The Range

Bloodbath in Berkeley

If you tuned in late last Saturday, you saw the Arizona football team outscore California 24-17. But if you saw the brutal first quarter, you witnessed the Bears squeezing 28 points out of the Wildcats. Final score: Golden Bears 45, Arizona 27.

But is there hope that the first quarter was rock-bottom for the beleaguered Wildcats, who have now fallen to 1-3 and are looking less and less like they're going to be heading for a postseason bowl game? Surely head coach Mike Stoops hopes so. The team fought back hard after giving up the early points, with quarterback Willie Tuitama setting a new team record by connecting on 42 of his 61 pass attempts for 309 yards.

The Cats are looking for a surge at home this week against the Washington State Cougars. Kickoff: 7 p.m. Plenty of tickets remain available as of press time.

Bounced Checkpoint

The U.S. Border Patrol announced it was abandoning plans to build a permanent checkpoint on Interstate 19 near Amado because of opposition from area residents. Instead, the agency will operate an "interim checkpoint" about 10 kilometers south of the now-discarded site of the proposed permanent checkpoint. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords hailed the decision as a "significant concession" by the Border Patrol and said that she will continue to push for a Government Accountability Office evaluation of the effectiveness of checkpoints, as well as a comprehensive border security plan for the region.

Members of the Coalition for a Safe and Secure Border, a group of local residents who opposed a permanent checkpoint, announced in a press release that they were "encouraged" by the decision, but didn't "view this as much of a concession." They also said the new checkpoint site should be called "temporary" rather than "interim."

In other border news: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials found a tunnel being built beneath the Nogales Port of Entry. Agents noticed a sinkhole in the one of the port of entry's lanes and, upon further examination, figured out that someone was tunneling into the U.S. right under their noses. The discovery forced the closure of the lane, restricting traffic into Mexico.

Customs and Border Protection agents also busted a 45-year-old Mexican citizen who was attempting to drive a 1984 Chevy pickup into the United States with a gas tank loaded with eight pounds of liquid meth last week.

Meth Madness

Speaking of meth: Capt. David Neri of the Tucson Police Department told the Tucson City Council that a year-long anti-methamphetamine program in the midtown Dodge/Flower and Oak Flower neighborhoods was a big success. Neri said the program, which included an increased police presence and greater coordination with neighborhood associations, had led to a 60 percent drop in property crime in the area, near Grant Road and Alvernon Way. Neri said that although domestic meth production had been reduced, more meth was being imported from Mexico.

Back to School

After contentious salary negotiations that included a recent Friday teacher sickout, the Tucson Unified School District reached a contract agreement with teachers, who will receive a 3 percent raise. That's up from an idiotic opening bid of 1 percent from district negotiators, who were evidently aiming to flush morale down the toilet for reasons that remain unclear.

Rock Off

Skrappy's, the rock-'n'-roll center for teens, has found a new temporary home in the basement of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson building, 160 E. Alameda St. The "youth empowerment center," run by Our Family, will not host concerts in the new space, but will continue offering activities such as breakdancing, tutoring and computer projects.

Skrappy's, which will close its current location at 201 E. Broadway Blvd. on Friday, Sept. 28, is continuing the search for a permanent home.

A Piece of the Action

Arizona's Indian tribes kicked $28.1 million to the state for the quarter ending June 30, an increase of 10 percent more than the same quarter in 2006. A breakdown of where the money went once the state got hold of it: Education got more than $14 million; the trauma and emergency services fund got more than $7 million; the Department of Gaming pocketed more than $2.5 million; the Wildlife Conservation Fund got $2 million; the State Tourism Fund got $2 million; and programs for problem gamblers got the smallest slice, about $562,000. Hey, if we help those folks, we're cutting into the revenue stream!
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