Steve K's Newsletter 07/08/2019

Topics in this issue...


Last week, I saw a report about a group called Ocean Voyages Institute. They took a 25-day expedition out into an area called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s located between Hawaii and California. During their trip, the volunteers pulled over 40 tons of abandoned fishing nets from the ocean. They found fish, whales, turtles, and damaged coral reefs tangled up in the nets. They also found a pile of consumer plastic waste. I have written about that in a recent newsletter. 

Their estimate is that each year 9 million tons of plastic waste (bottles, bags, toys) wash into the ocean from our beaches, rivers, and creeks. That is over a trillion pieces of plastic. This Be Kind is for the workers on the Institute voyage who did their part in helping clean up more of the plastic’s related mess we create.

While tanks were rolling down Constitution Avenue in D.C., the Benedictine sanctuary was full of Tucsonans who came to share a very different set of values. These, for example:

This Be Kind is for the speakers who carved out time on the holiday to come and take part. They included Teresa Cavendish from Catholic Community Services, Sister Joan Ridley who flew all the way back from Missouri to participate, Rabbi Batsheva Appel from Temple Emanu-El, Gretchen Lokey from the Inn Project, Pastor Bailey Pickens from St. Marks, Mahmoud Obagi of the Islamic Center of Tucson, Sat Bir representing the Sikh Community and Winona Smith representing the Bahai Community. 

The final speaker was Steve Thompson, a retired doctor who has been serving as a volunteer at the monastery for about 5 months. He represents the heart and soul of this City – and we’re seeing so much of that every day at the Benedictine. People coming alongside others who are in a tough situation and offering themselves in whatever way they can. Sometimes that’s using medical skills, cooking, driving, bilingual, cleaning, playing music, doing art – the magnitude of the Alitas operation is not understood outside the walls of the monastery.

Thank you if you came and took part on the 4th.  Thank you if you’re volunteering, or if you have donated. We’ll be moving to a new site soon, but the spirit of this City will live on inside that building no matter what use it eventually gets put to.

Next Steps after the Monastery

If you follow this newsletter, you know we’re facing a July 31st deadline to find a new respite center for the refugee families. The Benedictine is under a rezoning process and the dirt will start turning later this fall. If necessary, we could likely secure a few more weeks on the Benedictine site, but we’ve located a substitute – there’s not another monastery, but the new Alitas Center (my nomination for a name) is going to work well.

In 1967, the Pima County Juvenile detention facility was opened. Through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s it was expanded. Each expansion built on the original dormitory style living quarters that still exist there today. Due to positive changes in how we address juvenile offenders, through programs such as restorative justice and others, the facility is no longer in use. It hasn’t been for several years. There are 3 full living quarters, each with an adjacent outdoor gym and activity area, and each with showers and restroom facilities within each dorm. With changes that are now in the works, we will be able to provide compassionate care to around 150-200 refugees in the facility during their brief stay in Tucson. 

First, let’s dispel some myths. The facility is not a jail. We are not incarcerating the refugees. This is an image of the living quarters:

That is how they currently look. Some of the changes being implemented include removing doors, painting, new furniture, and bringing many of the amenities we have accumulated at the Benedictine over to this new facility. The gym yards will have windscreen material placed up high to provide shade during the day for the kids to play outside. Food prep is taken care of on site. Travel arrangements will continue to be taken care of at the site. Contacting next of kin will continue to be volunteer driven on site. What will change is the walls and location – the TLC offered by the volunteers will be the same at the Alitas Center as it is at the monastery. In fact, volunteers and guests will enjoy more modern amenities. If you served at the Benedictine you know we had to resort to porta-johns and outdoor showers in the past month. The strain on the old building was significant.

Ann and I toured the county facility. So has the CCS staff. It will take several weeks to make the needed changes, but by the end of July, or thereabouts, we should be ready to move operations over to the new site. We will still have the art, will still offer contact with next of kin, will still provide transport to the bus station, will still interact and show compassion for our guests. New walls – same heart and services.

