Thursday, June 30, 2005

Aspen breeze on the black & green burn

On Mt. Lemmon the trembling leaves of new aspen trees are coming back where fire cleared pine doghair thickets. Also many areas with burnt dead small trees, but thriving big ones, and new sprouts.

Well named, that Aspen Fire. It did a lot of good for the ecology of frog mountain.

'Smirt' (smoke & dirt) over Tucson today. Tough to see the Santa Ritas. Sprawl shimmering through the high heat waves off the valley.

Butterflies of all colors flitting across the Santa Catalina flowers and sky. Pools dripping in Sabino Creek. Even no fee hassle.

Ferns, flowers, wind. The sounds of quiet. Respect and enjoy our unique Sky Islands.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

No 'staying the course' on Bush's Iraq war disaster

Mr. Bush addressed our nation from a military base. Again with simplistic sound bites to coax more drool from fools. But many Americans see right through his BS. He won't win any converts to his minority view on Iraq with such a predictable, hollow performance.

When will Bush take some personal responsibility by owning up to his very real and deadly mistakes, and correcting them?

With the Iranian elections not going Bush's way, it is likely Cheney, Rumsfeld, and other war mongers are stepping up planning to stay in Iraq to mount an eventual war on Iran.

Iraq could be like Vietnam because the kings never learn. We should've been out of there by 1965. We shouldn't be saying in 2015 that we should've been out of Iraq by 2005.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Praise the flash, wind, boom, and rain.

Flash, boom, wind, and rain. Sprinkling on my head.

Washing away the dust and pollution; cleaning up this city. Cooling us down.

Rain
not virga
brings life

In Tucson, June rain is a very rare treat pounding on the roof of my adobe house. Draining into the cistern.

Red child watches million volt streaks slashing the dark sky, zapping the earth. The power. The ozone odor.

A few drops of June rain are worth gallons of CAP water. Plants love it. Pray for a good monsoon season that starts early and runs strong & long.

Thank you, forces of the universe, for the pure healing rain. See the clear sky in the morning.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Senate failure on global warming dooms SW sprawl

Rejecting mandatory cuts in global warming pollution, the US Senate today chumped-out and rejected a bill by my Senator Mr. McCain (R-AZ) and J. Lieberman (D-CT).

Sen. McCain did a good job explaining that the science is clear and we must do something now, but a majority of Senators did not follow his leadership today on global warming.

Some GOP Senators voted to cut pollution, and some Dems voted not to. This reminds me of why I am an Independent.

It has been 117+ this week in parts of Arizona. Without cuts now the planet could warm by 10 degrees F over the next century. 127 in 2100. Imagine sand dunes covering condos. Heat waves rising high in to the sky. Way hotter nights. Vultures circling, bones on the ground, and few people around.

Our oven-like desert heat will finally put a stop to urban sprawl by 2100, but watch out Canada as Yankees head for water and cooler air.

Today the Senate ignored their responsibility. Some Senators and industry promote voluntary cuts, but that is not the job of the Senate. The Senate is there to make laws to protect the public interest, not just ask industry to please cut back to keep us all from frying.

Some corporations, such as GE, have even called for mandatory small cuts in emissions, signaling a rising sense of urgency and desire for clear standards. This also shows how radically bad the Bush/GOP/Polluter position against required pollution cuts really is.

Even if the Senate won't mandate lower global warming pollution, the people can make it happen by using less power and driving less. An added bonus: this will also save you money and improve your health.

Keep on sweatin'.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

2 to 1 decision by county on bad air day

In a compromise, Pima Supervisors today voted 5-0 in favor of reducing conservation set-asides from 75 to 66.6% in 'multiple use' areas. Deals were made on the spot to have open space be whole, not a portion of each lot, back yards, etc.

The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection was generally pleased with the action.

I have mixed feelings. It is good to see at least a 2-1 land mitigation ratio, but today's 8.4% cut will mean a good amount more land will be developed in the future. Securing real open space design is critical, as will be careful management to prevent off-road vehicles and other problems.

As long as the Pima Supervisors are relatively OK on the environment, it won't be as bad. But if politics change in a bad way Pima County's environment could be even more quickly and fully degraded.

As I rode downtown, I noticed the white sky of haze, dust and exhaust over Tucson. Bad air, unhealthy, but likely officially called 'moderate'. I could barely see the Rincons through the pollution.

Very hot today, with wind and some thunderclouds building. Maybe dry lightning will start fires? Report of light rain near University and 5th Av.

Monday, June 20, 2005

County may cut open space conservation

Pima County Administrator Huckelberry wants to reduce conservation set-asides when desert lands are developed. The Regional Plan Policies, or RPPs, are essential to protect open space and habitat.

Currently, the County follows a 75% set-aside on 'multiple use' lands, a compromise between science and economics, but developers and Huckelberry want to cut it to allow more land to be developed.

Some conservationists agreed to the cut, but only if conservation areas were whole, not chopped up as back yards on each lot, fragmenting habitat beyond usefulness. They also wanted open space areas to be dedicated to the county, or a non-profit conservation organization for management.

