Topics in this issue...
Wear Orange Event
MS St. Louis
Martha Ortiz / Local First
Paris Climate Accord
Federal Budget - Cancer Research
Local Financial Investing
Metropolitan Education Commission
Rainwater / Sandbags
Another Tucson shooting last week. TPD is looking into an incident in which one guy was killed and another injured. Evidently it was related to a wedding reception over on S. Park. A couple days later, police were called to another confrontation seemingly related to the shooting. No shots were fired in that incident.
In Richmond, Virginia, a 45-year-old police special agent was shot to death during a traffic stop. No traffic stop is ‘routine.’ The guy was the father of three, a former marine who had founded a youth wrestling club and worked with disadvantaged youth in the public housing complex adjacent to the shooting. The killer was a convicted felon – prohibited possessor.
In Brookhaven, Mississippi last week, a 35-year-old guy went on a shooting spree that involved three different locations. It appeared to be family-related at each site. Dead now are three young women and a deputy sheriff who was responding to a ‘domestic call’ at the first location. The shooter said the deputy just ‘got in the way.’ At the second location two young boys were killed, and at the third a man and a woman were shot to death. It all occurred in a small town with a population of 500. The guy is facing one count of capital murder and seven counts of first degree murder.
I read last week that the CDC estimates about 20,000 kids will be treated in ERs this year due to gunshot wounds. Most will be accidental. The Gun Violence Prevention Arizona group endorses the ASK Project. It’s pretty simple, and builds on the CDC data.
I’ve written about it in the past, but it’s worth this reminder. When your child visits the home of a friend or family member, simply get in the habit of asking, “Is there a gun in the home, and if so, how is it stored?” It’s not anti-Second Amendment – it’s pro-gun safety.
And it could save your kid’s life.
To learn more about the work GVPA is doing, you can find them at www.gvparizona.org.
Wear Orange Event
I always try to give photo credit. This one’s for my bride. She and my mom attended the June 2nd Wear Orange event at Himmel Park, along with what looked like a couple hundred others. Sponsored by Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Safety and Everytown, we met to keep the message alive that we need common sense gun safety laws to be enacted.
Being able to share some music with the crowd was fun. I was joined by some real professionals though in Joyce Luna and the Desert Voices. Together they made the event a great mix of music, testimonials and advocacy.
I want to thank our January 8th survivors who continue to keep the issue of gun safety on the front burner. I also want to thank the organizers of this event for enlisting Lisa Kiser to be the emcee – and in so doing keeping our other mass shooting event (the UA College of Nursing) in our hearts and memories. In addition to Lisa, the other speakers included Representative Randy Friese, NOW Tucson Director Victoria Steele, and Celeste Hernandez, the sister of Representative Daniel Hernandez. Celeste gave her address in Spanish as a fitting way of reminding us this issue crosses all ethnic and racial lines.
MS St. Louis
Last week I included the text of the Charter for Compassion in the newsletter. I also wrote about the Trump Executive Order in which he wanted to ban certain refugees from coming here based on religion. Keep that in mind as you read this piece.
On June 6th, 1939, the MS St. Louis was denied entry into the U.S. On board were over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. They had first tried to dock in Cuba, but were denied. U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull convinced President Roosevelt to also deny entry. Eventually they had to sail back to Europe.
The captain was a non-Jewish German. He was committed to not returning the ship to Germany until the Jews had been left off at other ports. Between Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, they were eventually all allowed to disembark. In 2010, research done by the U.S. Holocaust Museum found that 254 of them were killed in concentration camps.
On the evening of Tuesday, June 6th, our own Tucson Jewish History Museum is hosting a candle vigil to remember that series of events – and to remember the lives unnecessarily lost. The event begins at 7 pm. It’s of course free and open to the public. Please join them. As we watch the current administration impose a religious test on refugees, it seems a particularly timely message.
The Jewish History Museum is located at 564 S. Stone. This is one of likely hundreds of similar vigils that’ll be held that evening across the country. If you’d like more information, contact Bryan Davis at email@example.com.
Another group we need to remember is our own veterans. On Tuesday, June 13th, Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans will host a mid-summer resource provision day. Its goal is to meet the needs of as many of our local veterans as they can, many of whom are still homeless or living on meager incomes.
TVSV is a group of volunteers who have formed a well-knit association of residents whose goal is to do outreach to our local veterans. Working in combination with other community partners, they help to organize this annual StandDown for Homeless Veterans event as our mid-summer resource day outreach. They’ll connect vets with resources ranging from getting IDs updated to job referrals, housing, legal assistance and more. In addition, there’ll be free services including hot meals, clothing, haircuts and some minor first aid treatments.
