Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mesa del creating demonstration rain garden

Photo by Jim Keyworth
Bruce Wales (right) at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at Gila Community College.  Wales is working with Mesa del Caballo to create a rain garden complete with gutters and storage tanks on Community Center property.

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

Payson resident Bruce Wales is working with Mesa del Caballo’s El Caballo Club to create a demonstration rain garden that will serve as a permanent example of “sustainable-bountiful land use.”

Wales, who authored a column entitled “Get Smart with Water” in the Rim Country Gazette, has spoken at Gila County Community College for a number of High Country Xeriscape Council Seminars, for the Arizona County Extension Service, The Pine Awakening Earth Expo, and community center and garden clubs on subjects such as worms, soil, rainwater and gray water harvesting and sustainable gardening.

The project, which includes rain gutters on the Community Center and outbuildings and water storage tanks, will be dubbed the Garden of Eds in honor of three men who made major civic contributions to the community – Ed Schwebel, Ed Blose and Ed Zumach.

“When Ed Schwebel passed away (earlier this year), I thought it would be fitting to remember him in a manner that addressed our mutual interest,” Wales said.

Wales is working with the El Caballo Club Board of Directors on the project, which he originally hoped to create at either Green Valley Park or Gila Community College. When response to those proposals was tepid, he turned to Mesa del Caballo, a small community northeast of Payson off Houston Mesa Road that has historically experienced water shortages.

“After the go-ahead, I met with (Board President) Jim Keyworth, (Treasurer) Randy Norman and (Secretary) Minnie Norman on Oct. 28,” Wales said. “We decided on an eventual three phase program, the first being the Memorial Rain Garden of Eds."

The initial phase of the garden will encompass a 1,000-square-foot area east of the main building. This first rain garden will be fenced and have two gates. Soil improvement will begin immediately, and Mesa del Caballo and other Rim Country residents are encouraged to help.

“The method is lasagna gardening, or sheet composting,” Wales explained. “Cast-offs will be distributed in layers inside of the ‘roped-off’ area in the following order:

1. Moistened cardboard sheets in one layer flat on the ground - but none from China or Canada. They’re laced with insecticide.
2. Cover that with pencil-sized dead sticks, twigs and small stompable/breakable branches. No Walnut or Eucalyptus. Their juices kill soil life. Dead weeds are OK at this depth.
3. Cover that with six inches of horse manure.
4. Cover with leaves – many inches.
5. Cover with wood ash. This will have the potash necessary for root/tuber growth.
6. Cover with garden vines, stalks, etc.
7. Cover with rabbit, goat, droppings, spoiled hay, or pine needles no thicker than six inches. Do not leave dog or cat droppings. We share vulnerabilities for the same unhealthy organisms.
Note: Thin layers of sawdust, not walnut or eucalyptus - can go on anytime.

“Next we can ‘salt’ the medium with worms and pill bugs and roaches for the breakdown process,” Wales said. Don’t worry, they won’t invade Mesa Del. They’ll be too busy 'eating their dinner.' When they die, fungi and bacteria will break them down. Then the crickets, arthropods, worms and cutworms with continue the process.

“We won’t need (and don’t want) a tractor, tiller or other fossil-fuel expender (FFE). Rather, Nature’s ‘soil-sergeants’ will take over by doing what they do naturally; dig, chew, expel, squirm, swell, slither, die and will offer their nutrients in a new available form. By 2011’s first rain season, only processed soil should remain.”

In addition to the fencing, Wales will donate rain gutters, water tanks with timers, and drip irrigation. The community will provide volunteer later as needed.

“The garden will consist of at least one deciduous tree in the southwest corner of the plot," Wales explained. "This will shade the garden and building in the summer, lose its leaves and help to warm both in the winter. Screens will keep the gutter clean and direct leaves into the garden for more mulch/decaying-to-trace mineral action. Also, it will most likely be a fruit-bearing tree.

“If you are readying your own garden, use these same steps and you too will be growing a lot next year.

"With this layering process, eventually the ph will become balanced and elements such as calcium will reach an optimum level. However, we may be adding a soil sulfur or bone meal in the meantime. Squash, chives, onions, walking onions, leeks, garlic, sorrel, dandelion, Swiss chard, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, nasturtiums (yes, they are edible with a pepper-like taste), oregano, peppermint, lemon balm, apples and peaches can handle an alkaline soil. Once they are planted we can increase the acidity and plant some rhubarb, potatoes, tomatoes and other acid-loving vegetables."

Wales is passionate about the project.

“This process is meant to be fairly self-directing and self-policing," he emphasized. "Re-purposing and using waste as the wealth it is will be the equity you bring to the project. Your actions will be the multiplying factor to that wealth. I believe that a cadre of individuals working WITH natural processes can produce a true bounty noticeable by the public and be a glowing example of real sustainability.”

Subsequent phases will enlarge the garden to encompass the front of the Community Center building and create a second garden in a fenced area within the grounds that will be supplied with water from gutters installed on outbuildings.  If you have any questions or want to participate or donate contact Keyworth at 474-8787 or or the Normans at 474-4454 or

Monday, November 29, 2010

New web pages BLM's response to climate change

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has posted new web pages that describe its efforts to respond to climate change and related environmental challenges. The BLM’s Climate Change Home Page is found at

“Public lands managed by the BLM are facing widespread environmental challenges that transcend traditional management boundaries,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey.

“These challenges include managing wildfire, controlling weeds and insect outbreaks, providing for energy development, and addressing impacts from climate change.”

These new web pages highlight two connected initiatives the BLM is undertaking to address these complex resource management issues. One initiative is the preparation of science assessments, called Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs), to improve the understanding of ecological conditions, how they might be affected by climate change and other environmental trends, and to inform future management actions.

The second initiative is the development of a proposed landscape approach for managing public lands. A landscape approach looks across large geographic areas to identify important ecological values and patterns of environmental change that may not be evident when managing smaller, local land areas. A landscape approach uses this broader understanding of the environment to inform, focus, and coordinate
management efforts on-the-ground.

“The REAs and proposed landscape approach offer a way to integrate the BLM’s conservation, restoration, and development programs in a cohesive manner,” said Abbey. “An integrated approach is essential to sustain the diverse values and uses of public lands, and meet the Nation’s energy needs, in an era of profound enironmental change.”

The BLM, an agency of the Department of the Interior, manages more land – 245 million acres – than any other Federal agency. Most of this land is managed for multiple uses, such as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production; the BLM also conserves natural, historical, and cultural resources on these lands.

The NRCS (formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service), an agency of the Department of Agriculture, works with private landowners through conservation planning and assistance to ensure that rangeland resources are managed in a sustainable manner.

PHS excels in cheer, gingerbread, drama, business

Students with Gingerbread Houses:
Left: Elle Eavenson, 2nd place (traditional gingerbread house).  Right: Shoshanah Wright, 3rd place (motor home gingerbread house).

Courtesy photo
Students in Washington, D.C. (Arlington National Cemetery) Sean Ford, James Potvin, Amanda Hartnell, Marina Madra, Tanner Hintze, Eric Vohs, Carisa Haas, Jordyn Fruth, Keith Williams.

Payson High School students and teachers have been shining around the state and the nation recently. They have caught the attention of judges, critics, chefs and coaches everywhere they have gone.

Take, for example, the Payson High School Longhorn Cheer Squad, under Coach Elicia Morigeau. The team competed against 20 other cheer squads at the Regional Qualifiers Competition in Paradise Valley and placed fifth. They will represent Payson at the State Cheer Competition in Prescott Valley in February.

Culinary Arts students earned their just desserts in a competition called “Getting Our Just Desserts” with C-CAP (Careers Through Culinary Arts Programs). Teacher Devon Wells supervised students as they designed and decorated, baked and built original gingerbread houses for the event held at the Art Institute of Phoenix. Both professional chefs and everyday people judged the creations.

Senior Elle Eavenson won second place and $100 in both the Chef’s Choice and People’s Choice voting. Junior Shoshanah Wright won third place and $50 in both categories.

The PHS Thespians are not about to be upstaged. They won, for the 14th year in a row, the Gold Honor Troupe Award from the Arizona State Thespians. Because Payson High School students have won this award so many times, the Thespian Board raised the bar. PHS Drama still meets the higher standards and continues winning.

Students change but the high expectations set by PHS and Arizona Drama Teacher of the Year runner-up Kathy Siler remain the same and enable these young actors and theatre technicians to set their own standards for outstanding student drama.

