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Love as Sweet as a

LEMON DRO A new short story featuring Prospero ‘Whip’ Stark By Leo W. Banks

CURRENTS: Justice of the Peace Fires ‘Warning Shot’ at Alleged Stalker DANEHY: More Bad Bills at the Arizona Legislature

ARTS: Bernal Gallery Explores Social Justice


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TUCSONWEEKLY.COM

MARCH 4, 2021


MARCH 4, 2021

MARCH 4, 2021 | VOL. 36, NO. 9

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM

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The Tucson Weekly is available free of charge in Pima County, limited to one copy per reader. Additional copies of the current issue of the Tucson Weekly may be purchased for $1, payable at the Tucson Weekly office in advance. To find out where you can pick up a free copy of the Tucson Weekly, please visit TucsonWeekly.com

STAFF

CONTENTS

CURRENTS

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Pima County Justice of the Peace Fires ‘Warning Shot’ at Alleged Stalker

CURRENTS

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TUSD and other local school districts moving to bring more students back to campus as COVID numbers decline

THE SKINNY

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Karin Uhlich rejoins Tucson City Council to complete Durham’s term in Ward 3

FEATURE

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“Love as Sweet as a Lemon Drop,” a short story by Leo W. Banks

ARTS & CULTURE

Getting Lit

EDITOR’S NOTE

ORDINARILY AT THIS TIME OF THE year, the town is flooded with authors for the Tucson Festival of Books. But for the second year in a row, we won’t be seeing those authors in person, although the book fest folks have done an amazing job in setting up a virtual festival that you can enjoy without leaving your home. There are great sessions at TucsonFestivalOfBooks.org, including a conversation I had with USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page about her book The Matriarch, a biography of Barbara Bush. In the spirit of the book fest, we present a short story this week by my good friend Leo W. Banks, who has published two terrific crime novels set in Tucson in recent years: Double Wide and Champagne Cowboys. Both books follow reluctant detective “Whip” Stark, a former ballplayer who now manages a small trailer park west of the Tucson Mountains. The novels have won critical praise and awards, including two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America for Best First Novel and Western Contemporary Novel. We hope this week’s short story gives you a taste of Leo’s books if you haven’t already read them. Elsewhere in the book this week: Departing staff reporter Nicole Ludden goes out with a bang with the story of a local Justice of the Peace who fired a “warning shot” at an alleged

stalker; associate editor Jeff Gardner tells you how to help with recovery efforts from the Bighorn Fire; incoming staff reporter Christina Duran tells us how local schools are prepping to bring students back to the classroom as COVID numbers fall; The Skinny brings you some news from this year’s city elections; columnist Tom Danehy recaps some of the worst bills at the Arizona Legislature; arts writer Margaret Regan looks at how artists are addressing issues of social justice in a new show at PCC’s Bernal Gallery; intern Madison Beal notes that Tucson Meet Yourself organizer Maribel Alvarez will be presented with the Shelley Award at this year’s Governor’s Arts Awards; Tucson Weedly columnist David Abbott smokes out how the Arizona Department of Health Services is handing out “social equity” licenses for future dispensaries; and there’s plenty more in the book this week, including Tucson’s best cartoons, puzzles and other diversions. And don’t forget: There’s still time to vote in this year’s Cannabis Bowl at TucsonWeekly. com! Jim Nintzel Executive Editor Hear Jim Nintzel talk about all things Tucson Weekly at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday mornings during the world-famous Frank Show on Wednesday mornings.

RANDOM SHOTS By Rand Carlson

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ADMINISTRATION Jason Joseph, President/Publisher jjoseph@azlocalmedia.com Jaime Hood, General Manager, Ext. 12 jaime@tucsonlocalmedia.com Casey Anderson, Ad Director/ Associate Publisher, Ext. 22 casey@tucsonlocalmedia.com Claudine Sowards, Accounting, Ext. 13 claudine@tucsonlocalmedia.com Sheryl Kocher, Receptionist, Ext. 10 sheryl@tucsonlocalmedia.com EDITORIAL Jim Nintzel, Executive Editor, Ext. 38 jimn@tucsonlocalmedia.com Austin Counts, Managing Editor, Ext. 36 austin@tucsonlocalmedia.com Jeff Gardner, Associate Editor, Ext. 43 jeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com Mike Truelsen, Web Editor, Ext. 35 mike@tucsonlocalmedia.com Nicole Ludden, Staff Reporter nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com Christina Duran, Staff Reporter, Ext. 42 christina@tucsonlocalmedia.com Contributors: Rob Brezsny, Max Cannon, Rand Carlson, Tom Danehy, Emily Dieckman, Bob Grimm, Andy Mosier, Linda Ray, Margaret Regan, Will Shortz, Jen Sorensen, Clay Jones, Dan Savage PRODUCTION David Abbott, Production Manager, Ext. 18 david@tucsonlocalmedia.com Ryan Dyson, Graphic Designer, Ext. 26 ryand@tucsonlocalmedia.com Emily Filener, Graphic Designer, Ext. 29 emilyf@tucsonlocalmedia.com CIRCULATION Alex Carrasco, Circulation, Ext. 17, alexc@tucsonlocalmedia.com ADVERTISING Kristin Chester, Account Executive, Ext. 25 kristin@tucsonlocalmedia.com Candace Murray, Account Executive, Ext. 24 candace@tucsonlocalmedia.com Lisa Hopper, Account Executive Ext. 39 lisa@tucsonlocalmedia.com Tyler Vondrak, Account Executive, Ext. 27 tyler@tucsonlocalmedia.com NATIONAL ADVERTISING VMG Advertising, (888) 278-9866 or (212) 475-2529 Tucson Weekly® is published every Thursday by 13 Street Media at 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd., Ste. 125, Tucson, Arizona. Address all editorial, business and production correspondence to: Tucson Weekly, 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd., Ste. 125, Tucson, Arizona 85741. Phone: (520) 797-4384, FAX (520) 575-8891. First Class subscriptions, mailed in an envelope, cost $112 yearly/53 issues. Sorry, no refunds on subscriptions. Member of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN). The Tucson Weekly® and Best of Tucson® are registered trademarks of 10/13 Communications. Back issues of the Tucson Weekly are available for $1 each plus postage for the current year. Publisher has the right to refuse any advertisement at his or her discretion.

Painters examine angles on social justice in a virtual show at PCC’s Bernal Gallery

TUCSON WEEDLY

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Cannabis advocates question how DHS is handling dispensary licenses

Cover design by Ryan Dyson. Bigstock image.

Copyright: The entire contents of Tucson Weekly are Copyright © 2019 by Thirteenth Street Media. No portion may be reproduced in whole or part by any means without the express written permission of the Publisher, Tucson Weekly, 7225 N. Mona Lisa Rd., Ste. 125, Tucson, AZ 85741.


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addressed to Shayna Serrato, a tenant of Qin’s he attempted to evict in a case Watters presided over. Watters arranged a periodic check-in with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Police would drive by to check on the residence due to the ongoing littering and vandalism reports. The judge told police he’d seen deputies driving by in the early morning hours, as the stress of the situation kept him from sleeping. Neighbors had documented a grey Subaru station wagon driving past the house. Esther Underwood, head of the neighborhood watch, told police she once saw a man exit the vehicle and slowly walk up to the residence and return to his car again. While Underwood was able to take photos of the car and its license plate, the driver’s face had yet to be captured. According to the incident report, on Feb. 14, Watters’ set out on a mission to capture a photo of the litterer’s face. The man would usually make his drive-bys PHOTO COURTESY PIMA COUNTY JUSTICE COURT around noon. Justice of the Peace Adam Watters told police he fired a “warning shot” at a man he The morning of Valentine’s Day, Watbelieved had been harassing him and vandalizing his car. ters went out to breakfast with his wife and bought her flowers. He then set up a green lawn chair in the desert surrounding his residence and armed himself with a handgun. His daughters, Caitlin and Cassandra, Pima County Justice of the Peace Fires ‘Warning Shot’ at Alleged Stalker also set up chairs by the family’s guest house and waited for the man to arrive. The women were armed with a shotgun. nothing. The next morning, she learned By Nicole Ludden Watters told police Caitlin brought all four of her husband’s tires had been nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com the shotgun to the house for her mother, slashed while a bag of trash was left sitwho was often home alone. At the time, ting on the roadway near the truck. IN A QUIET, AFFLUENT Caitlin Watters worked at the Pima “She advised in her neighborhood, neighborhood near the Catalina FootCounty Attorney’s Office, although she there was not so much as a grocery bag hills, weeks of harassment against a blowing around, so it looked to be out of has since resigned. Pima County judge culminated in the The judge said, at first, they didn’t place,” the police report said. justice of the peace firing his handgun expect to observe another trash dumping Judge Watters, who did not respond as a warning shot to the perpetrator, who drive-by in their makeshift stake out— to multiple requests for an interview was once a plaintiff in his courtroom. the man usually did them on weekdays. for this story, hoped the tire vandalism Judge Adam Watters, the justice of Then, Watters recounts hearing one of would be a one-time incident—perhaps the peace for Precinct 1, fired a bullet at his daughters make the chilling statesomeone he put in jail or an individual the ground to scare off a landlord, Fei ment: “He’s here.” Qin, 38, who was part of an eviction case who was unhappy with a judgment and The grey Subaru passed the house and sought retribution. he presided over in January. entered the cul-de-sac at the end of the But as the days went by, the Watters The judge claims for weeks, the man street. Watters told police the car idled in family continued to find trash littering dumped trash on Watters’ property and the cul-de-sac for 30-40 seconds before it their property. slashed his truck tires on two separate The morning of Feb. 11, Watters told po- turned around, drove forward and stopped occasions. directly parallel to where the judge stood lice his wife came inside the house visibly In an incident report from the Pima at the end of his driveway. upset and said: “They’ve done it again.” County Sheriff’s Department, Watters, Watters told the driver to get out of All four of Watters’ truck tires had 59, told officers he went to leave for work the car and get on the ground. He told on the morning of Feb. 5 to find the tires been slashed a second time. He said another bag of trash was left in place of the police the man said “I don’t have to get of Ford F-150 sliced open and deflated. out of the car,” but then opened his drivWatters’ wife, Jill Watters, told police one left behind in the first vandalism. er’s side door, striking Watters’ wrist. The report said in one of the trash she heard her dogs barking the night “He described that point in time before and went to investigate, but found dumps on Feb. 13, police found a letter

