Paul's Note - December 6, 2019

As my staff and I were getting last week’s update ready to post, I heard the news of the death of Judith Blair. I was able to get a sentence or two up, but her work in our community deserves a lot more than that.

Judith was a Tucson transplant (a word I choose with good reason), coming here when her son Joseph played basketball for the Wildcats. She grew to love our community and stayed after Joseph became a professional player.

She volunteered for many organizations, two of which were affiliated with her son. One was for Joseph’s foundation, the other as a volunteer for his basketball camps.

She also was a vocal advocate for organ donation. “Advocate” may be selling her short: she gave a kidney to a long-time family friend who needed it. From then on, she could be seen wearing outfits with an unusual pattern on the front: a drawing of a kidney on one side, and a dotted line kidney on the other. For those of us that knew her, this wasn’t a brag, but a call to charity for the rest of us.

She wore a pattern like that when she won medals at the Senior Olympics. Yep, she could win races with only one kidney.

Of course, Mama Blair, as so many of us knew her, was a big fan of the Wildcats. She could be spotted at the Men’s games, and, yes, the Women’s games. She wrote a piece that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star where she talked about being unable to even use her school’s gym growing up. She wanted us to support women athletes as much as we did the men.

Most of all, Judith was a woman of strong faith and a giving heart. Tucson will miss her. I will too.

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A member of my staff attended a breakfast put on by Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert. He discussed the challenges that Pima college is working to deal with.

Pima has several missions, and students have a range of reasons to attend. Some students are either not financially or academically ready for a four-year college and Pima can serve as a good preparation for them. Some attend for a two-year degree or certificate program to prepare them for employment.

Pima is now exploring ways to work more closely with local employers on those certificate programs, even looking at shorter term “reskill” programs as workforces have to adopt to new technologies. They have already established this sort of partnership with Caterpillar.

Lambert mentioned that 2/3 of the jobs that today’s first graders will go into as adults don’t yet exist. This is a huge challenge for Pima College and our entire educational system. He mentioned that future jobs need a workforce with more emotional intelligence and literacy skills. A worker with these, he said, doesn’t have to fear a robot replacing him or her.

Pima is also looking at putting more of an emphasis on online classes. Instructors will be trained to teach online, and new hires will need to be comfortable with online classes. This will make classes accessible to more people: students with full-time work schedules, single parents and anyone that can’t take time out of their day to go to a campus.

Part of my job as a councilperson is to bring more high-paying employers to Tucson. If Pima continues on this path, we’ll have a good selling point.

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There is an open spot on the Environmental Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) for a Ward 2 resident. The board meets once a month and, in its official description, “serves in an advisory role to the Environmental Services Department relating to planning, design and implementation of programs and services.” If you would be interested in serving on the committee, send a resume to ward2@tucsonaz.gov.