Topics in this issue...
- Maynards to the Moon
- Be Kind
- K9 Officers
- Hands-Free Ordinance
- Road Safety
- Streets and TUSD
- PCOA Age Friendly City
- Water Security
- Local CAP M&O
- Local First
- Events and Entertainment
If you take part in the Meet Me At Maynards walk downtown, you can also catch a bit of a history lesson – thanks to our community hospital friends at TMC. With the expertise gained from Demion Clinco (Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation) and the knowledge of former KVOA meteorologist Jimmy Stewart, they have put together a narrated video of your walk through downtown. Check it out at the MMM website – and keep in mind as you do the walk, counting the miles towards our trek to the moon.
You can still register and take part at this link: www.meetmeatmaynards.com. Every week the number of people involved grows.
Do you remember my Loop buddies Carrie and Chloe? Carrie is the two-legged one who works out at the Community Food Bank. The work out there is never ending and at this time of year, the pull on their resources is immense. Please check their website at www.communityfoodbank.org to find the many ways you can help take care of some needs. I know that will be a combination of donations plus volunteering to help prepare the food boxes for clients. Michael McDonald and his people do a wonderful service for Tucsonans. We, at the Ward 6 office, are grateful for their work.
Also food related, we recognize the work Iskashitaa does with our refugee community. Their work helps to reduce food waste while reducing stress on our landfills. While integrating UN refugees and asylum seekers into the community, the Iskashitaa program feeds and introduces locals to some international traditions. It is about building bridges while feeding those in need. Volunteers can get involved in donating fruit from your own trees, or groups can get involved in welcoming events. They accept faith based groups, interns, neighborhood groups, and college students. Check out their website at www.iskashitaa.org to find out how you can help.
And of course, our furry friends and family members have needs throughout the year and during the holiday season, too. The Hermitage is one of our local, no-kill shelters that relies on the public for operating funds and for volunteer assistance. It relies on the public to come and adopt kittens and cats to provide permanent, loving homes. I often share the great work PACC is doing (over 17,000 pets taken in annually with a 90% ‘save’ rate). One unreported fact is shelters like Hermitage rescue animals from PACC and take on some of the heavy rehabilitation lift that PACC doesn’t have the resources to handle. In the past couple of years, Hermitage has taken over 500 cats from PACC, finding homes after providing the care they need. They work with seniors, autistic kids, and the military to provide love through connecting with the animals. As with the other groups I’ve listed above, there are multiple ways you can get connected with the Hermitage. Go to www.hermitagecatshelter.org, and you will come away with plenty of options.
You can ‘shop ‘til you drop’ in a mall, or consider spending your time with these or many other non-profits we have here in Tucson. I’ll share more opportunities next week.
This is the map from Gun Violence Archive that shows where gun deaths have occurred in the U.S. in 2018. The total is well over 13,000 deaths due to gun violence. It seems our flag is at half-staff more than it is all the way up. Today it is for the U.S. Marshal who was tragically lost in Tucson last week. If we lowered it whenever a gun death occurred, it would be down all the time.
There has been some media coverage of suicide deaths recently. The numbers are increasing. Many times in these half-staff reports, I share incidents in which the shooter kills someone, and then takes his own life. In Nashville last week, a 47-year-old man shot and killed a 29-year-old who was in a relationship with his former partner. Then the shooter took his own life. It is a combination of a domestic related dispute, suicide, and murder.
Another example in Deltona, Florida. A 60-year-old man shot and killed the 44-year-old nephew of his deceased wife. He called 911 and reported that he had just shot a “friend and relative.” When SWAT arrived, he turned the gun on himself, taking his own life.
In Akron, Ohio, kids were playing in the basement of their house when a 15-year-old pulled out a handgun, accidently pulled the trigger, and killed his 14 year old friend. Witnesses said the stunned shooter then turned the gun on himself and took his own life. Some parent owned that gun, and now has to live with the results of irresponsible gun ownership.
Last summer we were welcomed into the St. Marks sanctuary to host the URResponsible gun safety event. The need for reminders is constant. If you own weapons, keep them out of reach from kids, and from troubled adults. If you are suffering from depression and have a gun handy, get rid of it while seeking professional assistance.
In the midst of all the gun violence we see around us, one Wisconsin company is addressing it by giving every one of their employees a handgun as a Christmas present.
