Steve K's Newsletter 04/13/20

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Topics in This Issue:

Drive Thru for Tucson’s Front Line

Fletcher McCusker runs the Rio Nuevo Board. He has now partnered with Bobby Rich and Jim Arnold in bringing the ‘Drive Thru for Tucson’s Front Line’ project. Credit where it’s due – Co-anchor on locally owned radio station The Drive (KDRI, 101FM) Hill Bailey is organizing the effort. They’re collecting donations and using every penny to buy Take-Out food at a local restaurant, and it’s being delivered to hospital workers and 1st responders. This picture was taken at a TFD station, showing the food donated by Costa Vida.

When I checked over the weekend, they had 235 donors, and had raised just over $19K towards the $45K goal. I’d love to see newsletter readers get involved to support all the groups benefitting from this. You can do that easily through this link: https://tinyurl.com/s8jkrk4.

Neighborhood Zoom

A month ago, nobody in the universe had heard of Zoom meetings. At least not in my universe. Now they’re how we’re staying connected. This is a screen shot from my iPad. It’s from the neighborhood leader Zoom we hosted last week.


As each person speaks, their image pops up, so like magic, they’re there with you. These are some of our video participants:
 
Diana was the ‘host’ so she had this view:

 We had about 25 people on the meeting, many by phone. We’ll be doing more of these as a way to stay connected with you, but doing so in ways that don’t violate the social distance CDC norms we’re all operating under these days.

One of the items that came up was how we can help neighborhoods sign up new members for their list servs/e-newsletters. Here are instructions from some of the neighborhoods that were on the call. If you would like to add to this list, send me your information and I’ll get it into the newsletter.

 

Ironhorse listserv – email to main+subscribe@ihna.groups.io
Palo Verde – either email to paloverdena@gmail.com, or use one of these links: https://paloverdeneighborhood.org/palo-verde-neighborhood-association/ 
https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/mQidoiO/PaloVerde
Blenman-Elm – they use a Yahoo Group listserv. To join, email Joe at jnspitale@yahoo.com and ask for an invitation to join the Blenman-Elm Yahoo Group. He’ll send out the invitation
Feldman’s - they’ve got a website (www.Feldmansaz.org) a Google listserv sign up is on that site under ‘Become an FNA member’, plus Facebook / Feldman’s Neighborhood, and Instagram: Feldmanstucson. 
Peter Howell – their website is https://www.peterhowell.org/ On the side panel is an invite to the PHNA Email list. And you can also contact them directly at phnaemail@gmail.com
Miramonte - you can send an email to MNActionsubscribe@yahoogroups.com. Include your name and address/cross-streets. They also have a website at http://miramontena.org, and an email at MiramonteNA@gmail.com
Rincon Heights - to sign up for their listserv, email Colby at psalm116@gmail.com. Pretty simple. He’ll get you signed up.
Catalina Vista - email to alisonhughes@gmail.com and she’ll add you to the neighborhood distribution.                                                           

Garden District - they put out a weekly e-newsletter. To sign up, go to their website at www.thegardendistrict.org, and fill out the form you'll find there.
West University – they have an email blast that can also be used to ask neighborhood questions / wunatucson@gmail.com. Their listserv is WUNA@yahoogroups.com, and the social media pieces are https://www.facebook.com/westuniversity, and https://westuniversityneighborhood.org/ 
Neighborhood Nugget – and the City puts out periodic ‘nuggets’ of information specifically aimed at neighborhood resources. You can find those at this link: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/pdsd/neighborhood-resources 

One of the real dangers that comes with all this ‘Stay at Home’ is social isolation. Please reach out to those in your neighborhood who you haven’t seen around for a while. Remember that we have some barricades here at the W6 office we can loan you, if you’d like to block off a street and have a properly socially distanced street party. In Seattle, they’re posting signs like this:

I’m in discussions with our TDOT folks about something similar for Tucson. In the meantime, I’ve seen a couple of neighborhoods who had some handmade signs announcing ‘Kid Play Street’ that were hung on trash cans, alerting drivers to be careful for that block. That’s a bit more informal than we’d like you to be, so if you’d like to explore connecting at a distance, in small numbers for a residential block gathering – at a distance! - this flyer has all the information you need for your special event. Groups of 10 or fewer and keep your 6’ social distance. Many people are now recommending you wear a mask.  But don’t become a hermit.

