While I respect the Tucson Weekly's prerogative to take a non-endorsement position on the race for City Council in Ward 3 (Oct. 8), I disagree with the rationale and want voters to know the full story.
The Weekly reported that I "led an effort to delay a 25-cent increase in bus fares last year, only to agree to an increase this year," and concluded that I was "waffling on budget issues." Unfortunately, the Weekly missed the point.
The truth is, I voted against the 25-cent increase in bus fares last year because at the time, there were no assurances that the increased revenues would stay in the transit system and allow us to improve bus service across the city. The extra revenues would thus have amounted to an added tax on Tucson residents who rely on public transit.
Because of my advocacy, the increased bus fares approved by the mayor and council this year will actually go toward improved and expanded bus service, to the benefit of those who ride the bus.
The Weekly also cited that I voted to cut Parks and Recreation class fees when I was first elected, but this year stated that those fees may need to be increased. Again, the Weekly missed the point.
I did, in fact, vote to reduce Park and Rec fees in early 2006, to make sure that families and seniors across Tucson have access to quality Parks and Recreation classes at an affordable price. The vote is fully in line with what I have consistently told voters, and what has guided my public service: Above all, I will stand up for the interests of Tucson families.
Since that vote, we have continued to prioritize Parks and Recreation. But, of course, we find ourselves now in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Just like Tucson families have done, the city has had to tighten its belt.
As part of balancing the 2010 budget, we scaled back the days that city pools are open, reduced the hours for Parks and Rec centers and eliminated virtually all nonpermanent staff in rec centers across Tucson. We eliminated various classes. We spared KIDCO after-school programs, but implemented a 50 percent reduction in team capacity for adult sports leagues.
Now, after all these cuts, we still need to raise fees. That's why I voted earlier this year to begin raising fees in some rec areas, but based on a sliding-scale structure so those who can afford to pay more have that option, while others are not shut out.
My responsibility as a city leader is to make these tough decisions after weighing all the facts.
I am grateful to the Tucson Weekly for giving me this space to elaborate on my record. I ask for your vote in this critical election.
Democrat, Ward 3
It's challenging to keep up with the overabundance of information we are asked to sift through on a daily basis. Sometimes, life feels like one big game of Whack-a-Mole. The consequence of this nonstop barrage and the need to focus on multiple concerns at the same time: Critical decisions, with long-term, far-reaching consequences, are made before our brains can even catch up. I fear this is the case with Proposition 200 ("Cost of Crime," Oct. 1).
Prop 200 is an unfunded mandate to increase the number of safety officers and first responders in our community. As the CEO of a domestic-abuse agency, I can tell you how deeply grateful we are to public-safety officers and first responders. Few agencies understand more about the challenges facing our courageous police officers as they respond to the thousands of domestic-abuse disputes each year. The health and well-being of our community rests on the shoulders of our police officers and first responders; they're essential to our agency to carry out our mission of providing opportunities to create, sustain and celebrate a life free from abuse.
Here's the quandary: In order to fulfill this mandate, which permanently changes our city charter, critical funding that goes toward domestic abuse, homelessness, hunger and after-school services would probably be eliminated. There is just not enough money to cover this unfunded mandate and continue to fund essential services that our community requires for the citizens less fortunate.
All propositions are complicated, cumbersome and often loaded with benefits and consequences, and they are all packaged in a three-digit number with a quick tag line. The tag line for Prop 200, the "Public Safety First Initiative," looks wise on the surface.
Who wouldn't like to see an increase in police and first responders? But this price may be too high. It is essential that we understand this is an unfunded mandate.
Each funding stream represents beds in Emerge! shelters and the individuals needed to answer our 20,000 crisis calls each year. Rarely in our community does a day go by when there isn't a news story about domestic abuse, and far too often, a domestic-abuse fatality. The funding at risk represents lives.
What will the police do with the hundreds of people they direct to our shelters each year if domestic-violence funding is eliminated because of the unfunded Prop 200 mandate?
In the interest of slowing down the Whack-a-Mole" game that many of us experience, I ask that we stop and consider the potential unintended consequences of Prop 200 on the ballot.
Community resources are intricately woven together to meet the complex needs of our community. It takes all of us.
CEO, Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse
On Nov. 3, voters in Tucson will decide the fate of Proposition 200—the Public Safety First Initiative.
Why should residents in Marana, Oro Valley, Sahuarita, Green Valley care about this initiative? The proposition mandates that the city of Tucson maintain certain staffing levels and response times for police and fire departments. The proposition contains absolutely no funding to meet these requirements.
No one can reasonably oppose the idea of increased or improved public safety. That is not the question here. Rather, people should be focusing on the additional costs that would be imposed on county residents.
Very simply, the prosecution, defense and incarceration costs of increased felony law enforcement can only be funded through an increase in the county's property tax. Or, to put it another way, we would need to build more courtrooms, holding facilities, jails and administrative facilities—all of which are county responsibilities.
The county administrator has estimated a property-tax increase of 8.2 percent (without eliminating any county services) would be needed. This tax increase would be applied countywide—not just to residents in Tucson.
Would you have voters decide on the number of soldiers, sailors and airmen that the U.S. Armed Forces might need? Or, closer still, should Arizona voters decide how many National Guardsmen are needed to protect our state? Those decisions are best left to our elected leaders, as flawed as they may sometimes be.
Member, City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Commission
I enjoyed reading "Thirsty for Rocket Fuel?" (Currents, Oct. 1) overall. However, there is one important clarification that is not trivial.
Some compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal-care products, such as ibuprofen, are probably not a concern because of the very large volume of water one needs to ingest before receiving a single dose as recommended on the label. Conversely, many pharmaceuticals (e.g., birth control drugs or therapeutic hormones) are precisely those compounds that are of concern, because they do interfere with normal hormone function. In addition, there is insufficient data to conclude much yet about how chronic low-dosage exposure to multiple pharmaceuticals may (or may not) give rise to synergistic effects.
Jon Chorover Professor of environmental chemistry, UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science
Due to incorrect information from a source, several listings in our Pride section (Oct. 8) contained errors. For "Coffee Tawk," the correct contact is 624-1779. For "Senior Pride Planning Meeting," the group meets the second Tuesday of each month at Himmel Branch, Pima County Public Library, 1035 N. Treat Ave. Call 624-1779 for info. For "Wingspan Seniors Care Steering Committee Meeting," the meeting occurs from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., the third Wednesday of each month.
Due to an editing error, in "Yet More Evidence of the Obnoxiousness of the French" (Mailbag, Oct. 8), several words were incorrect. "Comment dit—or" should have read "Comment dit-on"; "numero un" should have read "numéro un"; and "l'Academié Française" should have read "l'Académie Française."
We apologize for the mistakes.