The event is held from 9 am until 2 pm over at the Desert Inn, 222 S. Freeway. The nearest bus routes serving that area are 21, 22, 202x and 203x. If you know a veteran in need, please pass along this information so they can take advantage of this TVSV service.
You can find out more about the event and Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tucsonveteransservingveterans.
(Photo Credit to Linda Valdez)
You may have seen Martha around at community events. She’s a Tucson icon who along with her late husband, Dr. Augusto Ortiz, has worked on social justice issues in this area since the 1950s. On Sunday, she and Augusto were honored at an event St. Mark’s hosted. It was Augusto’s 100th birthday. I was honored to be asked to participate in the event along with Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. Martha is this week’s Local Tucson item.
Dr. Ortiz and Martha worked with migrant farmworkers here in Tucson, not only taking care of health needs, but also advocating for changes in their working conditions. Seeing the physical damage caused by the use of short-handled hoes, they joined with Cesar Chavez in fighting to get them banned from use in agriculture. When Chavez went on his now famous hunger strike back in 1972, Dr. Ortiz tended to his needs.
Dr. Ortiz later joined the UA College of Medicine where he established a Mobile Health Program to serve rural and poor communities. His contacts with Chavez and the farmworkers continued, even to the point of having many of them stay in the Ortiz home as they passed through Tucson.
Jonathan read a proclamation in honor of the couple, and I spoke of the importance their contributions have had on establishing Tucson and reflecting our values, including a concern for the needs of the poor.
There is now an Ortiz Endowment that’s continuing the legacy of their work. Congratulations are due to Martha for the recognition she and Augusto have earned in this community.
Paris Climate Accord
During my remarks at the June 2nd event, I made reference to some D.C. related events from this past week that have me particularly troubled and frankly, concerned with the direction we’re headed. One is the dismissive and damaging commentary we hear that’s dismantling international alliances that have helped avoid world wars for the past half century. Another is the Trump appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the unconstitutional religious test on refugee entry into our country. More on that below. And last week we announced we’d be joining Syria (whom we just bombed) and Nicaragua in leaving the Paris Climate Accord. I guess we’re ‘going it alone’ in all things international.
First on the climate issue, congratulations to Jonathan for immediately signing on with what are now over 100 other mayors in an open letter to the Trump administration. It announced that we’ll be doing our part on a local level to continue working towards the climate accord standards. Here’s the text of that letter:
March 28, 2017
Dear President Trump,
As members of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA), we represent more than 42 million Americans in 75 cities across our nation — in red and blue states alike. We write to strongly object to your actions to roll back critically important U.S. climate policies including the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel efficiency standards, as well as proposed budget cuts to the EPA and critical federal programs like Energy Star.
Climate change is both the greatest single threat we face, and our greatest economic opportunity for our nation. That is why we affirm our cities’ commitments to taking every action possible to achieve the principles and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and to engage states, businesses and other sectors to join us.
As Mayors, we work with our constituents face-to-face, every day, and they demand that we act on climate to improve quality of life and create economic growth. As public servants and stewards of public funds and infrastructure, we also cannot ignore the costs of inaction. That is why we are also standing up for our constituents and all Americans harmed by climate change, including those most vulnerable among us: coastal residents confronting erosion and sea level rise; young and old alike suffering from worsening air pollution and at risk during heatwaves; mountain residents engulfed by wildfires; farmers struggling at harvest time due to drought; and communities across our nation challenged by extreme weather.
Climate action is also an investment in our economy and job creation — electric vehicles, solar power, energy efficiency and battery storage are all avenues to restoring our nation’s manufacturing base and create good, middle class jobs. Recently, thirty MNCAA cities demonstrated how we can accelerate markets and drive economic growth by issuing a formal Request for Information for the potential acquisition of nearly 115,000 electric vehicles for our municipal fleets.
The private sector recognizes the opportunities of climate action as well. Goldman Sachs is committing $150 billion to clean energy capital. Companies like Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and Google are some of the largest purchasers of solar and renewable energy. Today, one in fifty American jobs is now in the solar sector, surpassing employment in oil, gas, and coal extraction combined. Texas is once again experiencing an energy boom — this time, with wind power. In fact, the majority of wind jobs in the U.S. are in congressional districts that voted for you.
As the “Climate Mayors”, we wrote to you during your transition asking that you work with cities on climate action — the nation’s first responders and economic hubs — and to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement commitment. Instead, we fear your Administration’s recent actions and today’s executive order will undermine America’s leadership on climate action, if not take us backwards.
