Karin's Note: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Did You Know?
Mayor and Council Action
Last week the Mayor and Council forwarded the Comprehensive Operational Analysis of Sun Tran into the public process for further input and discussion. You can view the full document here, including an appendix report with recommendations on consolidating/amending some services downtown given the overlap service of the street car coming on line soon: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1285&doctype=AGENDA .
A third report, which suggests some substantial cuts to the system, was soundly rejected by Mayor and Council and will not move any further. Several of us expressed confidence that between service adjustments (based upon rider demand), increasing ridership, and other sources of revenue (the RTA money for the street car and state funding for Van Tran) we can sustain our system with appropriate levels of General Fund investment.
Mayor and Council also voted unanimously to release a Phase 1 Request for Proposals to seek initial concepts and qualifications from teams interested in improving the Ronstadt Center downtown. We made it clear any project must sustain transit functionality of the site (revenues generated could in fact help fund transit services in the future) while adding to the economic vitality of downtown.
Given the above and for many other reasons, I did not support moving several bus fare increase proposals forward for public process. Raising fares can seem like a quick fix to raise money, but it can in fact backfire by reducing ridership (even causing overall revenues to decline). I do continue to support a planned approach through which we tie fare increases to external measures (e.g. cost of fuel index) so riders have plenty of advance notice and can anticipate incremental changes every year or two. Unfortunately that approach wasn’t yet reflected in any of the options put in front of us. Those options will advance now for public comment, so let me and my colleagues know your thoughts. You can view the fare proposals at the same link: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1285&doctype=AGENDA
I attended two strategy retreats over the past week, one for Pima Community College and the other for the Tucson Unified School District. I applaud both entities for inviting such a broad cross section of our community into their discussion and planning. There’s no doubt that the future of Tucson will be determined to a great extent by the quality of education offered through these two cornerstone institutions. I look forward to supporting PCC and TUSD in every way that I can over the coming years.
Recently I also attended a forum on poverty cosponsored by Arizona Public Media. Panelists from the UofA, area nonprofit agencies, and others shared their views on best practices across the country for creating pathways out of poverty. One concept that seems to be gaining interest (including that of Pima County) is “Social Impact Bonds”, a way for investors to leverage their money and directly focus it to achieve a specific impact (e.g. increase math proficiency of fourth graders in Tucson). Another key theme of the evening (echoed at both the PCC and TUSD events) was the importance of connecting systems so people can spend less time navigating services and bureaucracies and more time building better futures for themselves.
A few days after the poverty forum, a panel of eight people and nearly 150 attendees gathered at the library to take a deeper look at one aspect of poverty, homelessness. Tim Stellar, as the moderator of the second forum offered some thoughts on both efforts in the following write up: http://tucson.com/news/local/column/steller-tucson-must-avoid-forum-fatige-start-to-act/article_58f3439f-787c-5815-9111-0d7037855ef1.html
Maintaining our focus on economic development, connecting systems and resources, and engaging those whose lives are directly affected by poverty are important elements we need to continue to focus on for our neighbors who are struggling, and for Tucson, a community trying to offer smart and meaningful support to them.
And Are You Kidding??
SB1062 has passed through the Arizona legislature and sits on the Governor’s desk. If she doesn’t veto the bill this week the bill would essentially seek to legalize discrimination against LGBT people by any businesses or employees of businesses. Basically if you don’t want to serve me at your restaurant, you can tell me to leave. The bill doesn’t call out behaviors (that people straight or gay could be confronted about); just being gay and trying to engage in commerce might be enough to get folks “called out”. So if I run to the drug store to get my child infant medicine and the pharmacist doesn’t like that I am a lesbian with an infant, I can be sent scrambling while my child’s fever spikes further? The scenarios are endless, and for me and others in the LGBT community, reminiscent of the days when coming out meant risking your safety, your job, and your family’s/community’s acceptance. It’s cruel, and it further harms Arizona’s recovery from that backlash against other horrible, discriminatory bills like SB1070.
