Topics in this issue...
- Be Kind
- Razor Wire
- TPD Reality Training
- Bolt Retiring
- Mary Hardin
- Two Water Items
- Horse Racing
- Election Schedule
- Local First Arizona
- TEP Work Schedule
- Building Resilient Neighborhoods
- Old Pueblo Poems
- Maynards to the Moon
- Events & Entertainment
Here is to the two women who stopped by specifically to give positive comments on my mom’s art. They are teachers at Mary Meredith and Carrillo Schools in TUSD. Both have also lost moms recently – we shared hugs. And here is to the lady who poked her head in on Sunday evening to say what a ‘wonderful energy’ the art adds to the room. The painting I have included here is mom’s take on the story of Pandora. You know – the woman who is supposed to have opened the box without permission, unleashing all the evils into the world. In my mom’s version, she opened it and let all the beauty into the world. Enough with having women in faith traditions being blamed for sin and evil. Come by and take a peek. It will be up through March.
Before we get to another deadline for a federal government shutdown, I want to give a public thanks to all who stepped up and did cleaning and restocking work in many of our national parks. We saw pictures on the TV of overflowing trashcans, but what we did not see enough of was video of ordinary citizens doing parks maintenance on their own time. I believe we are a very caring people, and it showed in how we took on the work of keeping our parks in the best condition possible during the shutdown.
On Saturday, we had around 20 Fiji fraternity brothers, along with that same approximate number of Troop 777 Boy Scouts doing work getting the Campbell/Grant parklet established. These shots show their hard work.
What you do not see in the shots is the equipment operator from Environmental Services running the front-end loader helping to spread the compost. Also not evident are the neighborhood volunteers who showed up to participate, and the Tucson Clean & Beautiful workers who joined in. The parks director and his staff were also on site making sure things ran smoothly, and they did.
There are now four individual plots planted on the public Right of Way at the Bookman’s intersection. There are eight each of velvet mesquite, desert willow, hackberry shrubs and hackberry trees. I am told that by fall, they will each be well established, and the trees will be 6’-7’ in height. Shrubs are, well, shrubs. However, they have seeds that will attract a variety of birds.
Signage is being prepared that will give information on all of what is now planted. Parks staff will do some grooming work on the dirt areas outside of the plant plots. We will determine later on if decomposed granite is needed to further enhance the area. There will be a couple of benches brought to the site so people can just hang out in the new nursery.
All of what is there, including the wire rope and bollards, can and will be recycled into city parks or other areas like this. The RTA road project is years off at this location, so it might even be the case that the trees/shrubs that were planted last weekend will be mature enough to be moved to other locations, and more will be planted here at Campbell/Grant.
Many people were involved in pulling this together, and many more are going to be involved in additional tree planting work taking place under the guidance of TC&B, along with city staff. Look for dozens more tree canopies to begin in West University, Sears Park, and Connor Park in the very near future. Each will need neighbors to take part on the day-of-the-show.
This final Be Kind could go in either direction – just a couple of friends in the making:
Tucson can be proud of the community work that is happening in partnership with Tucson Clean & Beautiful and our Parks Department. We can also be proud of the community response to the needs we continue to see with migrant families at the Benedictine.
We have no control over the pace or quantity of ICE dropping off families in Tucson. A member of St. Pius X. greeted me Saturday morning while I was out running. They are out of available space, as are many of the other churches that have been helping. That is the reason having the Benedictine available has been valuable.
The needs continue to be mostly food – packaged, or dry. We cannot take over pre-cooked food for the families, but they do have access to the monastery kitchen, so if you bring the mixin’s, they can do the mixing.
As the operation establishes, we are learning some other items that could come in handy, such as large garbage cans, room-sized wastebaskets, brooms, dustpans, and paper products for the restrooms. When we took over the building, it didn’t come with those sorts of amenities, and it’s not fair to be paying zero rent and expecting the property management team to do the restocking. It is important that you know that the families are eager to pitch in and help. They are grateful for what is provided and are enjoying time cooking and keeping their temporary quarters looking nice.
Of course, all of this is temporary. The rezoning process for the site is moving forward. The owner and his team are forming a design advisory committee. That is their own internal group that will be include some neighborhood representatives. They will bounce design ideas back and forth, as the site plan evolves. I expect them to begin meeting this month. The formal neighborhood meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 17th. It will begin at 6pm over at the monastery. This public meeting will be advertised through a mailing that will go out to neighbors within 300’ of the monastery, and to the neighborhood association leadership that is within a mile of the site. That public meeting is the precursor to the public hearing that will be held in front of the zoning examiner. I expect that to happen sometime in May.
It is great to see the community benefitting from the availability of the monastery. The conversation about public uses of the building will be a part of the formal rezoning process as it unfolds.
This is an image of the razor wire the Trump administration has had installed by military troops who have been deployed to the Mexican border. Credit goes to AP photographer Jonathan Clark for capturing the essence of why I, along with Richard and Regina penned this memo. It is in support of the vote the Nogales Mayor and Council took last week objecting to the installation of concertina wire on the border fence.
Nogales has threatened a lawsuit if the wire is not removed. I do not think it takes a seer to predict the administration will not cave to that. The three of us believe a showing of broad support for our colleagues in Nogales is in order. We would like to see other governing bodies in the region join so the Nogales M&C are not flying solo on this.
The irony in the last line of our memo is not lost on us. President Reagan called on Russia to ‘tear down’ the Berlin wall. Our current President is working through alleged ties to Russia on a different front. Tearing down the wire seems a fitting exhortation.
A while back, I shared the TPD reality training sessions that include members of the public in working directly with officers. It is a great way to both train the police, but also to let the public get a first-hand glimpse of the real-time responses that our police officers have to make. Another opportunity for you to get involved is coming.
Friday, February 15th out at the TPD training center, you will have another chance to take part along with our police department in their reality exercise training. Friday is the workshop they require you to go through before actually doing the reality training work. It is so you know what to expect when the training sessions happen.
We have had some of our office staff go through it and each one came away with a greater appreciation for the tough work that is done by the department. What they do is to set up a variety of different crime scenarios. Volunteer citizens do role-playing, along with the officers. You will be doing both ‘sides’ of the scenarios so you feel what it is like from all perspectives.
The workshop will be held from 6pm until 8pm. This flyer has all the information you need to get involved, or to follow up with more questions ahead of the workshop.
You cannot take your pooch to the scenario-based training, but if you could, Bolt would have been a great instructor. After a career in which he was deployed to scenes over 800 times, he is finally retiring. You see him in the photo with his partner, and now full time family member. I have spoken with several of our K9 trainers and every one of them has a special bond established with their pup.
During Bolt’s 800+ deployments, he assisted in nearly 300 arrests. He also took part with our SWAT Unit for another 64 deployments. He also took 1st place honors in the 2018 Desert Dawg competition. Bolt won in the Building Search category. The entire department will miss having Bolt alongside. He will be living the life though, I suspect ‘consulting’ on meal prep and other domestic chores.
A while back, I had a piece on Foundrop in the newsletter. A friend asked if I would remind people that it is a potentially valuable resource for finding your lost goodies. Here are three examples of items I found on Sunday, each with the TPD contact information tied to the item:
They have generators, watches, camera lenses, jewelry, cell phones, and there was even a weapon posted on the page last weekend. To learn how to access the items through their site, go to www.foundrop.com. That page has a bunch of information related to how the program works, and how to sign up. In a nutshell, they post found items and by scrolling through the list you have a chance of recovery. I did not have any luck finding my lost set of keys on the site, but maybe you will have better luck.
Congratulations are due to UA architecture professor Mary Hardin. She has won two awards from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA.) Mary has been a strong partner with me, my staff, and residents of the Rincon Heights neighborhood in working towards solutions to several construction/preservation issues adjacent to campus.
This project is Sentinel House. Her students constructed it out of a porous material called scoria (basically, lava stone.) Since it lets air infiltrate, their challenge was showing how using it in this application allowed the structure to be energy efficient.
In this project, they had to demonstrate energy and water efficiency, but do so in the context of an affordable housing structure. I know Mary would want the students’ efforts highlighted – and they are – but she steered the ship, so kudos to her on these two awards. They were presented to her last Thursday at the national ACSA conference in Pittsburgh.
Melissa and I joined with Paul Durham and his staff at last week’s public open house that was held so the Flood Control District and Tucson Water could hear input from residents who live in the Christmas Wash watershed. The goal is to locate parcels of land – preferably upstream in the wash – that could be candidates for stormwater detention, while at the same time creating neighborhood scale parks or general green space. One parcel so far has been identified, and we will be moving forward with residents and staff on that construction in the very near term.
Christmas Wash runs generally from El Con Mall in a northwesterly direction, through midtown, Ward 3, and eventually into the Rillito. The primo site for a retention basin and park in the Wash would be the northern corner parking area of El Con – the one that rarely gets used. Failing that though, the meeting was to introduce residents to the idea, and to hear from them ideas of possible properties that might be candidates. Neighbors know where vacant and broken down structures are that are currently crime magnets, which could be flattened and made into basins and green space. Here is the idea graphically:
In the next 30 days, I will be meeting with Palo Verde neighborhood residents, Tucson Water, FCD staff and TDOT to work out how to create an amenity on what has been an eyesore at Dodge and Seneca. The meeting we held last week was to build on the concept, focused on the Christmas Wash area.
This conversation began in earnest two summers ago when midtown was crushed by our summer monsoon. At the time, there was very little receptivity by the FCD to using our tax money on what they considered ‘stormwater.’ However, the thinking has evolved, and now we are working very well together on this first project. I am hopeful many more will flow from this in the very near term.
Legislation on PFC Contamination
I have written quite a bit about our product manufacturer liability litigation. The case management hearing for it is coming up in South Carolina on the 25th of February. The basis for the lawsuit is guilty knowledge on the part of PFOS/PFOA manufacturers that their products are harmful and need to be kept out of water systems. The EPA has not set mandatory maximum contamination level (MCL) limits, only ‘health hazard’ advisory levels. There is such an outcry nationally over the products that there is now a piece of legislation at the Federal level aimed at forcing MCL’s for the toxic PFC’s. Here it is in its entirety.
The good news is that somebody in D.C. recognizes these substances need serious regulation. The sad part about the proposed legislation is that they build into it a one-year grace time for the EPA to designate them as hazardous. I am not thrilled by reading in the ‘Short Title’ description that they are targeting “PFAS.” We have levels out by DM of its counterpart “PFOS” at levels far exceeding even the health advisory limit set by the EPA.
Our lawsuit is joined by over 80 other jurisdictions. Over 200 military bases around the country have stopped using the product that has been causing so much contamination near to them. The Feds are finally getting a revelation that they should force some action by the EPA. Not holding my breath waiting – we will move forward with our legal action.
If you have read this newsletter much, you know I am both an animal lover, and that I worked hand-in-hand with multiple groups from around the State to get greyhound racing shut down. We achieved that goal. For the record, I do not place horse racing in the same category as running the ‘hounds, but it is worth keeping some safety and health issues front and center now that Rillito has opened for the spring racing season.
A while back, I wrote about what has called the ‘Dome Rule.’ It has to do with gambling on horses in Arizona at Off Track Betting (OTB) parlors (bars). It has to do with where the tax money gained from the OTB handles ends up. Turf Paradise is the largest horseracing track in the State and they have been advocating for changes in the Dome Rule that would in effect cause all tax revenues from betting the horses to end up in Phoenix. Advocates from Rillito have asked me to speak out on this. I have told them that I will not support any legislation, or changes in gaming rules put forward by the State Gaming Department that in any way allows dog racing to appear in our OTB bars. However, even with that, recent reports on injuries to the horses make me reluctant to jump on the issue at any level. I pulled this summary statement from the report I refer to below:
The report that caught my eye appeared in the Arizona Republic last week. It is based on data mined from a horseracing journal called the horseracing fact sheet. Here is a link to the site Dennis Wagner used for his story.
According to the Arizona Department of Gaming, 50 horses were euthanized during the 2017-2018 racing season, mostly during races. The Republic through a public records request obtained that data. That is double the rate found nationally. The Gaming Department’s report is called the “Fatality Breakthrough Project.”
The focus of the study was of course Turf Paradise. They are the biggest and most active track in the State. Last year they put down nearly one horse for every three days of racing. Of their 47 fatalities, 27 happened during competition, and ten happened during training runs. Most were injuries to legs or ankles. There were eight included in the study that resulted from illness.
The Jockey Club is a national thoroughbred registry. They monitor fatalities at tracks across the country. The average horse death rate nationally is 1.61 for every 1,000 race starts. In Arizona during FY’18 it was 3.41. The Club has made several recommendations to help Arizona get its arms around this situation. Those include (pulled from the report verbatim:)
- The Racing Division should employ a new veterinarian for pre-race examinations of all horses, and hire a new safety steward. No vet or safety steward has been hired.
- Outside experts should evaluate and improve track conditions. No independent evaluation has been done, according to the track supervisor at Turf Paradise.
- Horse trainers and assistants should undergo equine safety education to maintain their licenses. No regulation has been adopted. The Racing Division is considering informal safety sessions.
- Arizona tracks should participate in a database maintained by the Jockey Club for analysis of equine injuries. Turf Paradise now provides data for that research project.
- Turf Paradise should schedule a break in its racing season, which is one of the nation's longest, to give horses a recovery period. Track operators, trainers and owners say such a move would financially hurt a struggling industry.
