Karin's Note: Friday, March 21, 2014

-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?

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Dear Tucsonans,

This week Mayor Rothschild attended the Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance meeting (held the third Wednesday of every month, 6-8pm at the Woods Memorial Library). The Mayor learned more about the W3NA and their exceptional, multi-neighborhood and multi-sector collaboration aimed at improving the quality of life across Ward 3. W3NA has secured non-profit status so contributions to projects uplifting an area can be tax deductible and so neighborhoods/partnerships can apply for grants. I applaud the community leaders in Ward 3 who initially envisioned and created this high-impact model, including Marc Haberman (Cabrini), Carlos Nagel (Limberlost), John Kovacik (Prince Tucson), Hilary Madrid (Balboa Heights), Armando Vargas (Northwest), Sandra Miller (Richland Heights East) and the many others who have been engaged to make the vision a reality. 

Already St. James United Methodist Church, which has secured a $300,000 multi-year grant, is working with W3NA to set up neighborhood enhancement teams. The teams will offer localized community service opportunities for youth in the juvenile corrections system and target the concerns of Ward 3 residents and businesses (e.g. beautification projects).  In turn Ward 3 folks will help recruit mentors to be screened and trained, and help identify internships and jobs for young people involved. See what I mean by high-impact?! We have much to look forward to in our work together.

After the W3NA overview and update, participants heard Mayor Rothschild’s vision for strengthening our community.  You can visit his website to learn more about specific goals and programs he has prioritized, and read his full two-year plan (https://www.mayorrothschild.com/). I’m grateful to the Mayor for spending the evening with Ward 3 community leaders and grateful to those leaders for ever-improving our corner of this beloved City.

Historic Landmarks

At our Council meeting on Tuesday we adopted changes to the Unified Development Code so property owners now have clarity and a streamlined process for seeking a Historic Landmark designation. In Ward 3 we’ve succeeded in working with many partners to help preserve iconic destinations like the Ghost Ranch Lodge on Miracle Mile, the Mason Dixon House off N. Prince, the Matus/Meza house that is now the Old Pascua Museum, and Monterrey Court to name just a few. Our step this week will help insure that we can hold on to more of these kinds of unique and valuable places that set Tucson apart and reflect the cultural heritage of our region.

Anti-Graffiti Campaign

Most of you already know that you can call the City’s Graffiti Hotline—792-2489—to report tagging on public property. You can also call to get tags that are visible from major streets (and accessible from right of way) abated even if those are on private property (private property owners must agree to the service).  The Mayor/Council has insisted on sustaining our $1 million budget for graffiti abatement through the economic downturn, and has been joined by major private sector partners such as TEP, which now abates graffiti on its own utility boxes and facilities (https://www.tep.com/).

On Tuesday we also reinstated the work of the City’s Anti-Graffiti Task Force. The group will involve a broad cross section of public and private sector groups and will focus on bolstering the prevention, prosecution/diversion and abatement elements needed to reduce vandalism and tagging. We hope to emulate the Metropolitan Pima Alliance’s Coalition against Metal Theft and already have key partners engaged, including the Building Owners and Managers Association and the neighborhoods-led Graffiti Action Forum. I’ll share more on Task Force strategies and resources devoted to the problem over the coming months.

 

Car Impounds

Some years ago Pima County renegotiated their contracts with towing companies so a greater share of proceeds from abandoned/auctioned vehicles reverts back to the County. On Tuesday we directed staff to pursue a similar negotiation. I will work with staff and colleagues to insure that our approach does not create any perverse incentive on the part of TPD to impound cars any differently than they do now. By sticking with existing protocols and continuing to encourage options for avoiding impounds (e.g. contacting an alternate driver if the infraction is a minor versus serious offense), we can collect a better share of the resources already being generated; they are sorely needed to cover costs in our public safety budget. I’m obviously sensitive to the hardship posed by the loss of a vehicle. At the same time I would bet most of those drivers would prefer that the money generated fund local services instead of simply bolstering the profits of a couple of local towing contractors.

