Tag Archives: Tucson

Happy Birthday, SunLink! (video)

Sunlink

The eastern stop of the SunLink modern streetcar.

Four years ago, on a ridiculously hot July day, thousands of Tucsonans showed up to welcome the Modern Streetcar (AKA SunLink or affectionately “the trolley”) to downtown Tucson.

Tomorrow, July 28, Tucson will celebrate the streetcar’s steamy birthday with music and air-conditioned rides.

I won’t be downtown for the birthday party because I am giving a talk on the Equal Rights Amendment on Saturday night in Tubac, but I hope you all will check out the festivities and the live music on the streetcar and along the route. Below the fold are a few photos and a video from opening day.

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GOP Legislative Candidate Marilyn Wiles has an Anti-Tucson Agenda

This is part two of a two-part article on what the Republicans say behind closed doors. Part one is Pima County Republicans Cheer Kelli Ward, who Jeers McSally

Marilyn Wiles

Marilyn Wiles

Speaking at this week’s Pima County Republican Meeting, candidate Marilyn Wiles promised “to do something about Tucson and what’s going on locally.”

“I want to take a real hard at local government overreach. Why don’t we have a commission to look at local governments across the state, particularly here in Pima County, to see what we can do to make sure that our taxpayer dollars go to what best serves us as taxpayers.”

She did not explain what overreach she was talking about. Wiles spoke at a packed meeting on May 15 at the Murphy-Wilmot Library in Tucson, to a crowd of 75 to 100 Republicans. 

This office. No, that office!

At first, Wiles was running for Tucson’s CD2 congressional seat, but she abruptly changed her mind. She said she is now running for the state Legislature in District 10 (the East side of Tucson). “I will be running against Senator David Bradley. We need a very conservative person to get things done and get them right.”

She explained her fiscal policy this way: “I want a pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions and beans and gravy. They put everything in one big blender and stirred it up, it no longer tastes like pot roast and carrots and potatoes. I want to maintain the integrity of the pot roast, you get money for carrots, we know we’re spending it on carrots. When we get money for potatoes, we’re spending it on potatoes.”

“You want transparency and accountability where our money goes. And not these surprises we seem to keep getting,” she said, without elaborating.

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Governor Candidates Farley and Garcia Will Restore Education in Arizona

Student moderator Patrick Robles of Sunnyside High School, Candidates David Garcia and Steve Farley, and student moderator Aiselyn Anaya of Amphi High School.

Democrats in Arizona have two outstanding choices in the candidates for Governor: college professor David Garcia and veteran Arizona state senator Steve Farley — both of whom pledged to restore school funding and raise teacher salaries after years of sabotage by the Republican legislature and governor.

They spoke at an education town hall sponsored by the Arizona Education Association at Pueblo High School on the far south side.

Highlights:

Farley pledged to give teachers a 20% pay raise, to fully fund education, to sponsor a constitutional amendment to allow collective bargaining by teachers, and to block deportation of DACA recipients.

Best quotes by Farley:

  • “Every time President Trump tweets, another Democratic activist is born.”
  • When Governor Ducey tell you we don’t have enough money for education, he’s lying.”

Garcia called for an end to reliance on standardized testing, restoring ethnic studies in schools, paying teachers as professionals, revising the public school funding formula, and going to teachers’ unions first to formulate school policy.

He repeatedly spoke in Spanish to the standing-room only audience, emphasizing his Latino heritage, and referring to himself as “The anti-Ducey.”

Best quotes by Garcia:

  • “My goal is to have Arizona be one of the best places in the country to be a kid.”
  • “The legislature looks at teachers like missionaries, as people who would teach just for the good of the kids. The reality is we must pay our teachers as professionals.”

Teacher salaries
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7 Unexpected Things I Learned During My First Ramadan Dinner

Iftar Ramadan dinner TucsonBeing a product of Iowa, the corn state, I had never been to a Muslim Iftar dinner — the feast celebrated at the end of the of a month of fasting by Muslims worldwide — including Tucson.

To be sure, I’ve been to many Christmas Eves, Seders, Thanksgiving dinners, Fourth of July picnics and Easter sunrise services. But my first Iftar dinner was last Friday night, June 16 at the Sema Foundation in Tucson, where 150 faithful Turkish Muslims gathered in the community event.

The invitation said, “With love & gratitude, we request the pleasure of your company for our traditional Ramadan dinner. Let’s all celebrate friendship together.” My friends and I were honored to go.

Here are 7 unexpected things I learned during my Ramadan dinner.

1. It is a beautiful family event with mothers, fathers and little ones running around. It reminded me of my own family. The signs in the community hall said, “Welcome. Welcome.”

Unsure of where to sit, I decided not to barge into a table of women or all men talking. We saw three seats at a family table and immediately felt at home. I wore a clean white shirt out of respect and felt embarrassed that I had worn shorts.

How could Trump think to impose a travel ban on these wonderful people? Thank God for the Federal Courts that have stymied his evil plan.

I talked with Oğuz, a soft-spoken, stocky man visiting from Los Angeles. I followed his cues and did not touch the delicious spread of dates, hummus, pita bread, dolmades that were clearly tempting everyone. We all waited until the sun went down at 7:38 pm.

