Tag Archives: Arizona

Pima county files motion to dismiss World View lawsuit

In the heat of competition: The Arizona county government that made a deal with the space tourism balloon company World View to help them build their launch facilities in Tucson has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute that claims the deal is illegal.

I don’t know if the deal was illegal, but I suspect that even if it was the county will win and the deal will go through. Too much money at stake.

World View gets incentives to settle in Arizona

The competition heats up: The space tourism balloon company World View has obtained $15 million in subsidies from an Arizona county to base their operation in Tucson.

Today’s go-ahead from the Pima County Board of Supervisors represents an initial step toward setting up the tourist operation. The supervisors voted to invest $15 million, backed by future tax revenue, to build the spaceport. World View would lease the facility from the county over a 20-year term to pay back the investment. The facility would include a launch pad, headquarters building and manufacturing facility, World View said.

Increasingly it looks like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is being left in the dust as other companies move forward with their own plans.

Big fire in the mountains above Tucson

At sunset tonight I went out into my back patio to enjoy the evening air and noticed smoke trailing off from the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. Taking a closer look with binoculars I discovered a major forest fire blazing on the front range of the Santa Catalina mountains, about a thousand feet above the city.

To give the layout, our home is on the west side of town, on a hill that overlooks the city. The Santa Catalina Mountains border the north side of Tucson, about ten miles away. (Below the fold is a short video showing the mountains and the smoke, taken today from the west side on one of the overpasses above the interstate, slightly south of my home. The video shows a view similar to what I can see.)

The fire, dubbed the Finger Rock fire after the canyon in which it started, was originally ignited by lightning last week, smoldered for a week, then re-ignited today and is spreading fast. While Diane and I watched this evening we saw the flames leap across from Pontatoc Ridge to the opposite wall of the adjacent valley, Ventana Canyon, which Diane and I last hiked in 2013. I saw flames that were easily 100 feet high.

We have hiked on Pontatoc Ridge. That trail is certainly badly damaged or destroyed. The lowest parts of the fire now appear to be burning at about 500 feet above the nearest homes in the foothills below. When it jumped into Ventana Canyon it appears to move uphill, so at the moment no one’s home is threatened. This is a very very rugged area. It will be difficult for fire crews to get there, no less work to control the blaze.

As the evening progressed and darkness set in the extent of the fire became easier to see, as the flames now stood out in the darkness through the smoke. Though the Forest Service seems sanguine about it, this is not a trivial fire. It threatens the entire front range of the Santa Catalinas, which is one of Tucson’s major recreation areas. Worse, it is close enough to the city that it poses a threat to the homes in the foothills.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Supreme Court voids local sign ordiance

Some good news: In a 9-0 ruling the Supreme Court struck down a local Arizona town’s ordiance that restricted a church’s right to post signs about its upcoming events.

What is most encouraging about this ruling is that all nine justices agreed to it. This suggests that there is a strong majority on the court that supports freedom of speech, and will not look kindly at the Obama administration’s effort to impose its will on the speech and activity of religious and conservative organizations.

Arizona county to ban employees who smoke

Put ’em in concentration camps! Pima County, which includes Tucson, Arizona, is considering banning the employment of any smokers.

Already employed smokers will be charged 30 percent more for their health insurance. The regulations will apply only to government employees.

I say, why waste time with this nonsense. Anyone who smokes is obviously the scum of the Earth, and should be rounded up and sent to camps, either to be re-educated, or to be killed if they can’t reform themselves. America is now an enlightened place, where freedom and individual responsibility have been replaced with the much deeper wisdom of the state!

When asked if Arizona’s gun laws need changing, 86% chose the answer “We have too many laws, and most of them should be eliminated.”

We have consensus! When asked if Arizona’s gun laws need changing, 86% chose the answer “We have too many laws, and most of them should be eliminated.”

Only 5% of those polled thought stronger gun laws were necessary.

The irony here is that the story at which this newspaper poll is being taken is about a protest by a Tucson gun control group. They might be noisy, but these gun control protestors are very much in the minority, despite any claims they might make.

The best (and worst) concealed carry states for 2013.

The best (and worst) concealed carry states for 2013.

I am happy to report that my state, Arizona, is number one. And not surprisingly, the states from which I fled, New York and Maryland, are 46 and 43 respectively.

I strongly believe that where a government respects the right of its citizens to possess and bear arms, freedom will be strongly defended. Take a long look at these rankings. That the most heavily regulated blue states tend to be near the bottom and the less regulated red states tend to be near the top lends weight to my belief.

In a negotiated settlement, Arizona police will pay the widow of Jose Guerena, murdered during a SWAT raid, $3.4 million.

In a negotiated settlement, Arizona police will pay the widow of Jose Guerena, murdered during a SWAT raid, $3.4 million.

The police settled because they knew that if the case had ever reached a jury, they would have lost hands down. I feel for the widow, as she probably had to settle now because she couldn’t wait the years necessary for a full victory in court.

An Arizona nursing student was suspended from school and called a bigot because she requested one of her classes be taught in English.

An Arizona nursing student was suspended from school and called a bigot because she requested one of her classes be taught in English.

The student, Terri Bennett, 50, initially complained in April to school officials because she said the Spanish-dominated discussions in her class room were preventing her from learning, Townhall reported. The college nursing program director, David Kutzler, then allegedly called her “a bigot” and an expletive, and suspended her.

She has sued. The article also notes that the Arizona constitution requires schools to use English.

