Topics in this issue...
- Be Kind
- Road Repair
- Drought Contingency Plan
- Water Security – PFOS/PFOA
- College Assistance Programs
- Gem Show
- Maynards to the Moon
- Nami Walks
- Campbell/Grant Parklet
- Local First Arizona
- Events & Entertainment
The Center for Community Dialogue and Training is a program run by the great folks over at Our Family Services. I have partnered with them on multiple forums, including some on trafficking, health care, education and post-election concerns. Now they are hosting an interactive training session on non-violent communications.
This is a 6 hour training session that teaches you how to engage potentially conflict-laden interactions in ways that de-escalate, and that generally show you how to handle conflict in a compassionate way – both to yourself, and to others.
The session is going to be held from 9am until 4pm this Friday, February 8th. You should definitely pre-register if you want to ensure yourself a seat. Do so by going to their website at www.ourfamilyservices.org/training. The work they do all fits in the Be Kind section of the newsletter.
There are not words that cover the gratitude I, along with my bride and little girl, have for the many people who have sent in heartfelt and warm messages related to the loss of my mom. One person included this:
“There is an endearing tenderness in the love of a mother to a son. It transcends all other affections of the heart.” Washington Irving.
Pretty cool. Please know that we thank you, in whatever way you have stepped toward this time.
The art shown here are my mom’s paintings. After she retired, my brother and I put her through Grad school at NYU. A part of that was her spending summers in Venice. She earned her MA in Fine Art and did the work you see here, plus glass, ceramics and a bunch more. I have hung in the Ward 6 community room all of the paintings, along with the text that was included in a book she wrote in 2004. The topic was how all of the major world faith traditions share common threads, despite being separated by time and place. When you are in the area, stop in and take a look. It will be up through March.
And don’t miss this year’s Peace Fair, coming Saturday, February 23rd. This year it will be held at Armory Park from 11am until 4pm. It is billed as Arizona’s largest gathering of peace, justice and environmental groups. This will be Tucson’s 37th annual Fair. You can find out about boothing, or just attending at www.tucsonpeacecalendar.org, or by calling 468.5805.
The rezoning process is about to ramp up again. After having made changes to the related neighborhood plan, the focus now changes to design work and site development. The first major step will be the design/development team hosting a public meeting. They will hold it at the monastery, as they have other meetings leading up to where we are now. I will share the date and time as soon as it is decided. We should know that for next week’s newsletter.
(Photo Credit to Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star)
In the meantime, Ross has worked with my office, along with Catholic Community Services (CCS) to open the facility to the humanitarian work now being done on behalf of migrant families. These are members of the group we have been seeing come from Central America, since the days a few years ago when the work was being done within the Greyhound Bus depot. The conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have only gotten worse. The families continue to come here seeking asylum. The Benedictine is now the ‘bus depot.’
On the first night they opened, a total of 57 guests were dropped off by ICE. Of those, there were only three intact families (mom, dad, kid.) The rest were either a mom and kids, or a dad and kids. ICE takes all unaccompanied minors to another facility. There have been families dropped off on a regular basis since the monastery became the home base. Today saw an 80-year-old mom, and a young woman who had had to do an emergency C-section in Douglas. That is the face of the ‘national emergency’ you hear about.
The place is staffed by a combination of volunteers, and CCS staff but mostly by volunteers. Each one goes through a background check before CCS allows them to work with the guests. The work done varies – some medical work, largely performed by representatives of UA School of Medicine and the College of Public Health. In addition there are volunteers working with families and securing contact with next of kin, getting travel arrangements in order, cooking, setting up living quarters, cleaning chores, managing the intake of donations (more on that below), and generally ensuring the monastery is being well cared for.