Here is a screenshot from their website. I guess some people consider drinking from a shot glass or mug that has a bullet lodged in it is cool.
The company is called BenShot. They are giving their workers the choice of revolvers as an effort to do some of what they call ‘team building.” They have 16 full time employees, including some who have never fired a weapon. As a nod to ‘safety’, they are offering training to that group. One of them (Chelsea Priest, of Green Bay) said she feels the gun will ‘empower her’. If she has kids in the house, it will place them at greater risk than before the gift arrives on the scene. How can I make that claim?
A January study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (I know, relying on the medical community who just won’t ‘stay in their lane’ again) found that more than 90% of gun owners with kids in the home did not believe household firearms increase suicide risk. Huh?
The data shows that children who live in homes where guns are present are at least 2x as likely to die by suicide ad those who don’t. They are not necessarily more likely to have suicidal thoughts, but the ‘success’ rate when using a gun is over 90%. This graphic from the study is revealing:
I’ll quote a section from another study by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
To the BenShot owners who think putting guns into homes of their employees without regard to other factors enhances safety, they might want to consider the data and rethink the offer.
To the graphic of the glass shown above -- it’s cute, but Dads are not bulletproof. #URResponsible. Remember that.
I just found this tidbit interesting – intuitive, and something I hadn’t thought of. I recently read a report that was based on the notion of ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. In this case, they meant it literally.
Law enforcement agencies all over the country have spent large dollars in training their K9 corps. On the UA campus, we have Toby and Lady. To their handlers, they are family.
The dogs sniff for bombs and also for drugs. When they catch a whiff, they train on the suspect and alert the human officer nearby. One of the drugs they are trained to seek out is pot.
It seems that with the changes in laws, both for medical marijuana and for recreational pot, some of the K9 officers may be facing a bit of an early retirement. The equation is whether it is less costly to start with a new ‘recruit’ or try to untrain the current pups in places where pot is now okay to carry. It’s expensive to put a K9 officer through the training they need to learn. There are already 10 states in which pot is legalized for recreational use, so the problem is a potential multi-million dollar one.
The problem is made even more complicated based on a Colorado court ruling. Pot is legal for recreational use there. A judge threw out a case in which a K9 officer found a meth pipe in a car, but since he was also trained to find pot (now legal) the judge determined the dog’s work was no longer a reliable indicator of illegal activity and threw out the case. In Michigan, they have got about 50 K9’s that may need to go into early retirement. Illinois was trying to figure out how to deal with 275.
There is no problem in Arizona yet, but it is one of the unintended consequences we don’t think of when discussing the legalization of pot.
Also a public safety item – the hands-free driving ordinance we adopted earlier this year. Since February, TPD has made over 3,000 contacts with drivers under the ordinance.
To refresh you, it is illegal in Tucson to drive your car and have any electronic device in your hand. That’s texting, speaking, using a tablet or GPS. The change we made in February was to make it a primary offense. That means the police don’t need any reason other than seeing you talking on the phone to pull you over. I fully supported the change, and in fact, didn’t think we should have spent time with it on the books as a secondary offense.
Even though there is no state law banning the use of cell phones while driving, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is offering grant money to help us with enforcement. Ours is $20K. Police have seen the court docket increase from about 20 to 30 cases per month, then over 50 per month. The increase is largely people wanting to fight the cell phone ticket. We have seen none that were successful.
Telling the cop who pulls you over that you were just “looking for a second” is not going to work. And dropping it down onto your lap, checking it between lights is an equal violation. Please, when you are out on the road, leave the phone and other electronic devices alone. Think of the safety, not only of those around you, but your own as well
One more item on roadway safety. At long last, we’ll be implementing a speed reduction on Pima, between Dodge and Swan. Currently the speed changes from 30mph to 35mph at various parts of that segment. It is residential, with schools, churches, bike lanes and a recently completed Pedestrian Path. I have been advocating for a speed reduction to make it a consistent 30mph. Staff is in agreement, and we will vote on the change as a part of our consent agenda on Tuesday.
State law governs when we can make speed limit changes. I have asked about dropping all residential speeds to 20mph, but we would have to do an analysis first, and demonstrate some special conditions exist, justifying to the state the need for the change. Evidently, citing data and safety alone is not enough for the majority in the legislature up in Phoenix.
