The Range

Speech Impediment

State Sen. Thayer Verschoor has a new idea to keep our schools safe: sanitizing the speech of K-12 teachers and university professors! Senate Bill 1612 says teachers "working in an official capacity" would not be allowed to "endorse, support or oppose" any candidate, law or regulation, or even "advocate one side of a social, political or cultural issue that is a matter of partisan controversy." Which means, for example, that they wouldn't be allowed to point out how goddamn brainless this bill is.

Teachers who violate the law could be fined $500 or fired. There's no word on the cost of investigators to monitor political-science courses to ensure every comment is fair and balanced.

The legislation is the mutant offspring of political intercourse between conservative bomb-thrower David Horowitz, who has been pushing legislation nationwide to counter "liberal bias" on campus, and Latino activist Dolores Huerta, who gave a speech at Tucson High School last year that included the politically incendiary comment: "Republicans hate Latinos."

In other legislative action:

· The week's most special-interest piece of legislation, which would weaken the city of Tucson's negotiating ability with Cox Communications, squeaked out of the House Committee on Counties, Municipalities and Military Affairs on a 6-4 vote. House Bill 2069 would give Cox more leverage in the ongoing squabble over how many public, educational and government channels it will provide Tucson customers.

Southern Arizona Republican Rep. Marian McClure and Democratic Tom Prezelski voted against the bill, but Democratic Rep. Albert Tom voted for the legislation, which has the support of House Speaker Jim Weiers.

· The Senate Transportation Committee voted 4-1 to advance a bill that would prohibit teen drivers from driving between midnight and 6 a.m. and having no more than one passenger below the age of 18 for the first six months they have their licenses. Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services captured a great quote from bill opponent Sen. Pamela Gorman: "Teenage pregnancy would probably be affected. I don't think that group dating is a bad idea."

Way Off

The Tucson City Council put off the question of making downtown's Congress Street and Broadway Boulevard into two-way streets for decades. Council members said they'd see what traffic was like once the Barraza-Aviation "Parkway" is completed--sometime around when they invent flying cars.

Sweet Sweep

The Arizona Wildcats narrowly managed to keep their win streak alive with a pair of victories up in Oregon. The Cats beat Oregon State, 72-66, on Thursday, Feb. 8, and then squeaked out a win against Oregon, 77-74, on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Next up for the Cats: Hosting the University of Southern California on Thursday, Feb. 15, and UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 17.

Bulletins From Crazytown

· NASA astronaut Lisa "Robochick" Nowak stands accused of attempted murder after driving 900 miles from Houston to Orlando, Fla., in special space diapers as part of an alleged scheme to attack her romantic rival for the affections of fellow astronaut William "Billy-O" Oefelein. Police say that Nowak's arsenal included included pepper spray, a BB gun, a mallet, a knife and rubber tubing.

· Former Playmate Anna Nicole Smith died at age 39 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida. Following her death, three men--attorney Howard K. Stern, former boyfriend Larry Birkhead and Prince Frederick von Anhalt (the husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor)--claimed to be the father of her 5-month-old daughter, who could end up inheriting Smith's estate.

· A group of ministers declared disgraced evangelical preacher Ted Haggard to be "completely heterosexual" thanks to three weeks of counseling in the wake of revelations that he paid a gay hustler for sex and meth romps.

· In a wire story in the Sunday Arizona Daily Star about Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign efforts in South Carolina, Columbia consultant Bob McAlister, who purported to be a supporter of McCain, delivered a quote that seemed aimed at torpedoing the 2008 campaign: "There's no doubt in my mind that John McCain will continue the Bush legacy." Is the Bush legacy something anyone would want to be associated with?

By the way, if you haven't yet checked out, there's a short film and more that makes our senior senator out to be something of flip-flopper.

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