We urge you to change course, and to join us. In the meantime, America’s cities will continue to lead the way in moving forward in protecting our residents from the disastrous effects of climate change, and creating a thriving 21st century economy.
If you’d like more information about the letter, or the mayoral group you can find it at nlc.org/cities4climate.
Before I knew Jonathan had signed onto the letter, I had reached out to one of the smartest climate guys I know and asked if he’d agree to come and brief the M&C on the whole issue of global climate change, and the Paris Accord as well. Dr. Joaquin Ruiz is the Dean of the UA College of Science. His resume in all-things-science is extensive. Without hesitation, he agreed to come and talk with us. Here’s the letter I wrote placing it on the June 20th agenda:
SUBJECT: Request for Study Session Discussion of Global Climate Change
On June 1st, President Trump announced the nation's withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. That leaves the U.S. aligned with only Syria and Nicaragua as countries who have not signed onto the Accord. Nicaragua refused because they don't feel it goes far enough.
Mayor Rothschild has signed an open letter to the President indicating our resolve to continue in support of the Paris Climate Accord. Mayors representing over 40,000,000 Americans are signed onto the letter to the President.
For the June 20th study session, please set aside 30 minutes for a presentation and discussion of global climate change and the Paris Accord. I have asked Dean Joaquin Ruiz from the College of Science at the University of Arizona to come and make a presentation on the topic. Dr. Ruiz will of course welcome our questions following his report.
If you’d like to learn the basics on this topic, come and sit in on the June 20th study session. It would be great if Dr. Ruiz’s presentation, coming on the coattails of Jonathan signing onto the open letter is the catalyst for us to take some very concrete local actions that further the cause the president just walked away from.
That’s the Paris City Hall. Paris joined cities around the world last Thursday making this statement in opposition to the Trump decision to withdraw from the Accord. On the 20th we’ll continue the discussion of local actions we might take to address a global issue.
Last week I shared excerpts from the federal appeals court decision that affirmed the ban on Muslims Trump campaigned on was indeed an unconstitutional religious test for entry into the United States. I concluded the section in the newsletter by stating I hoped they didn’t appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and continue the waste of resources and image this represents.
Last week the administration asked the high court to review the decision. In their brief, the Trump lawyers said of the executive order implementing the ban that the “text and operation are religion-neutral.” Last week I included the opening statement from the decision in which the court called it an example of religious animus and intolerance, and therefore a violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause.
With the Supreme Court now back at full strength with nine justices, we’ll soon have a chance to see the impact of the addition of Justice Gorsuch. They’re not obligated to even take the case, but with the constitutional issues at stake, I’d be surprised if they took a pass. We should know before the end of the month whether or not they’ll hear it. If they do, their final decision could be made public by the end of the year.
Federal Budget – Cancer Research
I’ve written before about the Trump ‘skinny budget’ and how it proposes to eliminate and/or severely reduce funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Community Development Block Grants, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, grants aimed at public safety, and lots more. Also included is a significant reduction to the National Institutes of Health. If adopted, cancer research will (not may) be hit hard.
Cancer research is, well, research. According to the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the reduced NIH budget will result in entire research projects being shut down. Biomedical research largely doesn’t occur in the private sector. The public sector has always taken the lead on areas in which there’s no near term return on an investment. Cancer research is one example.
In a May 30th article in Medscape, researcher Roxanne Nelson wrote that the proposed 2018 Trump budget will reduce funding for the National Cancer Institute by a billion dollars. ASTRO is in opposition as well as the National Cancer Institute, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Cancer Society. As she writes, “the backlash from major cancer organizations has been swift and unanimous in strongly opposing the proposed cuts.”
I’m no expert, but I trust the experts. (Same as with global climate change.) I know I’ve personally benefitted from biomedical cancer research and so have tons of other Tucsonans. So yes, gutting cancer research is a Ward 6 issue.
The research done by NIH is pioneering. No private business is going to do it. Keep an eye on how congress reacts to this – and if you’re so inclined, let them know how you feel well ahead of their vote. If you are, or if you know a cancer victim, this line item in the federal budget affects you. If you write your congressperson, you won’t be alone in supporting retention of these funds. According to the Nelson article, Chris Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society reported on a poll they had conducted. It revealed “90% of voters believe federal funding for medical research is ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important.” One would hope that’s enough for congress to reject these cuts.
A quick note on our own budget. This Tuesday we’ll have our final public hearing on it. If you have concerns or would like to speak in support of what we’re considering, come during the evening session and you’ll be given the opportunity to weigh in with your thoughts.
