First, thank you for not getting stupid-drunk and smoking crack in public like Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford. Sometimes I get so caught up with the “half-empty” perspective that I forget to be thankful for the full half of the glass. You are each wonderful public servants and you’re working hard to make our shared City the best it can be in very challenging times. Thank you.
Today is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I heard a couple of articles on NPR this morning that got me thinking of using Lincolns as vehicles instead of Fords.
One piece of radio reporting covered the correlation between commute time and political involvement (http://www.npr.org/2013/11/
Another story marked the anniversary of President Lincoln’s address (http://www.npr.org/blogs/
You now must grapple with leading a city that is in the throes of economic divisions. The gap between rich and poor keeps growing, and the poor are losing their civil grasp. They are checking out, politically, and withdrawing from civic engagement. I’m sure if we were to conduct an electoral audit to determine the demographic profile behind the 30% of registered voters who bothered to mail in their ballots in the last City election, there would be clear evidence of over-representation of the wealthy and under-representation of the impoverished. This troubling trend spells disaster in the near future as we face mounting challenges due to global warming, peak oil, and crashing economies.
What can be done?
Here are a couple of ideas:
- Granny YANA (You Are Not Alone) Spots or Community Conservation Centers – devote dormant publicly-owned space to physical centers where human connections between neighbors can be fostered and a conduit for non-profits can forge linkages to provide volunteered advice, goods, and services from those with excess resources to those in need.
- Bus Passes – Give City employees free bus passes to reward their service, to cut congestion in downtown, to reduce single-occupancy-vehicle use, to cut air pollution, to role model public transit use for hesitant friends/family/neighbors of bus pass holders, and to encourage repeat human interaction amongst riders.
And here’s an interesting side note to conclude – I spoke to a Buddhist friend who told me that YANA is a word that means “vehicle” or “means of transportation” (http://www.buddhism-guide.
My bet is that Honest Abe would love it. He’s dead, while you’re alive and leading us now. I hope you will “get on the bus” and adopt these ideas to proactively and constructively connect the dots. Human connection is a stronger and more resilient currency than those government-issued federal reserve notes, and it behooves us to nurture community.
As you have probably heard, right when the Tear Down the Walls National Gathering ends, just a few blocks away thousands of people will start gathering for the annual All Souls Procession. This will be an exciting opportunity for us in Tucson to share something with the rest of you that truly comes from the collective heart of this city.
For those of you coming from outside of Tucson and Southern Arizona, there are a few things you should remember. First of all, remember that you are an honored guest, invited by Tucson community members who are helping organize this concert. As such, please note that the All Souls Procession is the one time of year that so many Tucsonans gather together, and that it is one of the things that makes our city and its people what we are—that gives us a cross-cultural cohesion as a people. This is not like Burning Man, it’s not like the motorcycles in Sturgis, it’s not going on tour with the Grateful Dead, it’s not Woodstock. This is not a big event where people are recruited to come in from all over the country and all over the world. But it does have a whole lot to do with what it means to be a Tucsonan and honoring our specific milieu of history and peoples. So—welcome, come and join us as guests of the family.
A couple of things to bear in mind. This is not Hallowe’en. This is not about dressing up as monsters or werewolves or vampires or anything like that. It’s not about dressing up in sexy costumes. People do dress up, but usually as calaveras or dressing up in a way that remembers those who have passed—that sort of thing. By all means, do join in and remember your own ancestors and departed friends and families. But put away the monster garb.
Another important thing: this is a time to PARTY with the dead and the deceased and with each other, and it’s also an all-ages family time. Graphic and violent pictures of those killed in war, by death squads, from nuclear radiation and so on are NOT APPROPRIATE. Do you want to make a political statement about those whose lives were taken by drones, by US wars, by police brutality, by border militarization? By all means, these remembrances are to be encouraged. But remember, no matter how tragic or unjust the circumstances have been for those who have passed, we are hear to remember and celebrate the lives that were lived. We honor these by our celebration.
