Topics in this issue...
- Maynards to the Moon
- Be Kind
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- Water Security
- Integrated Pest Management Policy
- Urban Wildlife Meeting
- Recycling 101 Meeting
- Prop 407 Meeting
- Infill Incentive District Meeting
- Local Tucson
- E-Bike Rides
- Events & Entertainment
I was out jogging on the Loop (several times) last week. On Monday, I ran past a lady who was wearing a 200 level Meet Me at Maynards t-shirt. The next day I passed a relative newcomer at the event who was wearing the generic MMM shirt. As you can see in the picture below, my bride and I are relative newcomers to the event. Even so, we had some great conversation during our four-mile walk.
Try it next Monday. Meet at the Depot and share in our nice moderate evening temps with a few hundred like-minded folks and count the miles towards our Moon Walk.
Sign up at www.meetmeatmaynards.com.
Many thanks to those of you who came out on Sunday to take in the Garden District Porch Fest, despite the challenging weather. The organizers put in a ton of work and the hosts were great to work with. My hosts (Caroline and Manny Rondeau) couldn’t have been nicer, and the walkers and bikers who came by to hear the music all combined to make it a fun community-building event. If your neighborhood hasn’t done a Porch Fest, I recommend it as a way of bringing people together.
I meet with city staffers on a regular basis. The issues we deal with are all over the map. The meetings are often, well, problem-solving. Last Thursday, Ann and I shared an hour with city workers from Economic Initiatives, Pension, Parks, Water, Planning and I.T. The purpose was just to have an open dialogue on how we all benefit from the use of data in our decision-making. The group was engaging and it was great to be able to step away from an issue-focused meeting and have that informal conversation. Thanks to Johanna Hernandez for pulling it all together.
Megan is a young lady I pass while out running from time to time. Her puppy’s name is Mona. Both are always willing to interrupt their walk to let me say hi and spend some petting time with the pooch. Mona is getting on in years. She and her mom are always a bright spot in my early morning runs.
In Miami last week, a 65-year-old guy and his 62-year-old wife were found shot to death. It was a murder-suicide domestic violence incident. It took place in the parking lot of a shopping center.
A four-year-old boy ran up to the front desk at the hotel he and his mother were staying at and announced that a man had just shot and killed his mom. She was 23. She was killed in a DV incident by the 30-year-old guy she had been dating. The shooter turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
A 63-year-old woman was arrested after she shot and killed her significant other. In this case, the arrest happened before she committed the suicide part of this very common occurrence. What’s common? A fatality when a gun is included in a domestic violence situation.
Family members from all three of these incidents are left to pick up the pieces and try to figure out how their loved ones could have ended relationships in such violent and permanent ways.
With those shootings as a prelude, this is a reminder that DV awareness month for 2018 has begun.
As the month unfolds, I’ll, of course, give contact information for Emerge and offer suggestions they provide on how to see the signs of domestic abuse. I’m going to start the month with a story meant to show how widespread sexual violence is worldwide. It’s in Tucson. It’s all over the place.
This is Nadia Murad. She is the current co-Nobel Peace Prize honoree, along with Congolese Doctor Denis Mukwege. He has treated thousands of sexual violence victims, largely in his homeland. She was captured by ISIS in Iraq and sold into sex slavery. She is lucky to have escaped to tell her story.
The issue of domestic violence is a serious matter that covers the gamut from the kinds of things Nadia experienced, to the shooting death that all too often takes place when guns are added to a tense domestic situation, to controlling behaviors that remove a person’s identity and independence. It’s a continuum and Emerge is working hard to educate the public on it.
Here’s their theme this month (and beyond):
This month the focus is on gathering support for victims. There are some basic steps Emerge asks you to consider:
- Have resources available. Program the Emerge hotline into your phone. It’s 795.4266.
- Show concern for your friend/loved one’s safety. DV is not a victimless crime.
- Show you trust what they’re telling you.
- Let them know that being a victim is not their fault.
- Don’t try to force a decision relative to seeking treatment for them – let them make their own decisions.
- Do not confront the abuser. That can backfire into more abusive behavior.
