Karin's Note: Friday, June 6, 2014

Karin's Note: Friday, June 6, 2014
-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?
Dear Tucsonans,
This week the Mayor and Council passed the budget, making an adjustment I had advocated in my last communication. After confirmation from the Manager’s Office that $100,000 in healthcare benefit savings had been identified during final calculations (because employees/retirees copays for specialists have gone from $40 to $45), I made a motion to reconsider the exclusive funding of workforce development and Mayor and Council supported Vice Mayor Cunningham’s motion to use $100,000 to fully restore the workforce/events/economic development allocation (from $500,000 to $600,000). We will also receive an update at our August meeting on the business plan being developed by Access Tucson so we can consider additional allocations toward their collaborative, community media center vision. I pointed out during the meeting that I believe the annual spending we’re devoting to state legislative lobbying needs to be reviewed. We have two highly capable staff members focused on that task, as well as membership in the Arizona League of Cities and a $222,000 consulting contract. At a minimum I’d like to insure that we have a tightly defined focus for any lobbying work and that, if we retain lobbyists, we be billed hourly for services. That should lead to some savings that we could apply to priority services and concerns. It would take very modest funding to sustain funding to Access as well as to the Tucson Pima Arts Council (cut by $50,000); I’ll be keeping that in mind as updates come during the fiscal year.
Overall the budget does prioritize core services. Savings will be achieved primarily through reorganizing departments and functions, pushing as much spending as we can to direct services. I regret that some of the positions eliminated will lead to layoffs, and genuinely hope that—as has been the case in the past—employees affected will find new opportunities for rehire within the City structure.
In addition all of our labor contracts will be reopened for negotiation over the coming year. That’s the appropriate process for us to reexamine “premium pay” items (like sick leave buyback). We need to revisit how premium pay has been used to keep pace with prevailing compensation levels in the Arizona/southwest labor market and either affirm the specific rationale for each perk/benefit or renegotiate more competitive and transparent base pay ranges. If, for example, buying back sick leave each pay period (from those having banked enough hours and having served the required number of years) was instituted to encourage longevity and reduce overtime costs we need to be sure that’s the best mechanism to meet those objectives or change our compensation approach and budget accordingly. I know it generates great headlines to attack “perks”; but it’s a disservice to employees and Tucsonans to pretend those weren’t negotiated and approved (year after year, unanimously by this Mayor and Council), and a disservice to ignore the rationale and associated objectives underlying the premium. We can tackle all of this most constructively through “meet and confer”, contract negotiations, and civil public discussion. In the meantime “pension spiking” (i.e. factoring premium pay like sick leave buyback into pension calculations, a practice which Mayor/Council was not aware of) has been challenged in court and has been suspended through a legal opinion issued by our City Attorney. We know pension costs must be aggressively managed and we will keep that in focus as we move into FY2015.
Mayor and Council hopes to appoint an interim City Manager at our June 17 meeting (by July 8 at the latest) based upon recommended candidates forwarded by outgoing City Manager Miranda, City Attorney Mike Rankin and the Mayor. We all agreed that the interim should not be an applicant for the permanent position. We’ll also finalize the process for recruiting, interviewing and selecting the new City Manager. I will advocate for deliberate public input up front in developing the posting and outline of essential qualifications as well as in interviewing/evaluating finalists. We will utilize a search firm for specific tasks and discuss the recruitment/hiring process further at our June 17 Mayor/Council meeting.
Mayor/Council voted to accept the 3 to 1 matching grant offered through the Community Foundation (cost to City no more than $13,500) so the Citizen Charter Review Committee’s work will be supported and facilitated by an outside person with relevant knowledge and experience. I am pleased we took that step so staff will not drive, nor be overburdened by, the undertaking. Neither will Mayor and Council. All of us expressed the desire to hear from the Committee and the public so we can refer the highest priority Charter revisions to future ballots for voter consideration. We’ll choose the outside consultant (being recommended through our procurement department) at our July 8 meeting so the Committee can begin work soon. The Committee’s meetings will be posted and open to the public, and I’ll keep you informed as their deliberations proceed.
