Topics in This Issue...
- Be Kind
- Unites States of Ammunition Exhibit
- American Guns Abroad
- 3M and What They Knew
- Mosque/Sol y Luna Bottle Throwing
- Brazilian Rain Forest Fires
- Three Tucson Transit-Related Issues
- TPD Hiring
- Pima County Board of Supervisors
- Local First
- Chili Cook Off
- Events and Entertainment
Here’s a very nice note we received last week from a lady who simply wanted to pass along some Kindness for the work being done around the City. Yup, a Trump supporter gets top billing in this week’s newsletter. We’re grateful for the very nice note.
Dear Mayor and Council --
It's high time to thank you where thanks is due. A friend and I noticed that in recent years we've had far fewer utility problems--especially power outages--than we used to. I've also noticed road work going on, and my request to fix many potholes in my neighborhood was recently completed. If possible, please convey my compliments to anyone and everyone responsible for the improvements. Running a city has to be a monumental job, and every day more people move here, while residents have no idea how complex it all is, and tend to take uninterrupted service for granted. How fortunate we are!
Best wishes for continued success in the future ----
And I hope you saw the nice article about this group in the Star last week.
Last week, I wrote about Section 8 housing and the challenges the program is having. This group over at Southwest Medical is helping by donating repurposed medical supplies to the needy. Things like wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, crutches and a bunch more. Since they opened in 2005 they’ve donated over 500,000 lbs of goods. They just moved into a new place last week at 720 E. 46th Street. We at the Ward 6 office are thankful for their Kind partnership in the community. If you have any of that sort of equipment laying around, you might consider a donation to them.
And Friday while I was running on the Loop, a lady walking her horse let me stop to say ‘hi’ to them both. She was leading the horse on foot and explained to me that she (the 4 legged one) had been spooked by a pack of about 20 bikers who had sped by without announcing or slowing down. She was trying to retrain the horse to not be afraid. When you’re out on the Loop, Be Kind, slow down and pass with courtesy.
It has been a while since I’ve written about Genna Ayup. Brief update on the course of her family’s fight for justice. If you care about how our legal system treats gun violence in this community, you’ll care about this.
What we know as fact:
About 7 years ago, Genna was shot in the head and killed by the guy she was living with.
He said it was an accident – that he was changing the grip on his Glock and the gun accidentally went off.
There were 3 people in the room; him, her and their 2 year old son.
The little boy told TPD ‘daddy hit mommy, daddy shot mommy.’
Genna had a bruise on her face when police showed up.
The shooter had been out drinking for 4 hours prior to the shooting.
There were signs of a struggle – a broken wine glass about 6’ from where the body was found.
The grip was fully deployed on the gun, not ½ on and ½ off as if it was being deployed.
Police wanted him charged with manslaughter, but the County Attorney dropped all charges.
Of course, there’s much more to the story. I know the family personally, so when we reconnected about 6 years later, I began looking into the case. Through a foundation, we hired a Private Investigator to reconstruct the scene and let us know if the case should have been tried. Our PI took all of the police reports we had pulled together, looked them over and concluded that Genna indeed deserved her day in court. He feels it was clearly Murder 1.
I met with TPD and they agreed to re-present the case to the County Attorney. They did, and the shooter was indicted for manslaughter, with a possible 3-12 years in prison if convicted.
Last week, the County Attorney told Genna’s family that their office was going to plea the case down to possibility for probation. The family is 100% opposed to reducing the killing of their daughter to a probation offense. I agree.
So why am I writing this now? Previously, through the time the County Attorney's office had agreed to try the case up to last week, we had been told to keep quiet or we’d have a negative impact on the trial. Now that the case is being sold in the plea hearing, you and the media need to know.
Genna Ayup deserves to have her case heard by a jury of her peers. That’s what the family wants. By pleading it to manslaughter, but with probation, the County Attorney can claim a ‘victory’ because that office will get a conviction. The family is left watching justice denied to their daughter. Unless, of course, you feel that going out drinking, then coming home and killing your partner deserves probation. Then you won’t care about this case.