We are still a point of contact for receiving donations. Please do not go right over to the monastery. The families have all been through some very challenging conditions. The Benedictine is now a place of rest for them. That means the necessity of CCS controlling access to the site. In addition, it is still private property, so anyone not directly associated with the CCS operation would need to get Ross’ permission to enter the building. Bring any donations to us at the Ward 6 office. We are making arrangements for delivery.
The list of items they are after is pretty lengthy – and intuitive. If you have non-disposable dishes, drinking glasses, mugs and eating utensils, they can use those. Kitchen utensils as well (kitchen knives, mixing spoons and bowls, tongs – that sort of thing.)
Food needs include canned black beans, rice, corn tortillas, and fresh fruit (not oranges – the trees at the monastery are full of them.) As well, the same sorts of travel-related items we’ve solicited before – backpacks, travel –sized toiletries, games for kids, travel blankets, etc.
If you are fluent in Spanish, and would not object to a background check, let us know and we will get you connected.
We will get back to the rezoning of the site in the weeks ahead. For now, the place is engaged in a humanitarian work. I have heard from nuns who are now helping at the facility. They confirm this is work that is fully supported by both them, and by the Sisters who are now back in cold country in Missouri who had to let the place go. And based on the donations and volunteer work being done, it’s supported in a big way by the residents of this community.
Back in November, the County Road Bond proposal was soundly defeated. Prop 463 lost by a 57% - 43% margin. There is an on-going discussion about fixing the roads, and funding sources for getting that done. City voters approved our $100 million sales tax. The County is still considering options. Last week, a new one was floated. It was one-half of what could morph into being a real good idea.
By way of reminder, every resident of the City is also a County resident. Of course, the reverse is not true, but City property taxes help fund work being done by the County. It is important to keep that in mind as you consider what the County Administrator is proposing.
This is a map that was shared as a part of a memo he sent out to the Board of Supervisors.
The colors contain the nuggets of the half-good idea. The green is the City of Tucson. The orange and blue lines represent arterial and collector roads that are outside of City limits. It is those roads that are being targeted for repair – using City taxpayer money.
There is an element of fairness to how the County is considering using Tucson tax money to fund repairs to County roads. The Administrator has asked his transportation staff to create a methodology by which they can measure trip origin and destination. If they find that 40% of trips using one of their arterials or collectors begin from within the City, that road becomes eligible for using your property tax money for repairs. It is an interesting idea that could possibly be defensible if the methodology is reliable. As I said above, it is one-half of a good idea if they are going with it.
The other half is using that same methodology to measure how many County residents drive into the City and impact our roads. We could even use the extensions of those same arterials and collectors that the County wants us to fund. Let’s gather that data and have the County then fund road repair on those roads once they pass the City limits and the damage is being done by County residents coming and using City streets. If it is a great idea heading northbound, it must be an equally great idea for cars heading southbound, into the City.
Or, if the Board of Supervisors isn’t interested in sharing their General Fund to pay for road impacts on City streets that’s caused by County residents, we could follow the lead of Monroe County in Florida. Wouldn’t these be fun! Set up a tollbooth for drivers entering the City from the County, so the County finance people do not have to mess with calculating percentages of property tax, their transportation people do not have to mess with calculating percentages of drivers and their origin/destination, and we just collect at the point of entry. Easy enough.
We will see what the Board of Supervisors decides to do with the County Administrator’s proposal. If they approve, it certainly opens the door for more creative ideas to be considered – on both sides of the City/County line.
We are working extremely well together. I understand the County’s frustrations at having been pummeled in their Bond election, but a proposal like theirs does not seem like a step in a positive direction.
Following months and months of negotiating, an intra-state agreement was finally reached last week on how we are going to divide a reduced amount of Colorado River water among the various users in Arizona. The agreement was signed just hours before the deadline that was set by the Bureau of Reclamation. Had it not been signed, the feds would have stepped in and told us how to fix our water distribution disagreements. I am told there are a few remaining “i’s” to dot and “t’s” to cross, but that we should be able to achieve all of that before any federal impacts on our decision making. California still has issues to sort out, so this whole section could see a rewrite in the coming weeks if things are not done to the satisfaction of the Bureau of Reclamation.
