Bottom's Up!The Arizona Legislature called it quits last week, which means one thing to us: On Aug. 25, we'll be able to belly up to our favorite bar and toss back shots until 2 a.m.! The bad news: We'll have to do it unarmed, as the state Senate failed to pass a bill allowing us to carry firearms into restaurants in which people drink booze. NRA lobbyists vowed to open fire, politically speaking, on lawmakers who blocked their common-sense legislation.
While the NRA takes aim at gun-grabbin' senators, an angry GOP right wing is vowing vengeance against moderate House Republicans who revolted against their fuckwitted leadership and passed a massive $7.35 billion spending plan for the state. In order to wrap a painfully long session, the Senate quickly handed the plan to Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has once again gotten pretty much everything she wanted, including a move toward all-day kindergarten, more money for universities and $1,000-a-year raises for state employees.
Conservatives complained that the spending projections were overly optimistic, but state revenues continue to top last year's projections. Through the end of April, the state was more than $325 million ahead of last year's budget forecast, with April alone clearing the estimate by $111 million, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
Meanwhile, lawmakers finally have a clear picture of this year's battleground after the state Court of Appeals ruled that candidates should run under a revised version of the 2002 map rather than a more competitive map drawn up by the Independent Redistricting Committee under legal duress. Petitions for candidates are due next Wednesday, June 9.
Fog of WarMemorial Day weekend kicked off with new details about the death of Pat Tillman, the football star who gave up a lucrative contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army Rangers after Sept. 11. Turns out the one-time ASU standout was most likely killed by friendly fire rather than by enemy gunfire in Afghanistan in April. Although details remain sketchy, a Pentagon official told reporters that Tillman was killed when U.S. forces mistakenly opened fire on his unit, which included Afghan forces, while the soldiers were in combat with enemy forces. But The Associated Press quoted an anonymous Afghan official as saying that there weren't any enemy troops present when soldiers in Tillman's unit began firing wildly after a land mine exploded nearby.
Rescue EffortThe newly formed Committee to Preserve Tucson's History continues its uphill effort to save a 115-year-old building on Congress Street from the wrecking ball. The one-time electrical supply store, at 26 E. Congress St., was last occupied a couple decades back by the Talk of the Town restaurant. The city now plans to allow a private developer, to be chosen later this month, to tear down the building (along with the long-abandoned Thrifty hulk next door) as part of the Rio Nuevo revitalization plan. Lawyer Roy Martin cites reports from some local experts who argue the building has historic value, but most City Council members appear uninterested in the rehab project.
"In the name of historic preservation, we're tearing down a building built in 1889," says Martin.
Fuel Toll RisesGas prices statewide hit another high going into the holiday weekend, with Arizona's average reaching $2.157, according to AAA Arizona. The average price in Tucson hovered higher than $2.07. The state has the sixth-highest prices in the nation, but we still trail California, where the average is $2.365. The good news: Soaring prices are expected to keep some of those really big asshole drivers off the road.
Rodent WatchTiny black-tailed prairie dog pups are scampering about their exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The "frisky" pups are a "treat for visitors and Museum staff alike," according the a press release from the museum.
A additional fun fact from the museum: "Prairie dog pups are not seen every year, as female prairie dogs are only in estrus three to four hours per year, leaving a small window of time for conception."