The Range


HOLA, AMIGOS! Arizona Sen. John McCain celebrates Cinco de Mayo by reaching out to the Latino voters who have been abandoning the Republican Party in droves. McCain announces he'll be rollin' with the homies at the La Raza Annual Conference this summer while he launches a Spanish-language Web site. McCain, who voted in 2006 to declare English the official language of the United States, declares to his Hispanic amigos: "¡Mantengamos la esperanza! ¡Mantengamos la unidad! ¡No nos dobleguemos! ... ¡Nunca nos rendiremos! ¡Estamos unidos!" We're not sure what any of it means, but we're pretty sure state Rep. Russell Pearce would translate it into a call for amnesty for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants now in the United States.

RUSS'LED UP: Former Arizona State University assistant basketball coach Russ Pennell joined Lute Olson's all-new men's basketball coaching staff. Says Olson, who recently took to the KRQ FM 93.7 morning radio show to badmouth his estranged wife and the morning daily: "He is an outstanding coach, a hard worker and a wonderful family man. I'm sure Russ and his family will fit into the Tucson community very nicely."


ABOUT T.I.M.E.: Phoenix business leaders formally file paperwork to put an initiative--called Transportation and Infrastructure Moving AZ's Economy, aka T.I.M.E.--on the November ballot asking Arizona voters to increase the sales tax by a penny to fund transportation projects, including wider highways, light rail, bike paths and walkways. Supporters have until July 3 to collect 153,365 valid signatures from voters to make the ballot.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: The Tucson City Council scrapped plans for a tortoise-shell arena alongside Interstate 10 after costs climbed from $131 million to more than $190 million. The council asked City Manager Mike Hein to make a deal for a new--and possibly scaled-back--arena closer to the existing Tucson Convention Center.


LEAVING ON A JET PLANE: The Range decides to take that JetBlue redeye nonstop from Tucson to JFK before service comes to an unfortunate end next week. Our observations: It's way cool to have DirecTV in the seatback in front of us; the JetBlue gang is friendly and generous with the snack packs; and even after we're given earplugs and a blindfold, it's still really hard to sleep on a plane.


DITCH DAY: The Arizona Legislature, with almost nothing to do since most members are being kept out of budget talks, decides to take the day off.

GAS PAINS: Those skyrocketing gas prices continue their out-of-control climb, increasing by more than one penny over the previous week. The price of a gallon of unleaded gas has hit an average of $3.409 in Tucson, according to the weekly survey by AAA Arizona. The statewide average is $3.471 a gallon. The report notes that the Department of Energy predicts that gas prices will peak in June at $3.73, and that investment firm Goldman Sachs says oil prices may reach $200 a barrel by the end of the year.

WHOOPS: The T.I.M.E. gang refiles their paperwork with some minor language changes.


SHOWTIME! Phoenix-based Harkins Theatres opens its first Tucson cineplex at Interstate 19 and Irvington Road. The Tucson Spectrum 18 features digital projection, a play center for kids and a snack bar that serves White Castle hamburgers along with the standard junk food.


SPEAKING OF HIGHER GAS PRICES: Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords visits a locally owned gas station to announce that she's told President George W. Bush to stop stocking away oil in the nation's strategic reserves, which receive roughly 70,000 barrels of oil each day, even though they're about 97 percent full. Giffords estimated that adding oil to the open market could lower prices by as much as 25 cents a gallon.


JETBLUE, WE HARDLY KNEW YE: After four days in Metropolis, The Range climbs aboard the second-to-last Jet Blue flight from JFK to Tucson. Since it's not a redeye, the flight home is awesome, at least as plane flights go. We love being able to watch back-to-back-to-back episodes of Law and Order, as well as TLC's What Not to Wear; we're delivered lots of beverages and snacks; and the uncrowded flight allows us stretch out across three seats. The only disappointment: There are no pillows on board, and we forgot our neck pillow at TW's Brooklyn bureau, where James DiGiovanna--who has been named Arizona's best film critic for the second year running by the Arizona Press Club--does his work. We're so sorry, JetBlue, that we didn't take the flight more often and hope you'll come back to Tucson someday. In the meantime, we suppose we'll just have to travel to Phoenix to fly your friendly skies.
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