To be clear – I do not like many of the terms of the DCP. However, I do not like even more the idea of the feds coming in and telling us how to manage our water. So, the agreement was good, with an asterisk.
This is a side-by-side of water levels in Lake Mead. And so what? We rely on the levels of Mead for ensuring a continued allocation of Tucson’s Colorado River water. Projections before the DCP were that in 2020, the levels would get to the point at which a shortage was declared. Some user groups on the River would have suffered cuts. One of those was agricultural interests.
To be clear, it was how the agricultural interests were settled in the DCP that is one of my primary objections to the deal. The taxpayers are paying them millions of dollars to drill wells that will allow them to use groundwater to replace the CAP allocation they are seeing reduced, primarily in Pinal County. Yes, I understand the economic impact of fallowing land, or changing to less water-dependent crops would have. However, prior to CAP, they were reliant on groundwater and Pinal County was seeing land subsidence because the water table was dropping. I have written about subsidence in the past. It is not speculative – it is simply a reality when you overtax the aquifer.
It is really pretty basic. The San Jacinto River Authority was kind enough to create this simple graphic that an elementary school kid can understand:
The DCP has no language that speaks to conservation, and no language that speaks to changing how agriculture is done in this State. They are a strong lobby group. They’re getting paid to continue operating as usual. It will not come without consequences.
Our Tucson Water Director was involved in the negotiations. He recognizes this is not a fix to the problem. This quote from him was issued following the settlement:
“Approval of the Arizona DCP is an interim step toward managing the Colorado River in a sustainable manner for the long term, including the future impacts of climate change. Tucson Water will continue to be at the table throughout this process to protect the interests of Tucson and Arizona. We still have much work to do.”
Tucson will not see any immediate cuts to our CAP allocation. We use about 2/3 of what we take, and we store the rest for a non-rainy day. We are managing our resource very well. And, as we are allowed more credits for the effluent water we send back into the aquifer, we’ll be doing even better. The deal gets us to 2026. That is right around the corner. Given the pressures exerted by certain lobby interests this was the deal we could get at this time – just in time to protect our own interests from the feds stepping in. The same dynamics cannot control negotiations for the next step. There simply is not enough water in the desert to allow for that. We will see if there’s any political leadership willing to own that reality.
The fine folks in the Trump Administration and EPA are about to announce that they are unwilling to set maximum contamination levels for the chemicals we have found in our water system out by Davis Monthan. That is from a report I read in Politico last weekend. Last year the EPA and Administration tried to keep a toxicology report under wraps, because it recommended significantly lower limits than had previously been suggested. Tucson Water is working according to the limits proposed in that report.
The Administration was concerned (in their words) with a “public relations nightmare” if the toxicology report was published. Well it was, and they were right. The PFC issue is nationwide, and our litigation against 3M was joined at the hip with 80+ other jurisdictions that are seeing the contaminants in their water. This EPA decision means the chemicals will continue to be technically unregulated in the Safe Drinking Water Act. It means utilities face no federal requirements to test and remove them. It is still unclear whether or not they’ll allow the substances to be listed as hazardous under the Superfund Law. That would potentially open up some funding for cleanup.
In order to regulate a chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act, there are two main requirements. The EPA needs to show that the contaminant is dangerous (think: toxicology study) and that setting a limit offers “a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction.” Their current health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion. Two years ago that level was 200 parts per trillion. Before that it was 400ppt. The toxicology report set it at 18ppt combined for PFOS and PFOA. Cities across the country are seeing levels in excess of 70. One of the wells out by DM had levels higher than 3,200ppt. It should not take an expert in the field to conclude setting a legal standard can make meaningful impacts on health. However, Congress placed those requirements onto the Act in 1996. They have not regulated a new contaminant under the Drinking Water Act since then.
