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The U of A joins the Mayor & Council on the road to silencing Tucson

The best way to initiate unpopular ideas is to do it under the cover of our summer slumber. It’s kind of a political tradition here in Tucson. Of those that remain in town, few of us express too much outrage over anything. Because outrage requires energy. And everyone knows you gotta pick and choose how you expend energy right about now.
It’s too hot. We are too distracted with….stuff.  Summer stuff.
Apparently, the U of A leadership knows this: they have become the second among the biggest bureaucracies in town to announce the diminishing of their community media programming this summer (actually, the Mayor & Council just skip the “diminishing” part and just go for completely zeroing out).

So when I say local democracy has been eroding in Tucson over the past decade – and especially taking a hit this year – I meant it. This is not conspiracy talk. It’s real.

And we should all be worried.
What is most disturbing is that, like the Mayor & Council, U of A leaders are also complaining about content. Ironically – or should I say sadly – the Mayor & Council have often mentioned KUAT as the ideal TV station Access Tucson should be more like.
Let that sink in for a bit.
With less and less investigative journalism in town, less opportunities for everyday citizens to produce their own programming, and as the cleansing of “content” continues, we are fast becoming a very different kind of community.
Take a moment and count the ways 2014 has been the year of silencing Tucson voices.
Now ask yourself who is making these decisions about your town.
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How to Be A Good Cafeista

Listen, we are all in this together. I’m talking to you, fellow Cafeistas. Fellow cafe professionals. Talking to y’all who are known by baristas by your first name even if they don’t remember it every time you come in.

Or they know you by the drink you order.

“Hey, check it out.” says Barista X to Barista Y at your favorite Caffe Z.

“Here comes Double Espresso. Let’s see how long he camps out today.”

You walk in.

“Hi. Having your usual?”

Listen, we need to get our act together or they are going to kick us out of the best cafes in Tucson. Ok, I’m being dramatic. But, really, baristas are sacred.  They caffeinate us. They chat with us every day even when they don’t feel like it. They take care of us. So we need to take care of them.

I see baristas as members of The Junior Sainthood Society (totally made that up so don’t bother googleing it): not quite saints, but one step away from sainthood. Even baristas that may not be very “saintly” should be considered Junior Saints in my book.

They are kinda like a young Mother Theresa after something heavy fell on her toe.

If you see a group of baristas walking down the sidewalk, you should move over and give them about two feet of space for them to pass by. And you should not look at them directly in the eye. Out of respect. And out of a little bit of fear.

If it appears that a barista accidentally wore her shirt on backwards you should write her a note letting her know but pass it to her all casual like. Then don’t do anything. If she meant to wear it that way because she is just that kind of barista she will just ignore you but probably appreciate your gesture. Or she will be annoyed by you. Whatever. You did your part. Move on.

Don’t look at her anymore!

I got more of these. But you get my point.

I’ve said this before: locally owned cafes define cities and Tucson has among the very best cafes in the world. I spend a lot of time at them getting work done. In fact, I wrote this at two of my favorite cafes, Raging Sage and Caffe Luce.

Recently, the good guys at Connect Coworking produced this youtube piece promoting their service called Coffee Shop vs Connect Coworking. It really pissed me off. Basically, they were saying that professionals and entrepreneurs shouldn’t spend their money at locally owned cafes and, instead, spend it with them in a more quite, professional setting.

Well, they weren’t really saying that exactly. And they really do offer a great alternative for folks who don’t have the money to lease an all out office but need quite space with resources.

I just get a little sensitive about anyone even coming close to withdrawing their support of locally owned cafes. And it’s actually a really good deal to adopt cafes as alternative office space to get work done. If it is done right, it can be a very affordable, pleasant and mutually beneficial experience for both you and the cafe owner and employees.

So long as you don’t abuse the privilege and you are a good cafeista.

Which brings us back to the topic at hand: Don’t be a punk, be a good cafeista. Here is how:

If you camp out for more than a couple of hours, drop your CCT (Cafe Camping Tip) in the jar before leaving.

Yes, I made this concept up. But I do drop CCTs all the time. Ask around. The idea is simple: Tip twice if you are camping out, dude. Drop a buck into the tip jar before you leave. Let the barista know that you stayed a while and you appreciate their service. You’ll get a smile and you will feel good about supporting your local Junior Saint barista.

