Paul's Note - December 21, 2018

This is the last newsletter before the Christmas Holiday. Thank you all for supporting me and my office for this past year. Blessings to all of you and your families. 

Keep in mind that we will be closing at noon on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Also, my office has tickets to the NOVA Home Loans Bowl. The game will be at at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, December 29 at 11:15 am. This year’s game will feature Arkansas State and the University of Nevada.

If you’d like to pick up tickets, come by any time next Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Our city's information office sent out a summary of events for the past year. I'd like to share them with you:

CITY RECOGNIZED FOR EXCELLENCE IN BUDGETING (3/23/18)- The City of Tucson recently received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The award reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meet the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive the budget award, the City had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in four categories and meet 14 different criteria within those categories. “This recognition confirms the hard work of the City’s Business Services department and its commitment to deliver clear, transparent financial reporting to the citizens of Tucson,” said Joyce Garland, chief financial officer/assistant city manager for the City of Tucson. The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 19,000 government finance professionals. 

NEW YORK TIMES ENCOURAGES READERS TO EXPLORE TUCSON (4/2/18) - The New York Times ran an article in April that called Tucson "a special place" to visit. "There is beautiful public art throughout, as well as a UNESCO-recognized culinary scene. But within easy access are breathtaking mountainscapes, desert kitsch, and outstanding wildlife-viewing opportunities. Tucson is worth a visit for any traveler, regardless of means," the newspaper said. The article also talks about Tucson being a kid-friendly place, having plenty of hiking opportunities, and even mentions the excitement of the Tucson Rodeo. To read the entire article, follow the link below.

TUCSON IS NATIONAL WINNER IN MAYOR’S CHALLENGE FOR WATER CONSERVATION (5/22/18) – Tucson was named one of five national winners in the 7th Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. The month-long campaign in April promoted public awareness about the importance of water and encouraged people to think about their consumption practices. "I'm very pleased Tucsonans took the time to pledge and maybe learn some new ways they can save water," said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. "Tucson has long been a leader in water conservation." Challenge participants also pledged to reduce their use of plastic water bottles and help eliminate hazardous waste from entering watersheds. Tucson was a national winner in 2013 and placed second in each of the last four years. Residents from the five winning cities will be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in water-saving or eco-friendly prizes. Participants also were asked to nominate a deserving charity in their community to receive a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

VETERANS COURT AWARDED GRANT (8/30/18) - The Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court, part of the Tucson City Court system, is the recipient of a $395,000 annual grant over five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Judge Michael Pollard recently announced the grant for the court and the creation of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (Southern Arizona Justice for Veterans) to support it. Veterans Court provides an alternative to jail for offenders who have served in the armed forces and are facing non-sexual, non-violent misdemeanor charges issued in the City of Tucson. Mentors help veterans navigate through the diversion program, helping them avoid a criminal conviction while restoring their sense of self-esteem. In the video linked below, Tucson 12 profiled the program and shared what the staff has in common that makes it a success.

TUCSON AWARDED GRANT TO REVITALIZE ORACLE NEIGHBORHOOD (9/17/18) - The City of Tucson is the recipient of a $1.3 million Choice Neighborhoods Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The money will be used to improve the Oracle Neighborhood and the Tucson House public housing facility in the neighborhood. The first $350,000 will be used to fund planning activities in the target area through the Planning Center, ASU School of Social Work, and Poster Frost Mirto in the development of a comprehensive transformation plan focusing on neighborhoods, people, and housing. The remaining $950,000 of the Planning Grant will be used for capital improvements in the area, which can include infrastructure, parks, facades, transportation, housing, and any public improvements eligible for Community Development Block Grants. Specific projects will be selected through a public engagement process that will be announced soon. That process will involve residents of the Tucson House, community residents, and partners in the projects. The transformation plan will lead the process in applying for a Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant for up to $30 million - $21 million toward the rehabilitation of the Tucson House and $9 million for other neighborhood improvements.

TUCSON LISTED AS A TOP BIKE CITY (10/16/18) - Bicycling Magazine released its biannual ranking of "The Best Bike Cities in America," and Tucson ranked No. 24 on the list of the 50 top cities. The ranking lists cities that "have built systems and a riding culture that benefits everyone—from the kid who rides to school to the retiree who takes a weekend trip to the grocery store." Categories in the survey included safety, friendliness, and culture. "Tucson already has a terrific network of off-street paths, including the 130-mile Loop, which circles the city," the survey said. "Now the goal is making the on-street infrastructure as great as what’s happening off road." A 2017 Bicycle Boulevard Master Plan calls for 193 miles of bicycle improvements on residential street corridors, and the City of Tucson has plans for several protected bike lane projects on busier streets in the coming years. While there is a ranking for best cities for bicycling, the magazine concedes that there is no perfect city, with many fragmented bike networks, nothing besides painted bike lanes, and lack of infrastructure in some cities.

SURVEY RANKS TUCSON A TOP TRAVEL DESTINATION (11/27/18) - Tucson is on Fodor's list of the "52 Places That Inspire Us to Get Going in 2019." The travel and tourism website says Tucson has a little bit of everything. "What self-respecting traveler doesn’t want . . . charming adobe architecture painted in vibrant colors, wide-open spaces blanketed in saguaros, and hearty helpings of Mexican and Mexican-inspired dishes?," Fodor's says. "In this Sonoran Desert city, the only thing that’s better than its golden outdoors is its rich culture, in which Spanish and Native American traditions co-exist with Anglo American ones. A dream vacation is a healthy mix of everything." The website listing for Tucson includes suggestions of where to stay, eat, bike, and have fun.