The last comment is the one that really shows where their priorities are. The same was true of the greyhounds. They are a commodity on which the owners make some cash. Turf Paradise – or any other track in the State – has not voted on, or enacted any of the recommendations made by the Jockey Club. On January 10th, one of the Racing Commissioners expressed his disgust for Turf Paradise management and prevented a vote on renewing their operating license by leaving the meeting where it was being reviewed. Score one for the side most concerned with the horse’s welfare.
Here are a couple of charts that appear in the report:
The Gaming Department regulates the OTB rules for the State through its Division of Racing. It has not imposed any of the changes suggested by the Jockey Club. It has also not moved forward with the Dome Rule changes that would benefit Turf Paradise. With this report now made public, and with zero action on it from any of the tracks, it will certainly affect how I approach any efforts by local horse racing advocates to expand/preserve OTB opportunities in local bars.
Since the City of Tucson operates on odd-year elections, we are in a constant ‘election cycle.’ You may have started receiving mailers for this fall’s Mayor and City Council races. I am aware of at least four candidates who have filed for Mayor, four for the Ward 1 seat, and two for the Ward 4 seat. Therefore, there will be contested races up through November, assuming candidates gather enough signatures to get on the ballot.
You can keep score at home on how the election process is moving along. Below is the calendar of events we approved last week. There will be forums along the way. I will try to keep you informed on those, but since I am not one of the candidates this time, I may not hear of them all. Best to connect with a candidate of your choice and ask to be included on their mailers so you don’t miss the chance to hear them speaking together.
This week’s Local Tucson is an important educational bit of news. Two years ago the State and Governor pretty much zeroed out funding for JTED. Those are the trade and technical education programs that exist throughout TUSD and other local school districts. They have begun to restore some of the funding, but the interest in, and importance of the programs still outpaces the funding levels. Isn’t that the case with education generally in Arizona?
Well, TUSD is working on their own to make technical training available to as many students as possible. The TUSD governing board adopted this Resolution in support of the programs.
They have gone beyond just that Resolution. Career and Technical Education programs are available for all TUSD students. Back in the day, I took shop classes. These are nothing like those. Because it is located in the heart of Ward 6, I am going to use what is available at Catalina High School as the example.
At CHS, they have three unique CTE programs. They cover Culinary Arts, Business Operations and Construction. Each of those programs has dual credit options. That means students can get credit for both High School, and Community College at the same time. In addition, for the Culinary Arts program, they are offering bus transportation, an extended day scheduling option, and an evening meal so as many students as possible can take part.
All of the credit for expanding these programs goes to the TUSD governing board, and to Superintendent Trujillo. I am just giving a broad overview of what they are doing. For a full description, check out the CTE page on their website at http://tusd1.org/Departments/Career-and-Technical-Education.
Tucson Electric Power is in the process of system upgrades in some midtown areas. They do a good job of letting the public know what is coming, but I told them I would help to get the word out so there are as few surprises as possible.
Beginning this week you will see work happening near Country Club, between Broadway and Speedway. The crews will be replacing old wooden poles with new metal ones. A part of the work is also going to be installing new service equipment on the poles, and energizing some ground level transformers. They expect the work to be done around the middle of March. There are no planned service interruptions coming from this project.
Some of the work will take place along Via Palos Verdes. TEP has done some outreach to alert residents of some underground work that is coming to the area. This piece of the work should be done in February, and the remaining phases of this project will take until later in the year to complete. If you want to get more detailed information, contact their Government Affairs/Local Affairs person, Adriana Marinez. You can reach her at 884.3677.
Utility companies are often in the middle of climate-warming discussions. One such forum is coming to the Sam Hughes Elementary School on Monday, March 11th. The meeting will run from 7pm – 8:30pm. It is open to everyone, and it is free.
The event intends to present an overview of environmental conditions as they exist in the Tucson basin. It is not just telling you what you may already feel when you walk outside. The intent is also to provide some practical steps we can take to address the conditions. That is the neighborhood resiliency piece.
The movers on getting this forum off the ground are the Arizona Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association. I am happy to be helping pass the word around about the event. The program on the 11th will include these subjects for discussion:
- Climate change and the need for adaptation
- Household tools for emergency preparation
- Solar technologies -- for resilience and for mitigation
- Cooling our streets and homes with trees
- What does a resilient neighborhood look like?
Stop by and see how you might be able to do your local part in addressing the global issue.
There is a poetry contest coming. It is actually a Haiku contest. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that consists of only 17 syllables contained in three lines. The first and third lines have five syllables each, and the middle line has seven.
The contest is sponsored by the Downtown Tucson Partnership, and the UA Poetry Center. The entries will be judged by Tucson’s Poet Laureate, TC Tolbert. Winners will get a $25 gift card for downtown merchants, and will have their work featured on public signage that will be installed throughout the downtown core. That will go up on March 21st.
The theme of the contest is “Life in the City.” You have until February 25th to enter, and winners are going to be announced on the DTP social media, as well as by email to all entrants. You can only win once.
If you would like to enter, do so at this website: downtowntucson.org/oldpueblopoems
If you need a primer on Haiku, check it out here: Learn more about Haiku here.
Each week we get closer to touch-down on our Moon Walk. And each week I seem to propose more opportunities for people to join, and to add miles. This week is Valentine’s Day. It is also my bride’s birthday, and yes, she double dips. But the point here is that our Environmental Services folks are offering quite the romantic get-away for you and your Valentine. A tour of the Los Reales landfill, and our recycling center called the Community Materials Recovery Facility. You and your sweetheart can tour both on February 14th. You will learn how methane gas is produced, and how we handle your household hazardous waste. I cannot imagine a more compelling Valentine’s Day gift.
To take the tour you need to register by my bride’s birthday, February 12th. Call 791.3175 to reserve a seat. The tour will run from 8:30am until around noon. You will need to wear long pants and closed toe shoes. You will be outdoors, so consider sunscreen. Kids need to be 10 years, or older.
And of course, count the steps you take on the tour towards our Moon Walk total. Here is the link to sign up: www.meetmeatmaynards.com. And here’s this week’s running total:
Last week was nearly a 5,000 mile week, and two more people joined.
Council Member, Ward 6
AMERICAN STORIES: DAVID HURN, DAVID GRAHAM, BILL OWENS
February 14 @ 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Etherton Gallery presents American Stories, views from three photographers traversing the breadth of the American landscape. These inveterate observers—often with a wink and a nod—examine the beating heart of our undimmed insistence on individuality. Bill Owens chronicles 1970s era suburban rituals; David Graham road trips along the architecturally-fruited plain; and Welshman David Hurn traverses Arizona’s eccentric landscapes. Show continues through April 20th. For more information contact Etherton Gallery: (520) 624-7370 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sun City, Early Morning Exercise Class ©️David Hurn/Magnum Photos, courtesy Etherton Gallery
THE AMAZING ACRO-CATS TUMBLE INTO TUCSON!
February 15 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
$20 - $40
The Amazing Acro-cats Featuring Tuna and the Rock Cats are a troupe of touring performing house cats. This one-of-a-kind, two hour long purrformance features talented domesticated house cats roll on balls, ride skateboards, jump through hoops, and more!
The finale is the only all-cat band in the entire world – Tuna and the Rock Cats! The current band lineup features Nola on guitar, Asti on drums, Nue on keyboard, and NOW some brand new members: Ahi on woodblocks and Albacore on cowbell, Buggles on trumpet, and Oz on Saxophone. There is even a chicken – Cluck Norris – rockin’ the tambourine!
“I can die happy now!” an audience member has claimed after seeing the band.
For more information on the show, as well as videos of the cats, visit circuscats.com
TEEN LEADERS AGAINST HUNGER WORKSHOP 2019
February 22 @ 9:00 am - 1:30 pm
Teen Leaders Against Hunger is a day for teens interested in volunteer experiences and social justice. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona offers a one day workshop and volunteer experience for high school students which emphasizes leadership while providing awareness about poverty and hunger. Workshops are held throughout the year, with the next ones scheduled for February 22nd and April 27th.
Arizona State Museum, 1013 E University Blvd | www.statemuseum.arizona.edu
Arizona Theater Company, 330 S Scott Ave | www.arizonatheatre.org
Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S 6th Ave | www.childrensmuseumtucson.org
Fox Theatre, 17 W Congress St | www.FoxTucsonTheatre.org
Hotel Congress, 311 E Congress St | hotelcongress.com
Jewish History Museum, 564 S Stone Ave | www.jewishhistorymuseum.org
Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd | www.loftcinema.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.
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
Rialto Theatre, 318 E Congress St | www.rialtotheatre.com
The Rogue Theatre, The Historic Y, 300 E University Blvd | www.theroguetheatre.org
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, 414 N Toole Ave | www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org
Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way | www.tucsonbotanical.org
Tucson Convention Center, 260 S Church St | tucsonconventioncenter.com
Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N Main Ave | tucsonmuseumofart.org
UA Mineral Museum, 1601 E University Blvd | www.uamineralmuseum.org
Watershed Management Group, Living Lab 1137 N. Dodge Blvd. | www.watershedmg.org
Yume Japanese Gardens of Tucson, 2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org