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The real reason behind Tucson’s high food prices

Bananas skin our wallets at 59 cents per pound. A single red pepper pops bank account, often weighing in at more than $1.50. Give us a break.

Sure, it’s rather costly to have fresh fruits and veggies hauled to the middle of the desert from those faraway, lush places in which they thrive. But that’s not the real reason behind Tucson’s high food prices.

The culprit is the stolen shopping cart.

These four-wheeled creatures show up in some of the strangest places. Shopping cart spottings of late have included the wash, the river walk, random street corners, several bus stops and behind a post office on Speedway Boulevard where two carts were converging on a mailbox. They appeared to be accosting the poor defenseless mail container who could not even be saved by the threat of federal prosecution.

Carts accosting a mailbox/Ryn Gargulinski
Carts accosting a mailbox/Ryn Gargulinski

Supermarkets across the city have not issued any reports that pinpoint exactly how much money is lost due to stolen shopping carts, but we can surmise stores make up the loss by over-pricing peppers.

Cart at a bus stop/Ryn Gargulinski
Cart at a bus stop/Ryn Gargulinski

Stolen shopping carts are so common and costly that some stores employ brake shoe locks that stop the cart from rambling beyond the store’s parking lot. Others imprint the kiddie seats with a warning that it’s not nice to steal.

Best Buy cart on river walk, miles from any Best Buy/Ryn Gargulinski
Best Buy cart on river walk, miles from any Best Buy/Ryn Gargulinski

Still others may caution a security camera is watching the potential thief from a tower somewhere where a guard is equipped with the same weaponry found at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Pelican Bay guard tower/Ryn Gargulinski
Pelican Bay guard tower/Ryn Gargulinski

To make matters even costlier, Arizona Revised Statute 44-1799.33 explains how the shopping cart’s original owners may have to reimburse the city if the cart has become impounded after laying around in the wash, river walk, random street corner, bus stop or converging on a mailbox on Speedway.

How unfair. Fines should be issued instead to those caught stealing the carts or using them as playthings in the sand.

Tucson, fight back. Bring those wayward shopping carts back home. Shopping carts found out and about can be returned to their store of origin by simply attaching them with bungee cords to your car roof.

Roll the cart directly to the store manager and tell him where you found it and how you went to great lengths to bring it back. Then ask for a discount on bananas and peppers.

You never know. It may just work. And it will also save that poor Speedway mailbox from further harassment.

Anyone not sure what is meant by “shopping cart,” can check out the definition at ARS 44-0179.31

Where’s the strangest place you’ve seen a wayward shopping cart?

Have you ever stolen a shopping cart? If yes, shame on you.

Have you ever returned one to its rightful owner? If yes, you deserve a free banana.

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Planet to be named for Tucson high school student

One savvy Tucson student wants to help folks who hear voices, see worms in the couch or steal, maim and kill to feed their drug habit.

Angela Schlegal’s research efforts, which may lead to new medications that treat delusions, addictions and other mental illnesses, nabbed her second place in a recent contest and $1,500. But never mind that, she will also received the honor of having a minor planet or asteroid named after her. Brilliant.

StRATosphere/Ryn Gargulinski
StRATosphere/Ryn Gargulinski

If the rest of us mere civilians want planetary bodies named after us, we are forced to purchase stars from some online service that probably names a single star after 502,000 different people.

While I joke about the worms in the couch, delusions, hallucinations, addiction and other mental illnesses are no laughing matter.

It’s a field that still has much shame associated with it, as if its victims have chosen their lot. Research like Schlegal’s is an important and much-needed step towards helping those who suffer.

Never mind some asteroid, give the girl Pluto.

She graduated Tucson High Magnet School in the spring and conducted her research at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute. Her second place came at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the Plant Sciences Grand Award category. Read full story: High School Student Conducting Research at UA Earns Intel Honors

What would you call a planet that was named after you?
Do you think Shelgal needs a bigger honor, like Pluto? Yes, we know Pluto has been surrounded by planet vs. non-planet controversy, but that means her name will keep getting in the news.

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June 17 in history: Where were you during the O.J. chase?

I wasn’t born yet for the Kennedy thing, was on Brooklyn’s 69th Street Pier watching the towers burn down on Sept. 11 and was in a class full of middle school social studies students watching the Challenger launch on TV when it blew up.

But I can’t remember where I was during the infamous O.J. chase on June 17, 1994. At the time I was still at Brooklyn College, so I’d guess I was in Brooklyn. But it was June and school would have been out. So I really have no clue.

Others remember it more vividly. A friend of mine sat down to officially begin his DJ career with his first music shift on this day in 1994. “I was a little distracted to say the least as I was sure (and eager to see) O.J. blow his brains out on live TV.”

I would call O.J. a jerk, but I got too much guff for calling Mike Tyson one in a previous post.

So, even though it appears O.J. was the most likely suspect in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and her lover and he fled from the law in a historical high-speed chase yet eventually got to walk away free and clear, we will pretend he is nice person so folks don’t get upset.

Where were your during the infamous O.J. Chase?

Did you want him to blow his brains out or do you, too, think he’s a nice person and not a jerk?

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Yogi, mystic and spiritual leader Sadhuguru coming to Tucson

Fix your soul and call me in the morning.