2. The meal begins with a sip of cold water. Oğuz said Iftar literally means “break-fast. Anyone from an Orthodox family (Russian Orthodox in my case) knows that healthy adults fast during spiritually significant times, including abstaining from drinking, eating, immoral acts and anger. Muslims also encourage other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity.

3. Fasting for a month makes people appreciate the richness of their daily lives, by denying themselves sweets, earthly pleasures, and even water. We know how precious water is in Arizona.

What insanity possesses the White House to ban these warm, spiritual, welcoming people?

Meanwhile, plates of delicious salad, potatoes, lamb, and rice were served by young women who had covered their heads. There were two beautiful calls to prayer, sung by men with trained, expressive voices.

4. Rather than build mosques which would upset some Tucsonans, the Muslim community blends in and shares their culture at festivals like Tucson Meet Yourself in October. Who hasn’t ordered a baklava with a strong Turkish coffee?

5. They do not build multi-million-dollar garish, marble clad, Trump Tower-like edifices. Islam is a major worldwide faith, not a cult. There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world as of 2015 – roughly 24% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate.

Kurdish fighters from the People"s Protection Units (YPG) chat with members of US Special Forces.

Kurdish fighters confer with members of US Special Forces.

6. Oğuz explained that he is a Turkish Kurd, a people who are the fierce fighters working with American forces to wipe out ISIS terrorists. The Kurds have surrounded Raqqa, Syria, and are within two miles of the ISIS headquarters. Things would be going better but Syria’s dictator Assad is bombing them.

Oğuz’s mother is in Turkey, but he says he cannot visit her. Oğuz is part of a resistance movement against monstrous dictator Erdogan, who put his name on an arrest list. The tyrant has detained 150,000 teachers, journalists, police officers, judges, and civilians.

7. The Turkish people did not bargain for this and most informed Americans do not blame them for the takeover by a murderous dictator. This is just as the rest of the world does not blame the majority of ordinary Americans for the would-be dictator who occupies the White House. They understand.

Oğuz is supporting Democrat Steve Farley for Governor, who on June 5 kicked off his campaign to rebuild education in Arizona. As the elected Precinct Committeeman in #238, I too support Farley. Neither of us had name cards, so we wrote down our contact info on pieces of paper.

On the way out I talked with a man holding a tiny baby. I told him I was a senior citizen and looked forward to talking with my son in Chicago on Father’s Day. He said he was 35, was working hard to support his family and his 5-month old child.

I told the father that his son would carry him in his heart as he made his way through life, just as I hold my own father in my heart. My 33-year-old son is a productive citizen of Chicago, with his own apartment and a beautiful long-time girlfriend. I can’t wait to talk with him.

JFK, Where Are You Now That We Need You?

By Larry Bodine, Precinct Committeeman, Precinct #238, Tucson.

I remember when as a young boy, still in grade school, I shook JFK’s hand. JFK would be 100 years old this week, were he still alive.

The day was August 17, 1962, and President John F. Kennedy spoke at the opening of the Oahe Dam in South Dakota. It was a beautiful day in the summer, and cars from hundreds of miles around lined up in rows on a big hillside.

At the bottom of the hill was a podium with cloth fluttering in the wind. The hydroelectric dam is the second largest one on the Missouri River. It took 14 years to build.

JFK stood at the podium and spoke in that unmistakable accent. You can listen to his speech on Youtube.

I was so optimistic that I wanted to join the Peace Corps.

I felt so idealistic that I wanted to serve my country.

Before he left, he walked into the crowd of well-wishers and shook my hand.

Then he climbed into a black Lincoln Continental convertible with two American flags flying on the front bumper and rode off as thousands of people cheered. I have never forgotten that day, 55 years ago.

Where have you gone, Jack Kennedy?

As I look around the toxic Arizona legislative leadership and governor, I ask myself, “where are the political leaders who inspire us?”

I don’t see them. Certainly not in our state Capitol.

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Sustainable Econ Dev: $70 Mil for 2 Corps or $1 Mil Each for 70 Local Businesses? (video)

World View

Contractors have begun blading the desert at the World View site.

In the name of economic development, Rio Nuevo and Pima County are poised to dole out $70 million in corporate welfare to two big corporations– $50 million to Caterpillar and $20 million to World View.

Ironically, one day before the Rio Nuevo Board announced the multi-million-dollar Caterpillar package for Tucson, I posted this article on saying “no” to Wall Street debt and corporate welfare and “yes” to helping local small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive with low-cost loans.

Let’s think about this a moment. These two governmental entities are have voted to invest $70 million worth of taxpayer funds in two companies– one company is being lured away from other states to move here and the other is a Tucson company with big ideas and little cash. Is borrowing millions of dollars to give it away sustainable economic development?

According to data from the University of Arizona Eller College, Tucson has one of the highest per capita rates of new patents in the US. We also have new start-up tech companies being nurtured at the UA Tech Park. We have smart scientists + new ideas. Why aren’t we helping entrepreneurs and growing our own local businesses with low-cost loans via a public bank?

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