Pauls Note: Friday, February 5, 2021

Paul's Ward 3 News and Updates
 
Friday, February 5, 2021
 
News and Updates
Pet of the Week                 
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
City Wide Events
Did You Know?
 
To our wonderful Ward 3 readers, this week it was announced that Council Member Paul Durham will step down from his seat. The Council Member issued a public statement Monday of his intention to vacate his position on March 1. There is more in this newsletter.
 
February is a month of celebration. One of the many celebrations is Black History Month, a time that we might reflect on the vital contributions of African Americans in our national and local narratives. Since Tucson’s colonization, African Americans have been part of the region’s history and development, although neglected and not adequately documented. One way to appreciate Tucson’s Black history is to read about it. The Pima County Public Library last year provided this collection of books and resources. Down in the newsletter is information about Zoom events in recognition of Black History Month.
 
In our weekly newsletter we bring you up-to-date information about COVID vaccines organized by the City of Tucson and the Pima County Health Department and a story about the “Red Stallion,” a new public art project installed this week at the Rio Vista Natural Resource Park. And we offer you a profile of a unique social worker who is focusing her energies and know-how on helping people who are on the verge of eviction or who have been forced to move.
 
Wishing you peace.
 
Council Member Paul Durham
 
Many of you were surprised this week to learn of Council Member Durham’s resignation. When he ran to serve Ward 3 on the City Council in 2017, it was certainly not anticipated that his term would be unexpectedly cut short. The Council Member has heard from many of you over the last few days with words of appreciation, encouragement and comfort. On behalf of Paul and his husband, Philippe, thank you.
 
In that same spirit of support and appreciation, the Ward 3 staff wish to share a few photographic highlights of Council Member Durham’s efforts and exchanges with Ward 3 constituents over the last three years.
 
Council Member Durham learns how to walk the tight rope with help of a staff member from the Circus Academy of Tucson at the Thrive in the ’05 Fall Fest.
 
Council Member Durham and Mayor Regina Romero collaborated to host mask giveaways throughout the City of Tucson.
 
Council Member Durham joins TFD members and guest of honor, Santa Claus, for the Santa in the Amphi Neighborhood Park event.
 
Council Member Durham and Alison Miller, Chief Planner for the Thrive in the ’05 effort, after one of many community stakeholder meetings to develop the Choice grant implementation plan.
 
These are just a few highlights of the community-focused offerings that Council Member Durham helped drive. In a couple of weeks we’ll bring you updated information on how the Mayor and Council will fill Council Member Durham’s seat.
 
Public Art in Ward 3
 
Set against the azure sky and the green Palo Verde trees, the red stallion rears on its hindquarters, welcoming visitors to the Rio Vista Natural Resource Park on North Tucson Boulevard. The stationary horse reflects its freedom and energy while at the same time solitude and serenity.
 
“It looks great,” said Al Glann, whose sculpture, the “Red Stallion,” stands at the west-side entrance to the City of Tucson’s 40-acre jewel situated along the Rillito River north of East Allen Road in Ward 3’s RillitoBend Neighborhood.
 
"Red Stallion" and artist Al Glann
 
The steel sculpture was erected this week after months of planning and review by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Rio Vista Conservation Project, horse enthusiasts, neighbors and other stakeholders from the area.
 
The public art project is meant to reflect the ruralness and equestrian tradition of the area. But with a twist. It is a stallion, independent and strong, rising in its own open private space within view of the family-owned Hitching Post Ranch at Gentleman’s Acres, a six-acre site with riding arenas and stalls.

Thanks to the many neighbors who assisted in finding the best location for the sculpture. The sculpture was a donation from Bill and Roberta Witchger through Sculpture Tucson. Their donation is honored on the sculpture’s base.

 
 
Social Worker Jumps In
 
Nahrin Jabro’s voice jumps out from the telephone speaker.
 
“Everything is going great,” she says.
 
Considering what her job entails, her upbeat voice and words say a lot about Nahrin’s commitment and optimism a month into her job. Nahrin is a social worker embedded in the Pima County Constables’ office to help people avoid eviction or find help if they are forced to leave their residence.
 
“I’ll work with anybody who is considered vulnerable because they are more likely to be evicted,” she says.
 
 
Her job is to multi-task: work with Constables who refer people on the verge of being evicted or people who are struggling with other demonstrably difficult issues -- mental health crisis, substance abuse, job loss -- which could lead them to be evicted, along with their families. While a federal order gives tenants some protection from being evicted, it is not ironclad which has led to an increasing number of people being evicted from their apartments and houses.
 