Make room and share your table with others.

Listen, you don’t own the place. Don’t spread out all your stuff and hog the table. Make some room. Make eye contact with the person that just walked in and is scanning the place for somewhere to sit down. Invite them to your table. Some cafes only offer internet service after 12p because many of us hog our space discouraging new customers. It’s a business thing for cafes. So, if you are like me and enjoy a variety of cafes and appreciate their amenities like free, unlimited wi-fi, work with them so they can make a buck.

Promote the cafe you just enjoyed.

This is a no-brainer. You are sitting there already online. Give the cafe a “like” on their Facebook page. Let others know how much you love and appreciate the locally owned cafe  you are currently enjoying. Remember, this ain’t Starbucks with millions of marketing dollars. Do your part and promote localism!

Take your phone call outside.

This is a simple one: People at cafes that step outside to take a cell phone call are cool. People at cafes that take a cell phone call inside and just blather away are not cool.

Move your meetings to local cafes. 

How about bringing that cafe you love so much more business? Instead of having your meeting at your stuffy conference room or library, bring your group to a local cafe. Learn more about how to do this by going to Move Your Meetings. This is especially helpful during the summer when many local cafes and restaurants struggle for customers.

I’m sure there is more.

Now, go hug a barista or something. Unless that barista doesn’t like hugs. In that case, don’t look at him in the eye and move along.

 

 

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OK, Pima County Sups, Here is Some Advice

So, I recently wrote this thing for the Inside Tucson Business (miss them already) about eroding transparency in local government. I was mostly pointing out what is going wrong with Tucson City government regarding this subject. And I did a by-the-way mention of Pima County government at the end of my column.

Apparently, I struck a nerve.

And so, bam, there was a quick response. Not by City Manager Richard Miranda. Not by the Mayor or any Council Members. It was from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Again, I only mentioned the County guys a little at the end.

But, it was enough to motivate Mr. Huckelberry to defend his peeps.

I’m thinking we should just turns this thing into a positive. I don’t want to know why there was such a quick and defensive reaction from the guys I barely mentioned. I leave that to an investigative journalist – if you can find one in town that has not lost his/her job these days – to dig into it and find out.

So, Pima County Sups, here is your advice:

  • First, move your meetings to a weekend night. Have your “call to the audience” at a time a poor slob can attend. Like 5:30pm, when most people can come by after work. Even if you have to start a little earlier in the afternoon, you can at least do a cousin of the City’s study session early on but offer “call to the audience” at a decent time when everyone can attend. This early morning, weekday meeting stuff has to go.
  • Make this meeting on any day but Tuesday. You see, this is when TUSD and the City of Tucson meet. We can’t be everywhere at once. And you don’t want people to think you are doing this on purpose: that is, ensuring you will only have a portion of the public attend your meetings due to all the other meetings happening at the same time. We don’t want that, right?
  • Stop getting rid of Board of Supervisor meetings DVDs after one year and have a copy at all libraries available, not just at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library . And, by the way, do you really not have enough space to store these DVDs? If you want to, I can give up a corner of my garage for storage of some off these razor thin disks.
  • Make your “Transparency” link, well, more transparent. I know it sounds cool to just say you are transparent and leave it at that, but most people won’t assume they can just click on that link and watch a recording of a Board of Supervisors meeting. Right now, once you click on that link, you have to go down a list of lot’s of stuff - yes important stuff, but, still, lot’s of stuff – to get to the meetings part. And even then, once you scroll to the bottom, and you finely find “Viewers may have access to current video and auto recording of recent Board meetings for a 90 day period”, you then have to click on “access” to get these videos. Come on. Can we just have a button on your home page that says “View Board Meetings Here“. How hard is that?
  • Finally, revisit Supervisor Ally Miller’s proposal to make all Board Meetings available online and on demand beyond one year. Again, how hard is that? The City of Tucson does it. They have their problems but at least they have this part down. So should you.

Seriously, though, open government should not be a spectator sport. You shouldn’t just do what is the bare minimum, what is just legal. Good parenting, for example, doesn’t mean you should just provide three hot meals, a shower and a bed. That just makes you a parent. Not a good parent.

