Topics in this issue...
- Tucson Be Kind
- American Friends Service Committee Work
- Road Safety
- Area Plans
- PACC Foster Program
- TreeCycle Locations
- Mission Garden
- Jazz Festival
- Sporting Events in January
- Events & Entertainment
Two men died during the last week of the year, both of whom I’d consider friends and also reflect some of the highest in moral and personal character. The community lost both Jerry Kindall and Lowell Rothschild. What we did not lose are the impacts they had on innumerable lives, all of whom will continue to carry forward the standards of goodness both men represented. Many of us will miss both men greatly.
In the afterglow of the holidays, here are some Be Kind moments. In Thomaston, Maine, a lobsterman gave away 400 lbs of lobster to the needy on Christmas Eve. The guy’s only qualifier was that the family who came for the gift was in fact in need of the assistance.
Locally, La Paloma Academy students conducted a toy drive through which they accumulated over 600 gifts. They donated all of the gifts to kids staying in the Diamond Children’s Center at Banner UMC.
Big thanks to all of the volunteers who stepped up and made Tucson such a welcoming city for the thousands of visitors who arrived last week for the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. The game was the most successful of the three Nova bowls, selling in excess of 40,000 tickets. We hosted fans from all over New Mexico and Utah. It was great for the hospitality industry, restaurants and entertainment venues throughout the valley. It cannot happen without the help of people who donate their time with the goal of selling Tucson and who we are.
We can debate what has recently empowered Neo Nazis and resulted in their public reemergence, but the fact that they are feeling a newfound sense of boldness is undeniable. In Reston, Virginia last week, a mother intervened and tried to get her daughter to stop seeing a 17-year-old kid who had bragged on social media about his ties with NN groups. At around 5 a.m. on December 22, while the family had gathered to celebrate Christmas, he entered their home, shot and killed the 43-year-old mom, her 48-year-old husband. He then shot and killed himself.
I mentioned in a half-staff item last month that the survivors are victims. In this case, there is the girl who was the focus of the shooter, the family and relatives who were inside the house during the shooting, and the boy’s parents who must also be grieving the loss of their son. Lots of grief to go around in this one.
In West Palm Beach, Florida a 36-year-old mom and her 11-year-old daughter were shot and killed in their home on December 28. Another shooting incident in which a youth was killed.
Another mass shooting incident occurred in Vegas last Friday. 58 people weren’t killed so you didn’t hear about it. However, two are dead, one is in critical condition in the hospital and a fourth was shot and is still being treated with non-life-threatening injuries. A couple drove from California to Las Vegas to “help” a family member who was in an abusive relationship. The result is four shot and the two who made the trip are in jail with multiple counts pending.
(Photo Credit: REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo)
As we roll into the New Year, let’s not forget Vegas and the bump stock mass murder that occurred late last year. The bump stock is the gizmo you attach to your semi-automatic weapon to enable it to shoot hundreds of rounds with a single pull of the trigger – an automatic weapon by any other name.
Last month, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law banning bump stocks. When I tried getting a local ordinance in place last year to achieve the same result, our legal advice was that the state would sue and we’d stand to lose over $115M in our state shared revenues.
Other cities do not suffer fools of state legislators as we do. In Columbia, South Carolina, the city council successfully approved an ordinance banning any device that turns a semi-automatic into an automatic. That’s South Carolina of recent white supremacist infamy. They’re more progressive on this than the Arizona state legislature. Go figure.
I love the comment made by one of the Columbia council members: “It’s time for the good guys with guns to begin to pass some really good policy.” Yes. Our state legislature returns in a couple of weeks. I know some bills aimed at banning bump stocks and returning local decision making to local jurisdictions will be offered. If you support those issues, let them know.
Next Monday, there will be a bell ringing ceremony downtown to commemorate the January 8th Tucson mass shooting. It’s also an event to kick off the construction of the January 8th Memorial. The fundraising has gone well and now they’re ready to begin the work.
