August 6, 2014

Mayor’s Update – August 6, 2014

Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona August 6, 2014
Call for Literacy Volunteers to Help All Ages
With Reading Seed volunteer Dixie Auer, and Tamara McKinney and Jennifer Stanowski of Literacy Connects.
With Reading Seed volunteer Dixie Auer and Tamara McKinney and Jennifer Stanowski of Literacy Connects

Last year, with help from the Arizona Daily Star, we were able to double the number of volunteer reading coaches in Reading Seed, a program that helps struggling readers in grades K-3 catch up to their classmates.

This year, we’re asking for 300 more volunteers, for Reading Seed and for Literacy Connects’ adult literacy programs.

At all ages, literacy is important. For children, 3rd grade reading proficiency is a huge predictor of future success in school. For adults, literacy is essential to finding work that can support a family.

Can you help? Find out more by contacting Literacy Connects at (520) 882-8006 or by visiting their website,

With the May, 2014 class of Teach the Parent, Reach the Child.
With the May, 2014 class of Teach the Parent, Reach the Child

Teach the Parent, Reach the Child

Teach the Parent, Reach the Child (TPRC), a program of Pima Community College’s Adult Education Department, has been around since 1994. My office worked with Pima to bring TPRC to more parents by having students agree to teach others – through church, community or school groups – how to help children acquire early reading skills.

Last year, TPRC was part of a multi-agency literacy infusion project at Mission Manor Elementary School in the Sunnyside School District. Literacy Connects, Make Way for Books, Pima Community College and the Pima County Public Library all brought resources to help parents, children and community members of all ages improve their reading skills. This year, they’re adding another school to the project. Many thanks to all involved.

60,000 Ride Tucson Streetcar Opening Weekend
Riding the streetcar, Council Member Richard Fimbres in the foreground.
Riding the streetcar, Council Member Richard Fimbres in the foreground

Tucson’s streetcar had a strong opening weekend, with an estimated 60,000 people taking trips during three days of free rides.

A surge of development has been happening along the route – approximately $800 million in public and private investment so far.

Between the streetcar and the City’s GPLET incentive, available to qualifying projects in the Central Business District, Tucson’s downtown is revitalized, with a grocery and a hotel in the works.

This is important, because a city’s downtown is for everyone, not just those who live or work there. It’s one of the main things employers look at when evaluating where to locate – making a vibrant downtown a powerful economic development tool.

In 2010, the City of Tucson applied for and won the largest U.S. Dept. of Transportation rail grant in the country – $63 million in federal stimulus funds – for the Tucson Modern Streetcar. The City’s largest construction project to date, work was substantially complete 18 months after groundbreaking.

Part of the Regional Transportation Plan passed by Pima County voters in 2006, the project has been co-managed by the City of Tucson and the RTA.

Congratulations to all who worked on this project – particularly the executive management team: City Manager Richard Miranda, Environmental Services Director Andy Quigley, TDOT Director Daryl Cole, former TDOT Interim Director Tony Paez, RTA Transportation Director Carlos de Leon (now TDOT Deputy Director), PAG Director of Transit Services Jeremy Papuga (now TDOT Transit Administrator), TDOT Project Manager Shellie Ginn, TDOT Construction Manager Joe Chase and former TDOT Construction Manager Jesse Gutierrez.

Riding the Sun Link Streetcar

You can purchase a SunGO card online or at one of these locations. 24-hour passes are available at any streetcar stop TVM (ticket vending machine) for $4 – good on the bus system, too. Use exact change, Visa or MasterCard.

University of Arizona students, faculty and staff, visit UA Parking and Transportation Services for special offers.

Mayor’s Borderlands Trade Conference Draws Hundreds
Registering for the day-long conference.
Registering for the day-long conference

My first-ever Borderlands Trade Conference was very well attended, with a good mix of business and government representatives from Arizona, Sonora and Sinaloa.

The conference was divided into two tracks: Arizona companies looking to do business in Mexico and Mexican companies looking to do business in Arizona.

Attendees heard from experts in business and government on what’s involved in doing business internationally, as well as what resources are available to help. As I told the crowd in my opening remarks, Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico form an economic region – a place the world can turn to for research and development, manufacturing, and a seamless experience doing business between our two countries, benefiting from the strengths of both.

With Nogales, Sonora Mayor Ramón Guzmán.
With Nogales, Sonora Mayor Ramón Guzmán

Many thanks to our exhibitors, presenters and sponsors. Without their support, my office could not have put on this event.

Event Sponsors Gold Level Casino Del Sol Resort, Desert Diamond Casino & Entertainment, The Offshore Group, the University of Arizona, Arizona Bilingual; Silver Level the Arizona Commerce Authority, BeachFleischman, Century Link Business, Diamond Ventures, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, the Pima Association of Governments and Picor; Bronze Level the City of Tucson, the Small Business Development Center, the U.S. Commercial Service and Visit Tucson.

Arizona-Sonora Business Directory

This spring, I attended the unveiling of the Arizona-Sonora Business Resource Directory at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort. A publication of the Arizona Daily Star, the directory’s prime sponsors were the City of Tucson and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Geared toward manufacturers, the directory aims to connect businesses with each other, increasing access to suppliers throughout the region and further establishing our strength as a manufacturing and logistics hub. Printed and electronic versions are available here.

Trusted Traveler Programs Enrollment Center,New Control Tower Come to TIA
At the opening of the Trusted Traveler Programs Enrollment Center at the Tucson International Airport.
At the opening of the Trusted Traveler Programs Enrollment Center at Tucson International Airport

Tucson’s airport is receiving some much-needed federal investment.

In May, TIA opened its Trusted Traveler Programs Enrollment Center. Previously, Tucsonans who wanted to expedite passing through Customs would have to go to Phoenix or Nogales to enroll in one of the federal Trusted Traveler programs – and in Phoenix the wait time is about two months to schedule an interview. Now, the process can be completed here, at the airport.

Breaking ground on the new Control Tower.
Breaking ground on the new Control Tower

The following month, I attended the groundbreaking for a new control tower at the airport.

Currently, TIA’s control tower is the second-oldest working commercial control tower in the U.S. (The oldest is in Caspar, Wyoming.) The $42 million federal investment will build a new tower, twice as tall and in a better location, providing staff with better airfield views. Also included is a base building and adjacent solar farm, as well as computer equipment and electronics.

Tucson is an international city. We’re a hub for trade and a destination for tourism. Improvements to our airport facilitate both.

Mayor Honored to Receive Mexico’s Ohtli Award, Sculpture
Receiving congratulations in front of the sculptor's gift to Tucson.
Receiving congratulations in front of the sculptor’s gift to Tucson

I accepted two very kind gifts this spring in my capacity as mayor – one from the Mexican government and the other from a local artist.

The Ohtli Award is the highest award the Mexican government gives to non-citizens. I was very honored to receive it at a ceremony in front of City Hall.

I also accepted a sculpture donated to the people of Tucson by local artist Ariel Díaz Martínez. Called “Ave del Paraíso” or “Bird of Paradise,” the soaring metal sculpture will be installed in Sunset Park, in front of City Hall.

Both gifts represent longstanding ties of friendship between Tucson and Mexico – ties which I have worked to strengthen through advocacy and trade missions.

Many thanks to Mexican Consul in Tucson Ricardo Pineda, Institute for Mexicans Abroad Director Ernesto Hopkins and sculptor Ariel Martínez for these kind gestures of friendship.

Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge
Kicking off the Mayor's Summer Reading Challenge.
Kicking off the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge

We’re in the middle of my summer reading challenge, available to Tucson-area children through 12th grade.

Qualifying participants will be entered into a drawing to win prizes, including one of five Kindle e-readers or $75 gift certificates to Barnes & Noble. Rules are online here.

Research shows that summer is when children lose reading gains from the previous school year. It’s important to keep reading, and our cool, air-conditioned libraries are a great place to visit in the hot summer months.

Many thanks to our generous sponsors: Bank of Tucson, Bear Essential News, Children’s Museum Tucson, City of Tucson, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Crest Insurance, Eegee’s and HSL Properties.

Downtown Grocery Store Announcement
Announcing a new downtown grocery in the old Johnny Gibson bldg.
Announcing a new downtown grocery in the old Johnny Gibson bldg.

A grocery store has been the missing piece of the puzzle in downtown development. It makes downtown more attractive to residential and other projects because it makes downtown more livable.