She says, “people are usually in crisis when they’re about to be evicted.”
 
Some landlords have evaded the federal CDC eviction moratorium by citing the tenants failure to comply with the lease. But this past week the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to close the loophole that is being used against some tenants. Still, the CDC order, which the Biden administration extended to March 31, does not completely allow tenants to avoid paying rent. It requires tenants to make payment plans, seek rental financial assistance and other stipulations.
 
Additional financial assistance for tenants and landlords is coming. Those federal funds were distributed to the state and local governments. The City of Tucson will soon make the funds available to the Constables who come into contact daily with renters who face eviction. While much of this money will be allocated to people who did not receive assistance during the last distribution, you can still put your name on the waiting list.
 
Before joining the Constable’s office, Nahrin worked on resolving constituents’ problems as an aide to the late County Supervisor, Richard Elias. Social work, however, has been part of her professional path. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work. She’s come a long way since she earned her GED, the high school equivalency degree at Las Artes, Arts & Education Center in South Tucson.
 
It didn’t take long for Nahrin to build up her workload. It was already waiting for her when she started on Jan. 4.
 
“I have a caseload already,” she says.
 
Half of her work is devoted to handling paper work for the Constables while the other half she focuses on assisting people, which could be a full-time job in itself. For some renters, she said, there isn’t much she can do to prevent their eviction. Some judges are approving evictions as a matter of routine, regardless of the tenants’ situation. Most evictions are COVID related, she says.
 
Her long-range goals include helping establish the social workers’ position with the Constables as a permanent one that will continue beyond the pandemic. Even without COVID pushing people out of their homes, there are other forces at work that require someone like her to advocate for tenants.
 
“It will always be important to have a social worker,” she says.
 
COVID Update
 
This week, Pima County Health Department announced that individuals over 70 years are now eligible to be vaccinated. You can find how to do so here.
 
Pima County Health Department vaccine PODs are distributing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the Phase 1A and priority 1B groups. As of February 2, 125,168 vaccinations had been given. We started this week with Pima County having 165,950 doses committed to the county from the State of Arizona with 136,100 having been received. These numbers do not reflect any vaccines coming directly from the federal government to local pharmacies.
 
Of ongoing concern is that while Pima County has an excellent vaccination rate per 100,000 residents in the state, the Arizona Department of Health Services is impacting our vaccine supply to our detriment. Initially, Pima County was receiving 12,500 vaccines per week. The last two weeks the number of vaccines increased to 29,850. This week the Arizona Department of Health Services notified Pima County that its allocation was reduced to 17,850. Mayor and Council continue to track these developments and seek opportunities to increase the rate of vaccinations available. Obviously getting more vaccine supply is central to reaching herd immunity quickly.
 
To stay up on new vaccine developments be sure to visit the Pima County Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine page.
 
Masks
 
A number of scholars are warning that we need to upgrade our mask usage. This means, at the most basic level, that you have a mask that fits you well and that you wear it properly.
 
CDC recommendations on the do’s and don’ts of mask wearing.
 
The CDC also recommends that you wear a mask with two layers. Another option is to double up on masks. Researchers now also suggest that the supply of medical-grade masks need to be available to better protect you against the UK variant which is expected to be wide-spread across the U.S. in the next six weeks. While N95s are still in short supply and should be left for medical workers, there are close equivalents being manufactured in higher volumes abroad. That said, if you seek any of these masks be sure they are certified by the FDA and CDC as effective. A recent article by researchers in The Atlantic may be informative.
 
As you up your mask game, look for masks that fit, that have two layers and a filter that is certified as effective.
 
Ward 3 Neighborhood Webinar Series
 
As the Ward 3 Neighborhood Series continues, we look forward to bringing you topics that successfully connect neighbors. The upcoming topics address how to bring people together for neighborhood events and making sure all residents are included in plans for the neighborhood.
 
Here is the link to view the all prior sessions on the Ward 3 YouTube page.
 
Here are the links to register for the final two sessions.
 
February 18, Session 8: Communications for Events
 
The dates February 18, and March 4 respectively. The times for all is 5:30pm.
 
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Pet of the Week
 
 
 
Meet Luella, a silver domestic medium hair beauty. Her fluffy silver fur just begs to be petted, preferably from the comfort of your home! Luella can be found at the Human Society of Southern Arizona where you can come and meet her today and feel her luxurious mane for yourself.
 
