July 24, 2012

Mayor’s Update – July 24, 2012

Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona July 24, 2012

S.B. 1070 Press Conference
Press conference on S.B. 1070 with Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor.

On June 25th, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down several sections of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, as unconstitutional.

The Court provisionally upheld Section 2(B) of the law, but left the door open for future challenges once S.B. 1070 goes into effect.

Section 2(B) requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain or arrest who they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally.

S.B. 1070 puts law enforcement and the City of Tucson in a terrible position. Opponents and supporters alike are preparing to sue cities – on the one hand, for enforcing the law, and on the other, for not enforcing the law.

The day the Supreme Court issued its ruling, I held a joint press conference with Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor. Below is my statement:

“Today the Supreme Court struck down significant parts of S.B. 1070.
I remain concerned with the provision the Supreme Court upheld, at least for the time being – the provision that requires local law enforcement to verify citizenship if they suspect a person is in the country illegally.
I’m concerned because the Court left this provision in play, even while it acknowledged that enforcement could violate people’s constitutional rights.
As you know, the City of Tucson filed suit in opposition to S.B. 1070. Forcing a federal responsibility – immigration enforcement – onto cities, counties and towns, is the wrong approach.
The City and our police department are reviewing this ruling, and Mayor and Council will receive legal advice in Executive Session at tomorrow’s City Council meeting.
In enforcing this law, and in enforcing any law, we will be very careful not to violate people’s civil rights. I want it to be very clear to the people of Tucson and to people visiting our city – we will not violate people’s civil rights in enforcing this law.
The City of Tucson remains a diverse and welcoming community.
I want to assure tourists, businesspeople, anyone considering visiting our state, that Tucson is a beautiful, welcoming city, and we will continue to welcome international visitors as they visit, shop and do business here.”

Meeting with School Superintendents, JTED
Meeting with School Superintendents.

 #360Plan  In the last two months, I met with Superintendents of Tucson’s school districts (Amphi, Catalina, Flowing Wells, Sunnyside, TUSD and Vail) and Pima County JTED (Joint Technical Education District) to discuss how we can work together to improve educational outcomes citywide.

Areas I’m going to work on are putting School Resource Officers back into schools, coordinating parks, playgrounds and after-school programs, increasing the number of children who read proficiently by 3rd grade and strengthening school-to-work programs.

In particular, I want to see what funding is available to support School Resource Officers and what schools we can accommodate. I also want to work with our non-profit sector, our Parks Department and our schools to see how we can combine non-profit volunteers and programs, Parks facilities and programs and school curricula and after-school activities to provide more – and more coordinated and comprehensive – educational support for Tucson children, teens and adults.

Working to support excellence in education is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Literacy Connects Volunteer Fair
Literacy Connects Volunteer Fair flyer: click for .pdf version.

 #360Plan  You can help a child succeed in school or an adult succeed in the workplace by helping them with reading, math or language skills. Find out how at the Literacy Connects Volunteer Fair.

Date: Saturday, August 9, 2012
Time: 9:00 a.m. to noon (stop by anytime for a 45-minute info session)
Location: Literacy Connects, 2850 E. Speedway Blvd.

Literacy Connects is an organization that merged several Tucson literacy groups to provide services more efficiently. This collaborative approach puts them ahead of the curve, and I look forward to working with them and with other community partners to improve reading scores citywide. Contact Brenda Quintero for more information.

Working to support excellence in education is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Mayor and Council Meetings Update
 #360Plan  We had a busy lead-up to the shorter summer meeting schedule at City Hall. In the last two months, Mayor and Council have:

    We also voted to place a bond question on the November ballot to fund road repair. I strongly support this measure, as I believe we cannot rely solely on state and federal revenues to fix our roads.

    I’m going to work to make sure Tucsonans understand that this money will go to road repair, maintenance and reconstruction – not new construction. I’m also going to work to make sure:

    • We identify which major roads will receive funding; and
    • There’s appropriate oversight – by staff, by an appointed bond commission and by Mayor and Council.

