Topics in this Issue:
- Be Kind
- January 8th Bell Ringing
- Bottle Crusher
- More on Roads – Prop 101
- Even Numbered Year Elections
- Tucson Police Deflection Program
- Tucson Wildlife Center
- Film Industry
- City of Tucson Services
- Events & Entertainment
I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of the nightly coverage of the forest fires in Australia. In the midst of that tragedy, there are lots of Be Kind stories to pluck out of the negatives. One has to do with the people who are stepping up and saving many of their critters.
(Photo Credit: NY Times)
In a NY Times article I read they report an estimated 500 million plants and animals lost in the fires. People are making overt efforts to step towards that crisis and save what they can of their animals. This koala is one of the fortunate ones who will live to see another day.
(Photo Credit: Nathan Edwards / Getty)
Another Be Kind is for the thousands of volunteer fire fighters who are working the flames. People throughout Australia are using up all of their paid leave from their regular jobs to fight the fires. The government is working on ways to provide some level of compensation, but the first move was from the people who cared enough about their neighbors and the country itself to take the time to ‘do something.’ Don’t we always hear people say ‘someone should do something.’ Well, they are.
In the spirit of 'someone should do something,' check out this short inspirational video by Wangari Maathai, the first African woman AND first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGMW6YWjMxw
There are also reports of Australian businesses who are doing their part. The Coffee Club is donating a portion of sales to relief work. Bunnings is a hardware store. They’re sponsoring ‘Sausage Sizzles’ in which all funds raised from sales go to help those in need. Woolworth’s is donating $500K, and The Australia Post is accepting donations they’ll pass onto The Red Cross.
In the midst of such a tragic human and environmental disaster, it’s great to see people finding ways to carry some of the load others are bearing.
This local Be Kind is for both KGUN photographer Chris, and Ann from my staff who both stopped to help a little dog that was hit by a car. Ann took him to an emergency animal hospital who did some surgery and delivered the pup to PACC the next day. They’re finishing up the medical treatment, and then Chris will be fostering the little guy until he’s ready for a permanent home. Everyone involved should feel good about their role in saving the life of a little Yorkie pup.
This is our own local example of where people from all over came together in support of others who were suffering loss. We’re 1 year away from completion of the January 8th Memorial down in the plaza that connects City and County government. That will not stop us from commemorating the event later this week.
Beginning at 10am on the 8th, a multi-agency honor guard will begin the ceremony. That will be followed by Congressman Ron Barber addressing the crowd, a prayer offered by Reverend Joe Fitzgerald, and then the ceremonial ringing of the bell as the names of our friends and loved ones who were lost in that senseless shooting are read.
The ceremony will be closed with some comments from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. This is our community event. Please feel free to come and be a part of the somber gathering. It is this week's Local Tucson item.
In last week's Year in Review newsletter, I briefly touched on the bottle crusher we’ve got in the W6 garage. At the time I promised a more complete explanation. Despite some nice coverage from most of the local media outlets, and a wonderful follow up by Luzdelia Caballerro from KGUN, the full story still needs to be told.
What is the largest extraction industry in the world? Not oil, and not copper. It’s sand. Sand is the product we’re ‘creating’ with the bottle crusher. Actually, we’re returning the bottles to the form they began in: silica. My goal is to work with our Environmental Services folks and move what is now just me spending time in the garage crushing beer and wine bottles, and take this to a commercial scale operation. We lose $500K annually when you recycle your glass. If we can create productive uses for the sand (crushed bottles) then we save that money, save the life of the landfills, and make those new uses more cost efficient. First things first, though.
This falls totally under the umbrella of ‘think globally, act locally.’ Here’s the global issue. This map shows the Mekong River. It winds its way through 6 different countries. Up at the top of the map you see China. Last week I shared a graph in which it was made clear that the demand for cement in China is causing a ‘run on sand’ – sand is used as one component of making concrete. The demand China is leading is wreaking havoc on the Mekong, as well as many other waterways around Southeast Asia.
