Topics in this issue...
- Maynards to the Moon
- Be Kind
- Domestic Abuse Awareness Month
- Urban Wildlife
- Greyhounds as Blood Donors
- Boo at the Zoo
- Prop 408
- Monastery Update
- Water Security
- Local First
- Halloween for Veterans' kids
- Dusk Music Festival
- Events & Entertainment
There’s a healthy competition going on between the city manager’s office and the city prosecutors. It has gone back and forth, but this week the CMO team took the lead. Maybe a busy week at the courts? I’ll check Police Beat to see if that’s it or if they’re just wearing out after a couple months.
The third column is the number of activities each team has recorded, but the money column is the last one: number of miles. We’re closing in on the half-way mark towards the moon. We’ll see if our court people can pull a gut check or if they just fade.
Register at this link: www.meetmeatmaynards.com.
This week’s Be Kind mentions will all have a critter component. We had a rather tense critter-related meeting last week (more on that below), so I figured I’d open with some thoughts on how we are indeed enriched by the animals around us.
To begin, that’s Carrie and Chloe. Carrie is the two-legged one, Chloe is her four-legged friend. I see them on the Loop regularly and have taken up the habit of spending some lovin’ time with the puppy. Carrie does work for our partners at the Community Food Bank. Chloe just makes people smile, so there’s lots of kindness in that family. Oh, and the photo is a screenshot from the profiles piece Arizona Illustrated did on me. Tony Paniagua caught my pals jogging on the Loop and put it into the show.
Last Wednesday, Jonathan kicked off a big recruiting push for the Mobile Meals for Pets program sponsored by several groups. Included among those are Lutheran Social Services, Mobile Meals, Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, Pima Council on Aging, and the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. What a great program to include pet food with mobile meal deliveries. PCOA recognized the need recognized through their survey. Older adults aging in place were feeding their pets on the little food they had for themselves. If you’d like to help, visit cfsaz.org/partner/paaw.
Another animal lover Be Kind is coming on Sunday, November 4. It’s the Handi-Dog fundraiser called Dogtoberfest.
You know Handi-Dogs’ work. The nonprofit works with those who are disabled, teaching them to train their own dogs to become service dogs. Dogtoberfest is a carnival to help raise funds in support of that great work. It’ll be held from 10 am until 2 pm at the Gregory School, 3231 N. Craycroft. Check it out.
And finally, this guy – well, these guys. Caroll Spinney is the human. You recognize Big Bird. Spinney has been the voice of both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since 1969. He retired last week.
It’s not the end for the characters. After 50 years in costume, Caroll Spinney is turning over that work to younger actors. Now, at the age of 84, he says, “I always thought, How fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets? Playing Big Bird is one of the most joyous things of my life.” He brought a lot of joy to millions of others too.
My grandson had his first birthday over the weekend. In South Texas at a kid’s first birthday party last week an argument broke out that ended in a mass shooting. The 62-year-old granddad was shot and killed. So were three of his grandsons (ages 20, 22, and 24). Happy birthday. I hope the little kid is too young to remember the incidents.
In Milwaukee last week, the circumstances surrounding a double homicide were less clear than at the party. Police were directed to the site where they found the bodies of a man and a woman. Both had been shot to death with no clues that immediately led to suspects.
Same thing in Turlock, California last week. Police were called about a car that had been sitting on the side of the road for a while. They investigated and found the bodies of two young men, both shot dead. As with the couple in Milwaukee, there were no clues.
On a different note, about a month ago I included a piece about a guy who had killed two people in an auto accident at Wilmot and Speedway. He fled the scene. I’ve been in touch with the mom and dad of the 24-year-old girl who was killed. They live in California and just wanted to make sure law enforcement hadn’t given up on finding the guy. In fact, between TPD and the U.S. Marshall, they tracked him and arrested him last week. I spoke to the girl’s family over the weekend. I wouldn’t call it closure – their daughter was just a kid – but they’re grateful to all who had a hand in catching the guy. So am I.
Continuing with the awareness items for this month, I’ll remind you of some myths that surround the issue of domestic abuse. One of the most harmful myths is the belief that it’s a private issue. In fact, domestic abuse is a public safety issue that touches the lives of thousands of people right here in our community every week. It deserves our cumulative attention.