Take the opportunity to make Pima County Board meetings more open, more transparent, more available for us  to participate, that way you can be considered good at being transparent and open.

Give us the mic. It belongs to us.

 

 

 

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Don’t Be a Knucklehead: Root for the Home Team!

Logic has no place in sports. Well, except when it comes to rooting for your hometown team. Now that makes total sense.

I don’t get these random Cowboys, Raiders and Yankees fans living in Tucson. One of my buddies is a Yankees fan. Let’s just call him Knucklehead to protect his identity. He has no connection to New York. The guy is from Tucson. Born and raised. So, obviously, Knucklehead is going to hell.

Now, I’m ok with someone adopting an out-of-town or even out-of-state team if they have a rational explanation for it. For example, I am a Sacramento Kings fan. Why? Because I will never – and I mean never! – root for a team with “Phoenix” in it’s name. So, that leaves the Suns out. The next best “home team” for me are the Sacramento Kings since I was born in a small town in Northern California. I have to either root for a hometown team or for a team with some kind of hometown connection.

Now, if/when the Phoenix Suns become the Arizona Suns I will jump on that bandwagon immediately. I did exactly that when the Phoenix Cardinals became the Arizona Cardinals. And that was when they were still horrible!

Knucklehead has no legitimate reasons for adopting the Yankees as his favorite baseball team. Did his great grandfather help build the Empire State Building? No. Did his late uncle write “New York, New York”? No. Did he act on Broadway as a young guy or go to college there? No.

Basically, he is a native Tucsonan rooting for the Yankees while having no connection to the Big Apple at all. Not logical.

Luckily, we don’t have many knuckleheads in Tucson. Most of us are big Wildcat fans. I love it when I am in a local bar watching a UA game and I have no idea what anyone’s political party affiliation is or what their religious beliefs are. We are all just Wildcat fans in a sea of red and blue rooting for our home team.

I still remember watching the Wildcats win the national championship at Bianchi’s in 1997. I was on a hot date with my future wife. Well, my sister was there too. Come to think of it, the three of us also watched the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

Game 7 was sweet. So sweet.

I bet even Knucklehead wished he was a home team fan for that one.

Miguel Ortega is an independent business development consultant. His radio program, “Locally Owned with Miguel Ortega”, airs on KVOI 1030AM every Saturday at 11 a.m. You can also listen to his radio columns on KXCI 91.3FM and follow his blog at LocallyOwnedAZ.com.

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Radio Afterthoughts: Neto Nails it On SB1062

We were supposed to have a pleasant chat about El Rio Sonora, local journalism and anything else on Ernesto “Neto” Portillo Jr.’s mind during the Locally Owned show a week ago (Podcast here, click on 2/22/14). But by the time Neto walked into the KVOI studio for our interview, this little homophobic bill (SB1062) was officially making it’s way to Governor Brewer’s desk.

So, how could we not talk about it? Oh, and Neto certainly had plenty to say.

In fact, he brought up a couple of points about the bill that had been troubling me for a while: it was great to see so many politicos and leaders of agencies and organizations stepping out early against this horrible bill, but it was also troubling to see how silent or luke warm they were on SB1070.

This is important to keep in mind going forward. We all have to work together against all immoral bills that promote intolerance and that also happen to be very, very bad for business.

I will have a lot more to say about SB1062 and how the “Business Community” has been impacted – and will be further impacted with similar bills on their way to the Governor’s desk.  But, it will require a more lengthy blog post or a future column. And, actually, what I really want to write about right now is how folks define the “Business Community”. Business owners – big and small, corporate and locally owned – tend to be lumped together and they (mostly the mom and pops) are often pimpled by Republicans and ignored by Democrats. 

More on that later.

For now, listen to the show and hear what Neto has to say. Towards the end of the show, we give politics a break and talk about his recent trip to El Rio Sonora in Northern Mexico. That area is where several generations of my family members are from and, in fact, still live. The next day, Neto’s column on his trip was published in the Sunday Arizona Daily Star (as part of his regular column, “Neto’s Tucson”). Check it out. It’s a good read.