If the Governor signs the bill there’s no doubt the state’s entire economy will suffer, along with the many thousands of Arizonans directly impacted. I hope you’ll continue to join me in urging her to veto SB1062 today.
Ward 3 Events:
-Free Tax Help – The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program once again opened at the Ward 3 Council Office (in the Community Room) on Tuesday, February 11 at 1:00 p.m. 1510 E. Grant Road. Volunteers will be at this location each Tuesday through April 8 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon through April 12. Volunteers will prepare 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.
-Emmett, Down in My Heart – Tucson Symphony Center, 2175 N. 6th Avenue. This award winning play, sponsored by The Tucson Alliance of Dramatic Artists (TADA!) in association with Tucson Juneteenth Festival, presents a special world premiere in honor of Black History Month. The play is the story of Emmett Till, an African American teenager brutally murdered in 1955. Performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through March 8. Sunday matinees on February 23 and March 1 and 9 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $20/adults, $15/students and seniors. Preview Friday, February 21/$15. Reservations: 520-722-9553 or email: theDrektor@gmail.com
Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s):
-Jefferson Park NA – Wednesday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m. Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant
-Amphi Community Action Group - Wednesday, February 26 at 5:30 p.m. Prince Elementary School, 125 E. Prince Road
-Community meeting to discuss City’s Office of Integrated Planning (OIP) - Wednesday, February 26th, 6:30 - 8:00pm at the Community Resource Campus at 3020 N. Commerce Park Loop, Sentinel Building.
-3rd Annual Pima Council on Aging “Ages ‘n Stages” Expo – Saturday, March 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Rd, Tucson, AZ 85757. This free event is for all seniors seeking ways to live fuller, happier lives. There will be entertainment, seminars, exhibits and demonstrations. More info: https://www.pcoa.org/
Did You Know...?
…that the wildly popular event, Cyclovia Tucson, is back for the 5th year in a row and needs your help as an Intersection Volunteer! Intersection volunteers will help neighbors get in and out of their homes during the event. We also encourage you to do something fun that will engage the participants and to sign up with a friend! You get a free Cyclovia t-shirt if you sign up before March 26th! There are 3-hour morning or afternoon shifts available, so you can enjoy the event as well! It's easy to sign up at Cyclovia Tucson: https://www.cycloviatucson.org/.
…that the City has launched the new Office of Integrated Planning (OIP) website https://www.tucsonaz.gov/pdsd/integrated-planning-initiatives. The home page has a brief mission statement and office overview, while the links to the left provide information on OIP projects, services, staff, and more. This website is a work in progress, and we look forward to "growing" it further. Also scheduled is a second community meeting to discuss OIP on Wednesday, February 26th, 6:30 - 8:00pm at the Community Resource Campus at 3020 N. Commerce Park Loop, Sentinel Building. This will be a follow-up to the January 9th meeting where participants representing neighborhoods, businesses, and community organizations heard a presentation on OIP and then asked questions and shared their hopes for the Office. The next OIP Community Meeting will focus on "What Can We Do to Improve Communication Between the City and the Community?"
…that the US Department of Labor has Grant Opportunities? Check out these opportunities:
YouthBuild: This Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) announces the availability of approximately $73 million in YouthBuild <http://www.doleta.gov/youth_services/youthbuild.cfm> grant funds to develop programs that will help out-of-school youth complete high school or General Educational Development programs, as well as learn critical occupational skills in construction, health care, information technology, and other in-demand fields. YouthBuild serves as an alternative education program that provides classroom instruction, case managers and occupational skills training for 16- to 24-year-olds at risk of falling out of the labor force.
Training to Work: The Department is also announcing the availability of approximately $30 million through a grant competition that provides the opportunity for organizations to develop and implement career pathway programs for in demand sectors and occupations for men and women who are at least 18 years old and who are enrolled in work release programs. Grants will be awarded to areas with high-poverty and high-crime rates, including promise zones that have a large proportion of returning citizens in these communities and typically experience higher rates of recidivism. More information for each of these programs can be found on the Employment and Training Administration website http://1.usa.gov/ODcQmH or through grants.gov.