Here are a few other myths. One is that domestic abuse is defined by physical violence. In fact, it occurs whenever a person uses controlling or coercive behavior with their partner. Emotional abuse in the form of threats, isolation from friends, financial abuse and insults are common forms of abusive and controlling behavior. They’re signs that there may be a need for intervention.
Another myth is that intervention should necessarily come in the form of relationship counseling. The experts at Emerge tell us that counseling may create further danger or abuse. Domestic abuse is about choices and actions a person takes to gain power over another. It’s not a “relationship issue.”
This is a common one: “If it is bad enough, the person will just leave the relationship.” In some cases when a person tries to leave, the abuse can escalate to the point of serious physical harm. There may be significant barriers to leaving such as finances, children, or isolation. From the outside, we cannot simply expect the person being abused to walk out the door. The issue is far more complex than that.
Another myth is when we hear people say the person who is the victim of abuse must have provoked the abuser. Just by asking the question, we’re shifting the blame for the abuse onto the victim. Domestic abuse is never okay, whether it’s physical or emotional. If you’re feeling provoked, do not act it out in an abusive manner towards your partner. Call the Emerge hotline and ask for help – 795.4266.
On Saturday, October 27, Gun Violence Prevention Arizona is hosting an award-winning short film titled “5 Awake.” It’s about five Louisiana women who became enraged over DV shootings by husbands and began working to strengthen domestic violence laws in that state. The show will be followed by a panel discussion that’ll include Executive VP of Emerge Anna Harper-Guerrero, Asst. Chief of Police Carla Johnson (she made a very good presentation at our #URResponsible event), Judge Wendy Million from our DV Court, Tami Sanchez from the Pima County Attorney’s office, and State Senator Dave Bradley. He has a long resume working in the field.
The event will be at the Murphy Wilmot Library (530 N. Wilmot) from 2 pm until 4 pm on the 27th. The screening is certainly timely and the panel is top notch.
That guy doesn’t look the least bit intimidated at being photographed. He should have some level of fear that would cause him to head off in the other direction to safety. We are seeing many very comfortable coyotes in midtown. That was the topic of the panel discussion I hosted last week. People are passionate on both sides of the issue.
You know I’m an animal lover. Look at the Be Kind if you need a reminder. I also want us to respect the fact that coyotes (and other urban wildlife) are, well, wild and are therefore unpredictable in their behavior. That creates the potential for dangerous outcomes if we don’t treat the relationship with that in mind. Right now we have some folks in midtown who do not, resulting in our need for behavior modification – both for the humans and for the critters.
The behavior mod for humans is pretty basic. Number 1: do not feed wild animals. They don’t need it, it serves to break down their reluctance to get close to us, and it’s illegal under state law. Here’s what the law says:
13-2927. Unlawful feeding of wildlife; classification
A. A person commits unlawful feeding of wildlife by intentionally, knowingly or recklessly feeding, attracting or otherwise enticing wildlife into an area, except for:
1. Persons lawfully taking or holding wildlife pursuant to title 17 or pursuant to rules or orders of the Arizona game and fish commission.
2. Public employees or authorized agents acting within the scope of their authority for public safety or for wildlife management purposes.
3. Normal agricultural or livestock operational practices.
4. Tree squirrels or birds.
Under state law, feeding coyotes is an offense that can get you a $300 fine. If you see somebody in your neighborhood out feeding coyotes you can report that to Game & Fish anonymously at 623.236.7201. They’ll begin by writing a letter advising the person to stop and that feeding wildlife is against the law and unsafe. If there are repeat offenses they’ll do an in-person door-knock visit to chat. After that, citations will be issued.
Additional behavior modifications for us humans: Store your garbage inside or in wildlife-proof containers. Don’t put your trash out by the curb until the last possible time before pick-up. Feed your pets inside or at least don’t leave their food bowls partially filled outdoors. Install outdoor lighting (dark skies compliant please). Keep your plants and bushes trimmed. There’s more – I have door hangers and flyers here at the Ward Office from Game & Fish that run through plenty of tips if you’d like to come by and grab a handful.
