Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- Arizona Water - Sustainable Water Workgroup
- Sustainability Festival
- Residential Rehabilitation Program
- Tucson Bike Share Program
- Joyce Garland
- Joan Stauch
- Davis Monthan Report
- Local First: Sips for Seniors
- Events & Entertainment
Tucson Be Kind
Tuesday is election day. If you didn’t mail in your ballot, three Pima County Recorders Office locations will be open until 7 p.m. so you still have time to take part. This Be Kind note is for all of you who have taken your time to host candidate parties and to those of you who care enough about the city to come and listen to candidates speak and share our views. Hosting is an inconvenience and coming takes commitment. As one candidate who took part both as the recipient of the parties, and as a voter who participated in parties for other candidates, I thank you.
I hope you had a chance to stop by the Firefighter’s Chili Cook Off last Saturday at the Reid Park bandshell. This annual event is one in which the proceeds all go towards helping families in need around the Christmas holidays. Aside from the gentle competition between public safety agencies on the quality of the chili, the event highlights the extra mile our firefighters go to reach out to those most in need throughout the community. Stay tuned for updates on more ways you can get involved with their work as the fall unfolds.
On Saturday night, my bride and I attended the Hermitage Shelter & Sanctuary fundraiser event. It was great to see the many animal welfare advocates seated together, all working towards the same goal of preserving the lives of our furry friends. Each shelter depends on the work of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The partnerships that have developed in the community between these agencies and the people who support them all are deserving of a Be Kind mention.
In Thornton, Colorado, a guy who had lived alone for years in a one-bedroom apartment walked into a Walmart and shot three victims, each of whom died either at the scene or in the hospital later on that day. He calmly drove off and was arrested the following morning without further incident. When questioned by police, neighbors said the guy regularly cursed at them and was often seen leaving his home carrying a rifle. Red flags? The victims – who were apparently chosen at random – were 26, 52 and 66 years old.
Last Tuesday in Mabank, Texas, a 29-year-old mom shot and killed her 5 and 7-year-old children. She was arrested later on by police and was determined to be suicidal. The police had been called to the home earlier in the evening but were convinced by the husband and the mom that things were fine and their services were not needed.
In Jackson Park, New Jersey, police are still looking for the killer of two young women. The victims were 22 and 24 years old. Police were called to an area by residents who said they heard gunshots. As of this writing, no leads have been turned into police.
I wrote a Be Kind item above for hosts of candidate parties. At one I attended last week I met the mom of an Aurora, Colorado shooting victim. That was the movie theater incident that took 12 lives and injured another 70. She is now joined by family members and friends of the victims who will forever suffer the loss of loved ones from the incidents I’ve written about in this week’s half-staff section. No meaningful federal legislation has been passed since the Aurora shooting, nor since well before that I’d add.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there were 38,000 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2016. 11,000 of those were homicides and about two thirds were suicides. Those numbers are an increase over 2015. Did I mention that no meaningful legislation has been passed?
Arizona Water – Sustainable Water Workgroup
First I want to give Dylan Smith from the Tucson Sentinel credit for being quick and thorough on picking up the story I’m about to share. One point I consistently make at every candidate forum and house party I’ve participated in is that water security is one of the most important issues we deal with on the M&C. The Sustainable Water Workgroup (SWWg) is now formally on record with Governor Ducey and other water policy people at the state level in supporting that claim.
About a year ago I hosted a meeting at the W6 office in which representatives of several significant conservation-minded groups participated. Our mutual goal was to expand the breadth of voices who had been invited to take part in updating our state water policy. At the time a Governor’s Water Augmentation Committee (GWAC) had recently been formed. It was largely made up of industry water users, large municipalities and others who view water as a commodity to support their trade, rather than a scarce resource we should be managing as if we lived in a desert and needed to watch how we consume it.
