Topics in this Issue:
- Be Kind
- Prop 205
- Historic Bungalows
- Crime in Midtown
- Palo Verde Neighborhood Market
- Stone Avenue Block Party
- Heat-Related Dangers
- Water Security/Environmental Working Group
- Tucson Zoo Master Plan
- Senior Olympics
- Local First
- City of Tucson Services
- Events and Entertainment
Coy Featherston was a homeless guy in Austin, Texas. That’s him walking along with a buddy – an old high school buddy.
The story is that a local news station ran a picture of Coy on the screen while doing a story on the homeless situation they are experiencing in Austin. Every City in the country deals with homelessness. One of Coy’s friends from high school saw the story and committed to finding him. So did four other of his high school pals. The Kindness resulted in the group locating Coy, offering him a place to stay and they are now helping him get back on his feet.
There are a ton of reasons that result in people losing their homes. Claire and I just left a neighborhood meeting where it was discussed. Crystal and I met a group last night and talked about the issue. With winter coming in the east and central parts of the Country, we will see an uptick in homelessness in Tucson. Contact our office if you see it in your area. The hope is that we get people to the services they need, off the street and on their feet – like Coy’s friends did for him.
Similarly, this Be Kind is for the pastor and congregation at Grace St. Paul’s for their outreach to people in need. Six days per week, they open their doors and offer a feeding program. In addition, there are services offered to all who come and participate – services intended to help the people involved restore their lives and get back on their feet. We are still taking donations for the migrant needs out at the Alitas Center, but there are programs for the less fortunate scattered throughout the City that you can help out, as well. All of us can play a role.
Also, this Be Kind is for the folks out at Pima Community College who are gathering food and supplies for PCC students and their families. I was surprised to learn that well over ½ of all PCC students are either food, or housing insecure – or both. The ARC and PCC Foundation are reaching out to help address the needs that exist.
One of their events is coming on Friday, November 22nd. On that day, they’re giving students who sign up Thanksgiving food boxes. Your donations of the usual sorts of things (potatoes, instant gravy packets, pie crusts, pumpkin pie filling, roasting pans, canned veggies…) will help them serve up to 150 students and their families. There are several ways you can get the goodies to their food pantry – call them at 206.6736, or email PCC-ARCPantry@pima.edu and they will walk you through the options.
In addition to this Thanksgiving effort, the ARC donates over 1,200 pounds of food and 150 hygiene and household items to PCC students every month of the year. So this donation work is not just for November. If supporting public education is on your to-do list, supporting PCC students and their families is one way to do that.
If you’d like to ask about the ARC and PCC Foundation, contact Rachel Lord (the staff advisor for the program) at email@example.com.
The lawsuit filed by the Pro-205 folks against me, Police Chief Magnus, City Manager Ortega, and City Attorney Rankin was dismissed by the Court last week. Coming to that conclusion was pretty easy for the judge – as he noted, the Plaintiffs had not provided any evidence that supported their claims. They were also unable to state specifically what they wanted him to do. A week before the election, and after over 60,000 ballots had already been cast, what meaning in effect would an “injunction” have?
Our side claimed the lawsuit was a public relations stunt intended to gain some attention the day the ballots were sent out. Based on that, and to send the message that filing a frivolous lawsuit was not going to go without some cost, the City is asking for attorney’s fees to be paid by the Plaintiffs. The judge will rule on that this week.
In January, City Attorney Rankin sent out a memo that identified on pretty much a line-by-line basis what his legal view of Prop 205 was. He described the terms of 205, and what the consequences of adopting them would be. In October, he, along with City Manager Ortega and Police Chief Magnus sent out a jointly prepared FAQ memo on 205. When asked at the hearing what the difference between the two was, the Plaintiffs had to concede that they were substantially the same information. That begged the question why they hadn’t filed an ‘electioneering’ suit back in January, and not as ballots were being sent out. The day after the October memo went out, I passed it along to my constituents. My cover letter read like this:
I had written about Prop 205 in multiple newsletters over the summer. Yet, it wasn’t until after I sent out the staff FAQ memo that the suit was filed. The judge tossed out the case.