Those high standards led to the thespians’ one-act play, "Paper or Plastic," directed by Auditorium Manager Thomas Walling, taking state runner-up honors. PHS’s score was a scant three-tenths of a point below the winning school’s score. Should the winning school not be able to attend the national competition, Payson High School drama students will compete nationally with their play.

Traveling nationally, Payson High School’s DECA group, a cocurricular club of the Business Marketing Career and Technical Education Program, recently attended the DECA Western Regional Conference in Washington, D.C. in November. Students participated in leadership workshops, competitive events and motivational addresses. They used their own leadership and teamwork skills to complete an educational search on the National Mall.

Sightseeing was part of the trip, with visits to Arlington National Cemetery, Smithsonian Museums, National Archives, Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln, Jefferson and Vietnam Memorials and the White House. Teacher Joe Parone reports that the students’ favorite activity was a four-hour “D.C. at Night” tour.
Mogollon Connection suspends publication
but the flame will not be extinguished


Many of you have asked what's happened to the Mogollon Connection.  Sadly, publication has been suspended -- at least temporarily.  As was the case with the Rim Country Gazette, difficult economic times and a competitor backed by big bucks have combined to stifle a much needed second voice in our community.

To Matt and Mitzi Brabb and the rest of the staff of the Connection, my personal thanks for a valiant effort.  I couldn't be more proud of them if they were my own children, and trite as the well-worn words of  sportswriter Grantland Rice sometimes seem, they still say it about as well as it can be said:

"For when the One Great Scorer comes,
To write against your name,
He marks - not that you won or lost -
But how you played the Game."

And so the community is left with a single print voice that does not always present both sides of issues that are critical to our future.  I will not read it, and a lot of you have told me you feel the same way.  That is sad.

But the Rim Country Gazette Blog will continue and your patronage and contributions are much appreciated.  Mitzi and Matt have promised to contribute to the blog as they can, and your comments, rants, letters and any other inspirations or insights you care to express will be published here without censorship.

In the meantime, Noble Collins and I are working on an exciting new concept for the blog that we hope to introduce soon.

If there's any solace in all of this, it's that as hard as they blow -- and they have blown mightily, this little flame just won't go out.

Jim Keyworth
Blog Editor

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Water group wants to know 
what 'specialty organization' is

(Editor's note: We provide the following because a great number of our readers live in the Pine-Strawberry area and have no other access to reliable, unbiased information on the water situation in the area.)

Next regular Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District Meeting: Thursday Dec. 16 at 7:30 PM at the Pine Cultural Center.

The Nov. 18 meeting was cancelled because the agenda was not posted on the website at least 24 hours prior, as required by law.

Comment: When the agenda wasn’t posted on-line I (the guy the Roundup doesn't want to associate with us) went and looked at the agenda posted outside the door to the PSWID offices. Other than the basic monthly stuff, the only item on the agenda was to discuss the installation of a meter for a “specialty organization”. An interesting term. My guess is that it is code for either some entity that wants a free meter installation or a meter for a large volume water user. Why not just name who it is in the agenda instead of hiding it?

District Manager’s Status Report
The interim District Manager, Mr. Danny Stephens, sent an email to the PSWID mailing list (and it is now posted on the PSWID website: outlining status.

The following was addressed:
“We have begun staff transitioning. On Monday of this week, two human resource representatives were on site. In a presentation to staff we went over several items. We discussed how CH2M HILL began, some of our business philosophies, pay schedules, and benefit packages. An HR person will be on site again real soon to go over benefits in more detail. Most all employees have completed our required drug screen and are beginning to schedule physical exams. Our HR department is also putting together employment offer letters as well.

“We are in the 3rd week of the well test on the Milk Ranch well. Monday morning we increased flow to a pumping rate of 100 gpm and today the turbidity reading was 9.5 NTU and the sand concentration was 20 mg/l. We are seeing the same pattern as we did with lower pump rates. At the beginning of the rate change the numbers jump up and then begin to drop over time.

“The status of Strawberry Hollow 3 remains the same. The banks attorney is in the process of reviewing all of the documents. Once complete we should be able to close escrow.”

October Financials
The financial data can be found at: , then click on the Financial Data link that can be found under the PSWID logo.  There was a big infusion, $97,706.96, of property tax money this month which makes the financials look better.

Election Results
The election results numbers that I used in the last email were apparently not the final numbers. The overall outcome did not change, but the final numbers are:
Mr. Ron Calderon 846
Mr. Mike Claxton 871
Mr. Mike Greer 908
Mr. Howard Matthews 649
Mr. Marvin Mortensen 648
Writein 12

Posted the rain report for October. It can be found here:

This update is from the group Water For Pine Strawberry. We will provide an update after each of the PSWID meetings with a summary of what the board did, additional facts that are relevant to what went on, and some commentary. Updates on earlier meetings are available on our website: .

Water For Pine Strawberry is a group of residents who are concerned about the community’s water issues and how they can best be resolved. Visit our web site,, for more information. The website for PSWID is .

Clarifications can be submitted by anyone who is explicitly named, implicitly identifiable, or a board member to items in this update. Clarifications will be posted on our website. We reserve the right to post a response. Clarifications must deal with the topics discussed in the update that relate to the individual or the board. They must be in family friendly language and be non-abusive. When the clarification is accepted, it will be posted to the website and notice of that posting will be added to the next update.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Newspaper out of order for offering cartels a truce

I don’t concern myself much with affairs in Mexico.

I am aware that they have a drug cartel problem. I know it has resulted in some violence and has cut into tourism. But I pretty much believe in leaving the Mexicans to their own devices.

A recent Associated Press article changed all that. As it ran in The Arizona Republic, it was headlined: “Mexico newspaper seeks a truce with cartels.”

I read most anything with “newspaper” in the headline so I plunged in. In the article datelined Juarez, AP correspondent Olivia Torres reported that the largest newspaper in that border town, El Diario de Juarez, asked the warring drug cartels for a truce – not between the cartels, mind you, but between the cartels and the newspaper.

Seems the cartels are most likely responsible for the deaths of two of the paper’s journalists. The first, a crime reporter, was murdered outside his home in 2008. More recently, a photographer for the paper was gunned down and killed on his way to lunch.

To its credit, the newspaper criticized the government for not protecting the journalists, but a front page editorial by Diario’s editor Pedro Torres represents a complete abdication of its responsibilities as a newspaper:

“We ask you to explain what you want from us, what we should try to publish or not publish, so we know what to expect,” it asked the cartels. “We don’t want to continue to be used as cannon fodder in this war because we’re tired.”

Totally unacceptable. Because newspapers in Mexico, just like newspapers anywhere else in the world, have a sacred trust – to truthfully and thoroughly report the news and to serve as a watchdog in protecting the public from excesses by government, corporations, and, yes, drug cartels.

And it’s not just developing countries like Mexico where journalists lose their lives. Longtime Arizona residents remember the 1976 murder of Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles who was looking into political corruption and the convergence of big time mobsters in Phoenix. Lured to a downtown hotel to meet a source, he was blown up in his car and died days later.

I was living in Phoenix at the time and worked with Don Bolles’ wife. Nothing brings home a tragedy with more impact than listening to a widow talk about her dead husband and the children he left behind.

But Bolles knew that when you sign on in this business, it’s for the duration. Not until the going gets tough. Not until somebody gets killed. Not even until drug cartels are picking off your staff members one at a time.

Journalism is not supposed to be a business where you befriend those you are responsible for covering. It is not a business where you go fishing with the mayor.

I don’t mean to equate my experiences with those who lost their lives in Juarez. There is no comparison. But let me tell you about some people I have thoroughly ticked off in the process of doing my job to the best of my ability.

Former Payson Councilor Mike Vogel was so mad at me he told a mutual acquaintance that he would not attend a meeting if I was going to be there. It didn’t make me stop doing my job. In fact, it wasn’t long thereafter that I made it clear on the Gazette Blog that Vogel’s new position with the town lobbying businesses to come to Payson was most inappropriate given the thumping he took from the voters.

Back when he was town manager, Payson Councilor Fred Carpenter called me at the office and read me the riot act because he didn’t like the way I covered a story about the obscene salaries of top town officials.

Payson water guru Buzz Walker (I can’t keep track of his title changes) almost ripped the front door off the office when he came by to pay his respects after a less than flattering story I wrote.

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans wonders why I won’t sit down with him and let him provide a version of town government according to Kenny like he does with another local reporter.

