Friday, March 27th, 2020
Pet of the Week
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Did You Know?
As I mentioned last week, I want to be sure to share some stories about Ward 3 residents that remind us of what makes Tucson such a great city and also what makes us so resilient it in these tough times. I’ll also share with you updates related to COVID-19 relief packages and resources. First, however, I need to let you know what I’m advocating to get our city through this pandemic.
Governor Ducey needs to act
On March 24, I voted to urge Governor Ducey to immediately issue a statewide stay at home order. The motion that we passed did a few other things: it expressed support for the Mayor’s determination that the COVID-19 illness constitutes a local emergency that threatens both life and property in the City and that we take steps to provide assistance to our local businesses and their employees.
I’ve been reading in the news repeatedly that the sooner we act to work from home, practice social distancing and things like statewide stay at home orders, the more we can flatten the curve to prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed. Nobody likes the tragic reports of doctors in Italy having to choose who lives or dies based on whether they get a ventilator, a person in their 40’s or in their 70’s. I do not believe it is fair to force our medical professionals to have to make that decision because politicians have failed to act. As we know, this has been happening in Italy for weeks and is starting to play out in New York. Governor Ducey needs to act decisively now.
The fact that our President seems to think that it is more important to have a strong economy than protect the lives of millions is disturbing. The data appears pretty clear on the matter, the best and quickest way to revitalize the economy is to stop the spread of COVID-19 and increase our ability to test, trace it’s spread and effectively treat it. That’s why it is so important that the City of Tucson work regionally and in coordination with the UA and other private medical researchers and innovation labs to try and meet the demands placed on us by this pandemic. This is all the more critical if our Governor and President fail to act.
In their absence of leadership, it is even more important that the City of Tucson and I, as your Council Member, act. The residents of Tucson are just too important for us to sit on our hands.
These next couple of stories indicate exactly what is at stake.
Rillito Bend Neighborhood Mural
A few weeks ago the neighbors in the Rillito Bend neighborhood dedicated a mural that a number of dedicated Tucsonans had been working on for over 3 years. The dedication was during a lovely, rainy day in Tucson, as you can see from the photo below. This event was also a waste-free event that neighbors were asked to bring their own to-go cups, etc. to for the reception—good work!
The new Rillito Bend Mosaic Mural at Prince Rd and Cactus Blvd.
Hopefully you read the excellent Arizona Daily Star article by Carmen Duarte that previewed the mural leading to its dedication on March 8. Carmen does a great job of highlighting the various individuals who helped bring this mural into being. Retired midwife and now artist, Sue Ann Breems, provided the vision for the mural. Drawing on neighborhood stories and former residents, Sue Ann helped to craft an image that tells a story of the land where Rillito Bend is and the flora and fauna who have lived here over time.
But, critically, Sue Ann also found numerous neighbors who offered assistance both in the physical creation of the mural as well as the funding for the materials. It was truly a community effort. As my Chief of Staff, Sarah Launius, shared at the dedication on my behalf, it is appropriate that this mural is a mosaic. Each piece bears its own color, cut and shape. And when they come together, they create this broader meaning and vision for a sense of place. This is exactly what the Rillito Bend neighbors have managed to do through their collective efforts. It’s so very Tucson and reflects what we all value about our Ward 3 neighborhoods.
Larry points out some detail in the mural to multiple generations of Rillito Bend households.
Congratulations to all of the Rillito Bend neighbors for bringing this mural into existence. This mural also provides some additional enjoyment to those traveling along Prince Rd and in the adjacent neighborhoods. The Rillito Bend Neighborhood Association is still accepting donations to cover the costs of mural. You can connect with them here.
It’s not every day that just anyone can walk into a public building which carries their name. But Donna Liggins can and does.
The Donna R. Liggins Center at Mansfield Park in Ward 3’s Sugar Hill neighborhood is named after Donna who worked for the City of Tucson’s Park and Recreation Department for 43 years, 11 of those as director of the center.
And when she arrived as the center’s director in 1999, it was a homecoming for Donna who had lived for a number of years on East Waverly Street. She presently lives several blocks south on East Lee Street.
“It was very good,” said Donna earlier this week. She confessed that she wasn’t too keen on serving as director of the Northwest Neighborhood Center, which was the name then, but things changed.
“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” she said.
When she arrived, Sugar Hill and specifically Mansfield Park was in the throes of social ills and neighborhood problems. Along with neighbors and Tucson police, Donna worked to reduce the problems and complaints. The neighborhood was one of Tucson’s centers for black families, many of whom were small business owners, public employees and teachers.
During her time at the center, the city expanded it with a new gym and made improvements, Donna said.
“It was amazing,” she added.
In addition to supervising the center and its activities, Donna worked with Sugar Hill residents to organize and to strengthen the neighborhood association. She understood that to get things done, to seek solutions and to gain improvements, residents needed to be their own advocates.
Although she retired 10 years ago, Donna continues to visit the center. She regularly meets with various community groups at the center.