CURRENTS

BAD JUDGMENT

where things started to go ‘awry,’” The report said. “Mr. Watters described the male as being ‘cool as could be.’” Watters said the man, later identified as Fei Qin, got out of the car and stared at him, “not blinking,” the report said. Qin told him he did not have to listen to his orders to get on the ground. After a few seconds of silence, Watters said Qin took a step toward him, and Watters pulled his handgun out of his jacket pocket. Watters described to police a variety of thoughts running through his head as his daughters remained behind him on the driveway, “One was that he needed to get control of the situation somehow and threaten him up somehow or else the individual may come after him,” according to the report. He again ordered Qin to get on the ground, to which Watters recounts Qin responded, “What are you going to do, kill me?” “Mr. Watters described it as not being so simple of just asking a question, that the way he said it struck Mr. Watters as significant. The male had a smirk on his face and described it was like the individual had ‘no fear’ and that it was ‘creepy,’” The report said. “Mr. Watters then stated that he wasn’t quite sure what to do, but thought maybe he could scare him to keep him away from him.” Watters then fired a shot on the ground to the left of Qin’s foot. “Mr. Watters stated at that point that the situation had obviously escalated and that he didn’t mean for it to escalate, but Mr. Watters felt he had to do something because the male was terrorizing him and he actually stated that he told the male individual that he was terrorizing his family to which the male did not respond,” the report states. Watters told police he wanted Qin to know he would stand his ground, but after he fired a shot, Qin “didn’t blink and just stood there.” Deputies arrived on the scene seconds later, as Watters’ daughter Caitlin called police after the familiar grey car arrived on the street. Police put Qin in the back of a patrol car and later arrested him for stalking, a class 5 felony. Qin tells police a slightly different version of the story. He said when he tried to get out of the car, Watters fired at him. He also told police the judge walked up to his vehicle once Qin slowed down and attempted to strike him.


MARCH 4, 2021

Qin said Watters pulled a gun out of his pocket while appearing to film with his cell phone in his other hand. A video recorded from Watters’ phone was submitted to police, although the report said it only showed Qin’s car driving and didn’t reveal the altercation between the two men. He told one officer Watters “pointed the gun at his face and stated something to the effect of: I am going to blow your head off and to get out of the car.” After speaking with his attorney on the phone after the incident, Watters said he wouldn’t provide a statement to officers at the time, but would the next day. In the interview on Feb. 15, Watters told detectives “he never touched [Qin],” and was wary he may have been carrying a knife. The report of the interview said, “He did state that he did make mention of shooting him or blowing off his head something to that effect, but again stated that he had not produced the firearm at that point.” Watters later added he put around 300 rounds in his handgun and that he “would not have missed if he had made the decision to shoot the individual.” Qin told officers he was just “driving around,” as he bought and rented homes and was looking for potential properties. At the scene of the altercation, Qin said he didn’t know who Watters was and had never seen him before. He denied ever dumping trash on the property or slashing truck tires. When shown photos police obtained from neighbors of a vehicle matching the license plate and make of Qin’s car driving through the neighborhood, the police report said, “he started becoming very defensive.” Detectives report Qin did admit the individuals he rented to were the same as the letters police obtained on the property. According to the report, he

said “I wouldn’t take [the mail], I would just look at it and put it back.” Qin told police he had “tools for working on homes,” and an item similar to a drywall knife in his car. Inside his Subaru, police found a glass pipe, marijuana, a CenterPoint rifle scope and a butcher knife. According to the Pima County Adult Detention Center, Qin is still being held with a $5,000 bond. Pima County Attorney’s Office spokesman Joe Watson said the office had determined they had a conflict of interest in the case and would be sending it to another prosecutor’s office. Judge Watters wrote a mass email to his neighbors explaining the incident with Qin that resulted in him firing his gun. “As many of you know, my wife and I have been subjected to a barrage of harassment over the past two weeks. This includes trash thrown onto my property daily and twice having all four tires slashed on a vehicle. Yesterday, the Pima Sheriff arrested and charged the man shown in the attached photo with felony stalking outside my home,” Watters wrote. “The stalking and harassment was certainly related to my work as a Justice of the Peace. I would ask you, if you see this individual or his vehicle anywhere in our neighborhood, to immediately call 911.”

ticular significance occurred in the case, though “he would not have a very good feel for the situation due to the fact that everything right now was currently via Zoom.” Qin filed charges against Shayna and Michael Serrato for failure to pay rent in January. According to court records, the Serratos owed Qin $800 for rent, and the landlord requested $1,090 total for late fees in a complaint filed on Jan. 11. The hearing took place remotely on Jan. 19 before Judge Watters. Shayna Serrato said she was able to file the proper paperwork to be eligible for protection under the CDC’s eviction moratorium, but Watters ordered Serrato to pay Qin the rent money she owed. Serrato said at the virtual hearing, Qin argued with Watters about his ruling. “[Watters] did say that he wanted me to pay him back rent. But he said that he couldn’t evict me, he lost,” Serrato said. “In court, he was actually arguing with the judge, and the judge actually hung up on him in court and was like ‘I’m not going to listen to you.’” After Qin was denied the right to evict Serrato, a series of events eventually drove her out of the apartment he owned.

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM

On Jan. 20, Serrato filed a complaint in the justice court alleging Qin removed the water valve for her apartment and shut off the electrical breaker. On Feb. 6, Watters wrote in an order, “This court cannot order an action (called specific performance) — tenant has other legal remedies if landlord is withholding utilities.” Serrato said she was able to restore the electricity through Tucson Electric Power on her own, but that Qin would lock her out of her residence when she was away. “Right after I changed my locks, I come home and my outside locks aren’t working, he had tampered with them,” Serrato said. “Right as I’m going to try to unlock it, he goes driving by really, really slow. Just like, looking.” The next morning, Serrato woke up to find all four tires on her car tires slashed open. “Every morning after court, I was waking up to something, and I was like, what’s he going to do next? Put sugar in my gas tank?” Serrato said. “I have kids, and I had to get out of there.” BAD JUDGMENT CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

QIN’S FORMER TENANT DESCRIBES HIS ODD BEHAVIOR WHILE QIN TOLD POLICE HE’D never seen Watters before, the judge told officers he remembered Qin. Not only did he recall the name Shayna Serrato listed on a piece of mail dumped on his property, but he remembered the name Fei Qin as the landlord and plaintiff in Serrato’s case. Watters told police nothing of par-

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CURRENTS

UNCERTAIN PARENTAGE

‘Fertility Fraud’ bill passes Arizona Senate, but victims say it falls short By Nicole Ludden nicolel@tucsonlocalmedia.com AFTER HEARING THE DISTRESSING story of a mother desperate to conceive children only to find out the artificial insemination treatments she received were sourced from the very doctor she entrusted to provide her sperm from an anonymous donor, Arizona Sen. Victoria Steele (D-Tucson) decided to use her position of power to help other victims. When Kristen Finlayson took an Ancestry DNA kit in 2019, her mother, Debra Guilmette, discovered that Dr. James Blute III, who provided her fertility treatments in the ’80s, used his own sperm to inseminate her instead of using sperm from an anonymous Hispanic donor as she requested. Finlayson went 34 years believing she was of Hispanic descent, only to find out the DNA test results showed she had no Hispanic DNA and was primarily Irish. The Ancestry site shows that Finlayson has 12 half-siblings, including children of the doctor who delivered her. Finlayson’s DNA tests revealed that Blute is her biological father. Steele saw the story, first reported by Lupita Murillo of KVOA News 4 Tucson, and drafted a bill that would make fertility fraud a criminal offense in Arizona as it is in California, Indiana and Texas. Steele introduced the bill before the 2021 state legislative session began, but her bill was never assigned to a committee. “I requested a meeting with [Senate President Karen Fann], I said I’d like to see her because I want to ask her to please reconsider, and please assign this to a committee so it can get a hearing,” Steele said. “I think that she may be thinking that this is a controversial bill, but I think that actually, I put a bill up here that everybody can get behind, and we could have a real bipartisan bill... I assumed that in a few days, it would be assigned to a committee because she would look at it, and in her heart of hearts, she would get that this really does make sense.”

On Jan. 20, Steele found out a bill criminalizing fertility fraud did make it to a committee to be voted on, but it was not hers. Sen. Nancy Barto (R-Phoenix) had introduced a similar bill that would make fertility fraud a criminal offense. It was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 20. “I was floored. I knew [Barto] would like it, but I didn’t know she’d like it that much,” Steele said. “It’s not against the rules, and so she has every right to take my bill and put it in and take credit for it. It doesn’t matter, as long as the bill gets passed. But it does matter because that kind of highly unethical behavior makes it really difficult to have bipartisanship, and it’s really difficult to get good bills to pass.” Barto said she never knew about Steele’s bill, but that she was contacted by a constituent who had a story of fertility fraud and felt moved to draft legislation to criminalize the act. Barto’s bill, SB 1237, proposed making “human reproductive material fraud” a class 6 felony while providing victims liquidated damages of $10,000. Steel’s bill, SB 1055, also called to make fertility fraud a class 6 felony with damages to the victims of $50,000.

