Pauls Note: Friday, June 19, 2020

Paul’s Note
Friday, June 19, 2020
 
Paul’s Note
Pet of the Week                 
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
City-Wide Events
Did You Know?
 
Paul’s Note
 
I have a lot of important information for you in this week’s e-newsletter. Before I get into the contents, I want to acknowledge the news from the Supreme Court this week and recognize that today is Juneteenth (more on this significant day further below).
 
I was relieved that the court on Tuesday took action to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination. This decision had been a long time coming and finally bypassed the numerous stalled anti-discrimination legislative attempts dating back to 1974, on the fifth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, when the Equality Act was first introduced. It took 26 years of inaction at Congress and countless harms caused to LGBTQ+ households before the Supreme Court took this up.
 
Also, this week we learned of an unexpected decision to allow DACA to continue, at least for now. The decision does not, however, resolve the status of DACA-recipients once and for all. Perhaps not surprisingly, the DACA program also grew out of the inability for Congress to pass the DREAM Act which was first introduced in 2001. We could add to this a general challenge for Congress to build consensus on any pathways to citizenship since 1986. That said, DACA was and is a result of strong advocacy, organizing and protesting by young unauthorized immigrants.
 
I fully expect to see these bright, energetic Dreamers continue to lead the charge in how Congress and the next president can support them to continue to thrive and contribute to their communities. To the DACA recipients who work for the City of Tucson, we are a better organization because of your contributions. Continue to lead the way.
 
Now, back to the e-newsletter. Included you will find information for low income households who need help completing their taxes (remember they are due on July 15) as well as a special invitation to provide supports to vulnerable community members living in the Tucson House. As always, I provide some important updates on various policies decisions facing Mayor and Council. This week I’ll offer some insights on the City of Tucson policy on mask wearing, COVID-19 testing as well as the recent curfew and budget.
 
This week I also have a couple items that really focus on how communities and businesses are continuing to adapt to the pandemic. You will learn how Ward 3 small business are using the HOWND platform and how it can help you to support local businesses during these tough times.
 
Keep reading and please share any of these items that you find important or spark something in you with others in your life.
 
Hownd and Supporting Local Businesses
 
Dear Ward 3 business owner. It’s been a difficult period for you. We all know. We depend on your success if our neighbors are to have jobs and places nearby to patronize. And while we wait for a safe time when you can fully re-open, the Ward 3 office will continue to work with you and look for ways to sustain your business during this time of the pandemic. 
 
I would like to share with you a program from the City of Tucson’s Office of Economic Initiatives. It is called Hownd. It is based in Arizona and it is geared toward generating foot traffic for brick and mortar businesses. The Office of Economic Initiatives has a starting goal of enrolling an initial 50 Tucson businesses to take advantage of this program. This is a collaboration with Hownd, the City of Tucson and Pima County. 
 
Hownd has generated, since the pandemic began, more than $1.5 million in revenue to merchants through non-expiring gift cards called Buy Now Visit Later Support Vouchers. The program is aimed at consumers who want to support local businesses.
 
 
There is no risk to local businesses. How you ask? The City of Tucson is paying all of Hownd’s  “pay-per-visit" fees as businesses bring in customers over the next 12 months (which started on June 1) or when the City’s pay-per-visit fee coverage budget is depleted (whichever comes first). Businesses don’t pay any upfront cost, and there’s no monthly subscription fee. Business owners can promote their business to thousands of nearby consumers by offering gift cards, coupons, and Buy Now offers. 
 
 The sign-up process takes less than 10 minutes and activating offers on their platform is effortless because Hownd does it all. 
 
Barbra Coffee and the Economic Initiatives team, in the coming days, will be widely announcing this partnership to many Tucson brick and mortar businesses through email, social media, and our city website. 
 
Learn more about Hownd here
 
Also visit the City’s Connect Tucson page with more information with information in Spanish. The City’s page is here. And the joint City/County page can be found here
 
For more information or assistance with signup, contact Hownd at 877-394-2410 or email supportvoucher@hownd.com 
 
Tucson House
 
Dear friends, in a Ward 3 e-newsletter, in late April, I highlighted the work of Arizona State University School of Social Work which maintains a Tucson campus and is an integral partner in the City of Tucson’s Thrive in the ‘05 campaign. I highlighted how ASU staff and students had pivoted to create a three-prong effort to assist the elderly and disabled residents in the Tucson House who found themselves isolated because of the pandemic lockdown. In the newsletter I asked our generous Ward 3 residents to help in whatever way they could.
 
I would like to ask again for your support for the nearly 400 residents in the Tucson House, our largest public housing facility.
 
