Steve K's Newsletter 07/22/19

Topics in this issue...

Be Kind

Much of this newsletter will be giving you updates on the move from the monastery over to the County Juvenile facility. The Board of Supervisors will vote on that Cooperative Agreement today. Many of us have heard an array of varying viewpoints on whether or not that facility is appropriate. For me, two sets of voices in this conversation are most important. The refugees themselves, and directors of large shelters in other locations along the border.

CCS staff has been working hard to make sure this decision is best for the families we are serving. When asking the current guests at the monastery how they would feel about spending their 2-3 days in Tucson at the County site, they have replied they simply want to be assured they are safe, off the street, and welcome. We will check all of those boxes, and then some.

When surveying the partner shelter operators about use of what used to be a juvenile detention building, the reaction from each of the large ones is that they would ‘jump at the chance.’ Spaces that meet the stringent requirements we are placing on where this operation moves are tough to find. Hearing the refugees and partner agencies support what we are about to do validates the decision. Now it is up to the Board of Supervisors to do their part. By the time you read this, we will know that answer.

Instead of the usual Be Kind flower, this week I am sharing a photo taken during last Thursday’s Be Kind “Belling” of Ross Rulney. As you can see, a group of us met and surprised him over at the monastery and Ben’s Bell founder Jeanette Mare led us in making the presentation. Jeanette is a regular volunteer at the Benedictine so she was well aware of Ross’ contributions even before I made the nomination.

Joining us in the picture are Ross’ daughter-in-law, his granddaughter and son. On the right hand side of the shot are Teresa Cavendish and Diego Lopez – both from Catholic Community Services. They have been hands-on at the monastery since January. Teresa and I have been crossing paths since 2014 when this whole refugee issue began down at the Greyhound bus depot. They presented Ross and his wife Lisa a framed set of some of the art that is up in our community room. As our stay at the Benedictine winds down, we felt it should not end without showing a proper level of gratitude to Ross for his generosity.

I wrote a Be Kind for a woman named Cassandra last month. She is the very-close-to-being-a-new-mom who gathered over 200 rosaries – and ran around town getting them ‘blessed’ I guess to make them official. Well, inching ever closer to her due date, she and her husband came by last Tuesday night and donated six boxes of clothes, toys, a youth mattress, food, and yes, some more rosaries. Much of this is coming from Pusch Ridge Academy. They are certainly walking out their faith.

Last week at Sacred Space (we host it here every Sunday afternoon) a woman wanted to stay after and learn more about volunteering in support of the refugee families. She represents an Oro Valley church and art group. As word gets out about the work Catholic Community Services has been leading, it is great to see other members of the faith community step up and offer to play a role. When I was growing up, I was taught that the ‘church’ is the people, not a building. We are seeing some of that come through in the midst of this challenging time of transition from the monastery.

The Esperanza Quilters from up in Saddlebrook have been working in the ‘art room’ creating quilts for, and from the refugees. The ‘for’ is quilts they are sewing and giving to the families before they board the busses. It is cold on a bus. The ‘from’ is shown in this picture – quilt squares colored by the kids and then sewn into a larger quilt for display. We have four of those hanging in the community room for you to see. Come on by and appreciate the work.

All three Be Kind mentions are from up north of the City limits; Pima County residents stepping towards the needs of the refugee families.

We love the donors and truly appreciate the heart behind what people bring in. Yet, there is one sort of donation that we are not passing along to the kids.

Last week, before loading up donations to take to the monastery, I pulled out about ten ‘toy guns.’ This is a picture a 5-year-old drew – it is up in our community room art show.

Note the bottom left of the picture.

There are no ‘toy guns’ in these kid’s lives. Contrary to our cultural bias and the NRA’s mantra, they shoot and they kill. I am certain the people giving these had the best of intentions, and for that, I am grateful.

