Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- Las Vegas
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- Tucson City Domestic Violence Court
- More City Court News
- Getting Active In Neighborhoods
- Tucson Police General Orders
- Bisbee Plastic Bags
- The State and Aquifers
- Historic Fourth Avenue
- Local First: Downtown Now
- Red Pandas
- Events & Entertainment
Policing is tough work. I can only imagine that given the numerous contentious calls officers get during a shift, simply extending some added kindness takes conscious effort. One of our TPD officers (Officer Schneider) did just that on multiple occassions during interactions with a meth/heroin-addicted woman he encountered. The normal protocol is to simply arrest and book. When Schneider made contact with her though, he took the time to counsel her and try to get her into treatment programs that would help guide her out of the lifestyle. His message was that she was “better than this.” Eventually that encouragement convinced her and her recovery is now to the point that she’s the mother of an eight-month-old baby who is healthy and doing fine. She reported to TPD that Officer Schneider was largely responsible for helping turn her life in this good direction.
On Saturday we hosted a microchip event. There were about 15 volunteers from No Kill Pima County along with students in the Pima Medical Institute vet program who carved out the middle of the day to support the event. Due to their generosity, 30-40 dogs and cats are now protected from being lost. In addition, I handed off about 100 lbs of dog food to Tucson Cold Wet Noses that was donated by residents of the Palo Verde and Garden District neighborhoods. The cat food they donated is headed to the Hermitage Cat Sanctuary.
An animal-related note: A dog recently came down with pneumovirus out at PACC. He was housed in the kennels and to avoid spreading the virus, PACC is looking for temporary homes for the dogs that may have come into contact while they disinfect the area. In order to be eligible, you should either have no other pets at home or be able to isolate the fostered dog for a couple of weeks. If you can help (they need about 100 volunteers) just let them know when you arrive that you’re there for the pneumovirus program and they’ll jump you to the front of the line. Call their pet support group at 724.7222 if you’d like to ask more questions about the program.
Credit Justin Spears from the Arizona Daily Star for bringing us the story of another Tucson/Las Vegas shooting connection. In his report he tells the story of Tucsonan Katie Goodall. She was shot during the Vegas carnage. As she was making her way out of the venue, four people made particularly impactful efforts to save her life. There was a nurse, a guy who was described as a veteran, and a “cowboy without his shirt on.” Each of them played a part in getting Katie to safety. The fourth was her husband who not only covered her from being hit after she had been shot the first time, but also offered a somewhat convincing pep talk telling her that she was indeed going to get out of the place and return home to their kids. That has in fact occurred and Katie is back safely in Tucson, a football mom out at Ironwood Ridge High School.
Last week, four people were shot, three of whom died during a workplace shooting in Edgewood, Maryland. The victims were 34, 48 and 53 years old. The shooter, a disgruntled employee was arrested, unharmed.
A 39-year-old woman was found shot to death on the front porch of her home in Macon County, Georgia. In an apparent DV case, her 53-year-old partner was also found with what authorities believe to be a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound.
In Columbia Township, Ohio, another DV incident resulted in the shooting death of two people. The 47-year-old former husband confronted his 53-year-old ex in front of her house as she was heading off to work. After killing her, he shot himself.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. These are two more examples of DV incidents that turned fatal due to introducing a gun into the equation. The data is conclusive that DV and guns lead to fatal outcomes.
On Tuesday evening we’ll discuss banning the sale, purchase or possession of bump stocks in the city. That’s the gadget used by the Vegas murderer that allowed him to efectively turn his semi-automatic weapons into machine guns. We have been advised by the city attorney that we are pre-empted by the legislature from adopting a ban in Tucson, but we have an alternate path that’ll be under discussion.
The New York Times compiled a timeline of the shooting incident using all of the video and written reports available. It’s about 11 minutes long. I’m sharing the video with you here, but before you watch it please understand that it is disturbing. I share it to demonstrate the ongoing impact of the state and federal government’s inaction on gun control measures. On Tuesday, we will once again try to force some serious consideration of at the very least banning the use of accessories that render an otherwise legal weapon into one that is already heavily regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Our evening session starts at 5:30 p.m. I expect to get to this item at about 6 p.m. Before we address it, there will be an opportunity at Call to the Audience for members of the public to speak on the issue. I hope you can join us and let us hear your thoughts.