You may have seen in the paper last Sunday that this same County Attorney is charging people who administer a fatal dose of fentanyl with manslaughter, and imprisoning them. If there’s a gun involved, it’s probation in this County.
Where it goes from here is up in the air. It’s a case of a working class family being manhandled by the justice system, forced to make their way through a confusing and costly legal system where the powers that be simply want a way out of a trial that will preserve their ‘batting average,’ but will require the family to invest significant dollars if they’re to get justice for their loved one.
I read in the paper all the time where people are sent to prison for vehicular manslaughter. If a gun is involved, in this State you may end up on probation. If you’re an attorney who can help this family without emptying their bank account, contact me.
Last week I shared with you the upcoming art exhibit addressing gun violence. It becomes more and more relevant each day. This past week, Maureen and Erin (curators of the show) have been off in Texas promoting the cause, and sadly gathering more ‘ammunition’ for the exhibit.
Please mark your calendar for the evening of September 20th. We’ll be doing the opening here at the Ward 6 community room. The photographs you’ll see will be from the sites of both mass shootings, and from shootings that occur every day throughout this country. We’ll have this art exhibit up likely right around the time we learn whether or not the County Attorney’s office is going to sell Genna’s case, or give her a jury trial like she deserves.
Like I said – the exhibit gains relevancy by the day. More on both Genna, and on the show in upcoming newsletters.
I pulled this article from the NY Times last week. Not only is our gun culture killing over 100 people daily in our own country, it’s now an unhealthy export. This is the cover shot from the article:
I often write about the violence in Central America in support of asylum seeking immigrants on our southern border. This article was about how our gun fetish is impacting lives in Jamaica.
Worldwide, 32% of homicides are committed with guns. In Jamaica, that statistic is over 80%. Most of the guns used in Jamaican murders come from the U.S. In the U.S., we hear the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ mantra. In Jamaica, they know that the abundance of guns makes the country deadly. Their 2014 National Security Policy report author is quoted as having said, “Many people in the U.S. see gun control as a purely domestic issue. Long-suffering neighbors, whose citizens are being murdered by U.S. weapons, have a very different perspective.”
The story behind the headline is that they tracked a gun tied to 9 murders in Jamiaca back to its original owner. It had been purchased in 1991 by a farmer in Greenville, North Carolina. Twenty-four years later it was found wreaking havoc in Jamaica. They have no idea how it made its way from the farm, to their streets.
It is truly troubling that we continue to treat gun killings in such a cavalier manner – in Tucson of all places. Killing your partner should at the very least result in a trial of your peers. I believe if the facts surrounding Genna’s case were given that opportunity, probation would not be the result. The case has not been plead down yet – unless and until we start taking the approach that gun killings are not going to be tolerated, nothing will change. Our County Attorney’s office has a chance to be on one side or the other of that equation.
Last weekend, Texas had their third mass shooting in the past month. They have lax gun laws, similar to Arizona. Tucson and Pima County should be sending a very different message than negligence with a firearm that results in the death of another person warrants probation – 7 years after the killing took place. That is not justice.
Our trial on the PFOS water contamination case is about to start. In contrast to Genna’s, I’m hopeful this one is treated with the seriousness it deserves by the legal system. I ran across an article that had an extensive timeline of what 3M knew, and when they knew it. Their partner in all of this was DuPont. I’ve shared before that they knew their product was toxic, and they’ve known this for literally decades. I’m just going to share the headers from the article to give you that history. The judge will get the details. If you’d like to read all of the background documents, use this link.
Here’s my walk down 3M/DuPont PFC memory lane. They’ve known this stuff was toxic since before I was born. It polluted the Great Lakes. I remember dead fish washed up onto the shores of Lake Huron during a summer vacation around 1960. We swam in that water. 3M and others knew they were polluting our environment and chose profits over responsible social behavior.
That history is not one of responsible social partners. And it is not one they will be able to justify in court. It’s as clear as Genna’s case – there’s clear guilt and they should be held accountable.
