Karin's Note: Thursday, December 5, 2013

 -Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?

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Dear Tucsonans,

Protecting Children

On Tuesday night I attended a forum in Phoenix regarding tragic failures that have come to light within Child Protective Services. The Governor and state legislators will be addressing this priority in the coming weeks and months, and the event offered attendees the chance to address three key leaders who were there to listen: State Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, State Representative Debbie McCune Davis and State Representative Kate Brophy McGee. All three are members of the Legislative CPS Oversight Committee. I also met Charles Flanagan, head of the Governor’s newly appointed team charged with examining CPS, who was in attendance and spoke at the forum.

Over 400 people attended the event, and I along with dozens of others offered thoughts on improving Arizona’s protection of children. There’s a sense of urgency for good reason. Some 6,000 calls to the state’s CPS hotline have remained “not investigated” and boxes of CPS documents were recently discovered in an alley dumpster. In Ward 3 three girls recently escaped captivity and horrific abuse at the hands of their parents; far too many more across the state have died or sustained prolonged abuse that might have been prevented. I appreciated that the forum was not aimed at placing blame or looking backward. Our best service to children will be offered by identifying what’s broken and by fixing it, now.

Our southern Arizona legislative delegation will no doubt be proactive. Here are two recent newspaper pieces written by Representative Victoria Steele and Senator David Bradley on the matter:

http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/column/guest/victoria-steele-cps-crisis-cannot-wait-governor-should-call-special/article_73fc6d1d-7408-53b5-8d61-f99670ba4018.html

http://azstarnet.com/news/opinion/column/david-bradley-governor-s-care-team-appointments-to-deal-with/article_9fbec4c3-f1c4-5892-a3f6-e517e3cfcc3e.html
 

As Senator Landrum Taylor so rightly stated at the close of Tuesday’s forum, we cannot expect a better result by doing more of the same yet again. Over the past two decades I’ve come to know many, many people who labor tirelessly within the rubric of CPS: nonprofit agency staff, CPS personnel, foster parents, contract attorneys and judges, parents earnestly trying to regain custody, and kin trying to keep kin children safe. Knowing affected children moves me most of all.

I will remain involved because I recognize that our community cares deeply about this. I will keep you posted as we explore plans for a Tucson CPS forum. In the meantime you can email cpsforum@azchildren.org to submit your ideas and suggestions for fixing CPS. I also urge you throughout this holiday season to consider donating to some of the great agencies set up to help local children in foster/kinship care. One of the best, focused on fulfilling the needs of children currently in the state’s care, is the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation:  http://www.affcf.org Thanks.

Monday Mayor/Council Meeting

At our meeting on Monday the Mayor and Council approved the City Manager’s recommendation for modest raises for City employees. The increases average 3% across all employees, however the raises are structured to benefit lower wage workers to a greater extent than those more highly compensated. The last time employees received an increase of similar extent was in 2008. Since then employees have in fact absorbed pay decreases (furloughs) and many have incurred higher benefit costs. I concur with the Manager that this was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

Having worked on city budgets now for eight years, I’m very familiar with the way some numbers get highlighted and others hidden depending on the questions at hand. It’s disappointing to have, for example, billions of dollars of “wish list” items that haven’t been vetted or the unsubstantiated threat of future layoffs/furloughs be used to argue against such a modest and fair pay proposal. Councilmember Kozachik, who opted to oppose the pay adjustments, unwittingly distributed a handout prior to our meeting that offered an inaccurate figure related to the impact of the proposal on certain groups of employees (immediately after the meeting I confirmed with Assistant City Manager Gottschalk that one figure on the handout understated the share going to AFSCME-represented employees by at least 33%). We can’t make responsible decisions as a governing body when each of us on the Mayor and Council gets different figures, wrong numbers, or distorted highlights.

To me all of this is just an affirmation that each member of the Mayor and Council has to continue to do his/her own due diligence and research to draw accurate conclusions. When I make my decisions on the budget I start by pulling out at least three years of budget and audit materials to chart the actual expenditures and revenues we’ve experienced. It changes the perspective to note, among other points, that the city’s combined committed/unassigned fund balance (including our rainy day/stabilization set aside) has grown from $28.2 million in 2010 to $41.1 million in 2013—despite state cuts and the worst downturn since the great depression. Truth is that we have offered and will continue to offer sound fiscal management as long as our decisions are derived from actual, multi-year trending and the whole of our $1.27 billion organization, not the inconsistent patchwork of highlights we get in meeting powerpoint presentations.

We will be making important, difficult budget decisions in the coming months to balance 2015 and address longer term, structural deficits. We will continue to do so responsibly. We won’t get there without rethinking how we structure and deliver our services. Our employees have been and will continue to be key players in identifying more efficiencies and helping to reorganize our work. We navigated our most daunting budgets with the involvement and support of our workers and I have no doubt that, holding together, we will successfully tackle those challenges that lie ahead. 

On Monday we also approved next steps for two economic development projects: a move of the headquarters of Mister Car Wash from unincorporated Pima County into downtown (bringing 72 existing positions and 40 new ones paying average salaries of around $80,000 into Tucson) and the expansion of Modular Mining Systems which will create 25 new jobs paying an average of $52,000 and bring a minimum $5 million facilities investment. We also voted to proceed with the sale of the City property on Tyndall Avenue, whereby the City will assume ownership of a comparably valued property on Alvernon Way while also gaining $1.5 million for the General Fund. These and many other actions by Mayor and Council will help balance future budgets by steadily improving the revenue side of the equation.

Finally, as we look toward the new year, I will continue to call on the many City of Tucson Board/Commission members to help us navigate the future.  If you are a Ward 3 resident or business and have some interest in serving on a City Advisory Board/Commission, please send your resume to my Chief of Staff Tamara Prime at tamara.prime@tucsonaz.gov.  We are currently considering appointments for the following commissions:   Independent Audit Commission (IAPC), Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC), Commission on Disability Issues (CODI), and Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Business Commission (SMCBC).  For more information about the functions and roles of the City Boards and Commissions, please go to the City Clerk’s information page at http://www.tucsonaz.gov/clerks/boards-committees-commissions.

Karin

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Ward 3 Events:

-Sun Tran’s Holiday Toy Drive To “Stuff the Bus” – Friday, December 6 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Watson Chevrolet, 625 W. Auto Mall Drive. Sun Tran and KGUN 9 have joined forces for this annual campaign to benefit the Salvation Army’s Christmas Gift Distribution Program. Please contribute new unwrapped toys to the drive. Cash donations also accepted. Second location is at O’Reilly Chevrolet, 6160 E. Broadway Boulevard.

-Chili Cook Off and Bake Off – Saturday, December 7 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. VFW Post 10188, 345 E. Roger Road. Taste the best chili and baked good for $5 donation and vote for your favorites. Everyone welcome to enter. Prizes will be awarded.

-Buy Local Month - through December 25. “When you gift, do it like a Localist.” Local First Arizona invites you to begin the holiday shopping season right here in Tucson. Check out the website: http://www.localfirstaz.com/  Think Local, Buy Local, Be Local!

-Arizona Cooperative Extension Community Discussion Group – Thursday, December 12 from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. Pima County Cooperative Extension, 4210 N. Campbell Avenue. Stakeholders are invited to give input on critical issues that will help guide Extension Programming. If attending, please call 626-5161.

-63rd Annual Winterhaven Festival of Lights – Saturday, December 14 through the 28.  Drive thru nights are December 17, 27 and 28. This festival is one of the longest running of its kind in the country. Event is 100% community funded, made possible by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Cox Communications, Jim Click Automotive Team, F&N Enterprises and Sturgeon Electric. The residents of Winterhaven ask that you bring a can of food to be donated to the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank. Last year 33,905 pounds of food and over $20,000 were contributed by people enjoying the light show! More info: http://www.winterhavenfestival.org/
-Holiday Schoolz-Out Program – Friday, December 20 to Friday, January 3, 2014. 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Department hosts this annual event. Children ages 5-11 will be busy making crafts and playing games. $2/child/day (lunch and snacks not provided).  In Ward 3, call the Marty Birdman Center (2526 N. Castro) at 791-5950 or Donna Liggins Center (2169 N. 6th Avenue) at 791-3247 to register your child.

