November 24, 2012

Mayor’s Update – November 24, 2012

Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona November 24, 2012
Expanding Trade Opportunities With Mexico
With Javier Gandara, former Mayor of Hermosillo, Sonora.
With former Hermosillo Mayor Javier Gandara

 #360Plan  This summer and fall, I’ve continued my outreach to business and government leaders in Mexico, promoting Tucson as the best choice for headquarters, logistics and other operations for U.S. and multinational companies doing business in Mexico.

Trade Mission to Mexico In mid-August, my Business Advocate, Maricela Solis, and I traveled to Guaymas, Sonora and toured Mexico’s deep-water port. My purpose was to help bring jobs to Tucson.

Consider these facts: The deep-water port at Los Angeles brings an estimated 1.2 million trade-related jobs to the State of California and puts an estimated $63 billion into California’s economy. The deep-water port at Long Beach brings an estimated 316,000 jobs to Southern California. Tucson is the nearest major U.S. city to the deep-water port at Guaymas, Sonora, on the Sea of Cortez.

In conversations with Mexican business and government leaders, I made it clear that Tucson is – by far – the best possible choice of inland hub for the rail distribution network connecting the U.S. to the deep-water port in Guaymas.

After Guaymas, I met up with Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix for the next leg of the trip, to Hermosillo and Mexico City. We met with the Mayor and Mayor-Elect of Hermosillo, Sonora, the Governor of Sonora, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and the former Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Again, my purpose was to help bring jobs to Tucson.

I delivered the message that Tucson is interested in Mexican trade and tourism and that we are a center of intellectual capital – a “Science City” – that welcomes investment. I also delivered the message that Tucson is not interested in demonizing Mexico, Mexicans or people of Mexican descent. We are neighbors. Where there are problems, we need to work on solutions together.

More food for thought: Mexico is, by far, Arizona’s top trading partner. In 2011, Arizona exported about $6 billion in goods to Mexico. In 2009, over one-quarter of Arizona’s manufacturing jobs depended on exports. And in 2007-2008, 5.2% of taxable sales in Pima County were from Mexican visitors.
At the Nogales Port of Entry.
At the Nogales Port of Entry

Nogales Port of Entry Tour To maximize trade and tourism, we need the right infrastructure at the border. This summer, I toured the Nogales Port of Entry and met with its Director, Guadalupe Ramirez.

ARRA, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, launched a $184 million construction project to expand and modernize the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, which handles commercial traffic. I’ve met with Arizona Department of Transportation officials and urged them to prepare for more traffic connecting to and from I-19, to avoid creating bottlenecks just north of the border.

I look forward to continuing to work with regional, state and federal partners in the U.S. and Mexico to make sure our border has the infrastructure we need, for security and prosperity.

With Congressman Ron Barber and Director Boris Kozolchyk.
With Congressman Ron Barber and Director Boris Kozolchyk

National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade Also this summer, I visited Tucson’s National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade. Probably little-known to most Tucsonans, the Center works to help countries in Latin America develop laws and systems that facilitate trade.

The Center also provides consulting, research, and translation services to companies doing business in Latin America, and has provided training for many lawyers, including graduates of the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, in international banking and commercial law. We are fortunate to have this resource in our community.

Working to create jobs for Tucson via international trade and tourism is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

First Responder Events
With Tucson Fire personnel.
With Tucson Fire personnel

First responders need the right tools to do the job, and funding for specialized equipment often comes from the federal government. So I invited our newest Congressman, Rep. Ron Barber, to take a tour with me to better understand current and future needs of Tucson’s police and fire departments.

Patrick J. Hardesty Police Substation We viewed Haz Mat, robotics and SWAT Team equipment and met a very friendly bomb-sniffing Labrador named “JR.”

A meeting of two JRs.
A meeting of two JRs

I am always impressed with the professionalism of Tucson’s first responders. Our police and fire departments are second to none. In fact, that’s usually the first thing I mention when making a case for annexation into the City.

IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial A couple weeks later, I attended the International Association of Fire Fighters Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. The event is a solemn reminder of the risk first responders face every day. Going to an event like this, it’s easy to see that fire fighters, wherever they come from, are family. It was a privilege to join them on this occasion.

Help for Sgt. Carpenter: TPD Sgt. Robert Carpenter is still at University Medical Center, recovering from being shot in the head in the line of duty. The Tucson Police Foundation has set up a fund for the Carpenter family. You can give online here. Where it says “This contribution is for,” select Sgt. Robert Carpenter Fund. Please take a moment this holiday season to remember Sgt. Carpenter and wish him a swift and full recovery.
CBR: a UA Tech Transfer Success Story
Touring CBR.
Touring CBR

 #360Plan  Cord Blood Registry (CBR) is an example of the kind of intellectual capital Tucson has in abundance.

