The Range

Slicing the Pie

We've got a Rio Nuevo plan! Or at least a downtown revitalization plan, since the term "Rio Nuevo" is just so last year. City Manager Mike Hein has presented an overarching plan to the City Council that includes spending $130 million on a hybrid UA science center/anthropology museum on the west side of the Santa Cruz River.

The other slices of the $581 million Rio Nuevo pie: $102 million for an arena, convention center remodel and downtown hotel; $50 million for the Arizona Historical Society's new museum; $10 million for a new Tucson Children's Museum; $100 million for infrastructure improvements; and $70 million for parking garages. With $66 million already gobbled up by projects like the Tucson Origins Park, that leaves about $53 million in crumbs on the table.

"I think it's a great framework," Hein says.

But there's not one dime for retired adman Earl Wettstein's proposal for a 10-story-tall cowboy hat that would house a museum of Western memorabilia. Sometimes, it sure seems like City Hall is run by a gang of blind fools who can't begin to understand genius!

The Verdict

A Pima County jury found Ronald Bruce Bigger guilty of being the hitman in the grisly murder of Dr. Brian Stidham in October 2004. In one of Tucson's most sensational crimes of the 21st century, Bigger stabbed and bludgeoned Stidham, a local eye doctor, in exchange for a $10,000 payment from Stidham's former employer, Dr. Bradley Schwartz.

Schwartz was convicted last year of conspiring to kill Stidham and is serving 25 years to life.


There's trouble down Mexico way as the violence that has plagued Mexico City and some border areas has now spilled into Sonora. Last week, 23 people were killed in a shootout between a drug gang and Mexican army soldiers in Cananea, a mining town south of the Arizona-Sonora border.

Gov. Janet Napolitano joined New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson--who, incidentally, formally announced his White House bid this week--to write a letter to President George W. Bush complaining about violence on the border.

"Unfortunately, no real action is being proposed to curb this violent and dangerous situation," the governors wrote.

Napolitano and Richardson also expressed concern that the Defense and Homeland Security departments were talking about reducing National Guard troops on the border and asked why the hell the State Department is giving a private company permission to recruit experienced Border Patrol agents for new jobs guarding the border in Iraq.

"Furthermore, at a time when violence is once again flaring up on our own border, it makes no sense for the United States State Department to empower a company to hire away as many 120 veteran Border Patrol agents to serve as mentors to train Iraqis to guard their border," the governors wrote. "We should be focused on supporting our nation's security efforts along the Mexican and Canadian border instead of hampering CBP by sending our best agents to a war zone in Iraq."

Streets of Fire

An 18-year-old idiot killed himself and his 20-year-old passenger when he crashed while racing another car down Grant Road in the early hours Saturday, May 19. Joshua P. Farr, a soldier stationed at Fort Huachuca, was roaring down Grant in a red 2001 Pontiac Firebird at somewhere close to 100 mph when he lost control of his car and spun into oncoming traffic, colliding with two other vehicles. Farr and passenger Ashley M. Bernal were pronounced dead at the scene, while the drivers and passenger in the other cars had minor injuries.

The driver of the dark-colored sedan Farr was racing fled the scene and remains at large. Tipsters are asked to call 88-CRIME.

Batter Up!

Congrats to the UA softball team, which won the Tucson regional after clobbering Pacific, 7-0, for their third shutout in the weekend competition. That puts the Wildcats into a best-of-three series against Cal State Fullerton in the super regional that begins right here at the UA's Hillenbrand Stadium at 5 p.m., Saturday, May 26.

Adios, Arek!

The Range bids a fond farewell to Arek Sarkissian II, Tucson Weekly designer and comedic genius. Sarkissian is headed to a fellowship at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he will sharpen his journalistic chops and return to the reporting side of the biz. Best o' luck, Arek!