Last year, we were able to drop speeds on our Bike Boulevards by 5mph. Thank you Bike Advisory Commission, Pedestrian Advisory Commission, and Living Streets Alliance for your help in advocating for that change. I have presented the data multiple times, showing that speed is indeed a factor in roadway fatalities. I am hopeful these incremental changes we are making are steps towards reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries we see taking place on our streets.
Assuming the vote goes the right way on Tuesday, TDOT will order the signs and the changes will be implemented soon.
One final street safety addition: we pulled together a large meeting recently for the purpose of discussing safety conditions around Tucson High School. Specifically, when kids are dropped off and when they are let out of school. TUSD had several people at the meeting. The city was represented by TDOT staff, TPD, and some representatives from the City Manager’s office, while we had residents from some of the surrounding neighborhoods present. There were some tangible outcomes – some of which are coming, some we would like to see movement on.
One outcome we will be voting to implement on Tuesday, is returning 8th Street, behind THS, to one-way traffic. That will alleviate congested traffic west of the school. In addition, the city gave approval to the District to use the Right of Way on 6th Street by the school to put in place handrails, to prevent jaywalking by the students, and to direct them to posted crosswalks. We are still waiting on the District to implement their part of that agreement.
Another factor in the pedestrian/student congestion in the area, is that THS is used as a transit hub. That means buses congregate with students going to, and coming from, other schools right at the THS site. We’ve suggested, and I have communicated to Superintendent Trujillo that they consider moving that hub over to Cherry Field where there is much more room to facilitate the cross traffic – vehicles and kids. He replied and is evidently going to study the idea. If you have thoughts on the location of the transit hub, let him know your feelings. It is about safety.
There will be stepped up enforcement, both by the city and by the District as changes are rolled out. If you have kids at that school, please understand any changes being implemented are grounded in the safety of everyone in the area.
I continue to work with the Elder Alliance and Pima Council on Aging as we move forward on the AARP Age Friendly City policies and programs. This is not a government driven set of initiatives, but one we’re pursuing in partnership with a variety of groups.
Last Thursday, Melissa and I joined many of the representatives from the Elder Alliance Leadership Council to get a debrief on progress, and to keep our momentum going. Some of the groups who attended with us were El Rio Community Health Center, Pima Community College, Mercy Long Term Care, Pima County, Sinfonia Healthcare, the United Way, Arizona AARP, La Posada, Catalina In-Home Care, and the UA Center on Aging. You can see, this is a diverse set experts in their respective fields.
A part of last week’s meeting was a review of some data that reflect changing demographics. The message is that the needs of the elderly are only going to increase. Here are a few examples.
Nationwide, 20% of all people are 60 years of age, or older. In Pima County, that figure is just under 25%. In fact, in Pima County, between 2010 and 2015, the population grew by 3%, but the population of 60 and older grew by over 17%.
Among the Pima County elderly, 35% have at least one disability, and the projection is that by 2025, 2/3 of all people 60 or older will have some level of dementia related symptoms. If you’ve dealt with that, you know how debilitating it can be, and how tough it is on caregivers, most of whom are family and friends.
To that last point, in 2013, family caregivers in Arizona provided 750 million hours of care. That’s likely an under-reported number. I know nobody’s counting the hours my bride and I willingly and lovingly invest in caregiving work within our family. The value of that work in the marketplace is bumping $10B. Think of that in relation to the arguments we hear when politicians fight over how to remix our health care system. Those dollars are hidden. In 2010, there were 7 potential informal care givers for every person aged 60 and above. That ratio is expected to drop to 3:1 by 2050.
The Elder Alliance and AARP surveyed the local population and found the top 3 concerns among the 60 and older population are: fear of falling; the ability to continue living independently; and memory loss. From my experience with family members, I’ll vouch for all of those.
We will continue meeting with PCOA, the Elder Alliance and the groups I’ve listed above. The goal is very similar to what we heard at the Gil Penalosa transit/land use presentation. That is, create a city that is friendly to those who are 8 years old or those who are 80 years old. Once you do that, everyone in between can live, work, and play safely and in a healthy manner. If you’d like to get involved in this work, please connect with me and I’ll help make that happen.
