Topics in this issue...
- Prop 101 - Roads & Public Safety
- Three More Ballot Measures
- PACE Legislation
- More Climate Items
- CAP WAter & Energy
- Energy Efficiency Rebates
- Tucson Botanical Gardens
- River Run Network
- Film Industry / Visit Tucson
- Back to School Safety & Health Fair
- Local First - Even Stevens
Last week up in a Marana shopping center, a couple of guys got into an argument out in the parking lot. The solution was for one of them to pull a gun and kill the other. The shooter is in custody.
At a hospital in the Bronx a doctor who had worked there went on a shooting spree. He had originally gone looking for one doctor, a former colleague. When he discovered that she was off shift, he shot and killed the person who was covering for her. He also wounded another 6 people before taking his own life. He had been asked to resign as a result of having had multiple reports of sexual harassment.
Road rage was the cause of a fatal shooting last week in West Chester, Pennsylvania. A young girl who was just returning from her High School graduation was shot and killed by the driver of a car next to her on the freeway. Initially the guy drove off. He turned himself in later in the week.
There were 2 more cop killings last week. One was in San Antonio, Texas. The officer was simply ambushed – and the shooter ended up being shot and killed as the incident played out. Then in New York City, a 51 year old mother of 3, also a police officer, was ambushed while she sat in her patrol car.
In Madison, Wisconsin, a guy met his family in the driveway, shot his partner, son, and a neighbor. Killed them all, wounded a 4th; and then was killed by a deputy. This one was domestic violence.
And in Chicago over the July 4th weekend they had a dozen killings with 100 people wounded by gunshot.
And with that as a backdrop, the NRA is out recruiting. This cheerful looking lady is making their sales pitch:
Many of us will continue an alternate pitch; rational gun safety legislation at all levels of government, and a level of political discourse that does not draw lines in the sand, but calls for dialogue.
Prop 101 – Roads and Public Safety
Last week we put the finishing touches on the protocols for public oversight of how the Prop 101 funds will be spent. The ½ cent sales tax went into effect on July 1st so the money is now accruing to be used for road repair and capital equipment for police and fire.
On the Prop 101 roads piece, we already have in place a citizen bond oversight committee. They’ve been making decisions as to which residential streets are repaired with the Prop 409 money. That same group will simply roll over and continue their work with the Prop 101 funding. No change there. We appreciate the hard work they’ve invested in the community.
For the public safety capital needs, we felt another oversight committee was important in order to maintain taxpayer confidence that the money is going where it’s supposed to go. Each council member and the mayor have appointed a member to that committee. The city manager will name 4 members. That group of 11 citizens will work with staff to make sure the police cars, fire vehicles and other elements of the Proposition related to public safety is where the money goes.
This Proposition passed with 62% of the vote largely because of the trust we’ve built up with the public over the past 5 years through Prop 409, and through our having achieved a structurally balanced operational budget. We’re taking nothing for granted though. These 2 oversight committees are the key to continuing that trust.
Three More Ballot Measures
This fall there will be 3 more questions on the ballot, each with a financial component, and each placed on the ballot by members of the public. The M&C cannot take a formal position on any of them – just as we could not vote as a governing body for or against Prop 101. I’ll share with you a general outline of what each of them contains. I’m sure there’ll be plenty in the media between now and November for you to dig deeper into the ones you’d like to know more about.
Reid Park Zoo Initiative
There are actually two questions you’ll see on the ballot for the zoo, but they’re both aimed at the same goal; beginning a capital fund for making improvements and maintaining the existing infrastructure out at the zoo.
The official title of this initiative is the Reid Park Zoo Animal Quality of Life Authorization Act. It is asking for a 1/10 of a cent increase in the sales tax. All of that will be earmarked into a fund “for the sole and exclusive purpose of providing additional funding to the Gene C. Reid Park Zoo.” Just as we can’t freewheel in how we spend the Prop 101 money though, this tenth of a cent must go to “capital improvements, operations and maintenance” at the zoo. It will supplement the zoo budget, not give us the liberty to cut their budget and use this to fill in that gap.
There are two questions tied to this one goal. One question authorizes the added sales tax, and the other amends our code to implement the increase. The tax sunsets in 10 years.
