Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- Bump Stocks
- National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence
- SB1487 & Bisbee Plastic Bags
- Two City Items
- Prop 204 & City Spending Limit
- Honors College
- Local First: Crooked Tooth Brewery
- Peter Howell Hoops
- Literacy Connects
- Events & Entertainment
Tucson Be Kind
This is for all of the nurses in the delivery wing at TMC. I know who does the bulk of the heavy lifting in hospitals. You touch the patients with a compassionate spirit. Thanks for your work this past week in my family’s case and throughout the year.
That’s grandson number two Blaise at about two hours old. I was suggesting to him some options for what we’d do later in the afternoon. None panned out as the new mother had other plans.
This Be Kind item needs to be anonymous for now, but it shows the heart of Tucsonans. A lady approached me asking if she could use her skill set to tutor migrant kids housed in shelters here in Tucson. She worked in education for 25 years and is now working with doctoral students in the field. I felt her offer to volunteer her time with that vulnerable population was certainly worthy of two things: my help trying to plug her in and this Be Kind mention. Keep this in mind as you read about Literacy Connects later in the newsletter.
You know about the multiple hurricanes Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico experienced. We’ve collected donations at the Ward 6 office in support. Now a large mass appeal is available through www.oneamericaappeal.org.
Last week, all five living former presidents got together and kicked off the campaign. They began working on Hurricane Harvey (Houston area) but have now expanded their reach to both Irma and Maria (Florida and Puerto Rico). It’s worth noting that the U.S. Virgin Islands also took a beating with Maria and they are also included in this appeal.
If you make a donation, there are specific relief organizations who will receive your contributions. In Texas it’s the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund for Houston and the Rebuild Texas Fund for work in other areas around the state. In Florida, the money goes to the Florida Disaster Fund. That is the state’s official private fund for helping with recovery work. In the Caribbean, the donations will be shared between Unidos Por Puerto Rico and the Fund for the Virgin Islands. All of the funds collected go into a special account at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation. That ensures all of it goes to hurricane recovery. It’s all tax deductible – unless Trump and congress change that part of the tax code.
Two 23-year-old students who attended Grambling State in Grambling, Louisiana were found shot to death last week. Evidence shows there was gunfire between two dorms at around midnight. Now two young guys are lost.
In Weyauwega, Wisconsin last week, a 53-year-old guy shot and killed his 32-year-old wife while she was driving her car. He then turned his gun on himself and took his own life too. Murder-suicide is very common in domestic violence situations.
In Alexandria, Virginia, a 17-year-old girl was shot and killed by her 19-year-old ex-boyfriend. There was a 15-year-old boy who was also shot during the incident. He’s in critical, but stable condition. The 19-year-old also took his own life. That’s two DV murder-suicides in this week’s half-staff section.
This is the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I’m going to use it to talk to the guys out there. In both of the murder-suicide examples above, the guy was the shooter. That’s much more common than the other way around.
Domestic violence is not a “women’s issue.” Although the victims are generally women, “it takes two.” Men therefore have an active role to play in prevention, whether that’s as the abuser or as someone who’s in a position of taking action to intervene. There are plenty of ways that can occur without having to be directly on a scene when an abusive incident is taking place.
Emerge! teaches how to engage the root causes of DV. Sometimes that’s simply taking the experiences shared with you by a victim seriously. But it’s also how we socialize our youngsters. Teaching healthy social skills and calling out abusive behavior is preventative action. Remember, an abusive relationship doesn’t have to be in a husband and wife situation. It can be between friends or in a workplace setting where there’s a power of authority dynamic. Family, friends, colleagues – it’s all of the above.
So how can you make a difference? Whether in your home, workplace, school or peer group, here are some ways Emerge! says you can help end domestic abuse:
- Speaking up against domestic abuse
- Learning about the dynamics of abuse
- Recognizing destructive social norms
- Being willing to change your own behavior
- Being a support to anyone experiencing abuse
Go to the Emerge! website and see the many tools they offer. You find them at www.emergecenter.org.
Don’t forget the partnership this week between Emerge! and Gun Violence Prevention Arizona. On Friday the GVPA folks were at Ward 6 collecting supplies and sharing information on the overlap between DV and gun violence. They were here from 10 a.m. until noon, but we joined in collecting supplies all day. At the end of the day GVPA delivered everything to the Emerge! collection site at 122 N. Craycroft (Rincon Congregational Church).