Other data are also troubling when it comes to domestic violence. Law enforcement is finding that since the election last November fewer instances of spousal abuse are being reported. Educated speculation is that the change is due to the aggressive stance the administration is taking on illegal immigration. You have read about the Executive Orders (some of which have been tossed out in court). Add to that the arrests made at courthouses by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents and the stage is set for women to simply not risk being deported. Instead, they risk continuing abuse.
This chart shows how dramatically the drop is occurring:
In Los Angeles, there is a 3.5 percent drop in reports of spousal abuse among Latinas in the first six months of the year. That figure is over 13 percent in San Diego and over 18 percent in the Bay Area. Those numbers are not random dumb luck.
Given how prevalent DV is in our society, you may well encounter victimization at some point. That may be somebody confiding in you. The experts at Emerge! suggest that if that happens, listen first. Be sensitive to their feelings (emotions may range wildly) and show compassion. The victim is in an emotionally vulnerable state. You do not need to “fix” them. Just listen and offer the Emerge! 24-hour hotline – 795.4266. Show true concern for their safety and let them know you respect the courage it takes to come forward seeking help.
Emerge! also offers counseling for people who are overwhelmed by knowing a person they love and care for is going through a DV situation. If that’s you, the 24-hour hotline is also available to provide counseling. Take advantage of the resources Emerge! offers. As the gun violence data shows, ignoring the signs could turn fatal.
Tucson City Domestic Violence Court
Great work by our city court staff and leadership. Last week our DV court was chosen by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women to be a DV Mentor Court. That designation means our court will serve as a national model, sharing its expertise with other court systems throughout the country.
The Tucson DV Court will now use a two-year grant to assist other courts on the best practices they have developed. Judge Wendy Million and her group will host site visits and travel to other jurisdictions sharing our procedures, protocols, forms and technical information. It is a great example of leadership in this field coming out of this city. Congratulations to Wendy and the staff for this great recognition, especially during DV Awareness Month.
More City Court News
When we book a person into jail, it costs the city nearly $300 for the first night plus another $89 per day in jail board costs. Those costs may be doubled if the person is booked upon arrest, released and then booked again if convicted and sentenced. It also costs the person involved in ways that cannot be as easily measured. Jobs, family upheavel, and other impacts could be mitigated if jail is avoided.
Our court staff understands that every interaction with a police officer does not warrant spending the night behind bars. To that end, they’re working hard to devise alternatives to incarceration that save both money, and avoid all those other unnecessary issues. We get a monthly update from our court staff that describes the successes we’re seeing in those alternate processes. I’ll share a few of them this week.
One pre-adjudication jail avoidance program is simply field release. Called the Enhanced Field Release Pilot, it involves a magistrate being accessible by phone 24 hours per day. TPD officers may conduct an enhanced field release by calling that judge who can access the defendant’s case record through a secure electronic data base. Once fully rolled out, the court feels it can save over $1M annually in jail booking costs. Plus, it sends a person home instead of to a night in jail.
Every afternoon, Monday through Thursday, city court offers a walk-in warrant court. So far this year we’ve seen just under 400 defendants per month. They can come in without an appointment, have their case reviewed and if appropriate have it quashed and set a new court date. When fully implemented this process may end up saving the city $1.4M annually in booking costs.
We also have a Saturday walk-in warrant court to accommodate people who have jobs and can’t make it over mid-day during the week. We expect to see our jail costs reduced by about $125K from the Saturday warrant court work.
Related to warrants is a five-day “hold” on issuing a Failure to Appear warrant, giving the defendant a call and reminding them that they have an outstanding warrant that needs to be addressed. A disturbingly low 15 percent of people take the “hint” and have actually come in and cleared up their case when called through this program. We’re hopeful that with some educating, over time it’ll catch on more significantly.