County Facility – Alitas Center

Last week, I attended another of the Humanitarian Crisis Roundtables that are the spin-off from the original gathering called by Border Patrol and ICE. The meetings have morphed into County led agendas, but BP and ICE continue to participate. As I said to the ACLU Board when meeting with them last Saturday morning, keeping these lines of communication open are critical for us to be able to plan on when, and how many refugees we will be receiving. TPD is included in their Daily Release Briefings. From that, CCS is able to anticipate flow. We would lose access to these ‘joint operations’ and briefings if the Sanctuary City Initiative were to be adopted in November.

Another part of the meeting was a presentation by the County in which they shared more visuals showing what the existing Juvenile facility looks like, and pictures of what it will be once the renovations are completed. It is acceptable now. It will be even more so once the upgrades are made.

It is important for people who may still have concerns over the prior use of the County space to understand that simply shutting down a former detention facility does nothing positive for the community. It is then just a vacant building. What we are doing is affecting positive change by adaptively repurposing the building in a way that both addresses an important community need, and in a way that will show the refugee guests the welcoming heart of Tucson.

This is a picture of the existing open dorm area at the Alitas Center (County Juvenile facility.)

And this is the goal – its how other parts of that County facility are already outfitted:

A new entryway is being created so the refugee guests are coming in through a safe and secure location. We have had some protesters at the monastery. Some of the satellite churches have as well. At the County facility, that will no longer be possible, and it should not be. These families have been through plenty of trauma. We do not need to double down on it while they are in our care.

The three exercise areas will have picnic tables, umbrellas and lots of room for the kids to play.

During the Humanitarian Crisis Roundtable meeting, a couple of people spoke in opposition to this move. A quote from one of them that I wrote down was “use of the County facility will never be acceptable.” Each of the three opposing speakers represents a faction of the faith community who says they simply cannot get behind using a “detention center” to house the families. Here is an image of the centers they referred to in the meeting – as a comparison to what we are intending to do:

Scroll back up and compare. One is not the other.

The comments have gotten pretty ugly and divisive. As I said at the meeting, I hope this move does not dissolve the partnerships we have established while working together on the refugee issue. My office and I have been with CCS since the beginning. We are hanging in there with them as the model that has evolved over time is compassionate, and it works. It would be great to continue to have the partner satellite sites, but if they choose to go it alone, the remaining CCS team will keep heading in our current direction. It is about the people we are serving, and about the people who are serving, not getting hung up on what a building used to be used for.

My office used to be a police station, complete with detention rooms. Nobody has objected when I welcomed refugees into our community room, and none of them were traumatized by being here.

Bishop’s Meeting

Bishop Weisenburger called another meeting I attended last week from the local Diocese. He essentially oversees the work CCS is doing. He is also the key from their side in whether or not they agree to move into the County building. Last week I shared the letter he wrote requesting use of the Juvenile Center. Given some of the pushback that occurred over the weekend, the Bishop felt we should gather as many of the community voices as we could and do some listening before they made a final decision on the move.

They achieved their goal of inviting a variety of participants. Some spoke in favor of continuing to explore other options. That position came from some of our Methodist and Presbyterian partners, some from the undocumented community, and Council Member Romero’s office. The Mexican, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran consulate offices each expressed gratitude for the work CCS and the community have done and hoped this decision could be made in unity. Each of them joined the rest of us in assuring that we protect the human rights of everyone who comes through the process. Also speaking of course were the CCS representatives. They laid out the requirements a large intake facility must meet and spoke in support of the County facility.

At this point, reflect back on how I began this newsletter – the most important voices in this decision are the people we are serving, and a validating set of voices are those coming from the large relief centers that CCS works with as a part of the Border Action Network. While I understand the concerns raised by some of our local partners, nobody has an available option, and our guests do not share their opinion.

