Karin's Note: Thursday, July 11, 2013

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

Dear Tucsonans,

The November Election Ballot will include a number of initiatives of importance to our community. I trust City voters to review the information available when deciding whether to vote yes or no on each of the questions put before us. Here’s my perspective:

Plan Tucson

After an extensive two-year communitywide process, Mayor and Council voted Tuesday to adopt a proposed General Plan for our community, and now it (Plan Tucson) goes to the voters for ratification. The document provides overarching guidance for Mayor and Council to follow in the future as we consider specific policies impacting our economic, natural, social and built environments. You can see the final document here: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/pdsd/plan-tucson. Before referring this final draft to the ballot, Mayor and Council heard from a wide range of interests all in favor of allowing voters to consider the Plan this November. I thank the City staff team involved in facilitating such an inclusive process and all of the people who weighed in to help us develop the final draft. I agree that it’s a solid and comprehensive framework to guide us moving forward.

Pension Reform

A group based in Virginia called “the Liberty Initiative fund” has utilized paid signature gatherers to place an initiative on Tucson’s ballot this year that would end our public employee pension system overnight, supposedly in the name of fiscal responsibility.  The problem is, the numbers don’t work out, and this proposed “solution” would in fact cause a dramatic hit to the City’s General Fund for at least the next 20 years.

I admit a bias against out-of-state players who barrel into Tucson with their solution to matters of local concern. In this case my bias has been heightened by the out-of-towners’ hiring of the same local firm that was hired several years ago by the powerful payday lending industry when they wanted to keep charging more than 400% interest for their small dollar loans. I and many others fought hard to end that predatory practice in Arizona in 2010, and we prevailed despite the industry’s messaging that payday lending was “a needed service”.

Once again we’re being offered “a needed solution”, this time for the management of our local pension system. When our finance director Kelly Gottschalk met with the out-of-town Liberty Initiative Fund and their local public relations representative, she asked them whether they knew of the steps already taken by Tucson since 2006 to shore up our pension system. Their reply: “no”.

Apparently they are not concerned either by studies which show that their “solution” ends up costing up to 45% more in finance fees and charges than the type of pooled system we currently have. Perhaps most alarming of all, it is clear that their proposal would impact the City budget very hard, very quickly (initial projections put the annual hit at $24 million). There’s no doubt in my mind that we must continue to improve the long term structural balance of our pension system; we have to keep at the work we began in 2006 (we implemented further improvements just this past year). I don’t think this voter initiative, however, represents the best interests of Tucsonans.

Red Light Cameras

This initiative is entirely grass roots and will help us resolve the looming question over whether Tucson should utilize red light cameras in traffic enforcement. None of us likes to get traffic citations in the mail or otherwise, and most of us struggle to pay the fines or attend classes associated with infractions. I have been persuaded, however, that the cameras have helped us to improve public safety and reduce accidents and fatalities on our streets. Since that remains a key priority in our community I remain supportive of utilizing this means of achieving that goal.
In the coming months there will be more information circulating about all of these ballot initiatives, and I know you will look at each closely. 

Jobs and the Economy

Our emergence from the horrible economic downturn continues. While Tucson’s unemployment rate peaked at 10% in January of 2010, the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2013 put that rate at 6.3% (1.5% better than the Arizona statewide rate). We’re on the right track toward full recovery. 
As we wrap up the week, our firefighting community and the 19 lost fire fighters from Prescott are in the forefront of my mind, and I want to remind folks that financial contributions to help the families of the fallen can be sent to the 100 Club at http://www.100club.org  or the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at https://wffoundation.org/.  Please support them in whatever way you can.