The event will take place in Presidio Park, right outside of Mayor & Council chambers. It starts at 9:30 a.m. A blessing will be offered by the Tohono O’odham nation as part of the ceremony. The weather should be great. Please stop by and support the hard work put in by the memorial committee as we get this long-awaited project started.
Last week I had a good exchange with our Midtown Lieutenant, Corey Doggett. It began with him sharing some updated ways for residents to contact TPD without having to go through the 911 system. As you may know, we’re in the midst of consolidating functions out there to add efficiencies to the system. One component of making the system work better will be to re-direct some of the calls they’re now getting to a more appropriate area. Nursewise is one option that I was unaware of until last week.
Nursewise is operated by our Regional Behavioral Health provider Cenpatico. The line they manage is for one of our Crisis Response Teams that responds to crisis calls where there are no weapons involved. Take, for instance, a call from a person who says he’s suicidal. Nursewise could get involved by sending trained clinicians who can speak directly with the caller. It may initially be a 911 call, but gets handed off to Nursewise by the dispatcher, saving TPD or TFD responders from rolling to the scene. There’s also a direct Nursewise line – 622.6000. You can skip the 911 center by calling that number directly 24/7.
If you are, or know of someone who is in a mental health crisis, this may be an option for you to consider. Our Mental Health Support Team responds where the crisis involves possible life-threatening elements (guns, knives, etc.). Nursewise can be valueable where that’s not the case.
Here’s a list of the various ways you can contact TPD, including what sorts of incidents may direct you to choose one over another.
Of course, in an emergency, call 911. If you’re in doubt, that’s always your default call. The people at the other end of the line can determine where to connect you. If you need immediate police assistance, call 911.
The midtown substation has a working number staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. If you need to file a report or have general questions, call them at 791.4253. You also have an online option for filing reports or reporting incidents that may not need immediate response, but you want made a part of the record TPD reviews when making deployment decisions. That site is https://www.tucsonaz.gov/apps/crime-reporting/. The information you leave there goes into the same database as reports filed by officers.
If you prefer to make your report in person, the midtown substation is located at 1100 S. Alvernon. It is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., same as the call line. You can drop off evidence, found property or pass along any other sort of information you feel TPD should know.
The anonymous call line is 88-CRIME. If you see or are aware of criminal activity, use that line (or www.88crime.org) to report what you know.
You are our sets of eyes and ears out in the community. I know from experience that resident information leads to arrests. I join TPD in thanking you for being a part of making Tucson a safer place in which to live.
A final public safety item…
If you follow this newsletter you’ll know I support the hard work being done by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), led locally by Caroline Isaacs. I poached a couple of milestones they reached during 2017 that deserve a mention, especially given the tough sledding we go through trying to move reasonable legislation through the state legislature.
One of the important areas they work on is reducing prison populations in Arizona. On its face, that would appear simply to be an issue of enacting sentencing reform bills. However, given that our state supports the private prison industry, there’s a built-in financial incentive that works against reductions in inmate populations. So the work Caroline and her staff are engaged in is particularly difficult in this region.
In 2017, they were able to advocate for and succeed in getting two important pieces of legislation through the legislature and signed into law. One requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to enact a series of graduated sanctions for violations committed while on community release. An example would be coming up positive for drug use. Prior to the “swift and certain” sanctions change, such a violation would automatically send the person back to prison. The data show that those situations account for 17 percent of our prison population annually. Time will tell if this change impacts the number of people entering prison, but intuitively it seems like some fraction of that 17 percent will stay on community release and continue rehabilitation outside of prison walls.
Another change is similar in intent to our Ban the Box ordinance. That ordinance removes questions about prior criminal convictions from our job applications – except for in certain types of jobs where employees would be working with vulnerable populations (kids, DV victims, etc.). The state finally passed its own Ban the Box bill last year. Add to that the change AFSC helped push through. It’s a bill that allows the state to issue provisional professional licenses to people who have felony convictions, as long as they are considered to be otherwise qualified to do the work. Prior to this, it was nearly impossible to get licensed for certain types of work, simply due to a criminal history. Opening employment doors is one way to help people avoid re-entering prison.
