The Range

Getting in Tune

Looks like all that ruckus over the city's cable contract has come to an end. After all the negotiation, accusation and legislation, the Tucson City Council and Cox Communications have agreed to a tentative five-year deal. Once all the dust settles, the city will go from eight analog channels and one digital channel to four analog and one digital, with the University of Arizona and Pima Community College each getting a digital channel.

Under the agreement, Cox also agreed to pay the city $200,000 to settle any outstanding audit issues.

The council voted 5-2 to approve the deal, with Democrats Steve Leal and José Ibarra opposing it.

In other deal-making news: At its regular meeting last week, the City Council gave preliminary approval to a development plan for the mammoth Sinclair property at 36th Street and Kino Parkway that is supposed to include residential homes, a UA-backed biosciences center and loads of retail, including a Wal-Mart that could dedicate more than 10 percent of its space to groceries.

Murder Most Deadly

Tucson homicide detectives arrested Christopher Payne Thursday, March 1, on charges that he abused and killed his 4-year-old daughter, Ariana Payne, whose body was found in a plastic bin in a storage locker last month. Police are searching for Payne's 5-year-old son, Tyler Payne, who may also be the victim of foul play. The search led police to the Los Reales Landfill, but no evidence was found while sifting through the dump.

Police are also investigating the death of Charles Alvin Eisner, 21, who was found dead in the early hours of Saturday, March 3, in a home near Fort Lowell Road and First Avenue; and the death of Benjamin Neil Klemann, 29, who was found dead in an alley near a liquor store in the 1300 block of West Speedway Boulevard on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Fair and Square

Bad news for local teachers: The Tucson Unified School District is off the hook--at least when it comes to the question of whether they inappropriately used dollars they got from the Arizona Legislature last year for teacher raises. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne had asked Attorney General Terry Goddard to determine whether TUSD could use the state money for raises it had already promised teachers, or if the district had to use it for raises on top of pay hikes the TUSD board had already dished out.

Goddard concluded that TUSD was perfectly within their rights to use the new state dollars for the previously promised raise. "The legislation clearly requires that school districts and charter schools use these monies only for salary and benefit increases for nonadministrative personnel," Goddard wrote. "Nothing in the legislation, however, prohibits school districts and charter schools from using the appropriated monies for salary and benefit increases in 2006-2007 nonadministrative personnel contracts executed before the legislation's enactment."

Grand Finales

The Arizona Wildcats wrapped up the regular season Saturday, March 3, on a high note with an 85-80 win over Stanford in overtime, with forward Ivan Radenovic coming through with an astonishing 37 points, nine rebounds and seven assists on his way to being named Pac-10 Player of the Week.

The Wildcats, who also beat California 70-65 on Thursday, March 1, finished in a three-way tie for third place in the Pac-10, with a 11-7 conference record and 20-9 overall. They face the Oregon Ducks in the first game of the Pac-10 Tourney on Thursday, March 8.

Other Wildcat trivia: Forward Chase Budinger was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year earlier this week.

In other campus sports news: The UA softball team completed a three-game sweep of visiting University of Missouri with a walk-off home run on the first pitch in the seventh inning by third baseman Jenae Leles. The softball team, ranked No. 2 in the nation, improved to 14-3 on the season after the win.

Meanwhile, spring training baseball is underway, but it's been too cold and breezy for The Range to head out to the ballpark. Expect a full report from Hi Corbett next week.

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