Friday, August 20, 2004

Local Coverage Highlights 8/14-8/20

This is a new feature I am trying out. About every week I plan to post links to the most important and interesting stories about local news. Most of these will come from the hard-working folks at the AZ Daily Star. Some of these links will be archived after a week or so and not available to non-subscribers. I'm considering how to solve that issue.

In the meantime, please leave feedback regarding this feature, so I can decide whether to keep doing it. Even if you read the paper daily, you might miss some of the imporant local material. The newspapers don't cover everything which is newsworthy, of course, but the local reporters generally do a good job of covering what they do look at. Show them some love :)

Each week I will choose a top story, which is important and/or reported in an especially skillful or intelligent manner, and stinker, which is an eggregious example of slanted or biased reporting. I encourage readers to send kudos to the former, and raspberries to the latter.

TOP NEWS for this weekVia AZStarNet:
Carol Ann Alaimo sensitively reports on Pfc. Christopher Fernandez, of Tucson, whose heroism under fire earned him the Silver Star, our nation's third-highest battlefield heroism award. Private Fernandez risked his life and displayed great personal courage defending his fellow soldiers. I, for one, am damn proud to have people like Chris in our armed services.

Seldom is a man faced with such a life-and-death test of his selfless devotion to his fellow soldiers and to his duty on the battlefield. When a man passes that test as valiantly as did Chris, that man's heart is proven to be true and honorable in a way few match. That is why they are our heroes. Unfotunately, some don't see it that way. Maybe thirty years from now, the GOP can attempt to slander Chris for his heroism in winning the Silver Star, when he runs for office.

Via AZStarNet:
C.J. Karamargin reports on Bush's reluctance to put any stress on his guest-worker program on the campaign stump. Could Bush's taciturnity be the result of a desire not to ruffle the feathers of his base in Arizona?

Via AZStarNet:
Barrett Marson looks at Randy Graf's 'disrespect' for a photo of himself and Bush in protest of Bush's guest-worker program. That incident has now become an issue in the Graf-Kolbe primary.

Via AZStarNet:
Howard Fischer of AZ Capitol News reports on the likely fiscal impact of the Graf-backed Protect Arizona Now initiative. Arizona agencies looking at implementation to protect their employees from criminal charges are reporting 10's, possibly, 100's of millions in additional operating and compliance measures.

Via AZStarNet:
Michael Marizco reports on a border-wide alert issued for a suspected Al Qaeda operative. Unfortunately, Marizco did not more closely examine the means by which such an alert was being implemented. This story highlights the lack of intel coordination between Mexico and border state agencies, and is, to my mind, a missed opportunity.

Via AZStarNet:
Thomas Stauffer brings us a meat and potatoes story of new contracts for cruise missiles to Raytheon. A reminder of how the industrial defense complex addicts our communities to the crack of weapons contracts. Jobs or morality, which will it be, sir?

Via AZStarNet:
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media reports that Gov. Napolitano is ready for the Defense Department to move ahead with the next round of base closures. Of course, this is mainly because she believes that Arizona will do very well in the next round of closures and consolodations.

Via AZStarNet:
David Wichner brings us the skinny on efforts to raise 7 million in private funds to bring the Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development to Tucson as part of the genomics/pharma development initiative. The future of Tucson's economic development may be strongly affected by the decision.

Via AZStarNet:
Mitch Tobin reports on a new agency for LUST (leaking underground storage tanks). Beyond the apparently irresistable juvenile jokes, this is a serious pocketbook issue. Cleanup of leaking tanks, in AZ alone, could cost taxpayers more than 260 million. Congress is meanwhile trying to pass liability waivers for the MTBE fuel additive industry, which is responsible for much of the groundwater contamination from LUST, sticking taxpayers with cleanup costs which are estimated at up to 150 billion nationally. That's right, 150 billion; the cost of another Iraq war.

Via AZStarNet:
Barrett Marson reports on the Republican primary candidates in the oddly competitive LD 25. This is a district in which Dems have nearly a 20% registration advantage on GOPs. There shouldn't be any issue about a Republican in office there, yet here we have a moderate Republican under attack from the right of her party, trying to hang on to seat in 25. Shame on us.

Via AZStarNet:
Tony Davis examines some of the reasons why Pima County tax rates are consistently the highest in the state. He does a game job of explaining why, but fails to punch the clown squarely in the nose: growth. Growth and who pays for it, and more importantly, who shifts the costs onto others who aren't as politically well-connected, is the central issue which Tony only hints at.

Via AZStarNet:
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media reports on Nader's latest lawsuit alleging Arizona's ballot access laws are unconstitutional. Assistant Attorney General Jessica Funkhouser had no comment about the case. The most likely reason is because Nader's allegations are facially viable attacks. He probably won't make it on the ballot, but Nader could well force a re-examination of our third-party ballot access laws.

Via AZStarNet:
Sarah Gassen reports on TUSD's new Parental Access Accounts. This is a website which allows parents direct access to important and timely data about their child's performance. About time. It is good to see schools finally leveraging IT resources intelligently to involve parents in their children's education. This might be the foundation of a whole new way of empowering parents and the biggest idea since the PTA.

Via AZStarNet:
Tony Davis reports on how Tucson's planned annexation of unincorporated county areas could wipe out road building funds. You think Tucson's transportation problems are dire now? Just wait...

The Weekly Stinker:
Via AZCentral:
The Republic's Pat Kossan valiantly attempts to limit the damage of a new national report on charter schools demonstrating that they generally lag behind the performance of public schools.

Kossan suggests that because of sample size and the length of operation of many charters, that judgement of charters in Arizona should be delayed. In a nod to intectual honesty Kossan does admit figures which suggest that the less regulated charter schools are, the worse they perform. But this data doesn't dent Kossan's obdurate efforts to stave off the obvious conclusion regarding Arizona's charters. Arizona's charter scores lag behind and they are the most unregulated charters in the nation. The obvious and logical conclusion, that the experiment is failing, and likely to get worse, not better, will not be admitted by Kossan.

The final damning bit of evidence is Kossan's naive reliance on the intellectual output of the Goldwater Institute. A more biased and right-wing hack tank does not exist, and their output consistently is polluted by political wishful thinking, and they are terminally afflicted with a mission to build a case for preselected conclusions. No self-respecting journalist would rely on their output without even a word about their bias. Presumably to 'balance' the use of the Goldwater study, Kossan presents the results of a Progressive Policy Intitute study. The PPI is the policy wing of the Democratic Leadership Coucil, who are largely far-right DINOs like Joseph Lieberman. The spectrum of opinion Kossan presents is extremely right and far right, being presented as right vs. left. Kossan richly deserves to be served raspberries for this load of propaganda.


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