Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Last State Lands "Informational Meeting" Tonight

Tonight is the last of four focus area workshops on the "...rezoning of an Arizona state-owned property comprising approximately 885-acres located north and south of Tangerine Road in proximity of Thornydale Road and Shannon Road, OV1802373 6 – 7:30 pm at Casas Church, 10801 N. La Cholla Boulevard."

It is a chance for you to learn what the town is considering. You will also have the opportunity to voice your thoughts.

However, the time to present your opinion is when the rezoning is heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission; and then, by the council. So, we suggest that you go to the meeting to learn as much as possible so that you will be able to present a cogent discussion to the commission and to the council if you wish to do so.

The meeting will be held from 6 – 7:30 pm at Casas Church, 10801 N. La Cholla Boulevard.

Monday, December 10, 2018

CAP's Water Source: Lake Meade In Pictures and Words

Our "red flag"
Prior to our extended vacation, we posted a "red flag" regarding Oro Valley Water's reliance on CAP water as a reliable long term water source. Simply put, there is a continuing long term dought that has so drastically reduced reservoir water levels (Lakes Mead and Powell) that water delivery restrictions could result as soon as 2020. Lest you think we're kidding, we did even more research.

We came with 2 excellent reference sources. Both, we think are highly credible.

This chart is of Lake Meade water levels. The source of the chart is the US Department of the Interior. They manage Colorado River water.

Water levels are down 17% in twenty years. The water level is projected to drop even further.

Still not convinced that CAP Water (CAP gets it water from Lake Meade) may not be a sustainable long-term water source?

Then take a look at these 31 pictures courtesy of CBS News. Here's one that shows just how dire the situation has become.

Our point?

The drought is real. Imagining a sudden reversal of this drought is not realistic.

Advocating that Oro Valley has plenty of water to support huge annexation is foolhardy.

Oro Valley ought to consider a water future where CAP water is less, and not more of a water source.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Bits and Pieces

Oro Valley Firm Partners With Roche
Icagen, a North Carolina firm, has a research facilty in Oro Valley. They are partnering with Roche Pharmaceuticals to develop a product for neurological disorder treatment. "Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will make a cash upfront payment and provide research funding to Icagen. In addition, Icagen is eligible to potentially receive development and commercial milestone payments of up to $274 million and royalty payments should a drug be commercialized." (Source)

Native Grill Wings is closing
Native Grill Wings in Steam Pump Ranch Village has closed its doors. The result is another empty store front in Oro Valley and the loss of at least some sales tax revenue to the town.

Former Oro Valley HR Director Corbin to head Cottonwood government
Former Oro Valley HR Director Ron Corbin will be the City Manager of the Arizona town of Cottonwood. Corbin left Oro Valley a few years back to join his spouse. He joined Yuma city government where he rose to assistant town manager.  (source)

Beware Cottonwood: Corbin left his mark on Oro Valley.

He was one of the people responsible for a study that led to large salary increases that were granted Oro Valley employees in 2014.  He also "negotiated" the memorandum of understandings with our police department. There is an agreement over police salaries. This agreement is outside of other town staff salary schedules.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Changing Of The Guard Continues At Tonight's Council Meeting

Tonight's council meeting is marked by a continuation of a conversion from the Hiremath years of leadership to the Winfield years. Here are some of the changes that will be discussed.

Volunteer Commission Liasons
The consent agenda presents an assignment of council members to town volunteer commissions. The role of the council member is to attend meetings of these commissions and to provide feedback to council on important developments. The assignments are:

  • Board of Adjustment: Solomon 
  • Historic Preservation Commission: Solomon 
  • Parks Recreation Advisory Board: Barrett 
  • Planning and Zoning Commission: Rodman
  • Stormwater Utility Commission: Jones-Ivey 
  • Water Utility Commission: Piña 
  • Amphitheater School District: Jones-Ivey 
  •  Legislative District: Nicolson 
  • Visit Tucson: Nicolson 
  • Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce: Nicolson 
  • Pima Association of Governments: Winfield
  • Regional Transportation Authority: Winfield
There is also a liaison responsible for establishing the agenda for council meetings. It proposed that Council Member Jones-Ivey serve that role through March 1, 2019.

Volunteer Commission Term Limits
Members of Oro Valley's volunteer commissions may serve up to 2 or 3 year terms. A member can serve a third term at the discretion of the council. The council will discuss a proposed resolution by Mayor Winfield and Council Member Barrett that there be no discretionary third term. In addition, the proposal would end any current third term commission membership at the end of this year.

Council Member Barrett mentioned to us during our October interview that she was hopeful of stimulating greater community involvement by making more volunteer opportunities available. This resolution would do just that.

Nineteen 2019 Town Council Meetings
Also on the agenda is approval of the 2019 town council  meeting schedule. There are 19 of these. The next will be January 9th.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Guest View: Mike Zinkin ~ Did our Town Manager exceed her authority in extending the Troon contract?

There have been some recent changes to the Town’s contract with Troon.

The good news
Recently, Town Manager, Mary Jacobs, removed Troon’s responsibility to oversee tennis. This reduced Troon’s management fee from $144,000 to $120,000 annually. As a result, Troon’s monthly stipend was reduced from $12,000/month to $10,000/month. These changes became effective on October 2, 2018.

I think we can all agree that this was a move that the Citizens of Oro Valley can applaud. Tennis has now become the responsibility of Jennifer Fuchs who, in the past, was the Director of Tennis for the El Conquistador Resort. Removing this responsibility from Troon was a great move because although Troon is known as the “Rolex of Golf,” they appeared to be the “Timex of Tennis.”

All the above changes are within Ms. Jacob’s area of responsibility.

The potential problem
At the same time these changes were made, she also extended the Troon contract for 6 months. Herein lies the problem.

During numerous communications with the Town, they have failed to show where Ms. Jacobs has the authority to extend Troon’s contract without Council approval. She has some authority to work within a $20,000 limit. However, the contract, which is now $10,000/month was extended 6 months. This means that she exceeded her $20,000 limit as the contract extension amounts to a $60,000 expenditure.

Town Policy #6, Unbudgeted Expenditures
This policy was adopted in March 1997 and reaffirmed in April 2005. It states that ALL expenditures not previously budgeted shall be approved by Council prior to issuance of payment. It goes on to state that it is the responsibility of the Town Manager to implement this policy.

Why does this matter?
The fiscal year ends on June 30, 2019. Ms. Jacobs extended the contract from June 30, 2019 to December 31, 2019. Therefore, the entire extension reaches into the next fiscal year, FY 2019/20. Until the Council passes the FY 2019/20 budget, there are NO expenditures authorized past June 30, 2019.  So although the Town Manager may have the authority to extend the contract, there is no authorization to expend the funding without council approval.  I wonder if Troon realizes that this 6-month extension is currently without funding.

Continuing with this kind of mentality, the Town Manager could promise employee raises of 5% next year or promise to give the Chamber of Commerce $75,000 next year...but unless and until the Town Council approves the spending, these are empty promises.

Where are the checks and balances? The Town’s Legal Director works for the Town Manager, therefore, his loyalties are with the Town Manager, NOT the Council.

The bottom line is that the Town Manager extended the Troon contract without Town Council authorization to fund it.  Whether or not this current contract extension should be funded is now up to the current council when they deliberate on the 2019-20 budget.  In the meantime, Troon has a contract without legally approved funding.  This is not a good situation for them and it is not good for the Town.
Mike Zinkin has a Bachelor’s degree in history and government from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from California State University, Northridge. He was a commissioned ensign in the United States Navy Reserve. He was an Air Traffic Controller for 30 years. He and his wife moved to Oro Valley in 1998. Mike served on the Oro Valley Development Review Board from 2005-2009 and the Board of Adjustment from 2011-2012. He served on the Town Council from 2012-2016 during which time he was named a Fellow for the National League of Cities University, he was a member of the National League of Cities Steering Committee for Community and Economic Development, and a member of the Arizona League of Cities Budget and Economic Development Committee.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Public Hearing Tonight On Roundabout v Traffic Light

Public Meeting Tonight: La Cañada Drive & Moore Road Intersection Improvements
Residents are invited to meet with Town Manager Mary Jacobs to night. She will share the results of the public survey regarding improvements to the La Cañada Drive Moore Road intersection. "The public can also share their thoughts and concerns regarding these intersection improvements and weigh in on whether the Town of Oro Valley should install a traffic signal or a roundabout at the intersection."

The meeting is at 6pm at Oro Valley Town Council Chambers.
(Source: Town of Oro Valley Media Release)

84,710 Reported Incidents During Hiremath Years

"Pareto Curve" in effect
A handful of incident types (Theft, Disorder, Alarm, Traffic, and Community Policing) were 75% of almost 85,000 Oro Valley police reported incidents during the years in which the Majority-4 were in office.

This, according to our analysis of 84 months of police reported incident data from crime reports.com

Non violent crimes dominate list
Most of the incidents are about police assistance assistance of some sort. For example, most of the community policing incidents involve welfare checks (13% of all incidents) and suspicious activity.  Though there were 47 different traffic incident types, public assistance and traffic accident reporting head this list. 14% of all reported incidents were the result of alarms; some false, some real.
Click To Enlarge

There were many reported incidents of a serious nature.
  • 4226 suspicious vehicle stops
  • 5,331 incidents of property crime, drug activity, assault, breaking and entering, and vehicle theft.
  • 64 assaults with a deadly weapon.
  • 3 homicides
Drug Users... Not Sellers or Makers
95% of drug related offenses were for possession of a controlled substance. The controlled substance in over half of these instances was marijuana.  We wonder where the drugs are coming from?

Beware: Theft could hit you
About half of the larceny crimes related to crimes against the ordinary citizen. This includes frauds of various types, stealing from a car or building, identify theft, stolen bicycles and purse snatching.

Violent crime rate is low
When it comes to violent crimes ( murder and negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. ), Oro Valley is the safest city in Arizona according to safe home.org. Neighboring Tucson is #25. Our count was 224 violent crimes over the 8 year period.  This equates to .65 violent crimes per thousand per year. This is far less than the statewide total of 5 violent crimes per thousand residents.(source).