That’s what doctors should be recommending rather than a couple of aspirin or an apple a day. Anyone who agrees can check out a notable yogi, mystic and spiritual leader who will be in town this weekend.

Sadhguru/Submitted photo
Sadhguru/Submitted photo

Who: Sadhuguru J. Vasudev
When: Sunday, June 21
Where: Noetic Sciences Conference “Toward a Global Shift” at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort

What: He’s going to tell the audience about his theory and method of “Inner Engineering: Realize the Ultimate Power Within,” or tinkering with our insides to become the best we can be on the outside (no, it does not involve surgical procedures)

Why: Why not? The way the world is crumbling, rotting and warring around us, we might as well try something different

Since the conference is held at the Marriott and runs three days, it’s probably costly. If you would rather just check out more on Sadhuguru, visit his website or the site for his Isha Foundation.

I’ve not seen Shadhuguru, but I have been to two yoga retreats in Tulum, Mexico, that left me feeling serene, sublime and as if I could rule the world. Of course, the effect lasted about three days before I was back screaming and swearing at fellow motorists.

We need to make these practices a part of our daily life, not just a week-long get-away. The world would be a much better place if we didn’t scream and swear at fellow motorists.

Do you believe in the power of positive thinking and healing the inner core before being able to successfully deal with the outer world?

Or do you think this kind of stuff is a bunch of flimflam, like when yelling preachers get crippled people to walk on stage?

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Tucson used car salesmen may face decades in prison for fraud

Two Tucson used car salesmen were busted for reportedly doing those nasty things we already think used car salesmen do.

Too bad this Hurricane Motors duo bolstered the negative stereotype, although the news release did not state if they took the stereotype to the limits and also wore cheap, brown suits.

David “Jay” Franklin, 47, and John D. Franklin, Sr., 72, allegedly bilked customers and a finance company out of nearly $200,000 through switched car titles and fraudulent loans. Maximum penalties Franklin and Franklin the elder could get if convicted are 85 and 62 years in prison, respectively.

Did they sell this thing?/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Did they sell this thing?/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Tucson Auto Dealers Charged with Fraud, Money Laundering, Arizona Attorney General news release

PHOENIX – Attorney General Terry Goddard announced the indictment of John David “Jay” Franklin, 47, of Tucson, and John D. Franklin, Sr., 72, of Tucson, on charges of fraudulent schemes and artifices, theft, illegally conducting an enterprise and money laundering.

The Franklins owned and operated Hurricane Motors, a used car dealership located (at 3100 N. Oracle Road) in Tucson. They are alleged to have stolen approximately $50,000 from Hurricane customers as well as $145,000 from Car Financial Services, Inc (“CFI”), a motor vehicle financing company.

According to investigators, Hurricane Motors allegedly defrauded individual buyers out of more than $50,000 through a scheme known as “shuffling titles.” The company allegedly assured buyers that the cars they were purchasing had clean titles, meaning there were no outstanding debts or liens on the cars. In many cases, there allegedly were significant existing liens on the cars.

When customers attempted to register their cars with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department, they were unable to do so because of the existing lien. In addition, the customers who purchased the cars became responsible for the payment of the pre-existing lien.

When customers complained to Hurricane Motors, investigators say that Jay Franklin assured the customers that he would resolve the problem. However, after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain permanent registration, many buyers stopped payment on the cars. Consequently, Hurricane Motors would repossess the cars and, according to investigators, resell them using the same fraudulent tactics.

Additionally, the Franklins allegedly sold the auto financing agreements that individual buyers formed with Hurricane Motors to the financing company, CFI. CFI buys and services contracts from car dealers across the company, thereby absolving dealers of the expense of running a finance company and assuring the payment of contracts.

As a result of this arrangement, CFI became the holder of the financing agreements and stepped in as the replacement financier on the loans. CFI owned the cars until the individual buyers fully paid off the principal and interest on their loans.

Investigators said that the Franklins also established their own finance company, “Riteway,” to finance the end-user loans. All contracts with individual buyers that were financed were sold through loans offered by Riteway.

When the Franklins sold contracts to CFI, they allegedly did not inform many of their individual customers that the financing contracts had been sold and that all payments should be directed to CFI. As a result, Hurricane Motors, through its financing affiliate, Riteway, continued to collect monthly payments from individual buyers.

Further, when individual buyers questioned the new CFI bills they received in the mail, the Franklins allegedly assured them that they would forward payments to CFI and instructed buyers to continue to make payments to Riteway.

As a result, CFI did not receive payment on the cars and repossessed the vehicles. These repossessions led to numerous consumer complaints and ultimately led CFI to learn that Hurricane Motors and its affiliate Riteway never informed the customers that their contracts were sold.

If convicted on all charges, John David “Jay” Franklin faces between 15 and 85.6 years in prison, and John D. Franklin, Sr. faces between 10 and 62.8 years in prison.

My boss at an insurance agency where I worked would always say he liked used car salesmen. After all, he would qip, they are lower on the ladder than insurance agents.

Have you ever been shafted by a car salesman?
An insurance agent?
Do you think that VW bug featured in Crappy or Snappy was purchased at Hurricane Motors?

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