Charter Change Proposals
 

On Tuesday the Mayor/Council established a Charter Advisory Committee to review items that we could refer to the ballot for voter consideration. The purpose of the Committee will be to help outline what, in our community’s opinion, is structurally “broken” and what proposed changes would be best “fixes.” The work of this Committee could be key in reinforcing our ongoing efforts to improve the responsiveness and performance of our local government. While some public sector problems can and have been fixed through better governing and responsible management, others challenges seem to be rooted in the structure we’re operating within as prescribed by our Charter. Some elements in the Charter, for example, weaken the authorities of both the Mayor and the City Manager even though they (along with the Council) are perceived as the top positions of authority in the organization. Increasingly, when I hear concerns expressed about effectiveness and accountability, I realize there are underlying structural/Charter provisions that seem to set us up for confusion, mistrust, or outright failure. The step we took on Tuesday opens a community dialogue to be sure that Mayor and Council can soon refer questions to the ballot based upon a solid sense of what would truly improve City government and our service to the public.

Budget

We received further information on key enterprise and restricted funds this week, including Parkwise, Environmental Services, Highway User Revenue/Transportation Funds, and our Self Insurance Fund. We will have a Special Session next Tuesday, March 25, at 4:30 pm on our General Fund budget for FY2015. A critical factor we’re assessing is to what extent the economic recovery taking hold will enable us to more aggressively tackle longer-term structural challenges in addition to balancing the annual ledger. To be clear, we have made progress on several of those long-term challenges even during the worst years of the downturn (for example we have improved the funded ratios for both the Tucson Pension system and our Self Insurance Fund quite substantially). However we have slowed our pace of debt-repayment and capital maintenance/investment, patterns that can be costly and will have to be reversed over the next few years. Our discussion will no doubt cover the immediate demands with an eye on that long-view horizon. I know most of you understand that challenge as you manage your own finances. I’ll keep sharing information with you as specific choices come into focus for us.

Thanks and have a great weekend,
K

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Ward 3 Events:

-Free Tax Help – Tuesdays 1:00 – 5:00 pm and Saturdays 9:00 am – noon at the Ward 3 City Council Office Community Room, 1510 E. Grant Road. The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program is once again open at the Ward 3 office. Volunteers will be at this location on Tuesday afternoons and Saturday mornings, through April 12th, preparing tax returns free of charge to eligible low-income families and individuals. No appointment necessary, clients are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Those wishing to receive assistance must bring a picture I.D. and original Social Security card for each family member, proof of income, including W2 and 1099 forms, documentation of deductible expenses, prior year tax return if possible, and account routing numbers for those wanting to have direct deposit of refunds.

- Flowing Wells Grad Night Rummage Sale – Saturday, March 22nd 7:00 am – 2:00 pm at 3725 N. Flowing Wells Road. All proceeds go towards keeping our Seniors safe on Grad Night 2014!

-Sun Tran/Sun Van Open House – Friday, March 28th from 10:00 am - noon at the Woods Memorial Library. Starting March 18th, Sun Tran and Sun Van are hosting several open house events throughout the city for passengers and public to learn about service change and fare proposals, as well as provide comment. For more information or a schedule of other available sessions in Tucson, call us at 520-791-4711 or visit /files/media-releases/Sun_Tran_Proposed_Svc_Changes_-_Fare_Increase.pdf

-Celebrate LOVE – Sunday, March 30th from 2:30 – 5:00 pm at Monterey Court 505 West Miracle Mile. The Culture of Peace Alliance (COPA) is hosting an afternoon of music, storytelling, poetry and creative inquiry dedicated to all the ways love touches and transforms our lives. $10 suggested donation to benefit COPA, Signs for Change, and Wingspan. For more info visit http://www.cultureofpeacealliance.org/page.php?page=clove

-Lend A Hand Yard Sale – Saturday and Sunday, April 5th and 6th, from 7:00 am - 1:00 pm at 1545 E. Water St. - It's that time of year again! If you have items to donate to a worthy cause, consider Lend A Hand. Donations are tax-deductible. And, of course, plan to come to the sale – there are always some wonderful things hidden in among what used to be your stuff. To donate items call Jane Hoffmann at 323-9299.

-The Great Rillito Wash Up! – Saturday, April 5th from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm starting just east of Oracle Rd on the south side river path. Join Pima County RFCD and Tucson Clean & Beautiful in cleaning up the Rillito riverbed. Bring your refillable water bottles and sunscreen! Gloves, grabbers, and water will be provided. Wear long pants and sturdy close-toe shoes. For more info contact Suzie Bohnet at 724-4600.

