The Range

Go 'Winders!

Champs! The Tucson Sidewinders captured the Pacific Coast League Pacific Conference title last week by winning three of four games against the Salt Lake City Bees. The 'Winders, who set a franchise record by winning 91 games in the regular season, now advance to the PCL's championship series, where they will face the Red Rock Express of the American Conference. Through the magic of deadline reporting, the Sidewinders have already played the first two games of that series here in Tucson, unless you're reading this before Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, on the heels of a triumphant albeit sloppy home opener against Brigham Young University, the UA football team got smacked upside the head by the Louisiana State University Tigers--quite literally, in the case of quarterback Willie Tuitama, who got so hammered during a helmet-on-helmet collision on his first play of the game that he never recovered, throwing for only 50 yards and allowing two interceptions. Tuitama suffered a concussion and may not start this week's game.

Final score: LSU 45, Arizona 3.

The Wildcats next battle the powerhouse Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin University at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Squeeze Play

Last call for a downtown Nimbus brewery? The Tucson City Council last week approved a deal with developer Town West for an estimated 150 condo units, health club, restaurant/brewery and art walk/amphitheater at Stone Avenue and Franklin Street, but Nimbus owner Jim Counts, who first pitched the idea months ago, was nowhere to be seen at council chambers and appears to have been pushed right out of the deal. We bet Nimbus' next microbrew will have a bitter edge.

Nearby warehouse artists complain that Town West is getting a sweetheart deal, because the city will sell the land for the project for a mere $750,000 and will share costs for sidewalks, lighting, infrastructure and environmental cleanup.

Meanwhile, Capt. David Neri of the Tucson Police Department told council members that the battle against methamphetamines is showing some success, with meth labs moving outside the city limits and into the county. Neri said less meth was available in the city, but many local users were switching over to heroin, which, when mixed with meth, helps mellow out users.

Matter Over Mine

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 against supporting a resolution to oppose Augusta Resource Corp.'s plan to begin a mining operation in the Santa Rita Mountains. The company, which needs federal approval to proceed with its plan, is working out a deal with the county that would require Augusta to import water and preserve land.

Supervisor Ray Carroll, who represents the area, proposed the resolution to oppose the mining operation.

"This Canadian company wants to decimate the Santa Ritas," Carroll said. "The landscape will be altered forever."

Other supervisors said they opposed the resolution, because they wanted to demonstrate that they were negotiating with Augusta in good faith.

"No amount of mitigation is good enough to justify the sacrifice of one of our mountain ranges," Carroll said.

If the Shoe Fits

Federal officials from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security announced they had busted up a big ol' smuggling ring that had attempted to import counterfeit sneakers and other merchandise worth millions of dollars.

The indictment says that the defendants--Mark Elias of El Paso, Texas; Juan Carlos Martinez-Esquer of Sonora, Mexico; Manuel Flores Jr. of El Paso; Wei Tun Lam of Gambia; Sau Kuen Chan of Hong Kong; and Peng Liu, aka Charleyworld, of Hong Kong--plotted to smuggle 15 shipping containers with roughly 135,000 pairs of bogus Nike Air Jordans. Estimated street value: a cool $16 million.

Authorities are searching another 62 containers in Long Beach, Calif., and El Paso.

Paul K. Charlton, the U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, said the indictment against two U.S. citizens and four foreign nationals represented a major victory in the fight for intellectual property rights. "It may not be obvious, but the consequences are huge," Charlton press-released. "Intellectual property is the bedrock of innovation and entrepreneurship in our society. This indictment reflects efforts to not only counterfeit goods illegally, but also to bribe officials whose job it is to protect and monitor the flow of goods across our borders."

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