Monday, July 23, 2018

Mark your Calendar: Candidate Debate for Oro Valley Mayor and Town Council

Tuesday, July 31st
6:00 to 8:00 PM
Hilton El Conquistador Hotel

The Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce is hosting this candidate debate/forum. All mayoral and town council candidates will be present. This is a free event and is open to the public.

The debate will be moderated by Chamber President, Dave Perry. You may submit questions to be considered during the debate by emailing him at

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Councilmember Solomon's unethical (and possibly illegal) actions being investigated by the AG's office, Special Investigations Division

Councilmember Steve Solomon now has a financial interest in maintaining the town-owned golf courses.
A few months ago, LOVE was made aware that Councilmember Solomon (through his development company, Canada Vistas LLC) had purchased property along the golf courses in Canada Hills on which he plans to build condominiums and/or townhomes. This means that he now has a financial interest in what happens to those golf courses.

We held off on reporting on this while we waited to see how Solomon would proceed when it came time to vote on FY 2018/19 budget; a budget that included $3.8 million dollars to be directed to improvements on the golf courses…golf courses adjacent to his new property.

Would Solomon do the honorable thing and recuse himself from any votes involving taxpayer money being directed towards the golf courses? Or would he speak in favor of the bond, and then vote in favor of the budget that included the $3.8 million for the golf course improvements?

During the June 6, 2018 budget vote, Solomon gave us the answer we’d been expecting. Solomon’s unethical behavior and possible conflict of interest were exposed by Mike Zinkin during last night’s council meeting during the Call to Audience. Below is Mike’s speech:

Mike Zinkin’s Call to Audience Speech
On May 16, 2018 I came before you regarding a rude communication between one of your Councilmen and a resident of the community. I requested that you require said Councilman to apologize. You failed to do so, sending a message to the citizens that you find his appalling behavior acceptable.

Tonight I come forward with an issue that is potentially illegal, and certainly unethical.

On his required financial disclosure statement, Councilman Solomon states that he and his wife control a business called Canada Vistas LLC. (Statement attached). On January 4, 2018, Mr. Solomon communicated with the controlling HOA of Canada Hills informing them of his purchase of property on the Canada Course and his desire to meet with both the Master HOA and the sub-HOA’s to discuss design and approval requirements. (Email attached).

On January 26, 2018, there was a communication confirming that this property was in escrow and it also mentioned development possibilities. (Email attached.)

On June 29, 2018, Mr. Solomon replied to a question that he indeed still owned the property and that it was in the early stages of development. (Email attached.)

Here’s where it gets interesting. A few weeks prior to the June 29th communication previously mentioned, at the June 6, 2018 Council meeting, during the FY 2018/19 budget discussions, Mr. Solomon spoke on the benefits of a bond, a bond that designated $3.8 million dollars to go towards improvements on the golf properties. The very same properties in which this Councilman has a financial interest. Mr. Solomon not only spoke in favor of this bond, he also voted in favor of the budget that included the subject bond.

Mr. Solomon could very well have rescued himself from this discussion and the vote. The budget and the bond would have still passed. However, he did not recuse himself.

This behavior could very well be in violation of ARS 38 501-511, Conflict of Interest. This is because Mr. Solomon voted to use public monies to improve lands on which he has a financial interest.

I will let the County Attorney and Attorney General rule on the legal aspects of his behavior. Regardless of their positions on the legality, his behavior demonstrates the highest form of unethical behavior.

I am asking that you censure Councilman Solomon for this behavior, and even ask for his resignation. This type of unethical behavior should not be tolerated in government, certainly not Oro Valley.

I will be sending each of you an email communication, complete with the evidence I have uncovered. It will also be sent to the media. If you again choose to do nothing, you will be sending yet another message to the voters that you condone his inappropriate, and in this case, unethical behavior.

[Click on each document to enlarge]

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Bits and Pieces

Community Center and Golf Financials as of May 31st
With one month left to go in the fiscal year, Troon Golf has LOST $1,746,137. They have now updated their year end golf losses forecast from $1,822,941 to $1,988,548.

Troon food and beverage (Overlook Restaurant) LOST $6,532 in May for a total of $87,478 for the FY, so far.

The Community Center Fund is $66,506 in the RED. The Town Council still needs to pay back this year’s $120,000 reimbursement to the General Fund. Remember that the Town Council borrowed $1.2 million from the General Fund to start the CCF in May 2015 with a promise to refund it at $120,000 per year. They have yet to make good on that promise.