Even former mayor Bob Edwards, for whom I have always had the utmost respect, was upset at one point during his tenure over my coverage of the Great Tower Well Heist by the Town of Payson.

While nobody has tried to kill me yet, I have received letters from lawyers, threats of lawsuits, and veiled threats of bodily harm. I am no hero, but I won’t back down when the integrity of my profession is at stake.

The Consort once asked me, half jokingly, if we should reinforce the bedroom wall exposed to the street with steel. Speaking of The Consort, serious, committed journalists view their profession the same as marriage – for better or worse.

Some occupations are more perilous than others. A guy who builds skyscrapers could plunge to his death.

A soldier defending his country in combat is in constant peril. So is a cop on the beat.

And journalists occasionally pay the price for the job they do. If you can’t live with it – if you aren’t prepared to see it through – don’t sign on.

Dangerous outlaw Willie Nelson arrested for pot

Photo of Willie Nelson courtesy Reader Supported News

Reader Supported News | Perspective

By Scott Galindez
Reader Supported News

In a major coup for the border patrol's war on drug smuggling on the Mexican border, authorities seized 6 ounces of marijuana and detained notorious pot-smoking outlaw Willie Nelson. Nelson was detained after a border patrol officer heroically boarded his tour bus after detecting a pungent scent in the air

US Border Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks said Nelson's tour bus was stopped at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas, at about 9 a.m. on Friday. He said an officer smelled pot when a door was opened and a search turned up 6 ounces of marijuana.

Brooks said Nelson was among three people arrested.

Nelson and his crew were reportedly on their way to Austin following a gig in California. The arrest did not take place on the border, but at a checkpoint well inside the United States.

When news of the arrest leaked to Twitter, tweeters were shocked and Nelson shot up to the top of the trending list.

Comedian John Fugelsang pointed out that while Willie Nelson was arrested in Texas for 6 ounces of cannabis, God, who produces it naturally across the globe, is still at large.

A popular retweet: "They arrested Willie Nelson for weed?!? That's like arresting Santa for breaking and entering."

Rock guitarist Slash tweeted: "All things considered, Willie Nelson should have a federal issue, no limit marijuana license. End of story."

However, others tweeted that they would be able to sleep better knowing that Nelson is off the streets.

It didn't take long for Sage Francis to start a new "hash" tag: #FreeWilly.

According to multiple media sources Nelson was released after posting bail in the amount of $2,500.

While I mixed in a little satire, the sad thing is that this is a true story. How many of you would have even looked for the pot? I think I would have told Willie to make sure the driver didn't get stoned, and to have a nice day. After I got his autograph of course.

(Reprinted with permission of Reader Supported News )
Payson woman who aided son's prison escape
pleads guilty, faces up to 30 months in jail

(Phoenix, Ariz. -- Nov. 24, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard announced today that Claudia Washburn, 68, of Payson, the mother of prison escapee John McCluskey, has pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court to hindering prosecution, a Class 5 felony.

As part of a plea agreement, Washburn admitted to providing money to McCluskey through a third party. She admitted she knew McCluskey had escaped from prison, and that the money would be used to help him flee from law enforcement. After receiving the money and other supplies from Washburn, the group of escapees fled to New Mexico where investigators believe they kidnapped and murdered James and Linda Haas during an attempt to steal their RV.

Washburn faces a sentence of between six months to two-and-a-half years in prison. She spent approximately two months in jail prior to the change of plea and was recently released to the care of her daughter, where she will remain pending sentencing. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 7 before Commissioner Steve Lynch.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Arizona scientists keep an eye on latest La Nina

Along with lower-than-average precipitation, higher-than-average temperatures are predicted to accompany La Niña into the spring, increasing the risk of wildfires in the Southwest. (Graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

By Bethany Conway
Arizona-Sonora News Service

(Wednesday, 24 November 2010) - An unwanted visitor has made her way to the border region, and it's not your irate aunt here to put a damper on the holidays.

Continuing this winter and into the spring, a moderate-to-strong La Niña is predicted to reign across most of the United States. This natural cycle, brought about by cooler temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has historically meant lower-than-average precipitation for the Southwest.

"The Pacific jet stream is weaker and it's pushed a little north, so the winter storms that form in the Pacific Ocean get pulled north of us and we are drier," said Zack Guido, associate staff scientist with Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), a program housed at the University of Arizona Institute for the Environment.

La Niña could mean bad news for parts of Arizona and northern Mexico, where most of the last 10 years have been dry, leaving water levels dangerously low.

In an effort to "improve the region's ability to respond sufficiently and appropriately to climatic events and climate changes," CLIMAS will debut the La Niña Drought Tracker the first week of December. The monthly online publication will provide information on current and future drought conditions to ranchers, water managers, wildlife managers and others who could be affected by La Niña's outcome.

"The major impact of the La Niña will likely be the expansion of drought," Guido said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the exacerbation of drought conditions will also put Southwest states at risk of having above-normal wildfire conditions in the coming months.

But just like any climate prediction, its occurrence and severity are a toss-up.

"It's a gamble because these are statistics, and it doesn't always hold," Guido said. "But by and large it holds, and it is less of a gamble in La Niña years than El Niño years."

El Niño, sometimes called La Niña's sibling rival, is characterized by warmer ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and generally brings more rain to the Southwest region. Data from the National Weather Service, a division of the NOAA, shows that the last time El Niño made its mark was from May 2009 through March 2010.

The National Weather Service has already reported that La Niña conditions across the tropical Pacific Ocean stayed strong during October and early November and are expected to hold through the end of the year.

The La Niña Drought Tracker will incorporate these climate signals as a way of informing people about future conditions. Data will come from large organization such as the National Weather Service, the Climate Predictions Center, Department of Agriculture and the National Integrated Drought Information Systems.

Climatologists in Arizona and members of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension Program will also contribute.

Dino DeSimone of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservancy Center in Phoenix will also put the publication to use.

As Arizona's water supply specialist, DeSimone focuses on streamflow forecasting. By monitoring stations and focal points around the state, using both manual snow surveys and automated snow telemetry, DeSimone helps water managers prepare for what La Niña might have in store.

"This helps people know what to expect in terms of runoff and total acre-feet (of water) to expect in the reservoirs," he said. "During these La Niña periods, you have the reservoirs drying up, and you have less water for irrigation so there definitely needs to be some planning ahead."

But not everyone is worried.

"(Forecasts) give you a good indication of what could happen, but I have seen exceptions to the rule," said Doug Mason, general manager of the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District. In his area of eastern Arizona, San Carlos Lake was nearly empty in January 2010, threatening fish and agriculture.

Across the state in Yuma, where farmers are well under way with the planting and harvesting of winter crops, John Boelts, president of the Yuma County Farm Bureau, said, "They predicted a La Niña last year, and we didn't get a La Niña at all."

Boelts said that in some ways Yuma farmers are actually counting on La Niña's arrival.

"We are kind of an oddity in agriculture because we have easier days without rain," he said, adding that the rains tend to foul up fields and result in unwanted frost. "Snowpack in the Colorado Rockies is what we rely on in the spring to refill the reservoir and the system."

Boelts said he hopes the northward swing of arctic storms will mean more snow over the Rockies, resulting in a higher streamflow come spring.

But that, too, is a gamble. Currently, the National Weather Service is predicting "equal chances of above-, near- or below-normal temperatures and precipitation" for the central United States.

"Some years the storm track can be way north and then the upper Colorado River Basin will also lose out," said Gregg Garfin, a UA climatologist. "Other years it will fly north of Arizona and hit Utah and Wyoming and Colorado and everything will be just fine. It is a little dicey to try to predict what will happen, but all of the water managers are kind of on the edge of their seats."

How this scenario plays out will have a major impact on the replenishment of reservoirs for irrigation and domestic water supply.

In the meantime, there is another factor for which farmers in Yuma and stakeholders all over the state should prepare – higher-than-average temperatures.

Regardless of what brings on the extreme heat – be it global warming or natural weather patterns – higher-than-average temperatures are predicted to be a major factor in the region's water supply.

"We are seeing, in the last 30 to 50 years, a pretty clear trend of increasing temperatures, and that will make the land drier in and of itself regardless of what precipitation does," Guido said.

And drier land not only increases the risk of fire but also can impact the survival of wildlife.

Less freestanding water and less forage growth can affect fawn survival among the endangered Sonoran pronghorn, said Duane Aubuchon of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Lack of forage and water can also impact ranchers who may need to invest in additional food sources for their herds.