We’ll keep working locally through our court system to ease the jail population. AFSC will keep their work going at the state level aimed at easing the prison population. If rehabilitation and restored lives is the result, our combined efforts will have been worth the work.
I had a section in the Year in Review newsletter last week in which I mentioned an upcoming revisit to our distracted driving local ordinance. Right now, we have a ban on the use of hand-held electronic devices while you’re driving your car. However, it’s a secondary offense, meaning you must be pulled over for a reason other than use of the phone in order to be cited for it. I’ve believed since we adopted that ordinance last year that it should be a primary offense. We’ll have that discussion again during our study session on January 9.
In advance of that, it’s important to look back at the data related to Tucson roadways from last year. We had a record number of fatalities. While not solely due to distracted driving, they are certainly worthy of considering multiple changes in how we manage traffic locally to make ours safer streets for all users. I was given these data just after Christmas last week. They show a demonstrable increase in traffic fatalities throughout Tucson last year as compared to 2016, and 2016 was an increase over 2015.
We stand alone in this region as the only jurisdiction in which our hands-free ordinance is a secondary offense. I hope to change that. We also stand alone as the jurisdiction whose traffic engineers are reluctant to adopt protected left turns at our major intersections. They’re the norm around Pima County. I’ve been able to get one in the works for Speedway and Campbell, but it needs to be a policy, not a pilot project.
Other roadway changes you’ll see me advocate for this year include reduced and consistent speed limits on many of our collector streets. I’m advised that will finally be coming to Columbus in mid-February. It took some considerable discussion with many groups and residents advocating for the change. Again though, we should be making this sort of change by policy, not incrementally as one-off changes. The same is true of adding pedestrian safety amenities to crosswalks. Securing RTA funding will help move that along this year.
By late this year I’m hoping we see a draft of the Complete Streets Policy recommendation that our partners at the Living Streets Alliance are putting together right now. It’ll touch on many of the sorts of things I’ve listed above and more. It will also be consistent with the national effort called Vision Zero. What began as a Swedish effort has now expanded to communities across this country. Here’s the basic vision:
At its core, Vision Zero is a cross-disciplinary approach to reducing traffic fatalities. It brings traffic engineers together with public safety workers, public policy makers, public health professionals, and others with the goal of contributing to safe mobility. That can be roadway design, speed limits, enforcement actions, and policies such as the primary offense for hand-held devices I’m proposing. The shared goal is zero fatalities and severe injuries. Based on the data, it’s a goal worth working towards. We can take a step in that direction on January 9.
On New Year ’s Eve, I did an on-camera interview with Max Darrow from KGUN9. The topic was getting people to avoid driving after they had been drinking. During our conversation, Max reminded me of the story he covered in 2016 in which the young girl who had offered to be the designated driver died in an auto accident when a drunk driver struck her car. Her mom was driving a taxi and happened to drive past the accident on the way to a fare, not knowing it was her daughter who had been killed. The story is poignant for its multiple messages: the girl was doing the right thing, the mom has a forever broken heart, and the drunk driver will live with his irresponsible decision for the rest of his life.
I told Max that he’ll see a lot of road safety work from me and my office this year. Vision Zero will take community involvement. We at the Ward 6 office are all in.
Also on our January 9 study session agenda is a thorough review of neighborhood plans, area plans and a discussion about where the public voice is included in the interpretation of those as they relate to proposed rezonings. Also relevant to that is where the public voice fits into interpretations of Neighborhood Preservation Zone (NPZ) design manuals. Based on recent rezoning and development outcomes, we need to secure some clarity as to the legal standing and procedural steps that govern each of those documents.
When a neighborhood puts together a plan intended to manage development within its boundaries, it does so with the assistance of the city. When the document is in its final form, it is ratified by the full M&C. For that reason, it has some legal standing. Indeed, it is referenced in the Unified Development Code as being the standard by which a proposed rezoning must be measured.
