Someone listened!!

So, back in January, I wrote a brief blurb about my woes looking for Mexican food.

Apparently, someone listened. Filibertos opened last week (to NO fanfare, btw… not even an announcement in the local paper!) in the space that Cravings had vacated in January. I visited, had Super Nachos and came away satisfied. Although, they have some logistical issues to work out – namely, they haven’t quite gotten down how to deal with a large customer base.

Give ’em time, though. I’m just glad they’re here.


I noticed that someone has been looking for Randy McCall postings. If you’re really looking, you should look HERE.

Suns need a 13th player

The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) requires each team to carry 13 players on its roster. The Suns currently are at 12, and they must sign a 13th player sometime soon. The question is, who? Lots of people are clamoring for Drew Gooden, who was just waived by Sacramento, but Gooden has played in only one game since Jan. 19, and has been slowed by a groin injury for the past six weeks – and people want him to play significant minutes as a bench player on the run-n-gun Suns? I really question this line of thinking.

At this point in the season, the best thing for the Suns to do is to grab a PF player who is in better shape than Gooden (read: fresh legs), that way if the need arises for 4-5 minutes in a game, that player can come in and eat some minutes. The Suns don’t need another scorer – they’ve got plenty of that – but a PF who averages 6-8 points and 4-5 boards and doesn’t mind cleaning up messes will fit perfectly in the Suns style.

Also, can the Suns finally jettison Alando Tucker, please? He can light up the D-League, but when it comes to the big time, he can be the worst player on the floor at any given moment. He takes ill-advised shots, he’s a black hole when he gets the ball, and he always looks like he’s trying to prove he belongs. He’s also undersized for his position (6-6 PF?). He was a failed experiment of D’Antoni’s (and where have we heard THAT phrase before – *cough, cough* Marcus Banks, DJ Strawberry) and the Suns would do better off without him.

Tell us about your Citizen

(The Tucson Citizen will cease publication on March 21, 2009. This date will remain a very dark day in publishing history…)

(Anyway, the Citizen solicited anecdotes from the public about the newspaper through the years. The following is my submission.)

What the Citizen has meant to me? I grew up with the Citizen – Dad would buy it on the way home from work, or we would have a subscription, it generally flip-flopped depending on what year it was. When I got to high school at Salpointe Catholic (class of ’90), the Citizen was my go-to for daily events and for research papers for class. Looking back, reading the newspaper actually helped me improve my reading – I see that as I try to get my own kids to read more, and having a daily newspaper in the house helps considerably. I remember reading the John Jennings columns and thinking “How funny is that”. I even ended up taking karate classes with his daughter for a while – never making the connection that she was HIS daughter until years later. (And when John was arrested in that prostitution sting, I felt really let-down, like a member of the family had committed the crime.)

My first “real” (non-University of Arizona affiliated) job was at TNI Partners. I was the one that converted everyone’s PC from running Windows 3.1 and TECS2 to Windows 95 (but still with TECS2… hey, I couldn’t make you guys use Word yet 🙂 ) I was the one that helped Joel move in to the 20th century with everyone getting an email address (first initial, last name – although Pam Hartman was the exception because “phartman” didn’t look or sound right). I spent countless hours upgrading PCs, showing people how to surf the web (CT Revere comes to mind), showing people how to use email as a tool and resource, and even occasionally going to reporters’ homes and setting up their home computers to dial in to azstarnet. I would work early mornings at the beginning of the week, and there were occasional “My computer crashed and I need to submit my story in ten minutes!” cries for help – I think near the end of my tenure with TNI that I had gotten into the habit of hanging around in the newsroom about an hour before deadline JUST in case someone had an issue that needed immediate attention.

I got to see the inside of the vaunted Citizen, the inner workings, and I was completely impressed. I got to see the inner workings of the Star, and I was completely let down – the Star never seemed to be a happy place to work. When I walked over there, I never got that vibe, that feeling that people wanted to be there, that people knew the tradition of excellence. Instead, I got the “ho hum, another day at the grind”. When I walked into the Citizen, someone ALWAYS said “hi”. Didn’t matter who, and it was usually someone different every day, but you got the feeling that the Citizen was a family. I got to see first-hand how the downtown office (Teibel!!) worked, and the satellite offices worked. I got to see the real innards of a newspaper and finally understood the impact that a newspaper has on a community. I took photography classes in HS and college and seeing how the photo department was set up was just amazing. (To this day it still is – just with newer technology!) Meeting Corky Simpson and Steve Rivera and having daily conversations with them about things OTHER than sports – that was always a trip.

When I announced I was leaving, Don Hatfield, the editor/publisher, asked if there was anything he could do to change my mind to leave TNI for a job in Mesa, and I truly believe that if he could have justified the cost of having his own IT person instead of using the TNI personnel, he would have. Heck, TNI didn’t do anything more than give me a handshake and a “see you later – good luck”, but the Citizen staffers threw me a going away party. I still have the gi-normous card signed by everyone.