- Be ready to ask for help. You’re likely not trained in addressing domestic abuse. Emerge is. Call them. They’re ready to step in and offer support.
There was a lot of activity in the media last week on the PFC issue. As an update, I’m going to break it down into national activity, movement in our private legal action, and the local angle. First, the national.
Since I first brought this issue forward, I’ve been in contact with the chief counsel of the New York State Association of Counties. They’re involved with product liability litigation too. We keep each other up to speed on how things are progressing at each end of the country. His name is Steve Acquario.
There are multiple jurisdictions on the east coast having issues with PFOS and PFOA, same as us. That has prompted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to form a New York Drinking Water Quality Council. They’re reviewing new science on PFCs with the eventual goal of issuing updated guidelines on what levels should be considered safe in our drinking water. The 12-member council has been working on that since late in 2017. That’s about the same time I learned of the contamination out by DM.
At the time they were formed, that council was supposed to come up with recommendations by their one-year anniversary. That came and went in September. In lieu of receiving that report, Governor Cuomo instead announced a $200 million statewide grant funding initiative aimed at providing filtration systems and infrastructure to help the communities affected by the chemicals back there. He tired of waiting on the feds and the EPA to come clean with new data and his own council is still massaging the issue. This is a quote from Cuomo I took from an article Acquario shared with me: “While the federal government fails to set national standards and guidelines for safe drinking water, New York is prepared to take action in the absence of federal leadership. This funding will ensure communities have the technology and support they need to provide their residents with quality drinking water, creating a safer, healthier New York for all.”
I say good for him for acting. I share his frustration waiting on the bureaucracy as well as with the ideological differences in how this EPA is being run versus what I believe it should be doing to provide resources in support of public health. That’s across the board for this EPA, but in particular, their failure to address current science and PFC levels.
That brings me to the status of our litigation. I was in touch with all of the attorneys involved in our proposed lawsuit last week in order to get a sense as to timing. Tucson Water is assisting Napoli (law firm) in gathering data. That data will help frame the basis of our litigation when it begins. The data will include the levels of contamination we’re seeing, locations of that contamination, the trend lines of the contamination, costs we’re absorbing to test and shut down wells, loss of water capacity, and treatment actions we’re taking. This will be costly to the manufacturers when we finally settle, as it should be. I expect a statement about the state of our litigation very soon, perhaps this week.
All of that’s great, but what about the water coming out of your tap right now? A city staffer asked me last week if it was responsible for me to have brought this issue into the sunlight if the levels of contamination we’re seeing are below the health advisory standards the EPA now has in place. Fair question. Yes, it was the responsible thing to do for a few reasons.
First, the levels of PFC contamination I brought forward are those we know exist out by Davis Monthan Air Base. The EPA health standard is 70 parts per trillion (ppt). At the base, we’ve tested and found levels in excess of 3,200 ppt in one of the wells we shut down and 133 ppt in another of the wells we’ve shut down. We are not serving that water and never have. Nevertheless, seeing that level of contamination and hearing that we were simply working with the Air Force to figure out a way forward didn’t leave me believing others were operating with a great sense of urgency to bring this to closure. So yes, given those data, it would have been irresponsible to sit on the information.
The second reason I didn’t wait is that we may be facing a statute of limitations on bringing suit against the product manufacturers. That’s a debatable legal issue, but one we should avoid and not allow to cloud our clear right to assert harm. I didn’t want us to sit and watch our meter run out on the ability to even bring a suit.
I stated above that we were not serving that tainted water to the public, but our Tucson Airport Remediation Plant (TARP) is serving water that has some PFC in it. That water is what formed the basis for the media reports last week. It needs context.
The EPA health advisory level for PFCs is 70 ppt. The levels we are seeing in our testing out at the TARP are about 30 and below. We have a self-imposed safety standard of even less than that: 18 ppt. Our Tucson Water folks came to that number by responding to the toxicology study the EPA tried to quash last summer. In it, they recommend a health standard of 1 8ppt, not the 70 the current administration is hanging its hat on. We have a policy in place that is far superior to what the feds allow.