By the way, has anybody noticed how gracefully Ernesto Portillo Jr. is aging? It’s like the older he gets, the more hair he has on his head, peppered with just the right amount of distinguishing gray. I said this to him live during our interview before discussing #SB1062. Two Chicanos talking talking about SB1062 and how great the other looks. So now I think we may both be deported. To Phoenix. I think that would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

We will have Ernesto back on soon and, if he is game, often. “Neto’s Tucson” is required reading for all serious localists. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him and we should all feel very blessed to know that every day he is staying busy writing about our beloved Tucson. Adelante, Neto!

In the meantime, go localize something! It will be good for you, me and our hometown!

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Radio Afterthought: Is Jay Leno Having Car Museum Planning Meetings at Crave Coffee Bar?

Did we just share some huge, breaking news about Jay Leno coming to Tucson on the Locally Owned Show this morning (2/8/14 podcast)?!

Maybe.

So, check this out. This guy named Bruce called in to the show and said that he had some “inside baseball” info on the possibility of the retiring Jay Leno opening up a car museum in Tucson.

I mean… right?!!

Imagine Jay building this car museum in the Old Pueblo and hanging out at local cafes like Crave Coffee Bar? (By the way, Crave provided the warm lattes and dessert for the show this morning. Thanks, guys!)

Listen, I am a big David Letterman and Coco fan. But, if this is true, I am jumping on the Jay Leno bandwagon immediately!

And Bruce sounded legit to me, guys. He said he was a friend of Jay’s. Yes, I know. He may just be a nut. I did’t catch his last name so I have no idea who he is. But, hey, I will participate in spreading that rumor. Why not?

Sure, I made up the part about Jay having planning meetings at Crave. So sue me. Even if the whole thing is not true, it still serves as localism propaganda for Crave Coffee Bar so we all win, right?

Call me crazy, but, again, the caller sounded legit. I want to believe!

Mary Davis and Chicks N Chaps 

Now, on to my special interview with Mary Davis. She came in to chat about Chicks N Chaps which is a fundraiser benefiting breast cancer research. The idea is to introduce women to rodeo sports in a fun way while raising money for a good cause. The ladies participating will be introduced to the principles of roping and riding while also being pampered with a champaign brunch, gift bags, and all that good stuff.

Who isn’t for happy cowgirls supporting a good cause?

I’ve known Mary for about 9 years so I couldn’t possibly allow her to leave the studio and not have her comment on other matters regarding tourism, localism and on a few current issues.

So I kinda blocked the studio door so we could talk some more.

It turned out to be a nice chat and we even had time to touch on the Mayor’s effort to share a tourism office in Mexico City.

Keep up the good work, Mary!

Now, back to that rumor about Jay Leno hanging at Crave Coffee Bar with his staff to discuss the building of a car museum in Tucson. Spread that puppy around, man!

We may just will that rumor into reality!

 

 

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Dang, Locally Owned Radio Is Booked!

Pssst… got lot’s of great guests lined up for the next several episodes of Locally Owned with Miguel Ortega. (airs every Saturday at 11am on KVOI 1030AM with podcasts available here)

February 8: Mary DavisTucson Chicks in Chaps Rodeo Clinic - Women’s Rodeo Clinic benefiting breast cancer research

February 15: Mark B. EvansInside Tucson Business

February 22: Ernesto Portillo, Jr.Arizona Daily Star (Neto’s Tucson) and La Estrella de Tucson 

March 1: Mari HerrerasTucson Weekly

March 8: Kimber LanningLocal First Arizona

March 15: Mark B. EvansInside Tucson Business

March 22: TBD

March 29: Chellie KrajnackCreative Juice

 

 

Alex preparing a breakfast treat at Sparkroot for Locally Owned with Miguel Ortega

Radio Afterthoughts: How to “Borrow a Bad” and Dissect a Superbowl Ad

Flying solo on a radio show is both scary and exhilarating. As a radio host you get to talk a lot when you don’t have a guest booked. It can be both a good thing and a bad thing. (here is the 2/1/14 podcast

And speaking of “thing”, I sure use that word a lot on the air. Don’t mind me. This is just a note-to-self.