Clearly, in our current ‘Stay at Home’ condition, some of those bullet points do not apply. For example, our Park ramada’s are closed. Also, we’re not providing ‘small stages’ and please do not rent inflatables right now. They may be conveyors of COVID. What I’m seeing as I walk around the Ward are small gatherings, blocking off a residential street with signage, and letting drivers know there will be kids/people in the street for the upcoming block. That’s all we should be organizing for now.

The application you’ll find at www.tucsonaz.gov/business/special-events looks more daunting at first glance than it is. We are not approving actual “Special Event” permits right now, but people are already hosting their own small, residential block parties, so please at least let the proper City departments review what you have planned so they can weigh in. We can do better than trash cans in the street. There is no permit fee, you don’t need insurance – much of the application will be filled in with ‘N/A’. Enjoy your neighbors, safely. You can use neighborhood streets for safe, active play, socially interact in appropriately small groups, at an appropriate social distance, and still ensure local access in and out of people’s homes. It’s additional public space while we’ve had to limit access to certain parts of our public parks. 

This needs to be very clear –  this is not an invitation to plan neighborhood-wide large get-togethers. This is for your block in a residential area. We've shut down public tennis courts, basketball courts, ramadas, splash pads, senior center facilities, swimming pools, volleyball courts, and more. The suggestion to let the City review your plan for using your neighborhood street temporarily as a place to get out and enjoy some time with your neighbors isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Please do this responsibly. I just don’t want to see accidents happen if neighbors tie trash cans across the road and think they’ve adhered to any posted legal requirements. We can help make sure your plans are aligned with all social distance and Stay at Home regulations, as well as TDOT rules that remain in effect.

Shelter in Place Collateral Damage – DV

I’m on a Zoom call with a couple dozen Shelter Operators multiple times per week. One of the groups who occasionally joins us is Emerge, Center for Domestic Abuse. And one of the unintended consequences of the Shelter in Place orders we’ve been given is that abusive relationships are now even more solidly hidden behind closed doors. 

Please, if you are, or know of someone who is in such a situation, don’t assume Executive Orders to avoid large groups means that condition is something you have to endure throughout COVID. Emerge has a 24-hour hotline, 795-4266. Pass it along to victims  and encourage them to get the help that is available. And possibly schedule brief video chats with the people you’re concerned about. Do them every couple of days so you can actually see the condition the person is in. Stay at Home does not mean stay and allow yourself to become a DV victim. 

Weekly COVID-19 Statistic Update

It’s really much more than ‘statistics’ of course. Each number on these graphics represents a person. And the impact of a newly contracted infection, or a fatality touches far beyond the individual. You see it on the news every day. I share these data in order to give you a chance to track the progress of what’s happening not only across the State, but in Pima County as well.
As I’ve shared, this information comes from the State Department of Health website – www.azdhs.gov. I’m now four weeks into the trend tracking. In terms of contracted cases, here’s where we’ve been, and where we are as of Easter Sunday evening:

Week of March 22nd:                                                             

    

Week of March 29th:

Week of April 5th;


As of April 12th

The site also shows age breakdowns and fatalities. On Sunday night, the age breakdown continued to show ages 20-44 are seeing the highest number of cases. That may well be because that’s ‘working age’, so they’re out in the public, not able to avoid the social distance norms being recommended by the CDC. It may well validate the value of the Stay at Home:


And the State Health Department summary line sadly looks like this:


Last week, I sent out a notice advising you that we’re keeping the Ward 6 office closed until at least June 1st. As I write this in mid-April, my belief is that’s an aggressive date. I wouldn’t be surprised to be pushing it back, yet again. This graphic shows projected coronavirus fatalities. The dotted red line is what medical experts are saying, assuming people follow the CDC guidelines. The shaded area reflects their ‘uncertainty’ - both that the trends they anticipate will hold, and that people aren’t going to start back to whatever ‘normal’ is too soon. Even in their best case, we aren’t supposed to see deaths peak until nearly the end of this month. That’s ‘peak’. The new warnings are about getting a false sense of security, jumping back to how we formerly interacted, and seeing a resurgence. It’s tough, socially, and certainly economically. But let’s all stick with what the doctor ordered and ride this out together.

This graph is from the NY Times. They’ve been tracking trends by City.  The information for New York late last week was that their confirmed cases were doubling every 3 days. You can see that all the lines are headed in the wrong direction, even if at different rates. The grey shaded lines are for other Cities across the nation. We’ll keep an eye on Philly and Detroit. Some are thinking they may spike soon.

Here’s where Tucson fits into the national data tracking for confirmed cases:

Clearly, we’ve got work to do. In a CNN interview I watched over the weekend, a World Health Organization doc said, “doubling every 3 to 4 days is very fast”. We’re at 6 days. If 3-4 is ‘fast’, then I suppose 6 is quick. Certainly it’s not good.

When Will We Know It’s Over?

I was on a Statewide conference call last week that included some pretty savvy docs. Some were virologists, others have significant respiratory and heart medicine backgrounds. I asked the question “what measurable, objective criteria might we look for that will signal a winding down of the local impacts we’re seeing so the entire community can begin to resume whatever a new normal may look like?” We have to have something to look for that reflects the light at the end of this long tunnel. The answer was ‘testing.’ Not just some testing, but the ability to test us all.

Ok, that’s coming from the front lines. Test kits are right now being manufactured and distributed. The UA  is playing a large role in that effort. We won’t see sufficient numbers of kits unless and until the State Legislature allocates the funding to get us there. But during a Joint Legislative Budget Committee meeting last week, the State number crunchers were projecting a $1 Billion deficit at the State level. That’s a fluid projection because they won’t have sales tax revenue numbers until mid-June. That’s because of the lag time between when sales taxes are collected by businesses, and when they’re transmitted to the State. For example, March was a half-bad month. They won’t get those revenues until early May. The April revenues will reflect a full month of bad news. The State won’t get those dollars until early June. And it’ll be July before they get the May tax revenues. Do you see why I’m not real confident that we’ll be back in operation at Ward 6 by even June 1st?

What about what some other doctors are saying? I read a report last week that was published in the NY Times. It offered four benchmarks for what they called a ‘return to normalcy’. They have an equally long time horizon. They include:

A) Hospitals must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care. That means having adequate beds, ventilators and staff.

B) The authorities must be able to test everyone who has symptoms, and to get reliable results quickly. That would be well more than 750,000 tests a week in the U.S.

C) Health agencies must be able to monitor confirmed cases, trace contacts of the infected, and have at-risk people into isolation or quarantine.

D) There must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days – that's how long it can take for symptoms to appear.
Scroll back up to the Block Party section – that is not an invitation to just start ignoring all the safety protocols the medical community is encouraging. It’s an invitation to use your street block for a safe, temporary extension of our reduced parks facilities. As you can see from the criteria, the medical people are suggesting as signs of when we can even begin to let our guard down, we’ve got a long way to go.

Violations of Stay at Home

I shared this link last week and have since been advised that it’s one of the most highly used ways of alerting the City to violations you see. I used it in the context of the large student party I turned into TPD – look at last week’s newsletter for the graphics. But this on-line form can also be used when you see other kinds of social distancing violations. 

The link for the form is https://www.tucsonaz.gov/covid-19/covid-19-social-distancing-online-reporting-form. It is integrated into the TPD on-line reporting forms, so what you report will get to the police. Please try to refrain from using the 911 system for reporting social distance violations. This form is efficient and using it will free up the emergency system for other calls.

