Show Us the Money

Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc. unveiled a new economic development blueprint for the region. The plan, under the heading of The Power of Five, has nothing at all to do with the final five Cylons on Battlestar Galactica. Instead, it's all about developing high-skilled, high-wage jobs, better education, a revitalized downtown, a livable community and more private-sector leadership.

So who should carry the good word of Tucson to potential out-of-state companies? We nominate White Sox pitcher Jon Garland, who told the Arizona Daily Star last week: "I'm ready to get out of here. There's nothing about Tucson that's great." Then again, Garland had just given up five runs over seven innings, so he may have just been cranky.

Driver's Ed

The Range got the equivalent of a master's degree in defensive driving when we attended the dreaded eight-hour traffic survival school last weekend. (Last year, we got our undergrad in defensive driving school.) We learned a lot in our class: That we should be more alert when we drive, that speeding is dangerous, that learning can be fun. We were lucky enough to be seated next to the Mexican version of Borat, a weathered Hispanic rancher who told us he didn't understand why he had to be there just because he'd run some woman off the road and fled the scene, and by the way, he was no "wetback"--his word, not ours--but a U.S. citizen who had once spent 17 years as a guest of the state for bringing "stuff" across the border. We especially enjoyed his later outburst: "Laws? What are these laws you speak of? We are the law! The people in this room are the law!" There was something in there about how he wanted to make a citizen's arrest, but we didn't quite catch the details.