I’m appreciative of the county staff who have invested a lot of time working with CCS to begin making the changes to the facility that it’ll need in order to present the refugees with a welcoming, non-institutional environment. They’ve been through enough – landing in what would appear to be a detention center is not what our operation has been about, and it will not be what the new center will be about.

I will support investing City money into making the facility the welcoming place that it needs to be. And for those who may object to ‘using taxpayer dollars’ on this, the reality is that absent an intake center such as this, I.C.E. and CBP will resort to street releases. That will then result in spending taxpayer money on public safety, including police and paramedics if we have hundreds of tired, hungry and sometimes dehydrated guests trying to find their way to next of kin, not speaking English and not knowing their way around. Investing money into the County facility is the right and humanitarian thing to do.

We’ll rebrand the existing facility – what a great message. In what used to be a building we used to detain our youth, we will now transform it into a facility used to celebrate the new lives the refugee guests are seeking. Neither the ‘look’ nor the mission will remain the same as was once true in that building. 

We will continue to need the support of the faith communities who have been a part of the Casa Alitas movement for the past 5 years. When the numbers surge, as they do in unpredictable ways, the churches (and my Ward office) will still be needed for extra space. Volunteers will still be needed at the new Center, and those other locations. Donations are still needed – please continue your support by bringing what you can to my office. We’ll get it out to the new Center. 

We knew we had a deadline. Multiple options were considered. With its facelift, the County facility will continue the care and compassion this community has offered to the refugees since January when we first began the work at the Benedictine.

What the Refugees are Fleeing

Many of the speakers at the 4th of July event spoke of the conditions we’re hearing about from the refugees who are showing up on the Benedictine doorstep. They’re violence, poverty, exploitation, starvation – conditions nobody would simply sit and take. An article I read in the N.Y. Times last week was a unique picture of the Salvadoran President, 37 year old Nayib Bukele, actually taking some blame for being a part of the problem. And that admission came with the plea to our government to begin working together on real solutions – not walls, tariffs, and cutting off aid.

I have written before that the solution to the refugee/migrant problem lies in resolving the conditions that are causing them to leave their homes. President Bukele conceded that the Central American governments have in fact benefitted from much of the migration. In El Salvador alone, migrants have remitted over $5 B back to that country. That’s about 20% of their GDP. It’s also more than their government spends on social programs. The uncharacteristic part of his remarks though was Bukele’s statement, “People don’t flee their homes because they want to. They flee their homes because they feel they have to. They fled El Salvador, they fled our country. It is our fault.”

Bukele called on Trump to help, not by cutting aid, but by investing in their economy in ways that will create jobs. Our history in Central America is not a pretty one. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of making conditions worse, we sat down and worked to improve living conditions so the people we’re now seeing at the respite sites we have scattered throughout the city had enough hope in their home countries to stay and thrive.

President Bukele: “If they don’t want them there, help us retain them here.”

Instead our Independence Day investment went into a military show of force in D.C. China had a similar parade not long ago, evincing this image:

Last week Homeland Security began sending bills to migrants. One lady received one for just under $500,000. Another was sent a $303,000 bill, and yet another has a bill from DHS for $214K. The feds are calculating and billing $799 per day for the time the refugee/asylum seekers have overstayed their authorized time in this country. That’s pointless, sends a juvenile and unproductive message, and does nothing to help solve the border problems.

Last week in the Washington Post, there was a story about how we are, in fact, directly investing into productive refugee programs in Uganda. We are not seeing Ugandan refugees at the monastery. The U.S. government, through multi-lateral and relief agencies, is helping to create conditions that are allowing refugees in Uganda to stay close to their homes. This is a shot of refugees carrying supplies into the Bidi Bidi camp in northern Uganda. This group is likely from south Sudan.

