Ward 2 Councilmember Paul Cunningham
We finished up another successful El Tour de Tucson this weekend. As with every large event in our city, from the Gem Show to the All Souls Procession, we get a couple of complaints about traffic congestion and general disruption around town. It’s understandable. We got a note from Richard DeBernardis, the founder and director of El Tour de Tucson, that addressed some of the complaints as well as some of the benefits of this event.
Here’s what most people don’t know about the Tour:
The United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provides free tax preparation services to local individuals and families. Volunteers are needed to help low- and moderate-income Tucsonans get their taxes done, helping them save money on preparation fees and avoid predatory lending practices. Volunteers also greet clients and manage VITA tax preparation sites. No previous experience in preparing taxes is necessary. Orientations are scheduled for Nov. 29, Dec. 1, and Dec. 8.
The Southern Arizona office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) currently has many volunteer opportunities available. A volunteer orientation will be held on Thursday, Dec. 6, 3:30-4 p.m., at 2020 N. Forbes Blvd., Suite 102. At the orientation, you will be able to review all available opportunities and go over the volunteer application and background check form (if applicable). Some of the opportunities include court monitoring, outreach volunteering, victim impact panels, and serving on a planning committee for Walk Like MADD events.
For both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Ward 5 councilmember Richard Fimbres arranges for local school children to write thank you cards for patients at our local Veterans Hospital. He’s been doing this for eight years. This year, Tucson students made 4,700 cards. Together with a group of colleagues and friends, Richard hand delivers those cards to vets and staff.
Members of my staff have gone on these visits, and this year the group included outgoing Clerk of the Court Toni Hellon and South Tucson Vice Mayor Herman Lopez, who, like me and Richard, is a US Army veteran.
The Tucson Parks and Recreation department presents the annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair in Reid Park. Come get a jump on your holiday shopping. This free event will draw in more than 140 vendors from all over the Southwest, ranging from artists, crafters, photographers, painters, potters, jewelers, and more. This Thanksgiving weekend fair has become a tradition for many holiday shoppers for more than 30 years.
There are always a lot of new development projects going on in Ward 2, which means that many of you have questions about how the process works. While the issues associated with particular developments are different, the process works much the same.
Words fail me when I think about the violence that occurred this weekend. Mayor Rothschild managed to sum up how I felt in his comments at the Jewish Community Center on Monday night. Here is a part of what he said:
After the assassination of President Kennedy, President Johnson urged the nation to “turn away from the apostles of bitterness and bigotry … and those who pour venom into our nation’s bloodstream.”
The City of Tucson will offer free transit fares all day on Tuesday, November 6th, to make it easier for citizens to vote on Election Day.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for voters to get to the polls,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “The right to vote is so important, and we want to ensure that everyone who’s eligible to vote has the opportunity to vote.”
In coordination with the Presidential Proclamation, Governor Ducey has ordered that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff immediately until sunset on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, in honor and remembrance of the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Individuals, businesses, and other organizations are encouraged to join in this tribute.
Most of our political arguments, at least in local politics, are about education. Over the last few months, it’s been about #RedForEd, charter schools and who should sit on the TUSD board. Education is the most important thing our state government does, and it should consume a lot of our energy as we decide how we are going to vote.
That said, I have a bit of bad news for you. What we do might not matter if kids aren’t ready to be students. 83.5% of preschoolers, that’s over 20,000 kids, are at risk of being not ready for kindergarten.
Last year, more than 300 people in our Ward got their taxes done for free thanks to volunteers with United Way's VITA program. If you'd like to learn more about this program and be a part of its great work, attend an upcoming orientation. This is a valuable but little known way to help people in your community is to help them get their taxes done for free. You'll save them money on preparation fees and help them avoid predatory lending practices that are all too common at tax time.
Clear fall skies and a range of amateur telescopes will await junior rangers, aged 8 to 12, attending “Astronomy Camp” in the Rincon Mountain District of Saguaro National Park on Saturday, November 17. This fall’s event, running from 1 to 8:30 PM will travel from earth orbit to the farthest reaches of space through indoor and outdoor activities and a hands-on telescope session when darkness falls.
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.”