All Souls Procession — ‘Remembering Together’

I never expected to feel like a foreigner in a city that’s been my second home for the last two decades. But it happened. A blend of joy and sadness erupted from my gut when I verbalized this particular contradiction. And I knew turning away wasn’t an option. In between gawking at the spectacle and sheer amount of people, I caught up with a couple I met shortly after first relocating to the Old Pueblo.

I also snapped a few photos when the mood struck me and my timing felt appropriate.


Taking part in the All Souls Procession as a photog feels like you’re shooting a citywide funeral, collectively capturing two hundred thousand people in mourning. The event started in 1990 by local artist Susan Johnson, who commemorated the passing of her father via the artistic mode. ‘From the beginning, it was different people’s ethnic groups, different cultures, but also it was all these different art forms put together,’ Johnson said, during an interview for the procession website. From Johnson’s personal, artistic memorialization, the procession now spans an entire weekend and attracts more than 150,000 people annually.   

The mood concurrently feels celebratory, festive. And this balloon tailed me all evening, I snickered to myself while editing my images.

When the ocean of people began floating south, I waltzed on tempo — only breaking my stride if my shutter beckoned.   

We all appear the same and cry similar tears when the light vanishes. This ultimate meeting of Tucson’s tribes drove home that fact. Then, the temperature dropped, making the sound of footsteps echo and visualized an exhaled breath.

By the close of the night, my legs wobbled with a pleasant ache. And my heart gushed as I slipped through the shadows of Barrio Viejo, thinking, ‘Obrigado, meu amigo.’

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ — Marcel Proust


ALL WASHED OUT: Torres Blancas sees land erode, Anza Trail recede

For more than a decade, the Torres Blancas Golf Club in Green Valley has been stuck between a river and hard place — and it’s getting worse.

Since 2016, the golf course has lost 10 to 15 yards of land due to erosion from the Santa Cruz River, said Mike Cochran, club general manager.

The erosion is also swallowing portions of the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail, which is forcing hikers onto golf course property, creating safety issues.

Pima County Regional Flood Control told the Green Valley News if the river winds through, or affects private property, managing the waterway is out of their hands.

For Cochran, that argument’s dead in the water.

History of erosion

In September 2014, Torres Blancas’ former managers notified the county about erosion on the golf course green opposite homes located from 2773 to 2709 S. Greenside Place.

At the time, the county said a review of historical photographs of that bend in the Santa Cruz River “has not been significantly altered” and “is naturally prone to erosional events.”

Pima County then determined the area of concern was on property owned by Torres Blancas LLC, and the county could not spend public money for private land improvements.

“From a regulatory perspective, this natural process is addressed by establishing minimum safe setback distances for structures from washes,” according to the statement to Torres Blancas.

The default setback distance established by the county is 500 feet.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Nov. 14, 2018.

Pima County has volunteers serving in tough jobs

How does the Pima County Board of Supervisors stay on top of the minutiae of road repairs or the best way to serve local business owners?

What about keeping up on elections, historical designations or agriculture?

They appoint a small army of volunteers to commissions and committees.

There are 56 county boards, commissions and committees made up of community members who provide insight, information and perspective to the board. While some panels are created for a specific, short-term purpose, others are mandated by state statute and meet year-round.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy Christy says he tries to appoint people from his district even if it’s not required by that particular committee. His general rule of thumb assures that an appointee has a vested interest in the issues.

Members drop off boards on occasion, but he says it’s fairly common for people to approach him and volunteer for commissions.

At any given moment, Christy has about a half-dozen people he can call on to fill a vacancy.

“It’s gratifying to have people stop you and say, ‘If I can help you, let me know,’” he says.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Nov. 4, 2018.

County plan to fix roads with bonds goes down

Pima County voters have spoken: Find another way to repair our failed roads.

Proposition 463, which would have green-lighted a $430 million road repair bond package over a five-year period, was going down hard on Tuesday.