We are working with Catholic Community Services at the Benedictine. The photo shown above is taken showing people who will be staying in a relief camp organized by Catholic Relief Services. Bidi Bidi is serving 4,700 people. With the investments coming from our government, and others, they’ve put in water systems, trained 6,000 farmers to better market their crops, fostered small plots on which they can grow crops, and they’re building schools that’ll serve refugee children. I saw that same effort in both Zambia and in Sri Lanka when I was over there doing relief work. This fiscal year, combined U.S. agencies have $132M budgeted for programs in Uganda. We are cutting off aid to Central America, and we’re sending their refugees bills for a half million dollars.

The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that in 2018 there were 71 million people who were displaced from their homes. The top 3 countries in terms of taking in refugees are Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda. To those I hear from who say we can’t take in any more, the U.S. wasn’t close to the top of that list.

At the monastery, we typically see I.C.E. drop off families. They arrive with paperwork directing them to a judge – giving them 15 days to present themselves in order to make a case of credible fear. That’s for asylum. Sadly though, when CBP or Border Patrol is the agency we receive families from, that paperwork is often improperly filled out, and it’s not uncommon for it to come with no court date. Without a court date, they have a year to get one assigned, and to show up for a hearing. That’s a recipe for failure. If our refugee families fail to appear, they’ll become a talking point about us having ‘thousands of illegals’ in our country. 

The City of Tucson runs what’s called ‘Warrant Court’. Those are ‘forgive-me-please’ dates when our court gives residents the chance to come and clean up their court record from times they’ve forgotten to, or simply missed their court dates. We as residents understand the system – show up on your court date; and yet, we still have this special court set up for when people miss. It is unrealistic to expect our refugee guests to figure out our system, make a court date some place else in the country, and then show up with proper legal representation. That’s the ‘crisis’ we’re slowly creating by allowing CBP and BP to mishandle paperwork at the front end of the process.

Lots of moving parts to this whole border issue. We’re working well with multi-nationals in other parts of the world. We have a new Salvadoran President who wants to engage productively. And we’re rolling tanks down Constitution Avenue while the families continue arriving daily at the monastery, sometimes with papers in order, and other times not so much.

The Art of Asylum

On the heels of all that, please remember the event we’ll be hosting this Friday, July 12th here at the Ward 6 community room. Val James will be sharing the art created by kids during their stay at the Benedictine. There are messages included in the work that speak to what they love, what they miss, and hopes they cherish as kids.

The work will be up through July and August. There are plans to make books out of some of the creations after the exhibit is taken down from here. I think you’ll be touched by what the kids have made, and the stories behind them.

There will also be some adult work, also created by the refugee guests while they were at the Benedictine. Val and her group will speak about those, as well.

The opening is from 6pm until 8pm this week. I expect a good crowd, so…

If you are the media, please note this. We will have a media-only discussion from 4pm until 5:00pm. This is to help keep the community room open and free of tripods and photogs during the actual opening event. You’ll get your shots and be able to interview any of us you’d like to. I think it’ll make the rest of the evening go more smoothly if we carve out the time this way – and you’ll get your material in time for the 6pm and 10pm telecasts.

Water Security 

We receive periodic updates from our Governmental Relations teams, one of which came last Friday. A part of it was a review of what’s included in the proposed federal budget. Last week I shared with you how there is now some interest in Congress in the PFC issue. Senator Tom Carper from Delaware is leading a bi-partisan effort to get the EPA to assign a contamination level to PFAS so Superfund money would kick into clean-up efforts. He tried getting the Senate to include that work in their version of the National Defense Authorization Act. Not only was that rejected, but all the Senate has in their NDAA that’s related to PFC contamination is the prohibition on the DoD from procuring more of the AFFF firefighting foam that’s causing much of the contamination. And that prohibition won’t kick in until October, 2022.

