Go, Greyhound!Hop on the bus, Gus! Make a new plan, Stan! The Tucson City Council voted on Monday, June 28, to consider relocating the Greyhound Bus terminal out of downtown and over to South Tucson, at a site on 25th Street next to Interstate 10. An alternative downtown site, at Sixth and Toole avenues, remains a possibility.
The move will allow work to move forward on building a new Fourth Avenue underpass, which in turn paves the way for the ongoing downtown makeover that will include two-way traffic on Congress Street and Broadway Boulevard, retail and residential development on Congress, a UA science center and a big honkin' bridge over I-10.
Council members José Ibarra and Steve Leal voted against the move. Leal says the Greyhound station should remain downtown as a vital element to a multi-modal transportation hub that includes the recently remodeled Amtrak depot.
Anti-billboard activist Mark Mayer accused Republican council members of secretly arranging the deal to allow more billboards to be built at the South Tucson location.
Pygmy PowerFederal Judge Susan Bolton ruled that the tiny cactus ferruginous pygmy owl will remain under the protection of the Endangered Species Act for seven months while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues researching whether the owl merits protection. The owl's legal status has been up in the air ever since a federal appeals court--in response to a legal challenge from the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association--ruled that Fish and Wildlife erred when listing the owl in 1997.
Fish and Wildlife estimates that fewer than 50 owls are left within the species' Southern Arizona range.
"We wish these homebuilders fanatics would take a break here and realize the owl is endangered because of their agenda," says Daniel Patterson of the Center for Biological Diversity, which first filed suit to list the owl as endangered. "If anything, the owl is even more endangered now because they fight the recovery efforts every day."
Super Size MeThe voracious Tucson City Council voted 4-2 to set a new policy of gobbling as much land as it possibly can. City Manager James Keene recommended the city aggressively move to expand the city's boundaries, saying it could bring as much as much as $60 million in additional revenue to the city budget. "While there are costs associated with serving new residents, there are also revenues that almost always more than cover these service costs," says Keene.
Critics of the plan, including City Council members Steve Leal and José Ibarra, question Keene's math, saying the cost of hiring more cops and firefighters, paving more streets, managing more parks and providing other city services may exceed the new revenue, meaning that lower-income Tucsonans will be subsidizing wealthier foothills residents.
Those foothills residents have traditionally resisted annexation efforts, but now the city has so much to offer them: Our cops investigate 10 percent of all burglaries! We're charging for garbage collection! We'll barely raise your property taxes!
In honor of the annexation effort, The Range officially launches our first-ever reader contest: What should the city's slogan be as it tries to sell foothills residents on the idea of signing an annexation petition? The winning entry will receive six general admission tickets to a buck-beer Tucson Sidewinders game, co-sponsored by your friends at the Tucson Weekly. E-mail your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Waste LineStill bristling over the City Council's recent decision to charge a $14-per-month fee for collecting garbage, a ragtag band of angry Tucson's have now set up a Web site, garbagefee.com, to gauge support for a recall election. Supporters of the effort, including former state lawmaker John Kromko and Libertarian county attorney candidate David Euchner, have targeted council members Fred Ronstadt, Kathleen Dunbar and Carol West, while leaving Mayor Bob Walkup alone.
To force a recall election next spring, backers of the effort would have to collect as many as 17,515 valid signatures, depending on the candidate. That's a lot of work to try to knock out council members Ronstadt and Dunbar, who face re-election next year anyhow.
Happy New Fiscal Year!Congrats to the state of Arizona for surviving yet another fiscal year, which ended at midnight, June 30.
The good news: State revenues were a lot higher than anticipated by state number crunchers last year.
According to the most recent report from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, total tax receipts for May were $70 million above a January estimate and more than $53 million more than the state collected in May 2003. Overall, the state collected $505.9 million more through the first 11 months of this fiscal year than it did in 2003.
The additional dollars will trigger $102 million in spending for various areas, including school repair and child care programs, as well as contributions to the state's budget stabilization fund.