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NewsNet 7-3-13

CAMPAIGN TO END CITY’S PENSION SYSTEM FILES PETITIONS - A political consultant representing an initiative campaign to phase out the Tucson Supplemental Retirement System has turned in signatures to qualify the initiative for this November’s ballot. Representing the Committee for Sustainable Retirement, consultant Pete Zimmerman says he turned in over 23,300 signatures, nearly twice the 12,730 required. The Committee for Sustainable Retirement is backed financially by a national group called the Liberty Initiative Fund, which sponsors anti-pension campaigns via initiative and referendum processes. From the Star.

SUN TRAN RESPONDS TO “SMART CARD” PROBLEMS - Sun Tran says it is addressing issues with its new fare payment system, called “SunGo.” The system launched on Sunday, but some passengers have had trouble getting their cards recognized by the electronic readers on transit vehicles. "We want to assure passengers that if this happens, the driver will let them board until we fix the problems," says General Manager Kate Riley. From the Star. From KOLD/KMSB.

U.S. CITIES LOOK TO EXCHANGES TO CUT RETIREE HEALTHCARE BILLS - Detroit and Chicago are turning to President Obama’s healthcare overhaul to mitigate the healthcare costs of retirees under 65 who don’t yet qualify for Medicare. With U.S. cities facing rising benefit costs and billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, more municipalities will consider moving retirees off city rolls and into the exchanges, even if they continue to subsidize the coverage, said Neil Bomberg, a program director at the National League of Cities in Washington. “Cities and towns will be looking at ways to reduce those costs, and the exchanges may provide a very viable mechanism.” From Bloomberg.

AS OF THIS MORNING, 150 TUCSON HOMES STILL WITHOUT POWER - Tucson Electric Power (TEP) reported this morning that only 150 homes were without electrical service. Originally nearly 20,000 customers had lost power, but crews from TEP have been working over the past several days to restore it. The remaining residents without power are in the Ironwood Hill area, west of Grant and Silverbell. TEP officials say the reason for the delay is solid rock beneath the fallen power poles, and that power should be restored to the remaining homes within 24 hours. From KOLD/KMSB.

FOURTH OF JULY FESTIVITIES INCLUDE NEIGHBORHOOD PARADE, FIREWORKS, AND MORE - The Palo Verde neighborhood is hosting its 50th Annual July 4 parade at 9 a.m., at the corner of Palo Verde Avenue and Camden Street in Tucson, featuring hand-pulled floats and patriotic costumes. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will be the parade marshal, and Tucson Police are providing the color guard. Tomorrow night downtown, the annual ‘A’ Mountain fireworks display starts around 9:15 p.m. Parking will be available in the Tucson Convention Center's (TCC) Parking Lot B, off Granada Avenue between Congress Street and Cushing Street. Parking is free. TCC's Food and Beverage Department will be selling food and beverages between 7:00pm and 9:00pm. From the Weekly. From Visit Tucson.