The Air National Guard is still using AFFF on base, and recently on public land. That foam has led to water pollution all over the country around military bases. If you’re a worker in the ANG area, you might want to ask if the water they’re serving on base is safe, and make them prove it. Same for DM. DM has admitted in writing that they’ve dumped the PFC containing firefighting foam both into the soil, and into the sewer system. DuPont is implicated in the time line I shared above. All of these groups – private sector, State and Feds, need to step up to the plate and take a piece of remedial action in and around Tucson.
Our trial is about to start. In the meantime, Tucson Water is making investments to assure the water we’re serving to you is safe. Every penny spent in that work must be a part of any settlement.
Here is another situation where we are waiting for those in a position to do so, to step up and do the right thing. Sadly, the memories of the incidents that took place 2 years ago at the student housing towers adjacent to the Islamic Center of Tucson are all too fresh in our minds. They were rekindled two weekends ago when beer was dumped from a Luna tower balcony onto ICT residents below. Cans and bottles were then tossed from balconies belonging to both Sol and Luna.
One lady called our office complaining that the press was giving the students who live in the towers a bad name. Her son lives there and is apparently traumatized by the bad rap. She alleges it was the loud noise coming from the ICT below that provoked the bottles and cans being rained down onto the group below. Right – those Muslims are real party animals, especially during those evening prayers.
Most of you know the lay of the land around the Mosque. You can see the towers in the background. They directly overlook the rear parking area of the ICT. They also tower over a play area that is used by the ICT’s kids. Cars have been damaged and there have again been multiple near-misses from bottles and cans being thrown.
I have been in touch with TPD, the city attorney, members of the ICT and the ownership group for the towers. The last time we had to ratchet up this array of forces, the result was a commitment by the management to install cameras. Also, they include in their leases that if objects are thrown from the balconies, the people whose names are on the lease for the rooms involved may be evicted. We do not have to be able to identify faces in the video, just the rooms from which the things were thrown. In each of the current incidents, I am told by TPD that we can make those IDs.
Here is the full set of exchanges I have shared in the past week with GMH.
Subject: Islamic Center of Tucson Incident
Steve Kozachik, Tucson City Council - Ward 6 writing.
Over the weekend we experienced yet another round of incidents at the student housing tower you manage in Tucson that sits adjacent to the Islamic Center of Tucson. I say 'yet another' because it was 2 years ago this sort of behavior erupted. The result at that time was the eviction of the students who were in charge of the room from which the incidents took place.
Two years ago objects were thrown from upper floors of what is now your complex. Ethnic slurs were shouted and Israeli flags were on display. Last weekend beer was dumped from the upper floors of your complex onto children who were playing at the ICT's property below. As was true of the last time this took place, beer cans were thrown and ethnic slurs were yelled at the people below. This is not an example of a drunken prank. It is nothing less than a hate crime and must be treated as such.
When a class of people is targeted, you should join me in having zero tolerance for that behavior. Everyone, including your management company is simply lucky that there were no injuries suffered from the objects thrown onto the people below.
I have our Chief of Police copied into this. He and I worked tirelessly in addressing the first set of these incidents. A part of the resolution was placement of cameras on your building, the purpose of which was to be able to identify the rooms from which similar incidents took place. I am requesting you review the tapes from those cameras and take swift and significant action against the occupants of that suite. The incident took place at 9:50pm on Saturday night. You should be able to have your security people review the tapes with very little effort, identify the suite from which the beer, and beer cans were thrown, and take action.
In the current political climate, where we see shootings take place aimed at people simply based on who they are or their belief system, allowing incidents such as this to pass without acting is nothing short of enabling a more severe outcome next time. And there will be a next time if you do not act.
The reply came the next day:
It is unfortunate that we are faced with this type of incident again – please know that we do not condone or tolerate this type of behavior from our residents. As the owner and manager of Sol y Luna apartments, we do have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to our residents endangering the safety of our fellow community members.
