Tucson City Council votes to move forward with Broadway project
With a pair of 5-1 votes, the Tucson City Council voted last week to move forward with a plan to widen Broadway Boulevard to six lanes between downtown and Country Club Road.
The decisions allow the city to begin acquiring more property along the corridor to make room for the expansion, as well as to seek funding for the project from Regional Transportation Authority, which—along with Pima County—is footing most of the bill for the $72 million project.
Last week's vote was the latest step in a decades-long push to expand the central-city corridor and caps years of meetings that have resulted in an eight-lane project reduced to six lanes. But even the six-lane plan had many vocal opponents who complained that the project will knock down too many historic structures and diminish Broadway's "sense of place."
Councilman Steve Kozachik, who was the sole vote against the project, pushed for a six-month pause on the project for further redesigns with the possibility of a narrower Broadway.
"Understand that what we decide tonight is going to impact this community for decades," Kozachik said. "I would take the position that approving a bad and wasteful design will make us look bad."
Kozachik said that the "people who are benefiting from this are the private property owners along Broadway who want the taxpayers to buy them out so the city can come along and buy and demolish a vacant building. The survivors in this thing are a big bank, a big law firm and a big corporation. The collateral damage are the small, local businesses that we say that we support—they're the ones who are going to be disappearing and we're taking their parking away with minimal or no remediation or curing —and in addition to that, Pie Allen, Rincon Heights, Sam Hughes, El Encanto, Colonia Solana. Those are my constituents and I'm going to support them in this. They're seeing their investments eroded if we move forward with this."
Ward 3 Councilwoman Karin Uhlich pushed back against Kozachik's comment.
"Vice Mayor Kozachik, you've certainly made your position clear and you're going to support your constituents, quote-unquote," Uhlich said. "I'm supporting my constituents, too, and I don't want it to be perceived that anybody here is taking action that is not—in our best judgment after all this deliberation—the best way to go. ... I don't appreciate any questioning of whether we're trying to do our best."
Uhlich said she would have considered a delay but there wasn't much to debate, unless the council planned to do a significant redesign of the entire project, which "is not a five-month process, and that's not a zero-dollar process."
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said that he was open to some minor adjustments to the plan regarding bus pullouts or other elements, "but planning, design and engineering have already cost us more than $4 million and I'm not going to support throwing that money away."
As part of the motion to move forward with the plan, the council invited local architect Bob Vint to work with a team from the University of Arizona to tweak the project moving forward.
After the meeting, Vint—who had pushed for a different vision for the corridor—said it "remains to be seen" whether he could still have a significant impact on the future of the corridor.
State lawmakers move to repeal troubled abortion legislation
The Weekly has reported in recent weeks about how Gov. Doug Ducey signed an anti-abortion bill requiring doctors to force their patients seeking to terminate their pregnancy with the abortion pill to use an outdated FDA protocol.
That's a bad situation for doctors, who are essentially being told to violate state law or violate their medical ethics to provide the best care for their patients.
It's also obvious lawsuit bait, as a similar law has already been tossed out by both the federal and state courts.
And there's another state law that remains on hold regarding medication abortion. State lawmakers pushed through a bill, also signed by Ducey, that requires doctors to tell women that they can "reverse" their medication abortion if they take a different medication, even though that's just a theory pushed by an anti-abortion doctor. Attorneys for the state have asked for a delay in the case as they don't seem to have any credible witnesses to testify on behalf of the law.
Well, it now looks like state lawmakers are cobbling together legislation to repeal all of that legislation, which is a pretty good sign they don't think they can defend any of it in court—and by the way, the state has already had to shell out more than a million bucks to Planned Parenthood attorneys because of the various unconstitutional laws they've passed to make it harder for women to get abortions.
Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, said he was happy to see the state moving to throw in the towel on these laws.
"Women and their physicians would both be better off if politicians refrained from inserting themselves into any doctor-patient relationship," Howard said in a prepared statement. "Arizona taxpayers would be better off if extremist advocacy organizations like the Center for Arizona Policy would stop demanding the blind passage of intrusive and unconstitutional legislation—year after year, costing Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees."
Go see amy goodman
Radio show host making Tucson appearance
Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now!, will be making a Tucson appearance to talk about her new book, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America.
Goodman, whose show airs on KXCI, 91.3 FM, will talk to fans from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, at the TCC Leo Rich Theatre, 260 S. Church St.
The talk is a benefit for KXCI Community Radio. Tickets are $16, with kids 16 and younger allowed in free as long as they're accompanied by an ticket-carrying adult.
Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on Dish, DirecTV and broadcast. You can hear the show on KXCI, 91.3 FM, at 5 p.m. Sundays or watch it online at zonapolitics.com. This week's guests include UA College of Science Dean Joaquin Ruiz; Phoenix New Times managing editor Amy Silverman, who will talk about her new book, My Heart Can't Even Believe It; and UA tree-ring scientist Valerie Trouet.