We also want to thank Two Men and A Truck for helping with this donation event. Note the involvement of men in addressing this issue. We at the Ward 6 office hope you can play a role too. We’ll continue gathering donations for another week and make sure they get to Emerge!.
- Gift Cards - grocery stores, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Amazon, etc.
- NEW Bath & Hygiene Items: shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion, deodorant, razors, tampons/pads, hair brushes
- NEW Undergarments (all sizes): socks & underwear for women, boys & girls, sports bras
- Misc. NEW Items: umbrella strollers, flip flops (all sizes), pillows
Giffords is the new name of the former Americans for Responsible Solutions. That was Mark and Gabby’s non-profit formed to fight for common sense gun legislation. They have the same end goal, but with a new label. Here’s their brief mission statement:
Giffords is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Giffords inspires the courage of people from all walks of life to make America safer.
We just adopted a resolution to encourage some sanity on bump stocks and similar devices. These “accelators” are marketed to shooters who want to convert their semi-automatic weapons into ones that fire rapid, continuous rounds. The Vegas killer had a dozen of them outfitted with bump stocks. He could fire up to 500 bullets per minute. They’re currently legal in most states because the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms believes that simply because they don’t have a physical mechanism like a spring that causes the rapid fire, they must be fine. They’re not.
The BATF, congress and the state right now are focused on how the gun is fired, not how rapidly the bullets are discharged. Our resolution calls for a change in that thinking. We’d have preferred to ban them locally, but the city attorney rendered a legal opinion that made it clear we’d lose on a preemption basis if we tried doing that. So we did the next best thing. We told the state to either ban them themselves or overturn the statute that prevents us from doing so.
Two primary reasons we cannot move ahead with gun safety laws on a local level. One is ARS 13.3108. It’s the state preemption law that’s so vast it covers guns, ammunition, and accessories (bump stocks). We are subject to fines and court costs under that law. In addition, SB1487 is the overly-broad and likely unconstitutional bill that gives a single legislator the ability to require the Arizona Attorney General to look at a local ordinance or policy and determine whether or not it violates state law. The question being answered isn’t whether the state should have authority on the topic, but if there is in fact a law on the books that alleges that authority. ARS 13.3108 is the catch-all for gun laws and until that’s off the books, we’re vulnerable to a 1487 challenge. The Arizona State Supreme Court just recently dodged any questions of constitutionality related to 1487 when they effectively made us their arms dealer by ending our policy of destroying guns you brought to us to have taken out of circulation.
During our M&C conversation on banning bump stocks, I referred to the state law as being a legislative straight jacket. We cannot remove it; someone from the state level must do that. There are elections in 2018.
Our resolution had four action sections. The first one reads as follows:
SECTION 1. The Mayor and Council of the City of Tucson call on the United States Congress to exercise its authority, and to carry out its responsibilities, for the purpose of protecting and promoting the health, safety and welfare of all Americans by prohibiting the sale, transfer, purchase or possession of any firearm components and accessories that are designed and that function to accelerate the firing of any firearm or that otherwise modify an otherwise legal firearm so that it mimics a fully automatic firearm; and by prohibiting any person from using any method of manipulating an otherwise lawful firearm for the purpose of causing the firearm to discharge in the manner of a fully automatic firearm.
Pretty simple. We believe turning a gun into a weapon that can fire 500 rounds in a minute is something that should be outlawed at the federal level. Given the stranglehold the NRA has on both congress and the BATF, we aren’t holding our breath waiting for that to happen. So Section 2 of our resolution reads like this:
SECTION 2. In the absence of such action by Congress, the Mayor and Council of the City of Tucson call on the Arizona Legislature to exercise its authority, and to carry out its self-assumed responsibilities, for the purpose of protecting and promoting the health, safety and welfare of Arizonans by prohibiting the sale, transfer, purchase or possession of any firearm components and accessories that are designed and that function to accelerate the firing of any firearm or that otherwise modify an otherwise legal firearm so that it mimics a fully automatic firearm; and by prohibiting any person from using any method of manipulating an otherwise lawful firearm for the purpose of causing the firearm to discharge in the manner of a fully automatic firearm.