Looking back, she said one of greatest joys was seeing young people spending time at the center and later returning to the center with children of their own. It’s a testament to the role that the center plays in the community and the trust that residents have in the center and its city staff.
While I know the center is closed right now in an effort to protect the adjacent neighborhood, I want to acknowledge the efforts of Donna and other neighbors to care for one another during this time.
I know many of you are checking in on each other and sharing important information related to senior shopping hours, drive-through free-food distributions and other resources. You’ll find additional information along those lines in this newsletter as well.
I understand that nearly everyone is focusing on staying healthy and adhering to the safety protocols related to the corona virus. That’s important. But please don’t forget that the U.S. Census is underway. It remains vital that you participate in the decennial count. Census is asking your household to count every person living in your home.
You can be counted by going online or by phone or my mail. It becomes especially critical that you complete the census form right now so that a census worker will not have to knock on your door asking you to fill out the census. This way, we will save time and keep census workers and our community members safe from potential virus spread.
Go to this link and follow the instructions: https://2020census.gov/
By being counted, you will help Ward 3 receive needed federal dollars for public improvement projects, public safety, education and services for children and the elderly. Do your part. Help shape our future.
The map above shows the current response rate in Tucson by Census Tracts. As you’ll see much of Ward 3 is hovering right around a 20% response rate. We need to move this to 100% in the next month. I invite you to following our progress via this interactive map and to share it with your networks.
This week as you’re calling and checking in with family and friends, please be sure to ask them if they’ve completed their Census questionnaire yet. If not, be sure to share the https://2020census.gov/ link with them.
COVID-19 Relief Packages
Now I want to shift gears and give you some important information on COVID-19. My office is closely following the various supports coming from multiple sources and I want to make sure you know about them and have the tools to utilize them as needed.
Part I: State of Arizona
On Monday, March 23rd the state legislature passed a contingency budget with a $50 million appropriation for COVID-19 relief for Governor Ducey to use at his discretion.
The contingency budget funds state services next fiscal year, FY20/21, at the same level as this fiscal year which ends on June 30th. The legislature has adjourned until Monday, April 13th.
At the drafting of this newsletter item we have yet to receive word on what Governor Ducey will prioritize for use with the $50 million. The Governor’s office has also put together a website and a hotline, 211, with information on resources within the State. https://arizonatogether.org/
Part II: Federal Government
On Wednesday, March 25th the leadership teams in the United States Senate and officials from the Administration announced an agreement on an approximately $2 trillion stimulus package.
The highlights include:
· $1,200 in direct payments to taxpayers with incomes up to $75,000 per year.
· An extended unemployment insurance program for laid-off workers that will allow for four months that also raises the maximum benefit by $600 per week. It will apply to traditional workers for small and large businesses as well as those who are self-employed and workers in the gig economy, such as Uber/Lyft drivers that will be critically important as nationwide unemployment claims rose by 3.3 million last week.
· An injection of $150 billion into the healthcare system for capacity, supplies and research.
· Another $150 billion in aid directly to states and cities, for which Tucson would qualify.
· $350 billion in loans to businesses, some of which could potentially be forgiven, will be made available.
In terms of oversight, the packages create a Treasury Department special inspector general for pandemic recovery and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee to oversee loans to businesses. There are also provisions included to ban stock buybacks for the term of government assistance plus an additional year for any company receiving a government loan from the bill. The agreement also establishes worker protections attached to federal loans for businesses and it prohibits airlines from using the funds for CEO bonuses.
As of the drafting of this newsletter article the US Congress has formally approved the bill and it awaits the President's signature.
Small Business Assistance
On Monday, March 23rd Barbara Coffee, the City of Tucson’s Director of Economic Initiatives, hosted a webinar for local business to share information and resources as they deal with the economic fallout from COVID-19.
Over 330 people registered for the webinar and if you are interested and missed it you can view it here.
The topics covered ranged from small business loans, mentoring, legal advice and crisis management.
The presenters included:
Business Development Finance Corporation which is offering loan products, with some loans for extended loan periods.
Community Investment Corporation also is providing micro loans to businesses with no early repayment penalties.
Growth Partners Arizona has a focus on traditionally underserved communities is also offering loan products.
SCORE Small Business offers free mentoring services to small business and entrepreneurs. Businesses would be able to get advice and ideas to deal with issues caused by COVID-19.
Farhang & Medcoff provides legal advice regarding employment law, insurance regulations and other matters that arise from the pandemic.
The Caliber Group offers crisis management planning tools, advice and strategies to deal with the current situation.
Due to popular demand the Office of Economic Initiatives has scheduled another webinar for Monday, March 30, 2020 @ 3:00pm (Tucson Time). The webinar will feature other local experts. Space is limited to 500 and registration is required.
Additional resources are available on the Tucson Metro Chamber website and at the Small Business Hotline at 520-837-4100.
The Office of Economic Initiatives is also asking business executives and owners to participate in a survey to gain an aggregate understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted our local companies and better the position the City of Tucson to respond to your needs. Please participate in this survey.
