Topics in this Issue:
- Be Kind
- Water Security
- January 8th Memorial
- Prop 101 Progress*
- Historic VFW Building – 124 E. Broadway
- Metropolitan Education Commission School Counselor Award
- Holiday Items
- Local First
- Winterhaven Festival of Lights
- City of Tucson Services
- Events and Entertainment
Each year, Emerge Center for Domestic Abuse holds a Christmas event for their mom’s and kid’s. We are proud to host it here at Ward 6. The event is aimed at providing a Christmas giving season for families who would otherwise go without. All of the gifts are donated – the families are not out of pocket at all.
I spoke with one of the organizers of the event last week and she told me the story of one young girl who broke down in tears over being given the chance to simply give her mom some gifts. This Be Kind is for the Emerge organizing group, all of their volunteers and the people who donate to that organization so events such as this are possible.
Helen Spitzer deserves a 72-year belated Be Kind. Back in 1943, she was a prisoner in Auschwitz. She worked her way to a favored prisoner status, and at the age of 25 befriended and began a sort of ‘affair’ with another prisoner – he was 17 year old David Wisnia. They conducted their ‘business’ hidden up amid some piles of prisoner clothing. Eventually they both made it out of Auschwitz with the commitment to someday find one another.
Things developed such that they both married, started families and eventually, totally independently of one another ended up in New York. Through David’s persistence they finally re-connected. This is a photograph of the two of them when he found her.
David shared the full story with his kids and wife. The Be Kind for Helen is that back in Auschwitz, she had altered the ‘relocation orders’ for David 5 times, each time preventing him from being sent to a death camp. He didn’t know until their reuniting in 2015.
This Thursday, Ray Flores from the Charro restaurant group will be teaming up with the leadership at John B. Wright School and adding some holiday cheer. Many of the families who have kids at JB Wright are lower income, many refugees, and many who would otherwise be challenged to find the resources to provide the kind of holiday cheer Ray and his group are offering. The Be Kind is for Ray reaching out to me and simply asking how he could invest some good will into the Garden District area.
Neighbors and Principal Deanna worked with Ray to pull this event together. Starting at 2:45 on Thursday, Elves will be handing out gift bags, food and other treats to the students. JB Wright has over 500 students who will be served by this event. If you can help with donations, or help with the event, contact Ray directly at email@example.com, or call him at 520-907-1329. John B. Wright was my stomping grounds back when I first moved to Tucson. It is great to see Deanna and her staff working with Ray to bring some holiday good will to the students and their families.
We are having some wonderful weather – good enough that I hope you are out walking/biking/jogging – getting around and enjoying Tucson and the Sonoran Desert. This is a rather generic Be Kind, reflecting on the casual and common exchanges I have with people while just out and about. The folks who want to offer a ‘policy suggestion’, those who want to share a little about themselves, people out walking their dogs and who have a moment to stop and introduce them to me; generally, people in Tucson who are out enjoying their daily life and who carve out 30 seconds to be friendly. We have lots of them (you) around town. As we near the holidays, and people have a tendency to shift gears and get in a hurry, and stressed, keep in mind the really important things and relationships that really should be our moderating influences. Take a moment to Be Kind to someone, a stranger you’re passing while out on your own wanderings.
I focus much of my treatment of the firefighting foam we’re finding in our water supply on how the Air Force and Air National Guard have used it. Logical – we have their bases in Tucson, but I’ve also said we should be pursuing litigation against the DOD generally. That is because use of the PFAS-laden foam (AFFF – Aqueous Film Forming Foam) has been used throughout the defense department and that has been true for decades, polluting water systems around the country.
Read this excerpt:
Note that they admit a couple of things. First, that the Navy was regularly discharging the foam into ports where their ships were docked, and second, that they had no ethical problem taking some of it ashore and putting it into sewer systems in the cities near their bases. The date “1981” is cited as a target for stopping the harbor releases, and instead just dumping the stuff into our sewage systems. They did not achieve that goal.
I pulled that excerpt from this study – conducted by the Navy itself:
This is not a new issue for the DOD. In fact, the Navy actually patented AFFF back in 1966 and continued working with 3M and DuPont on its production. As I noted last week, products that explicitly contain the fluorinated compounds were written into the specs for military foam. Even if a non-fluorinated product was developed (3F, for example, which is used all over the world, except for the DOD,) our military insisted on products containing toxic PFAS materials.