If the feds won’t ban them, then we call on the state legislature to do so. People say it takes courage to run a bill that would achieve some sanity in gun laws. I disagree. All it takes is being willing to stand up for what’s right. We’ll see if a majority up in Phoenix will do so.
Assuming they won’t, we added Section 3:
SECTION 3. If the Congress and/or the Legislature lack the will to enact such measures, which simply carry out the purposes of the federal legislation approved in 1986, the City urges the Arizona Legislature to restore local authority relating to firearms regulation at least to the extent that local jurisdictions can enact measures necessary to carry out the purposes of federal law, and which are enacted for the purpose of protecting their residents and visitors. Given that the City of Tucson, under compulsion by the Arizona Legislature and under the order of the Arizona Supreme Court, is now an unwilling dealer of semi-automatic firearms, the City should have the ability to enact regulations that, at the very least, would help prevent the conversion of these weapons into fully automatic machine guns, and by so doing help carry out the purposes of the federal legislation signed into law by President Reagan in 1986.
If the state is forcing us to sell semi-automatic weapons back into circulation, at the very least we should be in the position of outlawing a person’s ability to turn that gun into one that is heavily regulated by the BATF. It’s what I was hoping to achieve with our local ban, but for the legislative straight jacket we’re in.
We closed the resolution with Section 4 which pretty clearly outlines why this should really be something handled at the federal level:
SECTION 4. Even in the unlikely event of action by the Arizona Legislature, the fact remains that the prohibition of these devices can only have meaningful effect if Congress imposes the ban through legislation that applies nationwide. In the absence of action by Congress, so long as any states allow the manufacture, sale and possession of these devices, they will continue to proliferate and will make their way into every state and locality, and they will be used to modify semi-automatic firearms so that they can be used as machine guns.
At the present time there are two bills being considered at the federal level. One, S1916/H.R.3947 was introduced by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI). It does what Regina and I asked to do locally: ban the sale or purchase of bump stocks. Right now that one looks like it’s falling down party lines and therefore won’t have much of a chance.
The other is a bipartisan bill that was introduced in the House by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA). It bans devices that accelerate the rate of fire on a semi-automatic weapon, including bump stocks. The bill right now has 25 co-sponsors. It’s slow-going.
The legal opinion we got on our proposed ban was not a surprise. Keeping this issue front and center was an important end in itself. If it didn’t matter to people, I wouldn’t be seeing all the juvenile and hate-filled posts on my Facebook and in my email inbox. Their message: “Don’t touch my guns, even in a way that prevents a repeat of Vegas.”
National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence
Nothing was done for gun safety after our own January 8th shooting. Nothing was done after Columbine, San Bernardino, Orlando, Aurora, Charleston, or Vegas. Nothing was done after 20 little kids were killed in Newtown. But in the aftermath of that shooting, victims advocates formed an alliance and committed to stay active on this issue until something meaningful is implemented. The Newtown Action Alliance has formed a charitable arm called the Newtown Foundation. Together in partnership with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown Survivor Network, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Organizing for Action, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, St. Marks Episcopal Church and the Women’s March they’re hosting a national vigil to remember those lost to the epidemic of gun violence in America.
This is the 5th annual national vigil. It’s being held on Capitol Hill in D.C. on December 6th. Families and survivors – including some from Tucson – will gather with special guests, performers and likely a few congressional representatives who have the guts to stand up for safety. If you want to be a part of the event, including meetings with congressional representatives, you can register here.
The two-day trip begins on December 6th with a bus trip from Newtown to D.C. The vigil is that night. The next day is a press briefing and the visits with congressional folks. The Newtown Foundation has some stipends for immediate family members of victims and survivors. They can also help guide you to lodging. If you’re interested in attending, registration closes on November 24th.
SB1487 & Bisbee Plastic Bags
I said above that the state now has a law on the books that gives one legislator the ability to send the A.G. on a goose chase after any ordinance or policy in any jurisdiction in the state. I mentioned last week that one had done so with respect to the Bisbee plastic bag ordinance. The A.G. has now ruled on that challenge to Bisbee’s local sovereignty.