I was present at the meetings three years ago when we addressed and agreed to repercussions for the previous offending students and we adhere to those same consequences today. If the investigation determines a Sol y Luna resident is responsible for the incident, their lease will be terminated effective immediately and the conduct violation will be reported to university officials as appropriate, as clearly outlined our lease agreement.
As Chief Magnus can attest, we are working diligently and cooperating with local law enforcement to get to the bottom of this. As this is an active investigation, we can only comment to a certain extent but please be assured that should a Sol y Luna resident be at fault, in the same way we took action previously, we will do so now and in the future.
VP of Operations, GMH Capital Partners
And my response:
Justin, thank you for the reply. I've been on the phone with TPD and our city attorney several times today. TPD advises me that you've been able to identify the suites from which not only the Saturday incident occurred, but also the subsequent one coming from Sol. I appreciate your commitment to the safety of the community and believe, as was true last time, evictions now will send the message we're all striving for - zero tolerance.
Thanks much - Stevek
While the ball is in their court, and while they are looking into the video and assessing their options, I have city staff gathering the data on the number of incidents we’ve seen from these towers. There is a ‘criminal nuisance’ law on the books that, if the GMH folks do not act, we may have that as an option. Two relevant portions of the law include this language:
And this -
I do not want to go down that road, for lots of reasons. The best result would be evictions and seeing GMH finally install wire screening on the exterior balconies. We will see in the near term what they decide.
There has been a lot of press on the forest fires – deforestation – happening in the rain forests in Brazil. I also saw a recent letter to the Star editor where some guy was still looking for the ‘debate’ on climate change. I can refer him to the scientific community – as nearby as the UA. The fires need an international response.
There is a legitimate issue of sovereignty. The fires are taking place in a sovereign nation. Their effects are international, though. This map shows the extent for the fires now burning in Brazil.
Most of the fires have been set by farmers, clearing land to plant crops. That is an annual event this time of year in Brazil. I had not realized that. This graph shows the annual trend.
You can see that it’s typical this time of year to see the deforestation fires begin to pick up steam; but to put the graphic into perspective, the first 6 months of this year they’ve seen over 1,300 square miles of forest cover burned. According to the NY Times, that’s a 39% increase over last year. The issue this year though is that the government is encouraging them, and they estimate the extent of the deforestation this year is up 35% as compared to the past 8 years. That is according to Brazil’s own National Institute of Space Research.
Meanwhile, their President, Jair Bolsonaro, has been critical of those of us internationally who are concerned from an environmental perspective. Trump supports that position. I guess, so does the guy who wrote the letter the Star printed. Bolsonaro wants indigenous lands to be opened up to mining operations. Sounds like he has been listening to our own Department of Interior.
Law enforcement efforts to guard against deforestation fires are down by 20% since he took office. Last week Bolsonaro upped their enforcement efforts, but it is hard to undo what he has allowed to take place already. He is quoted as having said the concerns about the environment are “overblown” saying that the issue matters only to “vegans, who eat only plants” (my expletive in reaction deleted…).
This M&C will continue our focus on the environment, and as far as I know, I’m the only vegetarian on the council, so the Brazilian president is wrong about who this matters to.
With that as a lead in, I will share four transportation-related items. Three of them I’m on board with – the 4th, not so much. How we get around has a direct impact on our carbon footprint.
Sun Tran reported last week a 93% on-time performance record over the past few months. This graph shows their numbers:
They define ‘on-time’ as being no more than 5 minutes late, or no more than 1 minute early. In addition to that being meaningful to meeting their performance measures we placed in their contract, it is important to riders and would-be riders.
I pulled these data to support that point. A high percentage of our riders use the bus to get to and from work. These two graphs make that point. They were gathered through a Title VI ridership analysis that was recently conducted by our management team.
You can see that well over half of our riders either start or finish their trip from home or work. What options do they have? Over 80% have one or fewer cars in their household.