This is a photo taken in 2010 – showing that the Navy did not make their goal of eliminating releases of AFFF into our waterways:
I pulled it from a 2018 article written by Sharon Lerner for The Intercept. Not only is the DOD continuing to contaminate water systems with this stuff, their own personnel has been exposed to it for decades.
Does the DOD know about non-fluorinated foams such as 3F? This is a portion I took from one of their own 2015 slide presentations in which they were trying to figure out ‘courses of action’ to get rid of their AFFF:
It is not “MilSpec-approved” because it does not contain PFCs. As for the ‘problems meeting spec’, they’re referring to tests in which the 3F foams took 9 seconds longer than AFFF to put out a fire. Refer back to last week’s newsletter for a full description on who’s using the non-polluting foams.
The concluding section of that same 2015 study had these goals:
Going on 5 years ago, the Air Force had over 2 million gallons of AFFF. They had a goal of transitioning to a “better’ product in 5-6 years. Now Congress is considering a Defense Bill that gives them another 5 years. This is a portion of a PFAS update from our D.C. team I received over the weekend. It speaks to provisions contained in the Defense Authorization bill that’s now being considered –
If it is not designated as a Hazardous Substance, it will continue to be used, and it will continue to pollute groundwater all over the Country. They’re not serious.
I always include in these reviews of AFFF and PFAS a comment assuring you that Tucson Water is not serving the DOD contaminated product to you. We serve Central Arizona Project (CAP) water to over 90% of our customers, and the rest get water that has gone through our treatment plants. This chart shows how effective that process is in removing the PFCs.
Our litigation against 3M continues. It should include the military. Tucson Water ratepayers should not be forced to fund the clean up of the mess they have been aware of, and have continued creating for literally decades. Their own internal documents – many of which I share in these newsletters – affirms that as fact.
Earlier this year we received word that the Pima County Attorney’s Office was considering recommending probation for the guy who killed Genna Ayup. The Justice for Genna support group went and had posters and banners like this produced:
Shortly after that banner campaign began, the family was told that probation was not being pursued. The original manslaughter charge was going to be presented at trial, and prison time was the goal. I think you will find the family, and others believing that when the trial finally resumes next spring. Perhaps giving new meaning to the phrase ‘hope springs eternal’.
Other jurisdictions do not seem to struggle holding people who mishandle weapons to account. Last week in Florida, a dad was arrested and held without bail on charges of child neglect and felony weapons charges. It seems that over the weekend he had 4 young kids, including his 9 year old daughter, out in the woods by their house and he let them ‘play’ with 4 firearms. To add to the stupidity, he left them unsupervised while he went and checked on one of his hog traps. I am not making this up. One of the kids accidentally shot his daughter. Rather than call 911, the guy transported his little girl to the hospital across town himself. Oh, did I mention that in 2011 he had been convicted of firing a gun, the bullet went through a wall and killed a teenage girl? She was 13. I am guessing the Brevard County Attorney is not going to pursue probation.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch last week, stuffed into the Star was a glossy ad selling a limited edition Pima County Rifle. Buyers are assured that this is a really special gun because ‘only 25 numbered rifles will be made.’ It is a .30-.30 lever action rifle with a bunch of etchings on the stock intended to make it Pima County’s very own. Images celebrating the Gadsden Purchase, the Mexican-American War, and a carving in the stock that says “Wild West”. Indeed.
Our gun culture continues to kill. You likely saw the mass shooting with yet another anti-semitic undertone that took place last week in New Jersey. Six people were murdered at 3 different crime scenes. Congress is inert on this topic. The Pima County Board of Supervisors will not require background checks at the gun shows held out on their fairgrounds. Richard Elias may pursue that early next year, but really? Under their rules, the guy who is now sitting in the Florida jail could buy a gun for cash out at their gun show, no questions asked. That is the standard of public safety the Supervisors are defending.
We at Ward 6 continue to hope that Justice will prevail for Genna. It is really not a complicated case. None of the multiple victims should have had to wait 8 years for a result.
Do you still have your Together We Thrive t-shirt? People see me on the Loop regularly wearing it. It still brings back the very stark message of that day when we lost community members in our 2nd mass shooting. Pima County does not need to create our own community rifle.