The news report some of the local media ran with stated that we’re serving contaminated water to thousands of residents. It’s the 30 ppt level the media is reacting to. It’s tough to find a report coming from any of the media that explains that’s half of the federal level and that our internal policy is half of even the 30 ppt level. While that would be an accurate and responsible story, it wouldn’t be a headline grabber.
We continue to test multiple wells all throughout the valley for PFCs. If we find production wells that send water into the system with PFCs measuring above 70 ppt, we take them offline and disconnect them from the system. If they’re between 18 ppt and 70 ppt, we take them offline and physically lock them out. They could be activated if a water supply emergency occurred, but when we test at a level between our self-imposed safety standard and the feds’ level, we lock out the well and don’t serve the water. If we detect PFCs below 18 ppt, the well is taken offline, but our system operations staff could run it if needed. That requires notification from our water director.
That set of policies is in place at the same time we’re gathering data necessary to initiate our lawsuit against the manufacturers. That’ll be 3M and others. It is costing us money to test and monitor wells and to treat the water we’re finding that contains PFCs. We’re losing pumping capacity every time we shut down a contaminated well and it will cost millions of dollars to put the treatment plants into operation that we need to get our arms around the extent of the issue. All of that is the reason I moved this into a public conversation. You have a right to know that we’re acting on multiple fronts. You have a right to know we’re serving water to a limited area of the city that is far below the federal standards. You have a right to know we’re not waiting on the feds to step in and assist with the costs for cleaning up the mess. That would require them designating a formal Maximum Contamination Level as a first step. They haven’t given any indication that’s coming any time soon. That’s why the product manufacturer lawsuit is so key.
Tucson Water has a website up and running they’re using to give daily updates on our testing and other PFC-related issues. You can access that site through this link.
By way of summary, I’ll share this FAQ sheet TW put out last week in order to keep you informed about the actions we’re taking on this issue. Here’s that fact sheet:
That’s the national, legal and local angle on the PFC issue. Governor Cuomo is acting. I certainly do not expect anything similar from Ducey, but Tucson is acting. I’ll write more on this as our litigation and local testing moves forward.
For about two years, the Landscape Advisory Committee has been working on an integrated pest management policy. They had approached me about the possibility of the city banning the use of certain pesticides. I suggested at the time they focus on a set of policies by which we minimize our use of pesticides and our first choice is to use other strategies for managing weeds and bugs. They’ve now completed a draft of such a policy.
The group Toxin-Free Pima County approached me a few weeks ago. Their goal was very much along the lines I had asked the LAC to study. That is, an approach to how we address unwanted guests in our parks and other public spaces without resorting first to pesticides. It’s about promoting healthy lifestyles, protecting our water supply and leading by example in adopting toxin-free policies related to pest management. I asked Paul Durham to join in the work and together we’re bringing the issue to the October 23 study session.
This pyramid comes from the LAC draft policy. It shows how they’re recommending we prioritize approaches to pest management. The proposal is to apply across departments, not just parks, not just streets or environmental services. We need an integrated, citywide policy so we’re all using the same means and methods.
The base of the pyramid shows the first choice to managing pests includes plant and site selection. Then we move to physical approaches such as using insect traps, tilling and pruning. Biological approaches such as relying on predators come next, followed by non-toxic chemicals. Finally, pesticides are a last resort in cases where there is an immediate need to remove a pest condition.
We’ll have representatives from Toxin-Free Pima County at the study session to share their insights. The City of Irvine, California has an extensive IPM policy in place that I’ve asked to serve as one of the templates we consider in our discussion. The LAC draft is, of course, the other significant part of the conversation.
While organic options won’t solve all of our pest problems, moving more heavily in that direction, as well as the other approaches suggested in the pyramid will be important first steps towards getting us away from the use of harmful pesticides. Both Paul and I are looking forward to engaging our colleagues and staff on this important environmental challenge.
When I suggest the use of “predators” in the pest management policy, I’m not implying we stock our neighborhoods with urban wildlife that is also a threat to walkers, joggers, puppies, and kids. Though, we do have a current issue in several neighborhoods with critters like these:
I see them regularly in my neighborhood and based on recent reports, some contacts are becoming aggressive in nature or just too close for comfort.