-Donna Liggins Recreation Center Open House – Friday, April 11th from 4:30 – 7:30 pm at the Donna R. Liggins Recreation Center, 2160 N. 6th Ave. Come and meet new supervisor AJ Rico and her staff. Take a tour of the facility, learn about enhanced programs for youth and seniors, and explore new programs such as open volleyball. Show off your serve in a volleyball skills competition from 5:30 – 7:30 pm for ages 7 to adult. Prizes in each category will be awarded. Other activities include a “Walk through Time” neighborhood display of historical articles and pictures of the El Cortez and Sugar Hill neighborhoods, Mansfield Park and Donna Liggins Center. Activities for children to participate in will be available as well as light snacks and drinks.

- “What You Always Wanted to Know About Water…” – Thursday, April 24th from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at the Ward 3 office. Tucson Water invites you to celebrate Water Awareness Month and learn more about water! Meet experts, ask questions, and enjoy light refreshments. Check out this link for more detail: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/water/docs/April_Water_Session_3.pdf

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Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meetings:

-Hedrick Acres NA – Monday, March 24th at 6:30 pm – Mountain Avenue Church of Christ, 2848 N. Mountain Ave.

-Keeling NA – Monday, March 24th at 7:00 pm – Cornerstone, 2902 N. Geronimo

-Amphi Community Action Group – Wednesday, March 26th at 5:30 pm – Prince Elementary School Library, 125 E. Prince Rd
 

-EGGstravaganza Planning – Wednesday, March 26th at 5:30 pm - Donna R. Liggins Recreation Center, 2160 N. 6th Ave.

-Jefferson Park NA – Wednesday, March 26th at 6:00 pm – Ward 3 Community Room, 1510 E. Grant Rd

-Amphi NA – Thursday, March 27th at 6:30 pm – 240 N. Geronimo

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Citywide Events:

-Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival – Friday, March 21st – Sunday, March 23rd at the Leo Rich Theatre 260 S. Church. This 21st Tucson Winter Chamber Musical Festival provides an intense and uplifting week of musical activities at a time when spring arrives in the Sonoran Desert. Visit http://arizonachambermusic.org/series/festival/ for more info.

-Fourth Avenue Street Fair – Friday through Sunday, March 21st to 23rd from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm at 4th Avenue between University and 9th. Free to the public, the Fourth Avenue Street Fair brings together 400+ arts and crafts booths, 35+ food vendors, a Main Stage, street musicians, food, jugglers, street performers, and the ever so popular Free Kids hands-on-art Pavilion. More info: http://www.fourthavenue.org/general-information/

-Planning Forums Workshop- Saturday, March 29th from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm at Pima County Housing Center 801 W. Congress St. The League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson presents a free workshop on planning forums. Come and learn the steps in producing a successful event for your club or organization. You’ll find out about working with other groups, deciding staffing, location, and more. Light refreshments will be served. Register at 327-7652 or 326-3018.

-NAMIWalks – Saturday, March 29th at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, 2500 E. Ajo Way – Walk for Mental Health! NAMIWalks is an awareness-raising program of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. All proceeds from NAMIWalks will be used to fund NAMI’s programs which include support, education, advocacy and the encouragement of research involving mental illnesses. Participate in the 3k or 5k. Registration begins at 7:00 am with the walk starting at 9:00 am from the baseball field. Not walking? Bring a chair or blanket and listen to the entertainment from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm. More info at http://www.namiwalksaz.org/

-Park Place Chalk Art Festival – Saturday, March 29th from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sunday, March 30th from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm at Park Place 5870 E. Broadway Blvd. The third annual Park Place Chalk Festival will be a true community collaboration of the arts. Participants will transform Park Place sidewalks into colorful works of art with mural artists creating elaborate, large scale pieces. Learn more at https://saaca.org/Park_Place_Chalk_Art.php

- Blenman Elm Home Tour - Sunday, March 30th from 12:30 - 5:00 pm at Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St. The Blenman-Elm Neighborhood is hosting a home tour this spring, and will be generously donating part of their proceeds to Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse. Tickets are $10.00 (includes $1.00 donation to EMERGE!) available the afternoon of the tour at the Church. More info: http://www.emergecenter.org/

-How to Moderate Workshop- Saturday, April 5th from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm at Murphy-Wilmot Branch Library 530 N. Wilmot Rd. The League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson presents a free workshop on moderating forums, debates, and panels. Come and learn the tips and techniques on how to make everything run smoothly with everyone following the rules and being civil to one another. Light refreshments will be served. Register at 740-5779 or 326-3018.