Garfin said drier weather could even make it tough for migrants who sometimes depend on the same water catchment areas as wildlife.

For members of CLIMAS, the Drought Tracker is one example of increasing stakeholders' adaptive capacity and ability to cope with repeated weather events. Guido said CLIMAS will continue to release the two-page publication throughout the entirety of La Niña.

"We suspect that, in the beginning, it won't be as impactful because the drought impact hasn't intensified," Guido said. "But let's pretend that in February we have had three consecutive months of very dry conditions."

That's when the publication could be extremely useful, he added.

"We are hoping that drought conditions don't get too severe, but we want to be prepared in case they are," he said.

Tips for protecting yourself from holiday scams

(Phoenix, Ariz. - Nov. 24, 2010) With “Black Friday,” the first big day of the holiday shopping season coming Friday, Nov. 26, followed by “Cyber Monday” on Monday, Nov. 29, Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced that his Office has launched a special holiday web page: The page provides answers to common questions about holiday shopping, charitable giving and other consumer problems during the holidays.

“With tight budgets for most Arizona families, it is especially important to be alert for scams and other consumer pitfalls this Holiday Season,” Goddard said.

The site includes a list of resources for holiday scam prevention, such as tips to prevent identity theft, tools to research charitable donations and how to ensure gifts are safe for those who receive them. Additional shopping tips and alerts will be posted on the site each week throughout the Holiday Season.

Attorney General's Top Five Tips for Preventing Holiday Rip-Offs

(1) Bring ads for sales and “special deals” with you to the store: Be sure the advertised or posted price matches the scanned price and check the receipt before leaving the store.

(2) Understand the new rules for gift cards: New rules state that gift card service fees cannot be charged until the card has been inactive for 12 months and cannot expire until at least five years after the date of purchase. Read the terms and conditions carefully.

(3) Do online shopping at secure websites: Identify secure websites by looking for web addresses that begin with “https,” and display a padlock or an SSL certificate at the bottom of the page. Use a credit card instead of a debt card.

(4) Watch out for restocking fees: Prior to purchase, ask the store if they will charge a restocking fee for the item if it is returned.

(5) Save all receipts, warranties and service agreements: Request warranties and service contracts in writing, and save receipts from all holiday season purchases.

For more information on these and other holiday shopping tips, visit Attorney General Goddard’s holiday consumer web page:

During or after the holiday season, if you believe you have been a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at 602.542.5763; in Tucson at 520.628.6504; or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site, Consumers can also file complaints online by visiting

Thursday, November 25, 2010


'Small Business Saturday' counters 'Big Box Friday'

PHOENIX, Ariz., Nov. 23, 2010 – Farrell Quinlan, Arizona state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said ‘Small Business Saturday,’ coming up Nov. 27, would help focus attention on the heart and soul of the state’s economy.

“You’re going to hear a lot about people getting up early the morning after Thanksgiving and lining up outside the big chain stores, but small business is really what drives our economy and keeps it healthy,” Quinlan said.

“Small businesses account for 97 percent of all employers in the state, and they employ 49 percent of the state’s private-sector workforce,” he said, citing figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Hopefully, once shoppers finish with the chain stores, they’ll shop at small, locally-owned businesses,” Quinlan said. “They’ll find things they won’t find anyplace else, and they’ll help the local economy.

“I also hope that people will remember our small businesses after ‘Small Business Saturday’ is over. We have a tremendous opportunity with the new Congress to pass legislation that fixes the deeply flawed federal healthcare reform law, reduces regulations, lowers taxes, and helps small businesses grow and create the jobs that’ll lead us out of this recession.”

NFIB/Arizona is the state’s leading small business association with 7,500 member businesses.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Right wing group releases 'Naughty and Nice' list

(Editor's note: Some stories we just can't pass up. We thought you'd enjoy this one from an extreme right wing group. And no, we won't be publishing their "Naughty and Nice" list.  Wonder where they stand on freedom of speech?  Ho, ho, ho and a Merry Christmas to all.  Hopefully we are now on the nice list.)

Orlando, FL - Liberty Counsel is continuing its eighth annual "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," pledging to be a "Friend" to those entities that recognize Christmas and a "Foe" to the Christmas censors. Liberty Counsel is also releasing an updated "Naughty and Nice" list, which catalogs retailers who either censor ("naughty") or recognize ("nice") Christmas. The list is compiled from information gathered by consumers and is updated whenever new information is received.

Liberty Counsel encourages shoppers to print out the list and use it to decide which stores to patronize during the Christmas shopping season. The list has been very influential in motivating retailers to acknowledge Christmas. So far this year, Best Buy has embraced Christmas and switched to the nice list, and Dick's Sporting Goods has promised to change and include Christmas in their advertising.

Liberty Counsel was the first organization to launch the "Naughty and Nice" list a number of years ago and since then other organizations have promoted similar programs. The results have been amazing. Major retailers like Wal-Mart moved from the "naughty" side of the list to the "nice" side. There was a time when Wal-Mart sold only "Holiday Trees," not Christmas Trees and when Wal-Mart employees were forbidden from returning the greeting "Merry Christmas" to customers who initiated the greeting. But Wal-Mart, like many other retailers, has changed and now openly acknowledges Christmas.

Liberty Counsel encourages consumers to report the naughty and the nice by sending an email to Liberty Counsel also encourages shoppers to compliment the nice stores and tell the naughty ones that you will shop elsewhere,

Liberty Counsel also offers a Christmas Action Pack, which includes educational legal memoranda to inform government officials, teachers, parents, students, employees and others that it is legal to celebrate Christmas. Liberty Counsel has handled numerous situations restoring Christmas to schools, events and even a nursing home.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, remarked: "Consumers can have a big impact this year by choosing to shop at stores that acknowledge Christmas. Retailers that profit from Christmas while pretending it does not exist will find that consumers will shop elsewhere."

NRA dues among Clean Elections misspending


Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Some of the 107 candidates who received public money to run for state Legislature this year bought computers, cameras, and printers that are theirs to keep, and paid relatives as campaign workers and consultants, a Cronkite News Service review found.

Reports accounting for the $3.2 million legislative candidates received from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission also included $60 for National Rifle Association dues, $650 to have mariachis perform and $229.87 for a “post-debate discussion” with campaign staffers at T.G.I. Friday’s.

Publicly financed candidates are required to justify campaign expenses as legitimate. But there’s little within the rules established by the Clean Elections Commission, which oversees the program, dictating what is and isn’t an acceptable expenditure.

“You think about it being done largely to afford advertisements and signs, things that are specific to a campaign, not things you’d use for the rest of your life necessarily,” said David Berman, a research fellow at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

“I think we need some parameters on this,” he said. “People would be free to buy snowmobiles and canine outfits the way the law is written – whatever comes to their mind.”

Todd Lang, executive director of the Clean Elections Commission, said the commission doesn’t subscribe to the philosophy of micromanaging campaigns. But he said there is a tension between not wanting to interfere and keeping in mind that candidates are spending public money.

“There are occasions when people buy something we would not prefer, but ultimately it’s up to the campaigns,” he said.

Arizona voters created the public financing system by narrowly approving a referendum in 1998. The proposal followed AzScam, a pay-to-play sting that led to 10 percent of the Legislature resigning.

The bulk of the money comes from a surcharge on civil and criminal penalties, while residents also can designate money toward the system on their tax returns. To qualify for Clean Elections money, legislative candidates must collect 220 contributions of $5 to demonstrate a modicum of support.

Clean Elections candidates received $14,319 or $21, 479 for primary campaigns and, if they moved on, another $21,479 or $14,319 depending on whether they requested the higher amount for the primary. In return for that money, they had to forgo contributions from political action committees, businesses, unions and political parties and had to participate in candidate forums.

The Cronkite News Service review focused on reports candidates filed before and after the August primary election and before the Nov. 2 general election. Final campaign finance reports are due to the Secretary of State’s Office by Dec. 2.

At least 11 legislative candidates used Clean Elections money to buy computers within an $800 limit on purchases of fixed assets. Some bought cameras and printers. Current rules allow them to keep that equipment.

Clean Elections Commission rules require candidates to account for any fixed asset purchases worth $300 or more.

Michelle Ugenti, a Republican who won election to a state House the seat representing Fountain Hills, Rio Verde and most of Scottsdale, bought her campaign a laptop when she visited a Best Buy on Aug. 30, recording purchases of $706.38 and $217.89 in her campaign finance reports.