Plans have been finalized for the 9th annual bell ringing commemorating that day. Please carve out time on Wednesday, January 8th at 10am to share in remembering. The bell ringing will take place at the site of the Memorial – the plaza that doesn’t separate, but connects, the City and County administration buildings. It is a construction zone right now, but the place will be a safe space for all who gather on the 8th to celebrate the lives lost, and to commit to standing strong in support of common sense gun control laws.
The construction is due to be completed for the 10th anniversary, January 8th, 2021. Hard to believe it will have been a decade.
I intentionally placed an asterisk on the section title – we are moving right along with the promised investments into police, fire and roads, but along the way ran into what is causing a bit of a detour. The remodel of Fire Station 11, over on the 4000 block of E. Timrod ended up putting us out of compliance with our own Code requirements that govern the amount of a lot your building can cover. You are allowed to take up 60% of a lot. With the changes we are making to the building, it came in at 68%. When asked, I said that we should hold ourselves to the same procedures we hold everyone else to, so we are headed to the Board of Adjustment requesting a variance.
One of the added challenges to the Station 11 remodel is that in ’18 they had a pretty significant fire. Ya, I know. That is not supposed to happen at a fire station, but it did; and since that time, the place has been uninhabitable. Thanks to the Doubletree for helping us out in the interim.
This isn’t a real great piece of eye candy, but I’m sharing it to show you how we’re upgrading the place.
Right now, the fire fighters are having to hang their gear inside the apparatus bay area. They also work out there. That places them at increased risk for exposure to carcinogens. The crosshatched areas on the diagram are a fitness area, and a decontamination space for their turnout gear. Adding those areas, which simply puts us into compliance with National Fire Protection standards, is what pushed the building footprint over the 60% limit. I know many of you have experienced the Board of Adjustment in one way or another. Now, it is our turn.
Ahead of that, we will be holding a January 6th neighborhood meeting to share the plans, and to respond to questions about the project. Then the Board hearing takes place on February 26th. That will slow things down a bit, but following our own rules is the right thing to do.
Prop 101 is continuing to deliver the public safety and streets improvements that you were promised. The way we are handling Station 11 shows that we are not meeting those goals by cutting corners.
More commonly known these days as the former Access Tucson building, 124 E. Broadway was historically the home of VFW Post 549. Since this shot was taken in 1965, the space inside has had several occupants. Each one has respected the exterior façade, even while changing what went on inside. On Tuesday, we’ll be considering a purchase offer for the building – one condition of which is that the same homage to the VFW history be preserved.
Over the course of the past few years, we have had a few different offers on the building. In each case, the offer was contingent on the prospect coming in, doing an assessment of the infrastructure and other physical needs of the space, and then deducting from the original offer an estimate of the costs associated with just bringing it up to code and functionality. In each case, we decided to sit and be patient. That patience seems to have paid off.
The offer we will be considering on Tuesday is for the buyer to take the building ‘as-is.’ The purchase price is $1.5M. That is equal to, or in excess, of our most recent appraisal on the building. In order to prevent the buyer from just sitting on it and leaving it vacant for an extended period of time, if he has not invested at least $1M in upgrades in the next 30 months, we will have the option to refund him ½ of the original purchase price and take the building back. That pretty much ensures we will soon see some activity at the site.
Even without those financial hooks, there is another reason we expect to see some rapid development. The buyer, Ross Rulney, also owns the Julian Drew block – which is essentially the back yard of the VFW building.
By purchasing 124 Broadway, Ross will now have an opportunity to assemble nearly the whole block and realize some nice economies of scale in the full build out. He will tell you that he is nervous. I think he is pretty comfortable with making a very good investment into the continued revitalization of the downtown core.
The vote’s Tuesday. For my money (actually, for Ross’ money) I think it is a good deal for the City.
Last week, following the rather heated and pointed discussion we had at our M&C meeting, staff met with the Bird and Razor representatives, along with 4th Avenue Merchants Association staff. The goal was to put temporary protocols into place so scooters were not wreaking havoc on the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. One outcome was to geofence the Street Fair boundaries. That was intended to cause the motor on the scooter to shut off when it entered that area, and riders would need to leave the ‘fenced’ area in order to end their ride. That ‘leave the area’ is exactly what the surrounding neighborhoods were concerned with. They potentially become the collateral damage. In this case, it is likely that the companies just reduced the number they had in circulation for the weekend so nobody knew the difference.