On Tuesday, October 16, I’m hosting a meeting at which we’ll have representatives from Game & Fish, Pima Animal Care, and the UA here to talk to residents about how to co-exist with urban wildlife. What you will not hear is a recommendation that you start carrying a loaded gun around with you. You might hear about whistles, not putting a pumpkin on your front porch, and other tips to keep a nice distance between you and them.
We’ll open at 5:30 pm with Locana de Souza. She’s an urban wildlife specialist for G&F. Then Jenn Verdolin will speak. She’s an Asst. Professor of Practice in the UA Natural Resources and Environment Department. Finally, Stephanie Stryker is the Cat Programs Coordinator out at PACC. Each will bring a unique perspective to what we’re seeing and how we should manage it. There will be a Q&A time after the presentations.
The meeting will be in our community room here at the W6 office. Please come and participate if you’ve got urban wildlife in your area causing concerns. I suspect the Southwest Gas work in my neighborhood alleys is disrupting some of the habitat. The critters are around us and many of them are just now making themselves more present.
Here are some tips for you to consider ahead of the meeting:
- For javelina and dogs, remember that javelina can’t see worth beans and coyotes are their natural predators. So if they smell your pup, they’ll naturally think it’s a coyote and will go into defensive mode. That may be retreating, clacking their teeth or charging. Consider keeping your dog on a short leash while out walking, pick up your small dog and walk in the opposite direction if you see a javelina. You can also make noise – a whistle, clapping hands, etc. The goal is to scare them away.
- For coyotes and pets, realize that coyotes are predators and small animals may be a target. Game & Fish recommends the same noise-making tactics used for javelina if you see coyotes while out walking your dog. A secure enclosure is important too if they’re left unattended at your house.
Come and join us on the 16th. It should be an interesting conversation.
Get your calendar out. I have a couple more meetings to let you know about. Each is important and each covers a very different topic. This one is about our recycling program.
In the recent past, there have been a series of media reports on recycling. They’ve covered the do’s and don’ts of recycling, stories on how China is refusing certain recyclable materials, and how that has caused a backlog even here in Tucson. Some of what you are putting in your blue bins to be recycled is right now stacking up waiting for a home.
Don’t let the stuff stack up in your home waiting for the market to clear. Come on Wednesday, October 24 to our community room and hear from our Environmental Services people about what you can, should, and cannot place in the bins. They’ll be prepared to share the economics we’re right now facing in our recycling program, and let you know ways you can be a part of helping those metrics, but also continuing to play a socially responsible role in recycling.
The meeting will run from 5:30 until 7 pm. It’ll be show-and-tell. We’ll have garbage here to look at and talk about. Sound fun? Then come.
One more meeting for you to book. This one is coming next Monday, October 15. It’s also here in the Ward 6 community room. The topic this time is the Parks + Connections Bond.
Coming on the November ballot will be a $225 million question for you on whether or not to agree on locking in property tax levels and using our decreasing debt service to sell bonds with which we’ll fund parks improvements. In addition, the money will go to upgrades to things like sidewalks, ADA amenities, and some of our greenways that connect people to parks and to places.
City staff will make the presentation. It will not be a sales pitch; it can’t be. We cannot use the ward office or this newsletter to advocate for or against ballot measures. Nevertheless, it will be informational. Even down to the details of what’s planned for a specific park in your neighborhood.
The meeting will run from 6 pm until 7:30 pm. It’ll be a presentation, with Q&A intermingled throughout. You can also learn about Prop 407 by visiting www.tucsonaz.gov/parksbond. There’s no reason to come up to the November election and be wondering what this item is about. It should be an easy box to check, on one side or the other.
Okay, we all use parks and sidewalks, we recycle, and we see urban wildlife. Those meeting themes are universal in scope. On Thursday, October 11, I’m hosting a meeting on an item that’s a bit more limited in appeal. It’s a review of what staff has heard from various stakeholders related to tweaks we may want to consider when revisiting our Infill Incentive District policies. We’ll do something to the policy before the end of January or it simply goes away.
