Steve K's Newsletter 05/20/19

Topics in this issue...

Theory vs. Science vs. Policy

I generally start out with some Be Kind bits, but this week I am frustrated by some information I read last week, so I am getting it off my chest first. It has to do with how the EPA is positioning itself when it comes to water contamination policy. If there are ten people in the city who have read their current position statement, I would be surprised. Here is how under the radar they are keeping it.

The report came out in April of this year. It was posted in the Federal Register under this title: “Interpretive Statement on Application of the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program to Releases of Pollutants from a Point Source to Groundwater.” Now that is not a title that would grab the average person’s attention as a nice article to read some evening while you are relaxing at home, so it is not surprising that this is flying under the public radar.

The EPA is taking a position on whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) covers polluting groundwater if that contamination ends up in our rivers or streams. First a graphic to show what that means:

Ok, most of us are not hydrologists, so this is going to be a layman’s description – and that is fine because the conclusion the EPA is reaching is not based on any science anyway. What they are doing is pushing the responsibility for managing groundwater contamination onto the States. Why does that matter? Because we have some serious PFC groundwater contamination that we know is coming from a federal source. In addition, we are in litigation against the product manufacturers. I want the feds to be a player in how all of this sorts out.

Water is generally either on the surface, or underground. Surface water is our rivers and lakes. Groundwater is our aquifer, we pump that through our wells and you use it in your home. Some of our wells are contaminated with PFC’s, out by Davis Monthan AFB (DM), so we have shut those wells down. We want them cleaned.

In the graphic you can see overlap between groundwater and surface water. Very generally, groundwater receives surface water through seepage (recharge) and some of it eventually reflows back to the surface naturally. That is not theory. That is science, and the EPA is ignoring it in what they are calling a “direct hydrologic connection theory.” It is not a theory. It is how water flow work. Conceding that, though, would implicate the Clean Water Act, which means certain permitting requirements kick in, and federal oversight and accountability enters the conversation. This current EPA would like to avoid any of that.

So how do they get around science? Simple. They say Congress never intended the CWA to address groundwater pollution. All Congress wanted the CWA to regulate was contamination of rivers and lakes (surface water). If somebody pollutes groundwater, it does not matter to the EPA if that contamination eventually makes its way up to the surface water. Over two-dozen times in this 17-page, three-column paper it says something along these lines: “A holistic reading of the CWA leads to the conclusion that releases of pollutants to groundwater are categorically excluded” – and – “neither the EPA nor the courts need engage with specific factual questions of traceability via subsurface hydrogeology”

Why would they want to be bothered by ‘factual questions?’ Translation – if somebody pollutes our groundwater, since Congress did not explicitly mention groundwater when they put together the CWA, even if that pollution reaches our surface water, the feds are not regulating it. Those of us on the other side say that is a distinction without a difference. If the contaminant ends up in our surface water, whether the point source was the surface to begin with, or it percolated up and contaminated it, the Clean Water Act should apply.

The EPA argues science should not matter and that ‘original intent’ should control.

Example – DM hoses PFC containing firefighting foam into our soil. It sinks into the groundwater and pollutes our wells. The EPA says that even if that ends up making its way into our rivers (it has) the Clean Water Act does not apply because the pollution began in the groundwater.

A Wisconsin group filed suit under the Clean Water Act claiming that Target Stores should have been required to get certain permits for a retention pond they built at a distribution center. The pond had the likelihood of seeping waste into the groundwater, which could then migrate into their surface waters. The court in that case gave the EPA a decision to which they are clinging. It contained this language: the Court explicitly recognized the possibility that water from the pond will enter the local ground waters, and thence underground aquifers that feed lakes and streams,” but , “Congress elected to leave the subject of groundwater regulation to State law.”

Not all of the Court decisions hand the EPA what they want on that silver platter. For example, the 4th Circuit took the position that “if the presence of a short distance of soil and ground water were enough to defeat a claim, polluters easily could avoid liability under the CWA by ensuring that all discharges pass through soil and groundwater before reaching navigable waters.”