COURTESY PHOTO

Kristen Finlayson and brother Aaron Salgado with Phil Salgado, the man they believed to be their biological father for decades.

passed the Senate Judiciary Committee without dissent on Feb. 11. The new bill would hold doctors who provide artificial insemination treatments without the truth of the sperm’s origin liable for civil damages. It lays out specific civil actions for victims of such crimes to seek damages against the doctors who deceived them, allowing them to receive relief of at least $10,000 in damages. The civil actions could be brought forth by the woman who gave birth, her spouse or the children born as a result of a doctor’s fraud. The civil charges would have to be brought forth within 20 years of the procedure or 10 years after the 18th birthday of the child. But there’s nothing stopping victims from filing civil claims against doctors BILL AMENDED TO AVOID MAKING who impregnate patients through fertility treatments without consent. In fact, FERTILITY FRAUD Finlayson and her mother Guilmette are A CRIMINAL OFFENSE in active civil ligation against Blute in Pima County Superior Court. ONCE BARTO’S BILL MADE IT TO A Blute has another case pending for Senate committee, Finlayson was approached to testify about her experience. artificially inseminating women with his After she shared her heartfelt story of own sperm under the guise of a separate betrayal, Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, sperm donor. While Barto said her preference was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Comto make fertility fraud a criminal offense, mittee, called for the bill to be amended to remove the language that would make in order to move the bill forward, she had to be willing to negotiate. fraudulent fertility treatments a felony. “That’s the process of legislation. In “I thought at that moment, I was testifying for the criminal aspect of the bill to order to move bills along you need to work with everybody and their feelings be passed. I didn’t know that was taken off,” Finlayson said. “I was pissed. That’s about how things should be held whether the most important aspect of the bill, for criminal or civil. [Petersen] had strong someone to be held criminally responsi- feelings about that,” Barto said. “In order to move the bill forward, we had to ble for rape. My mom didn’t consent.” compromise and make it a civil penalty The amended version of the bill

instead, it could still be quite significant, it can still be quite impactful to a doctor. So you know, I wasn’t about to complain, because I think we were making definite progress in holding physicians accountable to informed consent.” On Feb. 22, 29 state senators voted to pass the bill with one member not voting. It’s since been sent to the House for a vote. Meanwhile, victims like Finlayson believe the bill falls far short of the justice the victims of doctors who deceive their patients deserve. “What if this happened to your daughter? If she went in and was in a position that my mother was in, and the doctor did this to her, now his grandson or granddaughter is now part of this doctor’s deception?” she said. “I don’t think they put themselves in other people’s positions. They don’t care—I’m not saying all of them. Just try to put yourself in our position.” Barto said the amendments of the bill she introduced are a consequence of the legislative process, and while fertility fraud perpetrators may not be held criminally accountable, the consequences the bill lays out in civil liability are the best of a bad situation. “I just really feel for anyone that’s gone through this. I think there’s a lot of consideration for those feelings and wanting to take the most hardline stance and measures against that activity towards them. You know, I can certainly understand that,” Barto said. “But if we’re going to move forward, we have to work together, and that’s how legislation works. Otherwise, it would have died and then we’d have nothing.” ■


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Fearing for the safety of her three small children, Serrato moved out of the residence owned by Qin at the end of January. Before the chaos that ensued after Watters’ court ruling, Serrato said she had frequent issues with the ventilation and water in her apartment, which Qin never addressed. Furthermore, Serrato said he would approach her romantically and even called her “pretty” in front of

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her husband. She claims Qin would sit in his car, a grey Subaru, idling in the parking lot for hours at a time. “When my husband was at work, I would look outside and he would just be sitting in my parking lot. He would just sit there for an hour or two,” Serrato said. Awaiting her utility bills that are still being delivered to her old address, Serrato said she’s tasked a neighbor with retrieving her mail. Every time the neighbor has checked it, the mailbox was empty. ■

JEFF GARDNER

National Forest Foundation asking for donations to help with Bighorn Fire restoration systems.” One of the aspects that made the Bighorn Fire so difficult to quell in its early days is also impeding the restoration process: the Catalinas’ rugged terrain. NOW MORE THAN SIX MONTHS The Forest Service says access to some since the Bighorn Fire charred 120,000 areas can be difficult, even in the best acres of the Santa Catalina Mountains, conditions. These crags and canyons reconstruction efforts are still underway. can contain a large amount of invasive The U.S. Forest Service is working to species like buffelgrass that made the combat soil erosion, restore watersheds wildfire so damaging to the desert and wildlife habitats, and increase the ecosystem. safety of more than 100 miles of recreAccording to Davidson, the idea ational trails. To expedite the process, behind the Southern Arizona Forest Fund the National Forest Foundation (the US was conceived a few years ago when the Forest Service’s nonprofit partner) has NFF began coordinating restoration and created the “Southern Arizona Forest project work with the Coronado National Fund,” where locals can donate to the Forest. In addition to the Bighorn Fire cleanup effort. restoration, the NFF is working on other Much of the soil stabilization work Southern Arizona efforts, including fire that NFF will support in the Coronado risk reduction in Sierra Vista and Safford. National Forest will take place on trails “While we are not able to collect and adjacent areas. Trails, both official donations for every fire, we work to and unauthorized, that are impacted by identify priority landscapes, key opportuwildfire are often a conduit for sediment nities, and then find ways to strategically and soil erosion, creating deep gullies, support the needs,” Davidson said. “We vegetation degradation, and can gather are generally looking for opportunities invasive species and damage watersheds. where the Forest Service requires addi“By putting resources into trail tional support for post-fire restoration, restoration, we can minimize erosion, and where NFF can leverage donations create additional soil stability, increase with other grants and funding.” safety and access, and improve the user In addition to fire restoration, the experience,” said Rebecca Davidson, Southern Arizona Forest Fund also supNFF’s Southwest region director. “Across ports local youth conservation programs, the Coronado, we are also undertaking including hands-on trail stewardship and proactive restoration including woodeducation tied to ecosystem health and land-oak habitat improvement and fire fire ecology in the Sonoran Desert and risk reduction projects that by miniSouthern Arizona’s sky islands. mizing fire impacts we can reduce the impact from soil erosion and sediment FIRE FUND transport into our streams and water CONTINUED ON PAGE 21

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By Jeff Gardner jeff@tucsonlocalmedia.com

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with Wednesday as 100% remote learning. Trujillo also confirmed that TUSD would be receiving $76.4 million in ESSER funds through the CARES Act, which he said would be invested in their “students’ academic recovery efforts” as well as “all COVID-related expenditures,” including masks, hand sanitizer, plexiglass, a new learning management system and possible upgrades to HVAC systems. Trujillo said the board would discuss the proposed three-year spending plan at upcoming meetings. Meanwhile, other schools districts are also considering changing up their hybrid models. • Fewer than half of Sunnyside School District students returned to an in-person hybrid model on March 1, said Marisela Felix, Sunnyside’s director of public information. The students are split into two cohorts, A and B. Cohort A JEFF GARDNER will attend a full day of school on Mon30% of TUSD parents have said they will continue with remote learning, 29% have said day and Thursday, while B will attend a they will return to in-school instruction and 41% have yet to make a choice. full day of school Tuesday and Friday, with all students attending school remotely on Wednesday. • The Marana Unified School District is planning to move to a full five days of in-person instruction as of March 22, TUSD and other local school districts moving to bring more students back to campus as while keeping remote learning as an COVID numbers decline option for families. But the district is still coordinating last week the district would extend the with schools and aims to confirm the By Christina Duran deadline to register to March 7. March 22 return date this week, said Alli christina@tucsonlocalmedia.com As of last Thursday, Feb. 25, 30% of Benjamin, director of public relations TUSD parents have said they will contin- and community engagement for Marana. The district outlined three apTUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT ue with remote learning, 29 percent have said they will return to in-school instruc- proaches to return to a full five days of remains on track to bring students back tion and 41 percent have yet to make a in-person learning: a phased approach, to campus on Wednesday, March 24, choice. where pre-K through 6th grade students for the first time since it went to remote “If this trend holds up for the remain- would return to instruction first; another learning after the March 2020 spring ing 41%, it looks like we’re going to be phased approach in which pre-K through break. an even 50/50 split, in terms of a district 8th grade students would return first to But TUSD Superintendent Gabriel that has half of its student body studying in-person learning; or a third approach Trujillo said last week that teachers remotely and half of it studying in some with a “full implementation, returning remained concerned about vaccination sort of in-person learning opportunity,” students in pre-K through 12th grade at appointments and class sizes, among Trujillo said. once.” other issues. For elementary schools grades K-5 • The Amphi School District, which “I don’t think it’s any secret that our now has a hybrid program with students teachers are not happy,” he said. “They’re and three K8 schools (Drachman, C.E. attending two days a week and working very concerned right now about coming Rose and McCorkle), there are two options available: either attend full-time remotely three days a week, is still conback.” sidering when to have students back on Trujillo said the district would be sur- on-campus five school days a week or campus five days a week. veying employees and hoped that many remain 100% remote. High schools and middle schools, grades 6-12, also have “A lot of people, of course, given the of their concerns could be ironed out two options. A parent can choose to actions of other school districts across ahead of the March 24 reopening date. have their child stay 100% remote or four our community, are asking the $64,000 As of last week, more than four out half-days of in-person learning, meaning question,” said Superintendent Todd Jaeof 10 parents have yet to make a choice students will be on-campus in the morn- ger at the Amphitheater School District’s about whether they want to return to school or remain remote, so Trujillo said ing and remote learning in the afternoon, board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23. “‘Can

CURRENTS

CLASS ACTS

that be, for example after spring break, on March 22?’ The truth is, as I sit here right now. I still don’t know.” Jaeger said the Amphi staff is looking into phased-in approaches or a full reopening and will be sending out another survey to families as well as looking for input from staff, including not only teachers, but “our custodians and our groundsman and carpenters and whoever supports the operations of our schools.” Jaeger noted that returning to full in-person learning depends on the vaccination progress as well and said their district is ahead in the percent of vaccinations. The Arizona Department of Health Services has outlined three benchmarks that they recommend be met in order to shift to full traditional/in-person learning: fewer than 10 COVID-19 cases per 100, 000 people, two consecutive weeks with below 7% percent positivity (the percent of positive tests) and two consecutive weeks with hospital visits for COVID-like illness somewhere below 10%. For the week of Jan. 31 (because of lagging data collection, the report is always two weeks behind) in Pima County, there were 237 cases per 100, 000 individuals, 11.3% positivity on tests, and 6.6% of reported hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses in the region. All three benchmarks show steady decline. “In fact, this week I believe we have the first week where we are going to be pretty darn close to either 100, (or) have less than 100 cases per 100,000,” Dr. Francisco Garcia, Pima County Chief Medical Officer, said last week. “You want to be in that area for two weeks in a row in order to be in this yellow zone.” The “yellow zone” refers to the benchmarks at which hybrid learning is recommended. The “green zone” would be the target for schools in order to return to in-person learning. “Green zone is when they say in-person is fine,” Garcia said. “So everything is trending in the right direction.” Garcia said another key was vaccinating teachers and support staff. “A very substantial proportion of K-12 educators have been vaccinated,” Garcia said. “It’s a hard number for us to sort of get in a precise count. But we believe that somewhere close to 75 to 80% of folks, essentially, have gotten at least the first dose or are scheduled to get the first dose in the near future.” ■


COMEBACK KID

Karin Uhlich rejoins Tucson City Council to complete Durham’s term in Ward 3 Jim Nintzel jnintzel@tucsonweekly.com TO NO GREAT SURPRISE, THE TUCSON City Council appointed Democrat Karin Uhlich to temporarily take over her old job on the Tucson City Council. Uhlich, who served as the Ward 3 councilmember from 2005 to 2017, will finish out the final year of Democrat Paul Durham’s term, but she has said she won’t seek election to the seat later this year. Durham stepped down as of Monday, March 1, for personal reasons; he has been caring for his husband, who has terminal cancer. Mayor Regina Romero made her preference for Uhlich known from the jump, and while the city belatedly made it possible for others to apply for the gig, it was all a dog and pony show. There’s still a chance Uhlich’s tenure will last through 2022, as the City of Tucson is still awaiting a Supreme Court decision regarding a state law that would force the city to move elections, including this year’s contest, to even years to correspond with presidential and midterm elections. The city challenged the law, saying that its charter allows it to decide when elections take place and it’s not the state’s business. The state argues that it’s a matter of statewide concern if participation in Tucson’s elections is significantly lower than voter turnout in presidential and midterm elections. A decision from the court is expected any day now.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL MIX Steve K. draws primary challenger and other political tidbits ASSUMING WE DO HAVE A CITY election this year, it appears Councilman Steve Kozachik could have a challenger in this year’s Democratic primary.