“In my case, my computer crashed, with everything on it,” she said in a telephone interview. “I was simply following the rules laid out by Clean Elections, like I’ve done since I started.”

Catherine H. Miranda, a Democrat who won election to a House seat representing downtown and south Phoenix as well as Guadalupe, reported spending $796.80 Sept. 22 on an iPad.

Cronkite News Service made several attempts to get comment from Miranda but was unable to do so.

Nick Dranias, director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, which is challenging a key provision of Clean Elections before the U.S. Supreme Court, called such purchases unintended consequences of a well-meaning but flawed system.

“Bottom line is, when you give people free money they abuse that,” he said. “Especially if you give it to them thinking the best of people in a sort of naive way.”

Lang said he and the five members of the commission, a nonpartisan body made up of people from different parties and counties, are aware of the perception that is created when candidates are able to buy electronics and other expensive items with public money and keep them even after their campaigns are over.

The commission has proposed rules, up for consideration at its Dec. 2 meeting, that would require candidates to turn in computers and other fixed assets, such as laptops, cameras and printers, after an election if they are worth more than $200. Candidates would have the option of buying the items back for 75 percent of the retail price; otherwise, the items would go to state surplus.

“Ultimately we decided the benefit here is for the campaigns to have the money to spend,” Lang said. “Why not have them turn in the big-ticket items at the end of the campaign so there’s no concern, no issue?”

Asked whether she thought the proposed change was a good idea, Ugenti said she would absolutely comply.

“If that’s what they choose,” she said. “I follow the rules very strictly.”

Jeff Dial, a Republican who reported spending $792.24 on a laptop during his successful run for a House seat representing Ahwatukee, Tempe and west Chandler, said he’d be happy to turn in fixed assets if the commission requires it.

“That would be a good rule change. I think we have to look out for the taxpayers’ dollars,” he said.

Six Clean Elections candidates confirmed paying relatives to canvass, install and take down signs and serve as consultants. Twice that number reported payments to people with the same last name, but the others didn’t respond to repeated interview requests made over a period of weeks.

Victor Jett Contreras, a publicly funded Democrat who lost a primary bid for state Senate in Miranda’s district, paid his parents, Victor and Sandy, $660 each to knock on doors. He noted that his father has been out of work for two years.

“Would he have done if for free? Possibly,” he said. “But I’m paying other people. Why can’t I pay my own father?”

Contreras said he paid canvassers between $10 and $15 per hour, depending on their experience.

“Canvassing is not fun stuff,” he said. “Knocking on doors the last few days are hell.”

Clean Elections Commission rules leave it up to candidates to decide how much to pay for various services; however, Lang said candidates are expected to pay the market rate.

Sue Dolphin, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat representing much of the northwest Valley, paid her husband, Bill Dolphin, $500 to install her signs.

“A lot of times family members do a lot better job than outside vendors,” she said. “My husband did a very good job. I know he was someone I could trust to do it correctly.”

Rebecca Rios, a Democrat who lost a bid for re-election to a Senate seat representing much of Pinal County as well as parts of Maricopa and Gila counties, paid her father and brother, both named Pete Rios, $725 for one to install her signs and $500 for the other to do poll work. The elder Pete Rios is a former state legislator and currently serves on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

She said paying family members is a way of stretching her campaign money. As for compensating her family members rather than asking them to help free of charge, Rios said she was using the system in the fairest way possible.

“I could have easily had my family put up the signs and repair the signs and not reported that, but I think that is more disingenuous because you’re receiving a lot of help you’re not then reporting,” she said.

Ray Cullison II, an unsuccessful GOP primary candidate from Kingman, paid his son $400 to tear down signs after the primary.

“Basically I was reimbursing him for his fuel cost and meals. I have no problems hiring anybody for what needed to be done,” he said.

Democratic Sen. Manuel V. Alvarez, who lost his re-election bid, said living in the small Cochise County town of Elfrida made hiring his family the easiest option. He paid three relatives a total of $2,759.99 to install signs, work on advertisements and consult.

“In a town of 300, where are you going to find people to work for you and your campaign?” he asked.

Bill Mahrer, of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian civil liberties law firm based in Washington, D.C., pointed out that relatives could be knowledgeable about campaigns and hard workers. Still, he said, “If [voters] believe you’re using it as a system of nepotism or simply as a means to hire your relatives, it’s going to be more difficult next time around.”

Lang, of the Clean Elections Commission said it’s well within the rules for candidates to hire family members; however, he said he was aware of the appearance it creates.

“It’s a tough one. It just looks bad,” he said.

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, used $60 of Clean Elections money to pay his National Rifle Association dues. He initially told Cronkite News Service that the Clean Elections Commission had deemed that a legitimate expense but later called back to say he was in error and would reimburse the commission.

Among other miscellaneous expenses in the reports: Catherine H. Miranda paid $650 for mariachis for a Sept. 4 event; Eric Carbajal-Bustamante, a Tucson Democrat who lost in the primary, reported spending $385.59 on office supplies at IKEA, a furniture and furnishings store; and Ken Smalley, a Tucson Republican who lost in the general election, reported spending $229.87 on a “post-debate discussion” with staff members at T.G.I. Friday’s.

“This is small stuff, talking about me taking the campaign staff out,” Smalley said. “Did you know you can spend up to $800 on equipment?”

Smalley’s campaign finance reports also noted that he spent $403.66 on a printer at OfficeMax.

Carbajal-Bustamante didn’t respond to repeated phone messages.

Berman, with the Morrison Institute, said the laws need to be more specific in order to make the best use of the public’s money.

“These are questionable kinds of things,” he said. “You might want to rework the law to make sure the public is being best served with the use of their money.”

But Dranias of the Goldwater Institute said that more regulation isn’t the solution.

“They say we can fix that, but the problem is the fix,” he said. “You can’t hammer down on fraud in a political system the same way you can outside of it because of the fact you’re controlling campaigns.”

In interviews, the candidates noted that public financing is valuable because it allowed them to compete.

“I think it’s a way for candidates, like myself, grass-roots candidates, citizen candidates, to have an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have,” Michelle Ugenti said.

Candidates who purchased computers:
Cronkite News confirmed computer purchases through campaign finance reports or interviews with candidates. Some candidates who listed amounts paid to stores that offer computers as “miscellaneous” expenses didn’t return calls seeking comment:
– Gene Chewning, Independent, State Rep. District 27, Tucson
– Don Chilton, Democrat, State Rep. District 7, Cave Creek
– Robert Compton, Republican, State Rep. District 27, Tucson
– Caroline Condit, Republican, State Rep. District 15, Phoenix
– Victor Jett Contreras, Democrat, State Sen. District 16, Phoenix
– Chester Crandell, Republican, State Rep. District 5, Heber
– Jeff Dial, Republican, State Rep. District 20, Chandler
– Karina Guerrero, Democrat, State Rep. District 4, Phoenix
– Catherine Miranda, Democrat, State Rep. District 16, Phoenix
– Michelle Ugenti, Republican, State Rep. District 8, Scottsdale
– Rae Waters, Democrat, State Rep. District 20, Phoenix

Clean Elections Commission returns $20 million to state

By Cronkite News Service

One thing the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and the Goldwater Institute can agree on: Any extra money the commission returns to the state’s ailing general fund is a good thing.

The commission is budgeted to return $20 million to the state, Todd Lang, its executive director, said in mid-November.

“Obviously, we’re trying to be as aggressive as possible, given the state’s financial situation,” he said. “And that $20 million wouldn’t be there if Clean Elections wasn’t the law.”

When asked in October about the potential for any leftover money to be given to the state, Nick Dranias, director of the Center for the Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute, said, “Even though that’s not going to fix any budget problems by itself, every little bit helps.”

Clean Elections matching-funds case before U.S. Supreme Court

By Cronkite News Service

The U.S. Supreme Court was set to decide whether it will hear arguments regarding a case challenging a matching-funds provisions of Arizona’s Clean Elections system of publicly financed campaigns.

Last June, the court put an injunction on matching funds in Arizona for this election cycle, which political observers said may have altered outcomes in statewide races, most notably the Democratic and Republican attorney general primaries, which pitted one privately and one publicly financed candidate against each other.

Matching funds are designed to level the playing field by triggering money to publicly financed candidates when their privately financed opponents outspend their initial Clean Elections disbursement.

In McComish v. Bennett, the Goldwater Institute challenged matching funds on the basis that they infringe on a privately financed candidate’s First Amendment rights by suppressing speech.

