Photo FinishWatch out, speeders: You're on candid camera! The Tucson City Council gave the go-ahead to a pilot program that would allow the Tucson Police Department to set up high-tech vans equipped with radar devices that will allow them to bust lead-footed drivers. No word yet on where the vans will be operating, although the Wilmot Road corridor seems a likely possibility.
Council members aren't the only fans of the system. Gov. Janet Napolitano asked Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross to resume using photo radar on the Scottsdale section of Loop 101, saying in a letter: "I believe we cannot afford to keep the Scottsdale cameras off in light of their benefit to law enforcement and public safety. Let's keep them on and the current system in place, while we plan our expansion."
Napolitano suggested the Scottsdale program was the first step toward a statewide system of photo radar designed to make highways safer by slowing down traffic.
The only people standing up for the right to speed are Republican members of the Senate Transportation Committee, who last week shot down a bill by Democrat Sen. Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix to make it illegal to obscure a license plate so that photo radar cameras can't get a clear snapshot.
Martian LandscapesSpeaking of cameras: UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Professor Alfred McEwen and his team released new images from the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The latest batch includes photos of Mars' 37-mile-wide Mojave Crater, sinuous ridges in the Argyre Basin and a frost patch and dunes in a northern hemisphere crater. See for yourself at hirise.lpl.arizona.edu/.
When Kegs are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have KegsThe Tucson City Council voted unanimously to support a bill that would require anyone buying a keg to register their name and the location where the alcohol will be consumed. Supporters of the bill, including Rep. Marian McClure of Southern Arizona, say the proposal would allow police to track down the scofflaws who buy kegs for consumption at parties where underage drinkers get drunk.
Between a Hard Rock and a MarketplaceRock hounds from around the world are descending on the Old Pueblo as our biggest tourism fustercluck is about to begin. Although the official Tucson Gem and Mineral Show runs Feb. 8-11, many smaller dealers are already in town to hawk their wares. The rockficionados are expected to kick $100 million into the Tucson economy.
The Arizona Department of Weights and Measures is vowing to check the scales used at the Gem Show.
"Given the value of the gems and minerals that change hands, it's important to make sure that every gram is measured accurately," press-released George Seitts, director of the Department of Weights and Measures. "Our goal is to contribute to the success of the gem show, and its national and international reputation. We want to ensure that buyers and sellers alike have total confidence in their transactions."
iStudentsGet ready for MySchool! State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne gave his annual State of Education speech, calling for all students from the seventh grade onward to have Web-based personalized learning plans. On the same high-tech page, Horne wants a pilot program to hand out laptops to all students at seven high schools throughout the state, with the eventual goal of giving every high-school student in Arizona a laptop. Estimated cost of the pilot program: $250 million, with the schools expected to provide a dollar-for-dollar match.
Horne also called for every Arizona student to start learning a second language in kindergarten and a third language in the ninth grade.
Meow MessWhat is going on with our beloved Arizona men's basketball team? After snapping a three-game losing streak by handily dispatching the hapless Arizona State Sun Devils at McKale by a score of 71-47, the Cats took a beating at the hands of the North Carolina Tar Heels, who defeated Arizona 92-64. It was the worst home loss in Coach Lute Olson's Arizona career. The Cats sank only one of 23 three-point attempts and turned the ball over 20 times.
The Cats, now 14-6 on the season, dropped to No. 20 in the Associated Press poll.
But hey: How 'bout those Phoenix Suns? The Suns won 17 straight games before losing Monday night to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who defeated Phoenix 121-112.