Topics in this Issue:
- Be Kind
- League of Women Voters
- PFAS and Fluorine Free Products
- One Water 2100 Tucson Water Master Plan
- Border Wall and Military Spending
- Greyhound Bus and Migrants
- Local Noise Ordinance – Construction Activities
- Monastery Construction
- Recycling Glass
- Older Americans Act
- Mental Health Awareness Training
- City of Tucson Services
- Events and Entertainment
A nice story ran last week about the partnership TPD has developed through their work with Lutheran Social Services in support of the local refugee population. TPD has four commissioned officers and two Community Service Officers who have been paired with refugee youth they are mentoring. The Kindness being shared in both directions is about breaking down barriers and developing relationship. Two of the refugees in particular were featured in the story. Both are from Syria, and both are now in the TPD hiring pipeline. Friend of W6 Margo Susco was instrumental is getting this program established. All of the officers involved deserve a note of thanks for having volunteered to be included in it.
This Be Kind is actually for a puppy in Washington County, Virginia. It is also for the great work being done by the Virginia Wildlife Center – their analog of our own Tucson Wildlife Center. Both take in animals with the goal of doing some rehabilitation before setting them free back in their natural habitat.
This little guy is a 2-3 week old black bear cub. The pup who gets the Be Kind showed up at his home with the cub in his mouth – not aggressively, but with an intent to help the cub. The family took him to the shelter, and within a short time, the cub had bonded with one of the female bears they have at the shelter just for that purpose. They will provide him some treatment, and when he is ready will take the orphan out for resettlement. If you want to see similar wonderful ‘critter work’ being done, check out the Tucson Wildlife Center website at www.tucsonwildlife.com.
I run every morning, and over time have built up a friendly relationship with homeless guy Doug. He gets a Be Kind mention, as every time we meet up he has a warm greeting and sends me on my way with a ‘have a great day’. Doug has his own story about how he came to be homeless. Every one of the people in our community who are without housing has a unique story. Each deserves compassion and the opportunity to secure services if available – and if they will receive them. Last week KOLD ran a story on a meeting I jointly hosted with TPD that is intended to address crime in a given area. The story showed zero compassion for our homeless population, and even less understanding of the work being done to address it. I am working with Doug. TPD has a great ‘deflection’ program in which they also try to get homeless into programs and services that will aid in getting them off the street. ‘There, but for the grace of God…’ – it doesn’t take much to Be Kind and treat the needy among us with some dignity. Is there a time to hold everybody accountable if they are involved in criminal activity? Of course. And there’s a time to offer a hand up.
During my run Saturday, I noticed a bird and a rabbit on the side of the trail, just kind of hanging out together. Granted, it was a dove, not a hawk, and it is not exactly ‘the lion laying down with the lamb’, but in the scheme of things as they are these days in our human part of the world, it was just nice. So, I thought I’d pass the image along.
Last week, Cunningham and I sent out this letter to constituents. Having to hold it to a single page necessarily truncated the contents. I will share more on the background, a bit on the immediate and predictable response from the County Administrator, and some thoughts on how I hope to see this evolve.
There are several memos that went from the County Administration to the Board of Supervisors that were intended to justify the PAYGO program. The general idea is that they are paying down bond debt (secondary property taxes) and as that debt goes down, they’ll increase the primary property tax in a way that keeps the total (primary plus secondary) from rising, and use the increase to go into the County General Fund. That money is earmarked to pay for road repair on roads that lay outside of City limits. In the memo, I call that an ‘artificial’ increase in taxes because if allowed to float with the drop in secondary property taxes, your overall tax bill would decrease. Simple enough calculation.
They justify the scheme by linking it to how 1997 HURF bond money was spent. The ’97 HURF bonds were voter approved road projects. Some are inside the City and others are outside of the City. Highway User Revenue Funds are dollars generated by gas taxes. Those taxes are collected based on gas sales that occur throughout the County (including from within the City.) So City residents are paying the HURF taxes – we make up north of 40% of the County tax base and therefore using those HURF dollars to pay for City roads in the bond program is not only proper, it’s what you approved back in ’97 when voting on the bond package. The County is now saying they’ve allocated more than what City residents were ‘due’ under the bond package to City roads and therefore it’s ok to raise your property taxes now to pay for County road repair.
In brief – that’s a stretch…
To be clear, there is nothing strictly illegal about what the Board of Supervisors is doing. They can set property taxes and shove the money into their General Fund. That is within their authority; but to suggest there’s some rational connection between voter approved road bonds that were funded by City resident gas taxes and now using non-voter approved property taxes to fix roads outside the City is, well an interesting approach to public policy, at best.