The court folks have other alternative programs up and running. Their aim is to reduce cour and jail costs, and to help people hold their lives together. We are understaffed over at the court building and the employees do a ton of work daily. We’ll keep looking for ways to balance safety and the interests of defendants who may not be candidates for incarceration.
I’d add that Caroline Isaacs over at American Friends Service Committee is working hard every session for improvements to our sentencing laws at the state legislature. It’s important that effort is supported. In the meantime, Judge Riojas, Chris Hale and the rest of the staff at City Court will continue working on creative ways to help us budgetarily, while also showing our compassionate side during interactions with the public.
Getting Active In our Neighborhoods
GAIN (Getting Active In our Neighborhood), AKA neighborhood night out, is the nationwide public safety outreach effort intended to connect residents with members of law enforcement in ways that will help make our homes and neighborhoods more secure.
Last Thursday was the Tucson version of neighborhood night out. I know there were several GAIN events scattered throughout town. I had the chance to visit some of them. Of note were the events at Mission Manor Elementary School pulled together by Yolanda Herrera and at Palo Verde neighborhood pulled together by Ronni Kotwica. Both were well attended by residents and both had the support of our police.
I want to thank Operations Division Midtown for showing up and speaking to the Palo Verde folks. It’s always important to have that direct interface between the people who serve and those being served. Thanks to Capt. Sayre and Lt. Doggett for attending the event and sharing their time with the PVNA neighbors. Thanks to those neighbors for putting on the event with some food, raffle, and encouragement to each other to step up and be a part of making our neighborhoods safer places.
Yolanda had several agencies displaying their services. Those included of course TPD, but also the EPA who shared important information on water security, the UA College of Nuitrition, Our Family Services, Pima County Library, TFD, the Pima County Attorney’s Office, and I’m sure more that I just missed as I made my way around the room.
These events do not happen without the help of neighborhood volunteers and the leadership of the agencies involved. Our Ward 6 thanks go out to all who took part in GAIN, making our neighborhoods safer as a result of your work.
Tucson Police General Orders
General Orders are our internal policies that guide how TPD officers interact with the public. They include how traffic stops are conducted, protocols for contact with the public, use of force issues and a whole lot more. Each police agency has GOs. The Phoenix Police Department’s GOs came under attack by the state legislature last month in a way that could have impacted how we also do our police work.
You may recall SB1487, the law that was used to allow the state to come after our policy of destroying guns that the public wanted to have taken out of circulation. The State Supreme Court ignored all of the constitutional questions surrounding 1487 and simply decreed that we have to sell guns back into circulation. By ignoring the constitutional issues that surround 1487, they left it standing so it could be used against other cities in Arizona. That’s what happened to Phoenix and their police General Orders.
There are two times under state law that the police are mandated to check immigration status. They are:
(1) A person is under ARREST based on probable cause (adult or juvenile) (see section 4 of this order for more information).
- This means ALL persons ARRESTED regardless of lawful status in the United States (U.S.), race, color, national origin OR presumptive ID; the arrestee shall have their immigration status verified by the federal government prior to release of the arrestee.
(2) When a person is lawfully stopped/detained for a state or local crime AND only when the officer develops further reasonable suspicion the detained person is unlawfully present in the U.S. (see section 5 of this order for more information).
The legislature felt some Phoenix PD GOs violated those rules. Specifically, how interactions take place on school grounds, during traffic stops, and when officers are directed to call a supervisor before contacting ICE. So they used 1487 to compel the Attorney General to look at the policies and decide whether or not to send it to the supreme court as he did with us, placing Phoenix state shared revenues at risk. What the AG found and what the legislature ignored is that the following language is also embedded in the Phoenix PD GOs:
The Operations Order is explicit that: (I) "all immigration enforcement activities" shall be conducted "in a manner consistent with federal and state laws regulating immigration"; (2) "[t]his policy will not limit the enforcement of federal and state immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by law"; and (3) there are situations where "officers are mandated to contact the federal government [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]."
Given that, Brnovich ruled this way:
Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") § 41-194.01 , the Attorney General's Office ("Office") has investigated the City of Phoenix's ("City") Police Operations Order 4.48, as amended in July 2017 ("Operations Order"). Based on a review of relevant authorities and materials during the limited 30-day period in § 41-194.01(B), the Attmney General has determined that the Operations Order does not violate state law.