“Volunteers are trickling off,” said Mary Ellen Brown from ASU’s Office of Community Health Engagement and Resiliency.
 
The first of the three initiatives is the Tucson House Wellness Checks and Social Calls. Volunteers make weekly calls to the residents, asking about their health and if they need any food or household items. But more than that, the volunteers talk to the residents about their interests, activities, what programs or movies they are watching and sometimes they talk about personal matters. One of my staff members makes weekly calls.
 
Mary Ellen said that the residents welcome the calls and have expressed positive responses. However, the wellness checks and social calls needs your help. This effort started off with more than 60 volunteers, many of them college students including medical students, but that number has dropped off, Mary Ellen told me.
 
“We definitely need more volunteers and bilingual volunteers especially,” she said.
 
Volunteers will be trained and instructed on protocol calls. My Aide, Ernesto Portillo, told me that he gains deep satisfaction in connecting with the residents and that he looks forward to the conversations.
 
 
Another effort is the Reach AZ helpline. This warm helpline is for older adults and people feeling lonely or isolated during this time. Tucson House residents and, in fact, anyone in Pima County can call 1-833-REACHAZ (732-2429), M-F, 9 am to 5 pm to talk about what they are experiencing and to ask for more information on vital support.
 
Mary Ellen said people from Southern Arizona and even as far as Phoenix have called the helpline. This is a collaboration of the ASU Office of Community Health, Engagement and Resiliency with the University of Arizona Center on Aging and the College of Public Health. Here again volunteers, especially those who speak other languages, are needed.
 
The last of the three legs is the Helping Hands Care Bags. Mary Ellen said that donations of household items — soap, personal hygiene, diapers, small kitchen utensils and the like — are in need for the residents, many of whom cannot leave the Tucson House. Donations have been received but not in the quantities that the organizers had hoped.
 
Mary Ellen said that tax-deductible financial donations will be accepted through the ASU Foundation, a non-profit.
 
Please email thriveinthe05@gmail.com if you are interested in more information or call 1-833-732-2429 to become a volunteer or offer donations.
 
On behalf of the Tucson House residents, thank you Ward 3 residents for your support and generosity.
 
Governing During COVID-19
 
Limiting the Outbreak
 
On Thursday, Mayor Romero took action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Tucson by adding the requirement that members of the public (with certain exceptions) wear face coverings when in public space where physical distancing is not possible. Here are the details: At 6am on Saturday, June 20, all persons, with the exception of those under two years of age, others who fall under CDC guidance to not wear a face coverings, those who would have difficulty wearing a face covering due to physical or mental disability, are required to wear a face covering in a public setting if they cannot physically distance. Public setting means indoors where the public is allowed to enter and outdoors where people congregate. There are exceptions for eating in restaurants and dental service. You can learn more about it at the City of Tucson website.
 
There’s no way around it, Arizona reopened too quickly and with too few additional requirements to ensure CDC guidelines were maintained. Now we’re having to mitigate the results. You can see the outcome of that below in the charts drawn from the work of Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.
 
 
This is a fascinating and horrifying graph as it really shows how the Arizona increase far beyond other nations of interest. We can also see here how Arizona compares to the U.S. as a whole as well as to other states including New York.
 
 
I find this very troubling. Regular readers know that I’ve encouraged Mayor Romero’s actions to protect the public health of Tucsonans throughout this pandemic. I spoke with her earlier this week as she wrestled with how best to protect our residents in light of these increasing numbers and we’ve discussed at numerous points whether and how Tucson might require public mask wearing (for those who do not have health issues that would prohibit it). I believe Governor Ducey did the right thing, albeit too late, by allowing local jurisdictions to require face coverings in public dependent on what the local needs are. I support Mayor Romero in her actions this week to alter her proclamation to include this requirement.
 
Pima County continues to see rapid increases in cases. More importantly, we serve as a center for medical services within our region and we must take that into account as well. Here’s what the Arizona and Pima County figures look like as of yesterday.
 
 
If those daily increases remain this high we could quickly overwhelm our medical capacity. The City of Tucson’s efforts to require face coverings will help to slow this down. Bottomline, we are still living through a pandemic and we need every sector of our population to understand that it is not business as usual. I sincerely hope that this additional requirement will serve as a reminder to all Tucsonans to continue to follow CDC recommendations closely.
 
#MaskUpTucson
 
To that end, I invite and encourage you to #MaskUpTucson. Here’s the Ward 3 team in one of our regular team meetings showing off our masks.
 
 
Interestingly, among the five of us, we have 18 direct connections to individuals who were either presumed positive or tested positive for COVID-19. Sadly, two of those resulted in deaths. We know we are likely not unique.
 
