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Union Busting

The fight is on to amend the Arizona Constitution to ensure that gays, lesbians and straight couples who would prefer to remain unmarried don't get any of the special rights afforded legally wed husbands and wives. Leaders from the Center for Arizona Policy, who evidently have little else to do than impose their version of morality on the rest of the state, say those sorts of "counterfeit marriages" threaten the sanctity of traditional marriages, which threatens the fabric of society, which threatens the survival of mankind itself. High stakes indeed.

We hate to disagree and put ourselves on the road to hell (again!), but last time we checked, half of the marriages in America end in divorce--a rate that's particularly high among the evangelical Christian conservatives who are pushing this claptrap. And anyone with a passing knowledge of the history of marriage knows it has not been the romantic nuclear-family ideal that self-appointed moral scolds have confabulated. (We're looking your way, Tom Danehy.)

Nonetheless, the marriage saviors, who must collect nearly 190,000 valid signatures by July 2006 to put the proposition on the ballot, are out of the gate with a lead, according to a poll released last week by Phoenix PBS affiliate KAET-TV, which showed that 49 percent of those surveyed agreed with the amendment, 41 percent were opposed and 10 percent were undecided. Looks like we've got quite the domestic dispute to settle over the next 17 months.

The KAET poll of 357 registered voters, contacted between May 17-22, also showed that nearly four out of five voters--including two out of three Republicans surveyed--think Gov. Janet Napolitano is doing a good or very good job. Only 16 percent gave her a negative rating. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 5.2 percent.

Asked about Napolitano's high-profile vetoes, 79 percent of those surveyed agreed with the rejection of a bill that would have allowed guns in bars; 65 percent agreed with the veto of a bill that would have allowed pharmacists to decline to fill prescriptions related to contraception if it offended their moral principles; 54 percent agreed with the veto of a bill that would have strictly limited the acceptable ID for state and local government services; and 52 percent agreed with her veto of a voucher bill.

Oddly, 56 percent of voters in the same survey said the Arizona Legislature did a good job, perhaps because they ended up implementing most of Napolitano's Democratic agenda. Another 30 percent thought they did a lousy job, while 14 percent said they had no opinion.


Shutter Bugged

In an special (agent) bulletin from our Hassled-By-The-Man Department, Dave Olsen, marketing director for the Tucson Downtown Alliance, publisher of the Downtown Tucsonan and former TW circulation manager, was snapping a few pictures of the Unisource Tower on Congress Street and Granada Avenue when he found himself under accosted by an FBI agent who demanded to see his ID and began interrogating him on the street about why he was taking pictures.

"The whole episode has left me feeling like my civil liberties have been violated," Olsen told The Range. "What kind of country are we living in?"


Judgment Day

Arizona Sen. John McCain saved what's left of civility in the U.S. Senate by brokering a deal with six other Republicans and seven Democrats to forestall GOP plans to exercise the nuclear option of eliminating the ability of senators to filibuster judicial nominees. The deal earned McCain praise in the liberal media and scorn from conservatives, who say that the maverick McCain has once again betrayed the party. The vast majority of Americans continue to have little idea of what the whole fight is about.

The deal allows three of President George Bush's conservative nominees to the federal bench to finally get an up-or-down (we're guessing up) vote in the Senate. How well the deal with hold together by the time Bush gets to pick a Supreme Court justice remains to be seen, but later in the week, Democrats successfully filibustered Bush's pick as U.N. representative, John Bolton.

On Memorial Day, McCain received the highest of all honors: a biopic! Faith of Our Fathers, based on McCain's account of his insubordinate days at the Naval Academy and his harrowing captivity at the Hanoi Hilton, aired repeatedly on A&E.


Cash Flow

Little wonder lawmakers wanted to end the session before any more financial updates came in: The Joint Legislative Budget Committee reported last week that the state collected a record $1.02 billion in the month of April, which is $255.1 million more than April 2004 and only the second time in state history that monthly revenues exceeded a billion dollars. The revenues put the state $602 million ahead of the original estimates for this year's budget and more than a billion dollars over last year's collections through April, meaning we'll be able to afford that all-day kindergarten expansion after all.

The big gains were in income-tax payments, which were up almost 77 percent over April 2004. Retail sales taxes were up 8.7 percent; construction taxes were up 19.5 percent, and restaurant and bar collections were up 9.1 percent. We'll drink to that!

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