    Ultimately, it will be up to the people of Tucson to decide what kind of roads we have.

    I want to thank my colleagues on the City Council and City staff for their help in moving these items forward. Annexation, water conservation, making City government more open and accountable and helping local businesses all were part of my 180 Day Plan – and they’re part of my plans going forward, too.

Encouraging Entrepreneurship in Tucson
Startup Tucson logo.

 #360Plan  For a city to have a vibrant, sustainable economy, a healthy community of businesses that are just starting up is an essential part of the mix.Startup Tucson is a non-profit that works to create that community. Check out their calendar of summer events at StartupTucson.com, especially the introduction to Startup Weekend, August 2 and Startup Weekend itself, September 7-9. You can watch a video about the Startup Weekend concept – basically going from idea to pitch for funding in one weekend. You can also connect with Startup Tucson on Facebook, facebook.com/StartupTucson or Twitter, @startuptucson.

Encouraging entrepreneurship is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Recruiting Foster Families
Recording PSA, holding press conference at Casa de los Niños on the need for foster parents.

Late last month, I recorded a PSA (public service announcement) with other regional mayors and held a press conference at Casa de los Niños emphasizing the critical need for foster families in the Greater Tucson Area.

I was joined by a young couple who have five foster children plus two biological children. The mother was in foster care herself as a young girl.

Some foster families are large, but some are small. If you can make a difference for just one child, that’s huge.

No one becomes a foster parent overnight. It’s a lengthy process. If you think you might have room in your home and your heart for one or more foster children, please contact Casa de los Niños to find out more.

Affordable Housing
Touring Sunnyside Pointe affordable housing development.

In May, I visited the Sunnyside Pointe affordable housing development, a project of La Frontera Arizona and Old Pueblo Community Services, two local non-profits that serve homeless and low to moderate income populations, veterans and people with behavioral health needs.

At Sunnyside Pointe, qualified buyers may be eligible for up to $50,000 down payment assistance from Pima County bond funds and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Program.

The development’s commitment to solar, water harvesting and energy efficiency makes these homes affordable to live in, as well as to buy. To find out more, visit SunnysidePointe.com.

Improvements at Planning & Development Services
Press conference at Planning & Development Services, with Ernie Duarte and Ron Boose.

In May, I held a press conference at the Planning & Development Services Department to highlight some of the changes they’ve made in recent months.

In addition to sign self-certification and streamlined Certificate of Occupancy and parking plan requirements, two key improvements are:

  • Simultaneous review Development packages that used to have to go through proposal review before starting plan review now go through both at the same time, cutting review time in half.
  • Cross-trained inspectors The City is cross-training its building inspectors so that, for routine inspections, one inspector approves electrical, plumbing, structure, etc. The City still has specialists for complex projects, but having one inspector for most projects will save businesses and homeowners time and money – and it will save taxpayers money as well.
Children’s Health
Presenting a proclamation in the Mayor's Office; visiting children at TMC's Pediatric Unit.

There is nothing I enjoy so much as mayor as getting to spend time with children.Upon request, I proclaimed May Neurofibromatosis (NF) Awareness Month. NF is a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. In a perfect world, children would not have medical problems – at least not serious ones. Unfortunately, NF can be quite serious. Learn more at the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

The following month, I visited the Pediatric Unit at Tucson Medical Center and read to some young patients right around Father’s Day. They had a book picked out for me where the main character meets a mayor, so I felt right at home.

Visiting the Tohono O’odham Nation
Meeting the Tohono O'odham Tribal Council and visiting the border, with Chairman Ned Norris.

On a hot day in June, I was pleased to accept Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris’ invitation to visit the Nation. We met in Sells, where Tohono O’odham Police Chief Joseph Delgado briefed us on border issues.

While in Sells, I was honored to meet the Tribal Council, the Nation’s legislature. I expressed my appreciation for the opportunity.Chairman Norris and I then traveled to the border, accompanied by Tohono O’odham police.