We’ll distribute the door hangers to Catalina Vista this week. Why? Because that’s ground zero right now for a particularly troublesome coyote problem.
The problem in Catalina Vista is similar to what happened in Sam Hughes a few years ago. People have been feeding the coyotes and as a result, the number of animals we’re seeing has increased significantly. We’ve seen examples of the animals becoming bold and not at all timid around people. A dog was bitten and people have had threatening experiences. Working with G&F, we’re going to begin an intervention this week aimed at behavior modification with the animals. We need it. They do, too.
The intervention is multi-faceted. On Tuesday, G&F officers will canvas the neighborhood. You may see them out and about or have them knock on your door. The purpose is for them to gather information about what you’re seeing and experiencing with coyotes in particular. With that information, they’ll determine an area for more direct contact with the animals.
If you yell at a coyote and scare it to the other side of the road or traffic circle, it will learn that humans aren’t so scary. All bark, no bite. The G&F officers will actually chase down the coyotes, running after them making noise until the animal runs off in the distance. The purpose is to show that humans will indeed do more than just yell and leave it at that. In addition, G&F officers will be outfitted with paintball airguns. If they get close enough, they’ll deploy a paintball at the animal. I’ve told the G&F management and officers that we really need to message this part carefully so people understand what’s going on.
First, it is against the law for a civilian to fire a paintball air gun in city limits. The only people deploying the paintballs will be G&F officers. When I ran the plan by TPD Chief Magnus, making sure we let people know that it’s only authorized agents who may fire the paintballs was his primary concern.
Paintballs sting when they hit their target. They are non-lethal. They also splatter some paint on the animal. The sting will send the message that humans are in fact not worth messing with. The marking will allow us to track where the animal moves, if anywhere, to bed down.
This is not about chasing the animals into another neighborhood. It’s about saying to them, we want you in our neighborhood, but we don’t want you in our face. Let’s all keep a healthy distance and cohabitate.
The paintball tactic is endorsed by the Humane Society U.S. I’ve also spoken to people at the Wildlife Center and they agree that when certain conditions exist, taking this approach is sometimes necessary to reset boundaries. It’s also very important to understand that using this approach means enforcement agents will not be coming in and using a lethal strategy. It’s the humanitarian step in front of a fatal one.
That’s one image of a paintball gun. The piece on top is the air canister. When they go off, they make a “pffft” sound. Catalina Vista neighbors won’t be waking up to gunshots throughout the neighborhood. Here’s how the approach is described on the Humane Society website:
Consists of approaching the animal quickly and aggressively, throwing projectiles, paintballs, pepper balls, slingshots, clay pellets or pepper spray at the coyote. High-intensity hazing should only be carried out by trained professionals such as animal control and police officers. High-intensity hazing should be used in specific areas and only in response to more egregious incidents.
We’ve had those egregious incidents in Catalina Vista or I wouldn’t be working with G&F in support of this approach.
Halloween is coming. If your neighborhood has seen increases in wildlife and the animals appear to be losing their healthy wariness of you, it may be time to consider some of the suggestions made on the door-hanger I referenced above. Avoid leaving a Jack-o-lantern on your porch. Carry a whistle while out trick-or-treating with your kids. Keep the puppies on a short leash.
I’ve walked out my side door in the morning to run and had to scare off javelina and coyotes from my driveway. It’s a bit jarring, but I enjoy having them around. They just need to relearn that each side needs its space in an urban environment. I’m hopeful this G&F effort will have the same positive effect it did when similar work was done in Sam Hughes and we can continue to enjoy seeing the occasional coyote or javelina wander through the neighborhood.
Back in the summer of ’16 when we finally got the Tucson Greyhound Park shut down, those of us who had worked on finding the dogs suitable homes raised concerns over a few different possible outcomes of the closure. One was obviously that we didn’t want to see the dogs shipped off to a different part of the country in which live racing was still allowed. We know some of that happened, mostly to Florida tracks. But it wasn’t widespread largely because the dogs racing at TGP were at the ends of their careers, not fast by standards of other more lucrative tracks.