Arts Funding Grant

The Arts Foundation is our partner in promoting public art in Tucson, and around Southern Arizona. We share in that partnership with Pima County. The Foundation announced late last week $50K in Grant money for Arizona artists and arts organizations. The Grants are tied to projects that are being affected by the COVID mess.

The idea is that with the implementation of social distancing and Stay at Home, artists will have to ‘pivot’ in how they had planned to share their work with the public. The Pivot Grant will fund projects that are making that adaptation.


Are you now sharing your work digitally? What virtual means have you had to implement in order to comply with CDC guidelines? The individual awards for this one will range from $500 to $1K, and for organizations they’ll be in the $1K - $2,500 range.  To learn more about the Pivot Grant, check it out at https://artsfoundtucson.org/grant/pivot-grant/. For the Spanish version - https://artsfountucson.org/grant/beca-pivot/ 

The other pool of Grant money is to provide emergency support for artists who have had to cancel events, residencies, or had to terminate contracts due to the coronavirus. This fund will be managed by the Arizona Commission on the Arts. For this one, go to https://azarts.gov/grant/emergency-relief-fund/

They’re splitting the $50K that’s available equally between those two Grant categories. If you’re interested, get your oar in the water soon – the deadline is April 22nd. 


A few Be Kind recognitions before diving back into the COVID news. We get calls pretty regularly from people who simply want to help, but who aren’t quite sure how, or where, to give. They want to do so in ways that safeguard their own health. We’re very grateful to Karen for having taken the time to bring by a huge, 24 roll container of toilet paper – it is already in the hands of Sister Jose Women’s Shelter. When Karen came to the W6 office to make the transfer, she was outfitted in a very stylish painters mask – and brought a very upbeat attitude along on the trip. Thanks.

In the on-going effort to make sure our hospital workers have proper PPE, I’ve been pestering some of the contractors I know. Credit to Sundt Construction for donating  100 N95 masks to Banner UMC late last week.  Every one of them represents the possibility of having saved a hospital worker from becoming infected with COVID-19. 

The County continues its outreach for PPE. They conduct video conferences that update potential donors on what’s needed, and how to offer it. And the general public hears it from media reports. I shared a table showing the needs a couple of weeks ago. For example, those N95’s - the need is in the tens of thousands. Same for gowns, gloves, and an assortment of lots of other medical gear. The County has logged 34 individual donations resulting in 40 gowns, 110,350 gloves and 4,470 N95 masks. As we saw during the Benedictine collections, this community steps towards needs and shows its generosity.

You may still do what Karen did – reach out to me directly and arrange a drop off here at W6. We’ll take care of the transfer. Or if you prefer to donate through the City, you may email to  COVIDsupplies@tucsonaz.gov.   

Neighbors continue to help neighbors – Tucson Estates HOA is listed as having the highest number of seniors living within an HOA in Pima County. They’ve got over 1,000. Add to them both Tucson Mountain Sanctuary, and Tucson Estates II, and those 3 HOA’s account for over 2,000 seniors. The County has reached out to each to check in on their needs. To their credit, each is working through their own volunteer groups and making sure residents have groceries, and other creature-comfort needs being taken care of. It’s great to see the County doing the outreach, and it’s even better to see the Kindness being shared, neighbor-to-neighbor around the region.

Also, this Be Kind is for landscaper Steven. He started his own small landscaping business last year, and as with all other locals is working hard to keep his head above water. He lives in midtown, next door to a lady who has been doing extra duty at a senior living community. She arrived home one night last week, only to find that Steven had added doing some landscape work in her yard to his ‘end of the day’ chores. For free. It was especially meaningful since that afternoon they had lost 2 of the residents at the senior center. What a great way to top off what had been a very difficult day. If you need some landscaping done, give Steven a call at 272-1687. 

E-Scooters

Ok, back to some of the other stuff – not all so uplifting as being kind to neighbors.