Huckelberry came back to greens on Friday saying 'no can do', and has recommended that Supervisors OK the cut without mitigations.

Pima Supervisors should say 'no', and keep current provisions in place until when and if ecologists and Huckelberry can work out a better agreement for open space and wildlife.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Kyl's radicalism not representative of changing AZ

Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a US Senator, is always there to spew the most right wing positions. His radical right positions are an embarrasment to all reasonable Arizonans.

Tonight he was on national news, arguing the feds must keep the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison open to fight the 'war on terror'. 'Liberal' PBS, which many Republicans want to cut, had him on.

This 'war' will never end, and people held at GITMO may never get out, never be charged with a crime, and never get a day in court. The existence of this unjust prison, and the hypocrisy it shows the world about US ideals, fuels hatred and terrorism toward America and Americans.

The 'war on terror' is the real terror against freedom. US Dept. of Homeland Security choppers rake southside Tucson neighborhoods day and night since late 03, spreading noise, pollution, and attempted intimidation. Many people don't feel 'protected', they feel violated.

10 years ago, just the suggestion of a US Dept. of Homeland Security would be laughed off as over the top and too '1984', but now Bush makes it a scary reality.

This Bush/Kyl style so-called 'freedom' is not 'conservative', it is radical, and immoral.

Who will step up to take on and defeat Jon Kyl in 07? People in AZ are ready for a new Senator, but not to replace Sen. McCain. A well organized Independent could beat Kyl, or even a moderate, pro-environment, media savvy, well-funded Dem.

Challengers need to step up soon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Southwest heating up, but we can be cool

Gettin' hotter in the desert, especially at night. Increases of 10+ degrees F in southwestern cities since 1950s are a hot reality.

Sprawling pavement, rooftops, and masses of cars & trucks push up the mercury in thermometers.

Coal powerplants making energy for electricity-hogging AC units, etc. push up the mercury in the environment, fish, and our own bodies.

Take the moral and ethical high road and save your own ass by planting trees, driving & consuming less, and reducing energy use.

You'll feel cooler.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Dead piling up in Iraq as Americans pig out

Now over 1,700 US troops killed. Over 12,000 badly wounded. Likely well over 100,000 Iraqis, many innocent children and women, dead or maimed.

Contrary to their simplistic spin for dolts and corporate media, the Bush administration has no morals or ethics in Iraq -- just greed, stupidity, and death.

Many good Americans are complaining, but are we really willing to sacrifice our over the top consuming lifestyles to improve global friendships and sustainability. Our 'pig nation' desire for more natural resources and 'made in China' products is a top threat to our national security.

Start by driving less, living more simply, and considering our small planet we all have to share. If the rest of the world and nature keeps turning against us, we are doomed no matter how strong our military.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Mt. Lemmon fees reduced by Forest Service

Thank you Coronado National Forest, good idea. People need a break. Fees for hiking trailhead use should also be dropped.

Accoring to this article, under the 04 Act USFS should not be trying to charge for dispersed camping in areas with no facilities.

Ticketing should stop on undeveloped lands, but we'll see if rangers will honor this. The public should watch to make sure USFS does not start developing more public lands in a quest to extend fees.

*

ARIZONA DAILY STAR
-- June 11 05

Mt. Lemmon fees reduced

By Mitch Tobin

Visitors to eight scenic vistas along Mount Lemmon Highway no longer have to pay fees just to park there and admire their public lands, the Forest Service announced Friday.

But the toll booth will remain on the road up the Santa Catalina Mountains because the Coronado National Forest will still charge $5 a day at picnic sites and trailheads.

Another six sites on the Coronado and Prescott national forests also will lose their fees because the recreation areas don't have enough amenities to justify charging visitors.

...

The Forest Service was required to re-examine its fees under the 2004 Recreation Enhancement Act. According to the act, fees can be charged only at day-use sites with certain facilities, such as permanent toilets, designated parking, interpretive signs and picnic tables.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Get a true answer, McMedia

Too many reporters let slippery political or corporate interviewees slide with non-answers to often good questions.

Why do so few reporters follow up right away when given a non-answer? Are they afraid of appearing rude? A big part of a reporter's job should be pushing corporations and government when needed to get real answers for the public.

Too often they let politicians and spokespersons get away with a non-response spin. Even with this disturbing trend, corporations and the Bush administration are turning down more interviews, and offering more 'no comments'.

Weak questioning is seen too much in centrist media. Media on the right is better at pushing for answers, especially when interviewing centrist or left people.

No more 'he-said, she-said' McMedia. Time to put the spin doctors of babylon on the spot and get the truth.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Story on DRP blog since 5/28 now in Weekly

TUCSON WEEKLY -- June 9 05
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/Currents/Content?oid=oid:69611

Pygmy Paper
A hushed endangered-species report puts the feds on the hot seat

by Tim Vanderpool

Pro-wildlife groups recently got their hands on an interesting document from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This tidy, forceful research paper by agency biologists argues that the ferruginous pygmy owl deserves continued protection as an endangered species.