We wear our masks to protect others who we care for and about. Who do you wear your mask for? Let me know by responding to this email or send us a note at ward3@tucsonaz.gov.
 
City of Tucson Reopening
 
Because of the continued increase in the number of cases in Arizona and Pima County, the City of Tucson will extend the reopening until Aug 3.  All aspects of the closing remain in effect (see below). 
This includes:
  • All service counters and lobbies within City buildings, including Ward offices and City Hall, are closed.
  • All evictions on City-owned public housing are suspended through July 31.
  • Tucson Water will continue to suspend water shutoffs through July 31.
  • City recreation centers and aquatics facilities are closed.
  • All aquatics, youth, therapeutic, and senior programing are canceled. All leisure classes and softball leagues have been postponed.
  • The Senior Meal Program will continue in its modified form.
  • Transit fares are waived on Sun Link, Sun Tran, and Sun Van.
  • Tucson City Court began a phased reopening with restrictions on June 1.
  • Household Hazardous Waste will not be collected at the Los Reales Landfill or the Sweetwater location.
  • Park Tucson will continue to offer 15-minute free parking for take-out orders.
The City is extending its reopening to better protect our residents. While I know it is hard not having recreation centers and pools open, I do encourage you to safely use park spaces and other outdoor spaces where physical distancing can be maintained. If you have questions related to any city services, please do not hesitate to call the Ward 3 office at 520-791-4711.
 
Budget Town Halls
 
The City Manager will host two budget town halls. The first will be on Monday, June 22 at 5:30pm and the second will be at June 29 at noon. The meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams using the links below. Those members of the public who do not have access to a computer or smart phone can use the phone numbers provided. The presentations will also be recorded and published to the City’s YouTube channel.
 
The City has created a new participatory budget tool in English and Spanish to provide a summary of the budget and gather input. That tool will be presented during the Town Halls. Community members can assign discretionary funds to different areas of the City’s budget utilizing this tool.
 
June 22, 5:30 p.m. meeting via Microsoft Teams– https://bit.ly/2YR5Dov or call (213) 293-2303 Conference ID: 970 639 818#
 
June 29, noon meeting via Microsoft Teams - https://bit.ly/37JmVZ6 or call (213) 293-2303 Conference ID: 356 894 174#
 
Mayor and Council Meetings
 
We have a Mayor and Council meeting later today where we will clarify the City of Tucson’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. (I wish I could give you more insight into the outcome but, at the time of writing, it is unclear.) We will also have Mayor and Council meetings next Tuesday, June 23 and again on Tuesday, June 30.
 
On June 23, we will discuss a number of items of interest to the public and you can find the agendas for the study, regular and special Public Housing Authority meeting here.
 
For the June 30 meeting and subsequent meetings the agendas are not yet finalized and are not available on the website as of yet. Here’s what I can tell you to expect on that meeting right now. It will only be a regular meeting, there will not be a study session. This means the meeting should begin at 5:30. There will be a discussion of the recommended budget, a public hearing on the recommended budget and a vote adopt or deny the tentative budget.
 
Now, the recommended budget and tentative budget are two different things. The tentative budget only determines the upper limit of the total budget. It’s the cap for expenditures based on likely revenues. The distribution of those dollars between departments and programs is determined in the recommended budget and that will be up for discussion on the June 30. As always, I encourage you to watch the videos live on the City of Tucson Youtube channel or submit comments related to agenda items to the Mayor and Council via the City Clerk.
 
Tax Day July 15
 
Tax Day was postponed from April 15 this year to July 15 this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that means it’s right around the corner. While the VITA program through the United Way used to provide services for individuals making less than $66,000/year they were forced to suspend their in-person service for the remainder of the season.
 
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do your taxes for free. The United Way of Tucson is teaming up with Code for America to provide online assistance at getyourrefund.org. With this program you can upload documents through an app from any device.    
 
Don’t have the internet? Pio Decimo, located at 848 S 7th Ave is also offering low income tax services by appointment. You can call (520) 622-2801 x 7118 to find out more about how this program can assist you.
 
Juneteenth
 
I want to take a moment and acknowledge that today is Juneteenth, an important historical day of celebration and also a reminder of how policies aimed at equality can be slow to be realized because of institutional racism and the utter unwillingness of the existing power structure to bend toward justice. I recommend that you take a moment and read about Juneteenth.

To commemorate this historical date, Mayor Romero on Friday morning unveiled a "Black Lives Matter" banner from the 10th floor of City Hall, where her office is located. The banner faces west toward Interstate 10 and "A" Mountain.

In her message the mayor wrote:  “Tucson stands in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters across the country in fighting the systemic racism that pervades our society at all levels. We are here to support, listen, and learn from the Black Lives Matter movement and our community so that we can better effect change and work for meaningful reform that closes racial, economic and social inequities.