Arizona — in corporation with the federal government — has now joined Utah, California and Texas in scanning and recording the license plates of cars near the Mexican border

Does this make you feel safer? Arizona — in corporation with the federal government — has now joined California and Texas in scanning and recording the license plates of all cars traveling near the Mexican border.

Last week the federal government abandoned more than a century of precedent to declare it holds senior water rights across much of Arizona’s San Pedro River riparian watershed.

We’re here to help you: Last week the federal government abandoned more than a century of precedent to declare it holds senior water rights across much of Arizona’s San Pedro River riparian watershed.

For some additional background, see this story.

A Republican has announced he is running for the Congressional seat in Arizona being vacated by Gabrielle Gifford.

A Republican has announced he is running for the Congressional seat in Arizona being vacated by Gabrielle Gifford.

As it turns out, I moved from Steny Hoyer’s (D-Maryland) district in Maryland to Gifford’s district in Arizona, so this is an election I will have a say in. Time to start learning something about the candidates, as the primary is now set for April 17 and the special election for June 12.

Tucson school system loses $5 million in funding because it has refused to dump ethnic studies

The Tucson school system has lost $5 million in funding because it refuses to close its Mexican studies program.

“The assertion that TUSD’s Mexican American Studies Program was designed and implemented only to promote cultural diversity and a greater understanding of the role of Mexican Americans in this nation is inaccurate and incomplete,” Huppenthal stated today. “Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Program courses, curriculum and classroom materials have been found to (1) promote resentment toward a race or class of people; (2) be designed primarily for the pupils of a particular ethnic group; and (3) advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

In other words, this leftwing program was designed to promote hatred of whites and America within the immigrant Hispanic community, all good reasons for the local liberal, blue-state Democratic politicians of Tucson to want to support it, no matter the consequences.

Arizona’s ethnic studies program have been ruled illegal

An Arizona court has ruled that Arizona’s ethnic studies program are illegal.

Kowal’s ruling, first reported by The Arizona Daily Star, said the district’s Mexican-American Studies program violated state law by having one or more classes designed primarily for one ethnic group, promoting racial resentment and advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treating students as individuals. The judge, who found grounds to withhold 10 percent of the district’s monthly state aid until it comes into compliance, said the law permits the objective instruction about the oppression of people that may result in racial resentment or ethnic solidarity.

“However, teaching oppression objectively is quite different than actively presenting material in a biased, political and emotionally charged manner, which is what occurred in (Mexican-American Studies) classes,” Kowal wrote. The judge said such teaching promotes activism against white people, promotes racial resentment and advocates ethnic solidarity.

This is not a First Amendment issue. The Arizona state legislature, elected by the citizens, passed a rule stating that ethnic studies programs cannot focus on only one ethnic group. The Tucson school system cannot therefore expect funding from the state if it chooses not to obey that legislation.

Underground exploring today

No posting today, as I am leaving home at 6:30 am with several cavers for a day trip to a cave in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeast Arizona. The drive one way is about three and a half hours, so doing this as a day trip will likely break what I like to call Zimmerman’s law: “The cave time must exceed the drive time.”

However, when I first visited Tucson last winter and mentioned I might move here, the local cavers asked if I’d be interested in being the cartographer of this particular cave and help them get a project started to survey it. Three previous attempts to survey it were never completed, so no good map exists. And since I have recently completed two significant cave maps of two important West Virginia caves (see monographs 3 and 4 on this page) and am without a map project at the moment, how could I say no? Tomorrow’s trip is my first visit to the cave in preparation for getting the survey project off the ground in January.

Anyway, I will be back late, and will return to the computer on Saturday. For everyone, have a Merry Christmas weekend!

I am going to the west

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and thus am undeniably what people call a city boy. Though in my youth my family spent summers in the country near Monticello in upstate New York, I never saw a real mountain. To me, a mountain was the typical rounded wooded hills of the Catskills and Adirondack Mountains.

The first time I traveled west of the Mississippi was when I was 33 years old, in 1986. I and five other caving friends went to New Mexico to attend that year’s annual caving convention. (We spent all of three hours at this week long convention. Instead of sitting in a college classroom listening to cavers talk about caving, we went caving in the Guadalupe Mountains, which to my mind was far more fun.)

When we first arrived in El Paso, we rented a car and started the three hour drive east towards Carlsbad Caverns where we planned to camp and cave for the first few days. At one point during the drive we stopped, just to look at the view. For a born Easterner who was used to hiking in forests where it might take you hours to reach a point where the trees thinned out enough to give you a lookout or vista, the west’s openness was breathtaking. Wherever you looked you could see for fifty to a hundred miles.

As I stood by the side of the road, I noticed something else, but could not put my finger on it at first. Something that was not obvious was different.
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Fires in Arizona: more than one

Though the news has rightly been making a very big deal about the out-of-control Wallow wildfire in eastern Arizona, it turns out that this is not the only serious wildfire in the state.

Friends in Arizona clued me in on this website, Inciweb, which lists all the fires both active and inactive in the U.S. Of the active fires, Wallow is by far the biggest at almost 400,000 acres. However, there are three other big fires in the Coronado National Forest on the Mexican border whose total acreage exceeds 200,000 acres. These particular fires have shut down all public access to Coronado.

It is believed by one of my local Arizona friends that these fires are probably linked to either the illegal drug or immigrant smuggling that passes along the forest’s trails, coming north from Mexico. (When I was out in Tucson in January we saw clear evidence of this smuggling on these trails during one hike in the Huachuca Montains, with a lot of trash scattered along the trail and in several adjacent rock shelters.)