Chants of “Si, se puede” erupted in Tucson City Council chambers as dozens cheered the creation of Tucson’s Cesar Chavez holiday on Tuesday night.
Around 100 people broke out in raucous celebration when the council voted unanimously to make the labor leader’s birthday the city’s 11th official paid holiday.
Many in attendance spoke before the vote on the importance of Chavez’ work on improving the lives of farm workers.
Dolores Huerta, who along with Chávez co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, said many of Chavez’ accomplishments, like obtaining the right to organize in California, still don’t extend to workers in every state.
“This is why we need to have Cesar’s legacy be known,” she told the council.
The holiday comes with a $500,000 annual price tag which some fear could lead to job losses as the city struggles to close its revised budget deficit of $31.8 million.
But City Manager Richard Miranda assured city workers and residents that the added cost won’t result in job losses or reduced city services.
He echoed Huerta’s earlier sentiments, and said you can’t put a price on dignity and what Chavez meant to so many people.
Miranda said staff found a way to work the numbers, but provided no details.
“This cost will be absorbed within our budget,” Miranda said. “So that we can again affirm the great life of Cesar Chavez and again show our community, show our state, show the world that Tucson is a great place to live.”
Councilwoman Regina Romero said it was important for Tucson to recognize a figure whose work brought dignity to countless lives.
“Celebrating (Cesar Chavez) is the right thing to do and it’s the right time to do it,” said Romero, who proposed the new holiday.
The holiday will take effect in 2015.
Tucson took a step in forcing pet stores to sell only dogs that come from either a shelter or nonprofit rescue group.
The council voted 6-1 to have the city attorney draft an ordinance banning pet stores from buying dogs from breeders.
Pet store owners said the ordinance would put them out of business.
Councilman Steve Kozachik, who proposed the ordinance, said the idea is to decrease the number of animals going through Pima County shelters and thus have fewer dogs euthanized .
Dale Bartlett from the U.S. Humane Society said most reputable breeders don’t sell to pet stores, which means many of the dogs come from animal-abusive “puppy mills.”
Pet store owners disputed Bartlett’s assertions.
Andy Porter, district manager for Animal Kingdom, said they investigate everyone they buy from and wouldn’t consider doing business with anyone who mistreats animals.
Mike Dugan, who owns the Puppy Place, said the ordinance wouldn’t take into account his store only buys or accepts donated puppies from residents who want a way their animals cam find a proper home.
“We never buy from anyone like they were describing in there,” said Dugan, adding that the law would force him to close his 25-year-old business while having no effect on irresponsible breeders.
Councilwoman Shirley Scott opposed the law, saying the public was not properly included and because she wanted language that would protect Dugan.
Kozachik said the ordinance, which affects about four stores, is not anti-business, it only requires stores adopt an ethical business model.
A similar law in Phoenix is currently being challenged in court.