To maintain social distancing, HSSA is asking that you come to the shelter with a plan to bring a pet home with you. If you have other pets that you would like to meet or greet your new family member, you are welcome to bring them along.
 
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Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
 
Alvernon Grant Initiative
Tuesday
February 9
6 pm
If you would like to attend the January Zoom AGI meeting, send an email to paloverdena@gmail.com Send your request by Tuesday,  February 9, at 12 pm.
 
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Ward 3 Events
 
El Cortez Weekly Walking and Cleanup
Thursdays
5 pm
Corner of Flores/Los Altos
 
Join El Cortez residents and meet your neighbors while getting exercise. Beautify the 'hood by walking around and cleaning up litter.  Starting this week, it will be on Thursdays. Meet at 5 pm at the corner of Flores & Los Altos. As the days get longer and hotter, start time will likely be later.
 
Vita at Ward 3 Council Office
 
Did you know that if you made $66,000 or less last year, you do not have to pay to file your taxes? United Way of Tucson's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program can help you file for free. Mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way is teaming up with www.GetYourRefund.org to provide free, online, one-on-one tax assistance from real, live IRS-certified tax preparers. VITA tax preparation saves taxpayers an average of $250 per return. The program helps taxpayers access all tax credits for which they are eligible – including the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
 
There are three ways you can get your taxes done for free:
 
-GetYourRefund.org – taxpayers can connect with VITA volunteers online
-In-Person Assistance – limited in-person assistance is available at select sites
-DIY Self-Prep Software – online services for those who feel confident in filing on their own Click here for more information.
 
If you do not have access to the internet you can call 520-837-4231 to talk to VITA volunteers by phone. Be sure to leave your name and a good contact number so that they can reach out to assist you.
 
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City Wide Events
 
Council Meeting
Tuesday
February 9
Following an afternoon study session, regular session starts at 5:30. To view the meetings remotely, visit Tucson12.tv.
 
Black History Month
 
 
Tuesday
February 9
 
 Tucson’s Black Community and School Segregation, a presentation by Bernard Wilson, independent researcher and author of The Black Residents of Tucson and Their Achievements: A Reference Guide
Tuesday
February 9
4:00 p.m. Arizona time via Zoom
 
The Spirit of Spirituals: Famous and Stirring Songs of Faith, and their Stories, a presentation by Súle Greg Wilson, educator, musician, dancer, storyteller, author, archivist, and director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Afro-American Index Project–precursor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Tuesday
February 16
4:00 p.m. Arizona time via Zoom
 
 
El Pueblo Center Testing
The City of Tucson and El Rio Health are offering free COVID-19 tests at the El Pueblo Center, 101 W. Irvington Road.
 
The testing takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays, 5-8 pm, Thursdays, 1-4 pm, and Saturdays, 7 am-noon. To register for a test, call El Rio Health at (520) 670-3909 and schedule an appointment. A doctor’s order is not needed to get the test, but organizers do ask everyone to make an appointment. Follow on-site signage to the testing location.
 
Udall Center Testing
 
The free testing, administered by the Pima County Health Department and Paradigm Laboratories, is also available at the Udall Recreation Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road by appointment only. 
To register for a testing appointment, go to pima.gov/covid19testing and click on the Schedule My Test link for Udall, or call 800-369-3584 to schedule an appointment. No walk-in tests will be conducted, people must have an appointment. The Testing Center will be open Tuesday-Sunday, 8 am-5 pm. Testing will continue at the Center until it is no longer needed to control the pandemic.
 
 
Community Pop-Up Testing Centers
The City's pop-up testing locations are available on a walk-up basis only. No appointment is necessary. The free, saliva tests are administered by Rescue Me Wellness. and results are available in 3-5 days. Full list of times and locations.
 
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Did You Know?
 
City Increases Funding for Residential Street Repair
 
Tucson's Mayor and Council voted last week to spend an additional $14 million for the repair of residential streets during the next fiscal year. The issue was brought forward by Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, with the funding coming from both the City’s General Fund and Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF). The extra investment more than doubles current funding for local road maintenance. A recent survey from the Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility (DTM) showed that 63% of respondents said it was “very important” for the City to invest in street maintenance. City Manager Michael Ortega will present a plan on how the road repair funds will be spent.
 
 
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Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
 
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham
 
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