Karin's Note: Thursday, May 29, 2014

Karin's Note: Thursday, May 29, 2014
-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?
Dear Tucsonans,
City Manager Richard Miranda
You may have heard the news of City Manager Richard Miranda’s announcement; he will be retiring on July 31st of this year. I have appreciated working with Richard, and have found him to be forthcoming, forward-thinking, and devoted to Tucson. He has assembled a talented team in his office, including Assistant Managers Kelly Gottschalk, Martha Durkin, and Albert Elias. They and the Executive Leadership Team will certainly provide sound leadership as we select an interim Manager and proceed with the hiring process for a permanent successor. I will keep you posted as Mayor and Council outline the plans for that process. I hope you’ll join me in thanking Richard for his decades of dedication and service to our city. I wish him and his family the very best.
City Budget
We had a lively and constructive discussion on the budget moving toward final adoption planned for June 3. Many of the amendments I advocated have been incorporated, including primary savings through departmental reorganizations and measured progress on key longer-term imbalances (pension, deferred capital needs, self-insurance reserves, etc.).
One of the motions I offered I will have to ask be modified (via reconsideration and new motion) due to an oversight on my part. Last year we allocated $600,000 to economic and workforce development. That amount had been reduced to $500,000 so I made a motion to restrict that amount to workforce development but did not explicitly include the roughly $62,000 in awards to community events (via competitive RFP). My motion was silent on civic events so I (and most likely others) will be reviewing this line item to give clearer direction for 2015 which will sustain community events support without reducing our strategic investments in workforce training. We have often heard that talent is a key factor in successful economic development, which is why I proposed focusing resources there. These and a few other line items totaling under $1M will likely be the focus as we settle on final numbers.
Bond Ratings
So far our Fitch and Moody Bond Ratings have held steady. As we know we have to keep an eye toward the future so we keep nudging our ratings up as the economy recovers. Moody’s cites these factors explicitly:
- Sustained long-term economic growth and diversification
- Long-term improvement in wealth measures
- A formal commitment to higher reserve levels given exposure to economically-sensitive revenues
- Continued, significant economic slowing, with sustained weakened revenue performance
- Depletion of reserves below median levels for large AA-rated cities
We may add very modest amounts to our reserves at the end of this fiscal year, and will certainly hold the levels steady moving into FY2015. By continuing to take steps to improve our pension funding levels, cover other long-term liabilities and grow our reserves we can sustain and improve our bond ratings into the future. I think we’re achieving the right balance of surviving the downturn, fulfilling immediate priorities, and chipping away at decades-long structural challenges each and every year.
Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance
I enjoyed my time last Wednesday evening with fifty or so residents of Ward 3 who attended the Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance meeting at Woods Library. We had the chance to review highlights of our community work together over the past year, address specific questions raised by residents, and think out loud about possible projects to pursue in the near future.
I and all in attendance extended gratitude to my outstanding staff, including Tamara Prime, Judith Anderson, Brianda Torres-Traylor, and Matt Kopec. I’m grateful that residents and others invested in Ward 3 remain so active and engaged in bettering neighborhood quality of life. It’s a gift to all of Tucson that they offer such hard work and responsible stewardship to “our corner of the world”.
Charter Change and June 3rd Agenda
The agenda and associated materials for our June 3rd meeting have been posted at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/clerks/mcdocs. One item on Study Session I hope you’ll note is our formation of a Charter Committee which will make recommendations to us next year on changes Mayor and Council may want to refer to the 2015 (and/or a future) ballot. I asked for the Study Session so the entire conversation remains in public view. One key question we’ll address is the opportunity, which I support, to have the process facilitated and supported by an outside, more objective and experienced person versus our own staff. There may be matching funds available through donors to the Community Foundation (most of who are affiliated in some way with the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, which supported a proposed set of Charter Changes in 2010). The funding would offer a 3-to-1 match to raise $50,000 with $12,500 of City funding and the hiring process/recommendation would come through our procurement department (any hire to be approved by Mayor and Council hopefully at our July 8th meeting). This step would help address the concern that our staff is already overburdened and perhaps most importantly make sure the process is not driven by subjective staff input. No doubt the Committee may want to hear from current and former staff in addition to the community at large. The group will follow the Open Meetings law and all meetings will be open to the public, because I am sure that a key to any recommendation passing will be the degree to which everyone is assured the process is fully transparent and driven by the best interests of Tucson residents. We often hear from speakers at Call to the Audience that it’s time for Tucson to amend the Charter to better reflect and serve the City. Many options could be considered to address the roles of Management and Mayor/Council, our electoral processes, etc.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Ward 3 Events:
- Screening of Yaqui Journey: 1910 to 1920 – Friday, May 30th 6:30 – 8:30 pm at 856 W. Calle Santa Ana. Join for this premier screening of Yaqui Journey: 1910 to 1920. The San Ignacio Yaqui Council's Old Pascua Museum, through a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council, is proud to present this half hour fictionalized video of a Yoeme soldier and his god son as they trek north on a quest to assist in the liberation of the Hiak Bhuia, the traditional Yaqui lands in Sonora Mexico. The video will be in Yoem Noki, the Yaqui dialect, with English subtitles. Be sure to bring your reading glasses, if necessary and a folding chair for the outdoor screening. Light refreshments will be available. The video will screen at sundown. There will be a short lecture and discussion following the video.
