January 25, 2012

Mayor’s Update – January 25, 2012


Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona January 25, 2012

U.S. Conference of Mayors
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 KylSenator John McCainRep. 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.

Public/private partnerships … and pools
Last week, while I was in D.C., Council Member Richard Fimbres invited members of the business and non-profit communities, as well as staff, to address the City Council during Study Session on how public/private partnerships could be used to open pools the City was forced to close last summer due to budget constraints.Pool sponsorships and other private sources of revenue, whether from businesses or associations, should be welcomed, as they’ve been welcomed in many other communities. We have to look for these kinds of win/win/win solutions – a win for families and kids who use the pools, a win for businesses and associations who generate goodwill, and a win for the taxpayer – in order to provide levels of service that are not fundable with existing revenues.

Summer is around the corner. Kids are counting on us to do the right thing. In this case, finding pool sponsors is the way to go.

Thank you Congresswoman Giffords
Thank you Congresswoman Giffords, for your tireless, effective advocacy on behalf of Tucson and Southern Arizona, both in Congress and in the Arizona Legislature.Tucsonans love you and miss you. We respect you and your decision to focus on your recovery. We are sad, but hopeful. We know you’ll continue to amaze us with your recovery. We know you’ll continue to lead and accomplish great things. We know, when the time is right, you’ll come home to Tucson.
The Metropolitan Education Commission is hiring a project director and an administrative assistant for its new “Wisdom Project,” a high school completion and college readiness program for middle and high school students in the Indian Oasis-Baboquivari Unified School District. Applications are due February 3, 2012. For more information, contact:June Webb-Vignery, Ph.D.

Metropolitan Education Commission

930 E. Broadway Blvd.

Tucson, AZ 85719

Email: metcom@theriver.com

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