This picture shows how dredging for sand in the Mekong is ruining not only habitat, but is placing homes and the fishing industry at risk. According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and the Mekong River Commission, the riverbed in the two main channels of the Mekong Delta lost about 10’ in elevation in the first 8 years of the century, but since then have lost roughly 15’ in depth. A report titled Research in Nature reported last month that sand mining on one 12 mile stretch of the river is “non-sustainable.” That means the sand being dredged exceeds the river’s ability to replace it through adding natural sediment. Think about the work the County is now doing on the Santa Cruz to remove sediment to prevent flooding. The issue China is creating on the Mekong is exactly the opposite.
The Mekong supports the world’s largest inland fishery industry. It feeds 60 million people. The WWF says 800 species of fish and dolphin are endangered due to the dredging. And it’s not just the Mekong. The sand grab is affecting waterways in Kenya and in India. Sand is right now being consumed at the rate of nearly 40 pounds per day for every person on the planet. That’s the global story. So back to the Ward 6 garage. What’s the local angle?
Instead of just sending glass into our landfill, can we use it for other materials. I say ‘yes.’ Since I first wrote about this its clear that many of you do, too. We’ve ordered a sandbag filling chute that will be our contribution to showing a local touch. We’re also working with our Environmental and General Services folks on using this sand to cut a mortar mix and redo the concrete in the Ward 6 front entryway. It’s lifting due to some tree limbs and so has to be done anyway. When I suggested we use ours as a test site, the guys at E.G.S.D. were all in on the idea. But what about also using the sand for things such as roadbeds, concrete mix, filling between pavers in driveways, sheetrock, lining pipe trenches like is being done by these guys – on a real commercial scale:
That work is being done in Fairfax County, Virginia. Typically sewer pipes are laid on a bed of sand and covered with stone. The workers in this picture are instead using crushed glass. It’s denser than the quarry sand and so will provide greater stability than the sand they’ve been buying. And the crushed glass is going to a productive use – not sitting in their landfill. In Fairfax, the County leaders are investing in upgrades to their Material Recovery Facility so they can better separate glass from the other recycled products. Another option could be to do dual-streaming – collect glass separately.
I mentioned Australia up above. They generate almost 70 million tons of waste each year. About 1.5 million tons of that is glass. Since it’s costing more to recycle glass, they’re stockpiling it while an R&D project in their Deakin University is showing that glass can replace sand and create a ‘polymer concrete’ that is just catching on in their construction industry. It’s stronger, and it’s cheaper than traditional mortar.
Ok, so I’m filling some sandbags and doing our front entry slab. As of Friday evening, I’ve got 70 gallons of sand now crushed. I’m not flying solo. Our Environmental Services folks are working with me on this. They reached out to some 4th Avenue bars over the holiday and on January 2nd and 3rd delivered to the W6 garage a large offering of empty bottles. Soon you’ll be walking on them when you come to visit us at Ward 6.
Thanks to Sky Bar, Barrio Brewery, Time Market and Hotel Congress for joining in this effort. And thanks to Laff’s Comedy Club. They gave me 3 cases of champagne bottles at the end of the early show on New Year’s Eve (my bride and I did not make it to midnight, but not because of the champagne.) If you’re keeping score at home, you can get 5 gallons of sand from crushing 3 cases of champagne bottles. As I go through the supply of empties I’m learning about some bar habits. I don’t drink, but I found that you Dos Equis and Corona drinkers make the bartender slide a lime down the bottle. They crush, too. And I’m expecting a new delivery from the E.S. guys this week since the first load is now safely stored in 14 5 gallon buckets.