Out of that seminal meeting, guest opinions were written and advocacy began with many around the water policy-making table. Here is a link is to one of the guest pieces called “Preserving Arizona’s remaining rivers, streams and springs.” This one appeared in the Arizona Capitol Times on September 29.
In the past month I’ve shared about Ducey moving forward on the formation of new water policy groups. The GWAC is still plodding along, but now he has added some more, largely made up of the same industry representatives. Some are meeting publicly, some are not. None include the broad array of conservation and environmentally concerned groups I met with a year ago at Ward 6.
In response to the formation of these recent groups and the continued disregard of our requests to include a more diverse array of stakeholders, the SWWg put together a formal letter and sent it off to the Governor, Tom Buschatzke (Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources), Clint Chandler (Assistant Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources), Kirk Adams (Chief of Staff for Ducey) and Hunter Moore (Natural Resources Policy Advisor for the Governor). Here’s the full text of our letter:
The Sustainable Water Workgroup (SWWg) - www.azwaterfuture.org - made up of 27 environmental and community organizations, as well as hundreds of individuals, asks that you please take into consideration some key environmental and economic factors as you move forward with developing legislation and policies that will affect the future of water in our state.
We recognize the extraordinary challenge associated with keeping the level of water in Lake Mead from triggering a shortage declaration, especially with the continued and increasing impacts of climate change. Your focus seems to be on 1) new systems of water sharing and storage, amounting to a template for water markets; 2) a new role for private capital, primarily the Walton Family Foundation as a catalyst for a larger circle of philanthropists and private-public partnerships; 3) new alliances, including selected tribes that have water and several non-governmental organizations.
We have significant reservations about the substance and process of the water conversations, particularly those that have evolved towards the possible creation of template water legislation for the upcoming state legislative session. Although there may be some positive environmental opportunities involving the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), DCP+, tribal proposals and groundwater monitoring, the lack of public participation and other conservation/environmental voices is disturbing.
Our primary concern remains the lack of transparency and authentic public participation in the aforementioned water discussions. The process by which consensus is created matters, particularly in the context of building public trust in a shared long-term vision for a sustainable water future. This lack of transparency, moreover, seems to be created in part by the new role of private capital to finance water discussions, which reduces the requirements for public involvement, documentation, and disclosure.
We are also concerned about a lack of comparative analysis and peer review. Growing numbers of countries embrace a holistic water management paradigm that places the conservation of environmental flows (water left in rivers and aquifers to maintain ecosystem health), and corollary policies, such as a reserve and a cap, at the center of management practices. The processes you are spearheading are not centered in this new paradigm.
Finally, in a time of shifting climate trends and diminishing flows in the Colorado River, there is an urgent need to honestly assess whether we can continue to primarily base our State’s economy on continuous growth in the water-intensive housing and development industries and on agricultural crops that use excessive amounts of water, such as alfalfa and cotton. Any discussion that surrounds augmenting water sources is really a discussion about how Arizona will take water from one portion of the state in order to move it to meet the growth needs of the particular stakeholders who are currently at the table - that currently does not include representation for maintaining and/or restoring environmental flows.
Given these concerns, we believe:
We need a much broader range of Arizonans to participate in the consideration and drafting of water legislation before it is released. We want to ensure that a new generation of water legislation, in keeping with best management practices, recognizes the centrality of environmental water to maintain crucial habitats and support a high quality of life for future generations.
We need a forum, also before legislation is released, that includes a much clearer summary and comparative analysis of the complex processes underway. This forum should draw on input from outside experts to help the public and policy makers understand and participate in the choices that are being made within the context of the whole range of best practices.
Legislation must recognize the connections between groundwater and surface water and provide for the collection of groundwater monitoring data, in order to provide a better accounting and understanding of how we are impacting our water resources.