Ok, so I covered a lot:

New Castle Brown Ale Goes for Some Street Cred

First, we talked about that crazy New Castle Brown Ale ad starring Anna Kendrick. It’s a Superbowl ad. Well, not really. It’s more of an anti-Supebowl, anti-establishment, rebel ad.

The point I was desperately trying to make on the air this morning is that the rising Localism Movement (yes, I’m capitalizing it, damn it) is now catching the attention of the mainstream, corporate world. They are now trying to manufacture localism assets where, really, there are none. Yes, I have talked about this before.

And I also mentioned how it’s nothing new. The best example of this marketing strategy the 1971 “buy the world a Coke” ad. They also capitalized on a major, national vibe with a television ad: the whole love and peace movement. They successfully manufactured a connection between gulping down a soft drink and world peace.

All I am really saying is that us Localists (yes, I’m capitalizing this as well, damn it) need to step up and promote our own, authentic localism assets. Let’s pay attention to that old canary in the coal mine I keep talking about: the big boys with the money have identified localism as something that resonates with folks so the least we can do is use that million dollar research ourselves for free! 

And kudos to New Castle. Touché. Well played. Really funny stuff, guys. Can’t say that I blame you for co-opting our Localism Movement with your “If We Made It” campaign. Just know that we are on to you! 

Borrow a Bad. Just Make Sure You Pay It Back! 

So, then I went into the weeds with my whole “borrowing a bad” thing (this really is a “thing” because it doesn’t fit into any logical category). Basically, as I have said before, I am not a purist Localism hipster. We all “sin” every once in a while. We all borrow a bad here and there when we eat at a chain, get a book from Amazon, etc.

It’s ok.

Just make sure to pay back your bad. Pay your “penance” by doubling up on your support of a local shops and make up for that bad. And, the best part, really, is that your penance will actually be enjoyable!

After all, making up for eating at Peter Piper Pizza by eating at locally owned Mama Louisa’s is not exactly the equivalent of wearing a hair shirt!

Finally, I want to thank Alex from Sparkroot for being a good sport on the air and for providing delicious coffee and breakfast for today’s Locally Owned show. I loved that she didn’t even think twice about asking a customer if she had ever “borrowed a bad”.

“Have I ever borrowed a bag?” replied said customer.

Funny stuff.

Our Guest Line Up

One more thing. We have a serious line up of guests these next few weeks. Not flying solo for a while so you don’t have to hide your kids and pets. Here’s what we got:

February 8: Mary Davis, Tucson Chicks in Chaps Rodeo Clinic - Women’s Rodeo Clinic benefiting breast cancer research

February 15: Mark B. Evans, Inside Tucson Business

February 22: Ernesto Portillo, Jr., Arizona Daily Star (Neto’s Tucson) and La Estrella de Tucson 

March 1: Mari Herreras, Tucson Weekly

March 8: Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona

So, that’s it. In the meantime, go Seahawks! We all know why I am rooting for them, right? 

Go Wildcats! No explanation needed for that one.

And, most importantly, go Tucson!

Be overtly biased today. Be Tucson-centric!

 

 

 

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Radio Afterthoughts: Shut Me Up and Just Go To Mexico in Season!

You know I don’t like tall, skinny food, right? I have a problem with expensive, designer food that does nothing to fill you up. But, hey, I am a team player so, on special occasions, I’m ok with the high-end stuff. So long as I actually eat something later.

If you throw healthy food into the mix I really get irritated. When I hear healthy and high-end in the same sentence, I picture one of those little mini-carrots standing upright in the middle of a huge dish with one sesame seed on top.

Tall, skinny, healthy food can really suck.

So, I’ve heard about the new restaurant, Mexico in Season, for a while now. I heard it was yummy, healthy, filling, fast and affordable. Now, that got my attention. Which led me to invite Diana Teran, the  owner of Mexico in Season - who happens to be the sister of a super cool friend of mine, Priscilla Teran – to the Locally Owned radio show. I thought it was a great interview (1/25/14 podcast).

Except for the fact that I really talked way too much.