Miranda Schubert, an academic advisor at the University of Arizona who also served as a DJ on KXCI community radio and hosted a feminist-oriented live talk show at Club Congress, announced this week that she was challenging the two-term councilman in the Aug. 3 primary. Schubert said in a statement that she wants to see the council do more to provide affordable housing, policies that lead to higher wages and alternative policing strategies. “The majority of Tucson’s residents aren’t people who are preoccupied with the resale value of their home,” she said. “They’re families like mine, working for the institutions and small businesses that drive Tucson’s economy, but feeling ignored and left out of whatever future our leadership is imagining for the city.” She added that increasing rents were creating a housing affordability crisis. “You cannot tell people in this city that rents are too low or actually affordable when they have evidence in their daily life to the contrary,” she said. Kozachik said that Schubert “was welcome to take part in the democratic process.” “These jobs are first and foremost about addressing the day-to-day concerns of our constituents,” Kozachik added. “I believe she’s going to learn that my office has a pretty damn good record with constituent services and being accessible and responsive. Continuing that personal touch is a big reason I’m doing this one more time.” Kozachik was elected to the Tucson City Council as a Republican in 2009 but switched to the Democratic Party after squabbling with GOP members of the Arizona Legislature. He won reelection as a Democrat in 2013 and 2017. No Republican candidates have filed to run in Ward 6. Signatures are due for candidates in just about a month, on April 5.

In other election news: In the Ward 3 seat left open by Paul Durham’s resignation and Karin Uhlich’s promise not to seek election, Democrat Kevin Dahl, a longtime environmentalist who has worked for The Tucson Audubon Society, Native Seeds/SEARCH, is collecting signatures, as is Democrat Juan Padres, an entrepreneur who lost a bid for the Pima County Board of Supervisors to Sharon Bronson. If both make the ballot, they will face off in the Aug. 3 primary. Also looking to run for the seat is an independent candidate, Lucy Libosha. Libosha is a military veteran and cycling enthusiast who has worked as an educator, according to her Facebook page. She says she would focus on issues related to homelessness, jobs, mental health and public transportation. No Republican candidates have filed in Ward 3. In Ward 5, Democrat Richard Fimbres hasn’t yet drawn a Republican challenger but independent candidate Lucas Rodriguez, a community organizer and hip-hop enthusiast, has filed to run.

TOTALED RECALL Effort to force Romero from office falls flat A PUSH TO REMOVE MAYOR REGINA Romero from office failed to gather

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THE SKINNY

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enough signatures. Organizers of the effort needed 24,710 signatures to force a recall election. A cursory examination by the City Clerk’s Office showed the group only collected 24,153 signatures. Organizer Joseph Morgan, a onetime conservative columnist for the Arizona Daily Star who came in third in a three-way primary for Congress in 2020, boasted on Facebook that the effort was a huge success, despite it being a failure: “Make no mistake,” he crowed, “this was a win.” Morgan added that the recall group “did what no one said could be done.” Quite the opposite, actually. Morgan and his followers did exactly what most non-delusional people predicted, in that they failed to gather enough valid signatures. For a guy who complains that people on the left are always changing the meaning of words, Morgan manages to redefine “losing” as “winning” when it comes to his own efforts. Watching him play politics is kind of like giving a football to a little kid and letting him run up and down the field. It’s fun to see the excitement in his face as he pretends to be a star, even though you know he’s never gonna score a touchdown. ■


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DANEHY

TOM ROUNDS UP THE LATEST OUTRAGES AT THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE By Tom Danehy, tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com THE LATE POLITICAL STRATEGIST Emil Franzi hated the use of the term “lawmaker.” He said that far too many people who get elected to the state Legislature take that term literally and feel an obligation to law-make all over the place like a mediocre cop trying to fulfill a traffic-ticket quota. All too often, those (Republicans) who hold a razor-thin margin in the Legislature forget that their job is to serve the people, not subvert the will of the people. It’s probably human nature for somebody to run for office, get more votes than the other candidate(s), and then all of a sudden convince themselves that they’re The Chosen One, He/She Who Knows What’s Best. They don’t listen to the people; they tell the people. Exhibits A-D: • Just a couple weeks after wannabe-tyrant Shawnna Bolick garnered national attention by introducing a bill that would nullify the will of the Arizona people in presidential elections, consistently repugnant state Sen. David Gowan gave himself whiplash when he introduced a similar bill, scheduled it for a hearing in his committee, and then quashed it. And somehow he wants credit for his actions. To me, that’s like he put on a pair of jackboots, stomped around for a while to

CLAYTOONZ By Clay Jones

get attention, had a cockroach crawl out of his butt, then demanded applause after he stepped on it. Gowan falsely contends that the U.S. Constitution gives legislators the power to select the state’s Electors. He should probably listen to (fellow Republican) Speaker of the Arizona House Rusty Bowers, who said, “I don’t see us in any serious way addressing a change of Electors. (We’re) mandated by statute to choose according to the vote of the people.” That applies even if some people aren’t happy with the way the vote turned out. • In 2018, the voters of Arizona said loudly and unequivocally that they wanted nothing to do with any expansion of the socialism-for-the-rich school voucher program. By an overwhelming vote, the people repealed a vulgar state law that would have vastly expanded the voucher program. When the voucher program (I refuse to employ the intelligence-insulting misnomer that they use) was first established, I wrote that backers were cynically using handicapped kids to get their foot in the door so they could later expand the giveaway to include their well-off friends who wanted the state to help pay for their kids’ high-priced, private-school education.

It was such an obvious scam. The state would give parents six or seven grand for tuition. The well-off would just apply it to the tuition they were already paying; it was like pocketing the money. But what is a poor parent supposed to do with it? Private schools can cost as much as $20,000 or more a year. Where’s that other 13 grand coming from? So this scam, disguised as helping the disadvantaged, only ends up helping people who don’t need it. That’s why Arizonans overwhelmingly told the scammers to take their law and use it in suppository form. It’s the absolute height of arrogance and disdain that they would dare to bring it back up so shortly after having it smacked down. • If this world were fair, former State Senator Eddie Farnsworth would be in prison—not jail, but PRISON. Instead, he sits comfortably on a giant pile of (millions of) taxpayer dollars that he amassed by passing self-serving laws, then exploiting those laws, and acting all butt-hurt when people dared to call him a crook. Channeling something that Jack The Ripper probably would have said, Farnsworth sniffed, “I’m not going to apologize for being successful.” Successful at what?! Ripping off taxpayers? Gaming the system for personal profit? Saddling the schools you dumped with decades of debt? • Back in the 1990s, Arizona’s voters passed a referendum. The Legislature didn’t like it, so they immediately started tinkering with it. That angered Arizona’s voters so much that the people passed

another initiative, one that said that the Legislature can’t mess with anything that the people have passed. The Legislature REALLY didn’t like that. So now that Arizona’s voters have shown that they are actually on the side of quality education, the Legislature’s Republicans (who, as a requirement for being in the club, all hate public education) are in full attack mode. When Prop 208 passed in November, it created a small tax surcharge for the wealthiest Arizonans to help fund education. First, the Republicans (who, as mentioned, hate public education) went to court to try to get Prop 208 overturned. Their lame arguments were declared officially lame by the court. So, now they want future propositions to have to get to a ridiculous 60 percent to pass, instead of a simple majority. I mean, what are we supposed to think, that this is America or something? Now comes the latest, this from State Senator J.D. Mesnard. (The J.D. stands for Vile Cretin; apparently, he went to one of Farnsworth’s charter schools.) Mesnard wants to create a new tax bracket to shield his rich friends from having pay that voter-approved tax surcharge. With a straight face (and a crooked heart), he claims that it’s in the best interest of small business owners. He lies. The new Arizona marches to the beat of Red For Ed, while the soon-to-be Republican minority in the Legislature clings desperately to the mantra of Wealthy is Healthy. ■


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A short story featuring Prospero ‘Whip’ Stark By Leo W. Banks OPAL SANCHEZ WAS MISSING, snatched away by romance. I got the news after returning home late that afternoon and can’t say I was surprised. Opal was a runaway from the Tohono O’odham Reservation, so getting gone wasn’t exactly out of character. And only a fool would discount the determination of a teenager in love. But the man she’d left with was all wrong, an appalling runt with a goatee, thumb rings, and a doo rag who’d roared into Double Wide in a stolen red Camry. Wearing some kind of wrap-around silk shirt, he propped himself up on the stoop of Opal’s trailer like some latter-day-Kerouac-maharaja and ran his game for three straight days before they declared for each other and off they went, only two hours before. “She was a smitten girl like I never seen, Whip,” said Charlie O’Shea, one of my tenants. “Over this tiny dharma bum?” I said. “He might’ve had an inch on her, no more. He wore a big gold watch and called himself Little Mike.” Opal stood five feet tall in her favorite derby hat. She had a trucker’s build with wide shoulders, big legs, and duck feet. She had long straight black hair and a pretty face. “I left you in charge, Charlie. I can’t believe you let someone like that take off with her.” “I couldn’t stop her,” he said. “But she wanted me to give you a message. It’s weird, like a poem.” As Opal was getting into Little Mike’s car, she’d turned to Charlie and said, “It’s love, it’s love, I gotta hop.” Before she could say anything else, he’d shouted at her to get inside and she obeyed. Then she stuck her head out the window and whispered the next line, as if she didn’t want Mike to hear it. But Charlie couldn’t remember what it was. “I haven’t had my nap today,” he said. “It’ll come to me.” He was past 50, had

white hair and a belly like a sofa. When he could find work, he painted houses. “The name’s a good place to start,” I said. “We need to find Opal before she’s gone for good.” Opal Sanchez first arrived at Double Wide, the trailer park I owned, saying she needed a place to stay for a few nights. That was two years ago. There’d been several shoplifting episodes, but lately she’d promised to get her life together. She’d even talked about taking classes at Pima College. Looking back on that first day, I could’ve told her to move on, but then what? She’d have hitchhiked into town and who knows what trouble she’d have found. Now Opal was a fixture, one of us, and we looked after her.

