Ward 2 Council Member Paul Cunningham
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.
Wednesday, a mob that was incited by President Trump stormed the United States Capitol in an effort to block the ratification of a legally constituted election. We’ve had a Presidential election during the Civil War, one during the Spanish Flu epidemic and one during World War II, but this was the first time anyone has threatened our free and fair elections, the foundation of American democracy.
A few weeks back, I told you about our glass re-use program. Another program we’ve had in the holiday season for years is TreeCycle. Instead of taking your tree to the landfill, you can drop off your tree at one of several sites around our community until January 17th.
Ramón Gonzáles passed away last week. You may have read a little bit about him given the number of tributes that have gone out. R
Early next year, the city will be losing one of its most dedicated and conscientious public servants.
Southern Arizona hosts the world’s largest optical telescope and 10% of all the world’s largest telescopes. The Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution and NASA, along with US universities and foreign institutions, invest tens of millions of dollars annually in the operation and upgrade of the Southern Arizona observatories.
I fully support the Mayor’s call for an evening curfew to help slow the rampant spread of Covid-19 across our community. I also understand that there is a balancing act between public health and the economic wellbeing of our small businesses and the people they employ.
We addressed the Mayor's call at an emergency meeting Tuesday to address the record number of COVID cases along with near capacity hospital beds.
One of our great Ward 2 faith leaders, Rev. Owen Chandler, will be resigning his post at Saguaro Christian Church at the beginning of next year.
The reason for his leaving the post fit in with what I know about his sense of duty. He’s a US Army reservist and has deployed in the past. He is now being asked to switch from the reserve component to the active component.
Today, I’m talking trash.
Maybe not trash so much, but talk about a smarter way to handle one particular material that ends up in our recycling bins: glass.
My office has gotten a lot of feedback about the plans for zoo expansion and how it will affect the south pond at Reid Park, the smaller of the two ponds. My staff and I have been working with both Reid Park Zoo and the Parks and Recreation Department on an informative, comprehensive response to your questions. I thought I’d share our office’s response as part of this newsletter:
Votes are still being counted and it's been a contentious week. I want to take the time to tell you about Tucsonans coming together to help our neighbors.
My staff volunteered for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona on Thursday. COVID-19 has caused many challenges for agencies like the Food Bank. Economic stress has, of course, made their services more needed. They also must keep their volunteers and employers safe during this public health emergency, which can make it harder to serve people in need.
After the two in custody deaths of Carlos Ingram Lopez and Damian Alvarado, TPD opened up a process called a “Sentinel Event Review Board” which took a month to examine what went wrong in those cases. The analysis included everything from how our 911 center is staffed to how certain types of equipment are deployed to the attitudes and training of our officers.
I maintain a list of links to city departments and community groups that you can find on my Ward 2 page. Sometimes I get requests from one group or another to put on that page.
I got one this week from Literacy Connects. Literacy Connects is going to be celebrating their tenth anniversary next year, but many of the groups that merged to form their organization had been doing fantastic work in our community for decades.
There’s been a lot of national talk about mail-in ballots, but what gets lost in our local discussion is how long we’ve been doing mail-in ballots here in Arizona. Back in the 90’s the requirements were loosened for what were then called absentee ballots. Since then, Arizonans have been voting by mail in large numbers, usually close to 75% of the total vote. The fact that so many voters were voting by mail was among the reasons that Tucson decided to move to an all-mail system for city elections, leaving only a few polling places to staff for so few election day voters.
Oftentimes, if someone wants to build something new, they will need to go through the rezoning process. This requires meetings with residents in the area, the oversight of our Planning and Development Services Department and a vote of Mayor and Council. Most rezonings that come before the council are non-controversial. However, there can be concerns about impact on the area such as traffic, noise and protection of our environment expressed by people in the area.