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N4T Investigators: Mixed Messages Follow-Up

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TUCSON (KVOA) - On Wednesday, in a study session meeting city leaders took a step towards coming up with a policy for Tucson's mural permit process.  

"Don't just default to like everything is neutral, " City Councilwoman Lane Santa Cruz said during the meeting. "The work that we're doing here is not neutral." 

"We didn't follow the administrative directive when we did the BLM or when we rejected the Blue Line," City Councilman Steve Kozachik said during the meeting. "So, what we're asking for is a process and for Mike to bring back some guidelines." 

City Attorney Mike Rankin will do exactly that. He will craft the new wording. It will describe the mural permit process. Then the Mayor and City Council will decide if they want to make it into policy.

But before giving the new language the green light, Santa Cruz said more work will need to be done.

"It needs to be this like you know well thought out conversation and not just being reactive to this moment," Santa Cruz said in the meeting.

After the News 4 Tucson Investigator's Mixed Messages report, Kozachik called for the discussion. He demanded that the permit process be clarified, then put into writing so, everyone knows the rules.

"This is about what our process is going to be going forward so everyone knows how the governing body approves or rejects requests," Kozachik said during the meeting.

The city approved a "Black Lives Matter" (BLM) mural permit through one process. It approved and later revoked a pro-police "Blue Line" mural through another after the City Attorney provided legal advice regarding mural requests from private parties in general.

"I have given the advice to the department of transportation and mobility not to consider or issue permits to private parties for the purpose of painting messages in our streets," City Attorney Mike Rankin said during the meeting. "Because if we were to do so, we would open the door or more specifically our city streets to any message regardless of content."  

However, the City Attorney cannot create policy, only advise it.

Once Rankin brings the new wording back to the Mayor and City Council they will decide if new rules will be added into a formal policy. 

You can watch the entire meeting here.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest details as they become available.

If you have a story you'd like for us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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