Tucson Bus Riders Union’s Climate Change Summit


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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


    1. Full house tonight at Armory Park Center to listen to the speakers on climate justice and transit justice. Present: LD 9 State Senator Steve Farley, Isabel Garcia – former Pima County Public Defender, reps from Wards 1, 2 and 5 Council offices, and candidates Aaron Baumann (LD 2 House), Pam Powers Hannley (LD 9 House) & Michael Gordy (Pima County School Superintendent). The City Council is considering raising bus fares at their Sept. 7 meeting so people were urged to express their “no” vote. The MC said that fare increases reduces bus ridership, which has already gone down 4,000 people since the Sun Tran bus strike a year ago. Activist Brian Flagg said it was time to organize, to say “no” to raising fares on the “backs of poor people.”

      First UA Scientist Greg Garfin spoke about history of climate change, rising green house gases, which has exacerbated drought and flooding, extreme heat. He said that using public transport can reduce this rise, driving less, using electric cars. Some other solutions he proposed were voluntary fare increases for those who could afford it, and business subsidies.
      Senator Farley said that he had recently talked about global warming with Rep. Rick Gray who is running for Corporation Commission, and Gray denied the human cause of climate change. Farley suggested other solutions as well for paying for bus ridership including offering 3 or 7 day passes for visitors/convention attendees.

      Panel: Jesus “Tito” from Flowers and Bullets spoke of their activist, community group organizing for sustainability in the barrios, around food accessibility. He talked about poverty and bus riders who could least afford a fare increase.
      Dan Millis from Sierra Club said that global warming is caused by electricity (2/3) and transit (1/3), that taking 100 cars off the road was equivalent to one bus load of people, mentioned the August 31 March for Solar from TEP HQ to Tucson High (see our calendar). He also told the audience about the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection headed by Carolyn Campbell (not present).

      Dan Beckman of Rising Tide Tucson (new group) is part of a nationwide collective of networks for climate justice, held an April Symposium in Tucson on this topic, against building more freeways like I-11.
      Vanessa Cascio of Living Streets Alliance spoke of safe streets for walkers, bikers, bus riders, read excerpt their Declaration of Values & Principles.
      Susan Willis of Sustainable Tucson spoke of climate change advancing and the City’s lack of action, that transit is a “critical public good” should be 100% funded and free for all.

      Prof. Katie Hirschboeck of UA Tree Ring Research said she has been teaching about global climate change for 30 years, that “everything is connected”, as a National Catholic Climate Ambassador there is a moral implication of climate change. Suggested we all need to “pray, act, advocate”.

      Q and A from audience about asking RTA E.D. Farhad Moghimi about necessity of building bus pullouts on BroadwayBlvd. corridor, which would slow down buses for cars, need a designated bus lane to speed the transit up. Farley replied he has spoken to Farhad about this issue. Another question was about too many announcements on the bus, difficult to read & study on it for students/professors. Lastly, the MC asked that the Mayor/Council be challenged to ride the bus. Mary Decamp asked why City staffers left early and no media present to report on this meeting.

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