Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- Air Force Academy
- Paint Pima Purple
- Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Fund
- January 8th Memorial
- Federal Historic Tax Credits
- UA Basketball
- UA Bragging Rights
- Lake Mead
- Local First: Tree Planting
- Service Line Warranty Agreements
- Armory Park Senior Center - Age Friendly City
- Handmaker Fund Raiser
- Microchip Your Pet
- City Council Forums
- Events & Entertainment
Our thoughts are with the victims and families affected by the shooting in Las Vegas. We will continue to push for civility and kindness.
Each morning I walk through the breezeway at the College of Public Health on my way to work. These young ladies have been outside selling baked goods and other items, all in support of the Puerto Rico hurricane victims. Good hearts like these deserve the Be Kind notice.
This is a shot from last week’s interfaith refugee service held at St. Cyril’s. Ann and I attended and were deeply touched by the stories told by refugees from Iraq, South Sudan and Nigeria. They, along with many others who you see on the stage, come to our community seeking safety and a new start. Tucson offers it, unconditionally. This is who we are. Tucson values were on display.
The same day as this service, the Trump administration proposed dropping the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. to 45,000, with only 1,500 coming from Latin America. That will very simply cost people their lives.
In Cambridge, Ontario, a guy named Clay Cook had just gotten married – still in his tux fresh from the ceremony. They were having an outdoor reception. A little kid fell in a lake near to the event and Clay jumped in (tux and all) and saved the little guy. Instinctually kind.
Air Force Academy
This isn’t really a Be Kind recognition, but it’s close and deserves to be cited.
Last week some racial epithets were spray painted on dorm walls at the Air Force Academy. Lt. General Jay Silveria oversees the academy. He brought the students together into a large meeting and delivered a simple and direct message: “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, get out.”
I’m watching the PBS series on Vietnam. The black soldiers who served in ‘Nam suffered ugly racial bias. As I watch it I sit amazed – and naïve – over what was happening. I totally applaud Silveria for the message he delivered to the students at the Air Force Academy. It should have been delivered in South Vietnam to some of our soldiers as well.
In Nashville last week another church shooting occurred. This time it was the Burnette Chapel Church. A former member walked in, shot and killed one person and wounded seven others before being tackled by an usher. The usher was one of the injured victims.
In Fernwood, Illinois a man was found shot dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. A woman who is apparently his wife (police did not release identities as of this writing) was transported to the hospital with three gunshot wounds to her chest. She died. She was pregnant. The baby is in critical condition.
Paint Pima Purple
Now starts the 30th anniversary of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each newsletter I write during the month of October will have a section promoting awareness of DV. It’s so often also associated with gun violence tragedies.
This week you’ll want to jot down the Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse 24-hour hotline. It’s 795.4266. To learn about resources Emerge! offers, visit the website at www.emergecenter.org.
Domestic abuse comes in forms other than physical violence. Controlling behavior of all sorts can be a sign that it’s going on. One person exercizing dominating influence over another – in finances, time management, surveillence, even controlling dress, the people at Emerge! will tell you they’ve seen it all – is emblematic of an unhealthy relationship and one that could turn violent.
On Friday, October 13th from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. Emerge! is sponsoring a stuff the truck event in support of DV victims. This one will be held at the Canyon Del Oro Baptist Church (9200 N Oracle Rd). Another will be held on Friday, October 27th from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. over at the Rincon Congregational Church (122 N Craycroft). They’re taking donations of things such as gift cards, new bath and hygiene items, new undergarments, and other miscellaneous items such as new umbrellas, flip flops, pillows. Think of yourself being on your own with few resources and let that guide your giving.
This spot will be informational all month. DV is sadly a very local issue. Your awareness of it’s telltale warning signs is a key to stamping it out.
A final note on DV. It’s related to internet porn, and the fact that people who surf those sites are facilitating violent behavior towards the victims who appear on them. Why do I mention this? Because I know of a person who is on the fringe of being in the public eye. This comment is by way of advising him that all of this sort of thing comes out. Especially for people living in the fishbowl of public service. All of us can come up with example after example. People who tend in this direction need to seek counseling, not publicity about their habits. That’s a debt they owe to their families, and most importantly to the victims of porn sites – sites that are associated with trafficking and with violence against women. If you also know of people who surf in these polluted waters, suggest they get professional intervention. It’s what they require.