On a separate track, but directly associated with the zoo, the zoological society is also looking at how the zoo operations are managed. We’ll be getting a full report on that recommendation later this year. They put together a group of citizens to work with consultants and come up with a management plan and organizational structure.
Right now over 1/3 of the people you see working out at the zoo are zoological society members, not city employees. And about 40% of the zoo operating budget is paid by the zoological society. Because they’re already so heavily integrated in how the place is run, we’re looking at a new model for funding and staffing.
One of the most important off-site functions the zoo is involved with is animal conservation worldwide. That’s a necessary part of what we do, and our accreditation is tied to keeping it. Regardless of what we do with the staffing and management structure, conservation will continue to be integral to the work done out at the zoo. More to come on this.
Pre-K Education Funding
Another ballot initiative you’ll see this November is called the Strong Start Tucson Tax. This is another ½ cent sales tax increase ask. The money will go to offer funds to families who want to send their kids to certain preschools.
There are several rules built into this fund for both family eligibility and which schools are allowed to be funded. They’ll establish a sliding scale for family contributions based on income. And they’ll set performance standards for which schools can take part. While it’ll be pretty easy for the zoo folks to explain how their funds will be used, this one will take some more homework on your part.
In very brief form, there will be a non-profit established who’ll make recommendations to M&C, and we’re supposed to approve the final allocations. We’ll also be naming the 7 members of the committee and approving their by-laws. The initiative allows for up to 8% of the funds to go for administrative expenses, although the committee members are all non-paid.
There are a lot of details as to which schools are eligible, how the families will be determined, how much they’ll get and how the fund will be monitored. You can study it all by going to www.strongstarttucson.org.
Mayor and Council Salaries
The final ballot measure you’ll see this November came from the Citizen’s Commission on Public Service and Compensation. It’s a group formed by Charter who is required every 2 years to make a recommendation for the voters to consider related to how much we’re paid.
Right now the Mayor is paid $3,500 per month. Each council member is paid $2,000 per month. The Commission is recommending those amounts be increased to $5,775 monthly for the Mayor, and $3,300 per month for each council member. There will be one question on the ballot that will incorporate both of those increases.
Last week we voted to place this on the ballot. There was some question as to why we were voting when in fact the recommendation is coming from the Citizen’s Commission. Our Charter assigns to the M&C the authority to place items on the ballot. And our Charter calls for the Commission to come forward with a recommendation every 2 years. They did, and we put it on the ballot. Our part was simply ministerial – we had to or would have been in violation of the Charter.
Joe Ferguson of the Star wrote a piece on this in which he quoted a few of us on our opinion about the salaries we receive. There were statements about higher salaries possibly opening up the council positions to a broader array of people. I don’t disagree. My comment was that we make decisions that relate to fundamentally important quality of life issues. Do they justify the money being recommended? I believe yes. Is now the time to make the change? That’s up to you.
One item I’d love to see adopted – not by a ballot initiative, but by the state legislature – is called PACE. It stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It’s an economic development tool that requires energy efficiency components be built into the project in order that it be considered for this funding mechanism.
In very broad strokes, a commercial business proposes modifications or upgrades to its site. The upgrades must meet certain energy efficiency criteria. Items such as solar panels, new efficient windows or doors, automatic energy controls, EV charging stations, or water saving fixtures. Those portions of the project would receive 100% financing with no up-front charges. The loan would be for up to 20 years. All good so far.
When I was working on this a few years ago with people both locally and up in the state legislature, the tripping hazard they saw was that these PACE loans are tied to property taxes. The “loan” payment is an additional assessment on the property taxes. Being tied to the property, and not to the individual, it’s a lien on the property. Lending institutions had issues with that, wanting to be able to be first in line for full repayment if a property went into default.
Zero PACE loans have gone into default. The banking industry is now in the position of having seen some examples around the country of these working, creating jobs, improving environmentally friendly features of buildings, and not being problematic in terms of getting paid for their own loans. There’s a move to bring back to the Arizona state legislature a newly drafted PACE proposal. Stay tuned. I’m hopeful – guardedly – and supportive – totally.
Last week I teased a forum I’ll be hosting related to climate issues. We now have a date/time/location, and we have participants for the panel discussion. I’ll include a flyer for the forum next week. For now, this is what you can plan on. It’s participatory, so mark your calendar.