Bisbee has an ordinance in place that says this about the distribution of plastic bags:
They were having issues with litter and so took that legislative step. In response to that, and to the fact that other jurisdictions (including Tucson) were talking about similar ordinances, the state passed this law:
Pretty clear. The state took direct aim at local ordinances that govern the distribution of plastic bags (auxiliary containers). This was the predictable decision by Brnovich:
The question as to whether or not the sale of plastic bags is really something the state should have authority over is still unaddressed. They asserted authority over gun issues and nobody has been able to bring that back to local control successfully. At this time, the Bisbee folks are considering their options. If they can find a way to challenge the constitutionality of SB1487, we may be in a position to join them. Remember, even if there is a legal way to make that challenge, the court just showed their ideological hand in our gun-breaking case. They feel the state should be deciding pretty much everything, or at least those issues they select as being of “statewide” concern.
Two City Items
You all passed Prop 101 last May by an overwhelming margin. One of the reasons it passed is that we told you way ahead of the election how the money would be spent. No vague “we’ll figure it out after the election” soft commitments.
One of the ways 101 money is being invested is in new safety gear for our firefighters. Some of the first “turnouts” began arriving last week. This 60-second video shows some of our guys showing off the new equipment and expressing their thanks to you for your support. I join TFD in that gratitude. http://bit.ly/2gIHb73
… I opened the newsletter with two- hour-old Blaise. This is a shot of Ralph Martinez. He’s a heavy equipment operator who has worked for TDOT for 50 years. Ralph is flanked in the photo by his daughter and her family, along with some of our Transportation Department leadership. We’re all grateful to Ralph for his ongoing commitment to the community and to all of our workers for the service they bring to
I cannot use this newsletter to advocate in either direction for any of the ballot measures. This item is informational, intended for you to use while making your own decision on the proposed half-cent sales tax increase that would be earmarked for preschool education.
The Prop 204 tax is estimated to generate about $50M annually. It has no sunset clause, which means unless voters overturn it, it’ll always be included in our expenditure limit calculation. The new tax assessment would come to the city and become a part of our charter driven “expenditures.”
By state law, the amount of money the city can spend is controlled by a formula. Before we can exceed that amount, we have to ask the voters for permission. Right now we’re about $120M from that limit. As our sales tax revenues and our budgetary obligations such as public safety pensions increase, we’ll come closer and closer to bumping up against our spending limit. When that happens we’ll be prohibited from using the revenues we generate without voter approval. If our budget has built-in obligations, we’ll simply have to reduce spending in some other areas in order to stay under our spending cap.
Prop 204 puts $50M into our spending process. The mechanics for how it gets spent have yet to be determined. A nonprofit is supposed to be created by the M&C, bylaws established and the rules for how the money is allocated determined. The timing of all that is unclear. What is clear is that when the money is spent, it reduces the gap we now have in our legal spending authority.
There are two ways we could get that authority increased. Both require your approval. One is asking for what’s called a “Home Rule” expenditure increase. That one allows us to spend whatever we have, but that authority expires every four years and requires another vote. If a new extension is not approved, we’re back to being bound by whatever the state formula dictates. That in fact occurred a few years ago. The other vote we could place on the ballot would be a permanent increase by some specified amount. That one sets a new cap and it doesn’t expire if the voters approve.
None of this matters this year since we still have some cushion between what we are spending and what we’re allowed to spend. All of it matters thinking ahead. With an additional $50M being spent that will compete with our other budgetary responsibilities, we need to make sure the voters have that factor in mind when they vote to support or reject Prop 204 (or any of the other propositions on the ballot that affect our spending limit). Since I hadn’t seen any media coverage on this aspect of the question, I wanted to share it with you here so you’re voting with all the facts in mind.
I spoke at the North University Neighborhood Association annual meeting last Thursday evening. One of the topics was an update on where we are with respect to the UA Honors College project. One of the gentlemen in attendance said he was glad to have it going in because he’d rather live next to “honors students than a bunch of hooligans.” Aside from that being a false choice, I think he misses the point that generated the concern by his neighbors.