- Potluck in the Park – Sunday, June 1st 11:30 am – 2:00 pm at Mitchell Park 1100 E. Mitchell. Enjoy a neighborhood potluck event with the Mountain First Community Action Group! Some food will be provided, but please bring a dish to share. Meet the Mountain/1st CAG and your neighbors! More info at http://bit.ly/TXFeCM
Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meetings:
- Amphi NA – Thursday, March 29th 6:30 pm at 240 N. Navajo
- Feldman’s NA – Thursday, June 5th at 7:00 p.m. St. Luke’s Home, 615 E. Adams
Citywide Events:
- City Pools Opening – Thursday, May 29th.  The City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department welcomes the Arizona heat and invites you to cool off at one of their 18 city pools starting Thursday, May 29 through July 30, 2014. A complete list of city pools can be found on page seven of the Summer Program Guide and Class Catalog at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/parks. Tucson Parks and Recreation will be also be offering “Learn to Swim” American Red Cross group swim lessons for children ages six months to 17 years in June and July. Only $15 for a two week session, four sessions will be offered. Times and days vary by pool. View the Program Guide on page eight for more information on lessons. Lessons for adults may also be arranged! Visit https://www.tucsonaz.gov/parks/aquatics or contact Peg Weber at 520-837-8050/peg.weber@tucsonaz.gov for more summer pool information.
- Annual Memorial Day Program – Friday, May 30th 10:00 am at the 3601 S. 6th Avenue. The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System is inviting patients, staff, visitors and guests to the Annual Memorial Day Program. The program will be held in Building 4 of the R.E. Lindsey Auditorium. There will be numerous local dignitaries as well as active duty military service representatives from throughout Southern Arizona attending this event, where the “Avenue of Flags” display will welcome all Veterans and visitors. The public is invited to pay tribute to those military men and women who dedicated their lives in defense of this great Nation. Refreshments will be provided following the formal and solemn ceremony. Attendees are asked to enter using the 6th Avenue Veterans Blvd gate. Questions may be directed to the Voluntary Service office at 520-629-1822
- Open House Garden Party – Sunday, June 1st 8:00 – 10:00 am at 1933 N. Bell Avenue. To usher in the summer sunshine, Community Gardens of Tucson is hosting an Open House Garden Party! Open to and free for all, community members can enjoy the “GD2 Garden”, meet fellow gardeners, and have a chance to hear presentations on seed saving from Justine Hernandez of the Pima County Public Library’s Seed Library as well as on soil science from MarciBeth Phillips of Arbico Organics. Find out more about gardening in the southwest, and enjoy the coffee and pancakes that will be served! Call 520-795-8823 or visit www.communitygardensoftucson.org for more info.
Did You Know...?
…that Lend A Hand Senior Assistance (LAH) is in need of volunteer drivers? Drivers transport seniors to doctor appointments, to pick up medications, to the grocery store, and more.   Having someone to take them places allows seniors to remain in their own homes when they might otherwise not be able to.  LAH serves seniors in thirteen Ward 3 neighborhoods -- Campbell/Grant, Campus Farm, Hedrick Acres, Jefferson Park, La Madera, Limberlost, Mountain View, Mountain/1st Avenue, Prince-Tucson, Richland Heights East & West, Samos and Winterhaven.  If you live in or near one of these neighborhoods, and have a few hours a week when you could transport a senior to their appointments and activities, please call Michele Brubaker, LAH Volunteer Coordinator, at 520-248-6882 and join Lend A Hand!
…that the Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance (W3NA) is looking for individuals to join their Board? W3NA has been planning and hosting informational programs for neighbors on a monthly basis for many years, and now they have incorporated and applied for 501(c)3 non-profit status with the IRS. With non-profit status, they hope to partner with neighborhoods in Ward 3 to raise funds for projects for the betterment of all. If you are interested in being part of this exciting start-up process, are willing to put in a little time and offer a lot of ideas, can attend a 90 minute Board meeting once a month, and want to be part of the beginning of a small organization that we hope will grow and become a model for other Wards in Tucson, please let us know. Experience with non-profits is a plus, but not required. Email Sandy Miller at slm949@gmail.com or call at 520-325-6496.
…that Arizona Conservation Corps, formerly known as Southwest Conservation Corps, is now recruiting applicants for the August-December local urban program in Tucson and Phoenix (near Glendale)?  If you know anyone ages 18-25 who might benefit from an all-encompassing service-learning program doing physical labor on public lands while gaining professional and life skills and enjoying the great outdoors with a fun crew of people, please pass along this information!  I have attached a flyer with more information.  Benefits include a $275 weekly living allowance, education including college credit, CPR/First Aid certification, and other relevant job trainings.  Upon completion of their term of service, all members receive an AmeriCorps education award to pay for post-secondary education and vocational trainings.  This program is geared toward career readiness for anyone interested in new experiences while working hard and learning about themselves, others, and the environment! Contact Lynette Miller at 520-904-3289/lynette@conservationlegacy.org or visit www.azcorps.org for more information and to Apply Now!
…that Food Vendor Registration is Now Open for Tucson Meet Yourself? The deadline to register and/or apply is June 13, 2014. Visit https://www.tucsonmeetyourself.org/ for all the details, including the opening of the Global Foodways Fellowship as well as the significant changes announced to the Food Vending procedures for the 2014 Festival.