The House version of the NDAA is quite different. Their Defense Authorization includes $121M in environmental restoration and remediation money related to PFCs in drinking water on or near military bases (think DM); a prohibition on the release of the AFFF foam “except in cases of emergency response or in limited circumstances for training or testing equipment where complete containment, capture, and proper disposal mechanisms are in place (those are not defined, so this doesn’t give me any confidence that it’s safe); giving the National Guard access to remediation funds; and a couple of feel-good provisions about training and reporting.  There is also mention of the disposal of “spent filters and AFFF”. Maybe they’ll find room in the storage facilities they still can’t build for spent nuclear fuel rods. Again, not a lot of warm, fuzzy confidence this is a commitment we should rely on.

Our litigation against 3M and other producers is slowly making its way to the court. Congress finally appears to know PFAS exists, and that it needs to be addressed as a serious contaminant in water systems. While there’s a lot of room between how the House and the Senate are addressing the issue, and neither side seems to fully want to deal with the problem, at least the issue is being discussed. My hope still sits with the court case, though.

Another Fire Issue

Back in the ‘60s, I remember the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught on fire. It was full of industrial waste and ended up burning down a bridge. Last July 4th we saw a news story from Marana where the reporter said the “Santa Cruz river caught on fire”. Cub reporter – that ‘river’ did not catch on fire. It has no water. The brush growing in and around it did. That distinction matters.

We are at the very front end of our monsoon season. That means continuing dry conditions and high winds. The dry conditions are what led to the ‘Santa Cruz fire’. It can also ruin your day if you’re not careful around your own property.

Some safety tips you might want to keep in mind, anytime, but especially during this vulnerable time of year. Number one is to check with Tucson Fire for any local burn restrictions we may have in place for given areas. It’s not always legal to build a campfire to roast marshmellows. Other suggestions include keeping your outdoor fires away from buildings, cutting back weeds and other landscaping from immediately adjacent to your home, never using gas or kerosene to start a fire, never leave your fire unattended, and have a fire extinguisher close by whenever you’re out camping – winds can whip up without warning.

The folks in Garden District avoided a possible catastrophe when someone tossed a cigarette butt out the window and started some dry plant material laying at the base of a tree smoldering. Alleys and easements need to be maintained – you’re responsible for your ½ of the alley behind your house. 

These thing spread like, well, like wildfire. I was out running my dogs a long time back and we came on a brushfire out on the banks of the Rillito. The flames literally outran our ability to control it – and we had a half dozen other hikers helping. Please be careful. Fire’s no joke anytime, and especially this time of year. Our carelessness places the safety of our firefighters at risk, and our property, too.

Sanctuary City Initiative

Last week, we were advised that the group collecting signatures for the Sanctuary City initiative turned in what appears to be plenty to get the question on the November ballot. There will be a more formal count by the City Clerk, but with these numbers:

it appears we will have this to vote on later this year. 

I was asked to join Chief Magnus and share my thoughts on the Initiative with the ACLU Board. We will do that this weekend. While I cannot use this newsletter to advocate either for or against any ballot initiatives, I can share some of the Initiative-related facts that I’ll present to the Board when we meet this weekend.

One fact – “Sanctuary” is not defined in law. The Initiative does not attempt to define it. The feds are suing jurisdictions who have self-proclaimed as ‘Sanctuary’ placing millions of dollars in federal funding at risk.
Another fact – the Initiative declares we will be prevented from conducting joint operations with federal agencies who do not sign a Memorandum of Understanding with us in which they agree to not arrest anybody within City limits. That includes the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and the one the Initiative backers are really interested in, Border Patrol. None of those agencies will sign such an MOU, placing our ability to work with them in limbo.
One more fact – the Initiative lists several crimes for which we will be prevented from asking detainees their immigration status if they’re in our custody over the crimes. Some of the crimes listed in the Initiative include child molestation, domestic violence, sex with minors, sexual misconduct by behavioral health professionals, and aggrevated DV.  

I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with the ACLU Board. Please do your homework before casting a vote this November.