Ward 3 Events:

-Property Research Online Workshop – Tuesday, July 16 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road. This is an introduction to City of Tucson’s Property Research Online (PRO) website. Participants will learn how to use a GIS map to locate a property, identify the neighborhood and ward, trace ownership, track permits pulled and work pending. Facilitated by Johanna Kraus, GIS Analyst from the City’s Department of Planning and Development Services. More info: Judith Anderson at 791-4711 or Judith.Anderson@tucsonaz.gov

-Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance – Wednesday, July 17 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Woods Memorial Library, 3455 North Frist Avenue. Program: “The Power of Community Arts in Graffiti Abatement.” The speaker will be Michael Schwartz from the Tucson Arts Brigade.


Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s):

-Samos NA – Tuesday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. Salpointe High School, 1545 E. Copper


-Cabrini NA – Thursday, July 18 at 6:00 p.m. Vineyard City Church, 3150 E. Fort Lowell

-Mountain View NA – Thursday, July 18 at 6:00 p.m. Habitat for Humanity, 3501 N. Mountain

-Flowing Wells NA – Thursday, July 18 at 6:00 p.m. Ellie Towne Center, 1660 W. Ruthrauff

Citywide Events:

-2nd Saturdays Downtown – Saturday, July 13 from 5:30 – 11:00 p.m. Numerous downtown Tucson stages/events from Congress Street to Toole Avenue, with musical entertainment and food. More info: http://www.2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com/

-Science Sundays – Sunday, July 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tucson Children’s Museum, 200 S. Sixth Avenue. Guest demonstrations, hands-on science related activities. Sundays through September 1. $2 admission. More info: 792-9985


-Did you know…?

…that Woods Memorial Library, at 3455 N. First Avenue, holds free drop-in sessions for assistance in preparing for the GED? All classes are taught in English by Pima County Public Library tutors with Adults Education Certification. Tutoring is available for those 16 and older on: Sundays from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m., Mondays from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Please note that parents must make their own child care arrangements for children under 8.

…that Monterey Court, at 505 W. Miracle Mile has a Farmer’s Market Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to Noon? More info: 207-2429, Ext. 3

…that Tucson will be hosting a climate change conference focused on public health and climate adaptation in September?  The following guest article by Susan Waites has more details: 

Conference:  Climate Smart Southwest:  Ready or Hot? – By Susan Waites

We have all been hearing lots about climate change.  Have you ever wondered if climate change will affect us here in the Southwest?  Have you ever wondered if climate change will affect you and members of your family personally?   Here’s an opportunity to find out.  You can attend this conference focused on public health and climate adaptation coming up Friday and Saturday September 20th and 21st.  The conference is being sponsored by the Physicians for Social Responsibility and 35 other local and national organizations. 

To kick off this community event there will be a free talk by Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology at New York University and the author of the bestselling book Heat Wave:  A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, about the July 1995 week long triple digit heat wave that took over 700 lives.  Dr. Klinenberg will give his talk Friday September 20 from 7 to 8pm at the TEP Unisource Building Conference Room, 88 E. Broadway in Tucson.  While this event is free and open to the public, you please RSVP as space is limited.  You can do so by going to the conference website http://www.psr.org/chapters/arizona/climate-smart-southwest/.

On Saturday September 21 the conference itself will take place from 7:30am to 5:30pm at the Tucson Convention Center.  The cost is just $35 ($15 for current students) which includes a free buffet lunch and free onsite parking at the TCC.  The morning of the conference will be dedicated to hearing nationally and internationally known speakers present information about climate change and emerging health problems, food security, mental health, and about how we can educate our children, build neighborhood resilience, and address cross cultural issues as we adapt to climate change.  In the afternoon conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in workshops to prepare and respond to the challenges posed by climate change.  To register for Saturday’s events go to http://www.psr.org/chapters/arizona/climate-smart-southwest/.

The Climate Smart Southwest Conference will be a unique opportunity to learn how climate change will affect you and your family.  Best of all, you’ll learn what you can do be prepared and help yourself and your loved ones meet the challenges we will face with a changing climate.  For more information, go to http://www.psr.org/chapters/arizona/climate-smart-southwest/.  If you need more information, please contact Dr. Barbara Warren at bwarre01@gmail.com.