DON'T YOU JUST LOVE WHAT WE'VE DONE WITH THE PLACE?Welcome to the first edition of the all-new, all-different Range! Our new software suite has created a sexy virtual avatar, Chip Six, who can now write the column for us while we sip cocktails by the pool. The only catch: We have to recap the week on a day-to-day basis. Take it away, Chip Six!
MONDAY, MARCH 3After months of construction, the city of Tucson reopened Congress Street on the east end of downtown, ensuring a smoother trip for drivers and easing the path for hipsters who walk between the Rialto Theatre and Club Congress. The city isn't expected to finish the related construction of the new Fourth Avenue underpass before spring 2009.
In Phoenix, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne sure is a cost-cutter! Horne announced that his staff whittled a $300 million request from 249 districts and charter schools to teach English-language learners down to a mere $40 million. Horne says he eliminated little extras like secretaries, administrators, textbooks and a karaoke machine.
TUESDAY, MARCH 4A group of eighth-grade students at Valencia Middle School walked out of their classes to protest their lack of a karaoke machine.
Just kidding! They're actually mad that they haven't had a steady math teacher all year. Instead, the kids have been taught by a revolving cast of substitute teachers. Chyrl Hill Lander, spokeswoman for TUSD, tells the Range that math teachers are just in short supply.
Meanwhile, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take the first steps toward creating a new sports authority to find ways to raise funds to support professional, amateur and youth sports. The plan: Dig up enough new taxes to fund $20 million to $30 million in improvements to Hi Corbett Field to entice the Colorado Rockies to remain in Tucson. Oh, and to make it palatable to voters, they'll build some playgrounds for the kids.
The Rockies, who have trained at Hi Corbett since 1993, say they may leave town if local officials can't find a team to replace the departing Chicago White Sox, especially if they don't get their remodel.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5President George W. Bush, appearing before reporters to endorse U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential bid, was reduced to making small talk and showing off his tap-dancing moves while a tardy McCain kept the leader of the free world waiting in the Rose Garden. Once McCain arrived, he faced this blunt question: "Given President Bush's low approval ratings, will this be a negative or a positive for you?" Ouch! McCain told reporters he'd be delighted to have Bush campaigning for him "as much as is keeping with his busy schedule." Said Bush: "You know, if he wants me to show up, I will. If he wants me to say, 'You know, I'm not for him,' I will. Whatever he wants me to do, I want him to win."
THURSDAY, MARCH 6The party has crashed--to the ground! A small crowd of loyal customers gathered at the Meet Rack on Drachman Street just west of Stone Avenue to watch the giant "Party" sign, which had stood with various names on it since the 1950s, get chopped down. Jim Anderson, the father of the bar's owner, watched with a mix of disgust and amusement as a crew of workers sawed away at the signpost and cackled madly as it came crashing down in the parking lot, displacing a pigeon that had been nesting there.
"It's stupid," says Anderson. "This is what Tucson has to look forward to when they look for a little satisfaction. They raise the taxes; they have Rio Nuevo; they talk about restoration and all that, and this is what you get."
Craig Gross, deputy director of the city's Development Services Department, says the City Council had given the previous owners until September 1993 to take down the sign, which was out of compliance with the city code, but the enforcement of the order had been completely forgotten about until Anderson came in earlier this year to request a permit to alter the sign. Once officials realized the sign had been marked for death, they ordered Anderson to cut it down.
See the sign come crashing down yourself on our fledgling Tucson Weekly TV YouTube Channel.
Later Thursday, the UA men's basketball team showed they still had some fight left in them when they kicked the living crap out of Oregon State University, 81-45.
FRIDAY, MARCH 7The Arizona Board of Regents is such a bunch of killjoys! They approved a resolution opposing a proposed bill that would allow guns on university and community college campuses. SB 1214, sponsored by Sen. Karen Johnson, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in late February, although lawmakers amended it to remove a provision that would have also allowed guns on K-12 campuses.
SATURDAY, MARCH 8The UA men's basketball team, still worn down from that Oregon State team, faded in the second half against the Oregon Ducks, who beat the Wildcats, 78-69. The Cats finished the regular season 18-13, with an 8-10 Pac-10 record--the team's worst since '83-'84.