A number of the political appointees to the EPA come from an industry background. For example, the #2 political official in the Chemical Safety Office worked for the chemical industry’s main lobbying group. And the #2 guy in their Office of Research and Development came from Koch Industries last fall. The American Chemical Council is a big Trump supporter, expecting an industry-friendly outcome. I reported last week that the DOD was concerned about losing access to their firefighting foam, AFFF. Politico also reported that the DOD had tried to hire a scientist with a reputation for downplaying chemicals’ risks so controversial that even Republicans had opposed his nomination to an EPA assignment.
We will continue with our legal action against the product manufacturers. Each week it is made more and more clear how little trust can be placed in the regulatory agency that is supposed to be managing this stuff. The politics are clear. Andrew Wheeler is the ‘Acting EPA Administrator.’ He is supposed to go before confirmation committees this week. It will be interesting to see how Congressmen/women react to his stance on not regulating PFOS/PFOA since the problem is affecting jurisdictions all over the country, without regard to party affiliation.
I had two different groups reach out to the office this week asking that I share information about their college access programs. Absolutely happy to do that if it might help kids get further along educationally.
College Application Resource is a local non-profit. Their focus is on the college application process. They have been working in the field for over a decade. What they do is to help families understand how to navigate the process, and to introduce them to people who may be able to help with financial aid, placement exams, deadlines and lots more.
CAR hosts a free, half-day seminar during which they present all of this material. This spring they will hold it at Mountain View High School. It will be on March 30th from 9am until 1:30pm. It applies to both in and to out-of-state college possibilities. You can find out more about the seminar by going to their web site at www.collegeapplicationresource.org, or by calling Leah Mercer at 954.2952.
The other college-related item is in the for-profit category. It is a UA pilot program that’s geared to STEM. Science Research Apprenticeship program is offered to kids in 8th through 12th grades. Kids apply through the UA’s Sky School of Southern Arizona. If they are chosen, they spend at least eight days doing field research in Sabino Canyon, along with eight days of research at the UA’s main library. It is all mentored by UA students who help the younger kids with their research projects.
Applications for this program are selected purely on the student’s perceived commitment and enthusiasm to the study. Kids have commuted all the way from Nogales to take part. Not surprisingly, the program did not receive its full federal funding this year. They are looking for a coordinator to help get the word out to science teachers and students about the program. They are out fund raising. If you would like to learn more about the program, go to this link:
This is their donation link in case you would like to pitch in some cash to support the Sky School work: (https://www.uafoundation.org/netcommunity/page.aspx?pid=493&fid=sdOBmSpLPZQ%3d&fdesc=GFk6YdiRmDXCxR9xZfFTxsM0p9umQGQXn3sJgUXU4XI%3d).
During our budget retreat last week, we were shown some projections of where staff believes we will end up this fiscal year financially. Since this is only the first week in February, I am cautious. However, the progress we have made is clear. It was not too long ago that our financial charts had a lot of red ink on them. Now look at our fund balance, most importantly the upward trend. In 2016, our actual combined GF fund balance was just under $76M. It is now over $111M. We have reached our internal policy goal of having a balance in the Unassigned category that’s at least 7% of revenues. We have finally reached that policy goal.
This next chart shows the revenue projections staff is building into our budget process. You can see a 7.4% increase being projected for sales tax this fiscal year vs. last year. The projections level off to about 3% growth after this year. I have made it clear that I am not confident that assuming this level of growth is something I can support. I love all the great news, but I believe we need to temper our enthusiasm. We could be one tweet away from a recession or a trade war. Our public safety pension cost is over $71M, we have over $20M in golf capital needs, we are in the process of building up a reserve fund for taking on health care, and the infrastructure in the City is old and will continue to be in need of repair.
The good news is that we’re in the black. The caution is to manage the money we’ve got in a way that assures our positive direction can be sustained, even if, or when we are hit with another economic downturn.