We are not going to generate the hundreds of tons that’d be needed to supply roads, sidewalks or trenches out of the Ward 6 garage. What we can do here though is to show a few things. One is that the community embraces the idea of recycling glass, creating our own secondary market and saving our landfills. Another is to work with some of the smart people in the community and develop some commercial scale uses for the crushed glass. I only know what I read. With the scientific bandwidth that exists in Tucson, we can come up with some great new uses. And from that we can scale up the garage operation to commercial scale, save the money we’re now losing through recycling, and put our used glass to a new productive use.
It takes me about 5 minutes to crush enough glass to fill a 5 gallon bucket. But here’s the truth – I don’t want to spend my evenings crushing beer bottles and going home smelling like a brewery. My bride will get suspicious. I give high marks to Carlos DeLa Torre, Pat Tapia and the workers at Environmental Services who humored me at the beginning, but now are on board with seeing where this can take us. I believe that it won’t take long before you see this baby step become a stepping stone for a positive change in the City of Tucson recycling effort. Our local response to a global problem.
In May of 2017, voters said Yes to Prop 101. That’s the combined Public Safety/Roads proposition tied to the ½ cent sales tax increase. The Prop sunsets in July 2022. We’ll have to decide on when/if to ask for an extension of any portion of it soon. Maybe sooner than we had planned, but more on that below.
The tax will yield about $50M annually. That money is split 60% for public safety and 40% for roads. Over the next 5 years the road portion will amount to around $100M. Of that, $60M will go to arterials and $40M to local streets. In total, there are 891 lane miles to be improved. Now that the tax has begun to generate enough funds to invest, you’ll be seeing more and more 101 road work in progress.
In order to ensure the money is going where it was promised on the ballot, we have a citizen Bond Oversight Commission keeping track. You can see where the money’s going to by following this link from time to time: http://tucsondelivers-safercitybetterstreets.tucsonaz.gov/
As I said, we’ll have a decision to make regarding when and/or if to ask for an extension of Prop 101. I’ll get into more on that in a minute, but another group is also going to have to decide on whether or not, and when to ask for an extension. That’s the Regional Transportation Authority. That’s also a ½ cent tax, about half of which is going to adding roadway capacity, and the other half going to transit and safety improvements. That tax expires in 2026, but because they need a secure funding stream if they’re going to take on long term debt, you’ll be seeing more discussion of an “RTA2” vote coming pretty soon.
One of the RTA projects that generated a bit of heat is the Sunshine Mile widening. This week there will be a pre-construction meeting in which the schedule and phasing of the work will be presented. That meeting will take place on Thursday, January 9th at 1pm over at the Parks Administration Building – 900 S. Randolph Way. The pre-con’s I’ve attended over the years are intended to talk through potential conflicts user groups may have. In this case those will include Sun Tran, TUSD, businesses, Waste Collection services, First Responders, the Post Office, and other similar groups. The meeting is open to you if you’d like to attend. If you’d like more information on the meeting, contact Joan Landers at email@example.com – or call her at 622.0815.
Another, perhaps more ‘public-oriented’ Sunshine Mile meeting is also coming on the 13th. This project update meeting will take place – ironically – at the First Assembly of God church, just west of Campbell, on Broadway. It’s got a touch of irony because it was in their parking lot that many of us rallied several years ago in opposition to the initial scope of the project. Now the site will serve as a location to share where the project is headed.
The meeting will run from 5:30pm until 7pm. At 5:45 there’ll be a short presentation, but it’ll generally be a ‘walk through and ask questions at tables’ sort of meeting. Plenty of staff will be on hand to answer what’s on your mind.
The project will begin late this month with utility work. You’ve already seen some work moving bungalows in preparation. Come on the 13th and you can get a more detailed game plan for what’s coming.
One more roadwork item before I circle back to the Prop 101 extension. Watch for an RTA funded HAWK light that’ll be going in on Speedway, at Richey. That work began today, and it’ll take through the end of the week. Throughout the project you’ll have 2 lanes open in each direction on Speedway, but drive cautiously since there’ll be work and traffic slowdowns along that part of Speedway during the work.
