Steve K's Newsletter 09/16/19

Topics in This Issue...

I hope you saw some of this story on the news. It began with a little kid in Knoxville – home of the University of Tennessee – whose elementary school was having a “wear the school colors day.” This little guy didn’t have a UT shirt, so he very proudly made his own by pinning UofT onto one of his orange (school colors) shirts. Sadly, the kids whose families could afford a shirt with the school logo made fun of him, driving him to tears. His teacher gets the first Be Kind for posting on Facebook a request for somebody with connections to UT to help her get some special gear for the kid. 

The outpouring was immediate and enormous. Not only did he end up with some special stuff from the school, but they’ve now outdone themselves by offering him a free ride scholarship in 2028 if he meets admission requirements, and they marketed and sold more than 50,000 of these shirts, bearing a logo of his homemade one:

All of the proceeds will go to a charity dedicated to stomping out bullying. 

Tucson Fire paramedics get a Be Kind for some great work they did last week. In Arizona there’s what’s called a Safe Haven law. You can find it under ARS13.3623.01. Here’s the main point: A. A person is not guilty of abuse of a child pursuant to section 13-3623, subsection B solely for leaving an unharmed newborn infant with a safe haven provider.

Last week a young mom dropped off her newborn infant at one of our fire stations. They’re one of the Safe Haven providers noted in the statute. The infant was estimated to be 12 hours old. Paramedics checked him out, found him to be in good condition and transported him to a local hospital. The baby’s life was literally saved by our TFD paramedics.

And this is a tough one, but the Peter Howell neighbors who stepped up deserve to be mentioned. An elderly neighbor was facing imminent eviction. She was in a house that had been taken over by the bank through a reverse mortgage. Neighbors rallied to try to get her belongings out, and find her a place to stay. It’s tough because there were legal, mental health, hoarding and other issues at play. But the Kindness of the neighbors is worth noting. Many neighborhoods and some churches that I’m aware of have programs where we watch out for those in need who live close to us. They are valuable programs that any neighborhood association can pull together. It’s certainly something I advocate for when asked.

Casa Alitas Welcome Center

Tagging onto the theme of kindness, Ann, Claire, and I attended the Bishop’s blessing of the Alitas Center last Friday. Present at this event were representatives from Catholic Community Services, the Vice-Chair of the Tohono Nation (who also gave a blessing), Supervisor Elias, Chuck Huckelberry, his #1 assistant Jan Lesher and their Admin, Teresa Bravo, the Mexican Consulate, the Guatemalan Consulate, dozens of volunteers, and County Staff who keep the place running, and of course lots of guests from Central America. The event was a big deal, which gave me a chance to appreciate the continued progress the renovation of the space is receiving.

There is a dining area, colorful and welcoming rooms, kids play areas, 

medical facilities, computer connectivity to meet transportation needs, and Val is still out there doing the art with the kids.

The capacity at the Center is around 180. In the past few weeks, they’ve had occasion to send people to partner churches – some of whom initially took exception to the use of the County facility, but who now I believe see that the decision was correct, and people are being treated with the same compassion as was true at the Benedictine.

Donations are still an issue. We are taking them here at the Ward 6 office and working directly with the CCS folks to get them to the Center on a regular basis. The needs right now include: water, PB&J, bread, packaged munchables such as granola bars, personal hygiene items, and kids toys that they can carry on the bus trips. We have had a generous amount of clothing donated and we are pretty stocked up for now. If specific clothing items needs come up, we will let you know. So many of you have continued to bring in supplies – and I continue to be amazed at the spirit of Tucson. 

So, the place got its official blessing which simply validates the great work CCS, hundreds of volunteers, and County staff have been doing out there. The move from the monastery had its rough moments, but the new home has many qualities that are superior to what we had around the corner from my office working indoor plumbing, for example. 

Last week they received over 200 new guests. Since moving into the Alitas Center, they have helped over 1,000 people transition through to next-of-kin. Despite the malevolent approach to asylum seekers the Trump administration has on daily display, this community continues to be a shining light in contrast.

 

Genna

Last week I shared with you that there appears to be an inclination by the County Attorney’s office to allow for a plea deal, allowing probation in Genna Ayup’s shooting death. This, after having scoured the case, hiring a private investigator to do the same, having met with TPD and reviewed the case, and having heard (at least initially) from the County Attorney that their prosecutor “believed in” the case. Even though, after everyone I know who has studied the case believes it needs to go to trial without probation as an option, it now could be sold by the County Attorney’s office for a probation option. 

The judge will decide whether or not to allow that. I’ve written a letter asking that this case go to trial and to let Genna’s peers decide if prison is justified. After last week’s newsletter, I know many others have also written. Here’s my letter:

 

I’ve heard from several people who have also written letters. One friend of justice wrote to the judge that this isn’t the wild west – shooting and killing someone should not end in probation. Here are a few excerpts from other letters I’ve seen:

“Please reject the plea of probation for (the shooter – I wish the media would quit giving killers’ names). Please hold him accountable for his negligent homicide in the death of Genna Ayup. Please let this case go to trial. Let the jury decide.”

“We are 7 years out and not a thing has happened except for a tremendous amount of pain and suffering for Genna’s family. I beg you to reject the plea offer. (The killer) should not be allowed to walk away with no consequence. Please do not send the message to our community that it is ok to kill someone with no consequence. Please send this case to a trial by jury.”

“I do not understand how a person who grew up handling firearms was unable to handle one the night he killed Genna. It doesn’t make sense that Genna had a bruise on her face, a clump of hair near her body and neighbors even say they heard them fighting before they heard the gunshot. And yet it’s still only being described as an “accident. It is time he is held accountable and receive more than probation.”

The family and I would appreciate the judge hear from this community. We simply should not allow negligent handling of firearms that ends in the death of another – even believing the allegation of the killer in this case – to warrant only probation. Judge Butler’s contact information is shown in the header of my letter.

None of us are asking for an outcome. We’re asking for an opportunity that the County Attorney may be trying to eliminate.

 

United States of Ammunition

Join us this Friday at 6pm for the opening of the United States of Ammunition art exhibit here in the Ward 6 community room.

Maureen Cain and her daughter Erin have been travelling the country photographing scenes they’ve created at shooting locations. They use painted spent shell casings to create the statement art. This picture is from the El Paso Walmart, for example:

So far they’ve been through Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, Idaho, New Mexico, and Utah. It’s a sad truth that they’re only hitting the tip of that ugly iceberg.

Our Caroline will make refreshments, and Mom’s Demand Action will be here to share what they’re up to around Tucson. Come and be a part of this important statement in support of common sense gun legislation. The exhibit will be up through October, but Friday will be your chance to hear the backstory on how it all began.

In counter-point to the gun mess we see all the time, the Islamic Center is hosting a peace event on Thursday. It will start at 6pm. There will be several speakers sharing their thoughts on Salam, Tucson, and the general state of our living and being together. 

The catalyst for this event was the recent bottle throwing that took place from the student housing towers near to the ICT. But on 9/11 they also had some jerk show up in a threatening manner. The event is about disarming hate.

Last Friday, the UA president wrote a letter to the campus community in response to a racially motivated physical altercation that took place on campus. In it he correctly stated “consider this situation and ask what we can do to make this University a more inclusive campus.”  It would have been great to see that letter come out in response to the bottle throwing – it was a block off campus and involved UA students and the Muslim community. The message he sends is appropriate for the wider Tucson (national) ethos. Consider what we can do to make Tucson and the nation more inclusive. 

The ICT is located at 901 E. 1st – a couple of blocks off campus. Look for the towers. You’ll find the ICT at the base of them.

TPD Staffing/Response Times

Last week, Diana and I joined several TPD officers at a neighborhood meeting, the purpose of which was to talk about crime in that area and how we could work together to make a positive difference. We have had these kinds of collaborative meetings with other neighborhoods. I know each time the participants have found value in meeting with the officers who work their areas, and talking about what neighbors are seeing; getting that direct touch is important.

During the meeting, one of the residents asked about response times and staffing levels. These are the most commonly raised concerns and they are perfectly proper questions for you to be asking. The Chief has shared this data with us… I’m passing it along as the most current information we have on our staffing levels.

In last week’s newsletter I included a section on TPD being in a hiring mode. That’s still the case. While we have 874 officers in the immediate pipeline, there is normal attrition. We’re filling academies and training new recruits on an on-going basis. Chris Magnus and his command staff deserve credit for that. The City Manager and we at the M&C are on board with funding the new hires.

Response times are a function of the staffing levels, but also a function of the severity of the calls “on the board” at a given time. In no community do the police respond to calls on a first-come/first-served basis. You wouldn’t want them to. We go to the worst…first. 

Priority 1 level calls are where there’s an immediate on-going threat. For example, if you see an altercation happening where a gun is present, that’s level 1. If you call that incident into 911, it gets level 1 treatment. The table below shows how we’re doing with the various levels of call.

The bottle throwing at the ICT was not level 1. TPD arrived on the scene, but due to other more serious calls being in play, it wasn’t until after the incident was over. The evictions we achieved came after reviewing video that identified the rooms the bottles were thrown from.

Being in law enforcement is a tough job. However, the cops I speak to feel it’s a rewarding one. If you want to check it out as a career option, go to the TPD webpage at tucsonaz.gov/police. There’s a link right at the top about checking into becoming a member of our agency.

Water Contamination

Sharon Lerner, writing for The Intercept continued her investigation into the use of PFAS by the military. When I’ve asked our staff about what is currently being used out at DM and the Air Guard to control fires, the answer is generally something like “the new version of AFFF.” It’s supposed to be safer. Lerner had some interesting counter information on that. It validates my desire to include the Department of Defense, the State (Air National Guard,) and Tucson Airport Authority into our water pollution litigation. Tucson Water ratepayers should not foot the bill for cleaning up their mess.

 

The point of the article is that the military is spending millions of dollars replacing the toxic AFFF firefighting foam that is now in our well system with another toxic firefighting foam. This was a comment I pulled from the article related to the new and improved foam: “We deem it safer in the environment because it doesn’t stick around as long. It doesn’t build up in tissues as much as some of the older foams do.”

I don’t find that comforting. The new products are called C6 – that’s 6 carbon atoms in the chain. The AFFF toxic foam contains 8 carbon atoms. This will not turn into a chemistry lesson, but there are a couple of important points to be made since we’re being told everything they’re now using is fine. One is that we’re still dealing with the AFFF contamination. The other point is that the C6 is problematic.

This is a letter the USAF sent out a few years ago suggesting it was time to go the C6 route:

While they again admit to the toxicity of AFFF, they expect the change to C6 cost in the $2B range. The slightly tweaked new version of the foam still contains the PFAS chemicals, just in a modified fashion (6 atoms vs 8.) While they may exit the human body more quickly than the 8 atom chemicals, they still accumulate in our tissue, and they never break down in the environment. They therefore still pose threats to both humans, and to the environment.

 

There’s a lot of incestuous lobbying going on. The Pentagon helped to create an organization intended to defend the products. It’s called The Fire Fighting Foam Coalition. DuPont is one of the founding members. Check out my newsletter from a couple of weeks ago and you’ll see how long DuPont has known the PFAS contamination was toxic. They don’t deserve to be on a watchdog commission.

The EPA has no drinking water standards for the C6 products. They’re also suspected of being even more difficult and expensive to filter out of water than PFOA or PFOS. I’ve mentioned that the feds are right now looking at a National Defense Authorization Act that contains several million dollars, a part of which is to look into new foam alternatives. But the military has insisted the new foam still ‘consist of fluorocarbon’ ingredients. By that standard, an “alternative” foam can still contain PFAS molecules. 

I asked for an update last week on our litigation against 3M and other product manufacturers. We’re moving ahead with that, and are sharing the new contamination data we’ve found out by the Air Guard base. I believe we need to add DOD, ANG and others to that litigation. If there was any doubt that the companies knew the toxicity of what they were putting out into the market place, this opening statement before a Congressional Commission that’s now studying the PFC issue – made by the Minnesota Attorney General – should lay that to bed. It’s only 5 minutes long – watch it all.

The fact that this junk is toxic is not news to the manufacturers, or to the military. The new and improved product must still contain the same pollutants – just in a different form. This will cost tens of millions of dollars to clean up just here in Tucson. It needs to be a top media story – not sure why they’re not on it regularly – and our litigation needs to expand so those who caused the problem are a part of the solution, too.

 

Missile Pollution

And while I have the military dumping chemicals into the environment on my mind, Military.com ran a short piece that you may have missed since it didn’t get any play locally in our media.

 Look closely at that photo – it came from the article. 

It’s a shot of numerous rocket missiles that just dropped out of the back of a truck onto a Tucson roadway out by the boneyard. It happened in August. 

According to the Military.com article, the missiles contain “white phosphorus warheads.” A passing Airman took the shot and posted it onto Facebook. The guy who took the picture said it was the 2nd such incident to happen this year. Seriously? Damn – secure the missiles before driving down the street!

They’re air-to-ground rockets just laying on the ground out by DM. They’re the same type of rocket the Air Force “accidentally fired off” during a training session on September 5th. Not much media coverage of that one, either. It happened about 60 miles out of town. As with the missiles laying on the ground, it’s “under investigation.”

This stuff matters, especially since we’re fighting with the DOD and the ANG to get accurate information about the PFC contamination they’ve caused. When the safety of the public is involved, they must be compelled to be good neighbors. That’s my goal – that is not “anti military” – it is simply asking them to fit into the community in the same manner we expect anybody else to. 

EScooters

They arrived last week. And Brandon Cheung wants you to contact him if you have problems with any of the Razor scooters. He’s their Government Relations guy. They’re dropping at least 500 of their scooters around downtown and campus. He has given me his contact information in case you need someone to call related to this new “micromobility revolution.”

Brandon’s email address is bcheung@razorusa.com. His phone number is 562.345.6042. At this point, I don’t have a local contact. 

I was out on Broadway, east of Swan on Saturday morning. There were 5 escooters parked in the Right of Way out there. It occurred to me that in that location, they are only legal in the bus lane. What could possibly go wrong? The bulk of these will be found along the streetcar route.

If you’re riding, wear a helmet, you must be 18 or older, stay in the bike lanes, ride solo on the scooter and obey all traffic laws. Park the scooter upright in a Right of Way, leaving at least 4’ clear space on the sidewalk. While I don’t support adding these things to our mobility mix, I also don’t want anyone hurt, and don’t want them left cluttering up our City. So follow the rules, and be safe.

3rd Street and Treat Bike Boulevards

Following the mobility theme, connectivity was one of the items listed in the Prop 407 bond proposal. Among that menu of projects are upgrades and amenities being added to the 3rd Street, and the Treat bike boulevards. TDOT will be hosting some public open houses in the next few weeks to gather input from you on the proposed projects. 

If you go to the Prop 407 website you can see the description of these projects. For example, some of what’s being called out for Treat are wayfnding signage, pavement markings, landscaping to enhance both walking and biking and some traffic calming. Prop 407 had about $1.4M allocated to Treat.

The open houses will run from September 19th through October 19th (happy birthday, Ruth.) There will be 5 of them, scattered along those bike routes. For your planning purposes, here they are:

a) Thursday, 9/19 from 5:30 until 7pm at the Historic Y – 738 N. 5th Ave

b) Saturday, 9/21 from 5:30 until 8pm in La Madera Park. That’s on Treat, one block north of Glenn. There will be a movie shown starting at 6:30.

c) Tuesday, 9/24 from 5:30 until 7pm at Robison Elementary School – 2745 E. 18th St.

d) Saturday, 10/5 in Himmel Park, near the library. This is a morning event, from 7am until 10am.

e) Saturday, 10/19 from 5pm until 8pm (movie at 6pm) in Swanway Park – 4800 E. 1st St. 

At the La Madera, Himmel and Swanway Park events there will be free bike repair services. La Madera and Swanway will serve ice cream, and Himmel will have a pop-up café. Prop 407’s phase 1 jobs are moving ahead. Stop by one of these events and offer your input into these important bike boulevard projects.

Sunshine Mile Self-Guided Tour

I think it’s been 7 years – give or take – that many of us have been working on a new model for roadway design tied to the RTA Broadway expansion. Based on inaccurate data, it was sold to the voters as needing to be 8 lanes and 150’ wide. It needed to be neither. 

Mayor and Council voted to allow 6 lanes at approximately 125’. That’s still not necessary and is a waste of RTA/taxpayer money. Now, after years of pushing back against the proposed scope of the project, we may be ready to plant a flag of rational road design. Not through the RTA scope, but through some creativity that has been added to the design discussions with Project for Public Spaces, Rio Nuevo, Swaim and Associates, and the input of hundreds of you who have stuck with it.

Coming on Saturday, October 5th, the American Institute of Architects, Southern Arizona Chapter will be hosting a tour of two areas along the Sunshine Mile that are being studied by PPS/Rio for the redesign. This self-guided walking tour will take place from 2pm until 5pm.

The specific areas they’ll highlight are the SOLOT Plaza, and the historic Friedman Block. The intent is for them to lead a public conversation about the importance of place-making in design. The event is being done in collaboration with our friends at the Tucson Historic Preservation Society, and Modernism Week.

There will be food trucks, some architectural drawings, discussion of the Sunshine Mile Overlay process, and the value of activating the more than 25 storefronts that lay along this stretch of roadway. Check in at 2631 E. Broadway. To learn more about how to get involved with this event, go to their website at aia.org/southernarizona.

 You can also learn more about the Modernism Week activities through their site at preservetucson.org/modernism-week. That series of events is this week’s local Tucson item.

Modernism week will run from Friday, October 4th through Sunday, October 13th. As was true in the past, it will include films, lectures, events like the Sunshine Mile tour that highlight Tucson’s mid-century modern design and architecture. And there will be parties. Modernism week always has parties. 

You should check their website to find out about the schedule for the activities, and how to get ahold of tickets. The site is www.preservetucson.org/modernism-week/. I know many of the events sell out, so it’s worth your while to check and plan early.

 

Killing Contests

This is a photo that was taken during a killing contest held in ’15 in Eugene, Oregon. The goal of the entrants is to kill as many coyotes as they can, within a certain amount of time. They’re “playing” for prizes – and macho. I pulled the photo from an AzCentral story that ran on September 5th.

A while back, I shared with you the letter I wrote to our own Game and Fish department asking them to stop issuing licenses for these perverse events – and to make them illegal in Arizona. I know many of you also shared those same thoughts with G&F. Last week, the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council voted in favor of banning them in Arizona. Chalk up one for wildlife advocates.

It’ll probably come as no great surprise that Arizona was “credited” as being the first State to allow killing contests. Included are not only coyotes, but also foxes, bobcats and skunks. Now we join California, Vermont and New Mexico as being among just 4 States who have banned them. Thank you if you took the time to write and express your distaste for treating animals in this manner.

Letters can count. Write the Judge in Genna’s case. If we can ban these killing contests that promote the indiscriminate slaughter of animals – in Arizona, no less – we certainly should be able to get a judge to reject probation as an option for shooting and killing someone and claiming it was all just a big, unfortunate accident.

 

Hoarding Disorder

I met with a lady last week, Jami Parrish, who does therapy for people who suffer with “Hoarding Disorder.” As we sat in my office, she made it very clear that there’s a difference between “clutter” and “hoarding” – so I knew my staff had not asked that she come in and treat me. In fact, the meeting was an important way to introduce us to help that is available here in our community for friends and relatives who are struggling with hoarding. It’s a treatable behavioral disorder. There are local options for help.

One of this week’s Be Kind groups were the neighbors in Peter Howell who are joining together to assist an elderly lady who lives in their area. She’s a hoarder. The disorder affects about 5% of the U.S. population. I was surprised to learn that the average age of onset is around the teen years – but the average age of people being treated is 50 years old. That’s a lot of years in between to accumulate “stuff.” 

I pulled this table from some of the material Jami shared with me. It shows some of the signs to look for when you feel “hoarding” may be in play:

Just about all hoarders also have a family member who exhibits the behavior. That leads professionals in the field to suspect there may be a genetic predisposition. 

Jami and one of her colleagues from the UA Center on Aging are working together to put on a workshop on hoarding. It’s called the HOPE Workshop. Everything is an acronym - 

 

It’s a facilitated, self-help 10 week workshop for people who are struggling with hoarding. If you’d like to get information on the workshop, contact Lisa O’Neill at loneill@aging.arizona.edu. And if you know of someone who may be a hoarder in need of some assistance in kicking it, you can reach Jami at jami.parrish@gmail.com. Or just give her a call at 638.5103.

Sincerely,

Steve Kozachik
Council Member, Ward 6
ward6@tucsonaz.gov

Events and Entertainment

Today! Monday, September 16, 2019, 400 N. Toole Ave.

Meet Me at Maynards Mural Walk 5:30PM
Bring your strollers, friends or a well-behaved pup for a colorful walk/Maynards has two different routes mapped out. You can walk/run 1.85 miles and see 13 murals or a 3-mile with 21 murals/Check in 5:15PM-6:30PM/Maynards Market & Kitchen (Street parking free after 5PM-Free surface lot west of Train Depot).

Saturday, September 21, 10 AM to 4:30 PM

5th ANNUAL TEDxTUCSON CONFERENCE: [r]evolution, Berger Theater, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd

Twelve of Tucson’s leading thinkers and doers will present short, powerful talks on topics as wide-ranging as galaxy exploration, creativity, civil society, tiny houses, mining, French architecture and more­. The day also includes mini seminars, a Lucha Libre Mexican masked wresting demonstration, the folk/rock duo Ryanhood and other performances, plus catered lunch and snacks, and an after-party to meet the speakers and performers.https://tedxtucson.com/event/conference-revolution/ for tickets and schedule.

ONGOING...

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

Raices Taller 222, 218 E. 6th St | Fridays and Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm | www.raicestaller222.com

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 Tucson2130 North Alvernon Way | www.yumegardens.org