The Range

Speed Freaks

It's meth madness at City Hall! To counter Democratic council candidate Karin Uhlich's accusation that she's soft on methamphetamines, Republican Kathleen Dunbar has declared war on meth--or at least on non-drowsy cold medicine.

Tucson tweakers are responsible for half the city's property crimes, according to Tucson Police Department Capt. David Neri, who delivered a litany of sobering stats to the City Council Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Following Neri's presentation, Dunbar made a 16-point motion to counter the sale of medicine containing pseudoephedrine. Among her suggestions:

· Keep medicine containing any trace of pseudoephedrine behind a locked glass case or behind the counter;

· Teach all drugstore and mini-mart employees about the meth problem and applicable laws;

· Hire two new meth prosecutors;

· Require junk dealers to keep a record of people who sell them garden tools and other scrap metal, because tweakers who lack the motivation for identity theft evidently steal that kind of crap to get a few bucks.

The restrictions are primarily aimed at hindering tweakers who are cooking up meth in highly explosive home labs that become toxic waste zones by the time they're done. Neri estimates that one-fourth of Tucson's meth is homemade.

The other 75 percent continues to roll in from meth superlabs across the border. On Thursday, Sept. 8, border officers stopped a car containing just less than 6 kilograms of meth and just less than 6 kilograms of coke at the Nogales port o' entry, according to Brian D. Levin of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The estimated street value of the haul: $198,000.

The bust comes just days after customs nailed a 44-year-old Mexican woman allegedly transporting 8,000 Ecstasy tablets through Nogales on Saturday, Sept. 3. The total stash busted coming across the Arizona border over Labor Day weekend: 77 kilograms of coke, worth $1.3 million; 11 kilograms of meth, worth $175,000; and 103 kilograms of marijuana, worth $170,000.

Disaster Area

Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen, a native Tucsonan, took over the Katrina recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast as Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown, who is easily the most incompetent bureaucrat to emerge in the 21st century, returned to Washington and promptly quit. But don't worry about him--he'll have a fat book deal or lobbying contract in no time!

Turns out Brown had no experience in handling disasters--and judging from what we're reading in the papers (including the Weekly: See "Disaster in the Making," Sept. 23, 2004), FEMA's management has become completely riddled with political hacks with connections to the Bush campaign. So here's where we stand four years after Sept. 11: completely and utterly unprepared to deal with a major emergency. Not to play the blame game or anything, but couldn't we hand out patronage someplace where it really doesn't matter, like the travel office?

Mayor Bob Walkup and chief o' staff Andrew Greenhill showed they were ready for trouble by throwing together an 800-cot campsite inside the Tucson Convention Center. Gov. Janet Napolitano ended up sending 80-some refugees our way, but they'd all found housing by the end of last weekend, so the bivouac was dissembled.

Congressman Jim Kolbe proposed that a special investigator be given oversight of the $60 billion in federal dollars that have been already been earmarked for Katrina recovery.

"It is imperative that we ensure this money goes to the people who need it the most--not wasted on government bureaucracy or frivolous projects," said Kolbe.

Great idea--especially since an Associated Press investigation last week showed that a $3.7 billion loan program designed to help businesses recover from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks "was so loosely managed that it gave low-interest loans to companies that didn't need terrorism relief or even know they were getting it."

Turn the Page

The Range was sorely bummed to hear that one of our favorite haunts, Reader's Oasis, is going to close its doors next month. The shop, opened five years ago by a crew of booklovers that included Charlene Taylor, Jeff Yanc, Lynn LaPlant and Jason Shults, was a literary bastion of boisterous booktalk and subversive material. We'll especially miss browsing the McSweeney's stuff.

TW assistant editor Irene Messina has the details in this issue's Book section, but we'll remind you that everything must go, so the store is featuring a big ol' going-out-of-business sale, with everything 20 percent off for the next couple of weeks. Deeper discounts are to come, but shop now for the best selection.

The Senate Stretch

With Katrina grabbing all the ink, Democrat Jim Pederson postponed his formal announcement that he'd be trying to knock out Sen. Jon Kyl in the 2006 November election for at least a week. (As of press time, he was scheduled to make the announcement on Wednesday, Sept. 14.). Pederson has already dropped millions of his own money on Democratic causes like redistricting, party building and electing Janet Napolitano; now he's ready to open the checkbook for a no-holds-barred charge against the two-term Republican incumbent.
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