CHARLIE AND I WENT INSIDE my Airstream. Sometimes the wind swirls off the mountains and shakes the trailer. But all was calm this night. I sat at my kitchen table with my laptop and called Benny Diaz, a cop I knew. “It’s Whip Stark, Benny,” I said. “I need a favor and fast.” “How are things in paradise?” Diaz said. “I don’t know how you stand it out there.” Double Wide consisted of eight trailers set on remote desert west of the Tucson Mountains. It was all saguaros and sky, just the way I liked it. “You know the rattlesnakes will be active soon,” Diaz said. “I like a rattlesnake,” I said. “He’s got a point of view.” Diaz agreed to see if the Pima County Sheriff ’s Department had anything on a Little Mike. While I waited, I searched on my laptop under that name and found nothing. Half hour later Diaz called back. A friend on the fugitive task force had seen a BOLO out of Colorado for an Ike Reardon, nickname Little Ike. He was a con man, a real pro. He’d ride the rails into a city, steal a car, use it to do his business, then ditch the car and hop a train to the next town. The physical description matched.

“I’m sure he’s your guy,” Diaz said. “I’ll have more in an hour or so.” “Can’t wait that long, Benny. Thanks.” I looked across the table at Charlie. He was sipping a gin and Coke. “It’s Little Ike, not Mike.” “Yeah, that’s it. Sorry, Whip.” Something occurred to Charlie, and he snapped his fingers. “Hold on, I remember the poem now. ‘It’s love, it’s love, I gotta hop, Love as Sweet as a Lemon Drop.’ That was Opal’s message for you.” “I think I know where to find them,” I said. “Let’s go.” “Go? Where?” “Downtown.” “But I have my evening all planned,” he said. “I can’t miss Joe Kenda. I love that show.” I got my Glock 19 out from under my mattress and handed it to Charlie. He backed up a step. “I’m no good with them things.” “You’re the one who let her leave,” I said. “Stick it under your shirt.” Charlie wore a Tommy Bahama. He had a source at the Goodwill Store. Whenever a triple X Bahama came in, he’d get a call. Charlie put the gun under his belt. It was barely visible beneath his hanging belly. “When I give the word, lift the shirt and show Little Ike the gun,” I said. “What’s the word?” “Huh?” “The word you’re gonna say?” “Lift the shirt.” “That’s three words.”

“For chrissakes, Charlie.” “Okay, okay,” he said. “I lift my shirt and say, ‘Freeze, you polecat.’” “No, no, no polecats.” I said. “Just lift the friggin’ shirt.’’’ “Good idea. Keep it simple. Then what?” “Don’t even touch the gun. Just show it and act like a bad man.” “I can do this.” Charlie’s hands were shaking. The ice cubes rattled in his glass. “I can be a bad man.”

ON THE DRIVE INTO TOWN, I explained the Lemon Drop to Charlie. It was one of the oldest cons going. The grifter carries a gift-wrapped box with, say, a decorative pot inside, the cheaper the better. He picks out a welloff couple strolling along and accidentally on purpose bumps into them. The box crashes to the sidewalk and the pot shatters. Heartbroken, beyond consolation, the grifter says the pot was worth thousands. The couple feel horrible, apologize, and ask what they can do. That’s what the grifter wants to hear, and negotiations begin. I figured the best place to run the Lemon Drop was outside a ritzy restaurant, and I had one in mind. Oscar’s on Congress Street had just opened and was the hottest spot going. Winter visitors with too much disposable loved to be seen there. CONTINUED ON PAGE 12


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LOVE AS SWEET AS A LEMON DROP CONTINUED FROM PAGE 11

It was a bustling Saturday night in March, music from the clubs, somebody beating on bongos, moonlight on the sidewalks, and there was Little Ike working out on two white hairs like they were a speed bag at Johnny Gibson’s old gym. Opal stood nearby, leaning against a newspaper box. Charlie and I crouched behind a Mercedes three cars down to watch the proceedings. Ike had an elderly couple on a cliff, but they weren’t ready to jump. Not yet. He opened the box and pulled out several pot shards. They were painted in bright, zigzagging colors and elaborate Indian design. “This pot belonged to my Navajo grandmother, late departed,” Ike said. “You’re Navajo?” the elderly man said, suspicion creeping into his voice. Little Ike was light-haired and light-complected and his nose made a straight run down the middle of his face. “There was a terrible sheep-shearing accident,” he said. “I had to have work done.” Opal started whimpering and crying over by the newspaper box. She was in a state. “I don’t how much more of this my sister can take,” Ike said. Opal’s tears sent the couple off the cliff, and they handed over $300. They were Canadian and very nice. Ike gave the money to Opal and she put it into a pouch and stood by her newspaper box. Ike crossed the street to the stolen Camry, got another gift box from the backseat and shook down two more lambs before ending his shift for the night. Opal put that money into the pouch, too. Ike went back to the Camry to fetch his backpack and rejoined Opal. He took the pouch, unzipped it, looked inside, smiled, and stuffed it into his backpack. The two of them hustled down the sidewalk toward the railroad tracks. Charlie and I fell in behind them. “Why don’t we grab her up now?” he said. “He won’t even see us coming.” “Let’s wait,” I said. We followed them behind the warehouses where the tracks ran. In the distance we heard the far-off rumble

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of an oncoming train. There wasn’t a lot of time. I called Ike Reardon’s name and he spun around in surprise. But not too much surprise. By the time he was facing me, he had a knife in his hand. “It’s best we do this civilized,” I said. “There’s many a crook in these parts, men with four hands and no soul to speak of.” He waved the knife like he knew how. “It’s handy for trimming me whiskers, too.” “That blade’s not going to help you tonight, Ike,” I said, and nudged Charlie. He didn’t move. I elbowed him a second time and he just stood there. “Lift the damn shirt,” I said between my teeth. Again, nothing, a corpse standing up. “Polecat,” I said, louder. “Oh.” Charlie yanked up the shirt and sucked in a breath to make sure the gun was visible. Ike adjusted his attitude accordingly. “That earns you one question. What is it you want?” “We’re here to take Opal home,” I said. “I hardly think so,” Ike said. “This dark-eyed beauty is all mine.” The train got closer and louder. “We’ve got enough money to start our lives together, Mr. Whip,” Opal said. “I love Little Ike with all my heart.” Ike cooed like a tabby and nuzzled her. Opal draped her arm around Ike’s shoulder. He reached up to hold her hand and the runaway lovers smiled and bobbed heads. Ike’s gold watch gleamed under the watching moon. “What we have here is a bond no one can break,” Ike said. “Certainly not a cur like you and your tubby companion. Have you no understanding of true love?” “One way or another, she’s coming with me, Ike.” I stepped toward Opal. “I’ll never let her go!” Ike declared. “Expect blood to be spilled!” The train was close now, a mere hundred yards down the tracks. “Here’s your choice, Ike,” I said. “I take Opal and that pouch in your backpack, or I just take Opal and leave you the money.” Charlie was still holding up his Bahama to show the gun. The train’s headlamp made shadows of us, and the ground shook under foot.

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Ike turned to Opal and said, “Love flies in on the back of an eagle and off it goes on a sparrow’s wings. I’m back on the road, my sweet bird.” The train thumped and banged behind Ike. He ran after it and grabbed a railing on the last car and jumped aboard. Waving, he shouted, “May the road rise up to meet you!” He paused as if thinking. “There’s more to that Irish ditty, but it escapes me at the moment. I’ll just add a so forth and so on and leave it there. Adieu, dear Opal.” The last we saw of Little Ike he was hanging off the train blowing kisses.

CHARLIE PUT HIS ARMS AROUND Opal to comfort her. “It’ll be okay. He was a skunk and you’re better off without him.” “Navajo,” she said. “I never met a Navajo. What do they look like?” The three of us walked back to my Ford Bronco, got onto Speedway Boulevard, and drove west toward the mountains and Double Wide. Opal sat beside me, Charlie in back. “You were never getting on that train,” I said.

“I knew you’d rescue me, Mr. Whip. You always do.” “Hope you cleaned him out.” A sly smile crept across her lips. She pulled a fat wad from her pocket and held it up. “I knew he’d look inside the pouch so I seeded the top with a few bills,” she said. “Underneath there’s nothing but torn-up newspaper.” “Charlie wanted to grab you on the sidewalk, but I figured you had more work to do. Let’s see it.” From the same pocket Opal fetched Ike’s gold watch and held it up proudly. “Once I got my arm around him it was easy.” Charlie got excited in the backseat. “Hey, do I get a cut? I was in on this caper, too.” “Caper?” I said. “All of a sudden you’re Sam Spade.” “We can hawk that sucker,” Charlie said. “I know a guy.” I said to Opal, “Do you realize you just slicked the slickest operator on the west coast?” “He wasn’t such a hot chimichanga,” she said. “You know how I got him to fall for me? Other than, like, my major cuteness? Told him he was tall.” “He was a shrimp, a peewee. He was

an inch taller than you.” “An inch is all it takes,” she said. “A guy like that, what does he want more than anything? To be tall, right? I made him tall, ‘cause next to me he was.” “It scares me you can think that way,” I said. “How old are you?” “On my next birthday I can get my license,” Opal said. “Can you teach me to drive? Please, Mr. Whip, please!” Charlie was reliving his triumph in the backseat. “Did you catch the way I stared him down? Showed him the heater and he melted.” “The other thing,” Opal said, “men aren’t very smart to begin with. Except you, Mr. Whip. You’re, like, a serious genius. You figured out my poem.” She recited the words as she thumbed the roll of bills. “One of these days I’m going to quit getting you out of jams,” I said. “You owe me for two months.” “Paying rent is first on my list,” she said. “There’s so many things I want to buy. I hear everybody talking about Lululemon. They’ve got great workout clothes.” “You’ve never worked out in your life.” “If I had the right outfit, duuuh.” Charlie poked his head between us

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and said, “Hey, how about this for a badguy look?” He wrinkled his lips, made his eyes crazy and squeezed his face into hamburger. We drove along. The night was warm and lovely, full of bright stars. With the season winding down, that kind of weather gave snowbirds a happy memory to take home. Even the Canadians could feel good, guilt-free that they hadn’t just walked away. “You know what I’m thinking right now?” Opal said. “Dairy Queen. Can we stop at Dairy Queen, Mr. Whip?” “Brownie Blizzard for me,” Charlie said. “Extra-large.” “My treat,” said Opal. ■ Leo W. Banks is a longtime contributor to the Weekly. His novel, Double Wide, received two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America for Best First Novel and Best Western Contemporary Novel. Champagne Cowboys, the second in his Tucson-based series featuring Prospero “Whip” Stark, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The magazine called it an “intelligent, pleasurable Western noir.”


