Bombs away: Sahuarita gets info on explosive finds near town

I’m sorry, what? It must just be me. 

Something must have gotten in my eye when I was reading the Sahuarita Town Council agenda for Monday. I could have sworn I saw an item that talked about how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is starting a cleanup on something called the Sahuarita Bombing Range.

I’ve been around Southern Arizona since the Old Student Union days and… the Green Dolphin — and I’ve never heard of the Sahuarita Bombing Range.

What’s that? It closed in 1958? 

So this is real. 

The area is littered with expended ordnance and people are just now getting around to cleaning it up. Actually, no. They started in 2017 but the money ran out because no one ever died encountering dormant firepower.

Well, I’m sure it’s fine. It’s not like there are high-explosive incendiary devices on the site. Thank God for that. Hold on. This from the presentation the State Land Trust plans to deliver to the Town Council: “Weapons debris found at the site over the years has included practice bombs, high explosive incendiary projectiles (emphasis added), small arms and other related items.”

“At the Hop,” and “Yakety Yak” were top 10 singles the last time anyone dropped bombs on the site. What the hell has taken so long? Are we waiting for “Rock-in Robin” to finish his strafing run? 

This clean up is so overdue it should be collecting Social Security.

However, the Corps of Engineers has just begun the process of figuring out know how much bad stuff is out there. So in the mean time, the Arizona Land and Water Trust will put up 100 signs and two information kiosks. 

Well, I’m sure that will fix it.

Town Manager Shane Dille is up for a new contract and the Town Council will vote Monday to either keep him on or axe him and start over again. 

Dille is probably fine for another go. I’ve heard good things about him from higher ups in other local governments. 

The council will consider giving him a raise. He now makes $189,000 a year.

Once in a lifetime chance

It was a sad day when Chase Bank closed its Downtown branch. For my money, the former Valley National Bank has the most gorgeous interior of any building in Tucson. 

Now it’s empty. But maybe not for long.

Local restaurateur Danny Scordato has rushed in to grab the spot and has plans to turn it into a dining and live music venue.

Yikes. If Scordato does it right, he could have the premier restaurant/bar/club in Tucson for the next century. Spaces like that just don’t come available every 200 years.

Scordato wants some help from the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose District Board. Specifically, he’s asking to take advantage of the Government Property Lease Excise Tax Program, which lets government take ownership of the property and convert his property taxes into a small sales tax. It’s a tax savings.

The Arizona Legislature is now considering dialing this program back so the board will have to move fast if it chooses to go in this direction. GPLETs have been derided as government giveaways to rich businesses and apparently, the modern Right has stopped liking that in certain circumstances.

The Goldwater Institute has long argued the program violates the state Constitution’s ban on gifts to private businesses. Those conservatives have been doggedly consistent in their opposition to corporate welfare. 

Either way, it will be interesting to see how this works out.

The board is also set to take action on filling the Crescent Smoke Shop and is working with the owners of Johnny Gibon’s Market to expand into the property.

Gibson’s is owned by Paul Cisek and Ron Abbott, who also own the Rincon Market in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood. So they have some experience here. Cisek and Abbott have submitted their preferred terms for leasing the property and the board will decide if and how to move on the project.

The board will also vote on whether to start the process of issuing bonds to pay for unidentified future projects. Hey, the Tucson City Council has scheduled a sales tax election for yet-to-be-determined community needs. Must be the time of the season.

TUSD’s coronavirus funds run out

COVID-19 relief funds are running out at the Tucson Unified School District. Well, they are running out everywhere, but TUSD made the necessary but fiscally dangerous move of putting their funding into ongoing operations. So when they run out, pain will be felt. Put the cash into one-time expenditures and the money is just spent. It doesn’t require staffing cuts.

The results have been measurable, because TUSD has taken leaps forward in academic achievement.

Now comes the hard part.

TUSD’s Governing Board will be provided with a series of options to shore up the budget as federal assistance expires.

District staff are suggesting a performance impact analysis be established to recommend how to reshuffle desegregation funding to help make up the shortfalls.

District leadership wants to transfer $2.5 million in school nurse salary and benefits into a Medicaid fund to help tend to student health.

Finally, the district should cut administrative departments by 5 percent and reallocate $1.5 million keep 21.6 full time counselors and social workers, while another $300,000 in savings would go to pay for additional support staff now paid for by federal coronavirus relief.