Ok, so what does that section title have to do with extending Prop 101? It all dates back 2018 when the State passed HB2604. It has to do with forcing the City to move to even numbered year elections.
Our Charter spells out our election process. Attempts to change it by State law have been upheld in court several times. We’ve also lost some of the challenges, so any new attempt to alter it from Phoenix needs to be looked at as a new test that’ll be decided by a new set of facts. HB2604 relies on the goal of increasing voter turnout as the basis for the State stepping into our Charter. According to the terms of the Bill, they’ve now demonstrated that our odd year elections don’t meet the turnout threshold they require if we’re going to stay with our current election process.
The Bill sets as a benchmark the number of eligible voters who voted in the most recent even year election. In order to see whether a change to even numbered year elections is mandated by 2604, the next odd numbered year turnout is compared, and if it’s less than 75% of what happened in the benchmark year, State law says we must move to even numbered year election cycles. Let me clear that up a bit.
In 2018 there was a Statewide election. You may recall that since it was a mid-term election following the Trump election in ’16, voter turnout was high. Nearly 70%. We had to be within 25% of that in our 2019 local election in order to avoid the State challenge of moving to even numbered year cycles. Our total voter turnout last year was just under 40% - not close to where it needed to be to avoid the State mandate that we move to even numbered year cycles.
On Tuesday we’ll have an executive session to talk about our options. We asked you before the ’19 election whether you’d prefer we fight the State, or just go to even numbered year elections. The voter response was to fight them. That was before we knew whether or not we’d need to – before the ’19 election. Now we know, so now we have to decide on a course of action.
One piece of this that adds a new consideration is that Prop 101 expires in 2022. If we challenge the State in court and win, nothing changes. However, if the court says voter turnout is indeed a matter of State wide concern and we lose, the timing of taking 101 back to you for an extension becomes an important part of our consideration.
We can put 101 on the 2020 ballot. That’s 2 years before it expires. For me, that’s a tougher ‘ask’ than if we wait until next year and handle it during our normal M&C elections. But that’s 2021 – the court may tell us that we can’t hold elections in odd numbered years. If we don’t put it on the 2020 ballot and are told we cannot hold elections in ’21, Prop 101 will have expired before we have another chance to put it on the ballot. Remember, it’s done in July 2022. Unless we held a special election in ’22, we’d have to wait for the November ’22 election to put it back on the ballot.
Another factor in all of this is that if we change our Charter to comply with State law, it automatically extends the terms of everyone on the M&C by 1 more year. Durham, Fimbres and I are up for re-election in ’21. That would move to ’22. Romero, Santa Cruz, Cunningham and Lee are up in ’23. That would automatically move to ’24. Then everyone would fall into the new 4 year cycle. If we preserve our ability to get 101 on the ballot before it expires by complying with State law and changing our Charter, the headline will ignore that and will instead read “Mayor and Council give themselves one more year in office.” I can live with that, but it’ll be a part of what we discuss in executive session.
In the past we’ve won when defending our Charter based election process. My opinion though is that this time the State may have threaded the needle in a way that gives the Ducey-packed State Supreme Court the ability to say yes, voter turnout matters on a State wide basis, and therefore Tucson needs to comply. We’re the only Charter jurisdiction in the State that this effects. That’s why it was written.
So our options include; amend the Charter now to even numbered year elections and put 101 on the 2020 ballot, put 101 on the 2020 ballot and fight for the Charter, or let 101 lapse while we fight for the Charter and put it on the 2022 ballot. One consideration is that if we move quickly to get 101 on this year’s ballot, the signal we send to the courts may be that we’re justifiably concerned about losing – otherwise, we’d wait for ’21 and do the extension in a more normally timed election. Nobody has a crystal ball on this one. It’ll be an interesting discussion in our executive session on Tuesday.