Legislation should uphold environmental water as an essential component of the solution to sustainable water policy. Our 20 billion-dollar per year tourist industry depends on water for our natural ecosystems. This is currently not recognized in Arizona’s water policies. Furthermore, without healthy rivers and streams and the springs that feed them, Arizona will lose a core part of its identity, and whole economies in the rural parts of our state will be irreparably damaged if these waterways and ecosystems are not safeguarded.
As private funding assumes a significant role in crafting water policy in Arizona, the public should be informed and educated about proposed new water market strategies. Water markets promoted as water conservation tools are controversial and in the end, investors want to see a return on their investment, which raises significant concerns for the future of our rivers, streams, and springs. In short, water should not be regarded strictly as a commodity that will be sold to the highest bidder. Thus, in considering these market strategies, the public should be informed about where water markets are being implemented, under which legal and institutional parameters, and the costs/benefits of markets as a primary management tool.
Finally, we know that you understand that the state has a public trust responsibility to the people of Arizona. That means that it is imperative to ensure that our waters are sustained for all of us and for future generations. We ask that this be a key part of the consideration as you move forward.
We will follow up with this letter by calling you within the next few days to set up a time to meet and further discuss these important issues. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The steering committee of the SWWg is made up of people from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Yavapai Group Sierra Club, the Citizen’s Water Advocacy Group, the Lower San Pedro Watershed Alliance, Friends of the San Pedro River, Tucson Audubon Society, the Community Water Coalition, the Yuma Audubon Society and the Sierra Club AZ Water Sentinels group. Also signatory to the letter are people affiliated with the Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy (who is seated on the GWAC table), the Arizona Riparian Council, and other environmental groups scattered areas around the state. This was not a Tucson-centric effort.
As I noted in the opening of this section, we’re grateful to the Tucson Sentinel for picking up on the importance of our group’s effort to expand the reach of the state’s water policy work. We will be persistent. I’ll let you know when they bring a few more chairs up to the table and invite the broader discussion we’re after.
I’ll close with this thought. To exclude Southern Arizona and Tucson voices from this conversation is to exclude leaders in the field of water conservation and hydrology. To make the point, the image below shows the level of land subsidence that occurred in our region in the early 2000s. Those levels reflect drops in our water levels due to over-pumping. Land subsidence then occurs as the missing underground water creates a void.
Compare those levels to current subsidence rates as shown on this image:
While subsidence levels in the early 2000s ranged from 1mm to 7 mm annually, we now see levels of a half mm or less. Those improvements didn’t happen by accident. We have a forward-thinking water policy in Tucson; one we’ve adopted with input from many of the sources who have signed onto the SWWg letter to Ducey. He’d do well to receive and act on the input we’re offering.
On a related note, Sustainable Tucson is hosting a festival over at the YWCA (525 N. Bonita) this coming Sunday, November 12. They will cover water topics of course, but the program will included plenty of other environmentally sensitive areas.
The event will include vendors, exhibitors and people demonstrating how you can incorporate resiliency into your normal day-to-day life here in Tucson. They’ll have solar advocates showing the inner workings of solar panels and solar ovens. There will be electric vehicles, demonstrations on recycling, community gardening, and a wide range of environmental presentations geared to us regular folks.
The water component will touch on water harvesting, dry wells and some aquaponics systems. There will be plenty of food, music and even bike valet parking if you choose to come via an environmentally friendly transport mode.
The festival will run from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Visit the festival website for more specifics on what you’ll see at the event.
Residential Rehabilitation Program
Last week our Housing and Community Development staff issued two program opportunities, both related to housing rehab. They’re intended to offer both financial and technical assistance to low income homeowners who need to make upgrades to their houses. Some of the assistance is for full house rehabilitation and some is for less comprehensive home repair.
In each case the eligibility requires the house be owner-occupied and within the city limits. There are income qualifiers and the home repairs involved have to resolve some life or health-related conditions. I’ll give a brief description of each program, but for the full description you should check out the website.
