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Spending $800 on frills will be my contribution to spur economy

Citizen Staff Writer

Assistant City Editor

Editor’s note: Judy Carlock serves up a review of the week with a generous dose of Tabasco.

Man cannot live on bread alone, but a little bread comes in handy. Like a check for $800 in the mailbox, no strings attached, courtesy of the federal government.

My grasp on economics is slippery. I know to keep economies from shutting down you need give and take – or buy and sell. But haven’t we just been warned about a barely solvent state government? One that likely will balance its books by extracting concessions from county taxpayers? Aren’t we already somewhat strapped because the feds aren’t paying their bills?

And for that “free” money to do its job of stimulating the economy, you’d best not save it for a rainy day, stuff it under the mattress or even pay down the credit card. This cash is for frills, not bills.

That shouldn’t be a problem for many Americans, for whom deficit spending is a way of life. I just keep thinking this will catch up with us some day.

Lost in the desert, thirsting for answers, I humbly implore: What would Alan Greenspan say?

TURN ON THE GAS: I monitor Iranian news because I’m looking for cracks in the towering edifice of evil so many people think is the whole story of that country. President Ahmadinejad got a rebuke this week from the country’s Supreme Leader because he cut off natural gas to rural villages for budgetary reasons.

Everyone’s mad at Mahmoud now, wondering why people are freezing to death in a country with the world’s second-largest supply of natural gas.

Anything that hints the Iranian regime is feeling accountable to its public is encouraging. It’s that old saying, “If you want peace, work for justice.” I don’t want war with Iran. I’m hoping tides turn in the direction of sanity. Here, there and everywhere.

MY BAD: A few people were riled at my anecdotal account of a trip to Nogales, Son., a sister city to our own Nogales, which often has served as a symbol of neighborliness and notoriety. I stand corrected, I think, in one area – owing to my inability to reconcile inconsistencies on two government Web sites.

The State Department implies you will need a government photo ID, plus proof of citizenship, to cross into the U.S. by land starting Feb. 1. That seemed pretty clear. Homeland Security officials, though, say you will not be required to prove citizenship, merely provide photo ID, and you will be handed instructions for a date in the future when you will be required to prove citizenship.

To me, it’s still clear as mud. Some readers blasted me for sniffing at unhelpful signage. Turns out “No Food or Drink” means “No Eating or Drinking.” “All Medicines Need Prescriptions” means agents can let some through. “No cell phones” means (I think) no talking on cell phones.

Border security doesn’t bother me. Lack of clarity in written instructions does. It can’t be that great for the guys guarding the border, either. Not that they complained.

MEAN GIRLS: A fight in the cafeteria? Happens all the time. With green beans and tater tots. At Rincon High School Wednesday, eight girls were throwing punches and elbows. The former P.E. teacher who tried to break it up caught a glancing blow and was knocked down and taken to the hospital.

“The good thing was, as soon as the kids realized I got hurt, they stopped fighting and tried to help me. So I did stop the fight,” Kim Babeu said.

What a lady. And a nod, even, to the brawling brats who put her in harm’s way. Awesome: A catfight turns compassion. Still, those girls don’t deserve a medal.

Kim Babeu does.

DOMESTIC PARTNERS: Gov. Janet Napolitano is catching flak from people who think state spousal health-insurance benefits should be restricted to spouses, not domestic partners – homosexual couples or heterosexual couples who are not married.

Do I care? Only if it hits my pocketbook. Given the nature of group insurance, it might. The fiscal question is valid. The “moral” question is a crock. Heterosexual couples have the option of getting married. Gay couples don’t. Many of them are “married,” nevertheless, in all but law. I’ll leave the moral judgments up to God.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS: An article Wednesday offered a comprehensive look at discipline against Tucson Police Department officers since 2002. It originated with questions about one officer involved in multiple fatal shootings. We decided to take a broader look.

The Citizen is working hard to develop more document-driven news stories and to improve the way we gather and present data to readers. Two reasons: We’re nosy. And we want to serve you.

Building that capability takes practice, technical skills and legal knowledge. Sometimes we’ll find a smoking gun. Sometimes we won’t.

Of course, we’re trying to sell newspapers. I promise you: We’re also trying to be fair.

COYOTE ALERT: My domestic partners aren’t eligible for state benefits. They’re animals. And fair game for urban coyotes, not the kind that smuggle immigrants.

It didn’t make my day to learn that wiener dogs, in particular, are attractive to their canine cousins. But I want to correct the misimpression that they can’t run. Oy, can they run! Problem is, these little hunting hounds were bred for stubbornness, not common sense.

They can run, all right. Probably straight for the coyotes.

You can reach Judy Carlock at 573-4608 and jcarlock@tucsoncitizen.com. For more on these stories, see her column at www.tucsoncitizen.com.

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