A few spring-cleaning items ...
• Last year, after reading an item in a Phoenix newspaper, I wrote a column about a despicable woman who, while driving with a blood-alcohol level four times the legal limit, barreled down the wrong side of a Phoenix boulevard and ran head-on into another vehicle, killing a woman who had just picked up her grandchild from school.
Because of a weird set of circumstances, she was charged with the woman's death, but not DUI, because it has been found that doing so actually benefits the drunk-ass driver, as shrewd defense lawyers use the "diminished-capacity" argument to get lighter sentences or even outright acquittal. The woman was allowed to keep her driver's license, and her bail was set so low that she was out on the street within hours, looking through bloodshot eyes for another victim.
A few months later, she was arrested in Marana for weaving across several lanes of traffic before ending up on a raised median. This time, her blood-alcohol level was only three times the legal limit. But because her license hadn't been taken the first time, the authorities in Marana didn't have any context and treated her as a first-timer.
The publicity got the attention of state Sen. Jim Waring, a Republican who was the driving force behind new tough DUI laws which have contributed to the first drop in highway fatalities in a decade. Waring worked with police, the courts, the Motor Vehicle Division and victims' families, and drafted SB1008, which would have allowed police to take the license away in those cases, and would have also closed the gaping 15-day waiting-period loophole that allows these hunter-killers to roam free while waiting to see an administrative judge.
I'll admit that when I first read about the bill, I stopped paying attention, figuring that it was a slam-dunk. Well, apparently the dunk was to be attempted by a 50-something white guy with bad knees and small hands, because it didn't even get out of committee! Sens. Robert Blendu, Pamela Gorman and our own Victor Soltero voted against it, while Rebecca Rios managed to hide in the bathroom long enough to miss the vote.
I sincerely hope that each and every one of you senators gets run into by a drunk driver. I don't want anyone to get hurt, but I figure you four are tough enough, having obviously been run into multiple times by liquor lobbyists in the halls of the Legislature.
• On a semi-related item, my good friend Emil Franzi, he of the screaming Libertarian bent, sent me an item showing that at intersections where red-light-running cameras have been installed, there is actually an increase in rear-end collisions.
Is that supposed to surprise me? The important thing is that it cuts down on the more serious head-on and T-Bone collisions that occur when people run the red lights and crash into people making left turns in front of them, or even cross traffic that has started into the intersection.
I would expect a temporary increase in rear-end collisions, because that leading knucklehead who used to run that light is now stopping, and that trailing knucklehead who used to follow the first idiot through the red light is tailgating and can't stop in time.
Behavior modification takes time, but this particular type saves lives and will be well worth it.
• I know that UA freshman Jarryd Bayless and his sophomore teammate, Chase Budinger, have the opportunity to go to the NBA, but I'm hoping they talk each other into coming back, this time with Lute Olson back in charge.
Of course, each of them can do whatever he wants, but moving on after this season would be going out like a sucka.
• Now that the Sidewinders are headed for Reno, and spring training in Tucson is on its death bed, could we please have somebody--anybody!--who supported putting Tucson Electric Park where it is stand up and give us a public, "Oops!" We won't take away your pension or anything. Just say it. You could even do it in the tone of Mr. Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati, who said, "I swear to God, I thought turkeys could fly."
• Finally, a couple of items from my new favorite TV comedy, The Big Bang Theory, which is back on the air following the settlement of the writers' strike. First off, the two main guys were talking about going to a symposium on subatomic particles. Their friends, hurt that they hadn't been told about the symposium, accused Sheldon and Leonard of "quark-blocking." That's classic.
However, I hate having to explain semi-dirty references to my saintly wife, whose one and only foray into the magical world of cussing came when she once blurted out, "I don't give a hell!" What does that even mean?!
Anyway, Leonard was going to give a talk at yet another symposium, and it was suggested that he start things off with a joke.
So, there's this farmer, and he's having trouble because his chickens aren't laying eggs. He goes to a physicist and explains his problem. After a couple of weeks, the physicist comes back and says, "I have a solution to your problem, but it only works with spherical chickens in a vacuum."
That pretty much sews up the Emmy right there.