In one of the responses to my objection to PAYGO, a member of the County administration said that since City residents drive on say Ina Road, we should pay for keeping it paved nicely. While it is true that some residents drive on Ina sometimes, I would suggest that’s no justification for increasing every City resident’s property tax to pay for paving it. But relying on the HURF logic, the Board of Supervisors unanimously bought the argument.
So where do we go from here? The County Administrator has already generated the anticipated 15-page memo justifying his initial recommendation to the Board. You can find it on the County website if you are interested. I did not expect him to read my one-pager and fold his tent. But I do hope to see the Board take a new look at what they’ve done and think through its implications a bit more thoroughly.
We cannot go back to the days (recent days) where the City and County were at odds and not working together. There was no outreach to float the policy idea. Given what I had thought was a much improved relationship between the City and County, I’d have expected that courtesy. It sets a bad precedent anticipating our own upcoming discussions about water rates for all Tucson Water customers; and it isn’t a healthy decision as we start to consider how, and under what conditions the RTA should be extended. Right now, Tucson is 1 of 9 votes. We are also the significant tax base in support of the RTA.
Public policy decisions do not exist in a vacuum. Enjoy Ina Road the next time you drive on it. You are paying to keep it nicely paved. It is only the Board of Supervisors who can amend the PAYGO policy.
It was interesting timing, but last week, the day after Cunningham and I sent out the PAYGO memo, we joined two of the members of the Board of Supervisors at the 100-year anniversary ceremony for the League of Women Voters. Decorum demanded that the PAYGO item didn’t come up as a discussion item during any of our remarks.
What did come up though, were all the very important contributions to our political discourse that the League brings to the table. One of the ‘whereas’ lines in the Proclamation that was read says, “whereas, from its inception, the LWV has been a nonpartisan grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy.” They have walked that out consistently since they were formed on Valentine’s Day in 1920.
We are right on the cusp of another election cycle. The League will be offering forums, and hosting issue-centered panel discussions. Each will be a balanced presentation of the topics at hand. If you want to be one of those citizens who play an advocacy role, check out the League website to see when they will be sponsoring events. You can find that at www.lwvgt.org. Right on the main page is a drop down menu for upcoming events. They are an important group to align with, especially given the difficult time we seem to have engaging with one another these days.
I have an update on the work I asked to be done with respect to Tucson Fire eliminating fluorinated foams and other products from their fire fighting inventory. Why? Because fluorinated foams (PFAS) are contaminating our groundwater. I have written extensively on that subject – check prior newsletters for an eyeful.
To be clear, fluorine-free products are not hard to find. This website is from an Arizona company who has been working with fire departments across the State for years. https://arizonafireapparatus.com/f3-foams We should not have a tough time getting on board with this. And in fact, last week TFD tested a product called F500. It is not a foam, but is what’s called an ‘encapsulating agent’. It smothers the fire like a foam, but the manufacturer specifically says it’s not a foam. The important part though is that it does not contain PFAS.
The test was generally a success, but they didn’t test the product on fuel fires, only wood and some tires. The F500 product is advertised as being able to handle all sorts of fires, so TFD will go back and retest, next time on fuels.
One of the challenges in making change is that over time groups who are invested in AFFF (PFAS foams) have organized and have put together a strong lobbying effort to keep non-PFAS products out of consideration. It is important that our testing be done in a way that includes products that are environmentally friendly, and the results are not constrained by a group such as the Fire Fighting Foam Coalition. I have written about them before – they market AFFF and other fluorinated foams, and they have a strong anti-fluorine free foam campaign. Follow the money.
The TFD testing was overseen by folks from the UA. They will stay involved as we test products on more varied fuel sources. One source TFD is turning to for these evaluations is the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). In a report they put out related to F500 and other non-PFAS products, they state in the executive summary of the report that those products can be made to ‘perform effectively as an AFFF alternative’ but with a few caveats. One that came out in the report is that the F500 requires higher application rates, and greater density of the product as it is being applied. That is a cost issue. In the product advertising material the F500 folks say the product can replace AFFF and any other fluorinated foam product we’re currently relying on. That claim is what our testing is all about.