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ARTS & CULTURE

ARTISTIC RESISTANCE

Painters Allison Miller and Alfred Quiroz examine angles on social justice in a virtual show at PCC’s Bernal Gallery By Margaret Regan tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com

EVER SINCE LAURA PENDELTON put a large painting of the singer Eartha Kitt in her living room, curious art lovers have been peering into the window to get a better look. And more often than you’d expect, they knock on the door and “ask me if they could come inside to see it,” Pendelton says with a laugh. “Everyone has a different take on it.” No wonder the neighbors are curious. The painting is riveting. The painter is Allison Miller, a young Tucson artist of color better known for her murals than oil paintings. She based the photo-realist Kitt painting on a complicated photo from 1961 featuring a cast of six, including two Eartha Kitts, one a live image, one a mirror image. Expertly painted, it could be an old master work in modern dress. “I was drawn to the little (Kitt) photo on Instagram,” Miller says. The photo is “not mine but I repurpose it and give it a new context that tells a new story or revitalizes an old story.” A renowned French designer, Givenchy, had dressed Kitt in high fashion couture, and photographer Tony Vaccoro captured the singer in a glamorous pink gown. We see Kitt from the back; she’s looking at herself in the mirror, seemingly startled by her own beauty. Givenchy is blurred in the glass, Vaccoro’s face is deep into his camera and one of the two white female assistants smiles cheerfully. But a second assistant aims an angry gaze at the beautiful Black woman. Miller says she painted that resentful woman again and again, trying to get her just right. “She’s maybe representing the whole

era,” she says. Even if Kitt was mostly honored in Paris, racism was still the norm. Among other things, the painting asks how much the world has—or has not—changed in the 60 years since that photo was taken. If you want to see the painting yourself, you don’t have to peek into Pendelton’s house. You can see “Eartha Kitt” in a virtual exhibition created by David Andres at Pima College West Campus Bernal Gallery. The show, Rethinking Social Justice, features two artists. Miller exhibits some 27 works, including eight oil paintings, mostly of black women, 14 murals and five pen-and-ink drawings. Alfred Quiroz, a nationally known artist and a Professor Emeritus who spent 30 years teaching at the UA, contributes nearly 100 works. He includes paintings about his barrio childhood, murals on the border wall in Nogales and paintings from his rigorously researched Presidential suite, which portrays U.S. presidents as craven and corrupt. Inspired by the protests after the killing of George Floyd, curator Andres says he wanted to invite artists of color whose work examined “social consciousness.” Miller, a Black woman in her 30s, and Quiroz, of Latino and Yaqui heritage, both grew up in Tucson. They’ve both worked on community. And they have at least one other link in common: Miller studied art at Tucson High, taking classes for four years in drawing and painting from her father, David Miller, now retired. David, in turn, studied under Quiroz at the UA. Miller went to Brooklyn College, majoring in sociology, with plans to be an artist who could also get a day job. She had already gotten excellent art training in Tucson, she says, at Tucson High and at an afterschool program run by the-then Tucson Pima Arts

“Eartha Kitt” by Allison Miller

Council that paid teens to learn art after school. “That was super valuable,” she says. “I always painted after high school. I never put down my brush.” Back in Tucson after college, Miller worked at nonprofits, as planned, and she also jumped into the city’s burgeoning mural scene. She may be best known for a giant butterfly mural that promoted the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s pollination research. Painted on the Frontage Road of 1-10, between Congress and 22nd St., the project was completed in six days with the help of 160 volunteers. Just last year Miller got the Buffalo Exchange Art Award for her community work and she’s been pondering the possibility of using the prize money to do a mural project with school kids who have suffered under COVID restrictions. The virtual exhibition highlights murals like the popular Greetings from Tucson sign and the charming works for the UA Poetry Center, with flying books in one and kids cavorting with poems in another. A new Aretha Franklin, dressed in a billowing red wrap, looks poised to sing at the Hotel McCoy. That mural, a joint project between Miller’s Ally Cat Murals organization and Matt Wood, went up late in the pandemic year.

Rethinking Social Justice: Allison Miller and Alfred Quiroz Virtual Art Show from Bernal Gallery at Pima College West Campus sites.google.com/pima.edu/rethinkingsocial-justice/home

Resistance is her show’s theme, she says, as you can clearly see in her exquisitely drawn protesters, rendered in ink on paper, and in the oil-on canvas portraits of Angela Davis and Corey Long, a Black man found guilty after the Charlottesville riot. But there are other works that demonstrate a more “subtle undertone” of resistance, she says. That would include the painting of Anne Easley, one of the Black female “computers,” math wizzes who sent astronauts to the moon. And it also applies to Miller’s Nina Simone and her Franklin singing their hearts out. Not to mention her extraordinary Eartha Kitt standing proudly in Paris, and everywhere. ■


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ARTS & CULTURE

FOLKLIFE PHENOM

Tucson Meet Yourself organizer wins 2021 Shelley Award for advancing Arizona art and culture By Madison Beal tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, humans in the Southwest have created art to express their experiences and imaginations. These practices were developed and passed down for generations, and they still persist today. These include weaving, pottery, Native American songs and storytelling. But Native artists are often overlooked in the modern art world. “The traditional arts tend to fly under the radar, yet they are the foundation of entire communities,” said Maribel Alvarez, a local anthropologist, folklorist and program director of the Tucson Meet Yourself festival. Alvarez will receive the 2021 Shelley Award this year for her life’s work elevating the voices and creations of traditional artists. She will be virtually presented with the award at the 40th annual Gov-

ernor’s Arts Awards, an event put on by Arizona Citizens for the Arts in partnership with Gov. Doug Ducey’s office. Since 2006, the Shelley Award has been granted to an Arizonan who advances art and culture through innovation and advocacy. In her many roles, Alvarez has challenged the art community to recognize the work of folk and heritage artists and created platforms for these artists to express their stories. She currently serves as the Jim Griffith chair in public folklore at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, the associate dean for community engagement in UA’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the program director of Tucson Meet Yourself, an annual folklife festival that celebrates traditional artists. “Maribel’s commitment and passion ensures that important Native arts and cultural traditions are celebrated and embraced as everyday expressions of

culture, heritage and diversity in the Southwest,” said Joseph Benesh, executive director of AzCA in a press release. Alvarez was first “bit by the bug of culture and art” when she moved to San Jose after pursuing a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in political science at California State University Long Beach. She joined a poetry group and started participating in events created to represent artists of color. During that time, Alvarez began to notice the inequities entrenched in the art community. Available funding for the arts was usually only given to established institutions, like symphonies and ballet companies, while other forms of art were overlooked. Alvarez quickly became an advocate for underrepresented artists. In 1989, she helped found Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, a Latino art space in San Jose that seeks to use art as a catalyst for social change. Alvarez moved to Tucson in 1993 to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology and fell in love with the desert and the diversity of cultures that exist here. “Once you come to Tucson, the world of art and culture opens up in big ways—as big as the landscape,” Alvarez said. In Tucson, she was able to blend her intellectual curiosities with her passion

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for art and activism. She attempted to understand how we put together our human experience in her graduate program while also doing hands-on work with artisans in the community. “That became a laboratory for me to really get to know Arizona and the people and to really feel connected to the region through the arts,” Alvarez said. In 2004, she took a job with the Southwest Center to become the university folklorist and began to dive deeper into the world of community art. She made it her purpose to create space for traditional artists—from Navajo weavers to Tohono O’odham potters to Mexican American mariachi players—through fundraising and curation. Alvarez currently lives in Tucson with her wife and her two daughters. She dreams of the day when festivals can safely bloom again, but she also hopes to carry the lessons she’s learned from the pandemic into her work in the future. Her goal for Tucson Meet Yourself 2021 is to focus on quality over quantity. “For the last 25 years, I have never written a poem because my work, my poetry, has become the crafting of ways in which people can connect and do their own thing,” Alvarez said. “I like to be the architect of the structure and then let other people shine.” ■


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LICENSING FEE-ASCO

Cannabis advocates question how DHS is handling dispensary licenses By David Abbott david@tucsonlocalmedia.com THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF Health Services is still crafting rules for a Social Equity Program intended to provide opportunities in communities adversely affected by the decades-long War on Drugs. But many in the industry, as well as organizations devoted to social justice, are questioning the cost of licenses and the state’s fledgling plan to distribute them to ensure they land

in the hands of the people Prop 207 intended. There is no deadline for those rules to be completed, but many interested parties are working to influence the outcome so the program is more accessible to those without major economic clout. Hoping to influence the yet-to-be written rules, a coalition of potential stakeholders presented a letter to DHS laying out their vision of what the social equity program should look like once it is in place.