This is a piece that will further set up a report I hope to be able to give to you later in the month. For about a year, multiple parties have been working hard on what’s called a Drought Contingency Plan. The DCP is a multi-state effort to plan for water shortages that will occur on Lake Mead. That’s our source for Colorado River water. The shortages will occur. It is when, not if.
Who is involved in negotiating the DCP? Agricultural interests, Native Americans, developers, cities, and industry. All of us. According to some articles that appeared last week in the Arizona Republic, those groups haven’t quite signed a final deal yet, but we’re close.
The deal will be called a DCP, and ours will be specifically for the lower basin states of Arizona, Nevada, and California, and includes Mexico. The inter-state plan will describe how we jointly manage cuts to our Colorado River water allocation. On an intra-state basis, we’ve had multiple groups working to agree on how Arizona’s reduction in the amount of CAP water we receive will be shared. There are legal commitments, and there’s the reality that we all lose if Lake Mead drops to certain levels. It will, if we don’t find a way to work together for the long term greater good of us all.
Ok, my bias – I cringe when I see the state easing restrictions on major development activities without acknowledging that the water issue is for real. And I am probably not as open to taking care of Pinal County agricultural issues as some of the other people at the table. That said though, everyone in the room will have to let some of their biases go if we’re going to sign a deal that works for the long term.
Lake Mead is now at about 38% capacity. When its water level drops below 1,075 feet at the end of any calendar year, a shortage will be declared. When that happens, both our allocation of Colorado River water and that of Nevada will be reduced. Propping up the water level on the Lake is the DCP goal. How we get there is the question, depending upon how we spread the pain. It’s urgent, because the Lake is currently projected to drop below 1,075 feet in 2020.
The demands on the Colorado River by both agriculture and cities exceeds the available water supply. Climate change is only making that worse. When I read comments by a representative of the homebuilders talking about the need for “developer mitigation” in a DCP, I wonder if they really understand that the long term issue in this region is existential. And, the Pinal farmers will be switching from CAP water to more pumping of our groundwater. That does nothing toward the long term problem, but both of those sets of voices are large in the room, as the DCP is being finalized.
Two years ago, I met with a group advocating for an increased conservation voice at the Governor’s Water Augmentation Council. That increased voice wasn’t allowed by the Ducey administration. I had a guy from the cattlemen’s association come into my office and tell me that they were the conservation voice, and they had our backs. Now the discussion is about “market-based” conservation efforts. That’s buying and selling rights, not actually reducing the use of the resource.
Arizona is entitled to 2.8 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually. The three-state DCP will force our allocation to be reduced by 512,000-acre feet. It is how we split that reduction up among the various water interests in the state that is being negotiated. We are not alone in facing the intra-state struggles. In California’s Imperial Valley, agriculture has begun litigation against the Irrigation District for it’s ‘share’ of the Colorado River water.
Our goal is to prop up Lake Mead for as long as we can. I know that I won’t like all the deal points if we achieve an Arizona agreement, but public policy is about framing a solution in a way that addresses as best we can the varying and competing interests. We will be meeting in executive session on this issue on Tuesday.
Last week I gave a short preview of some maintenance work we’re doing related to delivery of our CAP allocation. That work continues this week.
Starting today, crews will start to convert the well water we’ve been delivering during the maintenance work back to delivering CAP water. Remember, that’s our renewable source that’s the issue of the DCP negotiations. We want as much of that for as long as we can so we are not pumping our groundwater.
During the switchover, you may see some sediments or air in your water. Tucson Water crews are flushing waterlines from fire hydrants, but you still might see some temporary sediment and/or fluctuations in pressure. Neither is a health concern. If you do experience either, call Tucson Water at 791.4133 and they will work with you on it. And if you would like more specifics on this whole maintenance process, go to the TW website at www.tucsonaz.gov/water.
Two Local Tucson items this week – one coming right up, and the other needs to be on your planning list, either to participate, or to volunteer, or to help out.
The on-line report Policy Genius listed holiday events from across the country they feel are deserving of national attention. The list included events such as Colony Christmas in Alaska, the Great Dickens Fair in California, the Decatur Holiday Market in Georgia, and Delaware’s Christmas Market at Poplar Hill. Arizona was included, and more specifically, Tucson was included.