“They punish people for exercising their First Amendment right to spend money supporting the things they believe in and projecting their ideas to the public,” said Nick Dranias, director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.

A U.S. Superior Court judge agreed with that argument in January, but in May the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Clean Elections law.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Medical marijuana group forms new association

PHOENIX (November 23, 2010) – Supporters of Arizona’s citizen initiative approving the dispensing and use of medical marijuana are banding together on a permanent basis in order to protect the interests of patients, medical professionals, and the general public.

Medical professionals, attorneys, and prospective dispensary operators are joining with leaders of the successful campaign to form the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association.

Andrew Myers, campaign manager of the successful Yes on 203 campaign, said “The passage of Prop 203 is just the beginning. Now that the voters have spoken, it is the responsibility of all to carry out their will. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Association will be committed to do its part in meeting the needs of patients through strict adherence to the laws of Arizona and the highest level of standards.”

Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which will permit the dispensing and use of marijuana by patients with their doctor’s recommendation. Arizona becomes the 15th state in the nation to adopt a medical marijuana law, and the only state in the nation in which a medical marijuana ballot measure has been approved by the voters on three different occasions.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has begun the task of developing rules for the implementation of Prop 203, including detailed provisions regarding the licensing of dispensaries and issues of ID cards to patients who have obtained medical marijuana recommendations from their doctors.

Joe Yuhas, consultant to the successful campaign, said, “We have great faith in DHS Director Will Humble and his staff. The priority of the AzMMA at this early stage is to assist and support the agency in any way possible as it develops and implements the rules necessary to insure that the provisions of Prop 203 are carried out and the interest of the public is protected.”

Yuhas indicated that the association will support the establishment of program rules that, among others, will set strong standards for dispensary applications, a clear definition of the doctor-patient relationship, and a process that tracks the production of medical marijuana from cultivation to dispensing in order to eliminate any product diversion. “Given the limited number of dispensaries called for in the initiative, there is simply no reason why Arizona cannot have the highest of standards, and as a result, the best medical marijuana program in the country. Our goal needs to be to prove even the skeptics wrong, and that the program meets patient needs,” Yuhas said.

Association membership will include dispensary operators, physicians, attorneys, and businesses that will provide goods and services to medical marijuana dispensaries.

In the coming weeks, the AzMMA will evolve as a non-for-profit statewide professional association governed by a Board of Directors. AzMMA Founding Members are providing the early-stage funding for the association that will allow it to retain professional staff as well as legal and public affairs consultants.

AzMMA members will be expected to adhere to a code of conduct and ethical standards that will not only meet those called for in the initiative and the DHS rules, but more stringent provisions that association members will voluntarily impose on themselves.

Among its objectives, the AzMMA will seek to expand the knowledge and awareness of medical marijuana and operations of dispensaries among policymakers, the media, and general public, and contribute to the ability of its members to meet patient needs through education, training, legal compliance, and dispensary operations programs. The AzMMA will also serve to protect patient and physician rights.

Those interested in learning more about the AzMMA and keeping informed as the new association evolves can visit its website,

New rules promote nutrition, physical activity

Carson eats a bagel at a child care program offered by the YMCA in Avondale. New rules from the Arizona Department of Health Services promote physical activity and nutrition, including requiring a meal served family style that allows children to choose their own portions. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Maria Polletta)

Cronkite News Service

AVONDALE – After the YMCA’s morning class wraps up an outdoor dance workout with a guest instructor, director Sandra Salcedo tells the bouncy group of 3- and 4-year-olds it’s time to go inside.

“Aw man, I thought we were gonna get to play some more!” says Logan, a blond-haired, blue-eyed four-year-old. His plaid button-down, neatly tucked in just a half hour before, is now hanging near his knees after dancing to “YMCA,” “Cha Cha Slide” and “Kung Fu Fighting.”

Provisions encouraging at least an hour of physical activity per day are part of a revamped set of state rules for child care centers that went into effect Sept. 30. The rules, designed by the Arizona Department of Health Services with help from child care providers, aim to promote health and fitness and include provisions regarding family-style meals, limits on computer and television time and specifications for serving milk, juice and water.

Centers can get a big break on state licensing fees, which shot up early this year, by following state recommendations on nutrition and physical activity.

Most rules were easy to implement and welcome, said Chasidy Gray, regional executive director of child care for the Valley of the Sun YMCA.

“These preschoolers have so much energy, we can have several half-hour increments of physical activity disguised as playtime and they don’t even know they’re exercising,” she said. “Fun activities help incorporate [the exercise rule] smoothly.”

Parents have also embraced the emphasis on health and exercise, Gray said, with some volunteering to come in and talk to kids about healthy eating and the food groups.

The one rule instructors have struggled to implement is the family-style meal, which typically entails passing around serving plates and allowing children to determine their own portions.

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the old practice of a worker dishing out the same amount of food for everyone while kids are on the playground was faster and easier, but the children didn’t get anything out of lunchtime.

Now children “are learning portion control, motor skills … even conversation because something is actually happening at the lunch table other than, ‘Here, sit down,’” he said.

Humble acknowledged that the new rules created scheduling difficulties for some caregivers, a transition the department tried to ease by offering training sessions and videos.

“They’ve had to look at their schedule and say, ‘I’m required to do this type of meal, this amount of physical activity … I need to cut movie time and use that time somewhere else,’” he said. “It’s about juggling the day so they can accomplish what we’re asking them to do.”

Many of the rules were developed using the Empower Pack, a group of 10 wellness initiatives, as a guide. The Empower Pack was created by state health officials to help child care centers after the state dramatically raised center-licensing fees following agency-wide budget cuts. The fees, which for decades had been $150 per center every three years, shot up to from $1,000 to $7,800 a year as of Jan. 1.

Centers that adopted all 10 of the pack’s initiatives qualified for a 50 percent discount on licensing fees, covered by federal Title V funds as well as a tax on tobacco, according to Laura Oxley, communications director for the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Since five of the Empower Pack initiatives are now mandatory, the department plans to create an “Empower Pack 2.0″ with provisions focusing on goals such as sun safety.

In the meantime, the department will continue to survey child care centers to evaluate the effectiveness of the new rules.

“Sometimes when there’s change, people get nervous or think, ‘Oh, no,’ when change is good,” Gray said. “This was a blessing in disguise for all centers.”

Overview of revamped rules:
– Limit TV or computer screen time to less than one hour a day.
- Serve 1 percent low-fat or fat-free milk for all children over 2.
- Serve only 100 percent fruit juice and limit kids to 4 to 6 ounces a day.
- Serve meals family-style.
-Offer water at least four times a day.
– Encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
Source: Arizona Department of Health Services

Pete Pancrazi performs holiday jazz Dec. 12

Courtesy photo of Pete Pancrazi.

Schedule released for first part of 2011

Jazz Guitarist Pete Pancrazi, who is appearing in Payson on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 12, is not exactly a household name when it comes to jazz legends, but the Valley musician is extremely well known in the jazz community.

Downbeat magazine has called him "the one to watch," and a guitar player "deserving greater attention," while "AzJazz" magazine named him "Jazz Guitar Player of the Year."

Pancrazi is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music in Boston. While there, he received their Performer/Songwriter Award four times, and was a two-time winner of their Songwriter Competition.

And while he may not be that well known nationally, Pancrazi has cultivated a large and loyal following among Arizona jazz fans. Audiences enjoy his nimble guitar work and warm vocals, especially in such settings as The Scottsdale Borgotta, Eureka Grill, Rare Earth Pizza, Elevate Coffee Co., Roka Akor, and the Tempe Market Place, engagements all within the last month or so. He's a regular that the Desert Botanical Gardens jazz series.

Pancrazi's repertoire includes original compositions, alongside straight-ahead and Latin jazz standards, the focus of the Sunday performance - but with a holiday touch.

The Dec. 12 performance will be at Payson Community Presbyterian Church, 800 West Main street, starting at 12:30 pm and ending at 2 pm. Those who come early are invited to enjoy a light holiday lunch and treats refreshment buffet starting at about 11:30 p.m. A donation exceeding $5 for each person is requested at the door.

While the Community Presbyterian Church opens it's doors for the monthly jazz performances held at the church, the event is conducted by community volunteers who call themselves the "Payson Friends of Jazz." They want to stress that the performance is open to everyone in Rim Country.

Seating is limited to about 200 (Chistmas decorations are taking up the space for additional chairs), so it is highly recommendated that those who plan to attend send an e-mail to Gerry Reynolds at For more information, he may be reached by calling 602-619-3355.