I believe it is that sort of decision that defines the scope of the Clean Water Act; that is, “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”

I advocated for us to go after the polluters (3M and others) for contaminating our groundwater. This EPA, consistent with their efforts to eviscerate other environmental laws, is asserting that the Clean Water Act does not cover the pollution of our groundwater and that it is up to the State of Arizona to regulate that sort of contamination. Even if it comes off from a federal facility – an Air Force Base, for example.

The DM folks are helping us gather data on the extent of the pollution. This slow-walk approach to how the issue is being addressed is exactly the reason I wanted us to go after the manufacturers. Now this “Interpretative Statement” issued by the EPA, essentially punting the issue out of the federal legal domain confirms our approach as being the most expeditious for gaining the relief we are due.

The EPA may one-day change its interpretation of the Clean Water Act. Until then, we will continue fighting for our rights (your rights) through the litigation channels we have already begun.

Water Security

On a different water security note, a while back I invited you to join in the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, where cities are judged by the number of residents who take the pledge to reduce water consumption. For the competition, cities are scored alongside cities of similar population levels. Tucson was a national champion back in 2013. We won again this year. Credit goes to all of you who signed onto the challenge.

This year’s challenge had the largest number of participants in the history of the contest. Maybe nationwide people understand that climate change is not junk science, and that we had better get serious about what we are doing to the environment. Water is life – and it is a part of what we need to be serious about conserving. This year more than 740,000 people joined the pledge to cut water use by nearly 3 billion gallons. This graphic shows the winning cities in each of the population categories.

Thanks to those of you who signed onto this contest. There will be a prize distribution coming, but it will not be nearly as important as the fact that we have so many residents who care about conserving our water supply. 

Be Kind

Ok, let’s Be Kind…

I am going to include a few videos this week. This one is of a group of teens who were caught on tape teaching a 5-year-old boy how to ride a skateboard. What makes it even more touching is that the little kid has autism. His mom is quoted as having said, “I can’t even put into words the joy that I felt to see the kindness that young kids at that age could show my son.” Very cool. 

Watch Video at


Last week I shared with you a couple of my new buddies from out on the Loop – Kylie and Sweetie, the greyhound pups. Beading Divas is a local group who is celebrating their 10th year anniversary of saving animals with the sale of their Rescue Bracelets. They are funding Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption next week with their “Decade of Diva’s” celebration.

The event will take place at Corbett Brewing (309 E. 7th St.) on Sunday, May 26th from 4pm until 6pm. You are asked to leave your pets at home, but go and support the Kind work the Divas have been doing for the past ten years. Without rescues and groups like this, the animal population in our City would suffer.


We continue to receive donations in support of the migrant families who are passing through the Benedictine. Last week a woman brought in several bags that were full on newly purchased children’s shoes. That just touched my heart. Seeing these kids arrive in shoes that are totally worn out, shoelaces having been confiscated by ICE, and seeing those new pairs of shoes once again reminded me of just how special our donors and volunteers are. More on the monastery work below. However, this donor deserved a special Be Kind mention.

This is a series of pictures from the San Antonio Express. They show Border Patrol agent Bryan Kemmett saving a 7-year-old Honduran child from being swept away in the Rio Grande. The little guy was crossing on a raft with eight others, including his mom. All were safe upon reaching U.S. soil – seeking asylum. Thanks to Agent Kemmett for his quick thinking which likely saved the kids life.

Migrant Anniversary

If you look back to my newsletters from 2014, you will find images like this. In the background is the former Tucson Greyhound Bus Depot. It is where this whole tale of Tucson taking care of migrant families fleeing the violence in Central America began. Back then it was still being fueled by volunteers in this community.

Who knows where that little kid is today? What we do know is that if he was not deported back to Guatemala, he is five years older, and hopefully safe and healthy. The same for his mom who is shown in the picture.

