Paul's Note - October 19, 2018

A man named Walter visits our office every year to get a notarization on a document that says he is still alive. He came in earlier this week.

He is a survivor of the Holocaust, and he needs this paperwork to get a small stipend from the German government.

He jokes that he wants to live to be 100. “I don’t want revenge; but I want them to have to keep paying me.”

Walter has a fascinating story. After his camp was liberated, he fought in Israeli war of independence. He spent time in France and Italy before moving here to Tucson. He chose Tucson because he was fascinated with westerns. He fell in love with our town. He says “Moses chose the wrong desert.” We Tucson natives agree.

Odessa Draheim in our office performed one of the most mundane acts the government can do: she notarized Walter’s paperwork. But when she did so, she affirmed that he still survives one of the greatest crimes human beings have committed against one another. That’s huge.

Much of what Odessa does may not have that sort of existential meaning, but every day she helps whoever walks in or calls on the phone with problems big and small. Is that median getting overgrown with weeds? She knows who to call to get a work order. Pothole in the neighborhood? She’s got the name of someone in the Streets Division. Police issue? She knows who to call.

Last week, Odessa received a LULAC/FBI community service award for her work on behalf of Ward 2 constituents. Sometimes folks like Odessa don’t get recognized for the work they do, so I’m glad she got this award. Thank you for helping make our community better, Odessa.

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The Washington Post ran a story about the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the storm that hit North Carolina last month. There were a couple of quotes that caught my eye:

“I always thought climate change was a bunch of nonsense, but now I really do think it is happening,” said White, a 65-year-old Trump supporter, as she and her young grandson watched workers haul away downed trees and other debris lining the streets of her posh seaside neighborhood last week…

“I’m not a scientist. I just know what I see,” said Carl Marshburn, a Republican who has operated tour boats along the Cape Fear River for three decades. He said he’s had to start coating the bottom of his river boats with antifouling paint to prevent barnacles and other marine organisms from growing amid saltwater intrusion.

There are many more examples like that in the piece. The article was being worked on as another hurricane, Michael, was devastating Florida. As noted in the article, these storms have become more frequent in recent years and more intense. Here in Tucson, we don’t need to see hurricanes to know the results of climate change. We just lived through two of the hottest summers on record.

A UN scientific panel concluded that we have only a few years before such changes are irreversible. Unfortunately, we can’t count on the federal government to take such warnings seriously, or our state government for that matter. Whatever action is going to come is going to be from local governments.

One of the things the city and other local governments have been doing is to ween our facilities off of dirty fossil fuels. My staff attended a dedication of a new set of solar panels at Dietz Elementary school near 29th and Prudence. It is part of 82 such projects that TUSD has done over the past few years.

TUSD’s ambitious solar plan is the largest of any of the state’s school districts. Put together, TUSD expects these solar installations to produce 47% of the district’s energy. The combined effect is equivalent to taking 6,600 cars off of the road.

Whenever I write about these projects, whether it is TUSD or the city doing them, I get the question about how much it will cost the tax payer. Well, it is the same answer as I have given before: nothing. The district has a deal with Constellation Energy. Constellation built it and they make the money up by selling power to the district, at a rate that’s lower than they’d pay for traditional energy from polluting fossil fuels.

You may remember that we have a similar deal for the solar panels at Udall Park. Among the projects the city will be doing over the coming months will be solar panels here at the Ward 2 office. I’ll be glad will be off of fossil fuels.