The Range

Touch and Go

The Pima County Board of Supervisors last week voted 3-1 to spend about $1 million to purchase about 250 Diebold touch-screen voting machines, with plans to put one in every polling place to make it easier for handicapped voters to cast ballots in the upcoming Sept. 12 primary.

County election officials say the machines are perfectly safe and will allow the county to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act, as well as ensure that state and federal funds pay for the machines. Critics says the machines won't be limited to use by the handicapped, can be easily hacked and don't leave a reliable paper trail, establishing an environment for fixing an election.


Phoenix authorities announced they had captured two suspects in the serial shootings that killed at least seven people and left an estimated 17 more wounded in Maricopa County. Samuel Dieteman and Dale Hausner were busted outside their apartment last Thursday, Aug. 3.

The victims were mostly homeless people who were capped in drive-by shootings during a spree that Dieteman allegedly referred to as "random recreational violence."

In a jailhouse press conference that abruptly ended when Hausner's court-appointed attorney discovered he was talking to the media, Hausner blamed the crimes on Dieteman, saying his roommate must have snuck out of the house with his weapons and car.

"Why I'm here is because I had Sam Dieteman staying with me for about five weeks, and apparently at night Sam had been taking my car out, using various weapons I have at my house to commit crimes and apparently they tracked it to my car," said Hausner, according to a transcript on "... I did not shoot anybody or kill anybody."

Hausner added: "I have no history of violence in my past. I mean, like I said, I've been with the same job for the last eight years, you know, I don't think I can fly, I'm not insane or anything."


As Tucson dried out from our monsoon soaking last week, critters were on the loose, including a rattlesnake that had taken up residence along the Rillito River Park last Friday, Aug. 4. Tony Peeters discovered the snake while walking his beagle-hound mix, Jenny, along the Rillito River Park near the Trader Joe's on Campbell Avenue. Jenny got bit by the rattler, which had taken up temporary residence in a bush by the side of the path.

Although she was pretty swollen and awfully sore over the weekend, it looks like Jenny's going to be OK, thanks to emergency treatment by the skilled staff at Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (which, by the way, costs somewhere around $2,000 at a minimum--and considerably more if things go south).

Even more remarkable was what Peeters learned after he returned to the park later in the day and discovered the snake was still next to the path: If you warn people that a venomous creature is waiting to strike, many will walk right over to take a closer look. "One person actually put his hand out and asked, 'Is this it?'" Peeters says. "In the two or three hours I was standing there warning people, I really learned a lot about people."

One man, for instance, boasted that his dog had taken annual rattler-aversion classes, and he took his hound right over to the snake. "The dog kept going and going and going, and then he stood by the bush with his back to the bush and looked at me and was wagging his tail," Peeters says. "The owner said, 'Well, that's funny. I thought it would have done better than that.'" Gee, we thought you'd be smarter than that, moron.

Peeters eventually ran into a county parks employee, whose supervisor told him that he should just leave the snake alone. "We wound up putting a sign up, but it just attracted more people, so we took the sign down immediately," Peeters says.

Peeters and the park employee eventually coaxed the snake out of the bush and sent it rolling down the side of the wash with a rake and a broomstick.

"I hated to do it," Peeters says. "There were people with dogs down there."

Sherrie Barfield, a Pima County parks manager, says rolling the rattler into the wash was a no-no, but added that the employee got bad advice when he was told to leave it alone. Instead, a call should have been put in to 911 to let authorities know that a rattler had bitten a dog.

"Everything that could go wrong with that call did go wrong," says Barfield, who explains that normally, critters are left alone, because the park is considered habitat.

"But what makes this unusual is that everything has been displaced by the flood, and I think the (snakes) are agitated as can be," Barfield says.

Barfield adds that she can't recall a similar incident and that park officials are now working on a policy if this happens again.

The Doctor Is Out

Surgeon General Richard Carmona completed his one and only four-year term as the country's top doc and returned to his home in Tucson, although his future plans remain up in the air. Carmona, a former trauma surgeon and SWAT doc who kept a mostly low profile in Washington, was best known for anti-obesity efforts and a recent report condemning the dangers of secondhand smoke.
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