Gabe Zimmerman Scholarship Fund
On January 8th, 2011, Gabe Zimmerman was one of the six people shot to death in the Congress on the Corner tragedy we experienced. All sorts of community responses have evolved in the aftermath: shrines, parks, memorials, named trailheads. One of those is the Gabe Zimmerman Scholarship Fund.
Last week, Diana and I attended this year’s scholarship awards ceremony over at Community Partners on Dodge. Because these are Masters in Social Work scholarships, ASU is the academic partner. I know, but the UA doesn’t offer the program.
It was great to see the diversity of the recipients, both in terms of gender and racial background as well as their respective fields of study. The five recipients this year are Amber Beasley, Chris Desborough, Whitney Koelln, Gina Martinez-Franco and John McGrath. They’ll be studying fields including vulnerable populations within the criminal justice system, the deaf/blind population, mental health disorders and PTSD. Congratulations to all of the young people who will benefit from this extension of the community.
January 8th Memorial
Tucson Medical Center is our community nonprofit hospital. TMC is also the lead donor on the January 8th Memorial under design for the Presidio Plaza downtown. The National Park Service has now joined them as a major donor. The NPS announced last week that they’re in for over $60K to help offset costs of the memorial.
The Gabe Zimmerman scholarships are one way the January 8th event will be remembered. The memorial is nearing its final funding push, which will soon lead to kicking off construction on the project. The funding goal is $5 million and I’m told by some of the folks on the fund development end that they’re ready to announce some significant donors who’ll push this towards the finish line.
This is an image from the memorial website. It shows just some of the ways people can take part in funding the project.
I’m sharing this image directly after the Gabe Zimmerman scholarship item because he was one of six killed and the memorial will have six gardens to commemorate those lost. Each garden is a funding opportunity.
If you’d like to get involved, go to www.tucsonsmemorial.org. There you’ll see the many ways you can help. The funding is coming from individuals, as well as both the public and private sectors. It’s how we come together in Tucson.
Federal Historic Tax Credits
If you own an historic commercial building and you want to rehabilitate it, you currently can get a 20 percent tax credit on the value of the construction invested in that rehabilitation. The purpose is to give an incentive for the rehabilitation and preservation of our historic building stock and to keep them as tax-producing businesses. Each of us on the M&C have strongly supported this as a way of encouraging business growth.
Last week the Trump administration and congress released some early versions of the tax reform under consideration at the federal level. As currently written, the historic tax credit is slated to be eliminated. It’s sometimes suggested to me that I should “focus on local issues” and leave state and federal ones to people who serve in those bodies. In fact, state and federal decisions affect us very directly locally. This is an example.
We have historic building stock all over the city. Much of it is in and around the downtown core, along 4th Avenue, down Stone and into the 12th Avenue corridor. We have seen plenty of examples of where these credits have assisted local builders in rehabilitating and revitalizing historic buildings. Right now, think Broadway and the opportunity we have working with Rio Nuevo, Project for Public Spaces and commercial developers to preserve some of the buildings along the Sunshine Mile. Lots of potential that could be lost if the tax credit is repealed.
I’ll be writing to our congressional delegation requesting this tax credit be preserved. It generates income. It is not a net cost to the taxpayers. If you agree, you can easily find your members of congress online at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.
I’ve worked in the UA athletics department since 1988. We’ve had four athletic directors in that time. Every one of them has insisted on winning by playing according to the rules. We have had no major rules violation scandals. What happened last week is an aberration and does not reflect the standards by which the department operates.
Because of my connection with the department, I’ve been asked for the “inside scoop” on the rules violation investigation. There’s no scoop. It’s a federal, UA and NCAA investigation. They’ll do their thing and we’ll all learn about the fallout together.
Here is a summary from the released reports. One of our assistant coaches is alleged to have taken money and passed it along in support of recruiting a basketball player. He is also alleged to have commited to agents to direct players to sign with that agent’s firm after graduation. He was promised some sort of financial reward for the relationship over time. Here’s a brief statement I pulled from the investigation report that summarizes the charges and the reason the issue is important. It’s a situation where coaches can exert significant influence on the young kids with whom they’re working. It’s not a peer relationship. The “USAO” is the United States Attorney’s Office.