Ward 3 Restaurants and Breweries Open for Pick-up
Finally, I want to highlight some locally-owned Ward 3 restaurants and breweries that are open for pick-up and/or delivery during this time.
Robert’s Restaurant. www.Robertstucson.com
Dragoon Brewing Co., www.dragoonbrewing.com
Smokey Mo, http://SmokeyMo.com
Sausage Deli, www.SausageDeli.com
Prep & Pastry, http://Prepandpastry.com
Baja Café, http://bajacafetucson.com
Monterey Court Café, www.montereycourtaz.com
These are just some of the excellent establishments that you can order take-out provisions from right now. Please let me know about your favorite establishments that are serving right now.
Cesar Chavez Day
On Monday the City will be celebrating Cesar Chavez Day. While most City offices are already physically closed due to COVID 19, most City employees will have the day off to honor the labor leader.
- Paul Durham
Pet of the Week
Canelo is a 3 year old Pit Bull mix who is waiting for a home at Pima Animal Care Center. If you are unable to give Canelo a forever home at this time, consider fostering him. He has been at the shelter since the beginning of the year and could use a break.
Speaking of fostering, there are many animals at PACC who would love a chance to have some time away, and with low staff due to COVID-19 and puppy and kitten season approaching it would be a great time to make room for more animals who need to come in.
For more information about Canelo or any other animal at PACC email: PACC.Adopt@pima.gov or better yet, make an appointment to meet this handsome guy in person and see for yourself how sweet he is.
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Due to COVID-19 regularly scheduled neighborhood associations in Ward 3 have been cancelled.
Did You Know?
Governor Doug Ducey announced the launch of a new statewide COVID-19 Hotline. The line will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. each day of the week and can be reached by dialing 2-1-1 while an individual is located in Arizona. Click here to visit 211Arizona.org.
Additional mitigation strategies to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona. Click here for more details.
Pima County Board of Supervisors Pass Emergency Declaration Affecting Bars, Restaurants and other Businesses. Click here for more details.
Homeowner Mortgage Forebearance
As COVID-19 continues to spread and leave some community members out of jobs or income, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is taking steps to help borrowers who are struggling to make mortgage payments due to coronavirus. Hardship forbearance is an option for those who are unable to make their monthly mortgage payments. Under the plan, people who have a loss of income can qualify to make reduced payments or be granted a complete pause in payments. Homeowners will still have to repay the money, but the FHA action will give a break to those who are facing financial hardship. You must contact your lender to set up a payment plan.
Information on mortgage forbearance: https://bit.ly/2WEd82W
Local resources for newly jobless: https://bit.ly/2WysuWC
Local resources for newly jobless: https://bit.ly/2WysuWC
Tucson Metro Chamber Offers Resources for Small Businesses
The Tucson Metro Chamber is providing resources for all community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you operate a small business in Tucson, Chamber's website offers you a list of financial, employee, and customer resources during this time. You can also find resources on another website operated by the City of Tucson's Office of Economic Initiatives (ConnectTucson). Both websites are linked below.
Call the Warm Line If You Are Feeling Anxious or Depressed
Need someone to talk to during these times? The Warm Line is a confidential, non-emergency phone line for residents in Southern Arizona who need to speak with someone. This free service offers access to peer support operators who have first-hand experience living with mental illness or substance use. Callers can talk about life challenges, find out about local community resources and support, and talk about their own mental health concerns. Pima County residents can call (520) 770-9909. Those in other Southern Arizona counties can call (844) 733-9912. For more information: https://bit.ly/399GyZn
Free Meals for Kids
Social distancing and school closures have meant that we have to look out for the well-being of children who depend on meals that they receive at school to make sure that they receive enough to eat. Take a look here for a huge list of places to find free meals for Tucson children during school closures.
Support Local Businesses
Tucson’s local restaurant owners are providing an essential service everyday by making sure that the public continues to get fed. Buying meals from Tucson businesses will not only help them stay in business but keep the local economy going. Here is a list of local restaurants offering takeout and delivery at the Tucson Weekly and Arizona Daily Star.
What are your risk factors for contracting COVID-19?
Find out what the CDC has to say about your risk of contracting COVID-19 at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html?fbclid=IwAR00WZgZ_UR5DslrBIO5zv9GEyN4BXbpm3TB2zzYXa3x1SLKV7DNyRvdRDI
Immediate Openings For Job Seekers
For those looking for employment, there is a website that is updated daily that has a list of employers state-wide that are hiring. If you or someone you know have lost your job or had your hours reduced, this is a great resource to help find employment https://arizonaatwork.com/newsroom/all/arizona-employers-immediate-openings.
Senior Shopping Hours
During the COVID-19 crisis, many grocery stores in Tucson have chosen to set aside special shopping times for seniors, the age group most vulnerable for contracting the coronavirus. You can find the latest list of participating stores at the link here: https://bit.ly/2QFBA04
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.
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMPaulDurham/
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham