The Range


REJECTED! It's the start of a busy week for Gov. Janet Napolitano's veto pen. The Napster rejects a bill that would compel local police to enforce federal immigration laws, saying the bill "is simply an unnecessary, unfunded mandate to law enforcement." She vetoes a second bill that would have, in her words, "resurrected the long-dead and little-missed Administrative Rules Oversight Committee."


REJECTED, PART II! Gov. Napolitano vetoes four bills, including state Rep. Russell Pearce's bill to reduce penalties for carrying a concealed weapon, saying that "serious criminals, especially gang members, often carry concealed weapons without permits. Our law-enforcement officers must have the full array of enforcement options to use against these violators, including the power to arrest the violator and confiscate his deadly weapon."

Napolitano also rejects a bill that would have increased some penalties for drunk driving, because it also contained a provision that would have allowed first-time drunk drivers to have an ignition-interlock removed from their cars after just six months instead of a year. Lawmakers last year approved the new penalty of forcing first-time drunk drivers to install ignition-interlock devices, which prevent cars from starting if drivers have been drinking.

NEVER MIND: The Tucson Unified School District abandons plans to close four elementary schools, passing up the opportunity to make a tough decision before incoming Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen begins work. The board says future school closings are still likely.

GOING FOR THE GOLD: The League of American Bicyclists declared Tucson a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community. Tucson cycle enthusiasts had pushed for the highest level, platinum, but fell short. There are six gold-level cities in the United States; only Davis, Calif., and Portland, Ore., have reached platinum status.

POLL POSTIONS: Big surprise from the Cronkite-8 Poll: Arizona voters are more likely to vote for Arizona Sen. John McCain than for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. In percentages, McCain beats Barack 47-38, and clobbers Hillary, 53-37. In other news from the poll, which was conducted by the Maricopa County PBS affiliate and Arizona State University's journalism college: 61 percent of those polled give President George W. Bush a negative job performance, while 34 percent give him a positive rating; and 76 percent of Arizonans approve of the job Gov. Janet Napolitano is doing, while 17 percent disapprove.


WE'RE STILL BROKE: More bad news from the state's bean counters: Tax collections for the month of March totaled $539.7 million, which was 13 percent below March 2007. Revenues fell 1 percent in sales-tax collections, 22 percent in corporate income-tax collections, and a shocking 42 percent in individual income-tax collections, which the Joint Legislative Budget Committee staff attributes to faster processing of income-tax returns.

Revenue lagged behind the forecast that lawmakers and Gov. Janet Napolitano used in resolving this year's estimated $1.2 billion shortfall, but the JLBC report notes that it's still too early to tell if that will mean the state's budget fix was insufficient.

To date, the state is 6.6 percent below last year's collections, once you figure in various adjustments. For three straight months, the state has suffered decreases in the neighborhood of 13 to 17 percent.


BORROW NOT: State lawmakers rejected a plan that would have allowed universities to borrow more than a billion dollars for the construction of new buildings and the maintenance of old ones. Supporters of the plan suggested it would serve as a stimulus package to jumpstart the construction industry while investing in higher education, while opponents said the state is too broke to be borrowing that kind of cash.

REJECTED, PART III! Gov. Napolitano vetoes a bill that would have allowed the state Board of Education to withhold up to 10 percent of a school district's funding if the district failed to comply with reporting requirements. Napolitano said: "The state Board of Education and the superintendent of public instruction currently have the power to issue strong penalties to school districts."


MILES TO GO: UA assistant basketball coach Miles Simon is the latest casualty at McKale Center. Simon, who played for Olson between 1994 and 1998, joined the UA coaching staff in 2005. UA assistant coach Josh Pastner, the only veteran coach still remaining on Lute Olson's staff, is said to be entertaining other job offers.


IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH: The New York Times brings us the news that Sen. John McCain is fibbing about his Democratic opponents' health-care plans. Reporters Michael Cooper and Julie Bosman explain:

McCain has been repeatedly suggesting that his Democratic rivals are proposing a single-payer, or even a nationalized health care system along the lines of those in countries like Canada and Britain.

The suggestion is incorrect. While both Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York are calling for universal health care and an expanded role for government, they stop well short of calling for a single-payer plan.

Mr. McCain has made the assertion several times in recent days, even as he and the Republicans have made repeated calls for accuracy on the campaign trail. They have been complaining indignantly that the Democrats were grossly distorting his position by suggesting that he favors a "100-year war" in Iraq, when he has simply said that he would be fine with stationing troops there for 100 years as long as there were no more American casualties.

Yet on repeated occasions, Mr. McCain, of Arizona, has inaccurately described the Democrats' health care proposals, using language that evokes the specter of socialized medicine.


The Range, along with the rest of America, goes to the shopping mall to see Iron Man, which grosses more than $100 million domestically in its opening weekend. The ticket salesman informs us that people were lined up outside the doors when they opened. We get a ticket for a later show and are advised to be there an hour early. We wonder: For Iron Man? When did America turn into a bunch of comic-book geeks?

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