Another concern was seeing the dogs sold off as coyote bait for farmers who needed to lure in coyotes they were killing. The greys served as the lure. In some newsletters at the time, I shared the identity of one guy who took the notoriety as a way of proudly promoting his business. It was -- and continues to be -- sickening. We’re talking about paintballs that sting on impact to do some behavior modification in urban neighborhoods. This guy is letting greys get chewed up as he takes aim and shoots the coyotes.
There was another outcome some of us were concerned about. That was selling the dogs to serve as blood donors, where the blood is eventually purchased by vets treating animals throughout the country. One of the major donor farms is called Hemopet. This is a picture recently released of the conditions they keep their greyhounds in while awaiting their turn to give blood.
At the time I recall reaching out to the lady who runs Hemopet and talking to her at length on the phone about the conditions they have at their facility. She made it sound like a country club for the animals. All loving-kindness and compassion. We were never able to document which of the TGP animals actually ended up there so I couldn’t get any local media interested in following up on her claims. Now we know the truth.
In an article sent to me by one of our greyhound advocates, it’s clear the Hemopet conditions are anything but a country club experience for the dogs. Here’s the link to the report. I won’t share the more graphic details here, but offer it to you in its totality in case you’d like to read more than I’ll write here.
The Hemopet dogs are taken out to give blood every 10 to 14 days. The cycle goes on for over a year. It’s exhausting for the animals and unhealthy. They continued to take the blood for weeks, even after the dog had been approved for adoption. The report calls it "paying rent with their blood." The report documents how the dogs were kept through employee reports and veterinarian statements. They’ve been confined to the cages for about 23 hours per day, every day, on hard surfaces for months on end. Remember the claims by the TGP owners who said keeping their dogs in similar conditions was how they trained the athletic dogs. It’s rubbish.
The mental and physical stress caused by such confinement and lack of companionship caused the dogs to fight when they did come into contact with each other. The report describes some of the injuries which often went untreated. Dogs that were prone to seizures were often kept in small, unpadded metal crates. The results of having a seizure in a metal crate don’t need to be explained here.
I wrote a while back that Florida is voting this fall on whether or not to ban live racing. If they do, they’ll also have to watch what happens to their greyhounds in the aftermath of their racing careers. Best case, they are put out for adoption. Sadly though, the owners have a demonstrable history of choosing less humane options. Hemopet appears to fall into that category, despite the glamorous description of the facility I was provided back in 2016. I regret that the local media didn’t find it worth their while to pursue and verify the validity of her claims back then.
Ok, how about a positive animal story. Friday, October 26 starts this year’s Boo at the Zoo over at Reid Park Zoo. It’ll run from 6 pm until 8 pm all weekend.
Each night they’ll have scary tours, kids games, wizards, princesses, pirates, and all the other themed stuff you’d expect in a Halloween-style event. There’ll be caramel apples, cider, music and a bunch more. Members, of course, get a special discount and all are welcome.
Check out the full description by going to their website at reidparkzoo.org/event/boo-at-the-zoo.
In the past week, I’ve had about a half dozen different people ask me about Prop 408. It’s on the ballot for this November. I wrote about it last summer, but now it’s fresh on people’s minds, so I’ll give this review. I cannot use this newsletter to advocate for or against a ballot measure. I suppose I can tell you that I voted in favor of 408, but my summary is going to be just a fact-based balance. The Star did a summary of all the propositions in the Sunday paper but totally skipped this one. Here’s what it’s about.
We hold our city elections in odd-numbered years. I ran in 2017 and next year Jonathan and three council members are scheduled to run. The state passed a bill last session that would force us to move our elections to even-numbered years. In order to do so, we’ll have to change our charter.
Our charter allows us to set our own election rules. In the past, when the state has tried to tell us to run non-partisan, or ward-only elections, we fought them in court and won. The State Supreme Court has said that we have the charter authority to decide how to conduct our local elections.
What’s different with the even-numbered year idea is that it only kicks in if the voter turnout in a statewide election exceeds that of our most recent local election by at least 25 percent. That means if this November’s election has a 25 percent greater turnout than we had last year when I ran, we’d be compelled by the new state law to change our charter, skip next year’s election and wait until 2020 for our election.