Green Party on the Ballot

Another November ballot item is that the Green Party will in fact have the opportunity to run candidates during the November elections. That is news because the City had originally told them they were not qualified. Last week, the Court said otherwise. 

I belive the Court got it right.

We issue petition forms to Party candidates. The form we gave to the Green Party for the 2017 election had this comment included: 

 “A new political party is entitled to representation as a political party on the official ballot through the next two regularly scheduled general elections for federal office immediately following recognition of the political party.” 

That seems clear enough. By the language the Greens were relying on, provided by the City, they would be entitled to run in 2017, and the next two succeeding elections. So the Party didn’t bother to go out and register voters to get themselves back in good standing as a Party in Tucson municipal elections. 

The problem is that the language on the petition we gave the Greens only applies to State elections. There’s another election statute that says for the Greens to qualify for this year’s City election they needed to demonstrate that they have registered at least “2/3 of 1% of the total registered electors within the City within 150 days of the Primary.” Because of the language on the petition we gave them, the Party didn’t bother to produce that information to the Clerk and so was told they’re out of luck. 

Because they were acting in good faith on our erroneous information, the Court told us last week that we need to find a way to allow Green candidates on this November’s ballot. This is the language from the ruling:

How that is achieved, and whether the Party will even run candidates, remains to be seen. Remember, there is a mayoral election, and Wards 1, 2 and 4 City Council seats that are up for grabs.  As is true with the Sanctuary Initiative, please do your homework on the candidates and don’t simply rely on what may be a familiar name to drive your vote.

Sam Hughes Mayoral Forum

Mark your calendar for 6:30pm on Wednesday, July 24th. That’s when we will invite the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association, and other NAs they’ve reached out to, to use our community room for a mayoral forum. The 3 Democratic candidates, and the 1 Independent candidate have all been invited to take part. The format is still being developed, but however they arrange it, I’m happy to have them use our space to advance the education process. This year, we will see changes in several seats on the Mayor and Council. The Primary is August 27th. It’ll be here before you know it. Now’s the time to do that homework I mentioned.

TPD Graduation

Speaking of candidates, we recently welcomed a new TPD academy onboard. We continue adding to the public safety ranks, and this new group is a further step in that direction. 


Included in that swearing in are 26 new Tucson Police officers, and 2 new UAPD officers. Welcome to the agencies. We at the Ward 6 office are grateful to each member of the academy for their willingness to take on the tough work of being in law enforcement.

Ward 6 Solarizing

Coming later this month, you’ll see some changes in our parking arrangement. It will be temporary, and it’s all for a good cause.

Solar Gain – HQ here in Tucson – will be on site starting on July 19th, setting fencing into place in advance of the installation of a new solar array for our building. The fencing will mean you will not be able to park back in the southeast part of the parking lot while construction is going on. This graphic shows where the restrictions will be.

The graphic also shows where the new solar panels are being installed. Once completed, it will provide some shaded parking, plus it will, of course, help green-up how we’re powering the building. Other than the parking and the possibility of a temporary power outage during cut-over, you won’t notice any difference in how the building operates during the construction.

Final inspection is scheduled for the end of August. It’s also nearly monsoon season, so that date might slip a bit. 

Film Tucson

When I give periodic updates on the Visit Tucson Film Office and the work they’re doing, it is usually about low to mid-budget films that are being shot around the area. Shelli, Peter, and the gang over at the Office play important roles in facilitating those shoots. But when I pitch the area for ‘film industry’ incentives, the one single most important amenity I believe we currently have to offer is location. A producer can come here and shoot urban, rural, Sonoran desert, Mt. Lemmon – all without pulling up and moving to an entirely new area. We are a one-stop-shop for many film makers.

I raise the issue of location here to also highlight the important work the Film Tucson group is doing to bring in ‘stills’. Here are a couple of recent examples.

The Spanish company Zara used the White Stallion Ranch, and the Neon Cactus on Miracle Mile for shooting images they’ll use in an upcoming Zara Kids Catalog. While here, they used local Monsoon Production Services for crew and for equipment. 