CITY LEADERS RECOGNIZED AT WOMEN OF INFLUENCE AWARDS (3/9/18) - Tucson Fire Department Assistant Chief Laura Baker won the Public Service Champion Award during Tucson Local Media's Women of Influence Awards in April at the Desert Diamond Casino. In 2015, Baker became the first woman in TFD history to attain the title of assistant chief. In that capacity, Baker previously managed fire prevention, medical administration, and the 911 Communications Center. She currently oversees Logistics, Human Resources, Finance, and is the liaison for Public Information and Community Relations. Baker also helped create Camp Fury, a five-day public safety camp for girls entering grades 9-12.

CITY'S FLEET EARNS NATIONAL RANKING (5/11/18) - The City of Tucson’s Fleet Services Division was named one of the “100 Best Fleets” for 2018. Tucson earned the 53rd rank in the awards announced in May at the annual NAFA Institute and Expo. The award recognizes excellence in fleet management and rewards peak-performing fleet operations. This is the sixth consecutive year in which the City of Tucson is among the top 100 fleets in the nation. The division manages a diverse fleet of more than 2,600 vehicles and oversees fueling operations for the City.

TUCSON WATER RECEIVES STATE AWARD (5/14/18) - Tucson Water received the Large System of the Year award from the AZ Water Association at its annual conference in Phoenix in May. The utility was recognized for leading Arizona’s second-largest city from 100 percent groundwater dependence to reliance on a diverse, primarily renewable water portfolio. This helped keep total water usage at levels from the 1980s, even with an increase of more than 200,000 customers. In addition, Tucson’s partnerships with Phoenix and Las Vegas for Colorado River water storage were noted, as well as its new Neighborhood Green Infrastructure Program.

CITY WINS 2018 WELLNESS AWARD (5/24/18) - The City of Tucson earned the 2018 Healthy Arizona Worksite Program Gold Level Award, which is given to businesses that track and document outcomes and behavior change within their data- and outcomes-driven wellness initiatives. Gold level programs demonstrate support from leadership and integrate worksite health programs with business policies and benefits. The City partners with CIGNA to provide a robust wellness program that includes an annual weight loss competition, quarterly maintenance weigh-ins, Holiday Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge, MotivateMe, healthy cooking demonstrations, on-site flu shot and mammography events, semi-annual wellness fairs, fitness facility partnerships, and more.

CITY GIS TEAM WINS NATIONAL AWARD (7/20/18) - The City of Tucson's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team received a Special Achievement in GIS award from Esri at the GIS mapping software company's annual conference in San Diego in July. The City's GIS team, which has people from numerous departments, was recognized for taking a program that was focused on departmental needs and had numerous duplicative functions, to now having a community of professionals working together to support the goals and aspirations of the City through spatial data and analysis.

TUCSON'S HOMELESS WORK PROGRAM RECEIVED NATIONAL AWARD OF MERIT (7/27/18) - The Tucson Homeless Work Program in July received the Award of Merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). The Tucson Homeless Work Program, created by Ward 5 Tucson City Council Member and Vice Mayor Richard Fimbres in 2016, is a collaborative effort between community nonprofit organizations, the City of Tucson, Pima County, and business leaders. The primary goal of the program is to help people exit homelessness through rapid engagement in daily employment and immediate cash payment for work. Old Pueblo Community Services oversees the program. The agency coordinates transportation, supervises the workers, provides financial oversight, handles all worker pay, maintains worker documentation, and conducts regular evaluation and quality management functions. See related story below.

VICE MAYOR RICHARD FIMBRES HONORED WITH NATIONAL AWARD (8/3/18) - Ward 5 Tucson City Council Member and Vice Mayor Richard Fimbres was honored at the Summer Conference of the Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) for his work creating the Tucson Homeless Work Program and forming the Tucson Homeless Coalition and Tucson Change Movement. The Tucson Homeless Work Program helps people exit homelessness through daily employment and cash payment for their work. In response to issues related to homelessness in Tucson, Fimbres formed the Tucson Homeless Coalition, a group of organizations, businesses, and homeless individuals who tackle complex problems. Fimbres' work with the coalition also helped form the Tucson Change Movement, which uses parking meters as donation stations to collect donations for homeless programs.

CITY EMPLOYEE WINS NATIONAL PROCUREMENT AWARD (9/11/18) - The Institute for Public Procurement (NIGP) in September named the City of Tucson's Victoria Cortinas as its 2018 Manager of the Year. She was recognized as an active promoter and supporter of public procurement who demonstrates a passion for the profession and maintains high ethical standards. During her 21 years with the City, Cortinas has served in various capacities in the Department of Procurement and currently is the administrator of the Procurement Operations Division of the Business Services Department and serves on several committees and task forces at the NIGP Copper Chapter, the local affiliate of the NIGP. Founded in 1944, NIGP exists to develop, support, and promote the public procurement profession. The Institute supports more than 3,000 member agencies and more than 15,000 professionals across the United States, Canada, and other countries outside of North America.

CITY EMPLOYEES WIN WOMEN IN GOVERNMENT AWARDS (9/24/18) - The City of Tucson had several winners in September's Pima County/Tucson Women's Commission Women in Government Awards. Veronica Kearney of the Tucson Police Department's (TPD) Crime Lab won the City Leadership Award. Ashley Covarrubias of TPD won the City Rising Star Award. The Synergy Award for the City of Tucson went to the Public Defender's Office support team of Linda Barraza, Miroslava Martinez, Sheryl Miller-Norton, Regina Noperi, Miriam Perez, Karla Sainz, and Pamela Stewart. Maria Sereno of City Court took home the City's Unsung Heroine Award. You can see photos of the ceremony by following the link below.