Pauls Note: Friday, June 26, 2020

Paul’s Note
Friday, June 26, 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
 
To say that this has been a tough week on top of numerous difficult months is an understatement. And I know that to varying degrees, this is our collective experience right now. I began this week very concerned about the filling up of ICU beds in Pima County, hoping that firefighters would be able to contain the Bighorn fire soon and, with it, protect the future of saguaros in our sky island ecosystem. I was also feeling hesitantly optimistic that we might be able to begin a process of constructive community dialogue to ensure that the Mayor and Council’s allocation of public dollars are reflective of the values of all Tucsonans.
 
I am still concerned and my staff and I continue to investigate actions that the City of Tucson can take to best support the firefighting effort and reduce the COVID-19 outbreak and strengthen our public health infrastructure.
 
And then I learned, not long before each of you, about the horrible and unnecessary death of Carlos Adrian Ingram Lopez. I and the entire Ward 3 team wishes to extend our deepest condolences to his family. I am mindful, as my colleague Council Member Santa Cruz has stated, that my thoughts and prayers cannot bring this young man back. I believe we must ensure that the appropriate response and supports are available to any Tucsonan in a behavioral health crisis—such as the one Mr. Ingram Lopez was experiencing.
 
I stated publicly on Tuesday that I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that this never happens again. I mean that sincerely. I also communicated with City Manager Mike Ortega on Tuesday that I was not willing to accept the resignation of Chief Magnus. Rather, I believe that the Chief, City Manager and Mayor and Council have a duty to the residents of Tucson to provide a path forward in dialogue with our constituents.
In this newsletter, I elaborate on what that might look like. I also provide a brief overview of some of the current processes used in Tucson for oversight of our police department. I offer this as what I hope will serve as a baseline for further discussion among Tucsonans as we seek a way forward, one that I hope will lead us toward meaningful reconciliation and result in a stronger, more equitable community.
 
In addition to these items on oversight and accountability, I also have a budget update that I trust will help each of you to better participate in the process. And, I’d be remiss if I did not also include an update on COVID-19—spoiler alert, it’s not looking good.
 
I also have an important story about the Poverello House, a day respite site for men experiencing homelessness, based in Ward 3 and ways that you can support them. Given that we are at the close of June, I also felt it necessary to take a moment and acknowledge Pride month which is coming to a close. Scott Blades with Ward 3 based TIHAN (Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network) provides some insights into the history of Pride, its resonance for Tucsonans and the significance of the five Pride flags flying at the TCC right now.
 
Finally, given the extreme fire danger we are currently facing and the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Tucson has decided to postpone the July 4, 2020 fireworks show. We will reassess in the future as conditions change.
 
Pride
 
June is Pride month. As an openly gay man for most of my adult life, I have always appreciated the importance of public, collective Pride celebrations. It is hard this year for many in our community not having access to organized Pride events. It’s for that reason that I was so pleased that the City of Tucson moved to have Pride flags unfurl at the TCC this year. The flags were selected by Scott Blades, executive director of the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN), a non-profit support group located on North First Avenue in Ward 3. I asked Scott some questions related to the flags and Pride month. 
 
 
Why did you recommend the flags and what do they mean to you, the LGBTQ+ community in Tucson? 
 
When Mayor Romero’s office contacted us about helping get Pride flags for display at TCC, we were happy to help. It’s meaningful to have leadership that sees us, engages us, supports us, stands with us. Likewise, it’s important for us to stand in solidarity with Black and brown people and members of the trans community whose lives are increasingly under attack. So we recommended that Tucson fly three flags: the traditional pride flag with six colors of the rainbow, the "Philadelphia-style" version of the pride flag that features the addition of black and brown stripes to be more representative and inclusive, and the trans pride flag celebrating trans and nonbinary members of our community. Seeing these three flags and the diversity they represent is important to us, and important to our community. And it was affirming when we heard that Mayor Romero and city council members had those same thoughts about reflecting our diversity. 
  
Why is Pride important to you and TIHAN clients? 
 
Pride is important to us because we are a beautifully-diverse coalition.  We are LGBTQ+ and straight, transgender and cisgender, HIV-positive and HIV-negative, from every part of the rainbow. Many of us have experienced stigma and marginalization, and have been subjected to discrimination. Gathering together in solidarity helps us lift up each other, allows us to explore our differences and commonality, and makes us stronger.  We celebrate pride in who we are individually and as a community, and we celebrate the progress we’ve made in terms of equality for people who are LGBTQ+ as well as progress in HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. 
 