Here’s what’s most important – whether 205 passes, or is voted down, we have got to come together as a community and continue the work we’ve been doing on behalf of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants generally after the election. This has been divisive – it seems to be how policy issues go these days. That’s not healthy. Many of the same people who are supporting 205 are the same ones I’ve worked with at the monastery, and with refugees for the past 4 years. We will need to continue working together after the election. If we don’t find a way to do that, it’s the vulnerable population we’re trying to help that will suffer.
I continue receiving input from many of you about the impacts the escooters are having, largely, and predictably around the 4th Avenue corridor and surrounding neighborhoods. Frustration grows about the companies’ inability/reluctance to enforce violations in the time frame outlined in our agreement with them. Frustration continues to grow over the predictable reality that it’s citizens and business owners who are having to police the clutter – and watch it go largely unaddressed. One woman wrote, “I saw 8 scooters (combination from both companies) at the SW corner at Euclid and University completely covering the sidewalk area from several directions.” Virtually none of the riders are wearing helmets. I have seen several people scooting along riding double. I join many of you in having seen people scooting on sidewalks. The photos of the clutter continue coming in. Here is just a sampling from this past week:
Here, there’s barely enough room for the dog – not nearly enough for a wheelchair. To be legal, the scooter is supposed to be parked over to the right of the turquoise line.
This is typical of the pictures – and what people are seeing outside their homes and businesses around downtown. The people seeing it are the ones being tasked with calling to get them cleared up – with little or no success.
This one is at Congress and Scott – pedestrians had to walk in the street to get around it.
Ironhorse neighborhood – and outside of one of our small local businesses. A very nice addition to our historic landscape. Shirley and I predicted all of this, not based on some great foresight, but based on the experience other Cities had with these things.
Last week I had a ‘dumb and dumber’ photo. This one is singularly dumb. I see this and simply have to wonder what, if anything the rider was thinking when leaving the scooter in this position. The companies do not have on-site staff going around and self-policing. That has been left up to citizens by the M&C members and staff who supported this program.
In this shot, I suppose one option for the driver would be to flatten the scooter, but that would probably cause damage to the underside of the car. In other Cities, this is the sort of stupidity that has resulted in citizens tossing scooters into lakes – or landfills.
Here are 3 pictures of people riding on our downtown sidewalks. It is not just downtown – I had a couple of guys scoot past me on Speedway, near Country Club on the sidewalk one night while walking home.
In the first shot, it’s clear the riders are entering the street without stopping to check for cars, pedestrians or bikes.
Our ordinance requires the rider be at least 18 years of age. This little guy can barely see over the handlebar as he scoots along the sidewalk.
These two made it past the on-coming car, but just barely.
One common theme in all of those sidewalk photos – not a single one of the riders is wearing a helmet. That’s legal according to our Ordinance.
Per our Ordinance, we are supposed to be collecting fines and impounding scooters when staff has to go out and remedy misparked scooters after the 2-hour window we allow the companies. I asked how much we have collected so far, and how many we have impounded. The answer is zero and none.
Once again, here is the contact information for Bird and Razor. Good luck.
Also, let TDOT know at TDOTConcerns@tucsonaz.gov.
There is some positive transportation-related news. The unfortunate Broadway widening project is now seeing some of the place-making touches the Citizen’s Task Force was calling for throughout their multi-year effort to skinny down the project. The work is being handled by Project for Public Spaces and Rio Nuevo. First up – moving the historic bungalows on Broadway to make way for utility relocations. Then they will be slid back into position in order to create a residential scale commercial node.
What is being called the ‘Bungalow Block’ is bordered on the west end by Cherry. As a part of integrating pedestrian and bicycle-friendly design, Rio is asking to have ½ block at Cherry and Broadway vacated – to allow for the design to incorporate elements attractive to walkers and bikers. This image shows what is being discussed:
Our Real Estate staff is circulating the image around to City departments for review. As we put our Mobility Master Plan into place, it is these kinds of design elements that will make the policies it will contain stand out as being more than simply status quo.