Friends of Jazz 2011 Schedule Part I

The schedule for the first part of 2011 will include:
Jan 9 - Doctor JazzMan, a six piece New Orleans style band
Feb 13 - piano vocalist Mark DeCozio singing love ballads as a prelude to Valentine's Day ( a trio)
Mar 13 - vocalist Renee Patrick with guest pianist Judy Roberts performing jazz standards (a quartet)
April 10 - Trumpeter Ken Taylor playing early jazz standards (a quartet)
May 8 - A Mother's Day special featuring piano vocalist Judy Roberts with vocalist Renee Patrick (a quartet)
June 12th - Vocalist Sherry Petta, guest Johnny Carrrasco on guitar with a rhythm section

Monday, November 22, 2010

MoJoe's Cafe expands, adds more entertainment


Tuesday evenings
from 6-8pm
"Karaoke & Open Mic Night"
Moderated by: Joe & Katherine Miracle
Join in the Karaoke with country, oldies, traditional, kids songs - you name it, they have it or bring your guitar & sing a song, open mic includes poetry and comedy also.

Dinner available

Friday evenings
from 5:30-8:30pm
"The Starlighters"
Playing All Your Favorites From The Great American Song Book

Dinner available

MoJoe's Cafe has re-decorated & now encompasses an entire 1,700 square feet with comfortable booths and a garden decor. Open for private parties, meetings and special occasions. Located right in the heart of Main Street, across from the Payson Senior Center Thrift Store.

Coming soon: Buffet family style dining.

For more information, please contact MoJoe's Cafe at (928) 478-8828.

Ranters yet to discover holiday spirit

Editor’s note: Each week we print a selection of anonymous rants and raves submitted by our readers. Keep them under 250 words, free of profanity and personal attacks, and have at it. You need not sign your submission, which you may e-mail to or mail to Gazette Editor, 7736 N. Toya Vista Road, Payson, AZ 85541. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Gazette staff.

And don’t forget to visit BY THE PEOPLE. Just click on the right. You can leave your comments on any subject there as well.
KMOG has done it again.

KMOG talk show format change draws ire

New rules for the morning talk show: Listeners are allowed to call in only one time per day, and they can only call in three times per week.

One of the regular listeners called in saying they did it because of her but they babbled "Oh no, not at all!"

She thought it was because of her, I thought it was because of her, I think most listeners thought it was about her.

But the point is, they have found another way to silence the people. The forum will no longer be open for discussion. If you call in, just remember to schedule it on a day they have someone scheduled you would like to talk to.

Yeah, right. Since when do they even get their scheduling right? Remember the day Jinx Pyle walked out because he had been waiting in the lobby for 45 minutes? (He was scheduled on the half hour I believe, but Ken Brooks didn't notice him waiting in the lobby even though the lobby is clearly visible to anyone who is on-air.


Is Gordie being groomed for mayor?

Who is it going to be? Who is being groomed to run for Mayor of Payson? Will it be (retired Payson police chief) Gordie Gartner? When I say "groomed" I mean the person having meetings in a back room with the current mayor. Someone who will follow along in the footsteps of (Mayor) King Kenny (Evans), like the council does now. Even if they want to vote NO, they will vote yes because the King says to follow him.

Anyone out there have any info or opinions?

(Editor’s note: This editor has it on good authority that Councilor Michael Hughes is being carefully and meticulously groomed for the job. Which, of course, puts a realtor back in control and begs all those old questions about conflicts of interest.)


Holiday shopping sparse in the Rim Country

As we approach another holiday season, I once again lament the lack of shopping options in the Rim Country. Sorry folks, but I will not be buying gifts at Wal-Mart this year. With the local economy hurting like it is, it’s too bad we have to spend our money in the Valley or online. Having said that, we do need to remember the few local business we do have. A bottle of wine or a piece of art makes a wonderful gift.


'Wassila Chunker' dances on

The Wassila Chunker (aka “Teen Activist” Bristol Palin) dances on thanks to votes cast by Tea Party folks. If they can’t even cast honest votes for the best dancer on “Dancing With the Stars,” just how thoroughly dishonest are these folks? They continue to make up their own reality as they go, and that I find very frightening.


A few too many Happy Meals

Glad to see so many readers disappointed with this season’s edition of “Dancing With the Stars” – the top rated show on TV. Now Brandy is gone. If Bristol Palin wins everything what a testimonial it will be for removing toys from Happy Meals. She sure looks she has had a few too many.


Tea Party seems to be getting off message

Will someone please explain the "Tea Party" to me? I always thought it was a group of people unhappy with the status quo and against both the Democratic and Republican party. But now it seems Sarah Palin is head of the Tea Party? Can anyone explain what is going on? Is she going to run for president on a Tea Party ticket?

Local photographer Gerri Levine wins again

Photo by Gerri Levine
This photo of  hummingbirds competing for a spot on the feeder took first place in the 2010 National Wildlife Federation competition.

Gerri Levine of Payson has won first place in the 2010 National Wildlife Federation photography contest. Her photo of feeding hummingbirds competing for a spot on the feeder took the prize in the Backyard Habitat category.

There were 50,000 entries in this year’s contest and her photo survived three rounds of judging. The photo is published in the Dec/Jan 2011 issue of the National Wildlife magazine and is on their website. A generous award was given as well.

You can see all the winners here:

Levine's latest award followed closely her third place overall finish (first place in the People category) in the 2010 Arizona Highways photo contest. Her image of a Powwow dancer was published in the Sept 2010 issue of Arizona Highways.

Gerri was invited to join the Artists of the Rim Fine Art Gallery at 408 W. Main S and has become their newest member. You can see her work displayed there and you are invited to their Holiday Show and Sale on Friday, Dec. 3, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. and Sat, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Visit Gerri Levine's website at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time for a new commandment mandating brevity

Every now and then I get the urge to lobby for an addition to the original 10 Commandments.

For the most part, they still work pretty well. Even though we’ve had a whole lot of changes in this world since Moses originally got them.

Adultery is still adultery. Killing is still killing. Lying is still lying.

Speaking of lying, one of the things that has to tick off the Big Guy is how people spread crap over the Internet. Especially about President Obama. He being an equal opportunity God and all.

And there it is in black and white, no pun intended: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

I guess you could argue that Obama is not your neighbor so therefore he doesn’t count. Not sure God would buy that one though. Have to give him a little more credit than that.

Anyway, the 10 Commandments are remarkably comprehensive and have certainly stood the test of time. Not that they do much good.

I mean we still routinely violate them. Or most of us do. At least some of the Commandments some of the time. I think Abe Lincoln said that.

And we interpret them to mean what we want them to mean. Somehow killing in the name of patriotism we don’t count as murder. Have to wonder if God feels the same way.

But I digress.

My point in bringing the Commandments up in the first place is that I think we now need to add an 11th. It’s not a conclusion I reached lightly because, after all, who are we to mess with God’s Word.

But how could he know the depths of depravity to which the human mind could sink given a few centuries of evolution. We have been working our way up from monkeys, you know.

So it’s not all that surprising that a heinous practice has arisen that God, in all his infinite wisdom, could not forecast. Therefore somebody needs to step in and give the Big Guy a helping hand.

Since I have a column with some 17 or 18 readers, and because I have always loved to play king (even more than cowboy), I am willing to take on that heavy burden. I therefore propose for your consideration and for the consideration of all appropriate higher powers an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not go long.

It’s important to understand that going long is not always bad. For example, going long in football and baseball are good things. Going long in hot dogs gets a thumbs up also. And when you travel, going long is a lot more adventurous than going short.

But it seems to me that it has become human nature to take the long way out whenever possible – especially if it serves the purpose of enhancing one’s own ego.

I have noticed this growing trend for a long time but was reminded just last week while watching “8 ½,” the Academy Award-winning 1963 Federico Fillino film starring Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale. It’s a great film, a classic, but at two hours 20 minutes it’s about 20 minutes too long in my humble opinion. I think those 20 minutes could have been lopped off without hurting the film a bit.

And most movies suffer from the same problem. When it comes to movies, I am a 90-minute guy. After 90 minutes I start to twitch. After two hours I can get downright uncomfortable. And the 90-minute rule holds true no matter how great the movie.

In most cases, I believe bigger is better. I am a big fan of huge restaurant portions. I much prefer large dogs to small ones.

But when it comes to things that consume my time, I would rather get in and out and be done with it. And it’s not just movies.