The reality is that the M&C and City put this program into place before having the infrastructure or policies ready to control it. A part of the meeting on 4th Ave. last week was also to look for dedicated parking areas. Spin already does it up in Phoenix. They give money off the next ride if the person parks in an allowed location. Of course, that leaves the enforcement effort for riders who don’t care, but we’re not even making this level of effort with our program.
The challenge is identifying on-street locations that will not reduce the amount of on-street parking that is available. Nobody on M&C was present for the meeting I hosted with staff and 4th Avenue merchants where it was made very clear that there is no appetite for losing parking on the Avenue. If there are remnant locations that could work, we should explore that. We should have explored it before allowing the program to start.
Here is another impact the current M&C program is having on neighborhoods. This is clutter in people’s front yards created by the ‘chargers’ taking scooters home to recharge them. Without even addressing the use of electricity to do the charging, this is a mess in our midtown neighborhoods that other council members do not hear about.
In the alternative, the companies could do their own gathering and recharging, using a more suitable process such as this, again being used by Spin up in Phoenix.
Better yet – docking stations that have charging capability built in. This is one that is being used on the west coast, also by Spin.
Solarize the charging capability and there is then a legitimate environmental argument.
If it is good enough for Tugo, it should be good enough for scooters:
Another reality is that we do not have protected bike lanes – one clear result is scooters being ridden on our narrow downtown sidewalks. The City does not have the infrastructure in place for these things – but M&C seem to want them, so mandating messaging such as this should be a part of any contract:
Yup, Spin already does it for Phoenix. They suspend accounts for violators. We could help by adding something like what San Diego is doing as an educational tool:
In our case, we should deputize Park Tucson agents and the security guys who work for the Downtown Merchants Association to help enforce. TPD should not be asked to take this on.
We entered this program just hoping people would do here what they have not done anywhere else these things were allowed without proper controls.
The City is evaluating the existing program, and there is a survey you can take to express your thoughts. Use this link: http://bit.ly/TucsonScooterSurvey. Input will help guide the final decisions on the status of the program. Anyone who knows much about me knows I am hardly anti-multi-mode for getting around; but I’d hope that even people who got into this effort 100% supportive would concede that as it now exists, the program is not working. I will withhold judgment until I see exactly what accommodations the companies are willing to make to relieve the impacts it is having on midtown. You have until the end of February – assuming the program lasts that long – to submit your survey contribution.
The MEC is getting ready for this year’s Crystal Apple Award ceremony. This year it will be held at the newly remodeled TCC. We are happy to have them as guests.
Crystal Apple is MEC’s way of honoring counselors who serve in the school system. The State underfunds the role of counselor, and just as is true of teachers, our counselors take on duties that go above and beyond. The Commission is looking for nominations who exemplify that ethic.
To be eligible, the nominee needs to be an accredited K-12 school counselor in Pima County. Either individuals or groups can nominate someone. Your nomination must be in by Friday, February 7th in order to be considered. You have to submit using this form:
I am sure if you email Ed Nossem at the email address shown on the form, he can send you one. If you’d like to learn more about MEC, or this award, check out their website at www.metedu.org/crystal.
I will close with a few holiday-related items. The first has to do with your pooch.
Even though your dog will eat pretty much anything he can get ahold of, some foods can be dangerous for him. Around holiday time, please do not toss bits of chocolate to Fido as a way of spreading your holiday cheer. He will be cheery while it is going down, but may get very sick as a result.
My granddog and I have an understanding around this. Well, I understand it – he just has to live with it. While he is visiting, I get the chocolate and he has to sit and watch me eat it. If your pooch accidentally gets to some of your chocolate treats, call your vet immediately, or contact pet poison control at 800-222-1222.
Next holiday item, the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, is this week’s local Tucson item. The teams have been selected for the 5th Annual event. It will be held in Arizona Stadium with a 2:30pm kickoff on New Year’s Eve.
The teams are selected from the Mountain West Conference, and the Sunbelt Conference. This year both of them come to Tucson with 7-5 records – Wyoming vs. Georgia State. Come out and enjoy the game. In 3 of the previous 4 Nova games the final score was within a touchdown, so even if you don’t have a home-town favorite on the field, the competition is entertaining.
Most importantly is that supporting this game also supports their efforts to give back in the community. In 2017, the event became a partner of the College Football Playoff funding of teachers. They’ve provided $50,000 in grant money for Tucson teachers. So the game is one thing – the economic impact on our City is one thing – the most important thing is the support for our local teachers.
