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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

Behind the Tucson Rodeo

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  The grounds are empty. Empty stadium seats, open parking lots and steer pens with nothing around but silence in the air, except for one man overlooking the rodeo racetrack. This man is José Calderon. It’s his second year presiding over the Tucson Rodeo. Saturday marks its 93rd year. Calderon is the chairman of the board, dedicating his time year-round planning the event. Calderon says he spends more time and energy into the rodeo than he does his real job. His eyes beam with pride as he talks about his work with the rodeo. “You got to have a passion for it too. if your hearts in it…it’s like anything else. If you’re in a relationship it’s not going to work if your hearts not into it, your jobs not going to work if your hearts not in it,...

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Ironwood: The little monument that could

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Off the beaten path, Ironwood Forest National Monument has dodged literal and figurative bullets and survived an ever-changing American culture and government. Located in Marana, Ironwood Forest National Monument is remote. Created under President Bill Clinton in 2000, its 129,000 acres are made up of pure, untamed desert. They harbor zero buildings, no ranger station, no first-aid kits and no marked trails. There also aren’t many signs, and the only way to really get close is through rugged dirt roads. It’s what many would call a pristine environment, and that’s just the way lovers of this monument like it. “It’s one of the most memorable hikes I’ve ever been on,” said Erica Newman, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona. Ironwood, however, has seen some trouble in recent months. In April, President Trump made an executive order for...

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Tucson couple carry out annual saguaro census

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For desert dwellers, saguaros are a part of daily life. Scattered in front yards, cropping up along the side of the road, sprinkled on mountainsides, the hulking cactuses are nearly omnipresent in the Arizona desert. We often see them without realizing what goes into the survival of these huge plants that only grow in the Sonoran Desert. But Tom Orum and Nancy Ferguson focus on just that: How long do these saguaros live, and how many survive each year? The Tucson couple, both retired University of Arizona researchers, have spent almost four decades conducting an annual census of the saguaros in six plots of land around Saguaro National Park. Limited by elevation and by freezing temperatures in the winter, saguaros are only found in the Sonoran Desert, according to Saguaro National Park. Ferguson, 73, said the Sonoran Desert’s combination of...

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Climate change getting you down? You may not be only one, says UA study

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Although many studies investigate the physical impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels and more intense storms, very few ask how worrying about a changing climate could be affecting someone’s mental health. A January study published by University of Arizona researchers in the journal Global Environmental Change did just that. The researchers found that concern about climate change negatively impacts mental health, and that people who are primarily concerned about nature, plants and animals are most affected. “I think it’s very important to realize … that it may become a more pronounced problem for mental health,” said Sabrina Helm, an associate professor at the University of Arizona’s Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences and one of the researchers conducting the study. The research team investigated how stressed people were about climate change, to what extent they used various...

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“The ultimate penalty for texting while driving is death”

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PHOENIX — Sen. Steve Farley (D-Tucson) wants drivers to put down their phones and pay attention. He’s wanted that for years, but the perennial statewide anti-texting while driving bills have been unsuccessful – going back to 2009. This year he’s back again with SB 1261, which would mainly make using a phone to send or check text messages a fineable offense. “The ultimate penalty for texting while driving is death,” Farley said. “Once people know this is against the law everywhere in the state, they won’t do it.” Farley wants to pull people from the jaws of death — but his bill lacks teeth. If caught, a motorist could be fined anywhere from $25-99 for their first offense and between $100-200 for subsequent offenses. If another law is violated at the same time, then the motorist could be fined for...

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Legislative Roundup: Term limits, abortion reporting, drones at the Capitol

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PHOENIX — Monday was the start of the now-Shooterless Arizona State Legislature — that is to say, the first day since Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) was expelled from the House following a months-long sexual harassment investigation. Convening for Congress Rep. Darin Mitchell (R-Goodyear) believes it’s time to change the U. S. Constitution. He has introduced HCR 2024 as a call to arms — the resolution, if passed, would put Arizona on the road to gathering enough states to call a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. The goal? Limit the number of consecutive terms that U.S. representatives and senators can serve in Congress. That may take a while. This resolution would serve as a “continuing application” to Congress, and would be valid until two-thirds of the states convene to vote on term limits. Mitchell’s resolution received a 7-2...

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Everyone wins — but what about the AZ taxpayer?

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PHOENIX — Last week, Gov. Ducey took the lead in personally announcing a $1 billion deal with Nikola Motor Company to build a factory and headquarters in Buckeye, the centerpiece of a master-planned community that has been the pet project of two of the Valley’s biggest developers. Nikola didn’t decide to pack up shop in Utah and move everything to Arizona out of the kindness of their hearts, as both the state and the city of Buckeye have generous incentives packages to lure the hydrogen-electric semi truck manufacturer out to the West Valley. JDM Partners, one of the two real estate developers, has been generous too: Jerry Colangelo, David Eaton, and Mel Shultz (The J, D, and M of the Partners) each contributed $5,000 to the governor’s 2018 election fund, all on March 23rd, 2017 as campaign finance reports...

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Ending food waste one tomato at a time

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A tomato grows in Mexico. After being plucked from the vine, shipped into the United States, and placed on a shelf, it lies in wait. Some don’t even make it to the shelf. If the tomato isn’t purchased, it’s off to the landfill.   Some find salvation.   One woman has dedicated the last 20-plus years to her passion project meant to help solve this waste problem and secure peoples’ access to the basic human right of a healthy diet. “I didn’t even know what a food bank was, but I took the job because I needed it and I always worked with social justice,” says Yolanda Soto, president and CEO of Borderlands Food Bank, a non-profit in Arizona. “Now we’ve been here for 23 years and are feeding people nutritiously and curbing food waste.”   Soto, who then...

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Legislative Roundup: Trucks, pervy old men, porn & prostitution resolution

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PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey unveiled a new economic development plan on Tuesday, following up on the lightning quick passage of his Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act last week. On the same day, the long-awaited sexual harassment report arising out of last year’s allegations was made public. It’s been a busy week.   Pervy Old Men and Their Right Hands The sexual harassment report that has so far loomed over the Legislature was finally published, detailing each allegation of harassment between Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) and Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) first reported last year. The 82-page report compiled by the law firm of Sherman & Howard L.L.C. , which was retained by the House to independently investigate the allegations made by each legislator. House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) found that while many of the allegations were baseless, there was enough there...

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Legislative Roundup: Camera ban, pets on lap and tax-free tampons

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PHOENIX — Gov. Ducey convened a special session of the Arizona Legislature this week to focus lawmakers on the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act. He announced his plan last week so N. 1  priority has been turning that plan into law.  That’s not to say regular lawmaking wasn’t in the cards. Here are some of the interesting bills from this week: No More Police Paparazzi Both the Senate and the House had bills introduced that addressed photo enforcement systems used by the police. The only problem is that they aren’t the same — one forces the police to review the photos before a citation is issued, while the other bill bans the practice outright. Drivers may recognize the white cameras set up alongside certain sections of the freeway or busy intersections, and the camera vans operated by the police, as...

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