Monday, August 7th we again have Temple Emanu-El booked for this forum. We’ll start promptly at 6pm, and will end at 7:30. Doors will open at 5:30 – it’s free, and everyone is welcome to come and take part.
The title of the forum is “Community Climate Forum: what’s being done, and what’s your role?” On the panel we’ll have representatives from the electric industry (TEP), homebuilders (Meritage Homes), the solar industry (Solar Store), and transit (Southern Arizona Transit Advocates.) The format will be that each panelist will speak about what their respective industry brings to the climate table in terms of meeting sustainability goals. Then comes your part.
Joining us again will be Catherine Tornbom from Our Family Services Center for Community Dialogue. She’ll facilitate the small group discussions that’ll review what we all will have just heard, and following those exchanges, each group will report out back to the panelists. I anticipate enough time for a short response from panelists.
On Tuesday the 8th is when I have the public hearing on climate scheduled for the evening session at the Council. The goal is to get as many of you involved in this conversation as we can, framing a good dialogue throughout the community as a prelude to the resumption of the restructured climate and energy committee. There’s a role for someone from every sector, private residents, government, business and the industries we’ll have on the panel.
Over the weekend TransDev and the Teamsters agreed on a 3 year contract to keep the Sun Tran system rolling. I’ll have more on the terms of the settlement next week, but it’s timely to mention it here as the amount of time we spend in our cars vs. alternate modes is a significant piece we can play in our individual lives as it relates to climate concerns. I’m sure Bob Cook, the SATA representative on the forum panel will address this. It’s great that we got the settlement. It’s a testament to the hard work everyone involved invested. The community wins.
The president has begun the process of our backing away from the Paris Climate Accord. There are local initiatives we can take on in response.
CAP Water and Energy
One way we can each play a role in reducing energy consumption is by using less water. No, your faucets aren’t plugged into your house electrical panels. But the water coming out of the tap has chewed up considerable energy getting to your home. The CAP canal is the largest energy user in Arizona. In fact, the CAP uses nearly 4% of Arizona’s total electric power to deliver 21% of its water supplies.
Those are pumping stations. The Central Arizona Project uses gravity to move water to us. The system uses these stations to lift the water, release it and it flows downhill to us. But as it moves along its journey to get to Tucson, it’s lifted nearly 3,000 vertical feet. There are 108 pumps scattered throughout the 336 mile system. Each of them requires tens of thousands of horsepower to operate. So, yes, there’s an energy component going on every time you fill a cup of water from your kitchen tap.
I’ve also written recently about the Navajo Generating Station. It’s the coal fired power plant they’re talking about shutting down up on the Navajo reservation. Currently, the CAP uses about 25% of the NGS output. We’ve been told that moving the CAP off from the NGS will reduce costs for pumping. They’d move from the costly coal fired plant to a gas-fired option. Whether that would also result in a reduction in carbon is still being debated. The experts are still studying the unverified methane releases that come from fracking operations. But the financial cost savings and the immediate reduction in stack emissions aren’t debatable.
I invited Southwest Gas to take part in the forum. They declined. I’d have been interested in hearing their input on that carbon debate. Too bad. Lost opportunity for them to have been at the table as we talk about this critically important issue.
Energy Efficiency Rebates
Through a series of city sponsored programs, you can both save money, and you can save energy and precious resources. Some of those are explained below.
I captured this image from the Tucson Water rebate program presentation. The graphic showing where your water consumption goes is illuminating. As you can see, nearly ½ of all the water a typical customer uses goes either outside, or down the toilet. We have rebates that can save you money on both – and can save water in both as well.
Through our rainwater harvesting rebates you can save up to $2,000 in the cost of the materials needed to build your system. And in the graphic shown above you can see the potential water savings – which also is less you’ll pay monthly on your water bill.
Active systems are the storage tanks you see around town. They catch the water flowing from your roof and store it for later use. Single family residences or commercial TW customers can qualify for the rebates if you have a single meter that’s 5/8” or ¾”. Those are pretty standard and universal sizes. There are workshops you’d need to attend in order to get your rebate. At the workshops they teach you best practices and how to move forward installing your system. To get involved, go to www.pimasmartscape.org, or call 626.5161.
The passive systems are things such as building swales, berms or basins in your landscaping. They redirect and/or capture rainwater on site. That reduces off-site storm water flooding, something we’ll be seeing again if it ever decides to rain this summer. Use the same contact information for getting connected. The workshops cover both active and passive rainwater harvesting systems.
This graphic shows how much wastewater is produced in the typical home. Much of it can be used productively, reducing our reliance on pumping CAP water up to us.
Greywater is water that’s collected from some of the sources you see in the graphic. It comes from hand-washing sinks, showers and tubs, and clothes washers. You can use it on your outdoor landscaping, as well as for composting.
Through Tucson Water you can get a rebate for one-half of the cost of your system, up to $1,000. That includes costs associated with the design, as well as storage tanks, filters, pumps – the pieces you’ll need to get your greywater system up and running. As shown in the graphic, 31% of your water use may be able to be reused. Tucson Water estimates that’s around 28 gallons per person, per day. Do the math – that’s over 10,000 gallons of drinking water you can save every year through a greywater system.
To be eligible, you need to go through a greywater rebate 2 hour workshop. It’ll cover the systems, rules for installing and using them, and the rebate requirements. The workshop schedule is available at www.ag.arizona.edu/pima/smartscape. Or call them at 626.5161 – same as for the RWH program.
Greywater is not water that comes from dishwashers, toilets or either laundry or kitchen sinks. Keep that in mind as you think about putting one of these systems into use.
Clothes Washer Rebates
Even if you can’t hook your clothes washer or toilet up to a greywater system, you can still get a rebate on the cost of a new washer or low-flow toilet from TW. And the water savings can be considerable.
TW estimates that upgrading to a high efficiency clothes washer can save up to 7,000 gallons of water per year. In addition, the high efficiency models use far less energy than the old school units. So you save water, save energy in your home, and save the CAP energy costs that you’re paying, too.
There’s a qualifying product list TW can get to you. To be eligible you need to be a Tucson Water customer and live in a single family residence. The rebate is for up to $200 on a new unit. Go to www.tucsonaz.gov/water/washer-rebate to check into the product list and how to get your dough.
High efficiency toilets can save you up to $75 per toilet. It’s also for TW residential customers whose homes were built prior to 1991 and that have a toilet using 3.5 gallons per flush, or more. There’s a 2 toilet max, so you can snag $150 off from the price of your upgrades.
Look back up at the pie-chart graphic. Toilets are about 1/5 of the water you’re using. If you have a leaky flapper valve, it’s much more. You can save up to 7,500 gallons of water per year by going to a low-flow model. That’s saving the rebate money, cost of water, and cost to pump that water up to us through the CAP. To checkout this rebate go to: www.tucsonaz.gov/water/rebate.
Lots of ways you can save water, energy and money. It's a great opportunity for you to come and hear from industry experts, and share your thoughts with them at our August 7th forum. I hope to see another full house at Temple Emanu-El.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
We have in Ward 6 a great example of how to use water on your landscaping in a responsible way, a way that promotes conservation. Throughout the Tucson Botanical Gardens you’ll see examples of passive RWH design. And you can take classes at the Gardens teaching you not only about the passive systems, but also about plant selection compatible with living in the Sonoran Desert. If you’d like to check them out, either go to www.tucsonbotanical.org, or call them at 326.9686.
And there’s no better time to help announce Michelle Conklin, the ED out at the Gardens has been named Outstanding Fundraising Executive by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southern Arizona Chapter. Michelle will be honored this fall at the 29th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards out at the Westin La Paloma. Congratulations to Michelle, and to her staff. I know only too well that any successful work is not the sole reflection of the person whose name may appear on the shingle, but also of those who co-labor in the work.
River Run Network
Another Ward 6 partner in climate and environmental issues is the Watershed Management Group. They’re also sponsoring the River Run Network. Last week I wrote about the Trump effort to end the EPA oversight of rivers and streams – called the Waters of the U.S. Over the weekend the Star ran an article showing Governor Ducey also trying to wrest oversight of the rivers away from the Feds. That’s not a universally popular position.
River Run Network is a diverse group whose focus is on restoring streamsheds and the adjacent land throughout the Tucson basin. They’ve got their eye on Lower Sabino, all portions of the Tanque Verde and Cienega Creek. Partnering the work are groups including American Rivers, the Community Water Coalition, researchers from the UA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, PAG, Sky Island Alliance, Tucson Water, and on and on. There’s room for you to get involved with them, as well.
