Hot Links: Arizona State Parks, Shawn Hawkins, and AZ Rattlers

The Arizona State Parks Board voted to close 13 parks last month, but cost estimates show that closing the parks might be more expensive than keeping them open. Closing Fort Verde Historic State Park, for example, will cost taxpayers $141,000 -- about $46,000 more than it would cost to keep the park open for another year. To obtain funds to keep the parks open, Parks board members are lobbying for a House resolution that would ask voters to pay a $9 surcharge on vehicle registrations to help fund the parks, and the Senate is considering a bill that would allow park boards to lease parks to public or private entities...The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of 35 suspected illegal immigrants yesterday. The Sheriff's Office says the arrests were the results of three separate traffic stops in which deputies identified vehicles used to smuggle illegal immigrants across the United States. The MCSO says these immigrant arrests bring their tally to 141 in the past month...

A House committee passed a bill that would lower Arizona's minimum wage for people younger than 22. The bill proposes dropping minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $5.44 an hour. Labor unions oppose the bill, and say they may sue if it passes, because minimum wage was set by voters, not the Legislature. The bill must still be approved by the full Legislature and signed by the governor...

Chandler Police Lt. Shawn Hawkins has retired, following accusations that he had sex with a co-worker while on duty. Hawkins reportedly admitted to having a sexual relationship for the past two years with an administrative secretary for the Chandler Police Department. The pair reportedly exchanged intimate photos and engaged in sexual activity at police facilities. The secretary, Aurore Gorga, also resigned...A convicted child molester in Scottsdale who fled the state, leaving a picture of his middle finger for his probation officer, has been caught in California. Wesley Bikoff was convicted of molesting a 5-year-old girl and had been on the run since August, after removing his ankle bracelet. He's now awaiting extradition to Arizona to face new charges...Less than a year after the Arena Football League pulled the plug on them, the Arizona Rattlers are back. The team announced a deal with the NFL Network and KAZT-TV to broadcast nine of its 16 games. The Rattlers, who won the league title in 1994 and 1997, will have their first game of the season on April 3 against the Cleveland Gators. The first televised game will be at US Airways Center April 17, when the Rattlers face off against the Mike Ditka-owned Chicago Rush.  

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea