Paul's Note - January 15th, 2021

Six hundred and two residents of Pima County died of COVID-19 last week. I’d like to tell you about two of them. 

One was Michael Hicks. We were on opposite sides of most issues, but I know he cared a lot about the community. He was a traffic engineer with the city for years and my staff got to work with him when dealing with neighborhood issues. 

Constituents often have issues with stop lights, yield signs or other traffic control issues in their neighborhoods which can be surprisingly complex. We’d call on Michael and he’d be happy to work with neighbors on a solution. Even when he’d have to say no, he was patient and offered an explanation. Above everything, he knew he was there to serve the public. 

You might not have heard of Angelo Joaquin. Angelo founded both the Waila Festival, an annual Tohono O’Odham music and cultural event. In addition to working for the Tohono O’Odham Nation on water issues, he was a long time employee and eventual director of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a group dedicated to preserving native plants and encouraging traditional agriculture. 

His work with Waila Festival and Native Seeds/SEARCH were part of the same thing: recognizing and appreciating what makes Tucson and our region unique, especially our native culture. He was keenly interested in this work because, as he said to the Tucson Weekly once, “I belong here.” 

My condolences to both Michael’s and Joaquin’s families.  

Tucson's Mayor and Council and the Office of Economic Initiatives (ConnectTucson) are hosting several virtual meetings this month to engage the community in co-creating a shared vision for the future of the Central Business District (CBD). Arizona statute ARS § 42-6209(c) grants the City of Tucson authority to abate property tax for up to eight years if a property is located within a designated CBD and meets other specific criteria that would improve the property for economic development purposes. The 90-minute meetings will inform the Mayor and Council about the future of the CBD boundaries and requirements for the Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET). The meetings hosted by the various council wards as well as the Mayor’s office. Ward 2’s meeting is Saturday at 1 pm. To register for that or any of the meetings, visit https://connecttucson.com/cbd-meetings/

A reminder: Starting Feb. 1, glass no longer will be accepted in Tucson's blue bin recycling program, but it instead will be collected at drop-off sites across the city.   

My colleagues and I voted last November to remove glass from the blue barrel program and start a local glass reuse program. To find out all the details of the new reuse plan, you can click here. By removing glass from curbside collection, the Environmental and General Services Department (EGSD) will reduce processing costs at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), while implementing a communitywide glass collection program that keeps glass for reuse locally. The reuse of glass locally provides the City with more program control, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This program will support the City's adopted Climate Action Plan that was approved by Mayor and Council. 

Drop-off sites will be opening in February and information will be mailed to all EGSD customers in January. Glass dropped off should be empty, clean, and dry and lids and caps should be removed. There is no need to remove the labels.   

 The City's Environmental and General Services Department (EGSD) has been hosting virtual town hall events for residents to learn more about the new program and why the glass decision was made. The final town hall will be on the 21st. To register, please visit https://www.tucsonaz.gov/es/announcement/glass-reuse-plan