The work really took off on Memorial Day weekend back in 2014. Ann and I spent much of that weekend in the Depot, working with Project Mariposa volunteers in tending to the needs of the families. Many of those volunteers are serving at the Benedictine today. What has changed is the number of families we are seeing has swelled, and the ability of Tucson to address their needs has grown.

Our ability to address the needs has grown as a result of the faith community stepping up and taking on parts of what I will call the ‘ministry.’ Nothing we are doing comes with a religious hook, and yet in the true sense of that word, this community is ministering to the needs of the families. Of course, the capacity has grown due to the availability of the Benedictine. That will end at the end of this summer. We are actively looking at several options for housing the work that is being done at the monastery.

If you have ideas, send them along, and if you choose to donate to the work, we are still taking food, clothing, hygiene products and kids toys here at the Ward 6 office. I am constantly blown away at Tucson’s generosity.

On the topic of donations, an item that did not occur to me until it was mentioned by one of the wonderful volunteers who are serving over there, is Rosaries.

I said above that nothing we are doing comes with any religious requirement. Yet, many of the families we are seeing come from a Catholic faith tradition in their Central American country of origin. If they started their journey with a Rosary, it was certainly confiscated by Border Patrol, or someone else along the way. The woman I spoke to about this says they ‘go like hotcakes’ when available. What we are doing at the monastery is not pushing religion on anyone, but we are meeting their needs where they are. I had not thought of this one. Many people ask what they can provide – here is a fresh idea.

We have seen a lot change since this began five years ago, and we do not have any reason to believe it is going to stop any time soon; certainly not as long as the living conditions are what they are in Guatemala and surrounding countries. Thank you for all the support you have given. On Memorial Day, we are five years old with this work.

Sunshine Mile

Another ‘birthday’ of sorts is the seven-year anniversary we just passed of the anti-Broadway widening rally we held in the parking lot of the Assembly of God church west of Campbell and Broadway. Last Saturday I stopped in to hear the public feedback on the current zoning process for the Sunshine Mile. That workshop was coincidentally also held at the Assembly of God church. The message I heard from the public was nearly identical to what we argued for during the rally. Maybe now, with new partners at the table, we will make some progress.

The new partners are Rio Nuevo and the Project for Public Spaces (PPS). Rio brought PPS on board, and last year I asked M&C to agree to a public process in which that team reached out to begin a dialogue about ‘placemaking’ on Broadway. That was one of the common themes we heard in 2012, and it was a common theme we heard last Saturday; destinations, not drive-by development.

In 2012, we were rallying for careful consideration of adjacent residences when deciding on what to do with the roadway. We talked of preservation, local businesses, creating a ‘sense of place,’ walkable commercial nodes, safe bike and pedestrian access, facilitating transit options, and respecting the scale of adjacent properties. We heard all of that last Saturday. I felt like I was in a Citizen Task Force meeting from five years ago.

The good news is that the damage M&C did when they approved the current alignment may be able to be rehabilitated through the zoning process we are engaging in with PPS and Rio. The project began as a 150’ wide roadway. It is now closer to 125’ – a small victory that came despite the M&C vote. We continue to make progress in crafting design conditions that touch many of the points we have been calling for since the rally. Saturday was no exception. 

I remain grateful to the many of you who have stuck with this process and have not simply cashed your chips and left the table. The overlay zoning process is just now starting. Get your second wind and be involved. The hope is to have the zoning process done and approved by M&C early next year. There will be several public involvement opportunities coming between now and then.

The alignment M&C approved is a lemon. Take part in the current process. We can still turn it into something that is Tucson, and that reflects much of what many of us have been advocating.

Downtown Links

Another RTA project that is still trying to cross the finish line is the long-awaited Downtown Links. It is the by-pass of downtown that will actually cross the western end of the Sunshine Mile and allow people to get to I-10 without having to go straight down Broadway, through downtown and over to the freeway.

The project had some financial trouble – by several millions of dollars. Staff pulled it back, did some value engineering and resubmitted Requests for Proposals to general contractors. A tentative selection has been made, and they are right now negotiating final terms of the agreement. Expect that to be finished this month.

Once the contract is finalized the general contractor will continue working with staff on finalizing the work, scope, timing, and make sure all of it now fits within the budget. That pre-construction work will take the balance of this year. I know many of you have been involved in the design of the Links project. I am writing this to assure you that some of the elements that will be preserved in the project scope include the grade separated railroad crossing on 6th Street, connecting Aviation to I-10, by-passing downtown, the drainage improvements along Arroyo Chico, working to establish a Quiet Zone with Union Pacific, and importantly, preserving the Deck Plaza and multi-use path.

Following pre-con work, the actual construction will take about two years. We hear a lot about Tucson lacking a cross-town freeway. The Links, connecting Avaiation to I-10 will give us as close to that as we will probably ever see. And it will be respectful of the public input that has guided the project. Moreover, it will be in budget.

Some Police Items

We passed a distracted driving law a couple of years ago. At the time, texting while driving was a secondary offense. We made it a worthwhile law when we upped that to our current hands-free primary offense last year. In February, TPD reached out to all of our local high schoos and asked them to create PSA’s about distracted driving. I think that was a great idea. Plant the seed early and hopefully it will grow into a regular driving behavior.\

I mentioned earlier that I will be putting a few videos into this newsletter. I hope you watched the one about the autistic kid being taught to skateboard. Now, take another couple of minutes to see the work the kids from Palo Verde and Tanque Verde high schools did with the distracted driving challenge from TPD. They were the winners, chosen from dozens of entries. Check them out –

Palo Verde High School

Tanque Verde High School

AT&T provided support for this project – they deserve a note of thanks, too.

Community Service Officers

We began our Park Safety Officer/Ambassador program last week. Already one of the CSO’s assigned to work in our parks has saved a life by administering NARCAN – the antidote to someone The program has already paid off.

There was a short news story on the program that had a couple of people casting doubt on its value and safety. One saved life demonstrates the value, but what about the safety? Are our CSO’s being placed in harm’s way without any training or ‘way out?’

The goal of the program is to make sure our parks are safe for everyone. What good is Prop 407 if you cannot use the park? The CSO ambassador program has that as one of the primary goals. To that end, the CSO’s do training both with TPD, and with our Parks department. They are assigned to patrol in two person units, and they carry a police radio with them. That means if a situation looks like it needs a commissioned officer to respond, they have a direct connection with TPD. We currently have three teams assigned from 8am until 6pm, and two from 2pm until midnight.

The training is a three-week program that includes 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Training, 15 hours of defense tactical work, training in de-escalation, first aide, how to administer NARCAN, and a refresher on our homeless protocol. The work with Parks involves 30 hours in which they learn park rules, permitting processes, basic security routines the parks employees receive, and a full day tour of all of our major parks. Contrary to what was suggested in the news story, CSO’s are not just tossed out into the field and told to figure it out for themselves.

The Park assignments are the new twist to the existing CSO program. Otherwise, in the normal course of a day, a Community Service Officer may respond to non-criminal traffic investigations, do point control for events, work illegal parking issues, burglary incidents, animals in distress, collection of evidence, missing persons/juvenile runaways and taking reports on things such as assaults where the assailant is no longer present. They do a wide variety of kinds of police work, and are trained in each.

TPD has set up a few different ways you can connect with them on non-emergency issues that may ultimately involve a CSO. Through Social Media you can use these:

  • Instagram: tpd_park_safety
  • Twitter: @ParkTPD

If you have non-emergency information, or requests, you would like to share through email, use

I understand that a news story needs a protagonist and an antagonist. But in the case of CSO’s, leaving the impression that we are putting people at risk, that they have inadequate training, and that the Parks program is ill-conceived is a disservice to the work that has gone into putting it together. In addition, we are hiring – here is the job announcement. Share it around.

Wear Orange Event – June 9th

This is a photo I snagged from a story talking about the way active-shooter drills that are going on in our schools are traumatizing little kids. There have been 15 school shootings so far in 2019. According to a story that ran in the Washington Post, in the 2017-18 school year, there were more than 4 million students who participated in a lockdown or a lockdown drill. They have reported incidents where kids involved in the drills who did not realize they were not really involved in a shooting incident had reactions like the little guy in the picture, and worse. There is a song titled Sign of the Times. Sadly, it is.

Join us at St. Marks on Sunday, June 9th for this year’s Wear Orange event. Both Mom’s Demand Action, and Giffords will be involved with putting the event on. We will be showing a film about the Parkland H.S. shooting incident – and Billy Kovacs from Representative Kirkpatrick’s office will be helping to facilitate a post-film discussion.

The film is not easy to watch. It is not intended to be. It contains real footage from inside the school as the shooting was progressing. The hope is that people will be moved to get actively involved in this November’s local election, and in next year’s 2020 state and federal elections. That is how change will come.

Watch this short video that the folks at Giffords gave to me. It is a powerful reminder that gun violence is a current and real issue in our society – in our schools. I hope to see you on the 9th.

You may recall that recently New Zealand had a major shooting incident. In the aftermath, they made significant changes to their gun laws. The same thing happened in Australia. New Zealand’s Prime Minister had this to say about us – “Australia experienced a massacre and changed their laws. New Zealand had its experience and changes its laws. To be honest, I do not understand the United States.”

Me, neither. Join us on the 9th.

A Quick Comment on Abortion Legislation

In the context of comparing some of our laws with those in other nations, you must have heard that Alabama, Ohio, Missouri and Georgia last week passed abortion legislation that generally outlaws abortions at any time during a pregnancy. Even in cases of rape and incest. I was curious about how those restrictions might compare to abortion under Sharia Law. That is often looked to as being very restrictive when it comes to women’s rights.

In Islam, it is the record of words, actions and unspoken approval of the Prophet Muhammad that shapes views on abortion. That body of belief is called the Hadith. According to the Hadith, a fetus is considered a living human after four months of gestation. That is the start of the second trimester. After that, abortion would not be allowed.

Interesting factoid – the States now passing abortion laws in the U.S. are more restrictive than Sharia Law. Did you ever hear a conservative pundit breaking bad on Sharia?

Botanical Gardens

In 2018, the U.S. Botanic Garden sent out to all of the Gardens throughout the country an invitation to fly to D.C. and install a garden exhibit. The theme is to be Gardens Grow Diversity. Our friends at the Tucson Botanical Gardens (TBG) submitted an entry. Last week we learned that they were selected as one of the national winners. They are only one of 14 public gardens to have been selected. TBG’s entry celebrates our Barrio culture. Their staff is now back in D.C. installing the piece. It will be up at the front steps of the U.S. Botanic Garden in D.C. from June through October of this year.

This is an image of the Barrio exhibit that won the Botanical Gardens a seat at the table:

There will also be a hand painted sign that will accompany the Barrio project. It is hand painted and created by Tucson artist, Stella Lopez. Here is a rendering of Stella’s work:

The TBG is a great Ward 6 partner. We at the Ward 6 office are grateful for all of the work being done on that site.

Local First 

My local item this week has a personal touch. Dick Tomey was the head football coach at the UA for over a decade. Most people know him in that role. His 1990’s teams were extremely successful on the field. That was the era during which the UA ended up on the front cover of Sports Illustrated as a high pre-season pick. That was his very public side.

Dick passed away last week. The local item for me is not so much the football coaching part of his life. It is how he treated the young men – and the rest of McKale staff – more generally. He was never full of himself, always quick to engage in friendly conversation, and he cared deeply about his players as human beings. One story that demonstrates his human side was when one of his players quit the team, and left Tucson. Dick found him in the Las Vegas area and told him that he could certainly leave the team, but that he needed to return to college and get his degree. The young man came back to school.

There will be a memorial service in McKale Center on Friday, May 31st beginning at 9am. Without a doubt, it will be well attended, and without a doubt, it is well deserved.