This comment from the investigation speaks to the predatory approach some agents take to working with the kids. “UC-1” is an undercover agent working on the case. Dawkins is one of the charged agents.
The UA coach involved is alleged to have received up to $20K for the purpose of recruiting a kid and the promise of directing him towards the agent quoted in the comment shown above.
The exchange below is when the deal was discussed and ultimately was allegedly consummated. There is some graphic language in the excerpt, so skip over it if you may find it offensive. The comments come from listening on a wiretap. The UC references are again identifying undercover agents who were working the case. Richardson is the coach alleged to be involved. Sood is another of the agents involved in the scheme.
I know the guy involved. Reading the report is personally shocking and disturbing. The kids deserve better; as do the program, the fans, and the UA as an institution. The investigation and any associated trials and NCAA response will take some time to play out. In the meantime, the season will start and young guys will take the court to entertain the community and work towards a championship. They’ll attend class and study in pursuit of a higher education degree. That should be the real goal of intercollegiate athletics – providing an avenue for young people to go to school.
UA Bragging Rights
In the midst of one major environmental disaster after another – and the UA scandal – it’s great to be able to share that a UA grad is now overseeing the relief operations over in Puerto Rico. The photo is Lt. General Jeffrey Buchanan. He is now in charge of the 4,400 troops we’ve sent to help the people on the island.
You’ve likely seen some of the media coverage. Over three million people are without power, roads, and water (the most basic of provisions) after being hit by Hurricane Maria. It was the most powerful storm to hit the island in nearly 90 years.
Lt. Gen. Buchanan will interface with FEMA and coordinate relief. Even with a Wildcat in charge, it’s going to take years for them to dig out from the devastation. If you are inclined to offer your support, its important to know that there are scam “agencies” soliciting donations. Work with ones that you know or check with FEMA to make sure you’re sending your support to an agency that’s on the up-and-up.
I’ve shared similar pictures of the Lake Mead bathtub ring in the past. It’s not getting any better.
Under the terms of a deal struck last week between the feds and Mexico, Lake Mead may get a slight reprieve. The deal may also set the stage for progress on the drought contingency plan being hammered out between Arizona, Nevada and California, as well as the plan under negotiation between water users within our own state. That one’s called the Drought Contingency Plan Plus (DCP+).
Under the federal deal just announced, the feds will invest over $31M on conservation efforts in Mexico. We have a treaty obligation to provide them with 1.5 million acre feet of Colorado River water annually. It generates about 16 million acre feet, so the amount we send to Mexico isn’t trivial. But conservation south of the border can have some long term impacts on claims of CAP water and would ultimately benefit nearly 27 million people in the three lower basin states who rely on CAP to a large degree.
The new deal calls on Mexico to develop a game plan for reducing the amount of water they pull from the Colorado when a shortage is declared. But it also calls on users in the U.S. to agree on our own contingency plan before Mexico is required to produce one. That’s important – I’ll explain.
The funded conservation work will include things such as relining leaky canals and capturing runoff in more efficient ways. They’ll also upgrade some of their pumping systems so the water they receive is moved more efficiently.
The treaty with Mexico is one of several water security measures under simultaneous consideration. The Drought Contingency Plan is the deal between us three lower basin states to get California to agree to some reduced levels of Mead water when it reaches a shortage level. DCP+ is an intra-state agreement in the works between water users to achieve the same goal. Lake Mead is in a structural water deficit – we’re taking more than is being replenished. Note the bathtub ring. As the water level drops, we get closer to declaring a shortage. When that happens, users’ allocations may be reduced. Both the DCP and the DCP+ matter. So does the Mexican treaty.
I mentioned above how federal issues affect us locally. No issue the feds get involved in has a more direct and important impact on us than water. It’s great to see the small step forward with this treaty. We still have the Governor’s Water Augmentation Committee working away without including significant conservation voices. That still needs to be a rallying point for water advocates. We still have negotiations in what are called plenary groups – also assigned by the governor – that lack significant conservation voices and transparency. That is another rallying cry for water advocates. But it’s worth sharing when we see a positive step in the water policy area. This is one such example.
This week’s local Tucson item is the good news of some local tree planting projects that are on the very near term horizon. The first took place this Saturday, September 30th over in the Garden District. They planted 80 trees donated by the Rotary Club of Tucson.