The importance of this ruling is that our own TPD General Orders related to police/citizen interaction and ICE involvment are left standing. We have many of the same GOs as Phoenix PD. That’s good.
What’s not so good though is that Brnovich never addressed the question about whether SB1487 should apply to city policies; not ordinances, but rather simple policies by which a city governs its own activities. In ruling that Phoenix PD General Orders do not violate state law, he tacitly affirmed that 1487 can be used to challenge issues well beyond formally adopted ordinances.
We’ll now wait for when yet another incursion into Home Rule comes at us from the state. Every other city and town in the state will sit watching over our shoulder for that next attack on our ability to represent the constituents who have elected us.
Bisbee Plastic Bags
That challenge to Home Rule is also now taking place in Bisbee. A legislator - not from the Bisbee area - is asking Brnovich to use 1487 to determine whether or not the Bisbee ordinance governing the sale and use of plastic bags violates state law. If he finds that it does, they’ll be off to the Arizona Supreme Court just as we were on our gun policy.
Bisbee had an issue with litter coming from plastic bags. The ones you get at the grocery store. In response, they passed a local law banning retailers from providing them at check-out. Instead, they can provide paper bags that come from recycled materials if they charge a nickel per bag. The folks in Bisbee say the result has been a cleaner looking area.
In 2016 the state passed a law that pre-empts cities from passing laws regulating plastic bags. Under pressure from the Retailers Association, they argued having inconsistent policies from one city to another was a burden on businesses. That’s the alleged state interest.
Brnovich must now decide whether or not Bisbee’s ordinance violates state law. My guess is that he’ll find that it does. Then the supreme court will have to decide on the issue. One would hope they take exception to the pre-emption law and affirm that the state does not need to tell cities what to do with plastic bags. It’s not an issue that rises to state level control. Bisbee City Attorney Britt Hanson commented, “Although the law prohibiting Bisbee from banning plastic bags declares that it is a matter of statewide concern, it doesn’t say what that concern is.” I think he’s wrong about that, but I don’t think the “concern” raised by the state is compelling and should overrule the ability of Bisbee to set their own policies.
SB1487 was signed into law by Governor Ducey. It will be a legal thorn in the side of every city and town in Arizona until the legislature overturns it. There are midterm state elections coming in 2018.
The State and Aquifers
I write often about water security issues. We’ve seen some very bad bills out of the state legislature, some of which Ducey even vetoed. One had to do with development and the need to demonstrate a 100-year water supply before subdivisions are approved. That issue is back now, but not in the form of a state law. The issue is more about how that law is going to be applied.
In Pinal County there’s a proposed subdivision development that’s facing push back from the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). ADWR is telling the developers there’s a groundwater shortage sufficient to block the planned development. At full build out, the Copper Mountain Ranch development will include 12,466 new homes, hundreds of apartments, an 18-hole golf course and shopping centers.
According to state law, a development must be able to show there’s enough water to supply their plan for 100 years. The Copper Mountain Ranch land use attorney says that’s not a problem for their development. The problem is there are other developments on the books that were proposed ahead of his client’s, and since his is downstream so to speak, the others have gobbled up all the water supply. No problem he says, just “update the modeling.”
It’s worth noting that the Copper Mountain Ranch attorney is also a member of Ducey’s water discussion group. He says “there’s plenty of water.”
I’ve written quite a bit about the Governor’s Water Augmentation Council and how the members he has placed on it do not sufficiently reflect a conservation ethic. I’ve also written about the plenary groups Ducey has formed and how they too fail to reflect conservation. Those plenary discussions are taking place largely behind closed doors.
Watch for the legislature to look for ways of rearranging the “speculative projects” that are on the books and allowing in this significantly large Copper Mountain Ranch project. Every region of the state should be concerned over preserving groundwater. Restacking the develoment deck to allow in projects like what’s being proposed for Pinal County ignores the fact of water scarcity.