Mayor Hiremath appears to be worried about Joe Winfield’s Campaign
At the June 6th council meeting, when discussing the FY 2018/19 budget, Mayor Hiremath made the following comment:
“When I look at the Capital Improvement Program, I think there’s some confusion about the playground equipment. Playground equipment for Naranja Park site was included in FY 22/23 but we moved it up to next fiscal year, correct? And that’s to the tune of $350,000. So in plain English, there’s going to be a playground in the next fiscal year. It’s going to be in the budget.”
Finance Director, Stacey Lemos confirmed that he was correct.

Isn’t it fascinating that playground equipment was not scheduled until FY 2022/23 but when mayoral candidate, Joe Winfield, made it an issue in his campaign, suddenly playground equipment was moved up to the FY 2019/20 budget? However, keep in mind that this is tentative as that budget will not be voted on by the Town Council until June 2019.

The mayor appears to be worried in general
The challengers for Oro Valley Town Council held a voter registration drive and campaign event on July 4th. Although they were originally promised space in a prime location next to all the other vendors, when they showed up for the event, they were told by a Town staff member that all political candidates were being moved to another location in a far corner of the field. Of note is that they were the only political candidates who were setting up a table in the park that day. Why would they be moved to a less visible spot? It was very obvious that someone was trying to move them out of sight.

The Public Safety Stunt
Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters pull the public safety stunt during every election. They try to instill FEAR into the voters by implying that public safety will suffer if they are not re-elected. FACT: We had a strong police department long before the current council was in office and we’ll continue to have one long after they are out of office. It’s utter nonsense to believe that Joe Winfield, Melanie Barrett, Josh Nicolson, or Joyce Jones-Ivey would want to weaken the police force in the very town where they and their children live.

From our Readers
LOVE receives lots of messages from our readers, the majority of which are positive. Below are some examples.
“Thank you for telling the truth about the politics of Oro Valley. Great reports written by a variety of Oro Valley citizens who seek to educate about what is really happening in this town.”

“I have followed Mr. Leonard’s research on the El Con golf course issue. I find his insights exceedingly thorough and sensible.”

“You are providing a great service to this town. Thank you. The people deserve to know the truth.”
Of course we also receive some negative feedback…all from the same person. Long-time LOVE readers will know who it is. This person is known in Oro Valley political circles as “the hit man…the evil trickster…the curmudgeon.” Last week, the curmudgeon expressed his annoyance with our recent article, “Tucson Association of Realtors spreading Town Council election falsehoods.”

Below is an excerpt of his comments followed by our editor’s response.
“The LOVE blog is totally out of control. What started the entire moratorium discussion is the platform statement of Joyce Jones-Ivey. ‘She will advocate for a moratorium on development.’

Ms. Barrett put out a statement… ‘We will take a temporary pause on large scale re-zonings while we assess the needs and desires of our community.’

What the hell is the difference between moratorium and temporary pause?…What happens to the Planning and Zoning Department during this ‘temporary’ moratorium? Will they be placed on leave of absence? There certainly will be little to do.”

LOVE Editor’s Response
Your comments are quite humorous. After all, for years, you did nothing but complain about the LOVE blog when Richard was the editor. Now you claim that the new editor is tarnishing Richard's reputation!

Also, the only way you could know that "What started the entire moratorium discussion is the platform statement of Joyce Jones-Ivey" is if YOU are the person who provided the false information to TAR.

Regarding your concern about Planning Staff being placed on a leave of absence due to a building moratorium, you are implying that we must continue building just for the sake of keeping the Planning Department staff employed. It is not the mayor’s job to create work for the sole purpose of keeping Town staff employed. The mayor and council are elected to work for the citizens, not for the Planning Staff, and not for developers. Unfortunately, this concept has always been lost on you.

The quotation you supplied from Melanie Barrett is proof that the challengers have no plans for a complete moratorium on all building, only a temporary pause on large scale rezonings.

Our editorial was factual. We're sorry if you have trouble accepting facts. We will not be responding to any more of your emails. We have much more important work to do.

LOVE Editor

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Meet the Candidates this evening

Here is another opportunity for you to meet the challengers for Oro Valley Town Council. If you cannot make this event, you may also send your comments or questions to them via their websites.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Election Schedule

Below is the election schedule for the primary election being held on August 28th. If you want to vote in the Town Council election and you are not yet registered to vote, you will need to register by Monday, July 30th.

