Mourners laud Don Diamond’s legacy, philanthropy

He was an influential leader, a charismatic entrepreneur and man who loved Tucson until his final days.

That’s how friends and family described the legacy of the late Donald R. Diamond, a prominent Tucson-based real estate developer and philanthropist, during a memorial held on Wednesday afternoon.

Diamond died on Monday, March 25. He was 91.

More than 300 people packed the Catalina Room at the Jewish Community Center Tucson. Although the required garb was dark the tone of the ceremony was playful and light-hearted, keeping in step with Diamond’s temperament.

“My father couldn’t afford a rabbi for the service, so I will be officiating this afternoon,” his eldest daughter Rabbi Jennifer Diamond told the piqued crowd.

She further said Donald Diamond would be pleased to know that he’ll finally recoup for paying for her the five years of rabbinic school.

Both comments sweetened the heavy mood of the day with warm laughter.

After leading a traditional service, Jennifer Diamond offered their personal guests a glimpse into her family’s life.

Read the entire Tucson Local Media story here. Originally published on March 28, 2019.

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Arizona restaurateurs adapt as hourly workers see pay raise, benefits improvement

After 15 years of working in the food industry, Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery General Manager Alex Zepeda knows just how hard the job can be. And she said that while restaurants across the state have had to adjust to the recent increases in Arizona’s minimum wage, the change was long overdue.

“It is something that I think needed to happen,” Zepeda said. “And I’m glad that we’re paying people what they should be paid—a livable wage.”

Zepeda, 29, said that while Tucson’s cost of living is comparatively affordable, local folks may be supporting a family on a 40-hour weekly salary, so they need to make a living, she said.

In November 2016, Arizona voters approved Proposition 206, which increases the statewide minimum wage during a four-year period. In January, Arizona’s minimum wage rose to $11 per hour; and in 2020 the statewide hourly rate of pay will reach $12 per hour.

The ballot initiative also guarantees that workers accrue paid sick time off. Arizona businesses with 15 or more employees must now offer 40 hours of paid sick time annually, while businesses with less than 15 workers must allow for 24 hours of paid sick leave.

Under Prop. 206, employees earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work. If an employee doesn’t use their sick pay, those hours will roll over from year-to-year.

When voters OK’d the ballot measure, Arizona’s minimum wage was set at $8.05. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, which hasn’t budged in a decade.

Read the entire Tucson Local Media article here. Originally published on March 27, 2019.

Chamber leaders roll out new healthcare plan for small businesses

Many small businesses face a tough choice: Do you push to grow your company, or do you offer health benefits in order to retain your employees?

In an attempt to address the latter, the Southern Arizona Chamber of Commerce Association launched a new health insurance plan this month for self-employed workers and those operating modest proprietorships.

“For small businesses that don’t have access to healthcare right now, hopefully this will give them an option to acquire insurance and offer it to their employees,” said Robert Medler, vice president of public affairs at the Tucson Metro Chamber.

And if a qualifying company already provides benefits, the new association health plan could give employers a more cost-effective option, he added.

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor implemented new regulations that make it easier for small businesses to coalesce and purchase an association health plan.

The Southern Arizona Chamber Benefits plan, which is managed by UnitedHealthcare, is one of the many new AHPs to hit the market nationally.

Read the entire Tucson Local Media article here. Originally published on Feb. 20, 2019.