How important is maintaining their employment? Over two-thirds of our riders earn at, or under, $35K per year. The transit system is a significant tool in their day to get them to and from jobs that are immensely important to their home well-being.
Thanks to all of our Sun Tran employees – drivers/mechanics/management for maintaining such an impressive on-time service record.
We are also moving ahead with speed limit reductions, this time over on Anklam. We have done it on our Bike Boulevards; I worked with residents and staff to finally get a consistent 30 mph on Columbus, and now over at the intersecting of St. Mary’s Hospital and the base of Tumamoc Hill, we are seeing more progress in speed reduction.
It is sad that the State continues to feel the need to micro-manage how we set our speed limits, but they do, so we have to meet certain criteria before we can take this kind of step. The confluence of pedestrians, bikers, residential and commercial, along with the hospital traffic in the Anklam area, are sufficient for us to be able to reduce the speed in that area. I will fully support it when it comes to our agenda this week.
Both of those items fit this Plan Tucson goal:
One more item we announced this past week, that also fits that goal, is the expansion of our Tugo system. We are adding 4 new docking stations, each scattered throughout the current system. I have advocated for the Ward 6 office to have a station – so far, we have not made the cut, but these 4 new spots should be very successful. They are up and running as of today.
The new stations are located at Catalina Park, Lost Barrio, Presidio Park and at Reid Park. Those locations will likely help Tugo build on the 3,300 passes they’ve sold over the past year. This map shows how the new locations fit in with the existing system:
To learn more about how to buy a pass, sign up for monthly or annual memberships, go to www.tugobikeshare.com.
So, those are the three I’m on-board with. Not so much with the announcement that on September 12th, the e-scooters are coming. Not to docking stations, but to wherever you find one lying around. With an app, you can fire it up and ride it away, leaving it where your trip ends.
Bird and Razor are the two winning companies. Together, they will have the right to deploy up to 1,500 scooters. Look for the vast majority of them somewhere along the streetcar route.
I am concerned with clutter, and with injuries. They will be ridden around campus (I saw two on campus last Friday – it is currently illegal to ride them within the campus perimeter) around Main Gate, 4th Avenue, and downtown. In order to familiarize you with both how to ride them, and with the rules of engagement, City staff is hosting a demonstration event. You will be able to test ride a scooter, and get some instruction on where they are legal, and how to park them at the end of your trip. I do not agree with bringing them here, but as long as this pilot program was allowed by the Mayor and Council, we might as well do our part to make it as safe as possible.
The demo event will take place on Wednesday, September 4th, from 4pm until 6pm. It will be held at the SE corner of 6th Ave and 7th Street.
Once they are here, you can legally ride them in bike lanes, or on City streets. The same rules of the road that apply to everyone else apply to scooters, so if you are on one, you cannot ride down the middle of a lane and hold up traffic. They may not be ridden on the sidewalk. When you are finished with your ride, stand it up in the ‘furniture zone’ along the right of way – the space that is away from the face of the building, and adjacent to the street. There has to be 4’ clear for pedestrians. You can get all of the program details at www.tucsonaz.gov/bicycle/shared-electric-scooter-pilot-program.
Anticipating an increased enforcement effort coming as a result of the scooters, TPD is hiring. They were anyway, but why not piggyback this section with the one announcing the arrival of activities that will most certainly result in citations, if not worse.
We are going to keep running police academies through the system until we reach a final goal for staffing. Many of our officers did not necessarily choose police work as a career path, but have fallen into it over time. If you feel you might be interested, check out the TPD website and start the application process.
I spoke at one of the Pima County Democratic Party “Civics 2.0” meetings a while back. The general topic was what the City Council works on, and why you should care. I write about a lot of different issues, the vast majority of which reflect topics I’m either directly involved with or that the Mayor and Council more broadly have to address.