In July 2018, TPD began what’s called their ‘deflection program.’ The main goal of the program is to encourage treatment for people arrested misusing opioids and other harmful substances. We see a definite cycle under the normal policing protocols; a drug-related crime leads to an arrest, which leads to jail, eventual release and yet another drug related crime. The victim/arrestee is not afforded an opportunity to seek treatment in that process. Deflection is that intervention tool.
We’ve all seen enough media coverage to understand that everyone who gets tangled up with opioids isn’t just buying them from the street. And yet, once a person gets caught in the cycle of addiction, they soon lose access to the drugs through a primary care physician. The street becomes their go-to.
The use of the deflection program is totally at the discretion of the officer. Clearly they’re not going to offer it to a hard-core dealer. Yet, where there’s an opportunity to get a person the help they need to get off the treadmill, TPD is doing that. Treatment becomes the priority above arrest. We at W6 engaged TPD and the courts in a similar program that you may recall – Responsible Alternatives to Incarceration for the Sexually Exploited (RAISE) – in which we offered diversion to people picked up on prostitution charges. TPD has shown itself to be a leader in trying to address root causes, and not rely on routine policing practices that are followed by most other agencies.
In the 18 months the program has been in effect, 953 people were deflected. Six months into the program it was found that 61% of people offered deflection agreed to give it a try. Eight of them self-referred, and 19 sought out an officer out in the field and asked for help. So the ‘word on the street’ is getting out. Researchers at the UA are evaluating the program. That evaluation will be a positive one. TPD’s program is one of just 6 national learning sites that has been so-designated by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Receiving that designation helps to fund other law enforcement agencies from across the country to visit Tucson and see what we’re up to.
Testimonials are always a good reflection on success. This quote from one of the program participants who was offered deflection by TPD when she was 30 weeks pregnant:
"I just want to say thank you and because of you I was able to get off of the streets and go home to my parents…I have been clean and now have a relationship with my son again…I have been coming to CODAC every day. Thank you again, you changed my life tremendously."
While I have accreditation on my mind, congratulations are in order for the Tucson Wildlife Center (TWC). I’ve written about their great work rescuing critters and reintroducing them into the wild. Just before Christmas, The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) awarded Accredited Status to TWC. The GFAS is the only globally recognized organization that sets standards for identifying legitimate and humane animal sanctuaries.
Before awarding Accredited Status, the GFAS board comes on site and reviews every aspect of the operation. That of course includes the organizations ethical principles, but also staffing, educational outreach, finances and the safety and security that is provided to the critters under their care. This quote from the GFAS Wildlife Program Director covers it all; “Whether it’s a coyote hit by a car and brought to the 24-hour hospital, an abandoned juvenile raccoon nurtured by animal care volunteers, or non-releasable birds of prey living peacefully in sanctuary, Tucson Wildlife Center expertly cares for them all.”
We’re fortunate to have TWC operating in our region. If you’d like a tour of their grounds, contact them at www.tucsonwildlife.com, or call 290.WILD. The staff and volunteers treat over 4,000 animals each year.
I write about the successes Shelli Hall and her crew over at Visit Tucson have in bringing film-related shoots to Tucson and Southern Arizona. Without a State incentive, it’s a tough lift. They do a great job operating without a net.
To make the point about how incentives can boost the film-attraction effort, the Albuquerque Journal recently ran a piece about how their own film office is so overwhelmed with work, they’re growing.
In Tucson, we have crew, writers, actors and equipment. We really have location. This shot from the Journal story is nothing that we cannot match in the Tucson market. And yet, because of the State incentives New Mexico has that we do not, film producers are in many cases using Arizona as ‘fly-over country.’ Last year the New Mexico film office oversaw 80 completed productions. In December they had 29 projects in production – 8 TV shows, 9 films, 2 video games and 10 digital-rich media. Some of their TV shows include “Interrogation,” “Briarpatch,” and “Better Call Saul.” Their films include “Army of the Dead,” “Keyhold Garden,” “Silk Road,” and Half Brothers.” They’ve all wrapped.