Raices Taller Call to Artists

Monsoon season is coming, and in advance of that, Raices is getting ready for a monsoon-related exhibit. The Call to Artists is for art that has water as its theme. There is a lot of symbolism that can be tied to water – some political, some life sustaining, some with devastating impacts like flooding or tsunami’s. All is welcome as Raices explores water as a theme.

You may submit a maximum of three entries. They are due by the end of the day, Saturday, June 8th if you submit electronically. They are taking them in person on Monday and Tuesday, the 10th and 11th. You should go to their website at to see all of the sizes and formats they are accepting.

The Mujeres show will continue through the first week in June. Stop by Friday’s and Saturdays from 1-4 and support the local gallery. They are located at 218 E. 6th St.


Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6

Events & Entertainment


Opening Reception Sunday, June 2, @ 5:45 PM/ Show runs from May 10 to June 30

Tucson City Council Ward 6, 3202 E 1st St, Tucson, AZ 85716


Michael Pellegrino and Kathy Keler are artists who explore the psyche through dreamscapes and symbolic imagery where both humans and animals take on a mythic dimension. Their painting style is quite different: Pellegrino’s are mostly small, playfully composed, richly textured and brightly colored; Keler works on a larger scale, and her thoughtful compositions are done mostly dark and muted tones. But their work shares much in content and intention, and their friendship going back about 4 years has offered them the opportunity to admire and encourage each other’s creativity. Both participated in a series of Jungian classes presented at the Ward 6 building starting last fall, and so feel that the location and timing of this show is particularly appropriate. There will be an opening reception for the show which will coincide with the monthly potluck held by Sacred Space, on June 2 from 5:45 to 7 pm. The event is open to the public.


File: homeSaturday, June 8 @ 9 AM. - 1 PM

Tucson Association of Realtors, 2445 N. Tucson Blvd.


Own a home or looking to buy your first home? The Pima County Home Ownership Fair has everything you need to know, all under one roof. It's sponsored by Pima Federal Credit Union.

The annual event offers resources for current homeowners and new homebuyers: come meet with HUD certified counselors and credit experts as well as realty professionals, lenders and housing advocates from non-profit agencies; sit in on workshops on mortgages, refinancing, budgeting and credit repair; and check out dozens of exhibitors. Plus, do-it-yourselfers can enjoy home improvement demonstrations from Lowe's and get energy saving tips from Tucson Electric Power.

Bring the whole family with fun activities for the kids, including "meet n’ greets" with McGruff the Crime Dog and Pete the Beak!

Free admission and parking. Refreshments and prize drawings throughout the day.


Sunday June 9 @ 8 PM


$22.00-$25.00, 21 and over

Alejandro Escovedo

Crossing borders, jumping barriers, taking risks, betting it all: that’s the path Alejandro Escovedo has been taking in his lifelong search for the heart of rock and roll. 

Alejandro’s new album, The Crossing (YepRoc Records, September 14) is about that journey: searching, but not necessarily finding, eyes and ears open all the way. It is his first for Yep Roc Records and his first ever recorded in Europe. “This says more about me than any of my records without it being a record about me,” Alejandro says.

The Crossing tells the tale of two boys, one from Mexico, one from Italy, who meet in Texas to chase their American rock and roll dreams. They discover a not-so-welcoming, very different place from the Promised Land they imagined, with cameos from the likes of Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Joe Ely and James Williamson of the Stooges to show the boys the way.

It was recorded in an Italian farmhouse near Mogdliana and features his collaborator and co-songwriter Don Antonio with his band whom will be backing and opening for Alejandro. Don Antonio has backed numerous American acts in Europe but this will be their first ever tour of the US.


Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd |

Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave |

Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave |

Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St |

Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St |

Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave |

Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd |

Meet Me at Maynards, 311 E Congress St |
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 |
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 |

Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St |

The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd |

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave |

Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way |

Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St |

Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave |

UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd |

Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. |

Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson2130 North Alvernon Way |