The Whole House Rehab (WHR) program offers very low interest loan opportunities. Much of the loan is either deferred or forgiven, depending on loan payment history and the amount involved. The maximum amount allowed in the WHR program is $40K, with a sliding scale payment that’ll range between $30 and $200 monthly, depending on the applicant’s income. Please understand that this is for a total home rehab, not just something like replacing an air conditioner. Click here to learn the rules.
The other program is for smaller upgrades. The Home Access Program (HAP) is a grant that comes with a $5K maximum per home. It’s intended to resolve issues related to safe access, ultimately removing barriers that may exist that would otherwise prevent a person from staying in their home and living independently. It’s about reducing institutionalization for disabled persons to allow them to stay in their homes.
As with the WHR, this program is for owner-occupied homes; the applicant must live in the home that’s going to be repaired. There’s also an income eligibility component like the whole house restoration program.
The kinds of things the HAP program will fund include leaking roofs, electrical work, sewer line repairs, heaters and air conditioners, and window replacement – the sort of repair work that is under the funding limit but also applies to safety and quality of life considerations.
Click here to see the rules that apply to the Home Access Program. It’s not for aesthetic upgrades or repairs to accessory structures like a carport. Neither program applies to mobile homes.
We’re grateful to our partners at Tucson Metropolitan Ministries (TMM) and Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona (CHRPA) for their help in administering these programs. As I’ve said throughout the campaign season, ours is a city built on partnerships. These programs are a wonderful example of that.
Tucson Bike Share Program
A few weeks ago I teased the beginning of our Bike Share program. Now the work on the docking stations is underway and we’ll soon see the bikes begin to arrive. What we do have now is the logo and website announcing the program and allowing for early membership.
When the program is rolled out this month, we’ll have 36 docking stations scattered generally along the streetcar route. In total there will be 330 bikes when the program begins. There will be multiple membership options, but at its most basic, you can check out a bike and return it to a docking station within 30 minutes. There are of course plenty of options that involve longer check out times, monthly memberships, daily charges – all of that is explained on the Tugo website at https://tugobikeshare.com/.
When the site is fully up and running it will show the route map where all the docking stations are located and it will allow you to buy memberships on line. We’re grateful for the hard work invested by Ann Chanecka and the TDOT staff to get this up and running.
While I’m mentioning the hard work of city staffers, our CFO Joyce Garland was recognized last week with the Inside Tucson Business CFO of the Year Award. She is our direct point of contact when we have budget questions. Under her watch we have achieved our structurally balanced budget. In addition to that fiscal responsibility, Joyce also has our HR, Procurement, Pension, Internal Audit and I.T. functions reporting directly to her. We at the Ward 6 office thank Joyce for her hard work, and for her ever-calm demeanor.
While we honor Joyce, we say goodbye to our Parks Director Joan Stauch. She cashed in her chips last week after serving the city for 32 years. During that time Joan worked in General Services, Tucson Water and the City Manager’s Office. Most recently she was instrumental in bringing the Himmel Park 60 tree planting and irrigation upgrades across the finish line. Ward 6 will miss Joan. We’re currently finishing up what was a nationwide search for her replacement.
My favorite cop JR is also ending his “employment” with the city. He's the TPD K9 who many of you have seen around McKale athletic events. He has been a fan favorite for a decade, always friendly and happy to be petted. He’s off to a life of leisure with his forever family now and will be missed by many of us. He served a vital role. Last weekend I met his replacement, Toby. He looks a lot like JR and is equally ready to be loved on.
Davis Monthan Report
Two years ago the city joined the county and the DM50 in helping to fund a consultant to help navigate the politics of keeping DMAFB up and running. One of the necessary components of the arrangement is that we be made aware of how that money is being spent. We’re supposed to be getting monthly reports, but it appears the group managing the agreement has determined quarterly feedback is sufficient. I don’t agree with that and have let our city management know as much.