Another example of ‘still’ work is UK-based fashion photog Thomas Giddings. He and his crew were here recently shooting in a variety of desert locations. They’ll be using the images for the Barneys New York spring catalog. 

We are ‘in the game’ when it comes to the film industry, and we could be larger players with a forward-thinking film incentive if the State legislature understood that the industry creates jobs for locals. 

There’s a 2020 State election. Change happens at the ballot box.

Crisis Intervention Training

Each year, the Pima County Attorney’s Office, Victim Services Division, invites residents to get involved in crisis intervention work. The areas they work in include all ages and all demographics. Crisis and victim work potentially touches any life here in Pima County.

To get involved in their work, you need to take some training. That training begins on September 3rd, but before they sign people up for that, the PCAO folks require you attend an orientation session. They’re kind of letting you know what you’re getting into before they put together resources for the actual training.

The training includes teaching intervention techniques related to a variety of types of crimes. Each relates to a specific victim dynamic. This training is what you need in order to get involved with volunteering in the Victim Services Division.

The mandatory introductory sessions will be held at the TPD westside operations office, 1310 W. Miracle Mile, from 6pm-8pm, on either August 13th or 20th. The actual training will run Tuesdays and Thursdays at that same location, from 6pm until 9pm. The training begins on September 3rd and runs for 6 weeks. Please use the information on the flyer if you’d like to get involved.


La Cocina Restaurant

I’ve been to, and participated in, a wide variety of events in La Cocina. Some have been advocacy, some music – all have been supported by the great staff at the restaurant and courtyard. They’re located at 201 N. Court, downtown. 

You can sit inside in the Cantina, or out in the courtyard where the entertainment is. The menu is Tucson-creative. And they have local beers on hand. 

They are open on Sunday from 11am until 4pm, closed on Monday’s, but every other day it’s 11am until late. Take your out of town guests if you want them to feel what Tucson is all about.


Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6

Events and Entertainment



Southern Arizona Senior Pride Speakers Series
1035 N Treat Ave (off Speedway)

Speaker: Elise Bajohr of Jewish Family and Children Services

Topic: Support for Solo Seniors, Getting the Medical Care You Want





This free screening will take place outdoors at San Xavier Co-op Farm 8100 S. Oidak Wog, Tucson, AZ 85746. Please note: In the event of inclement weather, this outdoor screening will be moved to an indoor venue nearby (dance ramada). 

Special thanks to our community partner for this screening, San Xavier Cooperative Association.

Indigenous Womxn’s Sharing Circle at 6:00pm, before the film screening of Warrior Women – This discussion will focus on how to incorporate personal and community healing while working in movement spaces. During the discussion, we will be working on vamps to be included in Walking With Our Sisters in Saskatchewan. We will have supplies ready to share.


SATURDAY, JULY 13 @ 6:00PM - 8:30PM

Film screening at the Arizona History Museum, 949 E. 2nd Street, Tucson
Free Event, RSVP at
Free parking is available in the Main Gate Garage on 2nd Street

Join the Arizona Historical Society for an exclusive screening of Bisbee ‘17 at the Arizona History Museum. Radically combining documentary and scripted elements, Bisbee ‘17 follows several members of the close-knit community in Bisbee, Arizona, a former mining town, as they commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation, when 1,200 immigrant miners were violently taken from their homes by a deputized force, shipped to the desert on cattle cars and left to die. Following the film, there will be a discussion panel with the filmmakers, artist Laurie McKenna, and Mike Anderson. This program is presented in collaboration with the Arizona Historical Society, Arizona Public Media, and POV.


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 |

Main Gate Square,
Friday Night Live Summer Jazz Concert Series, Geronimo Plaza – 814 E University Blvd FREE ADMISSION, Fridays at 7:30pm, Validated parking in Tyndall Garage after 5pm |

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 |