While this is just an architectural rendering, it is one possible design showing what the Bungalow Block may soon look like:
The Complete Streets Coordinating Committee had their first meeting last week. They are going to be working with our technical design staff to put a manual containing design elements into place. Five years ago, when many of us were standing on Broadway in protest of the 8 lane, 150’ widening project that was being proposed, these are the kinds of creative initiatives we had in mind. Even though Broadway is taking out too much of the existing built environment to make room for traffic that does not exist, even so, we are making progress.
During the past couple of months, I have hosted a series of meetings in several different neighborhoods in which TPD came and heard from residents about their concerns related to crime in their specific neighborhood. The information is often very similar, especially when neighborhoods are close to one another in proximity. They share issues – sometimes they share the criminals. These are important meetings, for both TPD, and for residents. Information is shared in both directions. Contact information is shared. With that, crime may be prevented and our mutual quality of life improved.
The Alvernon-Grant Initiative is a grouping of 4 neighborhoods that surround the Alvernon/Grant intersection. They were formed over a decade ago in an effort to jointly clean up what was then a meth problem in the area. They were largely successful in that, and have continued meeting. Their monthly meetings include residents from the neighborhoods, TPD and businesses from around the area. The meetings are an on-going way for the kinds of conversations I have been hosting with you and TPD; but AGI happens on an recurring and regular basis. We are going to expand on the AGI model in other parts of midtown.
In the past week I have sent out emails to the leadership from 6 different neighborhoods – 3 each, grouped together. The hope is that they can find residents who are willing to invest a night per month representing the concerns of neighbors in AGI-like meetings, but meetings speaking to criminal behavior they are seeing in their own geographic region. TPD is on-board. I join them in seeing these get-togethers as ways for them to gain from hearing what you are seeing. It builds on Chief Magnus’ community policing model.
Here are a few points of information that come out at virtually every neighborhood meeting we host on this issue. First, do not hesitate in calling 911 if you see things that just do not look right. TPD will respond based on a priority system. That means the suspicious guy you see walking through the neighborhood isn’t necessarily going to generate a ‘lights and sirens’ response, but you will have given TPD information for your area that they may not have already known. They use call data in establishing deployment strategies. So, call.
If you call 911, you may request contact by an officer. It will happen in accordance with the priority load, but if you ask for it, you’ll get contacted. If you are concerned with retribution from someone who you may be reporting, the contact you receive can be over the phone. Just let the 911 call-taker know what form of response you would like. You are not taking away from true emergencies by calling to report suspicious behavior, or the loss of personal property. It is data TPD needs to more effectively analyze crime trends and locations.
You may also call your nearby TPD substation. Midtown’s number is 791.4253. They are open 8am-10pm, 7 days per week. If they are busy, your call will roll over to another substation – someone will take the call. If you happen to call when everyone at all substations is busy, leave a voice message and you will get a response.
This is quality of life stuff. I am grateful that we have a police department that is so willing to set aside time to engage residents directly. I look forward to building on the successful AGI model and expand it to other midtown groups of neighborhoods.
Reminder – coming on Saturday the 16th is the PV “Market” sale – a multi-vendor yard sale that’ll be held in the Emmanuel Church parking lot. They do this every year, inviting vendors to come and share everything from plants to crafts to home grown food. The event will run from 7am until noon.
If you have items you’d like to offer, you can sign up for a vendor booth by either emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call 551.8132 and they’ll give you all of the information. You will need to bring your own table for displaying the goodies you have to offer.
A portion of the proceeds goes to support work the PVNA Board and residents believe is important to fund in the neighborhood. It has been used for streetscape improvements in and around water harvesting basins, for example. It’s just one way of partnering with the City in providing these important amenities to midtown.
After the Palo Verde Market sale, you can go home, rest a little and then head over to the Stone Avenue Block Party. It’s the annual multi-ethnic event whose theme is simply inclusiveness as we celebrate our diversity.
The event is held outside the Jewish History Museum on the 500 block of S. Stone. The event is co-sponsored by several of our downtown partners, headlined by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Jewish Federation. Stop by, beginning at 7pm and support this statement about who we are in Tucson.
Last month, one of my colleagues on the Council brought forward a proposal that we adopt a local Ordinance that forces construction workers to begin their workdays later in the morning than is now allowed. We are in the process of forming a working group to look at the idea. I have asked – and have given suggestions for participants – that we ensure we are including contractors and sub-contractor representatives in that discussion.
A recent lawsuit in Nebraska of all places makes clear the dangers of heat exposure when performing heavy labor. This Release was sent out last week:
That’s Nebraska. I don’t need to tell you the dangers rise considerably when working in hot temps here in Tucson.
I represent multiple midtown neighborhoods. There is occasional residential construction happening. If you are experiencing some inconvenience due to work happening nearby, let us know and we will try to help out; however, I don’t believe forcing heavy labor back deeper into the heat of the day is a wise change we should be adopting by Code or Ordinance.
I meet with our D.C. legislative liaison team from time to time throughout the year. The meetings are an opportunity for them to share what they see on the D.C. landscape, and for me to share some of my legislative priorities with them. During my meeting last week with our D.C. team, I told them that by far my #1 priority going into the next fiscal year is moving forward with our PFC litigation and getting a handle on containment, clean-up, and funding treatment plants and M&O of the treatment facilities.
Our litigation is aimed at PFOS and PFOA – the two primary chemicals tied to the firefighting foam that is the source of the bulk of our contamination. It’s that foam DM has admitted in writing to having hosed into the soil, or dumped down the sewer system. Over 400 military bases nationwide have now stopped using that product due to the same contamination issues that we are experiencing. In a phone call I had with a colleague who’s similarly concerned with this issue – but in a different jurisdiction – he affirmed that the problem is a ‘billion dollar problem.’
During my meeting with the D.C. group they confirmed what I’ve written about in previous newsletters; that is, there are several bills making their way through Congress that speak to the PFC/water contamination issue. The ones that matter for us most immediately are captured in the Defense Reauthorization bills – as they said, “DOD is where the money is.”
While we are looking at two of the PFC class of chemicals, there is a whole family of them out there, none of which has a Maximum Contamination Level (MCL) tied to it. That’s the legal level the EPA has to assign in order to kick start Superfund cleanup money. I’ve told our D.C. team, representatives from the Sanders campaign and others that the most immediate bit of help we could get is for the EPA to assign an MCL so we can get some financial help in the testing, treating, and containment work we’re funding through Tucson Water. It is a mess at the federal level – we are footing the bill – we’re suing the product manufacturers to get them to do their part in paying for the problem.
The Environmental Working Group is one advocacy agency I have had contact with. The EWG is following the PFC issue nationwide. They acknowledge that PFOA has been the subject of regulatory scrutiny for decades. Right now the EPA has an “advisory” level of 70 parts per trillion for PFAS. (I know, all the acronyms – they are chemicals all in the PFC class.) EWG stated this in one of the papers I’ve read: “The more we learn about PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS chemicals, the more concerns mount about their health effects. When we consider studies of human exposure to PFAS, the safe exposure level decreases to 1 ppt in water, or lower.” That is ‘1 part per trillion’ for the whole class of PFC chemicals. The EPA isn’t close to that benchmark.
The judge in our litigation heard from scientists a few weeks ago, people who were educating him on the characteristics and toxicology behind PFC’s. One key piece of information the judge needs to know is that PFOS and PFOA (the chemicals we know is in some of our water wells) travel through the system. The stuff doesn’t just dissolve. The reason having a strict level is so important is to assure downstream users don’t end up suffering contamination that simply migrated to a new location. One of my huge concerns is that the DM contamination is upstream from our central well field in midtown. The feds, DOD, Air Guard, Tucson International and product manufacturers need to step up and contain that plume, clean our wells, drill new ones and build treatment plants now, before the problem becomes systemic.
