February 25, 2012

Mayor’s Update – February 25, 2012


Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona February 25, 2012

University of Arizona Cancer Center
With David S. Alberts, M.D.; click for higher resolution #180DayPlan  I met with University of Arizona Cancer CenterDirector Dr. David Alberts last week for a tour of their facility on Campbell north of Prince. The building has been transformed from its Tucson General Hospital days into a beautiful facility for cancer care and research.The center, which has 3 clinical care locations in Tucson, is one of just 40 centers in the country to receive the National Cancer Institute’s highest designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center. In fact, it was the first center nationally to receive that designation.

In addition to the enormous health benefits of having this center in Tucson, it has brought millions of dollars in research funding to our community. From 2008 to 2009 alone, the total was over $75 million.

The center has also spun off 16 companies, including Ventana Medical Systems. In 2008, Ventana was acquired by Roche for approximately $3.4 billion. Ventana remains in the Greater Tucson Area and employs over 1,000 people locally.

Tucson is a Science City. The University and this center are two of the main reasons for that. I look forward to working with Dr. Alberts and the University to help as a city, where we can, with the continued success of this center and with the process of technology transfer. Our local economy benefits when breakthrough discoveries made in Tucson turn into breakout companies that stay in Tucson.

Retaining existing employers and supporting technology transfer/entrepreneurship are part of the Mayor’s 180 Day Work Plan.

Science in the City
 #180DayPlan  Last week’s press conference was held at the Mars & Beyond exhibit next to the Rialto Theatre. In what I hope will become an annual event, the Arizona SciTech festival partnered with University of Arizona professors and downtown business owners to host Science in the City – a fun festival of science activities for the whole
family.With demonstrations like “the science of pop rocks” – complete with homemade, mouth-popping samples – the focus was on getting kids interested in science.The Arizona SciTech festival continues until March 14th. Upcoming events include SARSEF, the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair, where K-8 and high school students display their very own science projects. Stop by and give your encouragement March 14th, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Tucson Convention Center.

Weekly press conferences and fostering excellence in education are part of the Mayor’s 180 Day Work Plan.

Water “wheeling” agreement with Oro Valley
Along with Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath, I was pleased to attend the dedication of the Town of Oro Valley’s CAP (Central Arizona Project) water wheeling facility. An Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Tucson and Oro Valley allows the use of Tucson Water’s existing infrastructure to wheel (pump/deliver) some of Oro Valley’s CAP water allotment to the Town. Under the IGA, up to 2,000 Acre-Feet per year of the allotment will be recharged at Tucson’s Clearwater Facility.This is the kind of regional cooperation and foresight I want to continue. The IGA not only benefits both communities, their residents and businesses; it also benefits the environment – as up to 4,000 Acre-Feet per year of groundwater won’t be pumped from our regional aquifer.
Ward 1 Town Hall
At the Ward 1 office; click for higher resolution #180DayPlan Council Member Regina Romero hosted the first of my promised Ward Town Halls. I enjoyed hearing from the standing-room-only audience about westside issues. High on the list were concerns about Rio Nuevo.Tucson is still involved in mediation with the Rio Nuevo Board. Our mediator is former Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court Tom Zlacket. I can’t discuss the contents of the mediation, but I can say that both I and the City Council are determined, through settlement or otherwise, to put the Rio Nuevo dispute in our past.

Holding a Town Hall in each Ward is part of the Mayor’s 180 Day Work Plan.

Cherrybell slated for closure
I was disappointed to see the Postal Service issue its determination to close Tucson’s mail processing facility at Cherrybell and move operations to Phoenix. The move will cost local businesses and non-profits mailing to 856/857 zip codes their SCF discount – increasing bulk mail rates by 4.3 cents apiece.According to retired Tucson Postmaster Arnold Elias, the move will create two tiers of service; with Phoenix continuing to receive overnight delivery while Tucson mail gets delivered days later. As he put it, Tucsonans will pay first-class rates for second-class service.

Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, saying that closing Cherrybell will impact vote by mail throughout the state, particularly in rural areas and on tribal lands.

Congress can still act to halt closure. Locally, Congressman Grijalva has taken a leading role in opposing closure, as has Council Member Fimbres. Please contact members of the Arizona Congressional delegation (both House and Senate) and any other Congressional offices you have a connection with and ask them to ease the financial burdens Congress has placed on the Postal Service (i.e., prefunding retiree health care benefits 75 years into the future) and to consider the economic impact of closure 0n surrounding communities as part of the selection criteria.

Ultimately, this will be a federal decision. But at the local level, we can make sure our voices are heard. Thank you for adding your voice to this important effort.

Nominate an outstanding woman in government
The Pima County/Tucson Women’s Commission is accepting nominations of outstanding women in government. It’s a three-step process: read the background information; then submit the nomination and cover form. Anyone can submit a nomination, but nominees must be employed by city, county or tribal government in Pima County.I appreciate that the Women’s Commission has taken the initiative to recognize outstanding contributions made by women throughout our region. Naturally, I’m rooting for City of Tucson employees! Get those forms in. The deadline for nominations is March 6th.

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