We voted last week to move ahead with ceding control over Fremont Avenue to the UA. That vote though was conditioned on a few things. Most basically is the UA bringing a Land Use Agreement back to us that passes legal muster. That is, we have already advised the UA that based on the Memorandum of Understanding that’s in place between the state and American Campus Communities we believe the project is subject to city zoning. Anything we voted on last week is still subject to our seeing new terms that alter our standing legal position. I expect to see that new term sheet in a few weeks.
Also included in our vote were a series of conditions of our own. These are conditions similar to what would have come out of a formal rezoning process, but in this case have been negotiated informally while we wait for the Land Use Agreement. The conditions include things such as design restrictions related to balconies, rooftop pools, requirements for solar ready construction, lighting restrictions and building to Silver LEED standards. There are also drainage and setback considerations as well as requirements related to historic reviews.
One big concern has to do with the eventual need to widen Park Avenue due to the increased traffic an additional 1,100 students will generate. In order to protect some historic assets located on the west side of Park, we included the requirement that land on the east side of Park, from about Helen down to Adams be vacated Right of Way. That way, any expansion takes place to the east, not to the west. Here’s a map that shows that commitment:
The red line shows where the ROW is being committed by the UA. It will become an important consideration down the road if the project moves forward.
During my remarks at the meeting, I told the NUNA residents – as I’ve shared with others publicly in the past – that the real issue surrounding this project is the UA’s credibility since this model could be replicated anyplace in the city. I know there are workers in UA administration who share that concern. Yet, the process moves on towards a conclusion. It was important that we get these commitments in place prior to making a decision on the final Land Use Agreement.
Crooked Tooth Brewery
On November 3rd from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., the Crooked Tooth Brewery will host an art exhibition. The proceeds will go to benefit Trees for Tucson & Tucson Clean & Beautiful. Each of those – Crooked Tooth as well as T4T and TC&B – comprise this week’s local Tucson item.
The title of the exhibit is Rooted. It’s apt considering the beneficiaries. Local musical artists the Naim Amor Trio will also be at the event. The brewery is located at 228 E. 6th Street. It’s an opportunity to go and support a small local business, local art and our environmental partners. Last week I shared about the 60 trees Trees for Tucson just helped plant at Himmel Park, along with more at McCormick Park and soon at Tahoe Park. These partnerships are part of what makes Tucson a wonderful place to live.
Peter Howell Hoops
Another very local item is the ongoing fund raiser for Peter Howell school. While Prop 458, the TUSD bond is on the ballot next month, none of that money would help fund what Peter Howell is trying to do on their own.
The school has an outdoor basketball court. It’s in terrible condition and needs a facelift. In addition to being where the kids go for some of their daily recess activities, it’s used for co-ed basketball teams during after-school activities. The Peter Howell PTO is heading up the campaign to restore the court.
If you’d like to help them with this effort, there are a couple of ways you can get involved. One is to simply make out a check to Peter Howell PTO and mail it to the school at 401 N. Irving Ave, 85711. Make sure you mark on the check that it’s for the basketball court. Alternatively, you can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so they can give you directions on how to do a PayPal donation.
One final education item. Last week, Alison and I toured the Literacy Connects facility. It’s a nonprofit you should know about, both to understand the service they’re providing to the community and possibly to find a place you might fit in and offer your help. They can always use more volunteer assistance.
If you follow this newsletter you know my staff and I are heavily involved with supporting our local refugee community. Literacy Connects has a strong outreach to that same group, helping them improve reading, writing and speaking skills. Without those, finding employment and succeeding in school is difficult. But that’s not the only group Literacy Connects helps.
Go to their website at www.literacyconnects.org and you’ll see the array of programs they offer. The group is the combination of five nonprofits, each with its own targeted area of expertise. Those include adult basic literacy, English language skills for adults, and programs aimed at introducing kids to reading. They have volunteer reading coaches who work one-on-one with students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. They have a program in which kids write their own stories and then act them out in a theater setting. They have a free book library and they partner with doctors, teachers and other professionals to get books into kids’ hands.
If you can help them with any of those skills or if you can just go and help around their facility (receiving and sorting books, helping maintain the grounds, assisting in administrative work), they’d love the help.
Contact them at their website or call 882.8006. They have an informational session you can attend to become better acquainted with their work. Registration for that is available on the website.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment