Topics in this issue...
- Be Kind
- Sanctuary Initiative
- Third Street Bike Boulevard
- Arizona Tree Festival
- Water Security
- Tucson Water Utility Workers
- More Health Issues – Pima County and Smoking
- University of Arizona – BIO5
- Also on Campus – Canine Walk for Cops
- Gil the Rescue Dog
- Local First
- Maynards to the Moon
- Rails in the Garden
- Ripple Score
- Events & Entertainment
How did you share some love on Valentine’s Day? It should not be just one day a year, but we set this one aside for special acts of love so I thought I would find out what others did for this week’s Be Kind.
I visited the Benedictine on Valentine’s Day and saw the dozens of volunteers, along with Catholic Community Services staff, taking in migrant families and tending to their needs. I saw the extremely generous donations that continue to come in for those families. I saw the University of Arizona medical staff taking on off-duty, pro bono health assessments. And I saw Katya Peterson leading a tour of the place for some special guests she had brought over just to introduce them to the heart of Tucson.
Please continue bringing your food and travel kit donations to the Ward 6 office. We are in daily contact with the operations over at the monastery.
On Valentine’s Day I received the absolute sweetest card written about my mom. It was written as though it was addressed to her, thanking “Mrs. K” for her hard work in both raising me as a kid, but also in the social change she helped to bring about. I stopped by Michelle and Kathi’s house to thank them personally.
Moreover, my bride made me pancakes that were in the shape of hearts. She does those kinds of things. That is the sort of thing that makes a house a home. I am sure many of you can share similar little acts you experienced that just let you feel the love. Send them along and I will get them into upcoming newsletters.
There is an initiative people are gathering signatures for that I truly believe is grounded in love and compassion. I will be speaking to a group about the “Tucson Families Free and Together Initiative” in early March. At that event, I will be able to express whether or not I support it. Since it is headed for the ballot, I cannot use City resources like this newsletter to take a position. However, I can share facts about what is in the Initiative and let you draw your own conclusions. I did the same with the Parks Bond and Prop 101, Roads and Public Safety. Here are some facts about the Initiative.
In order to get on the ballot, the groups supporting it are out gathering signatures. If it is on the ballot, it will be a result of their signature gathering work, and not the M&C placing it on the ballot.
In the opening section of the Initiative it sets a Declaration of Policy. In that section it says, “It is the policy of the City that the City be a sanctuary and safe refuge for all persons…” Later it states, “Upholding the self-evident truths that all people are created equal and endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and sanctuary.”
The term ‘sanctuary’ is not defined in the Initiative. Nor is it defined in law. Therefore, it is left for the rest of the Initiative to frame as a concept. The Trump administration has begun acting on its threat to withhold certain federal grants from jurisdictions that declare themselves sanctuary places. The State of Vermont is facing the loss of nearly $2M in grants, some of which the City of Tucson also applies for and uses.
The term ‘Federal Officer’ is defined in the Initiative. They define it as “A sworn federal law enforcement officer or a federal peace officer who is employed by an agency of the United States and is certified as such under the rules and regulations of the officer’s federal agency.” So whom would that include? The Initiative does not spell it out, but here is a short list of federal agencies whose officers would be included:
- Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- U.S. Marshals
- U.S. Secret Service
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
There are plenty of others, but those are some of the agencies we work with on a regular basis. In Section 17-85 of the Initiative, it prevents the Tucson Police Department from any “joint law enforcement task force,” “joint operations” or “similar endeavors” with any of those agencies unless the agency signs a Memorandum of Understanding limiting their arrest authority within the City limits. None will do that, so the effect of the Initiative is that we would no longer engage in joint operations with those agencies: no sharing of criminal databases, fingerprint information, or protection of Presidential candidates. We just used the U.S. Marshal to catch the person who killed two people in a hit and run over at Speedway and Wilmot, and last year we worked with the DEA on a major Spice bust. That sort of thing would end with the Initiative without an MOU signed by the agency.
Section 17-83(k) of the Initiative lists several ARS (State Statutes) sections referring to a variety of crimes. Each would be exempt from TPD doing immigration status checks on detainees or arrestees. The Initiative does not give what crimes are included in those ARS sections. Here they are:
- ARS 13-3551-3556 includes sexual exploitation of children
- ARS 13-3601 is domestic violence
- ARS 13-3601.02 is aggravated domestic violence
- ARS 13-1404-1406 is sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual conduct with a minor
- ARS 13-1410 is child molestation
- ARS 13-1417 – 1418 “or their successor statutes” is continuous sexual abuse of a child, and sexual misconduct by a behavioral health professional.
The Initiative says it “is the policy of the City” that determining a detainee’s immigration status may hinder or obstruct investigations into those crimes, so we may not ask the immigration status of detainees or arrestees in cases related to any of those crimes. For example, if a person arrested for aggravated domestic violence we would be prevented from asking his immigration status in the course of investigating that crime.
Section 17-88 of the Initiative gives residents the right to bring a civil suit against “any employee, official or agency of the City” that violates the Initiative. State Statute and the Arizona Constitution limit the jurisdiction of the Tucson City Court, and a voter Initiative cannot change it. The Tucson City Court does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate private civil actions as is called out for in the Initiative.
That is a brief overview of some of the provisions found in the “Tucson Families Free and Together Initiative.” I will be sharing more when I address the group in March. You can find the Initiative at this link: https://ballotpedia.org/Tucson,_Arizona,_Sanctuary_City_Initiative_(November_2019)
Speaking of migrants and compassion, lots of that sort of work continues to happen over at the Benedictine, and at five other churches that are scattered throughout Tucson. That work shows the heart of us as a City.
All the while, the zoning change process is moving forward.
On one track, the design team has followed through with their commitment to form a design advisory group that includes neighbors. The group is comprised of people who live in Miramonte and the Sam Hughes neighborhoods, and includes people who have an architectural background and who are familiar with the planning and zoning process. The plan is for them to start meeting near the end of this month, again in March, and in April. The design will evolve throughout that time, and it will be informed by input from the group.
A part of all rezoning processes is a formal neighborhood presentation. That is scheduled for 6pm on Wednesday, April 17th. As with the other public presentations we have had on this project, it will be held in the chapel at the monastery. The process following that is speculative. Some of that depends on how well the design is moving along. If things move at the pace I have seen in other rezonings, we could see the public hearing in front of the Zoning Examiner in mid-summer, and then the public hearing in front of M&C in mid-fall. I suspect the development team will begin drafting construction documents along the way for what could be a very tentative, and my guess only construction start in early 2020.
As the design conversation happens, Ross and his team have also committed to continuing the discussion about public uses of the space. As you know, it is now being used to house the migrant families. There has also been a choral presentation in the building, and there is a planned ‘local Tucson’ sort of gathering that is coming. I have a 3rd Street Bike Boulevard public meeting scheduled, and I know Ross is getting requests from other similar random users. However, the real key decision is how the space is to be used on a permanent basis, once the housing component is built on the perimeter.
Join us on the 17th of April for the public presentation. While it will be advertised by mail to nearby residents, it is open to the public. I know for certain that there’s a broad public interest in how the site is developed.
This is a picture of one of the traffic diverters along the 3rd Street Bike Boulevard. It is there to improve safety for all users of the roadway along that Boulevard. We also have speed humps in various locations along the route, and we have lowered speed limits to 20mph. It is all in an effort to keep everyone safer.
There is discussion of adding some more calming measures in areas along 3rd Street. The conversation has been going on for about a year, and it is ready for decision-making time. A meeting is scheduled – to be held at the Benedictine – for Wednesday, April 3rd to try to come to a final conclusion on what treatments to add. There is a limited budget, but there are also some concrete ideas TDOT is ready to put forward.
Some of the meetings on this issue have turned rather contentious. That is understandable when both safety and access to your home is considered. The meeting on the 3rd will be facilitated by the Center for Community Dialogue in an effort to create a space in which differing points of view are heard, respected and considered as we work towards a solution. I have worked with the Center’s group on a few different occasions. We facilitated meetings on health care, education funding, trafficking and post-election blues. Come and be a part of the meeting if you have interest in roadway treatments affecting 3rd Street, particularly in the segments between Tucson Blvd and Alvernon.
A couple of outdoor, tree and landscaping items – first, the Arizona Community Tree Council is bringing their annual Arizona Tree Festival to Reid Park. It will be held all day on March 2nd, and one of the main attractions will the Tree Climbing Championships. The Festival, including watching the climbing events, is free.
The Arizona Community Tree Council is comprised of a variety of people from around the State, each of whom represents groups working to promote tree planting in Arizona. The group works with governments and private individuals, teaching techniques related to watering, pruning and placement of trees. They are arborists and generally professionals in the trade who work to promote green space and a healthy outdoor environment. As an aside, we had yet another ‘pruning’ conflict in a midtown neighborhood last week. I am suggesting to our City Manager again that we need exactly the sort of input the Community Tree Council can provide in order to avoid more of this going forward.
Professional climbers from throughout Arizona will do the climbing at the Arizona Tree Festival. I did not know there was such an occupation, but I guess we will all see and learn about that together. They will maneuver through Reid Park trees, competing in five different events throughout the day. The point is to demonstrate the kinds of real-life conditions arborists and tree trimmers experience every day in their work.
The climbers will earn prizes. There will be food trucks, tree care demonstrations, tree giveaways and kid-activities. It should be a fun day. I hope you can join us for some part of it.
If you would like to get more information about the Council, check them out at www.aztrees.org.
This is a reminder – allergy season will start earlier this year due to the nice rainy season we have had. We have ordinances on the books regulating the height of weeds you can have on your property, but it would be best – and neighborly – to be out ahead of the code people and just trim down your early growth.
I have been notified of some ragweed issues around midtown. What you see in the picture is way above what is allowed per City code. They are an allergy problem if left unchecked. Please self-police. We may be in for an itchy allergy season, and now is a good time to start paying attention to some of the culprits.
Last week the EPA put out a report in which they announced some newfound interest and concern for PFC’s in water systems. Currently they only have health advisories in place for PFOS and PFOA. Those do not have teeth. The new report is advertised as an “Action Plan” for identifying the impacts of PFC’s, and putting into effect approaches to addressing the contamination. On its face – reading only the headline – the report is a welcomed addition to the conversation. Reading into the report though, I am not at all convinced the EPA is serious about taking hard positions on the contaminants.
To reach that conclusion, one need only look to the goals and timetables stated in the report.
This is a photo of the firefighting foam that has been causing contamination in water systems throughout the nation. We have it out by Davis Monthan, and in the northwest parts of town. It seeps into the soil and reaches our groundwater supply, and the Department of Defense was dumping some of it into the sewer system.
The foam contains PFC’s. The ones the EPA are now studying. Other contaminants that we are addressing through our treatment systems have Maximum Contamination Levels – MCLs. When MCLs are assigned to a chemical, Superfund funding and other management requirements kick in, but as long as the EPA only has a chemical denoted with ‘health advisories’ funding is not available and management is not required. That is the rub locally, and it is the reason I have pushed to begin product liability litigation against 3M and other PFC manufacturers. Go to the source while the government studies the issue to death.
So what about the EPA announcement? It stems from an EPA presentation made at the May 2018 National Leadership Summit held to talk about this and other water security issues. Pulling directly from the Action Plan, these are the four actions the EPA is committed to:
Sounds relatively promising, but those are four very general actions. None had any timelines attached. To get that information, and therefore a sense of any urgency, you need to read further and learn their commitment on any short-term actions. Those are listed as:
Those ‘short term’ actions are planned to take at least two years. The work of designating PFC’s as hazardous substances is not included in that period. Those are described in the report as “multi-step research initiatives.” Neither the human, nor the ecological risks and impacts of PFC’s are being addressed by the EPA in anything under the next two years – if their own report can be believed. Sadly, I suspect it can be.
So our litigation against the product manufacturers continues. In fact, it begins in earnest on February 25th. That is when we, along with our 80+ co-plaintiffs will meet in court and begin deciding on things such as discovery rules, and time frames for starting the hearings. I am still hopeful this can be addressed out of court, but seeing the aggressive way the manufacturers are ‘lawyering up’ – and the inaction by the Feds, I suspect this will linger for longer than it should.
In the meantime, a group called Safer States continues to work this issue. The group has been around for a while, and has had some considerable success. This is a short list of their work – taken directly from their web site:
Safer States also responded to the EPA report. Here is a quote from their reaction:
They are advocating State level action. If you go to their site, you will see that Arizona has only one policy in place addressing issues of concern to Safer States – a ban on the sale or manufacture of furniture or kids toys that contain five listed toxic flame-retardants. Nothing on PFC’s. There is some limited rumbling up in Phoenix on this, but it is hardly a groundswell of concern.
Our litigation continues. Tucson Water continues monitoring the exposure in our wells, and continues working with Davis Monthan on how the problem is evolving out by the base. I will keep writing as things happen in any of these venues.
Last week we were notified that some Tucson Water customers have reported people coming to their homes, claiming to be Tucson Water employees. They have asked for access into homes for the purpose of ‘testing the water.’ If that happens, please do not allow the person into your home. That is not how Tucson Water does business.
If we need to test the water at any customer’s home or business, we call or send a letter to schedule the visit. Tucson Water conducts over 14,000 tests annually on our main distribution system. That is before it even gets to your home. Evidently, the imposters have as a motive the sale of a water treatment system.
If someone is at your door, not wearing a uniform, with no scheduled appointment, without City Identification and not driving a City marked vehicle, they are not Tucson Water workers. Be forewarned of sleazy salesmen who are out misrepresenting who they are just to sell a product.
A while back, Mayor & Council took a look at adopting some rules related to increasing the age for the purchase of tobacco products. We had concerns about enforcement costs, what other products might be included, whether it makes sense to have this just as a City ordinance (region-wide makes more sense), and the logistics of how such an ordinance would be carried out. The County is looking at a similar ordinance, and is looking for public input. Included in what they’re considering is raising the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21-years-old, creating a permit system to help defray enforcement costs, and whether or not to include e-cigarettes in the new rules. That pretty much covers the concerns we were kicking around.
The Pima County Health Department has scheduled eight separate community meetings to present their proposal, and to listen to public input. They are in various locations, and at various times of the day, so I hope you can find one that fits your schedule to go and let them know your thoughts. Here is the meeting schedule:
Rose Nguyen is their Program Specialist who is putting this series of meetings together. If you have questions about any of it, contact her at 724.5336, or Roseanne.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another sort of health-related issue is the public sneak-peek at the research activities going on over on campus. At the BIO5 research lab, they work on projects that touch artificial intelligence, gene technology, high level computing work and a whole lot more. In general, they are working on how biologic challenges we face can be addressed, all in ways with positive effects on our lives. The work combines the best from biomedicine, plus agriculture, pharmacy, bioengineering and basic science.
Throughout February, they have been hosting a series of events that show off the research that is happening at the Institute. On Wednesday February 27th, they’ll host the finale. The reception that evening is free and open to the public. It will run from 5pm until 9pm at the BIO5 building, just a stone’s throw away from the east terminus of the Streetcar.
They would like you to register – to do so, please use this link https://discoverbio5.arizona.edu/
The mission of the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation (SALEF) is to raise funds they use to purchase life-saving equipment and technology, and to pay for training for our law enforcement officers. They are hosting a special event on Saturday, March 16th on the mall, on the UA campus.
For this event, your pooch is invited to take part. It is a one-mile walk around the mall, proceeds from which will go to SALEF. The walk begins at 8am, with check-in starting at 7am. In addition to the walk, there will be special K9 demonstrations by law enforcement, as well as vendors, raffles and special goodies for your pet.
Parking is free in the Cherry garage. TPD says their goal is to have 300 dogs registered – but you can take part whether or not you have a four-legged pal joining you.
Please remember, pets should be on leashes throughout the event. To register, go to www.soazlef.org and click on the Events tab at the top.
One more dog-related item. This is Gil. He is a rescue dog who was shot and paralyzed. This is a copy of the estimated medical bills he faced in the aftermath of the incident.
On Friday, March 29th, there’ll be a comedy show down at the Fox. Jeanne Robertson is the headliner – and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to helping defray Gil’s medical expenses. Below is a flyer for the event.
You can see at the bottom that Comedy for Charity is the host group. Local comedian Suzie Sexton formed the group. They raise money in an advocacy role to assist victims of violence. In this case, Gil will be one of the beneficiaries.
The event is going to be fun – and the funds are going to a great cause. You can get tickets at the Fox website or by going to the Comedy for Charity website at www.comedyforcharity.org.
This week’s local Tucson item is the upcoming Sam Hughes neighborhood Home Tour. They have hosted this tour bi-annually for as long as anyone can remember. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, March 31st from noon until 5pm.
These are self-guided tours. You will have a map of the one square-mile historic neighborhood and then you leisurely stroll from home to home. This year there are eleven residences including homes that are up to 94-years old.
In addition to the homes, there will be food, music, art and other activities. The last Sam Hughes home tour sold out, so you should sign on early. To do so, go to www.samhughes.org. The money they raise goes to help fund neighborhood scale projects such as amenities to Himmel Park.
If you have been following the newsletter, you should also anticipate this. All of your steps during the Sam Hughes home tour can count towards our Moon Walk goal! Sign up at this link: www.meetmeatmaynards.com. Below is this week’s running total.
Having passed the 200,000 mile mark, we’re on the home stretch for sure. Home Tour walkers can put us over the top sooner than the April date set by the Moon Walk organizers. I am still focused on us landing by St. Patrick’s Day in March. It is for health, and you can achieve that while out enjoying civic events that I help to promote every week.
This is a photo taken of the rail-line that was on display at Diamond Children’s Center. It is an example of the model train layouts that will be on display during this year’s Rails in the Garden exhibit coming March 2nd and 3rd from 10am until 4pm each day. The event is a self-paced driving tour put on by the Tucson Garden Railway Society.
Like the Sam Hughes home tour, you get a map showing the various railroad exhibits and make your way around to as many as you’d like to take in. Most of them will be outdoors. It being a two-day event, you can really take your time looking over the intricate displays at each stop. For example, this one was on display at the Home Show last year:
They are not what you had set up in your living room when you were a kid.
As has been true in the past, there is no admission charged at any of the displays. To learn more, go to the TGRS website at www.tucsongrs.org.
And finally, this: it’s an idea shared with me by Don Ijams. Don is a data guy – like me. He came across the data driven way G Adventures is promoting the trips they sponsor. G Adventures a tour agency, and what they do is rate tours on how much of what they are selling on a tour touches local businesses. The “ripple” is the effect local spending has on the local economy. With national chains, not all of the spending stays local. With local businesses, it does.
G Adventures has scored 640 out of their 800 advertised trips. They are currently working on the rest. They admit that neither their Antarctic nor their Arctic Circle trips will be rated since there are not any local inhabitants with businesses. Otherwise, check out their website if you want to take a trip, and if you care about your local impact.
Don’s idea was to do a sort of self-calculus when planning even your own local ‘trips’ out on the town. Use the concept of Ripple Scoring and try to focus as much of your spending in ways that have the greatest impact on our local economy. By doing that, you’re supporting our local businesses. A score of 50 means about ½ of your spending on a given night out will be with local businesses. Setting a goal of scoring 100 means all of what you spend stays here.
I am grateful to Don for the idea. Give it a whirl next time you are thinking about how to spend an evening with your honey, or with friends.
Council Member, Ward 6
WATERSHED MANAGEMENT GROUP MONSOON SQUAD
Calling all H2O heroes!
It’s time to kick off a new season for our Monsoon Squad. We are looking for volunteers to commit a couple hours per month to taking care of the public demonstration rain gardens at our local government offices and serve as water advocates to the Tucson community! Benefits of the program include educational training, free WMG field studies classes, rewarding work, and a lot of fun!
Watershed Management is committed to restoring Tucson’s watershed so that we can all enjoy flowing rivers year round! All the work you do with us will serve to educate the community and begin to restore our natural waterways. We look forward to working with you!
Learn more at https://watershedmg.org/advocacy/monsoon-squad.
FIELD TRIP TO PRESIDIO SANTA CRUZ DE TERRENATE AND FAIRBANK TOWNSITE
February 23 @ 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Led by archaeologist and Presidio Museum president Homer Thiel, this tour will visit the Tucson Presidio’s “sister” Presidio of Terranate, which was constructed near the west bank of the San Pedro River in 1775. It lasted only five years and suffered from isolation and raids. Thiel will describe what life was like at Terranate, and an included boxed lunch will be enjoyed under the cottonwood trees at
the remains of the town of Fairbank. Attendees will carpool from the Presidio Museum, meeting there at 8 am. The cost is $30/person or $25/Presidio Museum Member. Pre-registration is suggested at www.TucsonPresidio.com.
SPECIAL COOKING CLASS FEATURING THE GARBANZO BEAN
February 23 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Join the Garden Kitchen for a special cooking class featuring the garbanzo bean! The Kala Chana Garbanzo bean was chosen as the 2017 One Seed Pima County seed to celebrate the resilient foods we can grow together. The class will give participants the opportunity to discover new ways to prepare the mysterious garbanzo bean. A recipe handout and samples will be available to participants.
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