I have been writing about the impending need literally for months. We have held press conferences soliciting input. CCS and others have scoured the community for options. I have toured the TUSD Superintendent through the monastery hoping he would ante up some school sites. I have toured representatives from the business community through, as well. None of that has borne fruit. Here is what is required of a central intake facility – if you know of one, let me know:

  • Minimum of 45,000 sq/ft
  • Available 24/7/365 – not ‘when convenient’
  • Able to house up to 300 people
  • Food prep – food storage – food serving areas
  • Sleeping quarters
  • Medical triage space
  • Laundry facilities
  • Storage for donations
  • Transportation internet network
  • Activity space for adults and kids
  • Safe / secure from protesters
  • Relatively easy access to Greyhound
  • Parking for up to 50 volunteers daily
  • Indoor shower space
  • Meeting area for consulate’s office
  • Chapel
  • Rent relatively free
  • Available now – available for up to a year

Try placing an ad for that in the paper and see how long you have to wait for your phone to ring.

Scattered smaller sites have been tried, and they do not work. Over both Easter and Memorial Day when we received calls from ICE telling of impending increases in the number of people who would be dropped off, we simply could not find sufficient spaces and volunteers to meet the demand. If we cannot do it on intermittent weekends like that, having multiple sites up and running on a regular basis is not a practical solution. Each site would have to do all of the intake functions that are now housed at the monastery, and will eventually be done at the County facility. Nobody but CCS has the capacity to handle that.

For me the most difficult part of this is seeing the splintering that is taking place among the faith community partners we have been working with on this issue. I believe that is exactly what those who are in the ‘send them all home’ crowd would love to see. I am hopeful the in-house opposition eases. If someone finds the needle we have been looking for in the haystack, I am sure we are all ears.

County Cooperative Agreement

Ok, so what is in the Cooperative Agreement the County will be voting on today? Including all of the signature pages, it’s a 51 page document that covers everything from parking arrangements, to building access, insurance requirements, who controls things such as signage, furnishings, making upgrades to the facility and a bunch more. It is a legal document intended to ensure both sides (CCS and the County) are clear on who gets to go where, and how the facility will be secured and operated.

Some of the more important pieces have to do with functions that are right now being done by volunteers. Most of the food prep will be done by the existing County staff. That is for up to 250 meals per day. Laundry will too. When I was up in the 3rd floor laundry room of the monastery last week there were two ladies up in that hot room doing laundry and folding sheets. Bless them. Nobody who is objecting to the move has done any of that. Nor have I heard them volunteer to take laundry home as so many of the current volunteers are doing. Building maintenance and custodial services are being taken care of by the County, and the County is paying for all utilities. As you mentally scan site options, keep those deal points in mind.

CCS is getting all the phone and internet services set up and taking care of any permits and registration associated with that. Most importantly, CCS is continuing to run the operation. This will not be a County managed shelter. There will be a monthly meeting between CCS and the County, during which they will update each other on how the shared site is working, making tweaks as the relationship evolves. The deal was originally for $100 per year with the option to extend it for four additional years, if necessary. That may now be amended in recognition of the community service CCS is providing. Who knows what next month will bring, much less next year, or the year after.

This is not about optics. This is now about the reality that at the end of July we will be out of the monastery. The actual deadline for being in the County facility is August 6th. Depending on how the Board of Supervisors vote goes, I am anticipating we’ll beat that deadline.


The Board of Supervisors today approved the Cooperative Agreement on a 3-2 vote. While I believe they should be commended, the anger and divisiveness that was present in the room was troubling. We are better than that. CCS deserves better than that. It is a symptom of the larger national level of distrust that does not belong in Tucson and Pima County. I have spoken with both Ross Rulney and County Administrator Huckelberry and have confirmed that if we need a couple of extra weeks to make the transition smooth, and hopefully in a way that eases some of the tension, I will cover the utility costs and make sure Ross is not out-of-pocket for any expenses. Ross agreed to the extension. Lots of people like him, and our volunteers deserve our thanks through all of this. We will know within the week whether or not we will need that added time.

