Tucson 2.0Hey. Long time, no see! We've missed you during our holiday adventures down in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Had a super time, thanks for asking! The beach was delightful, and the pool at our condo was quite refreshing. Just don't ask about the bill for Christmas dinner.
So, what's been going on in our absence?
Well, for starters, it looks like the State Land Department is getting closer to figuring out what they're going to do with all that vacant state land on Tucson's southeast side. Rob O'Dell of the morning daily tells us that the Land Department is on the verge of inking a deal with Phoenix-area developer Westcor to plan what's gonna happen on 12,000 acres of state trust land, which must, according to constitutional mandate, be sold off for its "highest and best use."
In this case, it means building a Tucson 2.0 that local planners have said could be home to another quarter-million people by 2030. It would be nice if we could avoid all the stupid mistakes we made while developing the current town, but we're doubtful that will happen.
It would also be nice if voters would finally approve reasonable changes in the Arizona Constitution to allow the preservation of some state land, but we're not counting on that, either.
The Westcor-planned development could take some four decades, which will likely mean it will be finished just as global warming makes the entire region uninhabitable. Be sure to include lots of domed passageways for citizens to move through, Westcor!
Hell Hath No FuryHere's something else that happened while we were out of town: The media have climbed all over Kumari Fulbright, a University of Arizona law student and beauty queen who stands accused joining three buddies to kidnap, assault and bite a former boyfriend.
Now that's a woman scorned!
Fulbright, 25, a former clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins, has also competed in the Miss Arizona pageant. She is facing charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, armed robbery and aggravated robbery stemming from the December incident.
Police say that Fulbright's friends bound the victim, and then she "bit him on his left ear, slapped him in the face with plastic bags that had items in them, bit him on the webbing of his hand, stuck a butcher knife into his ear and talked about shoving it into his brain," according to Arthur Rotstein of The Associated Press.
The man was able to escape Fulbright's clutches after he struggled with her over a handgun, which was fired in the fracas.
Fulbright is specializing in entertainment law--although the UA has suspended her.
Highway Horrors!The Bush administration admitted last week that it was allowing Mexican trucks to travel freely on U.S. highways, despite the fact that Congress had cut off funding for a pilot program to issue the necessary permits.
The Associated Press reports that 11 Mexican companies had been given permission to drive a total of 56 trucks willy-nilly across the United States. The disclosure prompted Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, to write a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation demanding the program be immediately shut down. Said Dorgan: "The DOT response is both arrogant and wrong!"
Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Tucson said that most of the opposition from the program came from organized labor, particularly the Teamsters. He added that the program needed oversight.
"My concerns were safety, both on the vehicle and the person driving it," Grijalva said.
Noted in PassingA few upstanding citizens we lost in recent weeks: Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno, the son of legendary mob boss Joseph Bonnano and author of Bound by Honor; and Jose Canchola, a McDonald's magnate known for his annual Nogales Christmas parties, where kids would be given free Big Macs.