ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUSTYet another local business in the Campbell Avenue strip mall just north of Grant Road has closed its doors. Bob's Deli joins the Book Stop, Hear's Music and Santa Barbara Ice Creamery in closing down as a result of landlord Richard Shenkarow's efforts to "improve" the property by jacking up the rent.
At least Santa Barbara Ice Creamery has a new home on Campbell Avenue just south of Speedway, while the Book Stop will reopen later this summer on Fourth Avenue.
But Bob's Deli is gone for good, another Tucson touchstone lost forever. Shenkarow, you suck.
CROSSING THE LINEThe Minuteman wing of the Arizona Republican Party, led by Don Goldwater, started the week with an e-mail bulletin urging readers to contact their U.S. senators to derail the Kennedy-Kyl immigration-reform package--or, as they called it, the "Bush-Kennedy Amnesty Bill."
This Goldwater guy--how much political juice does he have? He couldn't win a legislative primary back in the '90s; he couldn't win the gubernatorial primary last year; and we doubt he'd even be in politics if he weren't the nephew of Barry Goldwater--who, if he were still alive, would probably tell Republicans to line up and kick Don's ass.
Nonetheless, Don is letting folks know that he's mad as hell that senators, returning from their Memorial Day break, are trying to push the immigration plan through this week.
Sen. Jon Kyl, one of the architects of the plan, told The Washington Post that Don and his pals have pretty much shot their wad. The initial angry response to the legislation had died down, although passage was far from a sure thing.
"I just know that we've got a tough week ahead of us," Kyl told the paper.
Angry opponents of the bill may not be flooding Kyl's voice mail, but they're still fuming, because the legislation would allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States--which they call amnesty, even though the bill requires anyone who snuck into the country or overstayed their visa to pay a $5,000 fine.
We're getting the exact opposite argument from the left. Last week, Tucson-based Derechos Humanos issued a press release condemning the legislation as too tough on border security.
Speaking for the organization, Anna O'Leary complained: "That our public officials would just hand over billions of our tax dollars to major defense contractors with histories of abuse and corruption to create a senseless war-like zone on the border with Mexico and in our communities, while our cities across this nation suffer a lack of basic services, is nothing short of malfeasance."
That's hardly a surprise, given that Derechos Humanos was also opposed to the STRIVE Act introduced in the House of Representatives, which was much kinder to illegal immigrants.
A Rasmussen Reports survey released last week showed a glimmer of good news for illegal immigrants in the polling: Nearly two-thirds of those polled--65 percent--said they'd accept a compromise to legalize the 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, provided that the border was secured.
The bad news: No one really trusts that the Kennedy-Kyl plan will do that.
The Rasmussen poll showed that the big publicity push by Congress and the White House to build support for the bill hadn't made a dent. Only 26 percent of voters surveyed nationwide said they supported the proposal--the same number as a poll the previous week. Almost half--48 percent--opposed it, while 26 percent were unsure.
Skepticism about the proposal runs deep, with 41 percent believing that if the bill were to become law, the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States would increase. Just 16 percent thought the number of illegal immigrants would decrease, with one-third saying it would remain the same.
And if voters could make changes to the legislation? Three-fourths say they'd increase border security, while just 19 percent say they'd "make it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in the country and eventually become citizens."
Rasmussen released a poll this week of Arizona voters which showed similar numbers. Just 24 percent supported the bill's passage, while half of them were opposed. More than three-fourths of those surveyed said it was "very important" to secure the border, and 42 percent worry that the Senate plan will actually increase illegal immigration.
Kyl has taken a hit for his support of the plan. While his 55 percent favorability rating is in line with his numbers before the 2006 election, he's suffered a 10 percent drop--from 36 to 26 percent--among voters who view him "very favorably."
The news is worse for Sen. John McCain, who is now viewed favorably by just 48 percent of Arizonans--and unfavorably by 51 percent.
Rasmussen also notes that McCain has fallen back to fourth place in the GOP presidential race since the immigration debate began. McCain, with the support of 14 percent of Republican voters nationwide, trails Rudy Giuliani (23 percent), newcomer Fred Thompson (17 percent) and Mitt Romney (15 percent).
Guess people liked Thompson in Law and Order more than they liked McCain in Wedding Crashers.
TIME'S A-WASTINGThere's not much getting done at the state Capitol this week. The House of Representatives swung into action on Monday to pass a bill that forces local governments to provide lockers if they want to ban firearms carried by people who have permits to carry concealed weapons. Then House Speaker Jim Weiers told members to go home until Thursday so leadership could negotiate with the Senate on a budget.
We're not even sure why they're negotiating with the Senate. Weiers and his gang should probably be negotiating with Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has the final say with her veto stamp.
The budget process really does put the fun in dysfunctional. For years now, the GOP leadership in the House and Senate have tried the same thing: to show that they're trying to limit government growth by drawing up stingy budgets. Then the budgets get vetoed, and they end up passing something more generous.
This year, Senate President Tim Bee hoped to skip the whole draw-up-a-phony-budget-that-won't-get-signed step by behaving like an intelligent person and negotiating with Senate Democrats and Napolitano to come up with a spending plan that was agreeable to all sides.
But the House leadership couldn't get past its political posturing and insisted on developing a budget that could barely pass the House and could never pass the Senate. They say the state needs more tax cuts--despite the fact that the Senate budget includes a 5 percent cut in income taxes that was approved last year.
So here we are with another stalemate, while the session drags into June--even though a majority of lawmakers, even in the House, would probably approve the Senate budget if it were put up to vote today.
Can't wait to see how these "negotiations" work out this week.
By the way, the latest financial numbers for the state show that we probably don't have that much money to spend on tax cuts or program expansion.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee reports that April's collections were more than $24 million short of the revised estimate cooked up last January, although it was $36 million more than the original June 2006 forecast last June.
More bad news/good news: For the fiscal year, the state is just $26 million ahead of the January 2007 forecast, though it's $242 million above the June 2006 forecast.
The decline in growth is partially due to a slowdown in the construction industry, though we're loathe to say that's a bad thing.