We are fighting in court with 3M and other AFFF product manufacturers. I want us to get any such products out of our own inventory. I have read and heard too much to believe that effective non-fluorinated products don’t exist. At the same time, we are told DM is at the table working towards solutions for the pollution they have created out by the base. In a recent conversation I had with State Representative Kirsten Engel I told her that PFAS is in my opinion the number one issue we as a region have to face. She is up to speed on the topic. Some of her colleagues at the State are not. We have work to do. TFD is a part of that work and will continue their testing of fluorine free products.
If you would like to read the full NFPA report, here is the link. You can get the gist of it by reading the Executive Summary at the front end of the study. https://www.nfpa.org//-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Suppression/RFFFFEffectiveness.pdf
We are beginning a wide public outreach to present where we’re headed with formulating a long range water master plan. Each Ward will host events at which information will be offered, and surveys will be collected. The purpose is to inform our efforts as we put this long range planning policy document into place. It is the first time we’ve done this update since 2004.
One Water is the idea that our water supply needs to be looked at as an integrated system. We don’t have rain, ground water, snow runoff, stored water, the CAP and whatever other source all operating independently from each other. The master plan will consider them as ‘all in this together.’ You can use this link to look at where the One Water 2100 Master Plan is right now:
The Ward 2 presentation on this took place last Friday. The rest are coming:
Ward 1 – Mercado San Agustin – March 12th from 3pm until 5pm
Ward 3 – Donna Liggins Center – February 29th from 10am until noon
Ward 4 – Clements Center – February 18th from 8am until 10am
Ward 5 – El Pueblo Center – February 22nd from 9am until 11am
And the Ward 6 presentation will happen at Second Saturdays downtown on March 14th from 5pm until 7pm.
If you miss those, staff is putting together more public outreach for later this spring. I’ve asked that one be held in the Ward 6 community room since I know we have some pretty water savvy folks who will want to be a part of this. More to come on that scheduling as we pick a date and time.
Another item involving activities related to our region that also involve the military is the shift in funding from “Mexico will pay for the wall” to your tax money being diverted to cover the costs. DM and the Defense Department owe City of Tucson residents millions of dollars for clean-up, containment and building/operating/maintaining new water treatment facilities. Instead of using military funds for that, this is where it is going:
That is Organ Pipe National Monument. The Trump administration has now shifted just under $4B from the Defense Department and is using it to cut through that area, literally blowing up portions of the Monument in order to build the wall. The ‘big beautiful new wall’ is a series of 30’ tall bollards. Putting it into place is going to require cutting back on several military programs, some of which affect Tucson and Southern Arizona. In a twist of irony, Trumps wall is affecting the funding for the F35. That puts some of us in the position of saying we don’t like either program – how about using the money on fixing our water system, instead.
This is one you need to be in touch with our Federal delegation about. The City has weighed in several times on the Wall issue. Now it is arguably tied into funds that could go to address PFAS in the Tucson well system. Write – and vote.
I like connecting dots, and in the process demonstrating irony. The Wall and PFAS is one example. Here is another. If you follow this newsletter, you know that for years we have been funneling literally tens of thousands of passengers to Greyhound Bus. Asylum seekers have nearly exclusively been taken from the Benedictine, and now from the Alitas Welcome Center over to Greyhound for safe passage to their next of kin while they await their turn in the court system. Greyhound has made millions of dollars in the process. Last week, in an AP story, it was revealed that they have been allowing Customs and Border Protection personnel to board the busses and check ‘papers.’ That, despite this comment from Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost: “When transportation checks occur on a bus at non-checkpoint locations, the agent must demonstrate that he or she gained access to the bus with the consent of the company’s owner or one of the company’s employees.” And this – an agent’s actions while on the bus “would not cause a reasonable person to believe that he or she is unable to terminate the encounter with the agent.”
While I was in Sri Lanka working the tsunami relief, the bus I was on riding across the island was in an accident. Sri Lankan military boarded the bus and checked papers. Let’s just say that I was not sitting there feeling as though I had the liberty to tell them I wasn’t complying, and ‘terminate the encounter’. That same is true of our asylum seeking guests as they travel from Tucson if an armed CBP agent boards the bus and demands papers.
We have a 4th Amendment that protects people from unreasonable searches. Greyhound has been facilitating these searches by suggesting they had no option. In fact, they do. Even CBP admits it.
If you are one of the hundreds of volunteers who have been working with us on the Benedictine and refugee issue over the past 7 years, I’d encourage you to contact Greyhound and share your thoughts on their own internal policy of allowing the searches. My hope is that your thoughts will recommend they ‘terminate the encounter’ with CBP and no longer allow the on-bus searches. By the time our guests have boarded, they have been through multiple checks by CBP. There is no reason for yet another one while they are en route to loved ones.
