The Range

Clear Channel Static

The Arizona Supreme Court laid the smack down on the weasels at Clear Channel, ruling in favor of the city of Tucson's efforts to regulate the ass-ugly outdoor advertising industry.

City officials have been tangling with a rotating cast of billboard gangs with varying degrees of success since voters passed restrictions back in the mid-'80s. The billboard goons have fought back by persuading the Arizona Legislature to weaken the city's authority.

Last week's court decision stemmed from a law narrowly passed by lawmakers in spring 2000 giving cities and towns two years to file complaints against billboard violations. Back when they were trying to round up enough votes to pass the law, billboard shills were insisting the law didn't apply retroactively.

Karl Eller, whose Eller Media was then a subsidiary of Clear Channel, wrote a letter in which he stated: "We do not believe that the legislation can be legally used retroactively to affect existing legislation. ... Eller Media has no intention to use this legislation retroactively to affect billboard litigation filed by the city of Tucson."

Despite Eller's word, Clear Channel's legal goons were soon arguing the law was indeed retroactive, winning in both Superior Court and the Court of Appeals. Although the Republicans on the City Council--Bob Walkup, Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar--tried to take a dive on the final appeal, the four Democrats voted to push the matter before the Arizona Supreme Court, where Clear Channel's lucky run has finally come to an end.

The decision allows the city to move forward with enforcement action against at least 157 and perhaps as many as 200 billboards, according to Mark Mayer, the longtime anti-billboard activist who was enjoying "a great deal of satisfaction" over the ruling earlier this week.

Mayer also notes that Karl Eller will be available for comment at noon Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the UA Student Union Bookstore, where he'll be signing copies of his new book, Integrity Is All You've Got.

Ten Million Barrels of Beam on the Wall

Nothing says romance like a bottle of Jim Beam! The famed bourbon distillery bottled its 10 millionth post-Prohibition barrel of JB on Valentine's Day. Following a ceremony in Clermont, Ky., with Frederick Booker Noe III, the great-grandson of the legendary Jim Beam himself, the historic barrel was whisked off to a rack house for four years.

Jim Beam officials remind us that bourbon, proclaimed "America's native spirit" during a three-day bender by Congress in 1964, was the preferred drink of Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Mark Twain. The math guys estimate that those 10 million barrels equals 73 billion shots (which, in turn, have produced countless gallons of ol' Southern vomit).

Hell Is for Children

Police arrested Rene T. Valenzuela on charges that he's kept his 14-year-old daughter locked inside her bedroom since November 2003 while sexually abusing her. The victim, who was 5-foot-6 and 97 pounds, was only allowed out of the room for bathroom breaks or to eat a small meal, according to reports.

The girl, who was severely malnourished, was placed in the care of Child Protective Services, which had failed to find any problems in earlier investigations of the family.

Valenzuela stands charged with one count of child abuse, two counts of child molestation and six counts of sexual conduct with a minor. His live-in girlfriend, Elizabeth V. Arguello, was charged with one count of child abuse.

Treasure Hunt

Check your pockets for change; if you've got one of the rare Wisconsin quarters circulating in the Tucson area, you've hit the jackpot! The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel brought us the news last week that coin collectors are paying upward of $500 for quarters circulating here in Tucson that bear an extra leaf on the cornstalk.

Rob Weiss of Old Pueblo Coin, who first reported the mutant strain to the weekly mag Coin World, told reporter Paul Gores that the discovery set off a "frenzy" that we at The Range missed completely until we read about it in a Milwaukee newspaper.

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