After listening to the podcast, it occurred to me that the reason I became so chatty was because I just got really excited about something so familiar to me. Diana has deep roots in Sonora, Mexico as I do. We talked about growing up in Mexican households and how our moms would cook these crazy caldos with magical healing powers and how home-cooked Mexican food has always been made with the healthiest of ingredients. And the serving sizes were always big! Nothing tall or skinny about them!

So I blabbed on and on about my own Sonoran cooking memories and what my mom prepared and how we used tortillas as forks too, and on and on.

I did shut up long enough for Diana to tell us about her personal story that led up to her starting her restaurant businesses (Ernesto Portillo wrote an excellent piece on this subject last year).

It was a very, very personal story. And I was really touched by it. Which triggered my emotional need to blabber on even more!

I will only say here that if you are a parent and/or a recently born entrepreneur out of necessity, you will be touched as well. Again, you can listen for yourself here (1/25/14 podcast).

Oh and, by the way, Diana brought some calabacitas and tortillas to the show (which I shared with folks at the KVOI studios, of course. Come on, I’m talkative, not cruel!).

Soooooo good.

She also mentioned that, as we talked, members of Las Adelitas were holding a meeting in the Mexico in Season conference room.  Kudos to that group for supporting a locally owned restaurant and kudos to Diana for making that space available!

That conference room at Mexico in Season made me think of future Move Your Meetings ideas. Hmmmmm…

But I will shut up now.

Just go to Mexico in Season. It will be good for you, your hometown economy and your heart.

 

 

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Radio Afterthoughts: What if Batman and Robin Needed Unemployment Benefit Extensions?

Holy, crazed-foaming-at-the-mouth-good-for-the-hometown-economy-Seattle-Seahawks-fans, Batman! Great show today! You can hear the podcast here (click on 1/18/14).

I was running late this morning, so, I admit it, I was speeding a little. (You will have to listen to the show to get up to speed – no pun intended…ok, maybe a little – with the whole Batman and Robin inside joke thing) What I forgot to mention on the air is that, as I was speeding along Barraza-Aviation Parkway on my way to the KVOI studios, I notices that garbage was flying out of the back of my truck bed.

Yes, I felt back. Not good. But I did smile as I notices that the majority of my trash was made up of  empty coffee cups from several local coffee shops.

Ironic? Weird? Funny only to me? Probably all of the above.

Anyway, it happened.  Hence the pic of the bed of my truck with the few empty coffee cups that survived the ride. This was taken in front of Crave Coffee Bar where I wrote this post as I anxiously drank real coffee (I explain why I was so anxious for real coffee on the show as well).

Here is what we covered:

  • We concluded that the city and county dropped the ball by not having someone on the ground to anticipate and prevent the whole 4th Ave Street Fair and Modern Streetcar mess. I mean, come on! No one saw this coming? Isn’t there anyone looking out for our small businesses to deal with easily preventable conflicts like this? By the way, here are some recent write ups on this matter in the Inside Tucson Business: Mark B. Evans updates us while Council Member Kozachick opines.
  • We also had great calls from Joe, Matt and Mike. Matt delivered a beautifully laid out argument in support of extending unemployment benefits by basically connecting people’s ability to spend dollars at local businesses and how that ability impacts our economy. Nicely done, Matt! I got distracted by amusing myself with my two cents: there is also business to business business to consider. Yup, I said that. Just thought it sounded funny, yet a valid point, nonetheless, if I do say so myself. Joe took us on an international view of localism. Found out that, like me, Joe he is an independent Democrat who critiques both parties. I knew I liked him. One day I am going to write about how I am going through conflicting feelings about my favorite band, u2, and Bono’s evolving view of the role of corporations in lifting people out of poverty.  I have so much to say on that subject. Soon. So then Mike called and we had a friendly debate about who deserves more government welfare, corporations or hard working, salt of the earth Americans. I think you know what side of the argument I landed on.
  • We ended the show with my thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks strategy to keep 49ers out of their football stadium as they do battle tomorrow for the right to go to the Superbowl. Basically, I said good for them! I’m all about the hometown so if any organization – sports, government or whatever – does what is best for their hometown I say knock yourselves out. I’m Tucson-centric and I think all towns and cities should also be home-town centric.

And that was the show. Again, you can listen to the podcast here. (click on 1/18/14).

Later!