Neighborhood volunteers gathered to invest some sweat equity in the planting and Trees for Tucson was on hand with arborists to give instructions. Rotary has pledged to plant one new tree for every one of their Chapter members. Eventually that’ll be 240 trees. Garden starts with these 80 desert appropriate trees..
Coming on October 17th at 3:30 p.m. on the west side of Himmel is the 60 tree project, also supported by Trees for Tucson. This is the one Friends of Himmel and city parks staff have worked with T4T to pull together. It’s funded by the Mesch, Clark, Rothschild law firm. Join us on the 17th if you’d like to participate.
McCormick Park will get some trees planted on October 17th, followed by 20 new trees in Tahoe Park on October 23rd. In each case, city parks staff has worked with surrounding neighbors and Trees for Tucson to come up with the layout, pallet of trees and a work plan. If you’d like to snag some trees for your own property, you can purchase some five-gallon desert shade trees through T4T. Check their website at www.treesfortucson.org or call them at 837.6829. The whole notion of reviving our urban forest comes with the opportunity for you and your neighbors to learn the skills involved in planting and stewarding the trees to maturity.
Service Line Warranty Agreements
We have a service line warranty agreement in place with a group called HomeServe USA. Many of you have seen their mailer. It comes with the city logo because we’re under contract with them. We get a small stipend from the service line warranties they sell. I’ve shared several times in the past that whether or not the agreement is worthwhile for you is dependent on the age of your service lines. The older they are, the more likely it is that you’ll benefit from the coverage.
One of the primary causes of service line leaks and clogs is tree roots. It’s not at all uncommon in our area for plumbers to be called to snake out – and in fact to remove – roots from water lines. I took out the oleanders from the side of our house when we moved in because they’re notorious for causing damage to water lines.
So what’s the connection between the service line agreements and tree roots?
A sharp-eyed constituent (thank you James) was reading through the small print in the newly drafted SLWA terms and found this language:
"If You are aware of any pre-existing conditions, defects, or deficiencies with Your Exterior Sewer/Septic Line, or have had any roots removed from Your Exterior Sewer/Septic Line prior to the Start Date of Your first Term, then Your Property is not eligible for this coverage." (my emphasis)
That exclusion for having had tree roots removed is new. The company did not advise city staff of the change, nor have they been actively advising clients of the change.
I brought this to staff’s attention. My point is simply that if the terms of the coverage are changing in such a significant manner, that change should be brought to M&C for us to reconsider whether or not we want to support the warranty in the way we are currently doing. Beyond that, the company needs to implement the change in a prospective manner, grandfathering in existing policyholders. You do not change the terms of a deal after someone has already signed on. I further went on to request the company explicitly make clear that everybody signing up must be grandfathered in under the previous terms until they have determined a final policy position and until M&C has had the opportunity to discuss whether or not we want to participate any longer.
City staff is in touch with HomeServe. Even our own HomeServe account manager was not aware of the change in policy. She did confirm that existing policyholders in good standing will not be affected by the change. What is not clear is how and why the failure to communicate the change occurred as well as who will in fact be subject to the change. That is, if you signed up after the language was changed, even if you weren’t given fair warning the change was being put into effect, will the change impact your coverage? I believe that it should not.
Staff is waiting for answers. We will bird dog the issue. We have pointed out to HomeServe is that root incursion is one of the main reasons people have blocked lines in Tucson. Many older homes in the valley have been rooted-out at some point. As I noted above, older houses are the ones most likely to benefit from the coverage. I believe it’s bad faith on the part of HomeServe to implement such a drastic change in coverage without advising us, you, or even their own local account representative. The policy isn’t even available on their webpage.
Staff is also in touch with the League of Cities and Towns to review the issue. The league initially endorsed the SLWA agreement. They also need to reconsider if the terms remain as they are.
I would not advise that you sign up for their warranty until this issue is resolved. If they do not change their position on root blockages as an uncovered pre-existing condition, I will be placing this on a study session prior to the next mailing so we as a governing body can decide whether we want to participate in the program any longer.
Armory Park Senior Center – Age Friendly City
Earlier in the year my staff and I worked on how to allocate some funding – ironically largely from the water line warranty agreement we have with HomeServe – to buy parks equipment. We identified picnic tables, slides, ground cover, and other gear at various Ward 6 parks. The orders have been placed.