We on the council, working with Tucson Water management and community water advocates have in place a three-year stored water supply and agreements with other jurisdictions in which we’re wheeling renewable supply in order to preserve our groundwater. We’re storing water for Phoenix that they’ll eventually have to buy back from us and we’re using about as much now as we did as a region in 1994, despite the increase in population. We’re doing water right. It’s troubling to watch other areas on our periphery do it wrong.
If water security is an issue you care about and would like to get involved with, a couple of local groups you might consider connecting with are the Community Water Coalition and the Watershed Management Group. Both are well-versed in the whole issue of preserving that scarce resource. In the meantime, watch for what happens in the Pinal County development process. It will be a sign of things to come from the state and the governor’s office, which will have implications for our own water future.
Historic Fourth Avenue
Note the word “historic.” Last week, Fourth Avenue was officially listed on the National Historic Register. That designation comes as a direct result of hard work invested by members of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, with specific credit going to Dan Matlick, Bruce Hungate, Lizzie Mead, Donna DiFiore and the Fourth Avenue Director Fred Ronstadt. Great work by all in achieving this honor.
The benefits that flow with the designation are some intangible and some very direct. The intangibles include simply being honored (bragging rights) to have the listing. It’s an achievement that has come through a ton of work invested by the folks I listed. But there are more measurable benefits.
One is tourism. People book trips to historic districts. The Avenue is now among those. It may also help secure some development grants. They’re currently looking for ways to fund streetscape improvements. This designation may help move that process along. Future development will now see the designation as a sign that the folks on the Avenue aren’t interested in turning the area into Mill Avenue South. The design standards will reflect the need to preserve and respect the designation. That development can occur with a 20 percent tax credit if the historicity of the building is maintained. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Trump administration threatening that tax benefit. Now the Fourth Avenue folks have that threat on their radar screen.
Recently they formed the Fourth Avenue Foundation. They’re chasing a 501(c) status as a way of funding projects that are appropriate along the Avenue. The designation will help with that work. Congratulations to all who have taken the time to work on this project. It ensures the character of Fourth Avenue will be respected as development takes place on and around the area.
Speaking of development around the Fourth Avenue area, we’ve seen a renaissance downtown in the past seven years. On November 1st, the second annual Downtown Now event will be held at the TCC hosted by Rio Nuevo and by the Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP). You’re invited.
When I was first elected, relations with Rio and the city were strained. We were coming out of the recession and development was slow. Now we’ve got over $500M in private sector development finished in the downtown area. Relations with Rio are a partnership. The DTP is an active partner in all we do in the downtown core as well.
The event on the 1st is a celebration of those successes. You’ll hear from the people who have invested in Tucson, those who took risks and have seen them pay off, and those of us who have worked the public policy side and are committed to continuing that work in the years ahead.
If you’d like to go and be a part of the event, check out www.downtownnowtucson.com. There will be door prizes, food, and a great message.
Another event you may want to begin planning on is the fall Cyclovia. It’s coming on Sunday, October 29th. The route will take you down 12th Avenue from Julian Wash to Mission Manor. The total trip is just less than four miles. It’s not a race and there are hundreds of activities planned along that short route.
Here’s the route map:
You can learn how to register and what’s planned for the day by checking their website at www.cycloviatucson.org.
Finally, this little guy is now a member of the Tucson Zoo at Reid Park family. City zoo staff, working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has secured a temporary visit of some red pandas while their permanent home in Utah is finished. The couple is expected to be here from November until about next March.
The little guys are endangered. Respecting the need to ensure they’re adjusted to the new habitat, no firm date has been set yet for opening the exhibit. They won’t arrive at the same time, so there will be some adjusting on the fly once they’re here and getting settled in.
Red pandas are not related to the giant pandas (the black and white guys you see in the press from time to time). The red ones are native to China, India and the Nepal region. Between 90 and 95 percent of their diet is bamboo. Rather bland, but they make up for it with some very tasty insects and bird eggs.
These types of zoo exchanges are one of the benefits of being an accredited zoo. Maintaining that accreditation is a part of how the Prop 202/203 money will be used. If that matters to you, you should consider voting yes on those ballot questions.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment