by Sylvia Berman, Mitman NA President
Saturday, Oct 14, 2023 was our annual neighborhood association meeting. Ali Bickford, Chief Information Officer, wanted to take a turn at President and I am happy to support her. I am exhausted and glad there is someone to take over.
When I joined the board, it was barely on life support. There was no membership list or contact information. The whole purpose of the neighborhood association is to disseminate information sent from various Tucson departments that affect residents and offer a voice. But residents had not been in the loop for years.
Over the four years I served on this board, I collected over 500 email addresses and shared information by developing the “Neighborhood Update” and annual newsletter. This includes residents in Thunderbird and Sewell. I am so happy to have helped reorganize these associations and also established a working relationship with Duffy and Hyland Vista. (I have been asked by many residents not to share their information and I will respect their wishes.)
The bylaws had not been rewritten since 2006 and I worked on them for over two years … until there were officers to pitch in. This led to reinventing the board structure to add four advisors with voting rights. On Saturday, eight people gladly volunteered for offices. It also led to the restructuring of the annual meeting (previously poorly attended) into a successful “Meet & Greet.” I noticed people out walking in the neighborhood on Saturday mornings and it made sense to catch people when they had the time. We have been recognized by Mayor Romero.
Homeless camps are a continual problem. They pop up in easements with lots of weeds to provide cover. Jennifer Beard is a stellar board member. She and I undertook the cleanup effort of the old Riteway building. It required getting the City to take the property manager to court and they were required to put up a wall. Jennifer made many other similar contributions.
Our strong association enabled Emily Endreson to get something done about “that house” on Jefferson. It wallowed in neglect for many years. And our board also supported Ali Bickford’s successful tree planting project. It formed a platform for Robin Steinberg to influence the Department of Transportation to follow thru on the Road Diet.
The lawful protest against the permanent liquor license for Love Cabaret bonded many residents. It still goes on despite a “settlement agreement” between the owner (Steven Craig Cooper) and Councilman Kozachik. They were supposed to receive the license after completing a series of requirements. I have demanded an end to this agreement and revocation of the temporary license.
I have received reports of neighborhood watchers being followed by cars exiting the Love Cabaret parking lot. Also, their cohorts were caught photographing peoples’ houses and cars. The owner has a long history in Tennessee and was indicted for prostitution. (Investigated for mob connections and sex clubs seized. Many newspaper articles.)
It should be noted that the “settlement agreement” called for “targeted enforcement” by TPD. This has never happened. Crime reports log these visits and there is not a single instance.
Love Cabaret ignored the porno bookstore customers using their parking lot. Residents documented because TPD claimed they had no evidence. These same people were photographed roaming our neighborhood. AlthoughI reported this, Love Cabaret continues to let it go on and our efforts to document are met with intimidation.
Jennifer Beard also caught child pornography on the Christie’s Cabaret website but TPD claims they cannot tie this material on their own website to them. I do not have confidence that sufficient effort was made.
As you know, there was a recent shooting incident at the Head Hunter Smoke Shop … that originated in Love Cabaret. To my knowledge, neither TPD nor the City Attorney reported this to Arizona Liquor Control. I made sure this complaint was made.
The “settlement agreement” called for a liaison between Love Cabaret and a board representative. My attorneys were horrified that our City Attorney and Councilman would endanger the community. If anyone engages with these people, they risk being sued or worse. It happened in Memphis and other cities in Tennessee.
I did my best to fight this license and I hope it was enough.
I was just getting started on the traffic circle renovation and speed bumps but it’s a big job so the new board can take on that project. It will require 35% of the residents to sign petitions and $1,000 per set of bumps. Quite a few residents are waiting patiently.
Getting things done at the City of Tucson is very difficult. There is so much bureaucracy that it can be maddening. There were many complaints and requests for help from residents. I always believed it was the board’s responsibility to try to handle each and every communication. Because every resident matters. No one should suffer.
It has been a pleasure to get this association up and running again. I appreciate the many letters of thanks from my neighbors.
So long, neighbors.
Last but not least is Councilman Kozachik’s very informative weekly newsletter (you may need to paste in browser):