I’m not totally happy with every line item we’re voting on. For example, I’d much prefer to increase our support for outside events such as the Festival of Books, Festival of Lights, All Souls Procession, El Tour and Tucson Meet Yourself. I’ve tried that in the past and haven’t had support from the rest of the M&C. Maybe next time around if we’re not hit with surprise costs. As it stands though, if things stay as we’ve already discussed, I’ll be supporting what’s in front of us. If you have thoughts, share them – I don’t pretend to have thought of every contingency.
We’ll soon be hearing from the bond rating agencies with their reaction to our work. Whereas in the past they’ve taken us to task for approving budgets that failed to move us towards structural balance, I’m expecting our ratings to improve given the strides we took in the past two fiscal years. That’ll be good news for our borrowing rates – key to extending the scope of our upgrades when we make capital improvements.
Local Financial Investing
A couple of years ago we unanimously voted to begin moving money into local banks. The reason is simple. Local banks invest in local projects. Everyone on this M&C values that.
Last week we received an update on how that process is going. The short message is that through our most recent request for proposals, Alliance Bank is receiving just under another $10M of our investment money.
Alliance takes part in a program called Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service (CEDARS). Through that program, the bank takes your money, invests it into CD’s at various banks across the country, and in turn the money is redeposited back into Alliance for investment into local projects. Examples of the projects they’ve already helped with using city dollars include the downtown Gibson’s grocer, a $400K loan directed at a Tucson solar energy company, an $11M loan to build 1 W. Broadway (residential and commercial), and just under $4M for a 40-unit residential project at Stone and Corral.
I’m not sure local investments like this will impact the thinking of the bond rating agencies, but they sure will help the local economy compared to sending all of our investment dollars to the large, non-local banks. I’ll be looking to continue to expand this program as long as I’m on the council.
Metropolitan Education Commission
Another area I’ll be a continuing advocate for is our investment in the Metropolitan Education Commission. We jointly fund the MEC along with the county, Pima County School Superintendent, JTED and the University of Phoenix. But they rely on outside private sector support as well. With cuts to education funding, groups like this need public help to continue their good work.
MEC was founded in 1989. It’s totally citizen run, with 34 commissioners advocating for all sorts of educational programs. They’ve got a Regional College Access Center through which high schoolers are encouraged and assisted with college prep activities. They help families work through the college funding process, support workforce development, formally recognize student achievement, and a whole lot more.
This past week I joined Council Member Richard Fimbres in recognizing June Webb-Vignery for her long service at MEC. For just under three decades, June has spearheaded the work MEC has provided to youth throughout the community. Today, thousands of our residents are the beneficiaries of her work. The commission will of course carry on, but they’ve got some figuratively big shoes to fill. Thanks, June for your work. The city is a better place for having had you in this role.
Here’s an area you’re not likely to see the city spending money on, but getting to that understanding was an interesting journey. A friend who’s on the Pima County Board of Health recently contacted me and asked if the city would consider adding fluoride to our water system. The idea had come up way back in the ‘70s but never gained steam. I invited him, along with another member of the board to come and talk about it with our water folks. Here’s what I learned.
National studies have landed on a recommended level of 0.7 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride in municipal water systems to limit cavities. It’s a recommendation. Some cities add it, others don’t. That decision is based on fluoride levels that naturally exist in the areas’ water, and systemic issues. In our water system, the levels that occur naturally vary from about 0.28ppm up to 1.10ppm.
Since this was last considered, our water delivery system has significantly expanded. We now have 193 different distribution sites. While a small water system with only one or two points of entry can easily add the fluoride and manage the amount needed to come up to the 0.7 ppm desired level, we’d have to do that at each of the different entry points. Since our fluoride levels vary so widely, there would have to be constant monitoring of the levels going in at each of those sites to ensure we weren’t over-fluoridating the water system. That comes with its own risks. Tucson Water estimates the initial capital outlay to do that would be roughly $25M, plus an additional annual cost of just under $2M to monitor and run the fluoridation operation at each of the sites. Given the costs and the complexity of trying to implement the delivery system, I’m not hearing anyone suggest we move forward with it.
We’re not alone in the region in making the choice to refrain from adding the chemical. In fact, none of the Pima County water system operators add it. We’re all groundwater based systems and the ranges across the valley are such that nobody has taken the step to make the investment.
I was surprised to learn that in some parts of the city, less than 35% of the residents even drink our tap water. That would be a good way to both rehydrate, and to get some added fluoride to help protect your teeth. Of course there’s always brushing and rinsing with fluoride products.
Watch your water bill inserts this summer. There’ll be some informational pieces included as an encouragement to take steps towards reaching the recommended fluoridation levels by combining our water with your habits. It’ll vary depending on what part of the valley you live in.
