January 19, 2012

Mayor’s Update – January 19, 2012


Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona January 19, 2012

Connie and Shaba to stay together
Conference call with San Diego Zoo: click for higher resolutionA couple of weeks ago, I met with Tucson Parks and Recreation Director Fred Gray and Reid Park Zoo Administrator Susan Basford to express concern over the proposed separation of Reid Park Zoo elephants Connie and Shaba. I asked them to consider alternatives to separation. I believe in listening to the experts, but I also believe in listening to the people of Tucson – and many were upset by the proposed separation.I’m happy to report we found a solution that will keep Connie and Shaba together and provide them both with excellent care.Staff did as I requested and presented me with an alternative: send Connie and Shaba to the San Diego Zoo, which agreed to keep the pair together. I spoke with San Diego Zoo officials, who confirmed that Connie and Shaba can remain together.

I was pleased to see Michael Chihak’s blog and the many positive comments I’ve received since the announcement. As I said in the City’s press release, this is a good result for Connie, Shaba, and the Tucsonans of all ages who love them.

Bio5: Helping make Tucson a “Science City”
At the Bio5 press conference: click for higher resolutionLast week’s Mayor’s press conference was held at the Bio5 Institute at the University of Arizona, to highlight this key resource in Tucson’s becoming a “Science City.”Bio5 has a major impact on Tucson’s economy. Its researchers have started 16 companies and, since 2002, they’ve brought approximately $325 million in federal and industrial funding to the University of Arizona. That figure includes more than $57 million in fiscal year 2011.Bringing together researchers from a variety of disciplines – including science, agriculture, medicine, pharmacy and engineering – Bio5 is an international model of how to conduct collaborative research.

Today at Bio5, researchers are working on ways to diagnose cancers of the skin, colon and ovaries earlier and with less invasive methods, using tiny fiber optic catheters – just one example of what can come out of scientific collaboration between disciplines as varied as oncology and optics.

Bio5 also brings researchers together with middle and high school students. Its KEYS (Keep Engaging Youth in Science) summer internship program provides 100 Arizona high school students with an opportunity to conduct research alongside University of Arizona faculty members.

Thanks to Bio5 Director Fernando Martinez, M.D., Bio5 Director of Business Development Nina Ossanna, Ph.D., and Bio5 Board Chair Kathleen Perkins for hosting the press conference and for the work they do to strengthen our city.

Martin Luther King Day March
Martin Luther King Day march: click for higher resolutionThere was a very good turnout for the annual Martin Luther King Day March, despite cloudy skies and a few sprinkles.I was honored to read a proclamation from the City of Tucson recognizing Dr. King’s service to our country. Other elected officials who addressed the crowd included City Council Members Richard Fimbres, Regina Romero and Paul Cunningham, as well as Congressman Raul Grijalva, Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias and State Senator Paula Aboud.The March is an important reminder of the need to continue to work for equality. The strong support and participation of Tucsonans speaks to who we are as a community. I am always proud to see so many walk in remembrance of Dr. King and in renewed commitment to his vision.
Metro Education Commission receives $3 million grant
Meeting with the Metro Education Commission youth group: click for higher resolutionOne of the groups I met with in my first month as Mayor was the Metropolitan Education Commission’s Youth Advisory Council/Tucson Teen Congress, a peer group that helps fellow students learn about their options for college, community college or trade school. I was impressed, and evidently I’m not alone.The Metropolitan Education Commission was recently awarded $3 million over 4 years from the U.S. Department of Education’s highly competitive Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund. In fact, the MEC had the top score out of all 587 applicants – 100.50%!It is wonderful that the MEC was able to leverage funding from the city and county to apply for and receive this grant – which has already attracted an additional $450,000 in matching funds from private donors.

The funding brings MEC resources to the Indian Oasis-Baboquivari Unified School District. It also extends MEC programs currently supported by city and county funds, including the Regional College Access Center, the Youth Advisory Council/Tucson Teen Congress and the Key to Employment for the 21st Century Symposium.

Congratulations to the staff and volunteers of the MEC. Well done!

Lunar New Year celebration raises scholarship funds
Feeding the lion: click for higher resolutionIt was my pleasure to attend a Lunar New Year’s celebration at Gee’s Restaurant this past weekend and enjoy both the food and the lion dancers. Tradition holds that, if you feed the lion money, you’ll have a lucky New Year. Fortunately, I had my wallet with me.The event was put on by the Tucson chapter of OCA to raise scholarship money for Asian Pacific Americans. I met last year’s three scholarship recipients: University of Arizona and Pima students who were TUSD graduates from Burma.The Tucson chapter of OCA raises money for the program, which is administered by the Asian Pacific American Studies Department at TUSD. Recipients are selected based on academics, community involvement and financial need.

Congratulations to the organizers and sponsors for a fun and delicious dinner, all for a good cause.

Ft. Lowell Shootout
Chickens with silly string: click for higher resolutionSome things are just too much fun. The Ft. Lowell Shootout soccer tournament is one of them. Yes, those are chickens with silly string. Click on the photo for a closer look.Many thanks to the Tucson Association of Realtors for putting on this event each year. Youth sports is something family-friendly Tucson, with our wonderful climate, can do better than just about anyone. Let’s do more of it.

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