By the way, there’s a political party that doesn’t know how to name things. Lost in the vague acronyms ARPA and ESSER (American Rescue Plan Act and Elementary and Secondary Supplemental Educational Relief) is just what a massive investment in public schools it was. Why would people know? ARPA and ESSER say nothing about what the plans actually do.

USA PATRIOT Act? Now that’s a name. Republicans get this stuff. And it’s not ancillary. A part of leadership is letting people know vaguely what’s going on and the GOP knows it’s important. Democrats are too busy pushing their glasses back up their nose to care about communication. 

ARPA and ESSER provided a massive historic investment in K-12 education that the vast majority of voters are clueless about.

If Washington is picking up the tab for a list of heating and air conditioning systems, then that’s money local districts can spend in classrooms.

The Vail Unified School District’s teacher incentive package is up for annual board approval. 

Teachers are awarded points for home visits, taking part in leadership opportunities and crafting additional instruction beyond simply the standard curriculum. 

Cash awards of $200 per-point are awarded to teachers who meet district goals and $300 in Vail Vouchers are given out to help teachers pay for things like professional development.

Rewarding “good teachers” is a hard task because every class of students is different and presents different challenges. A teacher with an easy class can do well without necessarily being a great teacher. An educator who slogs through a difficult class may have done a better job. It’s the difference between coaching the Alabama Crimson Tide to a Fiesta Bowl and taking Phoenix College to a minor bowl game.

However, it’s hard to dispute Vail’s results. The district is consistently ranked one of the best in the state. 

One incentive the community should roll its eyes at is how the district will reimburse “good teachers” for classroom supplies. I still find it absolutely ridiculous and a point of statewide shame that teachers are expected to pay for every day classroom items. How the hell is this possible?

Meanwhile, University of Arizona President Robert Robbins gets a house as part of his base compensation, while overseeing a budget “disaster” he won’t explain.

Spreading the woke mind virus

The Flowing Wells Unified School District Governing Board will vote on accepting a series of new books for high school students. They are; “Allegiant” and “Insurgent,” Veronica Roth’s second and third installment of the Divergent Trilogy; “How to Argue With a Cat,” an appropriate-for-the-times book about persuasion by Jay Heinrichs; “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel, a post-apocalyptic story about the survival of art; The “Sarengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why it Matters,” by Sean R. Carroll, “American Born Chinese,” by Gen Luen Yang, a fable about Chinese living in America; plus a woke piece of multiculturalism focusing on Scandinavians. It’s called Beowulf. Finally there’s a piece of poetic indoctrination called “The Road Not Taken,” by a Blue Stater named Robert Frost.

The board will also vote Tuesday on a hardly massive change in performance pay which clarifies that the “experience step” in the merit compensation package will take effect in the first full pay period in February rather then the existing plan of the first pay period ending in February. 

The board will also vote on whether to approve McGraw Hill’s economics textbook called simply “Economics.” Racy. Clearly a master stroke of dark forces spreading the woke mind virus to lull us into believing supply and demand drive economics and not Jesus and firearms.

The Sunnyside Unified School District has a pro forma agenda, loaded with general functions and small-ticket things. This isn’t rare for school boards. However, I found a couple interesting things in the detail.

Desert View High School students hope to go to Phoenix College for a day to take part in the Academic Decathlon. The Sunnyside board first needs to give its permission and foot the $3,450 bill. As a former decathlete (and medalist) myself, I say Godspeed.

Under gifts and donations, I found something kind of interesting. The Friends of the Oro Valley Public Library gave Desert View and Sunnyside High Schools $750. A $1,500 donation from Oro Valley to the South Side is cool to see from a sense of community. 

Voters in the Sahuarita Unified School District approved a $50 million bond for major capital projects and the school board will vote Wednesday to start issuing them.

How it works is, the district will hire attorneys who will work with investment banks to start issuing district IOU’s to the bond market. Buyers will then give the district cash it needs. In return, the bond holders are paid an annual interest rate for the life of the promise to pay note and then at the end of the term, they get their money back. 

These municipal bond returns are tax free (at least at the federal level and in many states). Smart rich people live their lives off bonds. For other investors its a good way to be rich in U.S. dollars, which is the basic global currency. Wanna tax the rich? Put a teeny little tax on munis. Don’t be futzing with raising a surgeon’s income tax to 45 percent. No one who makes their money off income is “rich.”