Staff has been out meeting with a variety of subgroups. Those have included the 4th Avenue Merchants, 4th Avenue Coalition, neighborhood groups within the IID boundaries, developers, members of TRRG, and the IID Study Group who reviewed the existing policy. In those meetings, staff has gathered lots of input. This item will be on the October 24 Planning Commission study session agenda, with the expectation it’ll appear on their December 5 agenda in the form of a public hearing. I suggested to staff that we should hold this meeting, invite all who have participated in their current outreach along with any others who may not have had the chance to take part, and share the current list of input. One final airing before the material is finalized for the Planning Commission to consider.
The meeting will run from 5:30 until 6:30 in our community room. If you are impacted by the IID, this will be an important chance for you to hear about changes being considered and share your own thoughts. If things go as planned, this will be back in front of M&C at one of our two January meetings.
Speaking of the Planning Commission, their resumption of the Benedictine study session takes place this Wednesday, the 10th at 6 pm. When they last met on this item, the PC continued their discussion of the development. They requested the parties (developer and neighbors) go back and try to come to an agreement on some areas related to how the site will be developed and to determine how those might appear in the neighborhood and area plans that will be amended to accommodate the new development.
Over the past month, I’ve hosted the groups on three occasions. We’ve met for in excess of five hours, talking about issues ranging from the number of units new development will allow, parking, landscaping, uses of the monastery post-development, and preservation. This Wednesday I expect the Planning Commission will see a couple of letters coming from the groups laying out their respective perspectives on progress we’ve made. What the commission hears will be responsive to what they asked.
On Wednesday, the Planning Commission has one job. That is to schedule a public hearing on this issue.
They’ll have the information they requested in hand. I’ll share it in next week’s newsletter once the groups have had a chance to offer it publicly to the PC. Any more delays in moving this process along places the agreements made in jeopardy. What the vast majority of us agree on is that we don’t want to see the site turn into a dorm. The process needs to advance or that may indeed be what the development team defaults to. A dorm is allowed by current city zoning and would come with zero public participation.
I’ve loaded you down with some policy-related events. How about a couple that are just for fun and to support local Tucson groups. Get ready to book Friday evening the 12th and Saturday morning the 13th for some family-friendly events that will also go to support community partners.
On Friday, October 12, it’s time again for Zoocson.
We’ll be voting on a new management agreement with the Zoological Society this week. The deal points give the society management responsibilities for the zoo. A part of that is fundraising to support operations and maintenance beyond what the one-tenth cent sales tax is intended to cover. Zoocson is the headliner fundraiser event for the society for the year.
The event begins at 6 pm, with a formal program starting at 8. In between times you can visit animal encounter booths, check out over 20 local restaurant offerings, listen to music and just do what people do at the zoo – have a great time. You can pre-register for tickets by going online at reidparkzoo.org. They always have a full house for this event, so plan ahead on this one.
The Historic Train Depot will again host a 2nd Saturday kick-off event. This one is Saturday, October 13 beginning at 10:30 am at the Depot. They’ll have arts and crafts for the kids, rides, food, and the main event this week will be the reading of Carlos Encina’s book, The New Engine La Maquina Nueva.
The grown-up version of 2nd Saturday’s will continue into the evening. The family part starts on Saturday morning at the Depot. It’d be great to see the place full. All who attend are guaranteed to have a fun family time.
During our discussions on the new e-bike ordinance, it became clear to Durham and me that there’s some unfamiliarity with what an e-bike is and what is does. It’s an electric (battery) assisted pedaling gizmo that allows you to get started more easily than just relying on your legs, the chain and sprocket.
Paul took the lead on organizing this e-bike demonstration. I’m happy to join him on Thursday, the 11th over at the Hi Corbett parking lot. We’ll have several e-bikes on hand and you’ll be free to give them a test ride. The parking lot is right on the multi-use path, so you won’t need to ride in any car traffic, just hang on the path. That’s what we just approved. A part of our new ordinance is that you slow to 10 mph if you’re passing someone. Come on out and try an e-bike. When you do, it’ll dispel the concerns some folks have overturning our multi-use paths into moto-cross race tracks by allowing e-bikes to share that part of the road with other bikes.
The demonstration begins at 4:30. It’s of course free. Bring a helmet.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment