April 6, 2013

Mayor’s Update – April 6, 2013


Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona April 6, 2013
Six-Year Road Repair Program Gets Underway
Reviewing new chip seal.
Reviewing new chip seal

 #360Plan  City Streets Division workers and private contractors are already busy with this year’s road resurfacing program.

The Streets Bond passed by Tucson voters in 2012 won’t take effect until 2014, to allow time for revenue to accumulate. In the meantime, $20 million in road work will be done this year thanks to a one-time refinancing of debt approved by Mayor and Council.

Work financed by the Streets Bond will be done by private contractors, with city workers continuing to do regular repair and maintenance.

Last month, I stopped by the Palo Verde Neighborhood to visit a city crew that was chip sealing streets. I walked this neighborhood at their annual 4th of July parade last year, so I can say from personal experience—those streets really needed attention. Of course, they’re not the only ones. That’s why we have six years of road work ahead of us.

Depending on the condition of a road, different preservation and resurfacing techniques can be applied, from slurry seal to reconstruction.

Chip sealing falls between the two. A truck sprays hot asphalt emulsion onto the road, followed by another truck that spreads aggregate (chips) over the emulsion. Other trucks drive back and forth, compacting the chips into the emulsion. After the material cools, a street sweeper sweeps up any loose chips.

Many thanks to Streets workers, private contractors, city administration and my colleagues on the council for getting this program underway a year early.

Passing a road bond to fix our streets was part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Summit for Nonprofits Serving Youth
At my Summit for Nonprofits Serving Youth.
At my Summit for Nonprofits Serving Youth

 #360Plan  Last month, my Youth Task Force held a Summit for Nonprofits Serving Youth—an opportunity for nonprofit executives to meet, exchange ideas and best practices.

Keynote speaker Cliff Johnson, Executive Director of the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education & Families, highlighted the importance of working together—where we can, on what we can, today. Good advice.

The summit, agency fair and workshops were very successful in helping youth service nonprofits get to know each other and their programs. Afternoon workshops were well-attended, with topics from fundraising to youth voice and civic engagement.

Many, many thanks to all who helped, including workshop presenters and members of my Youth Task Force for volunteering their time and expertise; Pima Community College for hosting the event; SODEXO for providing coffee and bagels; and David Aguirre for rounding up the food trucks that served lunch. A special thanks to my health and human services aide, Karla Avalos-Soto, for her work organizing the event.

Summer Jobs for Youth

Next, the Youth Task Force is working on recruiting employers to participate in Pima County OneStop/United Way’s summer job fair for youth.

Please consider hiring a young person at your business or nonprofit this summer. No organization is too big or too small to benefit from a little extra help and enthusiasm. If you’re an employer who would like to participate in this year’s summer job fair for youth, please contact Karla Avalos-Soto in my office. Can’t wait for summer? Contact Pima OneStop and ask for information on their pledge a job program.

Mayor’s Task Forces, under the heading Healthy Tucson, are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

The Sequester’s Impact on Tucson
At a press conference on the sequester and its impact on Tucson.
At a press conference on the sequester and its impact on Tucson

March 1st, day one of the federal sequester, I held a press conference in which I was joined by Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva and a representative for Congressman Ron Barber.

Since then, I’ve written guest columns in the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Weekly on the subject. Depending on how long the sequester drags on, you may hear more from me on this topic.

With few exceptions, the sequester is an across-the-board cut to federal programs. It cuts defense programs by as much as 10% and other programs by as much as 8.2%.

Tucson especially will be affected, as we have a major military base, a major defense contractor and a major research institution. All will experience cuts.

The city’s housing department is in the difficult position of telling at least 250 families who receive Section 8 housing assistance—a federally-funded program—that their benefits will end next month. At that point, their lease terminates and they will need to make arrangements with their landlord or find a new place to live.

We’re doing what we can to impact as few families as possible. Program administration is being cut 31%, while housing vouchers are being cut 6%.

The city will provide folks with referrals to nonprofits. But those nonprofits also rely on federal dollars—dollars that are being cut.

Please contact Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake and urge them to act to end the sequester before it does more damage to our city and state.

Love of Reading
Reading at El Rio Community Health Center.
Reading at El Rio Community Health Center

 #360Plan  February was Love of Reading Month and I’ve continued the program by reading in local elementary schools on a weekly basis whenever possible. My goal is to help children get excited about reading.

I have to say, this is the favorite part of my week.

If you can spare an hour or two each week during school hours, you may want to volunteer as a reading coach with Literacy Connects. Their Reading Seed program helps children in grades K-3 who are falling behind with their reading skills. Let’s help all Tucson children get the early reading skills they need to be successful in school.

Excellence in education and early literacy are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Rio Nuevo Resolution
Announcing the comprehensive agreement between the City of Tucson and the Rio Nuevo District, with Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker.
Announcing the comprehensive agreement between the City of Tucson and the Rio Nuevo District, with Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker

 #360Plan  Last month, the City of Tucson and the Rio Nuevo District announced that they had reached a comprehensive agreement, resolving past disputes and providing a platform for going forward.

You can read some of the details of the agreement here. By state law, the Rio Nuevo Board cannot proceed with additional projects until they have submitted a Notice of Intent to Proceed with a hotel and a community center. With the agreement, the City accepts the District’s investment of $6 million in the TCC as meeting its notice requirement for a community center. The District still must meet its notice requirement for a hotel.

As I said in a column in the Tucson Weekly, this agreement won’t undo the past. But it will get us moving forward.

“Missed chances and wasted opportunities remain just that. Mistakes are a costly education, but they are an education, nonetheless. I believe Rio Nuevo has moved this community from chasing Rainbow Bridges to tackling smaller projects—projects that are uniquely Tucson—and doing them extremely well.”

Deciding on key downtown redevelopment projects and beginning to execute on them are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

 #360Plan  April is Water Awareness Month and last year Tucson came in 6th in our category in the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Currently, we are in 1st place!Let’s keep the momentum going. Pledge to save water at mywaterpledge.com by April 30th. Participating residents of winning cities will be entered to win prizes, including a Prius, a $1,000 Lowe’s shopping spree and a custom home sprinkler system by local manufacturer Rain Bird.

Conserving water is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Los Reales Landfill Tour
At Los Reales Landfill.
At Los Reales Landfill

My wife didn’t care to go on the Valentine’s Day tour, but the week before, I did tour the Los Reales Landfill.

In January, I’d had the opportunity to address SWANA, the Solid Waste Association of North America, which held its Senior Executive Seminar in Tucson. I was pleased that Tucson could show off our facilities to solid waste professionals from across the country.

During the tour, I got to drive the “crusher,” the machine that compacts waste so it takes up less room in the landfill. Inside the cab, computers use GPS data to tell you when you’ve reached the optimal level of compaction.

The sad thing about visiting a landfill is how many recyclables and reusables you see entering the waste stream. Please do your part to reduce waste. Learn what can be recycled and recycle what you can. Sell or give useful items away, to thrift stores or through The Freecycle Network™—which started in Tucson and now has more than 9 million members worldwide. It’s good for the environment and can add years to the life of our landfill.

Atturbury Wash Greenway Dedication
Atturbury Wash Greenway.
Atturbury Wash Greenway

 #360Plan  Last month, along with City Council Members Shirley Scott and Regina Romero, I attended the dedication ceremony marking the completion of Phase 1 of the Atturbury Wash Greenway Project.

The 3/4 mile path—a 12-foot-wide multi-use paved path plus an 8-foot-wide decomposed granite path—runs through Lincoln Park. Phase 1 completed the section from Escalante Road to Fred Enke Drive. The Greenway will eventually connect the future Irvington Road Greenway to the Pantano River Park section of The Loop, a network of multi-use paths which, when connected, will encircle the city.

You can see Channel 12’s coverage of the event here.

I was pleased to see this section of The Loop, which is inside the city, receive $1.2 million in funding from 2004 Pima County Bonds.

Youth and Amateur Sports

During the ceremony, the Tucson Invitational Games, a month-long Collegiate Baseball and Softball Tournament, were taking place nearby in the park. Youth and amateur sports are important to our local economy as well as our local culture. We are always glad to be able to host events like these.

Working to expand bike paths and pedestrian walkways are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Cyclovia Tucson
Cyclovia Tucson logo.

 #360Plan  The weather’s going to be beautiful this Sunday, April 7th—perfect for a bike ride.

Cyclovia Tucson is part of Bike Fest, an entire month of bike activities, including a bike commute from the University to the Downtown Library on April 10th.

Old Pueblo Grand Prix logo.

Last month, professional bike racing came to Tucson in the form of the Old Pueblo Grand Prix, a thrilling race through downtown with a $23,000 purse.

As with youth and amateur sports, Tucson’s reputation as a bike-friendly city brings economic as well as health benefits. And bike riding is just fun. See for yourself this month during Bike Fest.

Encouraging bicycling and walking are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Academy of Math and Science Tour
At the Academy of Math and Sciences.
At the Academy of Math and Science

 #360Plan  The Academy of Mathematics and Science, a charter school with three locations in Tucson, offers an advanced math and science curriculum. It is not a GATE program, which means that it is open to all students whether or not they have been identified as gifted and talented.

I toured their Central Tucson facility last month. It’s pretty exciting to be in a classroom and see young children learning material several grade levels beyond what they would ordinarily be presented with.

I’m no expert, but it makes sense to me that techniques that work well in educating gifted children can work well in educating all children. That certainly seemed to be the case here.

Excellence in education is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Las Artes Graduation
A graduate of Las Artes.
A graduate of Las Artes

 #360Plan  Las Artes is another program meeting educational needs of youth in our community. The program helps students prepare for and get their GED while participating in community art projects. You can watch a video about Las Artes here.

I was honored to speak at their graduation ceremony and very pleased to see how many students had done well on their coursework and exams. While congratulating the graduates on their achievement, I reminded them that this was not the end of their education—trade school, college, university, graduate school or even all of the above will help them further their career goals.

Excellence in education is part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Team Recommendations
With members of the IBM team.
With members of the IBM team

 #360Plan  Last year, Tucson was awarded an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant—one of 100 cities around the world to be so honored.

Last month, the team of experts from IBM presented their findings and recommendations after a 3-week stay in Tucson working with Tucson Water on ways to improve customer service, capture leaks and other data in real time, save water and electricity and better use existing data to drive management decisions.

I’d like again to express my thanks to IBM and their team for the invaluable consulting expertise they provided over these three weeks—and to city staff for their work in applying for and getting the grant and for working collaboratively alongside the IBM folks for the duration of their visit.

You can view IBM’s presentation here and Channel 12’s coverage here.

Water conservation, energy conservation and data-driven management are part of the Mayor’s 360 Plan.

Art Exhibit in the Mayor’s Office
Atmansphere #3 - Oil on Canvas 48 x 36.
Atmansphere #3 – Oil on Canvas 48 x 36

For the past several months, visitors to my office have enjoyed an art exhibition by local artist Vytas Sakalas.

Works are in distinct styles, from what he calls his Atmansphere, Cubist, Night Cloud and Nodal Traces Series. My favorite is the two cowboys playing poker. You have to look at the painting for a while before you see them.

Vytas’ art will be up through April 19th. Many thanks to the artist for lending us his work for this exhibit.

Women in Government (Every) Day
Presenting Nicole Ewing-Gavin, Assistant to the City Manager, with an award.
Presenting Nicole Ewing-Gavin, Assistant to the City Manager, with an award

Last month, I was very happy to recognize part of our workforce that the city—and the county—could not do without: our female employees.

Women who work in local government work at all levels and in all departments. To cite just a couple of examples: Deputy Chief Sharon Allen is in the number two spot at TPD, and two of our three Assistant City Managers are women.

Women in Government Day, put on by the Pima County/Tucson Women’s Commission, recognizes those who are starting out in their careers, those who work behind the scenes and those who serve in leadership positions.

Congratulations to the nominees and award winners, and thanks to all city employees, in all departments, for your service.

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