The Best Holiday Market in Arizona identified in the report is the fall 4th Avenue Street Fair. It’s coming this weekend, December 7th through 9th from 10am until dusk each day. If you have people visiting, take them. They won’t see anything like it ‘back home.’ Please remember that for everyone’s safety, they ask that you do not bring your pets along. The streets are full of people who aren’t looking out for critters that may be stepped on – and they don’t need any more of a mess to clean up than what will already be generated.
It was great meeting with the Historic Fourth Avenue Coalition last week, talking about development being planned around the Avenue. This event is the signature of the Avenue. I hope to see you among the crowd. Here is how the Street Fair was portrayed in the report:
Arizona: 4th Avenue Winter Street Fair
Address: Fourth Ave. between Eight St. and University Blvd., Tucson
With over 500,000 annual visitors, this the city’s largest holiday market and it doesn’t disappoint. Expect to find over 400 vendors selling homemade crafts, and local entertainment playing all day and night long.
And please remember if you’re heading down to the Fair on Saturday that the Historic Train Museum family event is also happening from 11am until 12:30pm. Please plan your travel downtown so you can get to the train depot safely and on time. The street fair will still be happening when you get out of the Polar Express activities.
The other Local Tucson event is our local/regional response to the January 8th shooting. Each year, Beyond is the multi-event celebration of movement, fitness, and health. There will be a dozen different activities, any of which you can sign up for now, either as a participant, or as a helper.
The kickoff is Saturday, January 12th. Some of the events include the annual Saguaro West monument 4m or 1m run at 8:30am, the 9am 2 mile nature/history stroll at El Tiradito downtown, or the 10am kickball event out at Naranjo Park. That’s just a sampling. You can find all of the events and get signed up at the Beyond website: www.beyond-tucson.org.
Michelle Crow is organizing sponsorships. If you’re a local business and would like to lend your support for this community building set of events, please get ahold of Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council Member, Ward 6
LUMINARIA NIGHTS IN THE PRESIDIO DISTRICT
December 7 @ 4:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Luminaria Nights, the Presidio Museum’s holiday celebration, will be extended to two nights this year, Dec. 7 and 8! Special thanks to our media sponsorThe Arizona Daily Star! Each night’s offerings will be different, and are included in general admission:
Friday, Dec. 7, 4-7:30 pm
- Luminarias at both the Presidio Museum and at La Cocina
- Docent Tours
- Presidio Museum Gift Shop and Old Town Artisans Shops open until 7:30 pm
- Live entertainment at La Cocina Restaurant by the Greg Morton & Friends Bluegrass Band at 6:30 pm and Oscar Fuentes, a performer whose musical genres include rock and roll, salsa, pop, musica rancera, and blues, at 9:30 pm.
BREWSTILLERY TOUR DOWNTOWN
December 8 @ 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm
This tour is rated Tucson’s #1 tour activity and a great way to get a Taste of Tucson. Tucson Food Tours developed the first walking culinary tour, and is now offering a Brewstillery Tour.
On this tour you will get behind the scenes knowledge & history of some of the best craft breweries in Tucson and learn about their unique style. You will sample flights of local beer and spirits. We will visit at 3 breweries and 2 distilleries on this tour.
Although the focus will be the beers and spirits, guests will also sample a few local bites. The Tucson Food Tours was designated one of the top things to do in the book “100 Things to Do Before You Die In Tucson” written by Clark Norton, and is the #1 tour activity on Tripadvisor.
The brewery/distillery tour runs from 1:00pm-4:30pm. Visit www.tucsonfoodtours.com for a full schedule of tour dates and for more information.
TUCSON GIRLS CHORUS SOUNDS OF WINTER CONCERT
December 9 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Join us for a glorious choral celebration of the holiday season at the TGC Sounds of Winter concert Sunday, December 9, 2018 at 3:30pm. This festive winter concert will take place at the historic Fox Tucson Theatre in the heart of downtown Tucson. The Tucson Girls Chorus will offer a festive program of seasonal carols and choral highlights from their fall season, both in their individual ensembles and as a full choir, Tickets are now on sale at the Fox Theatre. For information on the TGC program, call 520-577-6064
Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. | www.watershedmg.org
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
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.com
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd | www.statemuseum.arizona.edu
Woven Through Time: American Treasures of Native Basketry & Fiber Art July 17, 2017 - December 5, 2018
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | tucsonmuseumofart.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.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.
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org
Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org