Last fall, Durham asked that we consider a change to our noise ordinance that forced contractors who are working in residential areas to begin their work later in the morning. Our current ordinance restricts noise created by construction activities from 8pm through sunrise, Mondays through Saturdays, and at any time on Sundays and on legal holidays. Paul asked that we consider moving that ‘sunrise’ time back to later in the day.
This is clearly an example of where we will be balancing the safety and health of construction workers with the solitude of people living in residential areas. If we were dealing with construction out in some corn field in Nebraska, not an issue. We’re not, so it’s a legitimate question for us to consider.
Staff has met both internally, and one time with outside stakeholders. There were a couple of neighborhood representatives at those stakeholder meetings – the majority represented construction workers. Many of the safety considerations were reviewed during that meeting; heat stress, who it affects, and times of day most heat-related illnesses occurred. Not surprisingly, most fatal and non-fatal illnesses from heat affect men, between the ages of 25 and 55 who are doing agricultural or construction work. That is the safety piece of the conversation.
The residential piece is what time of day should we allow construction to start outside of your bedroom window. Staff has put together this chart showing both their recommendation, and how it relates to sunrise times at various times of the year.
So, from May through October, the recommendation is to allow residential construction to start at 5:30am, and from November through April it’d begin at 6:30am. You can see the average temperatures on the graph. In Tucson, we average 55 days per year at, or over 100 degrees.
Here is what I know. I am out the door to run every day, all year at around 5:30am. I don’t see my neighbors out doing the same thing. The City Manager can grant a temporary exemption to our noise ordinance. It happens regularly for construction-related needs. Staff has floated this recommendation and is asking for input, and whether we feel another round of public outreach is worthwhile. I have already told staff that we need to go out with this proposal at least one more time, and to receive more input from everyone who would be impacted – construction workers, and our neighbors.
If you’d like to share your thoughts on this, send them to our Planner who’s managing this outreach process – Samuel.Rogers@tucsonaz.gov. They’re due by the end of the day on February 28th. We’re grateful to all of you who have already been involved in this decision.
Some prep work has begun over at the Benedictine – removal of solar panels. Remember the March 2nd pre-con meeting we’re hosting or the beginning of the Benedictine construction. The meeting will start at 5:30pm in the Ward 6 community room.
Last week we had another group of Department of Corrections workers come by and take the 45 buckets of ‘sand’ I had and use it to fill sandbags that you may be using when we get to monsoon. This is that process:
…and this is the result.
On Wednesday, we have a study session item to continue our conversation about the recycling program. That is the whole program, not just glass. What we do to help with the $500K we’re losing taking in glass will be a part of the discussion. On the heels of Mayor & Council’s input, on Friday of this week, we’ll be hosting a community conversation on the glass issue. The meeting will run from 6pm until 7pm in the Ward 6 community room. We’ll be giving you an update on what came from the Mayor & Council meeting, staff will be sharing information on the current state of the glass recycling predicament we’re in, and we’ll want to hear your thoughts.
Based on the numbers of you who are bringing bottles to the office, I know this is a topic that is meaningful to lots of people. We are in the middle of budget talks, and my bride is tired of me coming home smelling like a combination of beer and whisky. That means we are going to have to come to a decision on this soon. I hope to see you on Friday.
This week’s Local Tucson item is a Reid Park two-fer; the on-going Asian Lantern Festival out at the Reid Park Zoo, and Woofstock Tucson.
The Lantern Festival began this week, and will run through the end of March. If you’ve gone to see it, you’ll know what a significant work effort it is to get set up, so leaving it in place for that extended time is important so as many people as possible can stop by to enjoy it.
It is more than just the large lanterns. It’s also Asian food, culture and entertainment. The event is open from 6pm until 9pm, Thursdays through Sundays until March 1st. Then it will be open every night from March 5th through the end of that month. It’s very cool – and it’s for the whole family. There are more than 400 lit lanterns in the exhibit. The dance and cultural demonstrations are on from 6:30pm until 7:30pm each evening. You can go to www.reidparkzoo.org to get a listing of all the entertainers who will be at the festival.
And, this is Sebastian:
He’s the face if this year’s Woofstock Tucson – the pet adoption event coming on Sunday, March 8th to the Reid Park bandshell. Sebastian won’t be alone.