Here’s the rub: interpretations of the development standards found in the neighborhood and area plans, as well as the NPZs, have resulted in recent projects moving forward in ways that have left residents questioning what value the plans actually have. The Fry’s on Houghton is one example. Allowing a front yard swimming pool in midtown neighborhoods that have NPZ design manuals in place is another. In the Fry’s case M&C were told the proposed development was in “basic harmony” with the Houghton East Neighborhood Plan. In the swimming pool case staff simply determined it was allowed and no procedure for a challenge of that interpretation was given.
Some of the neighborhood and area plans are quite old. We need to discuss how they might be updated and who the moving party on that process needs to be. We need to clarify what “basic harmony” means. The Fry’s decision might be litigated. We need a standard that is more concrete than what we’re operating with now or we’ll see more court challenges in the future.
Rezonings are a formal and public process. Right now staff makes a recommendation on a project’s compliance with neighborhood and area plans to the zoning examiner. I’ll be asking why that occurs, instead of staff simply laying out a set of facts and allowing the ZE to decide based on what’s presented. Undoing a recommendation is one thing. Coming up with a determination based on neutrally presented facts is another.
With all of the development we see throughout the community, we need to set in place the criteria for determining how each fits with – or doesn’t fit with – the surrounding plan. The conversation has to happen in fairness to everyone involved in the process, including residents who have made investment decisions based on some assurance of what development is going to look like in their neighborhood and developers who are considering investment in those same areas. Relying on the “basic harmony” standard isn’t fair to anyone involved.
Over the holidays, Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) opened its new adoption and medical care facility. It’s still located out at 4000 N. Silverbell and is open noon to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Great job by Sundt Construction and Line and Space designers for getting the facility ready a week ahead of schedule.
PACC receives over 18,000 animals annually. This new facility includes upgraded kennel areas and a state of the art medical suite.
They have 300 regular kennels and about 200 temporary ones serving a variety of needs. Daily they house roughly 600-900 animals in the shelter. All are in need of a great home.
I’m sharing this section both to commend the folks who worked on getting the new shelter ready, but also to introduce you to the PACC Foster program. Right now PACC saves the lives of about 90 percent of the animals entering the center. However, without the help of 100 partner-shelters and 700 foster families, that figure would drop significantly.
This time of year, they see a huge influx of lost or abandoned pets. Therefore, signing up new foster families is particularly important this time of year. It’s just what is sounds like. Instead of permanently adopting your new family member, you agree to foster one until space opens at the shelter or an adopting family is found. That can last from just a few days up to a few months, depending on the circumstances of the animal and your own constraints. The PACC staff will work with you on determining a good fit.
The most urgent needs vary. I’ll just share a snipped portion of the PACC website to show what they’re asking for help with:
- Medium and Large dogs. Our medium to large dogs (35 lbs and up) often have the longest length of stay at our shelter. Give these dogs a break from kennel life and help them find their forever home! To view dogs available for foster, click here.
- Puppies and kittens with their moms. We see hundreds of newborn litters come in every year! They can’t go to their adoptive homes until they are 8 weeks of age.
- Orphaned puppies and kittens without their moms. Especially in spring/summer months, it’s not uncommon for us to take several litters every day!
- Dogs and cats hit by cars and recovering from broken bones. Our vets work tirelessly to stabilize several pets a week who’ve been hit by a car and lived to tell the story; once stabilized the next step for them is foster care to recover from their injuries.
If you’re interested in learning more about the foster program, go to the PACC website. On the front page of the site is a link to foster pets. On that link, you’ll find both the application form and a full description of what the program entails.
Bottom line: spay/neuter your pet. It’s the long-term solution to the over-population of animals all the shelters throughout the valley are experiencing.
The city will not come by your house and pick up discarded Christmas trees. Please do not leave them alongside your regular trash bins and expect the drivers to get out and toss them into the trucks. They’ll just lay on the side of the road in your neighborhood as an eyesore.