It seems like we live in the era of the superego where so many of us can’t refuse the temptation to make something longer than it needs to be. There is a particular reporter in town whose stuff is much longer than it needs to be.

I have the same tendency, and that’s where an editor is invaluable. Take this column for instance.

If I don’t stop soon, Editor Matt Brabb is going to hunt me down and extract the excess words like a sadistic dentist. So let me wrap this up.

We, as the human race, have developed a nasty habit of making things longer than they need to be just because we can’t control ourselves. Precious minutes are being wasted, minutes that translate into hours, days and eventually entire lifetimes.

Therefore I beseech the Big Guy to consider an 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not go long.”

If he (or she) needs somebody to go up the mountain and get the new stone tablets, I recommend my movie-watching buddies who could do it on their tandem bicycle. If, on the other hand, God is computer literate like the rest of us, he could just send me an e-mail.

I’ll let you all know when the 11th Commandment takes effect.

'La Tortilla Loca' tortilla warmers hot, not crazy

Richard Rubin uses a silkscreen process to transfer the La Tortilla Loca logo onto pieces of fabric. Rubin invented the product, and his wife co-owns the company. (Photo by Marisa Gerber/ASNS)

By Marisa Gerber/Arizona-Sonora News Service

While Richard Rubin and Roberto Klosek ran the printing press, their wives, Imelda and Susan, took to the sewing machines and added final touches to the tortilla warmers.

Although Rubin invented the product, and the men sometimes help out, the women technically own the Rio Rico-based business called “La Tortilla Loca.”

“We just employ the husbands so we can keep an eye on them,” Susan Klosek said, laughing.

Klosek, smiling widely, compared her work to making a sandwich.

First, she picked up a square piece of red and white checkered fabric, then a half-inch-thick piece of insulation material. Next came a piece of plastic that looks like the see-through sheets teachers flop onto overhead projectors, and lastly another piece of fabric.

“Then, I sew the sandwich together,” said Klosek, who was wearing bejeweled cowboy boots.

A few feet to Klosek’s left, the twinkle in 41-year-old Rubin’s eyes turned into a squint as she honed her focus and sewed on a thin red bias, giving the Frisbee-sized warmer its final finesse.

La Tortilla Loca’s circular warmers tout various designs on the front and a chart with microwave heating instructions on the back. The chart explains that it takes 2.5 minutes to heat a dozen corn tortillas.

The Rubins moved from Long Beach, Calif., to Rio Rico in 1995, when Richard and Roberto entered into their first business foray together.

Aside from the their ties at La Tortilla Loca LLC, the men also co-own Javid LLC, a maquildora management company that helps business get set up in Mexico.

La Tortilla Loca LLC started in the Rubins’ garage in 2000, but Imelda Rubin said that, throughout the decade, it took over various other parts of their home, including the living room and studio.

With a newfound emphasis on expansion, the business made its way out of the Rubin’s home and into a production building in July.

Now, a bright red sign welcomes visitors to the new location on one of Rio Rico’s main commerce strips, West Frontage Road.

Imelda Rubin said the warmers sell for $7 at the shop and about $15, including shipping, if ordered online. She added that there’s a discounted price for ordering more than one.

She said the company hopes to thrust into the retail market soon and see its warmers on Wal-Mart shelves.

A few small places – a kitchen shop in Tubac called Tumacookery and a restaurant called Old Town Mexican Café in San Diego – already sell them.

Herb Lizalde, who co-owns the San Diego restaurant, said he heard about the product by word of mouth years ago and thinks it’s great. He said his business orders boxes of 200 warmers every few months or so and sells them at the restaurant with a dozen freshly made tortillas.

To date, La Tortilla Loca makes most of its money by helping other companies make more money via marketing.

Big companies, such as Miller Lite or Bush’s Baked Beans, for example, have ordered tortilla warmers donning their own logos and have used them for promotional purposes, Imelda Rubin said.

John Paul Vyborny, who co-owns a customs brokerage company in Nogales, Ariz., said his company bought tortilla warmers bearing its own logo, phone number and jingle and gave them to potential and existing customers.

“We’ll order again,” Vyborny said. “All the customers loved it, ‘cause it works so well and everybody loves tortillas.”

Thanks to the Internet, individual buyers have stumbled upon the product, too.

Under a “testimonials” section of the company’s website, Samuel and Ana Lia, a couple from Tijuana, Mexico, wrote: “Besides being the greatest way to heat tortillas, it has become a major conversation piece at our parties at home in Tijuana. Gracias, Amigos for making life and partying so much more fun.”

Richard Rubin, who invented the product, said his idea came from a real-life inspiration.

He said he remembers something bugged him about when his wife’s family came to visit over the holidays.

“It just seems so unfair that your mom’s here to see her kids, and she spends half of her time heating tortillas one-by-one,” he said.

He had the idea, but not the materials. But then one day, he had a realization. “I was sitting around eating a Stouffer’s TV dinner and I noticed it had plastic that went in the microwave,” Rubin said. “It would be perfect.”

So, Rubin called up Stouffer’s and asked what kind of plastic it used.

He said Stouffer’s wouldn’t tell him.

But, with some persistence – about 50 phone calls of persistence – Rubin had a breakthrough.

“Some nice person at Stouffer’s finally told me DuPont made it,” Rubin said. “So then I started calling DuPont, an even bigger company than Stouffer’s.”

Rubin hit another roadblock at DuPont, a company that sells science-based products. After a series of calls, however, he became friends with Rose, the operator, and finally found his answer.

The plastic was Mylar.

He said the operator even transferred him directly to the engineer who invented Mylar. After pitching his idea, Rubin said the engineer “just flipped” at the opportunity to use Mylar in a new way and started sending plastic samples.

Imelda Rubin said that until recently, the small-scale operation was ideal because she was busy with the kids, the youngest of whom is now 16.

But now there are “no more kiddies,” Richard Rubin said. “It’s not a home business anymore.”

The Kloseks’ kids are also grown, and so the women agree that they’re ready to expand the business.

Imelda Rubin said last year the company did $47,000 in overall sales. Susan Klosek added, “But we want to do $470,000.”

La Tortilla Loca is already looking to tweak the product to boost business.

Richard Rubin said a customer told him she put a hot dog and bun in the tortilla warmer, zapped it for 35 seconds and said it was the best hot dog she’d ever had.

And now, Richard Rubin said future customers can keep their eyes open for “La Papa Loca” or “The Crazy Dog.”

Medical marijuana plan: good database, firm rules

Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, discusses the process of developing rules for the medical marijuana system authorized by Proposition 203. (Cronkite News Service Photo by David Rookhuyzen)

Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Creating a computer infrastucture and developing firm, fair regulations are key to establishing a successful medical marijuana dispensary system in Arizona, the state’s top health official said Monday.

“If we make poor decisions now, people are going to be paying for it for a long time,” said Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Under Proposition 203, which voters narrowly approved, Humble’s department is to establish and regulate a system that provides qualified patients access to marijuana.

Those who receive a doctor’s recommendation will be able to obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks from licensed dispensaries. If they live more than 25 miles from a dispensary, patients will be allowed to grow up to 12 marijuana plants.

Speaking at a news conference, Humble outlined his goals for the system.

They include a patient verification database that is accessible by law enforcement and dispensaries. Being able to track plants from cultivation onward is also a high priority, he said.

Humble estimates it will take $600,000 to $800,000 in staff time to set up the database, he said but costs will be covered eventually by application fees paid by dispensaries and patients.

“I don’t want the taxpayers of Arizona subsidizing this program in any way, shape or form,” he said.

Arizona is the 15th state to approve medical marijuana, and Humble said he has been in contact with health departments in other states to avoid any mistakes they made.

“I don’t want to learn those things first hand,” he said. “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”

Some issues facing the department include what qualification to set for the 124 potential dispensaries, whether patients can use marijuana in public and verifying doctor-patient relationships to limit abuse.

Under Proposition 203, the Department of Health Services has 120 days to set regulations, fees and application processes for patients, caregivers and dispensaries.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on first and second drafts of the regulations, Humble said.

The department should be ready to start accepting patient and dispensary applications on April 1, Humble said, but he expects it to take until summer 2011 to have the system running.

Timeline for regulations:
- November: Draft initial regulations based on research
- December: Publish first draft of regulations
- December/January: Receive informal public comments
- February: Publish final draft of regulations
- February/March: Public meetings on draft.
- March: Publish final set regulations.
- April: Accept initial applications.