Last week we joined Parks Director Joan Stauch and her staff over at the Armory Park Senior Center for an unveiling of the new cardio and weight equipment we helped fund. Our pal Donna runs the center and she wears her passion for the clientele like a badge of honor. She told me how the new equipment will make a real difference in the lives of many of our seniors. Armory Park is the busiest senior center we have throughout our parks system.
My office is also collaborating with the mayor, city manager, the Elder Alliance from Pima Council on Aging, and AARP to put in place a three-year game plan for continuing to make improvements throughout the city related to amenities we offer to seniors. As each of my staff members advances towards “senior status”, they develop a greater and greater appreciation for this work.
I’ll be writing more about our work with the Elder Alliance as it evolves. This week though I wanted to share the Armory Park upgrades and to tag it onto the item about the Service Line Warranty Agreements. I am hopeful the HomeServe folks will resolve the questions I’ve raised about their plan so we can continue the partnership that’s resulting in these good things happening throughout our parks system.
Handmaker Fund Raiser
We have partners throughout the area who are serving the needs of the elderly. One we’ve had an ongoing and positive relationship with is Handmaker. They offer both assisted living and skilled nursing services. A close buddy – John Dawson – is receiving some treatment there, so I’ve had the opportunity to see the operation from the inside.
Art Martin and the Handmaker staff are upgrading their facilities. The typical way this is done is to host a gala at some resort and ask you to buy a table. Then a portion of the proceeds goes to pay for the venue, meal and entertainment, and the left-overs go to the actual need. Handmaker is holding a non-gala fund raiser where all the money received hits its intended target without being siphoned off for the other stuff.
They’re just kicking off this capital campaign. Please consider not only what they provide to the senior community, but also ways you can participate in helping them in that work. To find out more about their work and mission you can go to their website at www.handmaker.org. It’s the residential community you’re looking for on the site.
Microchip Your Pet
Last Saturday we hosted a spay/neuter clinic with ASAVET and Best Friends. About 30 kitties received the free surgery and vaccinations. They’re probably home sleeping it off as I write this. I’m grateful to those of you who did the responsible thing and had this important treatment done for your furry family member.
We have another pet-related event coming this month. It’ll be a bit less invasive than what we did over the weekend, but no less important.
In partnership with Pima Medical Institute, No-Kill Pima County will be here to microchip your pet. Both dogs and cats are welcome – on a leash if it’s a puppy and in a carrier if it’s a kitty. In order to receive the chip, they need to be immunized. That’s simply true anytime you take them out into public places.
There’ll be a $10 charge for the chips, but that comes with a lifetime registration with the Found Animals Foundation. Shelters call the foundation when lost pets are brought in. If your pal is chipped and registered, you’ll get a call from the shelter to come and bring him or her home.
You won’t need to pre-register for this event. We’ll be open from noon until 3 p.m. on October 21st taking anyone who shows up. If they run out of supplies, you’ll be able to sign up for a chip at another location.
A couple of years ago I wrote animal stories in the newsletter which were very often about the abuses that went on out at the Tucson Greyhound Park. These items (spay/neuter and microchipping) are much more enjoyable to share. I hope to see you and your four-legged buddies here for this one.
City Council Forums
There are two candidate forums coming up this month for the contested city council seats. I’ll be taking part in both of them.
This coming Friday, October 6th, Changemaker High School will be the site of another forum. We held the Sustainable Tucson one out there. This time the host organizations include the Southwest Fair Housing Council, YWCA, Community Food Bank, Arizona Center for Empowerment and the Arizona Center for Disability Law. That covers quite a range of possible topics. We’ll go from 5:30 until 7 p.m. Changmaker is located at 1300 S Belvedere.
Then on Wednesday, October 11th the League of Women Voters and the YWCA will host what should be the final candidate forum of this election cycle. This one will be held out at the Y – 525. N. Bonita. It’ll start at 6 p.m.
The League forum will be held on the same day ballots are mailed out. There are two contested city council seats, four ballot propositions and a handful of school district bond questions. It’d be great to see a significant turnout as each one of those is an important question for you to participate in.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment
This year general admission is just $10/day for ages 12+ and $3/day for ages 11 and under!