Now, two families with 75 years of grocery and retail experience between them are developing the Johnny Gibson building at 11 S. 6th Ave. into a full-service grocery store.

At the announcement, members of all three families were present – the Gibson family, which owns the building, and the Abbott and Cisek families, current and former owners of Rincon Market and partners in this new venture.

The store is expected to open in December 2014. Look for me in the checkout line.

The High Cost of Dropping Out
Releasing a report on the high cost of dropouts and announcing a volunteer walk with TUSD.
Releasing a report on the high cost of dropouts and announcing a volunteer walk with TUSD

We know there’s a cost to students who drop out and don’t complete high school. There’s also a cost to the community.

In June, I presented a report from the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable that puts a dollar figure on that cost.

Funded by the Helios Education Foundation, with research conducted by WestEd, the report puts Tucson’s cost per dropout at $382,900 in social losses plus $133,100 in fiscal losses – a total $516,000 lifetime cost per dropout.

Students who drop out of high school are less likely to find a job, less likely to earn a living wage, more likely to need public assistance, more likely to have poor health and more likely to commit crime.

Nationally and in Tucson approximately one in five high school students does not graduate on time. It’s my hope that quantifying the cost of dropping out will help spur state lawmakers to invest more in education as well as motivate all of us to decide that every student needs to graduate from high school – failure is not an option.

Mayor Rothschild co-founded the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in 2012. Its members include mayors from Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, Avondale, Goodyear, Oro Valley, Sahuarita and Miami.

Knocking on students' doors with TUSD Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez, PCC  Community Campus President Dr. Lorraine Morales and my aide, Karla Avalos.
Knocking on students’ doors with TUSD Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez, PCC Community Campus President Dr. Lorraine Morales and my aide, Karla Avalos

Dropping In to Prevent Dropping Out

At the press conference in Tucson to release the dropout report, TUSD Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez and I announced that we would be having a “Steps to Success” walk in July, with volunteers and TUSD staff knocking on doors of students who were just a few credits away from completing their high school education.

The walk was very successful, with more than 300 families reached.

Many thanks to Dr. Sanchez and the volunteer and staff teams who participated. Everyone’s energy was high, we were well received by the students and their families and we’re ready to do it again.

Jazz Festival Launch
Announcing the new, 12-day Tucson Jazz Festival, starting January 16, 2015.
Announcing the new, 12-day Tucson Jazz Festival, starting January 16, 2015

Starting next year, Tucson will have a new, major winter event – the 12-day Tucson Jazz Festival.

Showcasing local talent and bringing in national acts, the festival runs from January 16 through 28, 2015.

Tourism is one of the Five T’s of Tucson’s economy and the jazz festival is intended to draw tourists as well as music-loving locals.

Some members of the Tucson Jazz Institute.
Some members of the Tucson Jazz Institute

When Visit Tucson did their market research, they found that a lot of people who might be interested in coming here didn’t know what there was to do once they got here. Large-scale events like this one help market Tucson as a destination – where you can enjoy hot jazz under a warm winter sun.

At the event announcing the festival, we were treated to a jazz performance by some of the members of the Tucson Jazz Institute, a group of middle and high school students who recently won their second Essentially Ellington competition at Lincoln Center. Listening to them, you’d think you were hearing professional musicians. Over the summer, they’ve been taking the Tucson name to festivals in Europe as well as New York.

Many thanks to the title sponsor of the Tucson Jazz Festival, HSL Properties, and to all the sponsors, including the Jim Click Automotive Group, Holualoa Companies, Mesch, Clark & Rothschild, P.C., Northern Trust, Sinfonia HealthCare Corp., Elliot Glicksman, Don Martin and JoJene Mills.

City Manager Miranda
Mr. Miranda receiving a plague from the Pima Association of Governments.
Mr. Miranda receiving a plaque from the Pima Association of Governments

After nearly 40 years with the City of Tucson, City Manager Richard Miranda has retired. A national search for his replacement is underway. Attorney and Assistant City Manager Martha Durkin is serving as Interim City Manager.

Richard brought experience, integrity and stability to the position, serving six years in the City Manager’s Office as Assistant City Manager, then interim, then permanent City Manager. He served 10 years as Chief of Police before that.

Richard leaves some very big shoes to fill. I count myself fortunate to have had him as my City Manager and he has my best wishes for a happy retirement.

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