Each time I write about the film industry I make the point that any incentive the State comes up with is one that will create jobs in a clean industry. And an industry that touches multiple sectors of our economy; all the film-related sectors, plus travel, hospitality, construction, catering and much more.
Yes, that’s a shot from one of my brother’s films (Nightmare Before Christmas.) He was nominated for an Oscar for being Director of Photography. The image shows Jack Skellington considering some high-level equations about Christmas. Neither Christmas nor having a film incentive should be that difficult to figure out. If Jack got it, our State Legislature should be able to, too.
Council Member, Ward 6
Follow this link for contact information you might need from time to time to access all sorts of City services. You’ll find Environmental Services, Tucson Water, how to report graffiti, some Tucson Codes, and a bunch more. You are completely still welcome to contact us directly at the Ward office if you’d like some help navigating the system, but there will be times you just want to make a call on your own.
January 6, 2020 - February 1, 2020
Tucson Senior Olympic Festival | Morris K. Udall Park Laszlo Veres Amphitheater (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road)
Fun, friends and memories fill the air during the 36th annual Tucson Senior Olympic Festival. The 2020 Tucson Senior Olympic Festival is proud to be hosting 31 sports with 35 events this year for women and men over 50. Family, friends and the general public are encouraged and invited to attend and support all participants.
Participating locations include: PSE Archery Range, Udall Regional Center, El Pueblo Regional Center, Pockets Billiards, Lucky Strike Bowl, Adobe Bridge Club, Cherry Ave. Center, Trails West, Del Urich (Randolph South), Reid Park, Kino Sports Complex, Sunnyside Pool, Sun City Oro Valley, Voyager RV Resort, Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club, David Bell Path at Reid, Diamondback Shooting Sports, Rincon West, Clements Center, Armory Senior Center, Jim Reffkin Tennis Center, Archer Center, UofA Drachman Stadium, Tucson High School, Lincoln Regional Park and Desert Sports and Fitness. Visit https://www.tucsonaz.gov/parks/senior-olympic-festival for more information.
The Senior Olympic Festival Opening Ceremonies is on Friday, January 10, 2020 from 1-3 p.m at the Morris K. Udall Park Laszlo Veres Amphitheater (7200 E. Tanque Verde Road). Join us for the kick-off event including music and entertainment, information booths, and raffle prizes and giveaways.
January 5, 2020 - January 19, 2020
Tucson International Jewish Film Festival | Location varies - visit https://tucsonjcc.org/arts/tijff/ for more information
The Tucson International Jewish Film Festival (TIJFF) promotes independent, international film that celebrates Jewish culture and cultural diversity. The annual festival brings outstanding Jewish films from around the globe to Tucson-area screens. More than 3,000 festival attendees will gain a glimpse of Jewish lives that are worlds away and yet remarkably familiar. The TIJFF is also one of the longest-running Jewish film festivals in the country and one of the longest-running film festivals in Arizona.
January 4, 2020 - January 29, 2020
DeGrazia Downtown | DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum
From lively but remote Indian trading posts, to the traffic jams and skyscrapers of New York City, the "DeGrazia Downtown" exhibit showcases a collection of street scenes by Tucson artist Ted DeGrazia, dating from 1940 to 1974. A free opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, September 6, 2019. The exhibits will remain on display through January 29, 2020. Visitors can experience the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun through the 10-acre foothills site and explore the art and architecture of Ted DeGrazia, including the original home of the prolific artist and his wife Marion, their burial sites, the adobe Mission in the Sun (The Mission is currently close due to a fire), Gallery in the Sun and the cactus corral via a self-guided tour. Good walking shoes are advised. Allow extra time to watch a 30-minute documentary about the artist and to visit the gift shop. $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for ages 12-18, under 12 are free.