Monastery Redevelopment

Meanwhile, back at the Benedictine, there is a rezoning process moving forward. On Thursday, August 1st at 6pm there will be a zoning examiner public hearing. That is the necessary next step in this whole process of changing what is now on that 6-acre site. The meeting will be held in M&C chambers and it is open to the public.

There are actually two different zoning hearings related to the monastery that will be held that night. One is to secure the Historic Landmark designation. That is the one that protects the exterior of the building.  Here is the exact language coming from the zoning examiner agenda for the HL:

It will be followed immediately on the agenda by the actual site development case. Here is that language:

The second agenda item is the one that allows the development in and around the Benedictine. The HL proposal was reviewed multiple times by the Historic Commission. They approved it to be passed along to the zoning examiner. Staff has been involved with the design team in a lengthy series of back-and-forth reviews on the site plan. A part of our having amended the Miramonte neighborhood plan is to do the Historic Landmark, so without that, the rest will not happen. The commitment from Ross and his team is to move ahead with that preservation piece though, so I do not anticipate any issue with protecting the building exterior.

The plan is to build high-end apartments on the north, east and south of the monastery. The Benedictine itself will be preserved. One of the most common questions I get is ‘what will happen to the chapel?’

The answer right now is that we do not know. The way rezonings work is that until a property owner is secure in the new zoning, he has a tough time signing up tenants. In some of the public meetings that have been held for this project I have heard a wide variety of possible uses for the interior; entertainment space, restaurant, hotel – nothing is yet decided, and it will not be until after the zoning process is finalized.

This is a picture of the 1939 original groundbreaking ceremony that got the Benedictine building started. The zoning process will likely get to M&C in September of this year. If it is approved, there may be a similar groundbreaking on the site early next year. My guess is that the construction will take in the 18-month range. Think of it – by the time this project is done, CCS may be in their second year operating out of the Alitas Center, and we may have a new President. Lots of change in the air. Lots of challenges to manage.

T21 – another City/County Agreement

During their August 6th Board meeting, the County will consider adopting an ordinance change that achieves three things:

  1. It will raise the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.
  2. It will create a retail permitting system for all tobacco retailers throughout Pima County
  3. It will add e-cigarettes to the tobacco ordinance.

We will also have on our agenda on August 6th an item requesting we sign an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the County related to those changes. Based on the draft recommendations I have seen, I will be supporting that IGA.

Earlier this year, M&C considered increasing the legal limit for purchasing tobacco products. At the time, a couple of us expressed concerns over how we would enforce any new such ordinance, and what costs that enforcement would bring. There is no sense adopting even well intended laws if you cannot make them stick. The County was also wrestling with similar concerns. Since that time, the outline of a City/County IGA has been crafted that appears to address my early concerns.

Under the IGA, it will be the County who will enforce the T21 ordinance. I say often that everybody who lives in the City is also a County resident. The County Board of Health will have enforcement authority in retail establishments even within the City limits. The BOH already does health-related inspections so this is merely an extension of that work.

There is some pretty compelling data backing up this measure. That data has led the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American’s for Nonsmoker’s Rights and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to each write in support of what we are considering. In addition, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona are in support. What is some of the data?

Ninety-five percent of adult smokers started smoking before they were 21-years-old. I used to – I quit. Many people who start that young cannot kick the habit. With regard to e-cigarettes, nationwide their use increased among youth from 11% up to 20% in the past two years. In Pima County nearly 41% of kids from 8th to 12th grade report using e-cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control are recommending stronger laws regarding the age for using tobacco and e-products.

One of my initial concerns was the impact this would have on TPD and their call load priorities. Since the County would be taking the enforcement responsibility, that answers my concern on behalf of TPD.

