The Range

School's in for Summer

Lots more classes, lots more books, lots more teachers' dirty looks! That mean ol' Gov. Janet Napolitano is now trying to take away summer vacation from Arizona's schoolchildren.

Napolitano co-chaired a national education committee, Renewing Our Schools, Securing Our Future, that recommended kids spend six more weeks in school each year and that summer vacation be shorter because students forget too much stuff over the long break.

Back here in Arizona, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne said that Arizona teachers will now themselves be tested to assure that they know the subjects they're teaching. The exam will include videotaping teachers in the classroom for later review, which goes to prove the theory that soon, we'll all have our own reality TV show.

Teachers who can't pass the test in six years have to quit the profession.

"We only want highly qualified teachers in our classrooms," Horne says.

Building Bridges

Architectural genius Rafael Viñoly has a bridge he'd like to sell us: For a mere $200 million or so, we can have a one-of-a-kind arch that stretches across I-10 and bridges the brand-new downtown science center. And man, does it look cool!

Slight snag: The original budget for the project was closer to $100 million.

Drug War

President George W. Bush spent a day of his five-week summer vacation up north in El Mirage, boasting about the new Iraqi constitution and the new prescription-drug benefit for seniors.

You might remember that one--it's the federal program that Republican lawmakers reluctantly supported while the White House withheld the slight detail that it would cost about $134 billion more than anticipated over 10 years, according to news reports.

Democrats took advantage of the visit to remind voters that the plan also prevents the government from using its considerable bulk-buying power to negotiate drug prices.

In a release, Democrats complained that U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl "cast the deciding vote against an amendment that would have allowed the federal government to negotiate for lower drug prices under Medicare."

Matt Salmon, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, sent out a dueling press release boasting that Kyl had sponsored the drug-benefit legislation that "will provide important options to seniors in Arizona and allow them to decide how best to handle their own health care."

Salmon added that "Kyl introduced the president to the adoring crowd and joined the president in the motorcade where the two leaders personally discussed the important issues facing Arizona."

A Crazy System

A client of the state's mental-health system allegedly drove into a Glendale Wal-Mart parking lot and shot two employees to death. Cops later arrested suspect Ed Liu at his home.

In related news, our friends at KOLD Channel 13 brought us the news that a onetime Playboy bunny who was also supposed to be getting help from the state mental system was found wandering on the streets of Maricopa County, far afield of Hef's mansion.

The stories caught the attention of state Rep. Jonathan Paton, vice chair of the House Government Reform Committee, who had examined other failures of Value Options, the for-profit outfit that provides mental-health services to Maricopa County residents.

"The state and taxpayers need answers about whether this company is putting profits ahead of patient services," Paton said. "This tragic shooting serves as another reminder of why I wanted the Legislature's investigative arm to look at Value Options' dismal performance."

No Joy in Mudville

Man, do the D'Backs suck or what? The Range was up at Bank One Ballpark to see the New York Mets set a club record with 13 extra-base hits in a single game. It seemed more like batting practice than a ballgame as the Mets beat the Diamondbacks 18-4. The previous night, New York had whipped Arizona 14-1.

Despite a 61-72 season record as of press time, The Diamondbacks remained only 4 1/2 games behind the first-place San Diego Padres, who are leading the National League West despite a below-.500 winning percentage.


The Range goofed last week when we reported that no independents had requested early ballots for the Ward 6 Democratic primary between Steve Farley and Nina Trasoff. Turns out those voters are counted as Democrats if they ask to vote in the Democratic primary.

As of Monday, Aug. 29, 1,693 Ward 6 voters had requested early ballots in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, which will decide who will face Republican Fred Ronstadt in November. Want yours? Order it from 884-VOTE before 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2.

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