Ward 3 Events:
- Juneteenth Festival – Saturday, June 14th 3:00 – 9:00 pm at the Donna Liggins Rec Center 2160 N. 6th Avenue. Juneteenth commemorates African American Achievement and the end of slavery in the United States. Come celebrate Tucson’s 44th Annual Juneteenth Festival and acknowledge this historic moment and the journey of freedom for people around the globe. All are welcome! The event will include speakers, workshops, music, cultural entertainment, historic presentations and exhibits, as well as a TUSD Essay Contest and YMCA Basketball Tournament. Enjoy a free soul food plate from 3:00 – 4:30 pm! For more information, call 520-499-7014 or email jtfestival2014@gmail.com.
- Urban Agriculture & Harvesting Forum – Wednesday, June 18th 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Ward 3 City Council Office 1510 E. Grant Road. Join the Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance for their annual forum where gardeners and interested neighbors can learn about resources in the community as well as look at the big picture around urban gardening, harvesting, and sustainable food production in Tucson. Topics will include creating a Citizen Science & Desert Food Masters certification, matching food supply to demand, and creating a true desert oasis in Tucson. W3NA hopes that from this meeting neighbors can work together to create a vision of optimal food security in Tucson for the future and that this may begin a community wide organization to work together for the well-being of everyone.
- Park Avenue Transportation Enhancement Project Open House – Wednesday, June 18th 6:00 – 7:30 pm at Salpointe High School Cafeteria 1545 E. Copper St. Join TDOT staff to learn about improvements to Park Avenue between Speedway and Ft Lowell Road, including a decomposed granite pedestrian path, a pilot project approved by the Regional Transportation Authority. There will also be water harvesting features, landscape improvements and a new crosswalk.  These improvements were initiated by five neighborhoods who collaborated on a Transportation Enhancement grant in 2006. Construction is scheduled for summer 2015. For materials in accessible formats or languages other than English, please call 520-791-4371 by June 13th.
- Benefit Concert for the Mountain View Neighborhood Tree Planting Project - Sunday, June 29th 6:00 - 9:00 pm at Boondocks Lounge 3306 N. 1st Avenue. The Boondocks Lounge is hosting a musical benefit to assist with the cost of caring for the new trees planted near the popular bar and grill. The Mountain View Neighborhood Association is working towards creating a "green belt" for future farmers markets and community gatherings. Boondocks owners Cathy Warner and Bill Shew have owned the venue for 18 years and regularly host concerts and musical benefits for nonprofit organizations and local concerns.
The event features award-winning singer/songwriter Kevin Pakulis offering a lively mix of his original and uniquely-interpreted American songs. Joining his Band's regular line-up of Kevin Heiderman on bass, drummer Les Merrihew and Joel Dvoskin on guitar and vocals will be Special Guests pedal-steel guitarist Neil Harry and singer Ned Sutton. $7.00 Suggested Donation. www.boondockslounge.com
Save the Date!
Tucson Talks Transit with Jarrett Walker Friday, July 11th 5:00 pm at Tucson Electric Power Company 88 E. Broadway.  Join us for a free public presentation from Jarrett Walker, international consultant in public transit planning and policy as well as author of the book Human Transit. Mr. Walker has written and worked extensively on the integration of public transit into community planning at all scales and he brings to us the entire spectrum of planning perspectives, from visionary urbanism to operational detail. Sign-in and reception will start at 5:00 pm with the presentation starting at 6:00 pm.
Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meetings:
-The Oracle Project Steering Committee (TOPS) – Tuesday, June 10th at 5:30 p.m. TPD Westside substation, 1310 W. Miracle Mile
-Alvernon/Grant Initiative (AGI/TNBC) – Tuesday, June 10th at 6:30 p.m. Emerge! 2425 N. Haskell
-Mountain/1st NA – Saturday, June 14th at 9:00 am Mitchell Park, 1060 E. Mitchell
Citywide Events:
- Cox Movies in the Park Adventures of Tin TinFriday, June 6th at dusk in Reid Park Demeester Performing Arts Pavilion 900 S. Randolph Way. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy Adventures of Tin Tin along with popcorn, soda, food vendors, live music, jumping castles, balloon twisters, and arts and crafts exhibits from area non-profits. Admission is free! Visit https://saaca.org/Cox_Movies_in_the_Park.html for more details
- Building Resilient Neighborhoods - Monday, June 9th 6:00 – 8:00 pm, in the Lower Level Meeting Room at Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone. As heat waves, flooding and other weather-related emergencies increase, when “sheltering in place” becomes the default response, will your neighborhood be a caring and sharing place?  The challenges and opportunities are great. Join Sustainable Tucson and neighborhood leaders to explore how community cohesion can increase your resilience. Speakers will include David Burley, organizer at Tortillita Eco-village in Avra Valley, and Joanie Sawyer and Michael Ray, members of the Vulnerable Communities and Neighborhoods Task Force, an outcome of the 2013 Climate Smart Southwest national conference.
- Urban Agriculture Meeting – Tuesday, June 10th 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the YWCA 1st Floor Meeting Room 525 N. Bonita Ave. You are invited to a public meeting on the effort underway to revise the City’s zoning regulations on urban agriculture, including farmers’ markets, community gardens, urban farms, and the keeping of small animals. The foundation for this initiative is the Urban Agriculture policies included in Plan Tucson, the City's General and Sustainability Plan, ratified by voters in the November 5, 2013, election.  This meeting will be one of two public meetings to be held on this effort. For more details, visit https://www.tucsonaz.gov/integrated-planning/public-meetings
- Cinema La Placita NotoriousThursday, June 12th 7:30 pm at La Placita Village 110 S. Church Avenue. It’s Cinema La Placita’s 15th season showing classic movies outdoors in downtown Tucson! June is Hitchcock month and this week will feature his 1946 film Notorious, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. $3 admission includes all the popcorn you can eat and goes directly toward funding the series. More info at http://www.cinemalaplacita.com/
- A New Beginning Celebratory Reception – Saturday, June 14th 3:00 pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art 265 S Church Ave.  MOCA hosts the celebratory reception of A New Beginning, a photo essay & narrative created in partnership with International Rescue Committee of Tucson that depicts local refugee women and their children as they begin their new lives feeling supported and empowered. Visit http://www.lifeaglowphoto.com/a-new-beginning-2/ to learn more about the project.
- El Día de San Juan Fiesta – Tuesday, June 24th 5:00 – 10:00 pm at Mercado San Agustin 885 W. Congress. El Día de San Juan Committee invites the public to the 17th Annual El Dia de San Juan Fiesta. The Fiesta will feature a procession, live music and dance, food and arts & crafts vendors, games and activities for children, and free water and watermelon. Free and open to the public, the Fiesta is non-alcoholic and boasts a family-friendly atmosphere. El Día de San Juan honors the Saints Day of St. John the Baptist, and has been celebrated by families living on the Westside for a century. Local tradition hails St. John the Baptist as the one who brings the rains, kicking off the monsoon season in the Old Pueblo.
Did You Know...?
that ITNGreaterTucson needs volunteer drivers? Over 16,000 Pima County people stay home every day because they don’t have access to transportation.  They are disconnected from friends, doctors, stores, any number of services and experiences. If you have an hour a week to give, you could be a lifeline to someone who needs to reconnect with the world outside their door.  ITNGreaterTucson is a non-profit providing safe, convenient, affordable transportation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for seniors 60+ wherever they need to go.  We depend on the generosity of volunteer drivers.  The need is great, but so are the rewards of helping someone regain a bit of independence and freedom.  Staying connected is one of the keys to a healthy community.  Volunteer: Give an hour, Get a smile, Gain a friend. For information on membership or to volunteer call Kathy Wilson at 520-209-1645.