Dear Mayor Rothschild and colleagues:
I asked on September 24, “what happened to Item 4?” referring to the scope of work in Poster Frost Mirto’s community planning document. Your reply, as well as CM Kozachik’s Ward 6 newsletter update, make it clear that you and he (among others) believe that a community planning process has taken place and that the list of “redevelopment goals” on pages 8 and 9 of the document represents some sort of communty consensus. I dispute both those assertions.
Of course, the first official step of the current process–the motion passed during the February 5 study session to create a vision for a mixed-use development on the RTC site–was not itself the result of a public process, nor was it an action voted on by the Council at a regular meeting or preceded by any sort of public hearing on the question of whether redevelopment of the site was needed or desirable. Thus from the outset there has been tension over the basic question that’s being asked. Is it “What kind of development will work best on the site?” or is it “What are the problems and needs of the transit center, and how can they be addressed to the benefit of bus riders and the community at large?”
It’s true that a series of discussions had taken place among so-called stakeholders since the fall of 2012 (I participated in several of these meetings at the Ward 3 office in late January and early February 2013), and that the Bus Riders Union had been brought into those discussions. But this was not a public conversation; they were invitation-only meetings, attempts led by Ward 3 and DTP to broker a plan that would lead to a consensus in favor of redevelopment of the site. It was not an effort to involve the community in a more fundamental discussion of what should be done with our transit center–a publicly funded and publicly owned asset serving thousands of Tucsonans daily and essential to the city’s transportation network, itself the result of an extensive planning process (1983 to 1991) and formerly a community gathering space that had been allowed to deteriorate in recent years as a result of decreased attention, maintenance, and on-site staffing by CoT.
Returning to the scope of work in the city’s contract with Poster Frost, as transmitted by Corky himself on 03-22-2013,
SCOPE OF WORK: Tasks listed below
TIME OF THIS SCOPE: 8 weeks from Notice to Proceed
BASE PFM ‐ Prime Consultant
TASK TASK DESCRIPTION
1 Review existing RTC documentation, surveys, reports, and studies previously done for RTC
2 Meet with key stakeholders to determine issues and ideas; assume 8 meetings
3 Convene a public meeting (stakeholders + others) to explore common ground
4 Based on 1‐3, develop a set of shared goals & objectives for the redevelopment of RTC
5 Review those goals & objectives at a second public meeting for review and comment
6 Based on 2nd public meeting feedback, transform Goals & Objectives into RFQ Criteria
7 Prepare final memo summarizing process and conclusions for use in COT RTC RFQ/RFP,
I think it’s pretty clear that the report presented to Mayor and Council on September 24 reflected only items 1 and 2, plus a version of item 4 that was not, as specified, “based on 1 – 3.”
To the limited extent that this scope of work was available to the public, it, along with the Feb. 5 motion, created an expectation that public meetings would allow input both before and after the development of a set of “shared goals,” and that these meetings would take place within the ensuing couple of months.
One of the purposes of the community forum hosted by the Bus Riders Union on April 2 was to bring this conversation into the public eye so that those upcoming city-sponsored meetings would be well attended. Our forum was intended to be (and explicitly billed as) the beginning of a community conversation about the future of the RTC.
On April 18, not having heard of any plan for a public meeting, BRU members inquired at Ward 3 and were informed that Corky would not be convening any meetings but that public input would be allowed at a hearing before Mayor and Council in June or July. (See appended e-mails.) CM Uhlich attended the May 15 meeting of the Bus Riders Union to attempt to address our concerns about this change in the process. Subsequently that public hearing was tentatively scheduled for August, then September; then we were informed that a public hearing wasn’t considered necessary at all because it looked as thought the RFQ process would not be going forward at this time.
I am now confused: Since it appears the RFQ process is indeed slated to go forward in January, will a meeting or meetings be held before that? Will the Poster Frost document be revised? Or will an RFQ be written based only on the report that has already been submitted?
(I am appending several e-mails that I wrote earlier in the year, in which I detailed what I knew of this whole process, including the development of the RTC user survey, for several people who had asked me to clarify what was going on. Those e-mails give more detail about what we were told and how it kept changing.)