It’s harsh, beautiful terrain. The Nation shares enforcement issues with other border communities, but they also have unique issues in that the Tohono O’odham have enrolled tribal members on both sides of the border.

Too few Tucsonans know about the contributions Arizona’s Native Peoples make and have made to our city, our state, and our nation. Just recently, the Tohono O’odham Nation sponsored Tucson’s 4th of July celebration. They, and other tribal governments, generously support many non-profits both on and off tribal lands. We owe them many thanks.

Kino Parkway and 22nd St. Overpass Groundbreaking
At the Kino and 22nd overpass groundbreaking, with RTA Chairman Satish Hiremath and others.

 #360Plan  Last month, I attended the groundbreaking for new construction of an overpass at Kino and 22nd. Funded by the City of Tucson, Pima County and the RTA (Regional Transportation Authority), this project will elevate Kino Parkway over 22nd Street. The project includes new sidewalks, lighting, bus pullouts and bike lanes.Construction will take about 2 years to complete and create approximately 181 jobs. Locally-owned The Ashton Company is the prime contractor.

Improving our roads is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Bringing Back the Splash
Talking with a KOLD news crew at the opening of Menlo Park pool.

May 30th, I attended the opening of one of the six additional pools we were able to open through the Bring Back the Splash program – Menlo Park pool.Bring Back the Splash allowed private donors to sponsor pools or help in other ways. Again, many thanks to the donors who made this happen, including Catalina Rotary, Nova Home Loans, Royal Automotive Group and Lexus of Tucson, Watson Chevrolet, Jim Click Automotive Group, Pima Medical Institute, the Emerald Foundation and the many individual donors who gave online at the Tucson Parks Foundation. Thanks also to the Tucson Parks Foundation and to Doug Martin, Rick Stertz and Chrissy Ahmann, for their efforts.

Mobile Meals of Tucson
Delivering meals with staff and a long-time volunteer from Mobile Meals of Tucson.

Last month, along with volunteers and staff, I helped Mobile Meals of Tucson deliver special diet meals to the homebound.

Mobile Meals depends on volunteers to deliver meals at lunchtime, 7 days a week. Drivers spend an hour and a half, one day a week, delivering meals to the homebound. There are opportunities to volunteer in other ways, too. Contact MobileMealsofTucson.org to find out more.

Graduation at JobPath and S.T.A.R. Academic Center.

May is graduation season in Tucson, and I was honored to deliver graduation speeches for two non-traditional programs: JobPath and S.T.A.R. Academic Center. A message I delivered to both: It’s not where you start out in life, but where you end up, and how you help others along the way.

JobPath helps students in vocational, technical and health care programs with things like child care and transportation, so they can complete their degree or certification programs.

S.T.A.R. Academic Center is a program of the Sunnyside School District that serves students who learn best in non-traditional ways, need more time with teachers, or need a flexible schedule, for work or other reasons.

Dorothy Adjovu
Dorothy Adjovu

Last month, we said goodbye to Dorothy Adjovu, my executive assistant, who passed away June 27 at the age of 21.

Dorothy lit up our office and our lives with her radiant smile and gentle wit. She ran our office, set my schedule and trained our interns – all while completing her degree in political science at the University of Arizona. After graduation, she planned to apply to law school. Obviously gifted, Dorothy did everything to the best of her ability.

Originally from Ghana, Dorothy moved to the United States with her family in 1998. They lived in Maine for a while, ultimately settling in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Everyone who met Dorothy was touched by her kind manner. She had the generosity of spirit that accepted you, and made you feel good about yourself. None of us had ever met anyone like Dorothy. We were privileged to have known her.

Our deepest sympathy to her parents, Dr. Seth Adjovu and Julie Adjovu, her sisters Amanda and Adelaide, her brother Charles, her extended family and her many friends for this tragic loss.

Follow the Mayor on Facebook or Twitter.