That is a ‘nest’ of Birds. They’re one of the two e-scooter companies that was awarded contracts to drop their scooters into Ward 6. Around town, too, but over 80% of them are around 4th Ave, Main Gate, and downtown. As coronavirus hit the nation, Bird began laying off employees. I’ve seen media reports showing they’ve let go over 1/3 of their workers. On the heels of that, last week they announced they’d be ‘temporarily suspending’ e-scooter operations in Tucson. 

Razor is the other company with a Tucson contract. They feel compelled to continue operating, despite the impossible task of ensuring their scooters are disinfected between each rider. Why? Well, it’s really quite the public service. You see they’re offering free scooter trips to first responders, medical professionals (including pharmacy workers,) and grocery store employees. Haven’t you seen cops and docs riding from call to call on Razors in the past month? 

The City e-scooter program is at the front end of a 6-month pilot program. I have not supported the program from Day 1 – but now, even more so. We have shut down retail, have a Stay at Home policy in place, expect our infection rates to peak late this month, and we continue to allow transmission of the virus via e-scooter.
I won’t challenge their motives, but I thank Bird for shutting it down. The M&C can cancel or suspend Razor’s operating deal at any time. Razor can, too. They shouldn’t have to be told.

Ducey Health Care Declaration

Each week we seem to get more Emergency Declarations announced, either locally, or by the State. Last week, in one of them the Governor added new rules onto health care institutions. Specifically, nursing care facilities.

It’s disappointing to see that some of the rules put into place were even necessary. They apply to Nursing Care Institutions, Residential Care Institutions, Intermediate Care Facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, Medical Group homes for disabled people, and other similar institutional care settings. Basically, vulnerable people who rely on caretakers to make sure people aren’t bringing COVID into the area they’re forced to live in.

One of the rules covered in Ducey’s Order is that all staff use appropriate PPE when they’re interacting with patients. It also comes with the caveat “to the extent that PPE is available”. I know a lot of people are working hard to get the N95s and other protective equipment here, but why issue an Order that you know cannot be adhered to? Get them the PPE, then issue the Order if you feel it’s  not being used. My strong suspicion is that medical people working in those institutions or entering them (paramedics), would gladly wear the masks if they had them. If I’m wrong, then those who would not probably shouldn’t be doing direct patient care right now.

I know of one nursing home in Tucson that has 27 active cases of coronavirus. Some of the infected people are staffers. I’ve read about another up in the Phoenix area with similar numbers. The people living in those institutions are the most vulnerable to extreme effects of COVID. One other piece of Ducey’s Order is that they make treatment teams consistent among patients to help guard against cross-contamination as workers move from one patient to another. That also makes sense and may be more doable than telling them to wear masks that they don’t have.

As I read through the Order, this section particularly really broke my heart:

I remember vividly the emotional impact it had on me when I’d walk into my mom’s room during her brief stay in a care facility and see her staring out the window, just wanting to come home. There’s a whole lot more packed into that sentence, but at least I could visit. Isolating people for 14 days is so hard to imagine. Especially the elderly, or mentally disabled who will not understand what’s going on.  I get it – I understand where we are in this whole effort to starve the virus, but this one really hits home.

We just went through a holiday weekend. I hope you had the chance to reach out to someone you care for, and that you let them know. Even in just a small gesture of kindness. These are tough times, and social isolation is a real threat. Please don’t take your ability to interact with loved ones for granted.

More Local Business Support

The Rio Nuevo Board has put together a very simple Grant process. It’s to offer immediate financial support for local businesses that operate within the Rio District. That’s generally downtown, but also the long sleeve that extends out Broadway to Wilmot.

 

The money can be used for rent, utilities, payroll – operating expenses that you’re having trouble with due to the COVID shutdowns. The application process is open this week, until the end of the day on Friday, April 17th.  If you go to their site at www.rionuevo.org, you’ll see on the front page a link to Rio Nuevo Economic Relief Assistance Program. Click it and you’ll be taken right to the application page. 