My then-fiancee (and now wife of 12 years) ended up getting a job for the Citizen proper, working in the Library with Jeannie and Charlotte. And when Don Hatfield’s assistant took vacation, or was out sick, she was asked to step in. And she enjoyed her work. She enjoyed going in to work, and she has always told me that leaving there was probably her biggest regret in her professional life. She knew it wasn’t ever going to be the biggest paycheck in the world, but that was a place that she could do an honest day’s work and feel good about herself for it.

I always had hoped that my kids would be able to someday go back and visit and really understand “Hey, Daddy and Mommy used to work here” – and I’ve made a couple of visits before with the kids (as babies), but now, sadly, I won’t get that chance any more.

When I first heard about the Citizen’s possible “demise”, I immediately wrote a comment on the online board detailing a solution that had been successful for the East Valley Tribune – online 24×7, cut print size in half to tabloid size, cut the total size of the paper down to two sections, and publish a print version only four days a week. (perma-link here) I had hoped that would help, but I guess no one from Gannett took that seriously (or even read it). That’s a shame – the Citizen represents Tucson, but Gannett doesn’t see that.

So, what has the Citizen meant to me? The Citizen is a huge part of my life – it arguably shaped the person I am today, both because of what was printed, and because of the people behind it. Not many people can say that, and I take pride in knowing I’m in select company. I wear my Tucson Citizen baseball cap with pride. It’s blue (same color as those vaunted letters on the front page), hasn’t faded much, but it’s a great reminder of what examples I need to set for my kids.

I read the Citizen every day still, even from Queen Creek, AZ. I will miss it when it goes away.

Glendale and the Tohono O’odham Nation

Poor Glendale, AZ. They have the arena – home to the Phoenix Coyotes NHL franchise and a hugely popular concert venue. They have University of Phoenix stadium – home to the NFL franchise Arizona Cardinals and another hugely popular indoor/outdoor venue. They have shopping, they have hotels, they have spring training ballparks. All of this in a very small “entertainment district” that is funnelling huge amounts of money into the city coffers.

Poor Glendale, AZ. They forgot about the Tohono O’odham Nation. They forgot about the 134 acres that butts up against this “entertainment district” that the Nation purchased years ago – a long time before this “entertainment district” became an idea in some Glendale City Councilman’s head.

Poor Glendale, AZ. They forgot about the 1986 federal law that allows the Tohono O’odham Nation to purchase replacement land in unincorporated areas and apply to have it designated as a reservation after the federal government’s Painted Rock Dam on the Gila River caused flooding in the Tohono O’odham’s Gila River community, rendering nearly 10,000 acres unusable. The purchase was made in 2003, when the area was unincorporated and not in the city of Glendale’s city limits. Obviously this has changed as this “entertainment district” became a reality and Glendale annexed the surrounding area.

Poor Glendale, AZ. They were hoping that 134 acres would turn into something like a commerce center, which given taxes and what-not, would fill the city’s treasury with about $40 million over 20 years.

Poor Glendale, AZ. They forgot that Native American Nations tend to want big bucks in their own wallets, and measly little commerce centers just don’t get a huge bang for the buck – especially on 134 acres. They forgot that Native American Nations can be just as shrewd businessmen as themselves.

Poor Glendale, AZ. They are facing the very real prospect of the 134 acres becoming tribal land and then having a very large Las Vegas-style resort and casino placed squarely on it. And there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it because it’s a Federal jurisdiction, not the City’s.

Poor Glendale, AZ. They’re facing a round-the-clock operation that could grab visitors that would otherwise spend at existing locations within the “entertainment district” and compete with nearby facilities being planned, AND would net them absolutely ZERO in tax revenue. But if they place nice with the Nation, the Nation could dole them out up to 12 percent of the revenue, IF IT CHOOSES TO.

Poor Glendale, AZ.

Hooray for the Tohono O’odham Nation! Good for you. I hope your resort and casino comes to fruition, and I hope you do well. I will come and visit it when it opens, because I believe you made a smart business decision. And if poor, poor Glendale tries to become a roadblock to your resort and casino, then give your 12% to another nearby community, like Buckeye or Goodyear Peoria or Tolleson. Glendale had ample – six years! – time to discuss what you planned to do with those 134 acres. Tough cookies, Glendale. You’d been winning all sorts of battles for the last couple of years, landing the hockey arena, the football stadium, and spring training. Now you lose.

Teens and cell phones

Recently, a Wisconsin teen was arrested for refusing to cease texting while IN MATH CLASS. Not only did she refuse to stop, she refused to give up her cell phone as well.

The police were called and the cell phone was “extracted” from the girl, who now faces a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

Hello, parents! Have you NOT told your kids to not text/make phone calls during school hours? If you haven’t YOU NEED TO BE HIT OVER THE HEAD REPEATEDLY. And the nation’s lawmakers are still wondering why our children are in the bottom third of the world in learning – maybe it’s because THERE’S TOO MANY DISTRACTIONS ALLOWED.