Our “Super Bowl” for economic development is the Gem Show. It’s actually between 45 and 50 individual shows that are scattered around town. And together they bring in tens of millions of dollars to the local economy. In an effort to make your participation in the shows as convenient as possible, the City is again teaming up with our Visit Tucson partners and offering free “Gemride Shuttles.”
Some of the shows have gems that are sold on an individual scale. It’s almost Valentine’s Day.
And some of what’s displayed wouldn’t work well hanging from your sweeties ear:
But all of it is worth the trip on Gemride.
There are 4 inter-connected Gemride loops. The Downtown Loop focuses on the shows in the downtown core from 8am until 7pm. The Mineral and Fossil loop hits the Miracle Mile area from 9am until 6:30pm. The Kino Gem Loop goes out to the Kino Sports Complex from 9:30am until 6:30pm. And the Casino del Sol Loop goes out to shows around the Casino, also from 9:30am until 6:30pm. They’re up and running now and will run through February 17th (the Casino Loop ends on the 9th.) And there are special parking rates around each of the Gemride locations.
To see the Gemride contact points, and to find out about Gem Show parking, go to www.tucsonaz.gov/park-tucson/gem-show-parking.
While you are out at the Gem Shows, you can put on quite a few steps, each of which would count towards our 238,000 mile goal on the Meet Me At Maynards Moonwalk. The teams are well established, but individuals continue to sign up every week. In the past week we had three new participants. So there’s plenty of room for you – and opportunity for you to log your Gem shopping.
Here’s the link to sign up: www.meetmeatmaynards.com.
And here’s the running total towards our goal.
This year’s NAMI Walks event is not until April 6th but teams are signing up now and beginning to gather sponsorships, so I wanted to get it into the newsletter early in case you want to form, or join a team.
Last year we had over 1,500 people walk, and over 3,000 in attendance. This year will be bigger. Moreover, due to the mess we are seeing in the local mental health funding, the need continues to grow.
NAMI is the nation’s largest mental health organization that works on grassroots support. There are hundreds of local and state affiliates who are doing their best to ensure hundreds of thousands of individuals, and families, get the assistance they need. That comes through advocacy, education, and hands-on interventions. Much of that is through free referral services. Through NAMI Walks, they are fighting the still-existing stigma that comes with mental illness.
If you are not familiar with their work, check them out at www.namisa.org. The Walk will be held at Kennedy Park in the Fiesta area. That is at 3359 S. La Cholla. Connect with Christina Bickelmann to get information about signing up. You can reach her at email@example.com, or at 622.5582. The event starts at 9am, and you will have a choice of a 1K, 3K, or a 5K walk. Our Maynards group will be on the Moon by then, but sign up anyway. It is a great event, for a great cause.
Finally we are about to see the vacant lot that was created when the Bookman’s/Walgreen’s were demolished at Campbell and Grant become a small urban oasis. This Saturday, through the hard work of neighborhood residents who teamed up with Tucson Parks staff, Tucson Clean & Beautiful and our TDOT staff, there will be 32 new trees/shrubs planted along the Right of Way. If you drive by now, you will see the dividing line between the area we will be working, and the private property to the south that the owner prefers to leave dirt. His loss.
The event will run from 9am until about noon – whenever all the planting is finished. A Girl Scout troop and some UA students will join in the work. Tucson Environmental Services will be providing mulch that comes directly from the City TreeCycle program. Thanks to Pat Tapia and his E.S. crew for that piece.
Come and join in the work, or just stop by (or drive by and honk) in support. I am hopeful this will serve as a template for other similar areas along our road projects, as the former Panda site on Broadway is doing.
I sometimes do a double-dip for the Local Tucson items. This is one of those times.
No Kill Pima County is teaming up with Grace St. Paul’s for a microchipping event. It’ll be held this Saturday, February 9th from noon until 2pm. The church is located at 2331 E. Adams, just around the corner from the Arizona Inn.