As always, be safe and take care of each other.
 
-Paul Durham
 
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Pet of the Week
 
 
 
Bonjour. Meet Napoleon who you can find at Humane Society of Southern Arizona.  He has never been to France but he’d love to come visit you. He has lived with a dog and enjoys playing with the kiddos that came over.
 
You can call 520 327 6088 ext.173 to schedule an appointment to meet Napoleon today!
 
PACC Offers Help For Pet Owners Affected By COVID19
 
Does your pet need vaccinations or mild medical care due to the struggles you’ve faced because of COVID-19? Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) is offering free vaccinations and minor medical care for non-surgery procedures, such as ear infections, urinary tract infections, allergies, etc. Dental work, cancer treatment, and more serious issues are not covered as part of the program. To see if you qualify, follow the link below.
 
PACC Is Helping Struggling Pet Owners
 
Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) plans to hold drive-thru food distribution centers for pet owners affected by COVID-19. GreaterGood.org donated the food to Friends of Pima Animal Care Center, PACC’s official nonprofit partner. PACC staff and volunteers will hand out one gallon resealable zipper storage bags with pet food to people facing hardship because of COVID-19. This can be due to illness, job loss, financial insecurity or any other challenges related to the pandemic. Starting Sunday, May 10, the drive-thru line will take place in PACC's main parking lot every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 7:30-9:30 am. People will drive into the lot from the main entrance at Silverbell and Sweetwater where volunteers and staffers will be waiting with food.
 
 
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Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
 
Ft. Lowell Country Club Safety Group
Monday
June 22
6-7 pm
Join Zoom Meeting
 
 
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City-Wide Events
 
Webinar Series Part XIII. Navigating the Impacts of COVID-19
Monday
June 22
3-4 pm
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. A password will be required to join.
 
 
Hosted by the City of Tucson Office of Economic Initiatives, this webinar will feature some of our very own Tucson hotel operators who will share their responses to the pandemic. In addition, hear how the region is faring with the latest trends and updates in our hospitality industry. 
 
Webinar Series Parts I - XII are now available at ConnectTucson.
 
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Did You Know?
 
Reid Park Splash Pad
 
Tucson Parks and Rec is looking for public comments on the proposed splash pads that will be installed at Gene C. Reid Park. Your opinion counts and you can take a survey at the link below.
 
 
This survey will be open until Sunday, July 5.
 
This project is part of the Tucson Delivers Parks + Connections bond projects using 2018 voter approved bond funds. 
 
Mayor and Council to Revisit an Ordinance Dealing with Police and the Public
 
The Mayor and Tucson City Council is accepting comments on an ordinance it passed on April 21 that prohibits a person from knowingly obstructing or hindering police from their official duties, but does not prohibit recording police in public. The council will review the ordinance on June 23, saying it needs more community input. Comments can be submitted via the link below.
 
Red Cross Testing for COVID-19 Antibodies
 
 
 
This will provide donors the insight into whether they have been exposed to the coronavirus within 7-10 days after the donation by checking their Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
  
Antibody testing will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.
 
There continues to be an urgent need for blood donations as hospitals resume surgeries and treatments that require blood products.
 
Donation appointments can be made by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
 
For questions regarding antibody testing contact Colin Williams,  Regional Communications Officer (480)243-4956 , or Courtney Slanaker, Executive Director, Southern Arizona Chapter ((520)419-1157.
 
Red Cross Disaster Preparedness
 
The Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross is currently assisting 83 residents displaced by Monday’s Spanish Trail Suites fire on E. Benson Highway.  The Disaster Action Team volunteers are assisting the displaced residents with their emergency needs.  Due to COVID-19 precautions, masks and social distancing were in effect as well as the use of non-congregate sheltering.  The Red Cross remains ready to assist others displaced by this fire or any other home fire in Southern Arizona. 
 
We have opened an Evacuation Center for Summerhaven residents evacuated due to the Bighorn fire at Sahuaro High School at 545 North Camino Seco.
 
 
Recorder Sends Applications to Vote by Mail
 
 
Today, the Pima County Recorder mailed forms to voters who usually go to polling places to vote.  “In this difficult pandemic year, we want to give all voters the option of voting from home,” says F. Ann Rodriguez, Pima County Recorder. “We mailed forms to voters so they can let us know if they want to vote by mail this year, or be placed on the Permanent Early Voter List.”
 
A video about the form is here
 
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Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
 
Ward 3 has Facebook and Twitter pages so you can keep up with our Council Member and stay in touch with what's happening in Tucson and around the Ward.
 
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham
 
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