Is TIHAN recognizing Pride month in any particular way? 
 
Pride has its roots in the protest in 1969 known as the Stonewall Riots, led primarily by people who were Black and brown and non-gender conforming. This month especially, we wanted to remind people that we cannot take for granted the rights and progress that people have fought hard to obtain for us. And we want to remind everyone that we must continue to protest the systemic racism and homophobia and transphobia that exist, because we want to live in a community where all can thrive. So we’re sharing stories and reminding each other of our roots and the work we need to do today to create a world that is better than what we grew up with. 
 
How do you balance celebrating Pride during this time of increased focus on racial justice issues? 
 
Celebrating our personal and community pride are important to our health and well-being. But today we are called to expand our awareness and perspective and to put our privilege on the line to advocate for justice for all. There can be true pride only when #blacklivesmatter. In the words of self-proclaimed drag queen Marsha P Johnson, one of the prominent leaders of the Stonewall uprising: “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”  We must recognize the intersectionality of our lives and our community. 
 
Thank you, Scott, for sharing your insights and reflections with us. Happy Pride everyone!
 
Poverello House
 
It was nearly 12 years ago when a small group of committed community members rented a small house in Feldman’s Neighborhood and opened it up to men experiencing homelessness. There they could wash themselves and their clothes. They could eat a hot breakfast. Or they could read and relax. 
 
The founders called it the Poverello House, which in Italian translates into “poor man.” 
 
But earlier this year, when the pandemic swept around the globe and into our city, the Poverello House closed its doors. Since then the small core of supporters has waited, contemplating when and if they could reopen its doors and again serve “il poverello.” 
 
That day could come on July 15. But first the Poverello House needs volunteers before welcoming the men again. 
 
Anne Reissner, a member of the Poverello board of directors, said that one volunteer a day is needed from 7 to 8 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday to conduct “triage” for the men who arrive. The volunteer will take the men’s temperatures and ask them questions about their health. If they pass, the men will move into the courtyard and receive directions how to maintain safe practices and social distancing. All the activities will be conducted outside. 
 
“And masks will be mandatory,” she said. Everyone, volunteers and visitors, will wear masks. 
 
 
The men will be allowed to remain at the house until 4 p.m. Then they return to find a place to sleep — on the street. The men are not allowed to stay at the house for more than one day a week. That allows more men to take advantage of the house’s hospitality. Anne said the ages of the men have ranged from late 20 to early 80s. The average age was 53. 
 
It costs about $6,000 a month to operate the house, to pay for utilities, supplies, food and rent. The bulk of the money comes from private contributions. A few grants supplement the donations. 
 
 
The Poverello House was started by Br. David Buer, ofm, a Franciscan Brother who worked with the homeless for many years in California and Nevada. He was assigned to a new ministry in Tucson in 2005 and in 2008 he led the effort to open the Poverello House at 221 E. Lee St., just East of North 6th Avenue and north of Speedway. 
 
“We’re opening in careful ways,” Anne said. 
 
 
If you can volunteer, please call Anne at 520-908-7239 or email her at aereissner@comcast.net. If you can’t but can donate, the Poverello House is a 501(3c) non-profit charity. Checks can be made to Poverello House of Tucson and mailed to P.O. Box 50782, Tucson, 85703. The House qualifies for state tax credits. 
 
Thank you Ward 3.
 
Voting
 
Arizona’s primary election is Tuesday, August 4. The voter registration cutoff is Monday, July 6 with Early Ballots being mailed on Wednesday, July 8. Please register to vote if you are not currently registered.
 
You can visit Service Arizona to register. Also, please note that if you are registered as “Party Not Declared” (PND), or more commonly known as Independent, you will need to contact the Pima County Recorder’s Office to request a party ballot your preference. You may do so at the Recorder’s website or via phone at (520) 724-4330.
 
Below is an info graphic from the Recorder’s Office with more information.
 
 
With the COVID-19 pandemic to contend with, I would encourage you to vote by mail. Arizona has had a long, successful history with vote by mail elections, in fact City of Tucson elections are all vote by mail.  Voting from home, during this time, is the safest way to vote.
 