A letter to Tucson’s Mayor and City Council
I stopped for gas on my way to volunteer at the Occupy Tucson office this morning. An elderly woman approached me at the Safeway gas pump, asking if I could spare any change for food. It breaks my heart to say no, but that’s the response I had to give. I was reminded of the SNAP challenge that’s been in the news lately whereby we’re asked to spend just $4 a day on food in order to sensitize ourselves to the plight of those reliant on food stamps. Out of curiosity, btw, I added up my food expenses for September and found that I was unwittingly abiding by that meager allotment.
When I got to the office, I opened my email account and found the first article shared by my friends was one on the growing number of elderly American women living in extreme poverty ( http://www.rawstory.com/rs/
Though I am one of the female humans who comprise the poverty statistic, I count myself rich in other, non-monetary, ways. I don’t believe our individual worth is tied up in the number of shiny stones we collect or the numbers lodged in banking institutions’ records. Rather, I believe our worth is tallied by the quality and quantity of human connections we forge and how we choose to utilize the limited life energy we’ve been gifted with in meaningful ways.
You each know the facts – Tucson is ranked as the 6th in poverty for cities of our size; the City has had to cut social services and sell off public property to make ends meet; we’ve had to restructure our debt and depend on optimistic budget projections; the cost of law enforcement and the battles over pensions for our police and fire fighters pose ongoing challenges. Yet City Government seems to believe that increased tourism, reliance on more trade with Mexico, and the University of Arizona will bail us out of our economic hole.
According to recent reports, 95% of the income gains since 2009 have gone to the wealthiest 1% of our citizens (http://www.businessinsider.
How do we jibe all these facts? Grandma’s starving while Little Lord Fauntleroy has more excess wealth at his disposal than ever and those few remaining folks with money to burn on vacations will flock to Tucson while UA graduates stop moving out-of-state, the criminals all disappear behind bars, and Mexicans feel just fine about our border walls and immigration policies, making Tucson a great place to live and work?!?
We do not want to end up like Fresno, CA (http://www.npr.org/2013/09/
Why can’t we search outside the box for answers? The status quo solutions have just deepened the hole we are in.
Please consider channeling just a small portion of the $6million the City spends on Visit Tucson into Granny YANA houses – YANA for You Are Not Alone – to serve as true community conservation centers. These sites would transform vacant properties and dormant resources into vibrant, low-cost sites that would shore up mental health, strengthen our fraying social fabric, provide better communication flow between private and public stakeholders, and set Tucson apart as a truly progressive community with solutions to share with the rest of the country. Focus on the substance of Tucson, not just on the image, and we’ll get further in the long run.
Seriously, we need a new approach. The federal government is locked down in a stupid game of chicken over Obamacare while the rest of us feel hopeless and powerless. It is time to focus on the basics – food security, energy conservation, personal safety, education, and healthcare. We have the resources, but we are not engaging them. We need new ideas that can be implemented without undue strain on the City’s limited economic resources. Granny YANA centers can get us there. Relying on the 1% to supply solutions will not.
Dear President Obama:
RE: ?WarAgainst Syria?
NO NO NO NO NO
When will the U.S. hegemony end?
The national treasury has already been emptied by the parasitic sociopaths who have pilfered 50 -60% of the nation’s wealth.The resulting misery, suffering and death of a very large percentage of our population is well documented.
Our social programs for the poor have been decimated. Our earned benefits programs of Social Security and Medicare
are about to be raided. Our infrastructure is 19th century.Most of the wealth of the 1% is parked in offshore accounts
and of no use to anyone.
And, you want – what??? Yet another war??? To what end??? Since when does killing more people solve the
problem of – killing people??? Going to war without a U.N. mandate is a serious crime. Inflicting more war will not
defend a population. The likely consequences of inflicting yet more violence would be devastating ie more U.S.
embassies bombed, more direct military involvement between Iran and Israel, Russia and China would get
The middle east, thanks largely to U.S. meddling, has been a vast ‘powder keg’ for the past 12 years or so.The U.S. government continues to murder innocent men, women and children all over the middle-east with illegal drone strikes – in countries the U.S. is not at war with. The U S. excuse – we must get the ‘terrorists’before they get us. Well, if anything, the U.S. terrorist tactics, without cause, are inviting retaliatory attacks. One way to stop terrorism against the U.S. – stop
terrorizing and decimating other countries.
War is a ‘big money’ affair. Don’t listen to war hawks such as Senators McCain and Graham.
It’s time to end the 200 years(plus) of U.S. hegemony. Try peace for a change. Listen to the voices of the wise,
some of whose suggestions are as follows:
1. Galvanize world leaders to arrange a multinational cease-fire.
2. Arrange to evacuate people in harms way.
3. Help care for the evacuees.
4. Assist with settlement once the war has ended.
5. Send assistance, such as financial support to ‘Doctors Without Borders’.
Certainly there are many other humanitarian ways in which to deal with the Syrian crisis.
Patricia Ann Walters
By Bob Zavoda
That’s right. “She”‘s done. I’ve called “Her” the Internet Site Collection since 2004. I had just resigned, in accord with the US invasion of Iraq from my teaching position at Pima College. I then started anew, and down the road I met up with Occupy Wall Street.
Saturday June 22nd, 15:00 GMT
It has now been a year since I entered this embassy and sought refuge from persecution.
As a result of that decision, I have been able to work in relative safety from a US espionage investigation.
But today, Edward Snowden’s ordeal is just beginning.
Two dangerous runaway processes have taken root in the last decade, with fatal consequences for democracy.
Government secrecy has been expanding on a terrific scale.
Simultaneously, human privacy has been secretly eradicated.
A few weeks ago, Edward Snowden blew the whistle on an ongoing program – involving the Obama administration, the intelligence community and the internet services giants – to spy on everyone in the world.
As if by clockwork, he has been charged with espionage by the Obama administration.
The US government is spying on each and every one of us, but it is Edward Snowden who is charged with espionage for tipping us off.
It is getting to the point where the mark of international distinction and service to humanity is no longer the Nobel Peace Prize, but an espionage indictment from the US Department of Justice.
Edward Snowden is the eighth leaker to be charged with espionage under this president.
Bradley Manning’s show trial enters its fourth week on Monday.
After a litany of wrongs done to him, the US government is trying to convict him of “aiding the enemy.”
The word “traitor” has been thrown around a lot in recent days.
But who is really the traitor here?
Who was it who promised a generation “hope” and “change,” only to betray those promises with dismal misery and stagnation?
Who took an oath to defend the US constitution, only to feed the invisible beast of secret law devouring it alive from the inside out?
Who is it that promised to preside over The Most Transparent Administration in history, only to crush whistleblower after whistleblower with the bootheel of espionage charges?
Who combined in his executive the powers of judge, jury and executioner, and claimed the jurisdiction of the entire earth on which to exercise those powers?
Who arrogates the power to spy on the entire earth – every single one of us – and when he is caught red handed, explains to us that “we’re going to have to make a choice.”
Who is that person?
Let’s be very careful about who we call “traitor”.
Edward Snowden is one of us.
Bradley Manning is one of us.
They are young, technically minded people from the generation that Barack Obama betrayed.
They are the generation that grew up on the internet, and were shaped by it.
The US government is always going to need intelligence analysts and systems administrators, and they are going to have to hire them from this generation and the ones that follow it.
One day, their generation will run the NSA, the CIA and the FBI.
This isn’t a phenomenon that is going away.
This is inevitable.
And by trying to crush these young whistleblowers with espionage charges, the US government is taking on a generation, and that is a battle it is going to lose.
This isn’t how to fix things.
The only way to fix things is this:
Change the policies.
Stop spying on the world.
Eradicate secret law.
Cease indefinite detention without trial.
Stop assassinating people.
Stop invading other countries and sending young Americans off to kill and be killed.
Stop the occupations, and discontinue the secret wars.
Stop eating the young: Edward Snowden, Barrett Brown, Jeremy Hammond, Aaron Swartz, Gottfrid Svartholm, Jacob Appelbaum, and Bradley Manning.
The charging of Edward Snowden is intended to intimidate any country that might be considering standing up for his rights.
That tactic must not be allowed to work.
The effort to find asylum for Edward Snowden must be intensified.
What brave country will stand up for him, and recognize his service to humanity?
Tell your governments to step forward.
Step forward and stand with Snowden.
“I stand with Snowden,”
From WikiLeaks here or [http://wikileaks.org/