We placed Prop 408 on the ballot simply to get your input. Should we go ahead and voluntarily move to even years? If we see voter turnout in November exceed our 2017 election by 25 percent, we’ll either be forced to change or challenge the law in court.
It’s very likely this coming election will see a large enough turnout to force the decision. With senatorial, house and statewide seats on the ballot, it’s almost certain that we’ll meet the 25 percent threshold.
At the risk of trying to predict a court ruling, my own opinion is that the state has a reasonable chance of winning in court this time. It doesn’t seem to be a stretch to believe the court would say the state has an interest in increasing voter turnout. If they can achieve that by putting our elections on the same ballot as statewide candidates, they may well win in a court challenge if we chose to go that route.
Skipping an off-year election will save some money while we synchronize the cycles. Contrary to forcing us to go to ward-only elections, the even-numbered year cycle won’t advantage one party over another. It simply increases turnout citywide.
Some are concerned with voter fatigue. We’d be at or near the bottom of a statewide ballot. I simply don’t think people run out of gas half-way through filling out their ballot. I don’t see that as an issue, but share it here to be balanced. It’s a part of the argument against Prop 408.
If you have followed me for long at all you know that I’m the last person who just rolls over when the state says so. Base your decision on how much you value increased voter turnout, saving some cash in the election process, the possibility of voter fatigue and the value you see in digging in and fighting a possible challenge to our charter authority on how we conduct local elections. Factor into that how you think we’d fare in such a court challenge. You’ll find Prop 408 on the back of your ballot along with the other propositions. Please remember to flip the ballot and vote before signing and sending.
The Benedictine hosted a series of concerts over the weekend. They’re another in the series of events Ross Rulney (property owner) is allowing to be held in the building during this planning process. One of the points of agreement between all sides is that we want to see the building preserved for public uses and not turn into a private student dorm. The events we’re seeing now are testiment to that principle.
On Monday, November 5, I’ll join Ross and his development team in hosting a tour of the Benedictine interior. We’ll figure out the logistics on the evening of the tour based on how many people show up. The purpose is very straight-forward: give people who are interested in the building a chance to walk through it and see the layout. Then we’ll gather in the chapel and have an open exchange on the types of uses people would like to see inside.
We’re in the very early stages of the planning and zoning process. A part of a rezoning is generally setting conditions on the use of a site. Hearing input from the wide community will be helpful as each of us considers what those conditions will comprise.
The tours will begin at 5:30 pm. We hope to be done with the discussion by 7 pm. If you’d like to take part, please do so with the realization that we’re not going to walk out of there having decided what the end use will be. What we will do is plant some seeds from community members for Ross and his team to consider; also for me and M&C to consider as we approach the time to begin putting a list of conditions together for the site.
The next step in the formal process will be the public hearing on the neighborhood plan amendment. That is scheduled for Thursday, November 15 at 6 pm down in M&C chambers. The original date (the 14th) had to be moved in order to avoid a conflict with a regularly scheduled M&C meeting. The tours on the 5th may provide some of the content we’ll hear at the public hearing. The tours are yet another signal that we’re at the point where collaboration and open communication is how we hope to see this project design unfold.
KI Sawyer is an Air Force base that was decommissioned back in 1995. It’s located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, way up there in what is legitimately "cold country."
Last week, The Mining Journal had a story about how the communities surrounding KI Sawyer are seeing PFOS contamination even these many years after the base shut down.
This is a photo that accompanied the article. It shows attendees at a recent public meeting that was held to discuss their contamination problem. The setting reminds me of our own Unified Community Advisory Board meetings.
In addition to residents, the meeting was attended by board members from their own local advisory group, plus local, state and Air Force officials. We’re not alone in seeing an all-hands-on-deck response to PFCs in water.
I bring this item to your attention because it shows a few things. First, they found PFOS and PFOA contamination in their municipal drinking water. Second, they believe it to be the result of the Air Force using the firefighting foam they also used out at DM for years. Third, they have been able to install treatment filters and are now seeing non-detect levels of the PFCs. Fourth, they haven’t yet identified a migration pattern for the contaminants.
All of that is relevant to our own local situation. We have PFOS and PFOA out by DM at levels far in excess of what the EPA advises as a health standard. We are not serving water from those wells, have shut down those wells, and have followed that same protocol in all wells in which we’ve found the contaminants at levels above the advisory level.
In addition, where we have been serving water with detectable levels of the PFCs, we are treating it and – as with KI Sawyer – we’ve found the treatment to be effective in knocking down the contaminant levels to well below even the EPA standards. This table shows the results of our treatment and validates that claim.
Compare columns two and four. Those reflect sampling levels before and after we made adjustments to the treatment provided in our TARP facility. The “8.7 ppt” (parts per trillion) and other levels in the fourth column show how well that treatment is working.
We continue with our protocol of shutting down wells when we find certain PFC levels. I’ve shared that in prior newsletters. We are shooting for detection levels of at or below 18 ppt. The EPA standard is 70 ppt. We have shut down wells when they’ve been found to have levels above the 18 ppt.
You’ll be hearing more later this month on our litigation against the product manufacturers. As I’ve said regularly since raising the issue of suing 3M and others, our strategy for addressing PFOS and PFOA contamination cannot be to take wells out of operation. The lawsuit will address compensation for treatment and loss of capacity. That’s coming. It’s important now though to understand that we are operating the water system in a safe and responsible manner, costing the utility money that will be recovered as the litigation unfolds so the costs don’t end up on your water bill.
Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona's Social Impact Program is this week's Local Tucson item. I met with their director recently and was impressed with the importance of their overall program. In the current political climate (#MeToo), a local environment in which young girls are taught social involvement and advocacy is an important program.
The program intentionally reaches out to girls who may be in some tough circumstances: limited income, foster home, a parent in prison, situations in which the young lady needs peer mentorship, as well as some adult sponsored programs that build self-esteem. The Scouts program offers both.
They’re in several local schools right now, recruiting and serving the girls. If you’d like to gather more information on how a young lady you know can get involved, please contact their Social Impact Coordinator Amanda Monroy. You can reach her at 319.3160, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of kids who also should not be overlooked are those of our veterans. Vets are often forced to spend holidays away from home while serving. Recognizing this, American Legion Post #7 is hosting a Halloween night party for the kids. They’ll have decorated treat bags for the kids, largely due to the generosity of Curt and Caroline Kaufman from the Midwest Food Bank.
The event begins at 5 pm. The Post is located at 330 W. Franklin St downtown. While it’s geared to the kids of veterans, all children and their families are very welcome to come and take part in this family friendly safe space.
I’ve been working with the organizers of the Dusk Music Festival for several months in order to make sure their event doesn’t cause undue impacts on the surrounding neighborhood or businesses. They’ve also been meeting with neighborhood representatives and our Civic Events people, each meeting with that same goal in mind. The event is right around the corner now, so I want to share this update.
I think the two most commonly cited concerns have been traffic and noise. The map shown above includes parking and transit options for people coming to the event. The goal is to avoid inundating the area with cars or foot traffic through the neighborhood. If you’re going to the event, look over the map and plan your arrival using some transit option other than your own car. There are plenty. As you walk from your transit drop-off point to the concert, please be respectful of private property you pass.
Noise: the bandshell is going to be pointed north, not towards the neighborhood. I’m promised they’ll modulate the sound levels in a way that retains much of the sound within the venue. I will be interested in seeing how that works out. There’s no guarantee this event will come back if we end up having a bunch of problems, so I expect the organizers will do their best to be good neighbors.
The shows will run on November 10 and 11. That’s also 2nd Saturday, so the downtown area will be hopping. The streetcar is providing free rides all day on both days. The Dusk organizers are working directly with both Uber and Lyft to have a designated code and pick-up location at Scott and 12th Street. The effort to advertise alternate parking options is starting now.
This event used to be held out at the Rillito Race Track. If the logistics we’ve been working on can be pulled off in ways that are respectful of residents and businesses, this could be a great new downtown event. The test will be coming in a few weeks.
Council Member, Ward 6