The event is being produced by Tucson Dog Magazine; but it has multiple local sponsors, all committed to finding great homes for adoptable dogs. Things will begin at 10am with a welcome and a ‘blessing of the animals’ from the stage. Then things get interesting with disc catching displays, TPD K9 unit dogs, a puppy talent contest, ‘best psychedelic dog’ contest (Sebastian will be the odds-on favorite), and multiple parades of adoptable dogs. Be sure you are there at 2:30 for the best ‘pet/owner look alike contest.’ The event is scheduled to end around 4pm, but from 10am until 1pm there will be low cost vaccinations and micro chipping being offered. All day, there’ll be kids’ activities, caricature artists, and a bunch more. It is free to attend, but please consider bringing along some pet food or supplies to donate to the work Cody’s Friends are doing throughout the City.
One more Federal issue that has very local impacts – and one that you can weigh in on with our Congressional delegation. The 2020 Older American Act (HR4334) is now moving through both the House and the Senate. It includes funding for some key programs that the Pima Council on Aging is involved with. Some of those include:
• Nutrition programs
• Social isolation programs
• Support for grandparents raising grandchildren
• Health promotion programs including screening for malnutrition, suicide risk, immunizations, fall-related injuries.
• Studies on how housing, transportation, access to medical care, social isolation and more affect the health status of seniors.
This is a uniquely bi-partisan Bill. It will affect how PCOA can continue it’s important work in the community. Please consider reaching out to our Congressional folks and encourage their support.
I began this newsletter with a tough piece on the County PAYGO program. It is only fitting to end by sharing a County program that’s positive, and is important for you to consider getting involved with. It’s the free mental health awareness training that’s being offered. This program was being offered in a different form a couple of years ago to downtown merchants. It’s now being offered to the public. It’s free, and it’ll provide you some of the skills you’ll want to have to deal with incidents involving mental health needs.
This flyer has a good description of what the program will deliver, and how to go about signing up. Thumbs up to Pima County for making this training available to everyone.
Council Member, Ward 6
The City of Tucson incorporated our 'city services cheat sheet' onto their main page. If you click "I Want To" on the city website (where you're reading this) you'll find information on many city resources, from contact numbers and emails for environmental services, water, how to report graffiti, codes, and more. We will continue to work with IT to keep this section updated, and the google doc distributed will no longer be updated as things change. You are completely still welcome to contact us directly at the Ward office if you’d like some help navigating the system.
February 16 – 23
95th La Fiesta de los Vaqueros - Tucson Rodeo
Tucson's annual celebration of the cowboys has been heralded as Southern Arizonas oldest and most celebrated heritage event since its inception in 1925. It's centered around the Tucson Rodeo, one of the top 25 rodeos on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) calendar, at which the sports best cowboys and cowgirls compete in six rodeo performances at Tucson Rodeo Grounds. The fun also includes the Tucson Rodeo Parade, billed as the longest non-motorized (horse-drawn) parade in the world on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. An estimated 150,000 spectators line the streets along the route or purchase tickets for grandstand seating to see a parade of over 150 western-theme floats and buggies, Mexican folk dancers and marching musical groups.
February 20 – 29
Spring Ikebana Festival at Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson
Enjoy the beauty of dozens of signature floral compositions highlighting the wide breadth of flower arrangement styles in one of Japans most cherished art forms, during our Fall 2019 Ikebana Floral Festival at Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson.
As we do each year, we open the Gardens to the talented adepts of five different schools of Ikebana practice. The result: elegant floral displays throughout our grounds and buildings that reflect the harmony, discipline, and refinement of traditional Japanese flower arranging.
The festival runs from Thursday, February 20 through Saturday, February 29. Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for children ages three to 15, and includes entry to the entire Gardens, Museum, and Art Gallery.
Be sure to combine your visit with a walk through our permanent display of selections from our collection of more than 200 Ikebana vases and vessels the largest in the nation. Made of ceramics, bamboo, bronze, lacquer, clay, and glass, some are more than a century old, others are contemporary; all are carefully designed to complement the Zen-like spirit of the flower arrangements they hold.
Festival parking is available in the lot inside our main gate on North Alvernon Way and on East Justin Lane, one half block south of the Gardens. Please DO NOT park on East Hampton Place, immediately north of Yume.
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
Historic Fourth Avenue, See Facebook page for weekly events: https://www.facebook.com/events/2343613065903248/
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
Raices Taller 222, 218 E. 6th St | Fridays and Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm | www.raicestaller222.com
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