Last week I requested an update. What was provided is dated July 7th. Each month we should be sent an update without having to request one. Even if the reports are written quarterly, we should see them without having to ferret them out. That too has been shared with the folks we have managing this account.
To document the fact that we’re a party to this three-way agreement, this is the cover sheet from the July 7th report:
The county administrator sent it to the Board of Supervisors. The third point I made last week was that City Manager should be forwarding these to M&C without being prompting by me.
The title of the report is at the top of the title page: a strategy for engaging the community in preserving DM and its missions. In the July report there were 15 recommendations given by the consultant team. I’ll summarize them. If you’d like the full 66 page report, let me know and I’ll email it to you.
Some of what’s included in the July report is a rehash of what the consultants have already suggested. One example is that we take a broad view of all missions that may be appropriate for DM and not fixate on a single one as the be-all-end-all. We were told that if we place all of our eggs in one mission-basket and that mission is sent to another base, DM is placed on the chopping block. I have publicly stated that I agree with that approach.
In addition, the July report suggested we team up with sister bases and co-promote our missions as a team. The Ogden, Utah Air Logistics Complex was cited as one example. We are encouraged to foster these relationships proactively and not wait until DM is facing a closure.
The report also points to the need to continue expanding our job base locally if we are going to attract part-time air force reserve units. Air Reserve components to the base will need off-base employment. I’m committed to continuing to work on building out the Sonoran Corridor as those logistics and manufacturing jobs would be tailor-made for the reservists we may end up housing at DM. The report mentioned our role helping to recruit reservists. We can help, but the city isn’t in the lead position when it comes to recruiting for the Air Force. Our role is in expanding the job base.
The report again mentioned noise mitigation strategies such as building a second runway and taking flight paths away from residential areas. It’s important this was made a part of the consultant report. I get tired of hearing from the base advocate groups that if noise is even mentioned, it’s a topic raised as a way of shutting down the base. Here, the DM50’s own consultant – who is also a member of the DM50 I’d add – makes the point. They go on to mention the importance of clarifying land ownership around the base, which we’re doing right now with a series of intergovernmental agreements with the base, Raytheon and the county. Getting the zoning and land ownership issues resolved will help both the base and Raytheon expansion efforts.
Several of the recommendations related to continued lobbying of our federal delegation. That’s happening through our D.C. team of Bracy, Tucker, Brown and Valanzano. The S’Relli consulting team is also of value, but we have an effective team already in place through BTBV.
The report stressed proactive planning before a base realignment and closing process is initiated. We’re doing that in all of the ways mentioned in the report. We have another year left on this consulting contract. I believe it deserves a close look when it comes around again for approval. We need to make sure the value we get from it matches the investment of your money.
Sips for Seniors / Sentinel Peak Brewery
This item should make you smile just like this little guy. It’s about how we can save more senior citizen dogs and cats.
Sips for Seniors is a fundraising event being hosted by our friends over at Sentinel Peak. It’s being co-sponsored by No Kill Pima County, Sentinel Peak, A Tucson Tail and Tucson Dog Magazine. It’s timely since November is National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet month.
The Sips for Seniors event will take place next Sunday, November 12, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. over at Sentinel Peak (4746 E. Grant at Swan). During those hours one dollar from each pint of beer sold will be donated to sponsor senior dogs and cats out at PACC. They’ll also have some seniors available for adoption on the patio during the event.
When people adopt animals from PACC or any other shelter, they usually select the puppies and kittens first. This Save the Saveable event is aimed at finding forever homes for some of the older dogs and providing some funding to sponsor the adoption of a senior. A Tucson Tail has already donated $500 towards that goal. If you’d like to also contribute, you can do so at www.nokillpimacounty.org/donate/ and designate the saveable fund.
If you’d prefer to contribute by taste-testing some of the Sentinel Peak home-brewed beers, that works fine too.
We hope to see you over at the event. Given all of the local involvement, it’s this week’s Local Tucson item.
Council Member, Ward 6