COVID-19
 
Governor Ducey held a press conference yesterday that essentially made clear that we are experiencing a massive spread of cases and severe filling up of ICU beds. This has actually been apparent for some time. Unfortunately, the governor did not offer any additional resources or guidance.
I am watching with great interest to see if in 7-14 days from now we start to see a diminishment in cases due to the face covering requirement. I’m concerned that this may still be being followed too loosely.
 
I welcome your feedback on the matter too. Are you seeing more people with masks on when you need to go to the pharmacy or grocery store? Are you observing greater sensitivety to scoial distancing when you are talking a walk or out for exercise and pass a neighbor? Please let me know by repsonding to this email or contacting us directly at ward3@tucsonaz.gov.
 
Below you will see a map of positive cases.
 
 
If we are successful, we will start to see this map be covered in blue. That’s the goal for Mayor and Council and our local public health experts, to significantly reduce new exposures.
 
As part of our effort to reduce exposure and the spread of COVID-19, Mayor and Council have allocated Cares Act funds to support the creation of on-demand testing for all 4,500 City of Tucson employees and their families. Our aim is to be able to increase on-demand and low-cost testing for the public soon. In the interim, I believe that if other large employers offer similar options to their employees paired with the face covering requirements we could see a significant reduction in the City of Tucson.
 
Police Oversight and Transparency
 
This last month we have witnessed an important national conversation around police oversight and transparency. This last week has triggered a lot of legitimate questions within our community precisely related to oversight and accountability for TPD officers. I want to provide some basic information on the current oversight bodies that exist. I also want to share the additional oversight practices that Chief Magnus is proposing.
I share this information in the hopes that collectively we can discern what additional efforts may be needed or appropriate in this moment and having the same baseline information will be helpful moving forward.
 
Existing Oversight Bodies: 
 
Independent Police Auditor
 
The Office of the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) is a civilian oversight body tasked with receiving citizen complaints of Tucson Police Department personnel and the auditing of all complaint investigations (citizen-initiated, internal and administrative) conducted by the TPD Office of Professional Standards to ensure investigations are transparent, thorough, objective, and fair.
 
IPA engages in community outreach with the goal of increasing public confidence in our police force and to assist TPD in establishing best police practices.
 
The IPA participates as an external civilian source on TPD’s Critical Incident Review Board and Force Review Board (FRB). Additionally, the IPA recruits, mentors, and assists in training civilian community members of the FRB. IPA offers training and general support to Community Police Advisory Review Board (CPARB) members and attends and participates in all CPARB meetings. The IPA participates in police training development and instruction. The IPA instructs police recruits and community service officers at the police academy about the need for civilian oversight of police.
 
The Citizens Police Advisory Review Board
 
The Mayor and City Council formed the Community Police Advisory Review Board (CPARB) in March of 1997 to review and comment on completed police investigations of complaints brought against the Tucson Police Department (TPD) by citizens. CPARB was formed as a proactive measure, rather than as a reaction to any specific perceived problems within the police department.
 
CPARB reviews completed investigations of citizen complaints alleging Tucson Police Department officer misconduct in order to comment on the fairness and thoroughness of the investigation. After the review, the Board offers comments and recommendations to the Chief of Police, the Independent Police Auditor, the City Manager and the Mayor and Council on police department policy, procedure and practice.
 
The Board brings the perspective of the community and the various wards to the process and helps provide a check and balance to the previously un-reviewed system. The Board conducts public outreach to educate the community on the role of CPARB and other agencies that investigate complaints against the police department. The Board regularly receives training/briefings on a variety of topics and members are also required to go on ride-alongs for the purpose of learning about police procedures in the field.
 
A relevant existing body is the Civil Service Commission. For those you who do not know, the Civil Service Commission is the body that reviews and makes a determination if a City employee were to appeal a decision to terminate, demote, etc.
 
Efforts Commencing:
 
I’ve been in dialogue with Mayor Romero about how to best move forward and I join her in proposing the following:
  • Establish a policy for immediate public notice of in-custody deaths such as currently happens for any officer-involved shooting.
  • Establish a community safety division pilot comprised of behavioral health experts as well as the City of Tucson’s future Housing First Director, among others. This division would seek to respond to a number of calls and concerns coming from the community that requires these special skill-sets.
  • Strengthen the Independent Police Auditor.
  • Overhaul CPARB and ensure it has the capacity to be more responsive to concerns flagged by the community.
  • Mayor and Council will work with TPD and community leaders to host a series of community town halls to garner input on police practices, priorities and responsibilities.
I am hopeful that these efforts, along with additional feedback from our constituents, will fuel realignments with the values and priorities of Tucson residents.
 
City of Tucson Budget
 
Mayor and Council have received a lot of input on this year’s budget. Some of that feedback is in direct conflict with other recommendations. In an effort to help bring greater clarity to how we prioritize our public dollars in the budget, our Office of Innovation has developed a new participatory budgeting tool. Included in tool are helpful interactive graphics. The one below is the non-interactive version of the entire City of Tucson budget broken out by departments.
 
 
This particular graphic is organized to show the largest departments—the most significant being Tucson Water at 17.6% followed by the Department of Transportation at 15.4%. In the online tool, you can drill down into each department and gain a better understanding of how funds are invested. You can also share feedback on how you would distribute revenues amongst the departments. Please provide your input, and hopefully learn something new, by using the tool.
 
If you would like to participate in the Budget Town Hall this Monday at noon, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about the city budget. Attend the meeting via Microsoft Teams - https://bit.ly/37JmVZ6 or call (213) 293-2303 Conference ID: 356 894 174#.
 
This Tuesday during the Mayor and Council meeting, we will also hold a public hearing on the budget. If you wish to submit written comments on the budget public hearing, you may send an email to cityclerk@tucsonaz.gov. The email should include the individual’s name and the agenda item for comment. The comments will be limited to no more than 500 words. Comments must be received by no later than 5:00 p.m., Monday, June 29, 2020.
 
If you wish to speak during the public hearing you may do so via teleconference.  You must submit a written request to cityclerk@tucsonaz.gov. The email should include your name, and the phone # you will use for the teleconference. Once your request to speak has been received by the City Clerk, you will be provided instructions on how to connect to the teleconference. Requests to speak must be submitted no later than 12:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2020.
 
 - Paul D.
 
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Pet of the Week
 
Tina
 
 
Beautiful Tina is bilingual and ready to find her forever familia. She is a 3-year-old girl who was transferred to HSSA from an overcrowded shelter in Sonora, Mexico. Tina currently speaks Spanish but she is excited to practice her English with her new forever family! She is an outgoing girl who got along well with dogs in her previous shelter and with dogs at HSSA. She is extremely friendly and loves to be around people (as you can tell in her cute video!) If you think you could give Tina the loving, forever home that she deserves please make an adoption appointment to meet her by calling 520-327-6088, ext. 173 or fill out an adoption application online and you will receive a call from an adoption counselor as soon as possible.
 
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Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
 
Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association meeting
Wednesday
July 1
6-7:30pm
Zoom (audio and/or video): https://arizona.zoom.us/j/96112808472
Call-in to join via phone (audio only): +1 253 215-8782
Meeting ID: 9611280 8472 
 
Cabrini
Thursday
July 2
6-7 pm
 
El Cortez
Tuesday
July 7
6:15 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 844 0316 2156
Password: 847857
 
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City-Wide Events
 
Mask Drive
Saturday
June 27
4-7 pm
Southside Presbyterian
317 W 23rd
North Parking lot
 
 
Tucson Mask Share is a new effort launched in response to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in our area and the new requirement that face coverings be worn in public in Tucson and Pima County. 
 
The group’s mission is to collect, purchase, and provide masks for people who are homeless as well as those using public transportation or accessing food resources. We are partnering with TCPHTucson Food Share and Sun Tran to distribute the masks.
 
1. BRING MASKS, homemade or purchased, to our first Mask Drive event this Saturday, June 27, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the parking lot across the street from Southside Presbyterian Church, 317 W 23rd St. 85713. This is a drive-up, walk- or bike-up event that will be clearly marked for contactless drop-off. We’re also collecting MATERIALS for makers who have volunteered to make masks. Preferred materials are 100% cotton fabric (sheets, etc., are fine! pieces no smaller than 10 x 6 inches) and flat elastic.
 
2. DONATE to help purchase ethically sourced masks in bulk and fabric to supply the makers. 
 
3. SHARE with your networks and on social media:
Forward or repost this email
Twitter #TucsonMaskShare
 
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Did You Know?
 
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.
 
 
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. 
 
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.
 
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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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