This is 100% consistent with the reason Rio was formed – to provide financial support in ways that will generate sales tax revenue back into the District. If you’re a small/local that operates within the District, you should definitely check into this opportunity.
Big thanks to the Rio Board. If you have questions, email brandihb@rionuevo-tucson.org.

Similarly, both Regina and Ducey authorized – independently of one another – restaurants to sell packaged food, fresh produce, paper goods, etc. without having to change their current occupancy status. In essence, letting them operate temporarily as grocery stores under their current restaurant class business license. The County weighed in over the weekend indicating that they’ll be assuring goods are properly packaged, and that what is sold meets our health standards. So if you are in one of the restaurants that’s participating, you can be assured the food/products you’re purchasing meet the same health regulations that are in effect for grocery stores around the State. As with the Rio Grant program, the dual goals are to help sustain small, local businesses, and to generate sales tax to help the City continue providing services as we wrestle with a very difficult budget.

One more way we’ll be changing policy to help sustain businesses in the region relates to Impact Fees. We had been going down the path of changing how we assess Fees on new development. As far as I know, the majority of M&C were on board for implementing the new rates. We’ve had them ‘on hold’ for going on 5 years. Our costs have risen, so some change was due. I believe most of the business community was understanding and generally supportive – with some exceptions.

We will be presented an Impact Fee proposal that will not increase any of the Fees. In fact, some of them will come down under the new proposal. I know some of our initial package would have increased costs for a couple of large projects by tens of thousands of dollars. If we can keep those projects in the pipeline, our budget will benefit. As our budget benefits, our ability to provide services does, too. I’ve been very public in my support for the new proposal that’ll be coming our way as the budget cycle continues.

Individual Relief

While there are a gaining number of ways businesses can get some help, you may also be seeing some financial support from the Feds soon. Individuals who make less than $99,000 per year, or married couples who make less than $198,000 per year are all eligible. The individuals will receive $1,200, and couples are getting $2,400. If you have dependent kids, that’ll add an additional $500 per child.
That’s how the package was covered in much of the media, but there are some details I want to share so you’re not surprised at not getting that full amount. 

The benefits are really based on your Adjusted Gross Income. If you’re the one filing your taxes, that’s the line on the form from which you figure your taxes. Not your full income. So for these Federal benefits, you qualify by your full earnings, but the benefits are based on an AGI of $75,000 for individuals, and $150,000 for couples. For every $100 above those levels your AGI is, you will receive a $5 deduction in your benefit. For example, if you’re an individual whose AGI is $80,000, you won’t get the whole $1,200 – your benefit will be $950 ($5,000 / $100 = 50 x $5 = $2,500. Subtract that from $1,200, and Jiminy Cricket, that’s your benefit.)
  
For you millennials, check out Pinocchio for a Jiminy Cricket explanation. Or just Google him.

This is a tough time. It’s good to see so many ways people are being assisted.
 

When my little girl was born, it took her about 9 months to arrive, and she was about 7 lbs at birth and arrived just after dinner. Above is Semba. She’s the mom. She carried her new little girl for about 22 months, and the baby came into the world at 295 lbs at 3:30am. Big sigh of relief from mom’s all over Tucson as they read this. She’s this week’s Local Tucson item.

Our local zoo staff is going to monitor both mom and daughter, slowly migrating them out into the more public part of the habitat. There you’ll be able to see them interact on the zoo webcam. In fact, you can see the elephants, lion, grizzly, lemur, and giraffe’s on the live zoocams – go to  http://www.reidparkzoo.org and the link for the video is right on the front page.

The zoo is closed due to COVID, but you can still visit on-line. If you’re an at-home parent looking for educational tools, the zoo site has plenty. And the new elephant baby girl may provide a great learning opportunity for kids (and adults) on the whole issue of animal conservation. African elephants are endangered. The zoo folks are helping reverse that sad reality. 

 

Sincerely,

Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6
ward6@tucsonaz.gov

Events Online:

Free Resources for the Kids & Friday Nights In Virtual Concert at the Fox Theatre! https://foxtucson.com/