More on Tucson Weekly website...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Return Tucson bear to Frog Mountain

A bear was shot with tranquilizer darts today on Tucson's NE side when he roamed in to an urban area. AZ Game & Fish officials may donate the bear to the City of Tucson's Reid Park zoo, where he would be held in a much too small enclosure considering the big habitat areas bears cover in the wild.

Because our city has sprawled on to the bear's habitat, he should be returned soon to the wilds in the Catalina Mountains (aka Frog Mountain). This bear likely wouldn't return to the city, given the stress he's been through.

Sheepmen and Bush Forest Service threaten bighorn recovery in Sierra Nevada

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- June 8 05

SAN FRANCISCO — California Fish and Game officials are proposing to kill endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep when they come in contact with domestic sheep believed to transmit highly contagious fatal diseases to the wild herds.

"The ramifications of allowing potentially infected animals to travel back to native bighorn herds and spread disease could be far more disastrous to bighorn recovery than the loss of a single animal through lethal take," said a state Fish and Game notice of the proposed regulation published last month.

Several environmental groups who saw the notice mounted protests this week, calling for the removal of domestic sheep from federal grazing lands in the rocky Eastern Sierra habitat of the bighorns.

"The proposal to kill wild bighorns to 'protect' them from domestic sheep is unwise and unethical," said a letter Monday from the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Inyo. "What is necessary is to get domestic sheep away from bighorns now."

More on LA Times website...

I worked with the Times to break this story. DRP

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Council candidates bright for Tucson

At least Tucson has some better city council candidates this year running against the Republican-right bozos.

Steve Farley and Nina Trasoff are two dems facing off against GOP incumbent Fred Ronstadt in Ward 6. Farley has my support in the primary, but Trasoff is also strong. Both are running 'clean' campaigns, while Fred is not. We are lucky to have their one-two punch against Fred, and their focus on important public-interest issues the current mayor and council are weak on, such as sustainable development and transportation.

Karen Ulich, another progressive dem, is taking on incumbent Kathleen Dunbar, Fred's right hand man on the council. Ulich has no other dem challenger in a primary, so she is already focused on booting Dunbar.

Steve Leal, arguably the most progressive voice now on the council, is running seemingly unopposed in the southside Ward 5, where I live with my family as a registered independent.

Tucsonans who want change in the city have people to support this political season, so step up to do some work and support them. Fred and Dunbar have been around too long, and the rules of democracy suggest it is a healthy time to vote them out.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Saguaro commuters; Mt. Lemmon; Motown

Saguaro National Park's Tucson Mountains unit is suffering from urban sprawl and traffic. Too many people living in Avra Valley sprawl, west of Tucson, are now commuting fast through the park on Picture Rock Rd., making it one of the deadliest roads around for wildlife roadkill, and riskier also for cyclists and motorists.

The Park Service would like to close or restrict the road to protect park values, but the decision lies with Pima County. The best solution is for an alternative route around the north end of the Tucsons, and then stop through traffic on Picture Rocks. RTA should be planning this as a project to go to the voters.

Up on the Catalinas this weekend it was nice. A camper near us was ticketed by the freddies with an 'opportunity to pay', but on the 'free' day. I guess the fee shakedown never stopped on Mt. Lemmon. We escaped a ticket.

It was looking woody around Summerhaven. Many new homes and decks being built with a lot of wood, but supposedly 'fire wall' protections. Looks sketchy. Town area is cleared out, with most snags removed, but many people again planting trees near their homes and increasing fire risk. I should move up there with my family and start a bar.

Detroit Pistons beat Miami tonight, and my prediction marches on.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Public lands 'free' from shakedowns this Saturday

Those generous feds at the US Depts. of Interior and Agriculture have decided to give the people a day off Saturday from the controversial public lands 'fee-demo' program.

Both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have created dozens of fee-demo areas nationwide since the 90s covering millions of acres, including the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, charging $5 a day for people to simply visit their public lands.

The fees are voluntary, for the most part, but agencies are using recent bad moves in congress to up the enforcement shakedowns. Tickets, or 'notices of opportunity to pay', have largely never been enforced if people choose not to pay, but that may be changing under our advancing police state.

Fee-demo discriminates against poor people, and freedom loving Americans, who until recently were not double taxed for visiting their undeveloped public lands.

But tomorrow you can forget about the feds 'fee-demo' scam and enjoy your public lands again for free.

The other 364 days be prepared to dodge rangers, or pay the man.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Regional Transportation Authority speeding up

The Regional Transportation Authority is pushing ahead with a long list of big road projects for Pima County. Some details were discussed today at a meeting lead by Chuck Huckelberry at the downtown Tucson office of the Pima Association of Governments.

Some controversial projects likely to be included in the proposal to go to voters include a $100 million+ extention of Barraza-Aviation Highway through north downtown to I-10, and widening of 22nd St. from I-10 to Park or Kino.

Neighborhoods in the 22nd St. area south of downtown have worked out an agreement on a mitigation plan to protect parks and quality of life when and if the widening project happens.

Voters will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to already high local sales taxes to fund road and transportation projects. Also likely to be included in the ballot package is more funding for bus and transit improvements.