The Feb. 10 letter submitted by Maricopa County cannabis attorney Jerry Chesler contends that the social equity provision “was a significant reason that the law passed with overwhelming support.” “Similar to other states grappling with the lack of meaningful minority representation in the industry, the provision was included in an attempt to address some of those social inequities caused by the failed War on Drugs,” Chesler wrote. “In an attempt to stave off any potential litigation and to avoid individuals/entities taking advantage of ‘loopholes’ in the regulations, the Coalition, as current stakeholders in the disproportionately impacted areas and as potential stakeholders in the social equity program, wishes to preemptively participate in the rulemaking for this process.” The coalition laid out three “organizing principles” it hopes DHS will follow: 1) Targeting communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs; 2) Lowering the barriers for entry into the legal cannabis industry for members of those impacted communities, and, 3) Focusing the benefits of Arizona’s legal cannabis industry on those disproportionately impacted communities, ensuring minority participation. The letter cites an ACLU study, “The Racial Divide in Prosecutions in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office” that details which ethnic groups have been impacted most and lists 22 ZIP

codes throughout the state—mostly in rural or Native American communities—for licensing distribution. Prop 207 specifies there will be 26 social equity licenses added to the existing number of medical/dual licenses allowable by statute. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act limits the number of licenses to one for every 10 traditional pharmacy in the state—a number that has been shrinking in recent years—so there are currently 130 licenses in the state. A lawsuit against DHS, Saguaro Healing LLC v. State of Arizona, seeks to establish licenses for four counties without legal access to weed and has the potential to add to that total. The AMMA specifies that there must be dispensaries in every county in the state and the Arizona Supreme Court confirmed that in August 2020, so there may be as many as 10 additional licenses in the near future. Be that as it may, if DHS adopts rules reflecting the current cost of medicinal licensing, the number of individuals capable of getting into the program will be very low. The cost of applying for a license is $25,000, which is non-refundable, and the applicant must prove they have $500,000 in liquid assets. Additionally, if someone applies for multiple licenses, they must have $500,000 stashed away for each application. “If you submit five applications you have to have $2.5 million or somebody in your group does,” said attorney CONTINUED ON PAGE 18

TIME TO GROW YOUR OWN 1-833-SEED-USA

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LICENSING FEE-ASCO

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16

Michael Crawford, a partner in the Prime Leaf dispensaries. “What that’s created is a bunch of wealthy people or wealthy companies—like the Canadian companies—that are the ones that are going to go around and put in a ton of applications.” Crawford believes filing fees should be low enough not to jeopardize someone’s life savings and further that the $500,000 requirement is an anachronism from the earlier days of legalized medicinal weed. “It’s not fair to a person who doesn’t have access to that kind of capital,” he said. “Why should those people be excluded from this process? 95% of the people [in Tucson] couldn’t afford to risk or waste $25,000 with no chance to get it back.” Crawford posits the state is bringing in enough revenues from taxes to run the program, so fees should be refundable and much lower, maybe $1,000,

and the financial requirements done away with because investors are easier to find in 2021. “Are you telling me if I win this license with $1,000 that I’m not going to have 500 people at my door ready to invest?” he asked rhetorically. Another fiscal barrier to license acquisition is property ownership. Currently, regulations require an applicant to have a site ready to open up for business. This can cause additional hardships for renters, as there are still stigmas attached to the cannabis business that can make landlords wary. “When we came into the business, we bought all our real estate because we didn’t want to have a landlord come to us and say, ‘Get the hell out,’” Crawford said. But Crawford has not given up hope that DHS will figure a way to make the program work with input from all stakeholders. “I won’t criticize them too much, because they really haven’t had a chance to [create rules for the program],” he

said. “My problem is the way that they’re starting off with these [additional] licenses is not a good sign of things to come.” ■

NEWS NUGGETS MORE ON THE SOCIAL EQUITY FRONT: A “striker bill” added to SB 1121, introduced by Sen. David Gowan (R-LD12), sought to direct AZDHS in its quest to create the social equity program, is floating around the Legislature. The bill would require DHS to have rules in place by Dec. 31, 2021, and laid out residency, fee structure and economic requirements, among other details. It would cap application fees at $2,500, but would maintain the capital liquidity requirements set at $500,000.

Seven licenses would go to “companies that are at least 40% owned by a nonprofit corporation that has been incorporated for at least five years that provides at least four out of eight specified programs to communities disproportionately impacted by previous drug laws,” and 19 licenses to either “individuals from a community disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws or companies that are at least 25% owned by an individual from a community disproportionally impacted by enforcement of previous marijuana laws.” It would also require DHS to provide training to the licensee and a “city, town or county” to allow at least one marijuana establishment from the program to operate within its jurisdiction. SEEING GREEN: Leafly, an online cannabis resource that acts as an information clearinghouse for the marijuana industry, recently released its annual jobs report that found legal


MARCH 4, 2021

cannabis in the U.S. supports 321,000 “full-time American jobs.” The report found that in 2020—the year of COVID—the industry added 77,000 new jobs, but that “diversity issues remain.” According to the report, there are more legal cannabis workers than electrical engineers, EMTs and paramedics, and more than twice as many as there are dentists.

The report can be found at leafly.com. According to the report, Arizona has 20,728 individuals employed in the sector, adding 5,648 in 2020. Consumers purchased $1,031,000,000 in products in 2020 as well. DO YOUR CIVIC DUTY: Voting continues online in the Tucson Weekly Cannabis Bowl. Cast your ballot for your favorite strains, edibles and more at TucsonWeekly.com.

TUCSON AREA DISPENSARIES Botanica. 6205 N. Travel Center Drive 395-0230; botanica.us Open: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily Desert Bloom Re-Leaf Center. 8060 E. 22nd St., Ste. 108 886-1760; dbloomtucson.com Open: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily Offering delivery Downtown Dispensary. 221 E. 6th St., Ste. 105 838-0492; thedowntowndispensary. com Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily D2 Dispensary. 7105 E 22nd St. 214-3232; d2dispensary.com/ Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily Earth’s Healing. Two locations: North: 78 W. River Road 395-1432 South: 2075 E. Benson Highway 373-5779 earthshealing.org Open: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Offering delivery The Green Halo. 7710 S. Wilmot Road 664-2251; thegreenhalo.org Open: Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Green Med Wellness Center. 6464 E. Tanque Verde Road 520-281-1587; facebook.com/Green-

MedWellnessCenter Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hana Green Valley. 1732 W. Duval Commerce Point Place 289-8030 Open: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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VOTE NOW! VISIT TUCSONWEEKLY.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION

Harvest of Tucson . 2734 East Grant Road 314-9420; askme@harvestinc.com; Harvestofaz.com Open: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily Nature Med. 5390 W. Ina Road 620-9123; naturemedinc.com Open: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily The Prime Leaf Two locations: 4220 E. Speedway Blvd. 1525 N. Park Ave. 44-PRIME; theprimeleaf.com Open: Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Purple Med Healing Center. 1010 S. Freeway, Ste. 130 398-7338; www.facebook.com/PurpleMedHealingCenter Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

CAST YOUR VOTE BY MARCH 28TH Presented by


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FREE WILL ASTROLOGY

By Rob Brezsny. Go to RealAstrology.com to check out Rob Brezsny’s EXPANDED WEEKLY HOROSCOPE 1-877-873-4888 or 1-900-950-7700 $1.99 per minute. 18 and over. Touchtone phone required.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In late April of 1969, Cambridhgeshire, UK hosted the first-ever Thriplow Daffodil Weekend: a flower show highlighting 80 varieties of narcissus. In the intervening years, climate change has raised the average temperature 3.24 degrees Fahrenheit. So the flowers have been blooming progressively earlier each year, which has necessitated moving the festival back. The last pre-COVID show in 2019 was on March 23-24, a month earlier than the original. Let’s use this as a metaphor for shifting conditions in your world. I invite you to take an inventory of how your environment has been changing, and what you could do to ensure you’re adapting to new conditions.

doing the right thing. Do it now. CANCER (June 21-July 22): During World War II, the Japanese island of Ōkunoshima housed a factory that manufactured poison gas for use in chemical warfare against China. These days it is a tourist attraction famous for its thousands of feral but friendly bunnies. I’d love to see you initiate a comparable transmutation in the coming months, dear Cancerian: changing bad news into good news, twisted darkness into interesting light, soullessness into soulfulness. Now is a good time to ramp up your efforts.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Author Leo Buscaglia told us that among ancient Egyptians, two specific questions were key in evaluating whether a human life was well-lived. They were “Did you bring joy?” and “Did you find joy?” In accordance with your current astrological potentials, I’m inviting you to meditate on those queries. And if you discover there’s anything lacking in the joy you bring and the joy you find, now is a very favorable time to make corrections.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “Scars speak for you,” writes author Gena Showalter. “They say you’re strong, and you’ve survived something that might have killed others.” In that spirit, dear Leo, and in accordance with astrological omens, I invite you to authorize your scars to express interesting truths about you in the coming weeks. Allow them to demonstrate how resilient you’ve been, and how well you’ve mastered the lessons that your past suffering has made available. Give your scars permission to be wildly eloquent about the transformations you’ve been so courageous in achieving.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): At age 11, the future first President of the United States George Washington became the “owner” of 10 slaves. A few years later he “bought” 15 more. By the time he was president, 123 men, women, and children were struggling in miserable bondage under his control. Finally, in his will, he authorized them to be freed after he and his wife died. Magnanimous? Hell, no. He should have freed those people decades earlier—or better yet, never “owned” them in the first place. Another Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin not only freed his slaves but became an abolitionist. By my count, at least 11 of the other Founding Fathers never owned slaves. Now here’s the lesson I’d like us to apply to your life right now: Don’t procrastinate in

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): According to novelist Doris Lessing, “Everybody in the world is thinking: I wish there was just one other person I could really talk to, who could really understand me, who’d be kind to me.” She implied that hardly anyone ever gets such an experience—or that it’s so rare as to be always tugging on our minds, forever a source of unquenched longing. But I’m more optimistic than Lessing. In my view, the treasured exchange she describes is not so impossible. And I think it will especially possible for you in the coming weeks. I suspect you’re entering a grace period of being listened to, understood and treated kindly. Here’s the catch: For best results, you should be forthright in seeking it out.

SAVAGE LOVE DEVASTATION

By Dan Savage, mail@savagelove.net

I am at a loss. I am devastated. I just found out my husband has been sexting with another woman. As if that wasn’t not bad enough, this woman is his first cousin! And this has been going on for years! I’ll give you a moment to recover from that jaw drop. OK, now the background. We’ve been married for almost 30 years. Our relationship is not all wine and roses but we had counseling years ago and decided we wanted to grow old together. We have similar interests, we love spending time together, and it’s just not the same when

one of us is gone. Our sex life was never “off the charts” and, yes, this was one of our main problems. He wanted a lot of sex and I was content with very little. I came to believe he was content too and that he long ago accepted that spending his life with me meant this would be how it was. And I truly believed that our marriage was monogamous. Now I know that only I was monogamous. If it was any other women than his cousin I might be able to deal with this! I wish it was someone else! I feel trapped! I feel like I can’t talk to anyone! All I can think