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Upcoming Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s):

-Feldman’s NA – Thursday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m. St. Luke’s Home, 615 E. Adams

-Campus Community Relations Committee (CCRC) – Tuesday, December 10 at 6:00 p.m. University of Arizona Student Union, 4th level in the Ventana Room

- Cabrini NA – Tuesday, December 17 at 6:00 p.m. Vineyard Church, 3150 E. Ft. Lowell

-Samos NA – Tuesday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m. Salpointe High School, 1545 E. Copper

-Jefferson Park NA – Wednesday, December 18 at 6:00 p.m. Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road

-Flowing Wells NA – Thursday, December 19 at 6:00 p.m. Ellie Towne Community Center, 1670 W. Ruthrauff

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Citywide Events:
- Local First Arizona “Shopping Crawl” – Saturday, December 7 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Sunshine Mile shops. The Sunshine Mile is the place to find unique gifts in all locally owned and operated stores between Campbell and Country Club on Broadway Boulevard. For a list of shops and items: http://www.yelp.com/events/tucson-holiday-shopping-crawl-on-the-sunshine-mile

-Neighborhood Support Workshop – Saturday, December 7 from 9:00 a.m. until Noon. Eckstrom-Columbus Branch Library, 4350 E. 22nd St. The workshop theme is “Neighborhood Communication: newsletters, websites, email lists.” To register (required) go to: http://doodle.com/ap9pf7adxyg2vs2w

-Riverbend Farm and Craft Fair – Saturday, December 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Tucson Waldorf School, 3605 East River Road. There will be a large assortment of crafted toys, puppet shows, crafting workshops, raffles and music along with a farmer’s market, and food trucks. More info: 529-1032 or http://tucsonwaldorf.org/

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Did You Know...?

…that Tucson Mayor Jonathan  Rothschild has a campaign to plant 10,000 trees in Tucson by the end of 2014?  To date, Tucsonans have recorded planting 1,820 trees. You can find more information at http://www.mayorrothschild.com/trees/

…that the Humane Society of Southern Arizona has a donor who will pay for all spay/neuter surgeries for feral cats? Contact Sandy at 327-6088 X 0.

…the City of Tucson is hosting open house events to obtain public comment on the Sun Link Pre-Revenue Implementation Fare and Equity Analysis? The purpose of a fare and service equity analysis is to determine if the federal New Starts project results in disparate impact upon minority and low-income populations. Announcing this Equity Analysis and seeking public comments does not reflect any planned fare or service hour change for Sun Tran or Sun Link. To learn more about the Sun Link Service Equity Analysis: www.suntran.com

The Open House Events:

Tuesday, December 10 from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. Transit Services, 2nd floor, 149 N. Stone Avenue.
Thursday, December 12 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at the same location.

…that Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has launched a new tool to assist their customers in reporting graffiti on TEP equipment throughout their service territory?   At www.tep.com  a link has been provided allowing customers to report graffiti in an efficient way by providing the location of the graffiti, nearest cross streets and a picture (if available) of the tagged equipment.  Providing a picture greatly enhances the ability to respond quickly with the appropriate materials for safe and proper removal of the graffiti.  Once a notice is received, the information goes directly to TEP staff dedicated to abating graffiti.  While TEP will continue to rely on the City for notifying TPD of the graffiti reported to them  through the City’s Transportation Department, they are working to determine an efficient police reporting process for graffiti reports directly through their website.

…that the Tucson Electric Power (TEP)  plan to build a new transmission line to link the DeMoss Petrie (DMP) substation near Interstate 10 and West Grant Road to the Tucson substation near West 5th Street and North 11th Avenue? The new line will add 138,000 volts of transmission capability between these substations, increasing electrical system reliability throughout the Tucson area. Placement of the transmission line was selected (and relocated) after extensive public input. Work will begin next week with expected completion in the spring of 2014. Vegetation in conflict with the new transmission line will be removed first. Next TEP will install poles within ADOT right of way along the west and eastbound  I-10 frontage roads. Once the poles are installed, cable will be strong and the areas disturbed will be re-vegetated. More info: https://www.tep.com/projects/transmission/demoss/

 

…that you can sign up for UAlert, a free service that will deliver emergency alerts via your cell phone, mobile device and/or email account?  During a critical incident at the university, a series of messages will be sent by the Campus Emergency Response Team to notify the community about the situation and provide information and instructions right up to a final "all clear."   For more information, go to http://cert.arizona.edu/ualert To sign up, click on the "Sign Up" link and fill in the required fields under "Friends and Family" for users who do not have a UA NetID.  This information was provided by the campus police: www.uapd.arizona.edu