You do have city-supported options though. Of course you can take the tree out to the Los Reales landfill (5300 E. Los Reales Road) Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. In addition, there are TreeCycle sites at Golf Links Sports Park (2400 S. Craycroft), the Tucson Rodeo Grounds (3rd Ave, north of Irvington), the NE corner of Silverbell and Goret (out near the PACC facility), Purple Heart Park (10050 Rita Road), and midtown at Randolph Park (600 S. Alvernon at the SE corner of the parking lot). Here’s a map:
If you go to www.tucsonaz.gov/treecycle the site will give you all of the details on each site.
Last week Ann, Diana, Chris, Mark and I toured Mission Garden. It’s this week’s Local Tucson item. It’s hard to think of a place that reflects Tucson and our history more than Mission Garden does.
In the picture are Kendall Kroesen and Roger Pfeuffer. Kendall is the MG Community Outreach Coordinator and Roger is on the Friends of Tucson Birthplace board of directors. I’d add that Ward 6 residents Bill DuPont, Katya Peterson, and Nancy and Richard Fe Tom are also on that board, supporting the work going on out just west of I-10.
The Mission Garden is a living re-creation of history that took place onsite immediately adjacent to the new Caterpillar headquarters. The old and the new sharing our community vision. When you visit the garden you’ll see they are growing crops that reflect the many iterations of inhabitants who lived on that land. Go to their website at www.tucsonsbirthplace.org and you can see the work, who’s supporting it, and how you can get involved. We’re grateful to Kendall, Roger and Fe Tom for taking us through the site. You’ll enjoy it when you go and you’ll be supporting the preservation of our local history.
In addition to a trip out to Mission Garden, the Tucson Jazz Festival begins on January 11. It’ll run through the 21st at a variety of locations throughout the city.
Jazz is an eclectic genre of music and the artists who will perform at the festival reflect that. They range from brass to keyboard to vocals - all over the map. The venues included in the festival also reflect that diversity. They include the Rialto, the Music Hall, the Scottish Rite Temple, Hotel Congress and several outdoor stages scattered throughout downtown.
This is our fourth Tucson Jazz Festival. Each has gotten a little bigger and the acts have expanded. To see a full listing of the shows, locations, dates and times, go to www.tucsonjazzfestival.org. If you don’t know what hot sardines, hypnotic brass and spyro gyra have in common, you’ll learn at that site.
I want to extend a note of thanks to the organizers – paid, corporate and volunteer – who pulled together the December 29 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl. (It should be called the Tucson Bowl, but that’s a different conversation.) Held last week at Arizona Stadium, it was the largest crowd in the game’s three-year history at 39,182. We had visitors from New Mexico and Utah filling our hotels, restaurants and helping the local economy. I joined many others in being disappointed when we lost the Copper Bowl and the impact of this game on our local hospitality industry validates that feeling. We’re glad to have the game back and hope for many more successful events.
Sporting events attract visitors and those visitors help move our local economy along. In January, we’ll host a youth baseball tournament (January 5-7) as a 12 and under national qualifier, another youth baseball tourney that’ll include 16 teams from around the country (January 13-15), and a third baseball tournament (January 19-21) for both 16 and under and 18 and under youth. The Cactus Classic volleyball invitational will host over 150 teams (also January 13-15). The granddaddy of them all, the Ft. Lowell Soccer Shoot-Out, will take place from January 12 to 14. This year we expect over 70 soccer teams to participate in that tournament.
Each of those events will need some volunteer help. If you have some time and want to support youth sports, the easiest way to get connected is by contacting our partners at Visit Tucson (https://www.visittucson.org). The events are scattered all over the valley so no matter where you live around town, something will be close enough so that transit won’t be an issue for you.
I’ll close out this first newsletter of the new year with an invitation from the Broadmoor-Broadway poetry “center” (the brightly colored mailbox on the Treat walking path, just north of the Arroyo Chico). It’s called “Invitation” and seemed to be an appropriate way to call us all together, no matter your background or politics, to work for the greater good of all our community.
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events & Entertainment