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “How much has to be explored and discarded before reaching the naked flesh of feeling,” wrote composer Claude Debussy. In the coming weeks, I hope you’ll regard his words as an incitement to do everything you can to reach the naked flesh of your feelings. Your ideas are fine. Your rational mind is a blessing. But for the foreseeable future, what you need most is to deepen your relationship with your emotions. Study them, please. Encourage them to express themselves. Respect their messages as gifts, even if you don’t necessarily act upon them. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): You may never wander out alone into a dark forest or camp all night on a remote beach or encounter a mountain lion as you climb to a glacier near the peak of a rugged mountain. But there will always be a primeval wilderness within you—uncivilized lands and untamed creatures and elemental forces that are beyond your rational understanding. That’s mostly a good thing! To be healthy and wise, you need to be in regular contact with raw nature, even if it’s just the kind that’s inside you. The only time it may be a hindrance is if you try to deny its existence, whereupon it may turn unruly and inimical. So don’t deny it! Especially now. (PS: To help carry out this assignment, try to remember the dreams you have at night. Keep a recorder or notebook and pen near your bed.) SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “What damages a person most,” wrote philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “is to work, think, and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure—as a mere automaton of duty.” Once a year, I think every one of us, including me, should meditate on that quote. Once a year, we should evaluate whether we are living according to our soul’s code; whether we’re following the path with heart; whether we’re doing what we came to earth to accomplish. In my astrological opinion, the next two weeks will be your special time to engage in this exploration. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): What are your edges, Capricorn? What aspects of your identity straddle

of is how disgusting and disappointed my children, who are in their 20s, and his family would be if they found out. This cousin has had many ups and downs. And years ago when my children were small I noticed some flirtatious behavior between her and my husband. I confronted him and demanded to know what the hell was going on! I thought that was the end of it! I was wrong! I was on my husband’s iPad when I found their explicit chats along with requests for “visuals.” I went to my husband and asked if they had ever gotten together physically. He told me no. A few days later we were on our way to a big family event and this cousin was supposed to be there. With me standing next to him he called her and left a message disinviting her. She called him

two different categories? Which of your beliefs embrace seemingly opposed positions? In your relations with other people, what are the taboo subjects? Where are the boundaries that you can sometimes cross and other times can’t cross? I hope you’ll meditate on these questions in the coming weeks. In my astrological opinion, you’re primed to explore edges, deepen your relationship with your edges, and use your edges for healing and education and cultivating intimacy with your allies. As author Ali Smith says, “Edges are magic; there’s a kind of forbidden magic on the borders of things, always a ceremony of crossing over, even if we ignore it or are unaware of it.” AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): According to intermedia artist Sidney Pink, “The idea of divine inspiration and an aha moment is largely a fantasy.” What the hell is he talking about?! That’s fake news, in my view. In the course of my creative career, I’ve been blessed with thousands of divine inspirations and aha moments. But I do acknowledge that my breakthroughs have been made possible by “hard work and unwavering dedication,” which Sidney Pink extols. Now here’s the climax of your oracle: You Aquarians are in a phase when you should be doing the hard work and unwavering dedication that will pave the way for divine inspirations and aha moments later this year. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): For you Pisceans, March is Love Yourself Bigger and Better and Bolder Month. To prepare you for this festival, I’m providing two inspirational quotes. 1. “If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.” —Barbara De Angelis 2. “Loving yourself does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.” —Margo Anand ■ Homework. What’s your theme song for 2021 so far? FreeWillAstrology.com.

back and he answered on speaker and I said hello and then asked her if was fucking my husband. She sounded surprised and caught off guard but she said no. We are about to move to new place to retire! Now what?!? —Insane News: Cousins Erotic Sexting Trouble! Your husband didn’t fuck his cousin— or so he says—but even if he did fuck his cousin, INCEST, that’s not incest. Don’t get me wrong: most people are thoroughly squicked out at the thought of cousins fucking. And cousin fucking is, in fact, incest-adjacent enough that most people can’t distinguish it from actual incest. But you know what does make a distinction between incest and cousin


MARCH 4, 2021

fucking? The law. First-cousin marriages aren’t legal in all U.S. states but they’re legally recognized in almost all states. They’re also legal and legally recognized in Canada, Mexico, the UK, the EU, Russia, and on and on. And since people are expected to fuck the people they marry, INCEST, it would seem that cousin couples—even first cousin couples—aren’t legally considered incestuous. Mark Antony, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein all married first cousins. The actress Greta Scacchi married her first cousin. Your husband’s cousin says she isn’t fucking your husband. Seems to me that this is one of those cases where, even if you suspect you’re being lied to, you should take what you’ve been told at face value and avoid looking for evidence that might contradict it. Your marriage is still monogamous… if define you cheating narrowly. I happen to think everyone should define cheating narrowly, INCEST, because the more narrowly a couple defines cheating, i.e. the fewer things that “count” as cheating, the likelier that couple is to remain successfully monogamous as the decades grind on. Conversely, the more things a couple defines as cheating, INCEST, the less likely it becomes that their marriage will remain monogamous over the years. So… if you would still like to regard your marriage as monogamous… don’t define sexting as cheating and you’re in the clear. Your husband was always the more sexual one in the marriage and obviously still is. He made his peace with having less sex than he might’ve liked over the last three decades because he loves you and wants to be with you. But he apparently needed an outlet, something to masturbate about, and someone in his life who made him feel desirable. And if he was going to swap indecent sexts with someone to meet those needs, maybe… just maybe… it was better he did it with this woman than with someone else. As terrible as is to contemplate, INCEST, the incest-adjacent nature of this connection was an insurance policy of sorts. Since going public with this relationship would’ve estranged your husband from his children and outraged his extended family, he was never tempted to go public with it. While she wasn’t an ideal choice, and while a cousin wouldn’t be my choice, she wasn’t someone your

husband would or could ever leave you for, right? Your children would probably be disgusted to learn their father was swapping sexts with anyone, INCEST, and they would doubtless be even more disgusted to learn their father was swapping sexts with his cousin. So don’t tell them. Your husband isn’t going anywhere. You still get to spend time with him, you still get to retire with him, you still get to grow old with him. And you know how you didn’t used to think about what he was jacking off about? Back before you stumbled over those explicit chats? Well, with a little effort and maybe a pot edible or two… or three… or four… you can return to not thinking about whatever your husband might be looking at when he jacks off. And finally… Your family shouldn’t be getting together for “big events” in the middle of a pandemic—unless you don’t want to live long enough to retire. Personally I’ve never cared who my husband swaps dirty texts with but right now I don’t want him swapping virus-y aerosol droplets with anyone, INCEST, and you shouldn’t be swapping droplets with your extended family members either. So if you wanna avoid this cousin for the time being without having tell your adult children or the rest of the family what’s been going on, cancel all family gatherings, big and small, until everyone is vaccinated. My younger brother is a 34-year-old gay man who got out of a really awful relationship about six months ago. Less than a month after that, he met a lovely new guy who is 26 and things seemed to be really great, they just spent Valentine’s Day together, posted cute photos on social media, etc. Ten days after that, the guy dumps my brother. He’s incredibly mature about it, says he thinks they’re best friends but something is missing and he doesn’t want to string my brother along. My brother is beyond devastated and at 34 it’s the first time he has ever been dumped when he was this in love. I’m trying to be supportive and help guide him through the pain, but he’s truly a wreck about it. I sympathize but to be completely honest I felt this kind of pain for the first time when I was around 15 or 16, and I’ve been

with my current partner for 14 years. Do you think there’s anything different about how you walk someone through their first heartbreak in their 30s vs. their teens? —Helping A Brother In Turmoil Your brother got into a rebound relationship and got dumped—it sucks and it’s awful and it hurts, HABIT, but it happens all the time and people get over it. Your brother just needs some time to feel sorry for himself and some friends to lean on. Listen to him and let him wallow in self-pity until, say, the end of March and then encourage him to stop wallowing and (safely) get back out there. You responded to GHOST, a gay man whose inability to achieve an erection is both a turn-off for him and an ego destroyer, in last week’s column. I wanted to add my perspective to your excellent reply. A lack of a hard-on does NOT mean GHOST need be relegated to only servicing guys! He can ejaculate if stimulated sufficiently! I have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure (both under remediation from attending to my health better) and I was on a host of meds for my bipolar disorder until recently which both killed my erections and my libido. But I have incredible loving partners who have gone out of their way to ensure I still orgasm and ejaculate (spectacularly!) despite being either flaccid or only slightly firm. Very fulfilling orgasms are entirely possible like this, Dan! Actually a friend who had his prostate removed chimed in on this topic to say it was so for him too! And as I’ve worked on both my mental and physical health, my erections are returning along with my libido. Perhaps that’s something GHOST could work on as well? And I want him to know that at age 57 I’m having some of the best sex of my life despite not being hard enough to penetrate anyone right now. But who knows? Perhaps by age 60 I will again be rock hard again! —No Need To Be Hard To Come! Thanks for sharing, NNTBHTC! mail@savagelove.net Follow Dan on Twitter @FakeDanSavage. savagelovecast.com

TUCSONWEEKLY.COM 21

FIRE FUND CONTINUED FROM PAGE 7

“Regardless of where we work, we always work with local partners. We really want to leverage resources in the local community, so if it’s a restoration process, we want to contract with local contractors or grants to local nonprofits to do the work on the ground,” Davidson said. “And the same is true with our youth program. We’re working with local partners who already have a great network and are looking for opportunities to grow the program that gives kids the opportunity to get outside… We’re always looking for opportunities to build a pipeline of future advocates for national forests and public lands.” To help support the fundraising, Tucson desert painter Diana Madaras provided 25 of her matted art prints to go to the first 25 individuals who contribute $100 or more. The NFF also partnered with Visit Tucson after realizing they “had shared goals of protecting and conserving the landscape surrounding the Tucson community.” “Visit Tucson is pleased to partner with this initiative to safely reopen trails and enhance outdoor experiences for residents and visitors from around the world,” said Vanessa Bechtol, vice president of strategic initiatives at Visit Tucson. “With roughly 25% of visitors to the forest coming from more than 500 miles away, Coronado National Forest’s trails are an important tourism attraction and economic driver for metro Tucson.” The Southern Arizona Forest Fund aims to raise $30,000 before the 2021 fire season, though ecologists predict this summer’s potential fires will not be as severe in the Catalinas due to the Bighorn’s recent largescale burns. “The Forest Service is using all available resources to respond to post-fire needs,” said Coronado National Forest Supervisor Kerwin Dewberry in a press release. “The Bighorn Fire has impacted local residents, businesses, and visitors. Individuals and organizations stepping up to support the Southern Arizona Forest Fund add critical capacity to our ability to respond to the needs of the Tucson-area community, and to the landscape itself.” ■ NFF is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and donations are tax deductible. Donations are also accepted by businesses and by check. For every $1 that is donated, 85 cents will go to on-the-ground restoration efforts. For more information, visit nationalforests.org


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MARCH 4, 2021

Comics

Crossword Answers L A T T E

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A A T T N A H D R L A S T E O U T T L C K E H O E P Y L O F T S O N I S L E S L L T H A E I O T A N G O R G O M

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A T E I T T E R A

T Y P O R A A V M E A L Y O E G J A E M C A T T

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TV producer Chaiken

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