The Tucson agenda
Pima Supes to meet with unvaxed staff facing firing; Oro Valley mulls lighter parking rules
A quick look at what's planned for local government meetings
The Pima County Board of Supervisors posted on its Tuesday meeting agenda an item that might be cryptic if you haven't been reading their meeting notes for a while.
(Clerk’s Note: All COVID-19 items and/or COVID-19 emergency items will be discussed under this agenda item.) Updates and Action on COVID-19).
This in all likelihood includes an update with some closer-to-final numbers about the county employees who work with kids, seniors or inmates who had until Dec. 31 to get their COVID shots or face dismissal.
In October, the board set the policy requiring vaccinations for any employee dealing with "vulnerable populations." The firings are slated to take place by Friday, after several warnings to each staffer who hadn't yet provided paperwork proving they were fully vaccinated. So this would appear the meeting to offer a reprieve, if any is coming. As many as 200 employees could get pink-slipped, but the final numbers might be lower.
Most county departments were showing compliance rates in excess of 90 percent during the week leading up to Christmas. The one exception, for reasons both passing understanding and sadly predictable, was the Pima County Sheriff's Department and the jail in particular.
Acting County Administrator Jan Lesher reported to the supervisors last week that 122 PCSD staffers are unvaccinated, but Sheriff Chris Nanos told the Sentinel that number was just 24 on Thursday.
The stick of dismissal has enraged some parts of the community, but has also improved the county's vaccination rate markedly.
The board was also to discuss two requests by Supervisor Adelita Grijalva. One would reduce the size of the Pima County Fair Commission from seven to five members. This came as news to the fair commissioners and sounds like someone is trying to shank someone with internal politics. But Grijalva asked to withdraw that item late last week, and the public agenda was finally updated Monday morning with additional attachments.
Grijalva's also asking the board to declare that a "land acknowledgment" be read at the start of all future board meetings. Essentially these are declarations that European Americans occupy land that once belonged to indigenous peoples. Native American activists see them as a symbolic minimal first step.
Republican Supervisor Steve Christy called the suggestion "divisive." I feel the need to point out that many meetings start with invocations and pledging allegiance to a flag, which could be considered divisive as well.
Also on the agenda for the supes: who's going to run their meetings. The board will vote on who'll be the chair, vice chair and acting chair for the coming year. For years, the Democratic majority has rotated those posts around, but it's not quite clear if any of the new supervisors can pull together three votes to have anyone but Supervisor Sharon Bronson wield the gavel.
The rest of the community's public meeting schedule is light. And when I type light, I mean light.
The Oro Valley Town Council is gathering Wednesday to discuss two – count em, won’t take long – issues. And that's about it.
One of them, though, happens to be kind of interesting: The council will vote on a proposal to reduce the parking lot requirement. The change would only reduce the amount of required parking spaces for 8 percent of business, while increasing it on 2 percent.
Parking overkill is a major driver of sprawl. I live four businesses from a grocery store. It’s a 10-minute walk. In New York that would be like 30 steps. Granted, in New York, I’d also live in a 25-story building....
New businesses wouldn’t have to build as much parking in some cases and existing businesses could use their parking lots for other services.
The idea came from OV residents during the town’s "Your Voice, Our Future" initiative that resulted in 265 goals, policies and action plans. This was one of them. The parking rules hit the sweet political sweet spot because they mean fewer regulations and better environmental protections.
The other item, is a financial update that shows “all-systems-go” through October, except for projected golf-related revenues from El Conquistador Golf Club. Given the hit tourism has taken during the pandemic, it makes sense that the golf fund is facing a $554,052 shortfall.
The Nogales City Council has a meeting planned for Wednesday but there's no agenda up yet. State law requires agendas be posted 24 hours before a meeting, so the city staff has until Tuesday to reveal what they're planning on talking about.
The Tucson City Council and Sahuarita Town Council each canceled scheduled meetings around the holidays. That’s not uncommon because individual elected officials schedule vacations that make it hard to form a quorum of minimum number of members.
I can say with some certainty that they also just don’t like meeting that week.
Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist, who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party.