The Range

Back in Black

Break out the credit cards! 'Tis the season to be spending hard-earned money on everything from high-def big screens to those delicious logs of sausage and cheese.

If you want to find plenty of presents under the tree, now's the time to kiss up to your Republican friends (or in-laws, as the case may be), according pollster Bruce Merrill. In the latest Cronkite-8 Poll from Maricopa County PBS affiliate KAET-TV and the Arizona State University journalism school, only 14 percent of voters said they'd spend more than they did last year, with Merrill noting that 18 percent of Republicans said they'd be more generous, compared to just 11 percent of Democrats, who are evidently counting on government to spend more on their behalf. The survey also showed that 57 percent said they'd spend about the same amount of money on Christmas this year as they did in 2005, while 22 percent were stingy grinches who said they'd spend less.

Retailers, who did their traditional price slashing to tempt bargain-crazed shoppers to line up at lunatic hours on the day after Thanksgiving, are posting optimistic numbers through the first weekend of holiday shopping, with the exception of Wal-Mart, which announced it was only doing OK, which we're sooooo sorry to hear about.

You'll be happy to know that many of those retailers, facing threats of boycotts from irate Christians who need to combine Christ and commerce, are once again saying "Merry Christmas" to their customers. Yes, in yet another sign of the wonders of the season, the War on Christmas is over, and Christmas has won. Hallelujah!

Spirits of the Season

Speaking of the holidays: The Southern Arizona DUI Task Force is on the streets to spoil the holidays for anyone who has had a bit too much Christmas cheer--or, as the Governor's Office of Highway Safety puts it, "These lights will silent your night." Lt. Karl Woolridge of the Pima County Sheriff's Department tells The Range that over three days of Thanksgiving weekend, officers stopped 1,840 motorists and popped 39 of them for DUI.

Missing in Action

The Border Patrol reported that agents had to help rescue four members of Humane Borders, a humanitarian group that helps rescue illegal entrants. Two members of the group activated a rescue beacon to summon the rescue team after four other members went missing last Saturday, Nov. 25. The Border Patrol agents found the four people, who required no medical aid, in about 20 minutes.

In other border news: Travelers returning from a Thanksgiving trip to Rocky Point faced long waits at the border on Sunday, Nov. 26, after a crowd opposed to the construction of a nearby hazardous-waste dump blocked traffic in the border town of Sonoyta. The protesters allowed about 20 cars an hour to cross into the U.S. town of Lukeville, which was undoubtedly a miserable way to end a vacation. Many turistas avoided the delay by heading out of Rocky Point on Saturday, according to officials with Customs and Border Protection, who told The Range that 3,697 cars crossed over on Saturday, compared to the average of 875, while just 1,658 cars crossed on Sunday, compared to an average of 2,620.

Sunday's protest ended around 7 p.m.

Unnecessary Roughness

After an unexpectedly successful November, the UA football team slipped up against Arizona State University, which defeated the Wildcats 28-14 last Saturday, Nov. 25. The Cats finished the season with a 6-6 record, which is significantly better than most of us expected at the end of October.

UA quarterback Willie Tuitama was knocked out of the game in the second quarter, when ASU defensive end Kyle Caldwell hammered him from behind after Tuitama had thrown the ball. Tuitama, who had already suffered two concussions this season, may have suffered a career-ending injury.

UA Coach Mike Stoops, who called Caldwell's late hit a "cheap shot," noted that the loss "was a very disappointing night for us. It's not a good way to end the season, especially after we had been playing so well."

On Monday, UA offensive coordinator Mike Canales resigned.

Elsewhere on the sports beat: The Southern Arizona Leadership Council fired off a very stern letter to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority "vigorously" opposing Glendale's effort to get funding from AzSTA to build a stadium and snatch the Chicago White Sox away from Pima County.

"Such a move would seriously damage the Tucson and Pima County economies, and it would jeopardize all spring training activities in Pima County," wrote SALC chairman Rick Myers and board member Si Schorr.

Arizona Daily Star county reporter Erica Meltzer gave us some idea why Glendale's offer is so enticing to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf: The city is willing to totally whore itself out to the Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who would share the new stadium. In addition to giving the teams all the revenues from concessions and parking, the Glendale City Council would give the teams a cut-rate price on the purchase of city-owned land in the future. Hey, why not cover a player's salary while you're at it?

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