Friday, January 30, 2015

Bits and Pieces

Lopez Sets Record Straight: HSL Would Not Have Waited If Oro Valley Had Not Voted To Buy El Conquistador Country Club

"I want to make it clear that if the decision to buy the El Conquistador Golf Club had not been made [by the Oro Valley Town Council] on December 17th, we would have pursued our other sale opportunities and would be unwilling to wait until May or even March to complete this transaction."

This is a direct quote from a letter that Lopez of HSL properties, the company that is going to sell the El Conquistador Country Club To Oro Valley, sent a letter to the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce.

In this letter Lopez said that HSL is now willing to wait for the town to purchase the property because the town had agreed to do so.

Superior Court Judge Aragon To Hear TOOTHINOV.ORG Appeal Tuesday

We have received information from TOOTHINOV.ORG that their appeal appeal of the rejection of the referendum will be heard next Tuesday.  The the judge assigned to the case, the Honorable Gus Aragon, will hear pleadings at 10 am in Superior Court. (Related News Story)

HSL Hopes To Close Deal on El Conquistador Country Club Sale To Oro Valley By March 1

"Hospitality specialists from CBRE offices around the country negotiated the recent $15 million sale of Oro Valley’s Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort and the El Conquistador Country Club to Tucson-based developer HSL Properties.

HSL plans about $16 million in rehabilitation and capital improvements on the hotel portion of the property, with work to take place over the next 12 to 18 months. HSL has also started the process to split off the resort’s country club and 45 holes of golf to the Town of Oro Valley. HSL hopes to finalize that sale by March 1, although local residents have initiated a referendum petition drive that could potentially halt the sale." (Source)(Alternative Source)
Oro Valley Cops Stolen Wallet Found In Stafford

Stafford Police arrested a man in possession of an Oro Valley Police Officers stolen possession.

"Alejandro Andres Martinez, 31, of Safford, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Jail early Saturday morning on charges of taking the identity of another person, theft and failure to comply with a police officer after numerous identification, debit and credit cards belonging to an Oro Valley Police officer were found in his possession.

After placing Martinez in their patrol car for failing to comply with the officer’s command, the police performed an inventory check of the car and located a driver’s license, Oro Valley Police Department identification card, Pima regional SWAT callout card, town of Oro Valley insurance card, two credit cards, three debit cards and a Sam’s Club card all belonging to an Oro Valley Police officer. The cards were previously reported stolen by the victim, who said his wallet was taken when he was at a gym." (Source)

None of us are immune from car theft "smash and grab" crime. So, keep you valuables out of sight an locked away.
Oro Valley Launches "5 Questions In 5 Minutes" To Solicity Your Input On 2015-16 Budget

It’s budget time in Oro Valley, and in lieu of a public forum which has traditionally garnered low attendance, the Town has launched an online opportunity for residents to give direct input on what they feel are priorities for the Town. The online questionnaire, 5 Questions in 5 Minutes, opens today, January 26, and will run through February 8. In this questionnaire, participants will have an opportunity to rank potential capital improvement project categories and indicate priority levels on Town programs and services.

This is the link to access the survey.
Councilmember Zinkin Appointed To Two National League of Cities Committees

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 27, 2015) - Town of Oro Valley Councilmember Mike Zinkin has been appointed to the National League of Cities (NLC) 2015 Community and Economic Development Steering Committee and the Small Cities Council.

Community and Economic Development Steering Committee has the lead responsibility for developing NLC federal policy positions on issues involving housing, community and economic development, land use, recreation and parks, historic preservation and international competitiveness. The appointment was announced by NLC President Ralph E. Becker, mayor, Salt Lake City, Utah.
(Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Budget Time In Oro Valley

In the near future, Town Manager Caton will be unveiling the 2015-16 Oro Valley budget.  The budget will likely exceed last year's record $103 million budget.

The 2015 budget will include mandatory wage increases for town employees.  We suspect that it will include the costs of operating the El Conquistador Country Club since the council has approved this purchase.

We expect much discussion regarding this year's budget, especially in the area of public safety. Its not a matter of whether public safety is important to the  community. Nor is it a matter of diminishing in any way the effectiveness of Oro Valley's public safety. It is simply a matter of good fiscal management.  Every budget request should be challenged.  And that challenge should be thorough.

Council Members Mike Zinkin and Bill Garner are castigated, especially by the Majority-4 on council, for their inspection of the public safety budget. Zinkin and Garner do so on the basis that the department reports to the council and not to the town manager. Therefore, they both feel that is incumbent on them to monitor public safety spending; and that they must continue to do so until the department reports to the town manager.

One should give credit to Council Members Garner and Zinkin for their persistent look a at public safety spending. They are doing their job.

Their latest attempt at analysis, a rather simple request to provide the cost of specific public safety programs, turned out to be a big deal.

This big deal happened because Police Chief Sharp and Town Manager Caton refused to provide information that Zinkin and Garner had requested. Sharp and Caton declined on the basis that providing information by program requires significant effort.

It seems rather strange that Oro Valley does not know on routine basis what it costs for the programs it operates. It is the programs that create the need for the spending. How can one analyze a budget request within this information?

What was thought to be a simple request for information to Chief Sharp and Town Manager Caton to get information by program turned out to be a big deal. It was such a big deal that Town Manager Caton declined to do the research until he was directed to do so. This could only happen if were brought before council. So it was.

In December, Council Member Zinkin prepared a powerpoint presentation for council. He attempted to present it at a council meeting.

Mayor Hiremath declined to let Zinkin present it.  (You can contact Council Member Zinkin to obtain a copy of the presentation.)

Hiremath did allow Zinkin to talk about what Zinkin had deduced from Zinkin's own analysis of information that came from public safety reports to council.

Zinkin, speaking from the document, asserted that the town is overspending on the public safety budget by almost $473,000.

According to Mayor Hiremath, Zinkin and Garner will have their request answered as part of the discussion of the 2015 budget.
The Town Of Oro Valley has created a web page for the 2015-16 budget.  It contains links to various documents of which you might be interested. It also has a "5 Questions in 5 Minutes" survey for you to complete. The survey is available through February 8.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Heather's Corner: Russell Ranch School for Boys: An Oro Valley Legend for Those Who Attended

Nestled behind a few trees, just north of the entrance to the Catalina State Park, on Oracle Rd. lies Cielo Tierra Ranch. Now a sleepy ranch with attached boarding stables, it was once a prestigious boarding school for boys, grades 7 through 10, and therefore holds a special place in Oro Valley history.

The ranch school movement began in the western United States in the early 1900's as a way to provide education for those families living in remote rural areas. However, it wasn't long before they gathered attention from Easterners, who could afford to, that would send their children to boarding school to receive an education based on experiencing nature, the west, and gaining independence, was all the rage. Arizona led the way for national ranch schools, most of which were in the Tucson area, until the movement declined in the 1960's and most were closed.

Rev. Robert Russell, a Presbyterian clergyman from Larchmont, New York, opened Russell Ranch School in 1938. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, he remained the school's headmaster until it closed in 1950. The school has been described as having a main ranch house, a library, craft room, boy's dormitory, several classrooms, and a large corral with horseback riding every day.

Many dignified men have recounted their time spent at the school through interviews and books, including colonels, authors, and at one time, a Rockefeller was said to have attended. Award winning author of 16 books, John Duncklee, describes his time in a memoir, I bit the Silverspoon:
"One of my greatest joys at Russell Ranch School, besides riding my horse, were the Saturdays when the early morning light began flooding the western side of the mountains. With my roommate still snoring, I would open the window and sneak out into the pasture through the barbed wire fence. With the heavy growth of mesquite trees to hide me, I walked toward the mountains, crossed the Cañada del Oro and headed for Ram's Canyon, which is a major drainage from the foothills."
I share with you, that I too, have spent some time on that ranch though it is a bit different now. The dorm rooms have been converted to casitas, the once library holds storage, and there is a pool to use on the hottest of summer days. I assure you, the sense of history remains strong, and those who have spent time on the ranch, have shared in the folklore of stories from the mischievous boys at the school to the" hippie compound" it became in the 1970's.