The cost is $10 per chip. Just as with the chipping events we have hosted here at Ward 6, you need to bring your dog on a leash, and your cat in a carrier. There is no limit on the number of pets you can bring. We had families of up to nine come to our events, so bring them all. It is a great protective measure. Here is their event flyer.
Council Member, Ward 6
CHRISTMAS WASH OPEN HOUSE EVENING
February 6, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Ward Three Office, 1510 E Grant Rd, Tucson
Pima County Regional Flood Control District, City of Tucson Wards Three and Six, and American Rivers invite you to a Christmas Wash Open House Evening
- Learn about the Flood Control District’s evaluation of flood risk in the Christmas Wash and surrounding neighborhoods
- Provide your input about flooding concerns
- Explore the potential of green stormwater infrastructure (e.g. stormwater harvesting) projects as a way to reduce flooding
Staff from Pima County Regional Flood Control District will present the results of the Christmas Wash flood hazard study and will be on hand for one-on-one conversations about flooding problems and potential solutions. Participants will be encouraged to share their flood-related concerns with District staff. In addition, Watershed Management Group and students from the University of Arizona will share information about green stormwater infrastructure practices, concepts and the potential role for this approach to benefit the Wash and its residents.
Dinner will be provided
Please RSVP by visiting this Evite invitation:
SEED LIBRARY 7TH ANNIVERSARY SEED & PLANT SWAP FIESTA!
February 9 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Celebrate the Seed Library’s 7th Anniversary with a Seed & Plant Swap shindig taking place on Jácome Plaza. We will have activities and entertainment for everyone!
- Bring your seeds and plants to swap. We’re co-hosting with our friends from Tucson Backyard Gardening, they and other local plant people will be providing assistance and information (and of course, seeds & plants to swap).
- The Bean Tree Farm and Arizona Homemade Artisans will be demonstrating some delicious uses for native desert plants.
- Your friendly Seed Librarians will be available to answer questions and provide a children’s activity—a paper pot to plant your new seeds!
- There will be live music! Cadillac Mountain will play a bluegrass set from 2:30-3:30.
- There will be a FREE raffle and prizes.
SUSTAINABLE TUCSON ADVOCACY 101
February 12 @ 6:00 pm
Ward 6 Council Office, 3202 E. 1st Street.
Join Sustainable Tucson at our February Monthly Meeting for Advocacy 101, an evening of training and tips on effective ways to reach out to elected officials, focusing primarily on the State Legislature, with lessons learned that can apply equally well at the local or national level. Presenters from League of Women Voters Greater Tucson will give an overview of the state legislative process and provide details about the Request to Speak (RTS) process, an easy but effective way to communicate your position on proposed bills as they are reviewed in committee. Then Jana Segal, Sustainable Tucson’s Advocacy Chair, will present a description of ST advocacy and policy efforts and how you can (and should) get involved.
Along with an overview of RTS, the LWVGT presenters will teach us how to sign up for an online account to use the system. If you bring your laptop, phone, or whatever you use to connect to the Internet, you’ll be able to sign up right then and there. Alternatively, you’ll learn how to sign up online at home or where to go in Tucson to sign up.
Remember, at all levels of government, it’s vitally important to make our voices heard on important issues that we care about and that affect us all.
Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd | www.statemuseum.arizona.edu
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.com
Meet Me at Maynards, 311 E Congress St | www.MeetMeatMaynards.com
A social walk/run through the Downtown area. Every Monday, rain or shine, holidays too! Check-in begins at 5:15 pm.
Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Ln | www.missiongarden.org
A living agricultural museum and ethnobotanical garden at the site of Tucson's Birthplace (the foot of "A-Mountain"). For guided tours call 520-955-5200
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | tucsonmuseumofart.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. | www.watershedmg.org
Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org