March 29, 2014

Mayor’s Update – March 29, 2014

Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona March 29, 2014
Sunday Evening Forum Returns
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

When: Sunday, March 30, 6:30 p.m. (box office opens at 4:00 p.m.; doors open at 6:00 p.m.)

Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., Tucson

What: Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will be interviewed by retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Stanley Feldman, live at the Fox. Tickets are free, but seating is limited.

This Sunday, March 30, will see the return of a long-time Tucson tradition, the Sunday Evening Forum, which ran from 1947 to 1984.

A series of community conversations with national leaders, past Sunday Evening Forums brought such luminaries as Walter Cronkite, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson and Eleanor Roosevelt to Tucson. Many thanks to Justices O’Connor and Feldman and to the volunteers and donors who’ve worked with my office to bring back this free event.

Tickets can be picked up after 4:00 p.m. the day of the event at the Fox Tucson Theatre box office.

Tucson Tech Manufacturer Tours, Celebrations
Touring Sargent Aerospace & Defense.
Touring Sargent Aerospace & Defense

In the last couple of months, I’ve been visiting Tucson’s tech manufacturers — AGM Container Controls, Aztera, Caid, Instant BioScan, Mastek-InnerStep, Sargent Aerospace & Defense, Tucson Embedded Systems and more — and I’ve just scratched the surface of our capabilities in this area. With clients ranging from the Pentagon to the Giant Magellan Telescope, Tucson manufacturers have their hands in many complex, cutting-edge ventures.

At Modular Mining Systems' ribbon-cutting ceremony.
At Modular Mining Systems’ ribbon-cutting ceremony

In addition to tours, I’m always happy to celebrate the success of our local tech manufacturers. Recent examples include the 10th anniversary of Securaplane‘s partnership with Airbus; Mintec‘s receiving a Presidential E-Award for Exports and Modular Mining Systems‘ expansion, which qualified them to apply for the city’s Primary Jobs Incentive.

Bringing tech manufacturers to Tucson, strengthening those that are already here and developing our startup pipeline all are important to growing our local economy.

Receiving a plaque of appreciation from Sonora's President of the Senate/Speaker of the House.
Receiving a plaque of appreciation from Sonora’s President of the Senate/Speaker of the House

Just this week, NPR ran a story on how cities are leading the way in improving our state’s relations with Mexico. That’s certainly true of Tucson.

Last month, I spoke at an economic summit in Hermosillo and led a trade mission to Sinaloa, which City Council Member Regina Romero accompanied me on. We met with produce growers and shippers as well as manufacturers and government officials. Next month, the City of Tucson opens trade offices in Hermosillo and Ciudad Obregón, co-located with Visit Tucson’s tourism offices, and the Arizona Daily Star launches its Arizona-Sonora Business Resource Guide. This summer, a Mexican airline plans to begin nonstop flights between Tucson and Hermosillo — another important development.

We’re moving forward with existing resources to promote and facilitate trade. Currently, the port at Nogales has the 4th highest train traffic, 6th highest truck traffic and 9th highest personal vehicle traffic of any U.S./Mexico port — traffic that means dollars from trade and tourism flowing into our local economy.

Poverty Simulation
Working with my assigned family to try and make ends meet during the simulation.
Working with my assigned family to try and make ends meet during the simulation
"Evicted" — the inevitable result for some participants.
“Evicted” — the inevitable result for some participants

Last fall, my Poverty Commission held a poverty simulation. Hosted by Tucson Electric Power and MC’d by Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States, who himself experienced poverty in his youth, participants included business, government and nonprofit leaders.

In a poverty simulation, participants are assigned roles based on real people in real situations. It’s an eye-opening experience, as folks see how tough it is to get by without adequate resources.

The goal is to better understand the day-to-day realities of living in poverty in the United States and come up with ways to help.

Participants pledged to do a number of things after the simulation, including working to improve transitional services for inmates, offering resource referrals along with job training, hosting social service agencies at or near schools and courts, and more.

Co-chaired by Patti Caldwell from Our Family Services and Peggy Hutchison from Primavera, the volunteer members of my Poverty Commission are researching poverty locally and best practices nationally, to see what can be implemented here.

Second Chance Resource & Job Fairs
Returning citizens speaking with employers at the Second Chance Job Fair.
Returning citizens speaking with employers at the Second Chance Job Fair

This month, my Second Chance Coalition put on a job fair, following on last fall’s resource fair for returning citizens.

Having been incarcerated poses many challenges for returning citizens — in getting housing, a job — even social services. So I was very pleased to see how many employers participated in our job fair, and I want to thank all of them again. At the event itself, my message to job seekers was simple: Tucson wants you to succeed.

Working with returning citizens is part of my focus on poverty and economic development, which includes workforce development. Returning citizens form a large, and largely untapped, workforce — a workforce that can benefit employers.

The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world. By the end of 2011, one in 34 adults was in jail, prison, or on supervision. Sooner or later, almost all will be released — about 635,000 each year.

Many thanks to the volunteer members of my Second Chance Coalition, to resource fair keynote speakers Diane Williams, President and CEO of Safer Foundation, and Doug Burris, Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Eastern District of Missouri, to Pima Community College for hosting both events and to City Council Member Richard Fimbres, who moderated a panel at the resource fair.

Take a moment to watch this video of two local success stories and consider how your workplace might benefit from hiring returning citizens.

SciTech & SARSEF
Speaking at a SciTech press conference hosted by the Children's Museum Tucson.
Speaking at a SciTech press conference hosted by the Children’s Museum Tucson

This month saw two STEM* events, SciTech and SARSEF. I was very happy to attend and speak at both. SciTech is a two-month-long statewide science festival with events for all ages. SARSEF, which stands for Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Fair, is a competition open to schoolchildren in grades K-12.

Both events do a great deal to get students excited about STEM subjects and STEM careers. Past SARSEF participants have gone on to study at Harvard Medical School, to work on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, and to many exciting careers. Many thanks to the many organizations, parents, teachers and volunteers involved and congratulations to the winners at SARSEF!

*Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Make Way for Books PSA & Mayor’s Poetry Contest
Making a public service announcement for Make Way for Books.
Making a public service announcement for Make Way for Books

The best way to promote literacy, or learning, is to help children experience it as fun — which it is.

Make Way for Books is one literacy group that takes that approach. I was happy to record a public service announcement for them. My young friend in the photo read me Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Pete’s a cat with a great attitude — and a spiffy wardrobe — in case you’re not familiar with the series.

Poetry is another way to get students excited about reading, and writing. Tucson’s Poet Laureate, Rebecca Seiferle, has been visiting classrooms, teaching students about poetry. This month, we celebrated the winners of the first Mayor’s Poetry Contest at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Here’s a poem from young poet Isabelle Aboyte, first-prize winner in the K-3 category.

Color My World


ripe red rounded apples

mouth watering sight of cherries

on a chocolate Sunday the sweetness

of melted chocolate on a strawberry

a gentle teddy bear on a smooth

comfortable bed the mellow beat

of your heart every second

a powerful flaming taste

that red peppers give the

bitter taste that lemon heads give

enchanted fire magical car the

the horrible pain in your head

The color of your face when you get


Seniors Summit
Leading a panel discussion at the Seniors Summit.
Leading a panel discussion at the Seniors Summit

Last fall, my Seniors Task Force held a summit titled “Blueprint for Action: Cultivating a Livable Community For Our Region.”

Kathryn Lawler, Aging and Health Resources Manager for the Atlanta Regional Commission in Atlanta, Georgia, flew in to deliver the keynote address.

For years, there’s been talk of the demographic tsunami reaching retirement age now — the Baby Boomers. For a four-minute distillation of some of the issues this raises, click here.

By necessity, I’m always interested in programs that yield high returns at low cost — programs such as Pima Council on Aging‘s Neighbors Care Alliance. Knowing the older adults in our neighborhoods and the services they need can help a great deal — with security, with connectedness, with belonging to and in a community.

When we improve the quality of life for our seniors, we improve the quality of life for everyone. Many thanks to the volunteer members of my task force, to Pima Community College for hosting the event and to the attendees who gave part of their day to envision a better future for Tucson’s seniors.

10,000 Trees Campaign
Planting a tree at Armory Park.
Planting a tree at Armory Park

We’re about midway to reaching our tree-planting goal in my 10,000 Trees Campaign.

Many thanks to Tucson Clean & Beautiful, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), Long Realty and the many business and community groups that have stepped up to plant trees.

Over the last 20 years, TEP has funded the planting of more than 90,000 desert-adapted trees through Trees for Tucson, a program of Tucson Clean & Beautiful. Congratulations to both organizations on this tremendous accomplishment!

Trees cool the air and nearby structures, reducing energy costs. They absorb and store carbon emissions, reduce stormwater runoff, provide food and shelter for wildlife and increase property values. Recognizing this, Long Realty pledged to cover the cost of planting 1,926 trees through Trees for Tucson, in honor of the year Long Realty was founded, 1926.

To record any trees you plant and have them count toward our goal, visit

Look Twice Tucson
At the launch of the Look Twice Tucson public safety ads.
At the launch of the Look Twice Tucson public safety ads

You’ve probably seen the signs posted in bus shelters around Tucson that say, “Look Twice Save a Life.”

Last December, we launched a safety campaign called Tucson on 2, a concept that applies to all bike and pedestrian activities in Tucson, on two wheels or two feet. We want Tucsonans to be physically active and enjoy biking and walking — but above all, we want them to be safe.

Tucson has long been a pioneer in bike and pedestrian safety. The HAWK pedestrian crossing was developed by Dr. Richard Nassi while he worked as a City of Tucson Traffic Engineer. Research has shown that the HAWK is the most effective traffic signal for safety at pedestrian crossings.

So be sure to “Look Twice” and avoid the bike, pedestrian, or car — and a tragic collision.

Many thanks to Allstate Insurance for giving generously of their time, expertise and financial resources to help create this safety campaign.

New Art Exhibit in the Mayor’s Office
"Primordial," Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, Arizona, by Howard Paley.
“Primordial,” Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, Arizona, by Howard Paley

Last month, we welcomed a new art exhibit to the Mayor’s Office — works by photographer Howard Paley that show our beautiful Southern Arizona landscape. Many thanks to the artist for lending his works and to Gio Taco, one of downtown’s newest restaurants, for donating refreshments at the artist’s opening.

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