Hey, I didn’t want to reactivate this blog with my recent letter to the Tucson Mayor and Council. I was thinking of something happier and maybe a little more clever.
But that is just how it all worked out.
While you were away enjoying your spring break, your local politicians were busy attacking your First Amendment rights. Yep, right during a time in Arizona when we really need to get out and protest against our new Gov’s draconian budget cuts to education and his love affair with prison industry, the Mayor and Council thought we should consider ways to make it harder for you to assemble.
Don’t worry, we slowed them down.
Below is that letter I hastily – and, yes, angrily – sent on behalf my democracy-loving families away in Disneyland (funny how our local bureaucrats and politicians like to talk about crazy ideas while you are out of town). Actually, you should thank the good people at locally owned Revolutionary Grounds Cafe for steeping up and leading the successful push back. And, by saying “thank the good people” at Raging Sage, I mean go buy a book or a cup of coffee from them. We need to support the mom and pops that support us.
So, yes, here is that letter I sent out last week. As you read it, visualize that vein above my eye popping out in anger as I wrote it.
Tucson Mayor & Council Members:
I’m stunned. How did these two items even get this far? Are you not paying attention to what is going on nationwide regarding community and police relations? How can you be that politically tone-deaf?
Both of these ordinances (and/or amendments) should have been stopped as soon as staff proposed them. Why did you allow them to get this far?
Twenty years ago, I and several other organizers camped out in front of the Mexican Consulate to protest the passage of NAFTA and the Mexican government treatment of the people of Chiapas during their uprising.
We slept on the sidewalk overnight. We knew that, at the very least, our City leaders in 1994 recognized our right to do so and did not interfere with our 1st Amendment rights.
At that time, free speech organizations such as KXCI, the Tucson Weekly and Access Tucson were about 10 years old. That Mayor & City Council celebrated free speech and embraced these organizations as their own and as Tucson born guardians of local voices and local democracy.
What happened to our leadership?
As a taxpayer, homeowner, father, husband and brother, I value the Tucson Police Department and their role in keeping my family safe. I got to know many during my time as chief of staff at the Ward 3 Council Office for 5 years. The TPD is made up of many fantastic, hard working police officers.
But, does that mean I can’t question the TPD when I disagree with them on some of their choices or tactics? Would that make me disloyal to them somehow? Aren’t they supposed to be loyal to me and my family? Does my questioning mean that I hate cops?
That is ridiculous.
Yet Council Member Steve Kozachik continues to be the only member on the council to point out areas – be they budgetary or operational – where TPD needs to make improvements.
Is Steve the only one who can advocate for us on matters regarding our local police? Is he the only one watching this nationwide conversation taking place regarding the police and our community on CNN every night? Are you absent as a new civil rights movement unfolds across our country? Really?
Just because a Tucson citizen may have some differences with the local police does not mean that this citizen is being unprofessional or unreasonable or does not support our police and their important role in our community.
By continuing to be a one-dimensional group of TPD cheerleaders without a breath of criticism for them, you are exposing yourself as the odd “man” out as communities nationwide shatter the old “with us or against us” narrative.
Please catch up to the rest of the nation!
Consider that the handling of these two items are on the heels of your secretive city manager search and after two separate judges scolded you for withholding public records asked for by community members: one regarding GCU and the other for completely misunderstanding a ruling on how to handle a downtown homeless protest.
Incredibly, the City staff response to these recent fumbles is to push for more power with less transparency. And you let them go far down this path and only slowed things down because of the immediate community outcry.
As a Tucson resident for the past 30 years and as an eye witness during my 5 years working within City Hall, I have seen our local democracy erode under your leadership. Our City government has become less transparent and more closed under your leadership.
You may be succeeding as politicians but you are failing as leaders.