Rainwater / Sandbags
Here’s a different water-related item. We’re hopefully on the verge of seeing a start to the monsoon season. With the monsoon comes the flooding of streets throughout the city. Last year I was able to get a program started in which residents could pick up sandbags to prepare for the rainy season. The program was well received. In fact, over 30,000 sandbags were distributed. We’re going to do it again this year.
Last time around we used a midtown fire station as the distribution center. They experienced some real traffic safety concerns as people queued up, blocking both street access and raising concerns from TFD that some of their operation might be jeopardized. With that, TDOT has researched options and has come up with a new distribution center for this year.
That map is of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. It’s the location we’ll be using this time around. From a traffic congestion and safety standpoint, it’s far better suited than the fire station so we’ll be able to better supply the community with sandbags. I know they’ve already begun loading up some of the bags – not sure the exact date they’ll start to be available, but wanted you to know the program will resume, but just not over at Pima and Arcadia again.
If you’ve got questions about the way the program will work, you can contact Carlos De Leon (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Alfred Zuniga (Alfred.email@example.com) and they can fill you in. When I learn the exact start date, I’ll of course share it through the newsletter. You’re also always welcome to call us here at Ward 6 with any questions you have.
My bank recently called me to confirm that I had tried to open a new account at one of their branches. They were suspicious by the way the guy submitting the forms acted. It in fact was not me, and their call let me know someone was trying to use my identity to open new accounts in my name.
I share this with you because it can happen to you as well and there are some practical and easy steps you can take if it does. I guess the first and most obvious is if they haven’t called you first, let your financial institutions know. Tell them you’re not out opening new accounts or making financial moves, and to call you before authorizing any. They’re happy to do that.
As a consumer, you are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Those are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You should call one of them, request the report, and also request what’s called a victim statement be placed on your credit report. That statement lets them know they need to call you before opening any new account, or changing any of your existing accounts. What I found was that by telling one, they’re willing to let the other two agencies know, so you don’t need to call all three.
Also, call TPD and let them know an identity theft took place with your account. Not only can that call serve as evidence of fraud to possible creditors, it alerts the police that the activity is going on locally. They can make a record of the incident and it may help if they’ve received others and are working a case.
If you believe someone’s using your Social Security number to apply for credit, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1.800.772.1213. You can verify the accuracy of your recorded earnings statement as well.
If you feel someone’s using your identity to get a driver’s license, call MVD. Do that as well if you’ve lost or had your driver’s license stolen.
I remember growing up, my dad had a convertible. He used to leave the keys in it with the top down when he went into a store. Small town Michigan. Totally different time than today, sadly.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events and Entertainment
Dads, grab the kids and come out for a run/walk along the Rillito River Path. And if you are a kid and you don’t live close to your Dad or he is no longer with us we invite you to come out and run in honor of him. Moms, we would like to see you out as well because without you there are no kids! The beneficiaries this year will be the Natural Resources Defense Council and World Without Hate
Spacefest is an annual reunion of NASA Apollo astronauts, famous space scientists, authors, astronomers, space artists, and fans. It is produced by Novaspace, a Tucson space art gallery and memorabilia dealer with a six-person crew. Engage with space panels, speakers and a Saturday night star (moon) party outside. https://www.spacefest.info/
Fun hands-on science-related activities for kids and their families S.T.E.A.M. Sundays (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) complements the museum's newest STEM exhibits, Investigation Station, TechTopia, Gravity, Build It, Pet Vet, and the Tankersley Imaginarium ARt Studio. In addition to utilizing the museum's own Science Cart, the Children's Museum Tucson partners with outside organizations to provide S.T.E.A.M.-based activities each Sunday.
Travel far away from the city lights to view the Delta Aquarids meteor showers under the pristine dark skies of Kitt Peak National Observatory, weather permitting. Festivities begin late and stretch into the wee hours of the morning as we observe some of Natures most spectacular cosmic shows. Learn about meteors, comets, meteor showers, and touch an actual piece of an asteroid. Click here for more information.
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
"Snaketown: Hohokam Defined" Exhibit, through July 1, 2017
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 | www.TucsonMusuemofArt.org
“Body Language: Figuration in Modern and Contemporary Art,” February 25, 2017 – July 9, 2017
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 5:15pm.
Mission Garden, 929 W Mission Ln | www.tucsonbirthplace.org
A living agricultural museum and ethnobotanical garden at the site of Tucson's Birthplace (the foot of "A-Mountain"). For guided tours call 520-777-9270.
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org