Paul's Note - October 12, 2018

Tucson received a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Metropolitan Equality Index.

The MEI rates cities on issues in five categories: Non-Discrimination Laws, Municipality as Employer, Municipal Services, Law Enforcement, and LBGT Equality.

The survey rated 508 cities and 78 of them received scores of 100. Two other cities in Arizona, Phoenix and Tempe, also received 100 ratings. Gilbert jumped 36 points for enacting a non-discrimination law, but is still far behind Tucson at 55.

Tucson lost a few points for not meeting HRC’s “Inclusive Workplace” standard which includes recruitment and retention policies for LBGT employees. I’d like to find out a bit more about what other communities are doing in this area. We were able to make up points as the survey allowed for “bonuses” for things like LBGT representation on our city council, which we’ve had since 2005.

I’m proud to be part of a city government that strives to be on the right side of LBGT issues. In 2013, I was part of a unanimous vote to recognize same-sex unions in Tucson. That was a year before the United States Supreme Court recognized marriage rights for same-sex couples.

There is still work to be done, of course. Our LBGT neighbors still suffer workplace discrimination, bullying and worse. My hope is that our council can continue to be an ally.

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At this week’s council meeting we discussed ways to attract more ridership to our transit system. The aim is to continue to attract more “choice” riders, since that’s how we keep the system viable for people that have to ride the bus. We will be offering larger businesses and schools the chance to buy passes in bulk for their employees and students. We will also be looking at ways for so-called “transit oriented” new developments (who are often given breaks on building new parking) to provide transit opportunities for residents.

The use of transit is in a slight downtrend nationally, due to relatively stable gas prices and services like Uber and Lyft. Even with those trends, Tucson has a large population that could use more options for transportation and we need to make sure it stays available.

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If the rain lets up, Downtown is hosting the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival.

The festival has been running for 45 years in downtown Tucson. Sometimes it’s called “Tucson Eat Yourself” because it is a chance for you to sample cuisine from just about every ethnic group in our community: from fry bread to soul food. I’ve been told to check out the latkas at the Polish booth.

It’s more than about the food (but the food is really good!), there is a chance for you to look at works by local artisans and performances by ethnic dance and music groups.

The festival runs Friday and Saturday from 11 to 10 pm and on Sunday from 11 to 6. In the past, it’s been in Presidio Plaza but will instead be at Jacome Plaza outside of the main library, with exhibitions all along Stone and Church Avenues.

To help you get around downtown for TMY or whatever you choose to do (Remember: Second Saturdays and TenWest are going on this weekend too), the streetcar will be free this Saturday from 8 am until 2 am. This will enable you to “park and ride” anywhere along the four-mile route from the University to Mercado San Agustin.