Get game information and order tickets at www.novaarizonabowl.com.
Yes, that’s a train in the background headed for that group. It is the Holiday Express Family Fun event coming to the Historic Depot this Saturday. It will run from 10am until 3pm. As you can see, Santa will be making a stop at the event. The picture you see above is one your group can pose for with Santa to have taken.
There will be holiday music, arts and crafts, the gift store, and opportunities to write Santa a letter in the North Pole. They leave it up to you to explain to your kids why you need to write the letter when Santa is hanging around the Depot posing for pictures.
The Depot is located at 400 N. Toole. These are all free events. Nova Home Loans is one of the sponsors helping with this event, too. For more information look on www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org.
If you live here, you already know about the Winterhaven light show. If you have guests, or are a guest yourself, remember to make plans to visit. It is a walking event, but there are hayride wagon, pedal-powered and bus trolley options.
The festival is open every evening from now through Sunday, December 29th (my anniversary). So that the people who live in Winterhaven can comfortably get home from work and stash their cars, the event runs from 6pm until 10pm each night. There are food trucks with snacks and hot chocolate, and you’ll likely hear caroling and storytelling as you walk through the neighborhood. Admission is free, but they ask you to bring a donation for the Community Food Bank to help support our less fortunate neighbors during the holidays.
The Festival web site is http://bit.ly/2yPjW1n. Just Google Winterhaven Festival of lights and you’ll find plenty of options. Thanks to TEP for their title sponsorship of this community event.
Finally, start planning for disposal of your Christmas tree. It should not end up curbside, nor in our landfill. For the 23rd year, Tucson and surrounding communities offer an opportunity to recycle your tree after you’ve enjoyed it throughout the holidays.
The program begins about the same time Santa is landing back in the North Pole. It’ll run from Thursday, December 26th through Sunday, January 12th. And beginning after January 5th, we’ll have wood chips from shredded trees out at the Los Reales landfill – excellent for gardening uses.
Here are the treecycle locations:
Tucson Rodeo Grounds on 3rd Ave
Purple Heart Park (10050 E. Rita Rd.)
Randolph Golf Course (SE corner of the parking lot)
Golf Links Sports Park (2400 S. Craycroft)
Los Reales Landfill (5300 E. Los Reales Rd.) – 6am until 5pm
Also, up in Oro Valley at Naranja Park (810 W. Naranja – but only through January 5th.)
And Tanks will offer 2 locations – 7301 E. Speedway M-F from 7am until 4pm, and Saturday from 7am until 2pm, and 5300 W. Ina M-F from 7am until 3:30pm and Saturday from 7am until 2pm.
You must remove all the lights, ornaments and glitter. Don’t leave the tree stands at the treecycle sites. All trees left will be put through a chipping machine and if you’ve got the holiday stuff still attached, somebody can get seriously injured.
To get more information on the program check out www.tucsonaz.gov/treecycle.
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.
Desert Nights Downtown Lights is five weeks of festivities in Downtown Tucson, beginning with the 25th Annual Parade of Lights & Festival on November 30. These festive activities make Downtown Tucson a must-visit destination for the holiday season, with approximately 60 illuminated buildings, over 150 street trees tightly wrapped with lights, dozens of decorated storefronts and hundreds of events, programs and specials.
December 21 @ 7:00 pm - 11:30 pm
THE BENNU @ 191 TOOLE
Blending elements of psychedelic, progressive, and electronic rock with jazz sensibilities, infectious dance beats and group improvisation, The Bennu delivers dynamic live shows that are unique with each performance. The musical tapestry is woven together with strong female lead vocals and inspired songwriting. With brilliantly accessible musicianship, The Bennu takes its audience on a journey of mystical sonic and melodic exploration.
December 22 @ 7:00 pm - 11:30 pm
BLACK HEART CHARITY SHOW @ 191 TOOLE
The 3rd Annual “Black Heart Charity Show” is here! The Black Heart Charity Show is a hip hop event thrown yearly by Eric Dupree, also known by his stage name “Ez Goin”. The event brings together some of the biggest Hiphop and R&B acts in the city to raise money for a local charity. This year the proceeds from the show will be donated to the St. Francis Homeless Shelter. Proceeds and donations will be given directly to the charity so all ticket sales and donations are appreciated. Thank you for your support of local charities and your local music scene.
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
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