So what is the DOD level of concern? There is some money in the defense spending bill. They are doing some testing alongside Tucson Water staff. The State of Vermont has an emergency groundwater standard of 20 ppt for the combination of PFOA, PFOS and 2 other PFC chemicals. New Jersey has a 10 ppt level for PFOA and 10 ppt for PFOS. In Tucson, we take wells out of circulation when we have combined levels of 18 ppt. The Pentagon? They have chosen a level of 380 ppt for either of the chemicals. That is even 5x higher than the very questionable EPA level. Those are the politics driving the issue of contamination in our national water system.
I am joining EWG in taking a conservative approach to setting levels for chemicals we allow into our drinking water. Here is their own standard:
If you are a letter writer, let our federal delegation know that water contamination remediation dollars are tied up in their political tug-of-war. The EPA is a continuing roadblock to freeing up money outside of that federal budgetary process. This needs to be their immediate focus. Meanwhile, we will continue with our lawsuit – touching every possible base to compel the people responsible to step up and fix the problems they have caused.
…take a breath – something fun to share on the heels of the water issue. Tucson Parks and Rec. along with our partners at the Tucson Zoological Society are hosting an open house next week to share details on the future of Reid Park, with an emphasis on the zoo master plan. It’s all a part of building on the 1/10 cent sales tax the voters approved to fund that important work, as well as the Proposition 407 money that will go in support of parks and connectivity amenities.
The Open House will be held on Tuesday, November 12th from 5:30pm until 7:30pm. Both Parks staff and representatives from the Zoological Society will be on site to walk you through the plans, and to answer your questions. The Prop 407 work will include upgrades to the DeMeester Amphitheater, the walking path, playground and more. You can view the entire zoo master plan at this link: Zoo’s Master Plan
The meeting will be held in the Copper Room at the Randolph Golf Complex – 602 S. Alvernon. It’s some of the fun stuff the City and our TZS partners bring to the community. It would be great if you could stop by and look over what’s coming.
While I have the zoo on my mind, you really don’t have to wait until the holiday’s to do this – that’s my excuse for including something that’s arguably a Christmas item so early in the season – but the promotion at the Zoo is starting now, so I want to let you know about it early. The short message is that they have a zoo full of critters looking to be ‘adopted.’
Here is the list of animals you can adopt.
For the record, if you adopt the cockroaches, we need to have you examined by a specialist – although I might get a couple for my daughter, just for fun.
Now through November 30th, you get a $20 discount on any adoption level. Here are their various adoption options:
Our Tucson Zoo is an accredited facility that is involved with international conservation work. For me, that’s their biggest claim to fame. They are also involved with lots of local education programs – we’ve had them at the Ward office for the Ambassador program where they brought out critters for a presentation to Girl Scout troops.
Lots of animals to bring into your ‘family.’ I promise I won’t adopt all of the cockroaches for my kid – if that’s how you roll, knock yourself out. They have plenty of them.
If you’re 50 years old, or older, now’s the time for you to register for this year’s Senior Olympics. I would argue (unsuccessfully to my staff) that 50 is far too young to be called a ‘senior’ but that’s the rule, so if you’re a 51 year old youngster, you can join, too.
The events include tennis, running, basketball shooting, and some more sedentary ‘sports’ such as bridge. This link will get you to the entire festival guide: tucsonaz.gov/parks/senior-olympic-festival .
Tucson Parks and Rec is co-sponsoring the events along with Humana. It is our 36th year bringing the events to Tucson. The opening ceremonies will be held out at the Udall Park Amphitheater on Friday, January 10th, from 1pm until 3pm. Then, let the games begin.
The activities actually will have already started. They run from January 6th through the end of the month. I am going to give you a few different links:
Register - EZEEreg.com
Look through the various events w/entry fees - festival website
And to ask questions about the festival - Joe Stubbins or Debra Henley at email@example.com or 520-791-4931.
Come on out and be a part of this. It is about participating, not getting overly worked up about being competitive – although you are welcome to do that too, if you want to.
This past weekend was the Day of the Dead march through downtown Tucson. It is our annual commemoration of those we have loved and lost. I empathize with the participants – I think of my mom every single day.
This week’s Local Tucson is the Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery. Their current exhibit includes altars and ofrendas put together by friends and loved ones in memory of those who they have lost. The work includes paintings, sculpture, mixed media and photography. I believe you’ll be touched by the works on display.
Raices is located at 218 E. 6th Street. This exhibit will run until November 16th. Call them at 881.5335 to get days/times the gallery will be open. As is true of many of our local non-profit art galleries, they rely on donations to support the work they do.
Council Member, Ward 6
Follow this link for contact information you might need from time to time to access all sorts of City services. You’ll find Environmental Services, Tucson Water, how to report graffiti, some Tucson Codes, and a bunch more. You are completely still welcome to contact us directly at the Ward office if you’d like some help navigating the system, but there will be times you just want to make a call on your own.
Thursday, Nov 7, 7:30 PM
Cheech & Chong at The Fox Theatre,17 W Congress St, Tucson, AZ
This hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture duo first met in the late 1960’s and soon after began performing stand-up shows, released many successful comedy record albums, and starred in their first feature film “Up In Smoke” (1978) that eventually warranted two sequels. Richard “Cheech” Marin is an actor, director, writer, and Grammy Award winning comedian Tommy Chong is known best for his invaluable contribution to American counter-culture through his musical contributions. After parting in the mid 80’s the duo reunited in the early 90’s and have continued to prove themselves as entertainment gold for nearly 40 years! They continue even in 2019 to establish their iconic presence in comedy and music for their Cheech & Chong Tour.
Thursday, Nov 7 – Sun, Nov 10
Borderland Film Festival - Festival de Cine de los Nogales, http://www.borderlandfilmfest.com/
The Borderland Film Festival, formerly known as the Santa Cruz County International Film Festival, is held every autumn in Ambos Nogales (Arizona and Sonora) and Santa Cruz County. The festival celebrates the scenery of the San Rafael Valley and other beautiful locales in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, and Northern Sonora, Mexico, that have, since 1913, provided picturesque vistas for more than 130 films and television shows, including "Oklahoma!" and "Traffic." It also celebrates the history, people, culture, art and areas of fascination that are unique to this portion of the world. Check festival website for schedule.
Saturday, Nov 9, 2 PM – Sunday, Nov 10, 10 PM
DUSK Music Festival 2019 | Armory Park, 222 S. 5th, Tucson, AZ
Following up an incredible 2018 festival in its new home at Armory Park, DUSK will again feature a diverse lineup of local, regional and national artists, the best food Tucson has to offer, craft beer and cocktail options, backyard games, an arcade, city-wide art installations, Before and After DUSK concerts and many more new traditions.
DUSK is an all ages event. Gates open at 2:00 PM each and the festival closes at 11:00 pm on Saturday, the 9th and 10:00 pm on Sunday, the 10th. There will be NO RE-ENTRY for this event.
Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd | www.statemuseum.arizona.edu
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org
Friends of Himmel Park, 1000 N Tucson Blvd | https://samhughes.org/friends-of-himmel-park.php
Weekly Saturday and Sunday mornings, weed-pull from 8 to 10 AM.
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Historic Fourth Avenue, See Facebook page for weekly events: https://www.facebook.com/events/2343613065903248/
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.com
Meet Me at Maynards, 311 E Congress St | www.MeetMeatMaynards.com
A social walk/run through the Downtown area. Every Monday, rain or shine, holidays too! Check-in begins at 5:15 pm.
Mission Garden, 946 W Mission Ln | www.missiongarden.org
A living agricultural museum and ethnobotanical garden at the site of Tucson's Birthplace (the foot of "A-Mountain"). For guided tours call 520-955-5200
Raices Taller 222, 218 E. 6th St | Fridays and Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm | www.raicestaller222.com
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | tucsonmuseumofart.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. | www.watershedmg.org
Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org