If you are already on the permanent early voting list and you are registered as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green Party, you will automatically receive a mail-in ballot. If you are not registered to one of the above parties, you will need to contact the Pima County Recorder's office to request a ballot. The last day to request a mail-in ballot is August 17th.

Additional information can be found in the attached flyer. [Click to enlarge]

Friday, July 13, 2018

Town Of Oro Valley 2018 Golf Course Losses = 7.3 Little League Fields

With one month left to report on fiscal 2018:
The Town Of Oro Valley has lost $1,746,137 on the Town Of Oro Valley Country Club (aka community center) from last July to this May.  This according to the Troon cash flow which is included in the next weeks' financial update to town council.

Troon, the paid for professional club manager, has updated their year end forecast of losses from $1,822,941 to $1,988,548.

Troon food and beverage (Overlook Restaurant) has lost  $87,478 for the fiscal year through May.

Total losses for the 11 months ended in May: $1,833,615.

One Little League field cost about $250,000.

We did the math. Golf course and food losses =7.3 Little League Baseball Fields.

It's simple.

In government as in life, its all about the choices we make. In our case, Oro Valley's Majority-4 has chosen golf over ballfields for the kids.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Tucson Association of Realtors spreading Town Council election falsehoods

A LOVE reader sent us this screenshot of an email that is being distributed by The Tucson Association of Realtors (TAR) and the Realtor Political Action Committee (RPAC).

The contents of this email are a blatant lie and there are only two possible explanations for this:

• They received inaccurate information and didn’t bother to verify its authenticity before spreading this false information

• Or they are deliberately putting their own spin on the story in order to instill FEAR in their members in an attempt to drum up donations and votes for Hiremath-Hornat-Snider-Waters

Did TAR interview the challengers? No! So how do they know the challengers stances on this issue? On what basis did they draw the conclusion that the challengers “have promised to impose a building moritorium [sic] in Oro Valley if elected?” Did a mole attend one of the challengers Meet and Greets and then inaccurately report back what transpired at that meeting?

Fortunately, we have an accurate report of the challengers’ positions on development. Below are direct quotes from the 3-part article, “LOVE interviews mayoral candidate, Joe Winfield” published on June 5-6-7.

In Part 1 of the interview, Winfield stated:
“In addition, I want to moderate growth. I would approach that by simply putting a moratorium on any amendments or rezonings and letting our community take a breath on the amount of development that has been occurring. I’m not suggesting that we don’t need development or that development would need to stop, but that we would comply and follow the current land use and zoning.”
Winfield suggested only a moratorium on General Plan amendments and rezonings. He never promised a complete moratorium on all building. He said “moderate…take a breath…follow the current land use and zoning.”

First of all, a moratorium is just a temporary halting of an activity, in this case, a temporary halting of General Plan amendments and rezonings. That is a far cry from imposing a complete moratorium on all building.

Does Winfield’s measured approach sound like something that would “have a dramatic impact” on the entire community?

In Part 2 of the interview, Winfield stated:
“I would hope to have made a difference in terms of the development of our community. Admittedly, much of the community is already developed so I don’t know that you’ll see a significant difference but I would hope that there would have been some moderation in development and the type of development.”
Does that sound like a complete building moratorium to you? Does that sound like it would lead to a dramatic impact?

Melanie Barrett’s thoughts on development
“Seek development that is responsive to residents wishes and responsible in design…[slowing] the current pace of developments.” [Introducing Melanie Barrett, LOVE, May 22nd]
Joyce Jones-Ivey’s thoughts development
“Responsible growth that preserves our town’s scenic beauty…Adhere to the guiding principles of the General Plan.” [Introducing Joyce Jones-Ivey, LOVE, May 24th]
Josh Nicolson’s thoughts on development
“Frequent General Plan amendments and rezonings…Right now it seems like developers are getting their way and there’s a group of citizens who aren’t being listened to at all. I believe elected officials have a moral obligation to do what’s best for the community as a whole and for the long-term prosperity of Oro Valley.” [Introducing Josh Nicolson, LOVE, June 11th]
As you can see, TAR and RAPAC are using fear tactics and spin to drum up support for their cause. No one should take them seriously. After all, they can’t even spell moratorium, the very subject of their email! They misspelled it four times!

TAR and RAPAC have a right to support the incumbents but they need to cease and desist with their lies and fear-mongering.