|I had an eventful trip to Washington, D.C. last week: my first time attending a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting.Meeting the President
I had the honor of being one of nine mayors to have a private meeting with President Obama. Three of the nine were from Arizona; the President also met with Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, a Republican, and Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, a Democrat.
The President complimented Tucson on our recent Candlelight Vigil. I thanked him for coming to Tucson after the shooting and told him how much that meant to our community. It was a brief meeting, very positive – certainly one I’ll never forget.
Tucson’s modern streetcar
I met with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood about Tucson’s modern streetcar – the 5th largest award of TIGER program stimulus funds of any transportation project in the U.S. The new streetcar will link UMC, the University, downtown and the west side along a 3.9 mile route.
Tucson’s modern streetcar is a big deal. It’s important that we get it right. Other communities with similar projects have seen, in just a few years, private investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars along their streetcar routes.
I’m looking forward to working with the City Council, City Manager Richard Miranda, the RTA Board, RTA Executive Director Gary Hayes and City and RTA staff to monitor this project closely. Put simply: This project must succeed. I am determined that it will.
Homeland Security funding
I met with Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Betsy Markey to urge that Tucson receive its fair share of Homeland Security funding, which supports intra- and intergovernmental coordinated response to emergencies. It remains to be seen what will happen this budget cycle, but it’s important that we make Tucson’s voice heard in Washington. Our first responders, and our community, deserve no less.
Cherrybell mail processing center
At a meeting hosted by Rep. Giffords’ staff and attended by staff for Rep. Grijalva, I spoke with Catherine Pagano, Government Relations Manager – Southwest for the U.S. Postal Service.
Together, we made the case to Ms. Pagano that, if any facility is taken off the list of those slated for closure, it should be Tucson’s Cherrybell facility. Of all the mail processing centers on the list, Cherrybell appears to be the largest facility, serving the largest population, with the greatest distance between it and its replacement facility in Phoenix.
I question the criteria the Postal Service has used to put Cherrybell on its list.
Congressional action could alleviate the budget woes that are driving these closures. Under the Bush administration, Congress required the Postal Service to pre-fund retiree health benefits for 75 years over a period of just 10 years – something no other agency and certainly no business is required to do.
Thank you to Reps. Giffords and Grijalva for their support for keeping Cherrybell open. And thank you to the many Tucsonans who have joined them, including our entire City Council, Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, the Pima County Board of Supervisors, Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Varney and many, many others.
There is still time to make your voice heard by contacting Senator Jon Kyl, Senator John McCain, Rep. Raul Grijalva and the office of Congressional District 8 (formerly Rep. Giffords). You can also contact John DiPeri, Arizona District Manager, United States Postal Service, 4949 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85026-9900.