There is a cost of doing that enforcement. The County has run some numbers and concluded their annual cost for taking that on would be just over $153K. Simple math – there are 590 vendors in the County who would be impacted. Divide those numbers and the annual permit fee being proposed to the Supervisors is $290. That is not even the cost of a single chest x-ray for someone suffering from smoke-related health problems.

Adopting this on a countywide basis also solves the argument of people just driving across the street to buy their tobacco products and the City losing tax revenues. However, at the end of the day, this is about health, and the costs associated with health care. Who supports this? These are the results from a survey floated by the American Heart Association:

Who is opposed? The people who sell the products.

There are some details left to be worked out, but on balance, I believe raising the age is in the public interest.

Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair

The Christmas arts and crafts fair is looking for artisans who want to set up a booth. They started accepting applications last Monday. The Fair is on November 30th and December 1st over in Reid Park, just west of the amphitheater.

The City has sponsored this event for over 30 years. Last year they had over 130 vendors coming from all over the Southwest. If you do original work in pretty much any kind of art or craft, send in your application.

I was invited to play some guitar during the fair last year. As I wandered through the booths last year before starting my set, I saw paintings/drawings, photography, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and a bunch more. If you create, this is the show for you.

The booth fee is $90 for a 10’x10’ space. There are some guidelines for applying that you should check out at The direct point of contact is Susan Orrico again –, or call her at 791.4877.


At 6:48pm Friday, I received the email from staff announcing our award of a contract to Bird and Razor for e-scooters. Before I comment on the scooters, I have to say that jerking the media around and sending out a Press Release late on a Friday makes it look like we are trying to hide something. In this case, maybe we were. Miss the news cycle and let people be surprised when this starts to appear downtown:

Trying to figure out the wisdom of this decision, Police Chief Magnus tweeted this as soon as the award was issued:

Yup. Here we go. Shirley and I voted against this ‘pilot program.’ It will allow up to 500 scooters for both Bird and Razor to be deployed in our downtown core. That is where sidewalks are narrow, cars and busses fill the streets, streetcar tracks are present, and pedestrians are dodging all of that. Now we will be adding e-scooters to that mix. What could possibly go wrong?

The actual award is on hold until the 10-day protest period elapses. I suspect this topic will come up again from time to time during the 6-month pilot period. Like possibly during the monsoons when the wind whips these little babies around? But maybe it will all be swell. Time will tell.

Service Animals

A couple of weeks back I wrote a section on how people were beginning to use some rather odd animals for therapy and service pets. Included was a squirrel, an alligator and a duck. Well, dogs are the go-to for lots of good things, and being a service animal is one of those.

The Direct Center for Independence is sponsoring a presentation on Service Animals. You can get any questions you may have about your rights related to service pets answered during a free session. Businesses have certain obligations with respect to people who have disabilities and who are accompanied by a service animal. Those, along with other issues related to public accommodation will be reviewed.

Working with Direct will be the Arizona Center for Disability Law. The event will be held from 2pm until 4pm on Thursday, August 15th at the Direct offices. They are located at 1001 N. Alvernon. You should register by calling 327.9547 (x311), or by emailing You can also use those contacts for requesting accommodations.

Conversation Coalition

If you are worn out with the incivility in public interactions and would just like to join others who are learning and practicing mindful, compassionate communication, there is an event on Tuesday the 23rd that may be of interest to you. It is very simply called The Conversation Coalition. It will be held from 6pm until 8pm over at the Khalsa Montessori School – 3701 E. River.

The Coalition is a loosely coupled group of people who have dedicated themselves to upping our game in terms of how we communicate with one another. They do the usual stuff such as sharing potlucks and snacks, but their time together is really focused on practicing conversation methods – the sort you do not see on the evening news, or read about in tweets.

This is free and open to everyone. They suggest you bring either something you would like to celebrate, or something you are concerned about. There will be space in the evening to share it in their relaxed and engaged environment. You need to register ahead of time so they know what to plan on –  If you would like to get more information about the activity, call Steve Brock at 615.9021, or email him at

Local First::Sunshine Mile Workshops

This series of workshops is this week’s Local Tucson item.

When we got Rio Nuevo and the Project for Public Spaces signed on to help with creating welcoming destinations along the Sunshine Mile, a part of the commitment was that design would include some very public outreach. There have already been some workshops – more are now coming.

These meetings are intended to gather and refine public input related to the overlay criteria we will be adopting. An overlay is a rezoning that generally impacts more than just a single property. In this case, we are considering the span of from Euclid to Country Club, on Broadway. Yes, many of us participated in literally years of public discussion on this topic, only to have a widened roadway approved by M&C with no consideration of creative land uses outside of the curb lines. That is what we are taking a fresh look at.

The current round of workshops will be held on Monday the 29th from 5pm until 7pm, Tuesday the 30th from both 2:30pm until 4:30pm and from 5:30pm until 7:30pm, and Wednesday the 31st at those same two times.

In case you are primarily interested in only certain segments of the Sunshine Mile, the meetings are intentionally focused. For example, Monday’s meeting will focus on the Treat/Country Club segment. The early Tuesday meeting will look at the midcentury retail section between Plumer and Treat.  You need to sign up for the ones you are interested in – do that by using this link:

Sunshine Mile Workshops

You're Invited!

The Rio Nuevo District invites you to participate in workshops focused to enhance the Sunshine Mile!
Multiple workshops focused on specific areas along Broadway Blvd between Euclid and Country Club will be held July 29 - July 31. Please use the link below to view workshop information, meeting location and RSVP.

Country Club Area (Between Treat & Country Club)
July 29, 5PM-7PM
Midcentury Retail (Between Plumer & Treat Avenues)
July 30, 2:30PM – 4:30PM
Campbell Area (Between Martin & Plumer Avenues)
July 30, 5:30PM – 7:30PM
Bungalow Area (Between Santa Rita & Warren Avenues)
July 31, 2:30PM – 4:30PM
Gateway to Downtown (Between Euclid & Santa Rita)
July 31, 5:30PM – 7:30PM
The registration link will show you which segments are going to be a focus of each workshop. They are still working on a meeting location, but sign up now as it is very likely the space will be limited.

I am grateful to the Rio folks for following through on our early conversations in which I expressed the need to engage. I continue to believe the M&C and RTA blew it when requiring such a wide roadway, but this is our chance to make something positive despite that vote.

Free English Lessons

Each week we host a group called the International Learning Center. They hold sessions twice each week in my office, and also two times per week in Paul Durham’s office. The goal is to teach people conversational English, self-paced, in a casual atmosphere, and for free.

The classes are held here at W6 each Friday and Saturday from 6pm until 8:30pm. Paul’s hosting their morning sessions on Wednesday’s and Thursday’s from 8:30am until 10:30am. I know they are reaching out to the refugee community, but on Friday when I poked my head in, they had space available so I suspect if you have people from whatever background, they would find a welcome reception.

To get more information on this, call Steve at 257.1161, or email him at


Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6

Events & Entertainment


July 23 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Join the fun at the Community Food Bank! Help pack food bags and come with your group or on your own (ages 16+) dressed according to theme. RSVP required. Email Space is limited!


July 1 - July 31


Artwork on display on the wooden towers during regular library hours.

The theme this month is Fragile Supremacy. Whether it’s catcalls, sexist or sexual comments, homophobic and transphobic slurs, flashing, groping, stalking, or assault in public spaces, gender-based street harassment is a global problem. It makes people feel less safe and restricts where they can go.

With art from PSA Art Awakenings in Tucson, Joel Valdez Main Library will display artwork that advocates for everyone’s right to be in public space and explores gender-based harassment and or ending street harassment.


July 25 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm

$8, 21+

Club Congress

FST! is a league of hilarious, insightful women who tell their stories, make their voices heard, and raise money for local charities.


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 |