If any of you have stories to share about Russell Ranch School, we'd love to hear from you!
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Guest View-Art Segal: Its Deja Vu All Over Again

A number of years ago, before many of our citizens made Oro Valley their home, a handful of residents initiated a group, Stop Oro Valley Outrageous Giveaways---(SOVOG). The group came about to fight the then majority council who determined it was in our best interests to offer three developers approximately $42 million dollars in our future sales tax revenue to develop three parcels in Oro Valley.

The most egregious of these “giveaways” went to Vestar, a Phoenix based developer who assured the residents they would bring us an “upscale, unique” shopping mall on the land that subsequently became The Oro Valley Marketplace. For those of you that were not living here at the time, you might wonder, “What am I missing? There’s no “unique, upscale” shopping mall there. All I see is a Walmart and other big box stores!”

Well---what happened was this. The people who bought into the Vestar sales pitch, got totally snookered. The end result is, we gave (still giving) Vestar something like $23 million dollars of our sales tax revenue.

SOVOG fought this giveaway as best we could, and if memory serves, after six court appearances, we finally achieved our goal of overriding 4 council members (two of whom were defeated in the next election, one retired, and one got defeated in a future election), and were able to get the issue to the voters.

Sadly, we couldn’t compete with Vestar’s advertising blitz, and the result was the aforementioned Marketplace.

So much for history. That brings us to where we are today. Once again, a majority of 4 council members have bought into a developers sales pitch and determined it is in our best interests to buy 45 holes of old golf courses, in the need of much repair and upkeep, not to mention a Country Club facility that is decades old, and hardly worth the millions of dollars necessary to bring it “up to snuff.”

Quoting Yogi Berra, the ex New York Yankee Hall of Famer: “It’s deja vu all over again.”

Once again, the people of Oro Valley find themselves in the unenviable position of being forced to do something that 4 people believe is in our best interests. Once again, it’s a developer with deep pockets that has supported the election of those council members with the credo; “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours".

There’s only one difference between then and now. Then, it took an election or two to dump those that thought they could get away with their egregious actions. This time, hopefully, we the people will “take the bull by the horns,” and initiate a recall petition to rid ourselves of these four.

For the record, we’re talking about Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters. Oro Valley will be a better place the quicker these four can do no more damage.

To use another cliche: “Strike While The Iron Is Hot.” Initiate a recall petition. Get the required signatures. Get four new candidates that will work for us, not the Special Interests, and watch as we Let Oro Valley Excel!
Art Segal is a long time resident of Oro Valley. He is also the cofounder of Let Oro Valley Excel. Art has worked tirelessly for our community for many years. We always welcome his comments and his wisdom. Click here to read about LOVE, Art, Freedom of Speech, Oro Valley, and the Goldwater Institute.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

SPECIAL: TOOTHINOV.ORG Files In Court Against The Town Of Oro Valley

Residents Shirl Lamonna and Debra Arret have filed suit to get the TOOTHINOV.ORG filed petitions approved. The goal of TOOTHINOV.ORG is to allow the residents of Oro Valley to vote on the town's purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club. Oro Valley Town Clerk Julie Bower rejected petitions  on the basis that they had a clerical error.  The suit asserts that this reason for rejection is merely "window dressing" and an excuse to deny a vote to the citizens.

More than 3,100 registered Oro Valley voters signed the petition. A number of residents attended this past Wednesday' council meeting to express their disgust with this rejection. They spoke at the "call to audience" portion the meeting.

The following are 3 videos of the resident's remarks:

The following is the status of this suit as posted on TOOTHINOV.ORG.

"On Fri, January 23rd, William R. Risner, Esq, filed a Statutory Special Action (Mandamus) against Defendant Julie K. Bower, Oro Valley Town Clerk, on behalf of Plaintiffs Debra Arrett and Shirl Lamonna in Pima County Superior Court.

The stated reasons for rejection (of the referendum petitions) by Julie K. Bower, are based on non-substantive window dressing that she used to deny the fundamental constitutional right of referendum.

To the extent that the "number (R)14-66" printed on the right hand corners of the petitions and not the "number REF14-01" is used to deny Oro Valley residents their right to referendum such denial is a denial of their constitutional right to referendum. Thus, that requirement is itself unconstitutional either on its face or as applied.

This action shall be advanced on the court's calendar and heard by the court as soon as possible by the Honorable Gus Aragon."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bits and Pieces: Hornat's Hook, an Oro Valley "Skyscraper" and More (Updated 6-24-15)

It Was Hornat and Friends Who Put Themselves "On The Hook"

Wednesday, Council Member Joe Hornat said that he was sorry that there was not going to be a vote on the Oro Valley purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club. He said this at the end of the call to audience portion of this past Wednesday's council meeting. Joe said he was sorry because a public vote would have "taken us off the hook."

We wish to remind Council Member Hornat that is he and his Majority-4 colleagues who put themselves on the hook. What Hornat should have done was to use the common sense he prides himself in having and he wouldn't be on the hook at all.  Nor would the people of Oro Valley.

Council Approves Oro Valley's Second 5 Story Building

The Majority-4 of the Oro Valley Town Council voted to approve Oro Valley's first  5 story building. The minority 3 voted against it. The building will be behind the Home Depot on the southern piece of what is called the Rooney Ranch North property. The facility will be part of what is called Nakomy Sky Senior Living Campus. According to the town staff report on the property:

"A significant portion of this building will be naturally shielded from view from 1st Avenue by a hillside area, but the building will be significantly visible from Oracle Road and the CDO Bridge."

This is the second 5 story building that has been approved for Oro Valley. The first 5 story building to be approved has not been built. It is a hotel on the Rooney Ranch property at 1st and Oracle. The location of the hotel is further east than the new aproval, up the hillside in an adjacent parcel within the same Rooney Ranch property. This was approved in the Planned Area Development that included a Main Street design for the lower portion where the CVS is located now.

Winner announced for Shop OV Holiday Campaign $500 grand prize

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 20, 2015) - Oro Valley resident, Rebecca Taber is the winner of a random drawing for a $500 OV Dollars gift card sponsored by the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce as part of the Shop Oro Valley Holiday Campaign. Taber's receipt was one of 909 that were submitted during the nine-week campaign, for a total of more than $58,000 dollars spent at 108 Oro Valley businesses. (Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)

Four teenagers arrested for burglary in Oro Valley

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 19, 2015) - On January 18, 2015 at approximately 2:40 a.m. Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) responded to the Walgreens at Lambert and La Canada in reference to a burglary alarm. Officers arrived on scene within a few minutes and observed a male leaving the business and running towards the rear of the business. After a short foot pursuit he was taken into custody. Officers found the front door glass smashed in and several packs of cigarettes and alcohol on the ground of the Walgreens. (Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)

Children's Museum To Possibly Open In Spring

TucsonNewsNow reports that the Tucson Children's Museum will open its Oro Valley doors this spring. The 3,000 square foot facility will be located in the Steam Pump Village Shopping Center.

Oro Valley Schedules Special February To Educate Public About El Conquistador Country Club and Community Center

Oro Valley Schedules February Open Houses To Discuss Community Center

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 23, 2015) - The Town of Oro Valley is planning a series of open house meetings in February to discuss the acquisition of the El Conquistador Country Cub and plans to convert it into a community and recreation center. Town officials want to provide information to the public and hear directly from residents.

