The Range

Northern Exposure

We left our hearts in the San Francisco Peaks! The Range's favorite in-state summer getaway, Flagstaff, was No. 2 on the list of 50 Best Places to Live in the April issue of the prestigious Men's Journal. Anybody who has hiked the forests, chowed a plate of waffles at Macy's or quaffed a Railhead Red Ale at the Beaver Street Brewery knows exactly why Flagstaff rocks. And they even have their own Bookman's! What's not to love about this place? Other than--brrrr!--those bitter snowbound winters.

Coming in at No. 25: Our hometown of Tucson. Hey, at least we're ahead of Phoenix, which falls way down the list at No. 36.

Despite our low ranking, we've still managed to attract the attention of President George W. Bush, who is dropping by next week as part of his Social Security wreckage--er, reform tour. Bush is tentatively scheduled to appear Monday, March 21, at the Tucson Convention Center, according to John Dougherty of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which arranged the visit.

Everybody Into the Pool

Break out the brackets! The NCAA Basketball Tourney is officially upon us, leading to an annual drop in workforce productivity as upwards of 90 percent of America spends time figuring out how far Delaware State will go. Meanwhile, America's sports writers are racking their brains to come up with new plays on the words "March," "Madness" and "Big Dance."

Following an end-o'-game collapse in a 81-72 loss to Washington in the Pac-10 tourney, the UA Wildcats ended up a No. 3 seed, facing Utah State at 5:20 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day. See Tom Danehy's column this week for an incomprehensible mathematic strategy for calculating the odds of the Cats advancing to the second round.

Speaking of betting pools: America's bookies are less likely to get busted, according to the Scripps Howard News Service, which reports that arrests for illicit gambling dropped from 21,000 in 1996 to fewer than 11,000 in 2002. Arizona had only 13 arrests in 2002.

Sex Talk

Arizona's teens are more likely to get laid if they understand English! After reviewing the sex lives of 7,300 Arizona teens, UA researchers discovered that 31 percent of Hispanic teens who speak English have had sex, while only 14 percent of those who primarily speak Spanish have formed the ol' beast with two backs, according to Houston Chronicle story last week.

Researchers are at a loss to explain the discrepancy. Hey, maybe the Spanish-speaking kids didn't understand the question!

The study might make some conservative Republicans think twice about their push for English-only laws, given that our tongue seems to encourage such immoral behavior. A House version of the English-only law, which would amend the Arizona Constitution to block ballots from being printed in any language other than English, was headed for approval earlier this week; the Senate version, which merely declares English to be the state's official language, passed 18-10 last week and was headed for the House.

In other legislative action, lawmakers are on track to approve two measures to screw with education funding. A voucher bill that would provide up to $3,500 for parents who want to send their kids to private and parochial schools passed the Senate on a 16-12 vote. Legislation was also moving through the House of Representatives.

The second education bill, which passed the Senate on a 17-12 vote, would expand Arizona's current tax-credit program, which lets parents get up to $250 back from the state if they contribute to an extracurricular activity. The new law would repay parents for contributions for classroom instruction as well. Given that the current program overwhelmingly favors wealthy districts, because low-income people don't generally don't pay much in state income taxes or take advantage of tax-credit programs, the legislation will essentially result in shifting more tax funds to rich schools. Here's an idea: Why not just fund schools without a bunch of screwball gimmicks? Guess that's just too damn egalitarian for the GOP.

Hayworth Backs Down

Congressman J.D. Hayworth finally confirmed what pundits had been predicting for months: He's wussing out of a race against Gov. Janet Napolitano next year. Given Hayworth's recent lousy polling against Napolitano, who was roughly 20 points ahead in several surveys, we can't say we're surprised Hayworth decided to hang onto his cushy Washington gig, which does pay considerably better than the governor's office. Besides, it's not like J.D. supported term limits when he first ran for office. Oh, right--he did!

Republican Party Chairman Matt Salmon, who lost to Napolitano in 2002, put a brave spin on Hayworth's decision, declaring, "We are fortunate to have a number of qualified, high-profile Republicans in Arizona who are eager to take on and defeat Janet Napolitano in 2006."

Sure--like that disgraced, bankrupt, briefly convicted-of-fraud former governor-turned-pastry chef who's barely polling in the double digits!

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