Co-founded by a University of Arizona professor, CBR banks umbilical cord blood from newborns for use in treating leukemia and other cancers. Cord blood has even been used experimentally to treat brain injury, cerebral palsy and hearing loss.

Cord blood therapy is essentially transplant therapy, introducing stem cells from a donor’s umbilical cord into a recipient. Stem cells from cord blood are less reactive than stem cells from bone marrow or other sources, so they are less likely to recognize the host’s body as foreign and attack it. There’s also less chance of that when donor and recipient are the same person, or family members.

Parents interested in banking their baby’s cord blood simply request a kit from CBR. Parents who want to donate their baby’s cord blood to a public bank can visit the National Marrow Donor Program.

CBR shows what successful tech transfer looks like years after the fact – a mature and growing company that continues to create good jobs here in Tucson.

Supporting entrepreneurship, tech transfer and existing employers are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Caridad Community Kitchen
Addressing Caridad's first graduates.
Addressing Caridad’s first graduates

 #TucsonPoverty  This fall, I spoke at the graduation of the first class from Caridad Community Kitchen, a program of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Caridad trains homeless and low-income students to get and keep jobs in the food service industry, from entry level to line cook. Students learn by feeding the hungry, preparing 14,000 high quality meals a month for distribution to low-income Tucsonans.

Incredibly, Caridad does this with a small team of “rookies,” some of whom may have been living on the streets for years. Students learn basic job skills and much more, preparing food worthy of a 4- or 5-star restaurant in just 10 weeks.

The experience is transformative for the students, who are challenged to achieve more than they ever thought possible – and do.

I was so impressed with the program, I asked my staff to work with the Food Bank to apply for the $5 million national Mayors Challenge grant. Although not selected as a finalist, I am extremely proud of what Caridad and the Food Bank have been able to do, and I encourage those in the food service industry to give strong consideration to hiring Caridad graduates. It’s important we support this innovative program that creates self-sufficiency while feeding the hungry.

You can see Chef Jon Wirtis at work here. Thanks to the City’s Channel 12 for their usual fine job putting this video together.

Working to reduce poverty and increase prosperity are two of the Mayor’s initiatives for Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Mayor’s Task Force Updates
With members of my Youth Task Force.
With members of my Youth Task Force

 #360Plan #TucsonPoverty  My Task Forces have been busy working with me and my staff member, Karla Avalos-Soto, to set priorities and develop ways to work together.

Coming under the broad heading, “Healthy Tucson,” each Task Force has a topic: Education, Health & Wellness, Poverty, Seniors and Youth. In my 360 Plan, I said I would “convene local leaders and execute the best ideas to make a healthy Tucson for all.”

After much discussion, we agreed to work in the following focus areas:

Education: 3rd grade reading and dropout prevention and recovery
Health & Wellness: physical activity and awareness of/access to healthy foods
Poverty: coordinating services for Tucson’s homeless
Seniors: looking at best practices that address issues relating to senior citizens
Youth: hold a Mayor’s Summit for Youth Service Nonprofits, to explore opportunities for resource sharing and collaboration, and a Youth Summer Job/Internship Fair

I’m very grateful to the members of each Task Force for generously contributing their time and expertise. It’s not always easy to work together toward common goals, but the volunteers on these committees make that work a pleasure.

Working to create a healthy Tucson for all is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan and working to reduce poverty is one of the Mayor’s initiatives for Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Health & Housing Events
At my HUD refinance workshop.
At my HUD refinance workshop

 #TucsonPoverty  This summer I hosted a HUD (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) workshop on President Obama’s refinancing and loan modification programs, designed to help homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments.

Present were representatives from HUD, the City’s Housing and Community Development Department, Pima County, area realtors and nonprofits involved in housing. I plan to host a similar workshop for bankers and mortgage lenders, so they understand the full array of options available to homeowners.

Addressing the Commission on Addiction, Prevention and Treatment.
Addressing the Commission on Addiction, Prevention and Treatment

I also addressed several health-related organizations and events, including the Behavioral Health and Aging Council, a program of the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, the Commission on Addiction, Prevention and Treatment, a program of Tucson and Pima County, and Native American Family Wellness Day, a collaborative event sponsored by the Tohono O’Odham and Pascua Yaqui Nations, among others, that features a 5K Run/Walk, health fair and workshops – all important contributors to health in our community.

Working to reduce poverty is one of the Mayor’s initiatives for Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Ward 4 Back to School Bash
Tucsonans waiting in line for free school supplies.
Tucsonans waiting in line for free school supplies

Ward 4 Council Member Shirley Scott held a very impressive Back to School Bash – a combination pancake breakfast and school supply giveaway at the east side Clements Recreation Center.

Many thanks to the volunteers, especially Tucson Fire Department and other City personnel who made pancakes and staffed information booths. McGruff the Crime Dog was there, receiving hugs and kisses and high fives from the kids.

Thanks also to the many school supply and raffle prize donors and event sponsors – especially Cox Communications, for providing free backpacks. The event was a lot of fun, but anyone who thinks we don’t have need in this community should take a look at the long line of families waiting for free pencils, paper and backpacks, so their children can go to school ready to learn.

DM Assumption of Command Ceremony
With Congressman Ron Barber.
With Congressman Ron Barber

In addition to serving a critical role in our nation’s defense, Davis Monthan Air Force Base is a major contributor to our local economy.

This summer, along with Congressman Ron Barber, Council Member Shirley Scott, and other officials, I attended the Assumption of Command ceremony for the incoming commander of the 355th Fighter Wing, Col. Kevin Blanchard, who took over from Col. John Cherrey. I’ve since met with Col. Blanchard, and am pleased with his willingness to work with the Tucson community on areas of mutual interest.

Sikh Memorial Service, Meeting Holocaust Survivors
At the memorial service for the victims of the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
At the memorial service for the victims of the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin

Summer brought two horrifying mass shootings almost back-to-back. The first was at a Colorado movie theater; the second at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Both were heinous and inexplicable, but while motives for the first remain unclear, the second appears to have been a hate crime.

Sikh Memorial Service Tucsonans know, as well as any, and better than most, the terrible toll an event like this takes on a community. I reached out to mayors of both cities and wanted to reassure our local Sikh community that Tucson stands with them in their grief and will not tolerate intimidation, threats or violence targeted against anyone for any reason, regardless of who they are or what they believe.

Tucsonans who survived the Holocaust.
Tucsonans who survived the Holocaust

Holocaust Survivors Not long after, I had the privilege of meeting with Tucsonans who survived the Holocaust – as did my wife’s parents. Despite their extraordinary life experiences, their questions were the same as many other groups I meet with.

All participate in programs where they speak with local schoolchildren about their wartime experiences. I encourage you, if you have an opportunity to hear – or take your children to hear – witness testimony, do so. It is a life-changing experience.

LivingSocial Comes to Tucson
Welcoming LivingSocial to Tucson.
Welcoming LivingSocial to Tucson

 #360Plan  I am always happy to welcome new business to Tucson, especially when that business helps other local businesses.

Online marketing platform LivingSocial helps independents compete with national chains by offering similar deals to a broad local audience.

Last year, their sales put about $4 million into local, mostly independent, small businesses here in Tucson. So I was delighted to attend the opening of their new customer care center.

Started in 2007 by 4 founders, LivingSocial today has almost 5,000 employees and operates in 19 countries. That kind of growth makes this company a job creation engine.

They are hiring. For job openings, look here.

Recruiting new businesses and supporting existing employers are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Arizona State Museum Tour
Behind the scenes at the Arizona State Museum.
Behind the scenes at the Arizona State Museum

Tucsonans are very proud of our city’s long history.

Nonetheless, few realize that the Arizona State Museum, housed at the University of Arizona, holds what is probably the most extensive collection of Southwest pottery in the world.

I had a chance to tour the museum and see students and staff working to conserve basketry, pottery and other artifacts. Take time to visit this local gem the next time you have out-of-town visitors, or treat yourself to a visit.

Drowning Prevention
Alexandra Tucker, right, and the friend she saved from drowning.
Alexandra Tucker, right, and the friend she saved from drowning

August was Drowning Impact Awareness Month. I spoke at an event at Kino Pool put on by the Drexel Fire Department. After that, I became aware of an amazing story of two little girls that illustrates one very important water safety rule: never swim alone.

This past July, 11-year-old Alexandra Tucker noticed her best friend Sarah at the bottom of the pool. Sarah had been spinning in an inner tube, became dizzy and disoriented, and couldn’t find her way back to the surface.

Alexandra dove in, pulled her friend to the surface, and yelled for help. Alexandra’s mother Lori, a nurse, established an airway. 911 was called and paramedics transported Sarah to the hospital, where she remained in ICU for several days, Alexandra and Lori by her side, along with Sarah’s family.

Sarah has made a wonderful recovery and the two, who have been best friends since kindergarten, started 5th grade together this fall. I was honored to give Alexandra a plaque and welcome both girls to the Mayor’s Office.

Make sure your family knows how to be water safe. Drowning can happen in moments, in a pool, a bathroom, or anywhere there’s standing water. Check out the safety tips at

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