-Tucson Hullabaloo – Saturday, April 5th – Sunday, April 6th at Armory Park 221 S. 6th Ave. Presented in conjunction with Cyclovia Tucson, Tucson Hullabaloo is a celebration of all things Tucson! Bring your family and come join for bike parades, costume contests, entertainment and more. More info at http://tucsonhulla.com/

-Viva La Local – Sunday, April 6th from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Rillito Downs 4502 N 1st Ave. In conjunction with Cyclovia Tucson, Viva La Local Food Festival celebrates the joyous local flavors of Baja Arizona. Food, drink, farmers market, music, and more… Come be part of the experience! Free admission with $5 food and drink tastings. For more info, visit http://www.vivalalocalfoodfest.com/#about

- Color the Mural – Sunday, April 6th 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the House of Neighborly Service 243 W. 33rd St. Get ready to paint! In conjunction with Cyclovia Tucson, Safos Dance Theatre is creating a mural to reflect the 50+ year history of the House of Neighborly Service in the City of South Tucson. Paints, brushes, and aprons will be provided. http://safosdance.wixsite.com/color

-Cyclovia Tucson – Sunday, April 6th from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm from Downtown to South Tucson. Five miles of car-free city streets for walking, biking, and all-out fun! Presented by the Living Streets Alliance, this annual event temporarily transforms Tucson’s streets into safe recreational space open to everyone, and is a proven cost-effective way to introduce thousands of Tucsonans to sustainable, healthy, safe and active transportation habits. Visit https://www.cycloviatucson.org/ for more info. 

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Did You Know...?

…that Lend A Hand is looking for a volunteer to accept telephoned transportation requests from clients a few hours per day, Monday-Friday. Calls received by voicemail will need to be confirmed by return call to the client within 24 hours. All of the week's requests will be relayed to the Program Coordinator on a scheduled basis via email for further handling. A backup volunteer will take over when you require time off. If you can be available a few hours a day to answer the provided cell phone, have a computer and knowledge of basic Microsoft Office software, and would like to join the Lend A Hand team, please contact Michelle Brubaker at 248-6882 or info@lahseniorhelp.org

…that the Yaqui (Yoeme) Lenten Ceremonies in the Old Pascua Yaqui Community have begun and will continue through Easter Sunday? The Yoeme interpretation of the Catholic liturgy for the Easter season through the re-enactment of the Passion of Jesus Christ is concurrently dramatized with the Pre-Christian Pascola and Deer Dancing. Activities take place at Capilla San Ignacio de Loyola, Pascua Neighborhood Center, at 785 W. Sahuaro and are open to the public.  NO CELL PHONES, NO PHOTOS and NO RECORDINGS are allowed at the ceremonies.  For more information on dates and times of the traditional ceremonies, please call the Pascua Neighborhood Center at 791-4873

…that Tucson Arts Brigade is seeking youth arts submissions? All media accepted for a one day event entitled "Color of Our Voices: A Generation of Creative Youth (G2A)" to take place Saturday April 26th 4:00 – 7:00 pm at the Maker House, 283 N. Stone Ave. To apply, youth up to age 24 can visit http://www.tucsonartsbrigade.org/ and download an application, email info@TucsonArtsBrigade.org or call us at 520-623-2119. Submissions must be returned by March 31.

…that Cyclovia Tucson is seeking some cheerful greeters to orient participants to all the great activities happening in Santa Rita Park on April 6. This year the exhibitors will be set back into the park rather than lined up along 4th Avenue, and organizers want to be sure folks don't just blow past and miss the cool happenings in the park. Lindsay Walker with Living Streets Alliance is coordinating Cyclovia's volunteers.  For more information visit https://www.cycloviatucson.org/volunteer/

…that there is still time to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace? Visit a Pima County In-Person Health Coverage Information & Enrollment Site to get help signing-up. Over twenty sites will be open from now until the 30th. Go to http://soazcares.org/ to find one in your neighborhood and make an appointment.