Coming on Sunday, September 15th, they’ll hold another in that series. This time it will be Sharon Bronson from the Supervisors who will speak to the group. She will cover the same topic I did, but this time focused on what the Board of Supervisors does, and why it should matter to you. The meetings are free and open to anybody, regardless of party affiliation. They run from 2pm until 3pm and this one will be held at the Woods Memorial Library over at 3455 N. 1st Ave. You can register for the talk through this link:
This week’s Local Tucson item is the work being done by Friends of Himmel Park. They are recruiting volunteers to join.
Every Sunday morning, from around 7am until 9am, the Friends, and their friends are meeting at Himmel and working to eliminate the weeds that cause goatheads. This is a prime time of year to be tackling the work. Most of the volunteers are right now coming from Sam Hughes and Miramonte neighborhoods. Himmel is used by lots of Ward 6, and community wide, residents. I know those of you who joined in the recent Moms’ Demand Action gun control event in Himmel were from all over town.
This is about quality of life, and is a social gathering each week. They would love to have your help. No registering – just show up. They meet at the SE corner of the park, near the swale. Vytas Sakalas is due a ton of thanks for his hard work in organizing this effort.
The 24th annual Fire Fighters' Chili Cook Off is coming next month. They are starting to promote it and gather supplies now. It is the supplies that I’m writing about.
Each year they have a KidsZone as a part of the layout. This year they are using a Halloween theme. So right now, they’re starting to gather bags of candy they can hand out during the event. Three ways you can donate include:
a) Monday through Thursday at Fire Central, across from the TCC
b) Contact Nick Janton at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can help arrange a pick up
c) Bring them by the Ward 6 office and we will deliver them to Fire Central for you. Don’t worry. Your donations are safe here. I’m watching my cholesterol.
Council Member, Ward 6
September 6, 2019 - September 15, 2019
Sonoran Restaurant Week
Visit Tucson presents Sonoran Restaurant Week 2019 - a ten-day celebration of Southern Arizona dining, raising funds and awareness for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Your favorite restaurants - and local hot spots you've been meaning to try - will be offering prix fixe three-course dinners for just $25 or $35. The participating restaurants include a who's who of Tucson's talented chefs and their imaginative menus. What's even better? Your participation helps support the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, providing food assistance to thousands of your neighbors across the region. View the special Sonoran Restaurant Week menus at each restaurant on SonoranRestaurantWeek.com/.
Tonight! Tuesday, September 3, Doors at 7PM
Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress
Robert Cray Band
with Tom Walbank
Robert Cray (born August 1, 1953, Columbus, Georgia, United States) is an American blues guitarist and singer. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he has led his own band, as well as an acclaimed solo career.
Englishman Tom Walbank was born in the town of Wells,1969, in the county of Somerset. Raised in Totnes, Devon, he discovered blues in his teens, beginning harmonica (which remains to this day his main instrument).
He studied the harp style of main influence Sonny Terry and played constantly through his twenties after moving to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here he joined blues trio 32-20 and then, with guitarist Steve O' Connor, the acoustic blues duo Hot Tamales.
Thursday, September 5, 5 – 8 PM
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main
Free First Thursday
Enjoy live music exploring the sounds of the Mediterranean, Balkans, and North Africa by Khalid El Boujami and Anton Shekerdziev. The evening will also include art-making, a “Travel Selfie Broadcast,” a creative gallery exploration entitled “Do you have a ticket?,” facilitated by Laila Halaby, and a cash bar!
This event is the first opportunity to see the new permanent collection exhibitions, I’m Every Woman: Representations of Women on Paper and Ralph Gibson: Photographs.
Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd | www.statemuseum.arizona.edu
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.com
Meet Me at Maynards, 311 E Congress St | www.MeetMeatMaynards.com
A social walk/run through the Downtown area. Every Monday, rain or shine, holidays too! Check-in begins at 5:15 pm.
Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Ln | www.missiongarden.org
A living agricultural museum and ethnobotanical garden at the site of Tucson's Birthplace (the foot of "A-Mountain"). For guided tours call 520-955-5200
Raices Taller 222, 218 E. 6th St | Fridays and Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm | www.raicestaller222.com
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | tucsonmuseumofart.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. | www.watershedmg.org
Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org