The first of those meetings will be held Monday, February 2, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the El Conquistador Country Club Sunset Meeting Room, 10555 N. La Cañada Drive.

Town Officials and a representative from Troon Golf will be on hand to present information and field questions from those in attendance.

Residents who are unable to attend this meeting can attend a future meeting or submit their questions and comments to Oro Valley Constituent Services online or by calling 229-4711.
(Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

UPDATE: Oro Valley Clerk Rejects Petitions

The Arizona Daily Independent has a news report of this matter.  Here is a link for you to read it. In addition, we have included the full text of Oro Valley's press release on the matter at the end of this posting.
The Oro Valley Town Clerk, Julie Bower, rejected the petitions submitted by TOOTHINOV.ORG. So, the decision by the town council will stand. Oro Valley will purchase the El Conquistador Country Club.

According to the TOOTHINOV.ORG web site, TOOTHINOV.ORG is weighing legal options.

The rejection was based on the fact that the petitions did not include a reference number that the town assigns to filings.

Lamonna sought town review of the petition as it was designed before starting the petition process. The town advised her that it was not their role to provide legal advice.

As Lamonna related to us: "They told me all along that they could not give legal advice. While I have heard that some towns will confer with you if you take the petition in and ask them, Oro Valley is not one of them. They continue to refer you to the Secretary of State handbook for directions."

The reasons for the rejection were stated in a memo dated January 20 from Oro Valley clerk Bower to TOOTHINOV.ORG. These are:
"...none of the petition sheets contained the petition serial number. In addition, the following errors were also found:
  • Sheets not attached to a copy of the title and text of the measure 
  • Sheets containing a circulator's affidavit that is not completed or signed
  • Sheets on which the affidavit of the circulator is not notarized, the notary's signature is missing, the notary's commission has expired or the notary's seal is not affixed 
  • Sheets on which the signatures of the circulator or the notary are dated earlier than the dates on which the electors signed the face of the petition sheet
  • Sheets on which the circulator of the petition has not stated whether he is a paid or volunteer circulator (as required by ARS 19-101)"
Regardless of the how this turns out, there are more than 3.100 registered Oro Valley voters who were sufficiently concerned about the purchase to sign the petition. This number is far more than the number that would be required to force a recall of any council member.
Text Oro Valley Press Release:

Petition for referendum do not comply with state law; number of signatures on second petition effort falls short of requirement

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 20, 2015) - After processing the petition sheets submitted to the Oro Valley Town Clerk on Thursday, January 15, 2015, by the T.O.O.T.H. in OV referendum committee, it has been determined that the petitions do not comply with state law, therefore, any signatures on them are invalidated.

The petition sought to refer to a ballot the December 17, 2014 Town Council decision to acquire the El Conquistador Country Club and its related amenities.

According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 19-111 (B), it is mandatory that the petition serial number appear in the lower right hand corner of both the front and back of the petition. The submitted petitions did not bear the assigned serial number. This provision was included as a requirement in the materials provided to the referendum committee.

Since serial number requirement is a matter of state law, the Town of Oro Valley does not have the authority to override that requirement. Numerous case laws make it clear that strict compliance with all statutes is required for a referendum. See Western Devcor, Inc. v. City of Scottsdale, 161 Ariz. 426, 814 P.2d 767 (1991); and numerous other cases.

Upon receipt of the January 15 petitions, the Town Clerk recognized and indicated that the documents did not contain the serial number. The following day, January 16, the same group of citizens filed an application for another referendum petition with similar language under the name of T.O.O.T.H. in OV 2, and gathered signatures to submit by the 5 p.m. deadline.

The T.O.O.T.H. in OV 2 petitions were submitted by deadline and processed by the Town Clerk's Office; however, the second set of petitions fell short of the minimum 1,148 signatures required.

As of 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16, 2015, the deadline to submit petitions has passed.