To learn more about what WMG is doing in this effort, go to www.watershedmg.org/RRN. There’s a great video, plus interactive maps and graphs on the site. More opportunity for individual action in a climate related area.
Film Industry / Visit Tucson
At the recent candidate forum hosted by the Metro Chamber, I was pleased to give a serious mention to the importance of re-attracting the film industry to Tucson, and to the state in general. It’s clean industry that touches multiple sectors of our economy.
Shelli Hall and her staff at the Visit Tucson Film Office are busy at work keeping us in the film game each month. Between July of last year and the end of May this year, direct spending by film and related print productions in Tucson and the region was just under $11M. We fund Visit Tucson with about $4M annually. Recognize that the $11M is just coming from Shelli’s operation. That’s a great ROI for the city taxpayers on their work.
Recently an LA based web-series called UPROXX shot three days here in Tucson. Their direct spending was about $25K for those three days. And filming out at Tumamoc Hill will pay dividends in tourism later on.
More examples – an episode of the BBC series High filmed in downtown, as well as out at Rancho de la Osa. The high-end French fashion magazine Paulette shot out at the White Stallion Ranch. That shoot resulted in 16 room nights at the Ranch. And Vantage West returned for their most recent commercial. They used Brink Media to help with production. Brink is the City’s contractor for media productions, so I know Vantage West got a great production crew for their work. Those 3 shoots brought in around $100K in direct spending. And it gave local crew opportunities to stay fresh in their work.
Film Tucson is scouting dozens of locations for other work right now. With a statewide film incentive, these reports on our film successes would be significantly larger. And yet, Shelli and the gang over at Visit Tucson are making a real impact on our ability to be players in the film industry, working with all the location and incentive resources we have available here in Tucson and Pima County.
Back to School Safety & Health Fair
Coming on July 29th the Police Foundation is teaming up with TPD to offer a safety and health event out at Park Place Center Court. The event will run from 9am until noon.
During the event there’ll be presentations on bike safety, sun and skin protection, teen accident reduction training, anti-bullying and a bunch more. Maybe one of the most important presentations will be in internet safety. Trafficking is a reality these days, it’s happening in Tucson, and it’s happening over the internet. This item alone makes this Back to School event worth your time.
There will be free school supplies, bike helmets and booster seats. TPD will lead some of the safety presentations, and the FOP will be offering fingerprinting. All of this is geared to kids from K-12.
To get more information on the event you can either call 207.2878, or go to the Foundation website at https://www.tucsonpolicefoundation.org/. And these kinds of events can’t happen without corporate support. Our presenting sponsor this year is
And coming this weekend is Councilmember Scott’s 17th annual Back to School event. Each year she has various TPD units, along with some of our firefighters making you breakfast out at the Clements Center. They’ll have school supplies, free haircuts, presentations by the police units, and my favorite is the raffle for a free family membership to the Reid Park Zoo.
The event runs from 8am until 11am this Saturday. Clements is located at 8155 E. Poinciana Drive.
This week’s Local First are all non-profits – joined at the hip by being partners of Even Stevens sandwich shop. The shop is located downtown at 178 E. Broadway. Here’s the story.
The Even Stevens model is that they go into cities and select local non-profits to work with on feeding the needy in that community. In Tucson those include St. Vincent de Paul of Southern Arizona, the Community Food Bank, Interfaith Community Services and Tucson Neighborhood Food Pantry.
Each time you buy a sandwich at Even Stevens, they put the cost of the ingredients into a fund. When one of their partners has clients to feed, they can dip into that fund, buy ingredients and make sandwiches to distribute. I think the model is very cool – and having them right in the heart of downtown, directly across from the A.C. Marriott is an added benefit.
St. Vincent’s provides service to about 800 people daily through their food pantries. The CFB distributes over 63,000 meals per day to community members. Interfaith serves between 250 and 300 per day, and the Neighborhood Pantry serves 40-50 each day. Each is totally deserving, and each is serving a needed community service.
Even Stevens is open Monday through Saturday from 7am until 10pm, and on Sunday’s from 9am until 4pm. They cater, have take-out, or sit down. Check them out at www.evenstevens.com. And welcome to Kat and her staff to vibrant and active downtown Tucson. We’re glad to have you here as our partner in the important work we’re doing.
Council Member, Ward 6
Events and Entertainment
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
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
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childernsmuseumtucson.org