With almost 43 percent of Pima County’s registered voters accounted for at 10 p.m., just over 56 percent of county voters said no.

Gary Davidson, an outspoken critic of the roads plan, said voters don’t believe that 70 percent of county roads are in failed or poor condition simply because the county lacks sufficient resources.

“Nor do voters seem to believe the poor condition of our roads is because the taxpayers are insufficiently taxed,” Davidson said. “And it’s time for the county government to begin prioritizing core government services, including road repair and maintenance.”

Davidson has served on the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee representing District 1 since 2006. He was a leading opponent of an $815 million county bond package that went down in flames in 2015.

During the first five years of the repair plan, unincorporated Pima County, which includes Green Valley, would have received $166.1 million, and the Town of Sahuarita would have received $12.1 million.

The bonds would have kept primary property taxes level at 69 cents per $100 of assessed value. If it passed, the tax rate would have been extended from January 2019 through FY 2028.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Nov. 6, 2018.

Christy: Anti-Trump Pima County board is at it again

Pima County approved an updated seven-year plan to promote environmentally friendly practices last week, but two supervisors who voted against it insist it’s driven by politics and full of hidden costs for taxpayers.

The county says the plan, first instituted a decade ago, has saved more than $14 million and has reduced its carbon footprint, but District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy is skeptical.

“I have grave doubts about the return on the investments,” Christy said in phone interview Tuesday.

The Sustainable Action Plan for County Operations 2018-2025, which passed 3-2, builds off a history of countywide conservation projects focused on striking a balance among economic growth, social well-being and environmental protection. The three Democrats on the board approved the new plan, the Republicans said no.

This year’s updated SAPCO plan includes five focus areas: carbon emissions, water conservation, land reclamation and riparian restoration, purchasing green office products and reduce landfill waste, and workforce preparedness training for short-term and long-term climate change risks.

The plan also affirms the county’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, an international pact to combat climate change, which the Trump administration withdrew from in June 2017. As of July, there were 197 signatories to the international agreement.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Oct. 24, 2018.

Sheriff removes ICE from jail in bid to retain Stonegarden money

Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier has removed federal officers from the county jail in an attempt to build trust and secure a federal Operation Stonegarden grant next year.

Allowing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate inside Pima County Adult Detention Complex has no connection to the federal grant, which was denied for the first time in September by the Pima County Board of Supervisors. But the issues were mentioned by community members when the board mulled accepting the grant.

Napier removed ICE from the county jail Oct. 12.

“And I hope it will show my willingness to engage in compromise,” he told the Green Valley News on Friday.

“I understand this was a major issue for many in our community and for several members of the board,” Napier said in a memo dated Oct. 16. “I am compromising my position on providing office space (to ICE) in the sincere hope that it builds a bridge of trust and reciprocal compromise.”

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Oct. 20, 2018.

Pima County rejects Stonegarden grant money

For the first time in more than a decade, the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday rejected a federal Operation Stonegarden grant, with one supervisor saying it was in response to President Trump’s immigration policies.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy, who represents Green Valley and part of Sahuarita, was the lone no in the 3-1 vote to reject the $1.4 million grant. District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller did not attend the meeting.

The federal grant program promotes cooperation among Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement agencies. The money also finances overtime and mileage costs and equipment for joint operations among agencies tasked with securing the country’s international borders.

Over the last 12 years, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department has accepted 44 Stonegarden grants totaling $16.4 million.

The call to the public at Tuesday’s meeting was dramatic, lasting almost four hours, with more than 50 people signing up to speak, most about the grant.

Christy, a Republican, said the grant provides vital funding to the county sheriff. He said those who spoke against the grant don’t represent all of Pima County. He added that insults lobbed at the Sheriff’s Department were regrettable.

“It’s deplorable, and political grandstanding at the worst, and sheer melodrama at best,” Christy said.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Sept. 4, 2018.