Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Guest View-Bristow and Lamonna: What You Should Know about Your Voice, Our Future: Weekly Update

Oro Valley residents will vote on a new General Plan, Your Voice, Our Future (YVOF), in November 2016.  The Plan will guide Oro Valley for the next 10 years. The Town Of Oro Valley states that it is a "Public Participation Plan." Certainly, the town expended considerable effort to make it so. Yet, despite the town's best efforts, less than 1% of our community participated in the drafting of this plan.


Town Of Oro Valley Expended Significant Effort In Public Outreach
In 2013, a public participation plan was presented to the Town Council. The public outreach included; a phone survey; events at which people placed sticky notes in response to posted questions; online surveys; and paper surveys. Did you participate in one or more of these outreach efforts?

Some 60 Oro Valley residents, including members of Oro Valley Boards and Commissions, offered their time and expertise as part of this project. 43 of these community members were participants of the "Community, Environment, and Development Committees."

From September 2014 through May 2015, using a staff-developed workbook, each of these committees met for a great number of hours to consider, to discuss and to compile up to seven drafts of YVOF.

Ultimately, the public at large did not participate in Drafting This Plan
In June 2015, the Public Review Draft of YVOF (60% Completion) was published. Residents were asked to review it and respond with comments and suggestions. There were approximately 1,200 comments to this version of the plan; however, only about 100 people responded. That’s only .2% of population of Oro Valley.

The comments came from residents (including members of YVOF committees); other residents responding to proposed land use changes; government agencies, Oro Valley Boards and Commissions, SAHBA (Southern Arizona Home Builders Association) and MPA (Metropolitan Pima Alliance).

Recommended Draft (90% completion) was published in September 2015. The 90% version of YVOF does not address the cost to implement the actions nor does it suggest that taxes will be increased.

It is imperative that you read the plan before voting
Each week, we will highlight some of the YVOF Guiding Principles; Community, Environment and Development Committees goals, policies. This week we present two in side panels to this posting.

YVOF will be used for decision making
YVOF will be used by elected officials (Oro Valley Town Council), appointed members (Oro Valley Boards and Commissions) and staff members in making decisions both immediate and long term. These decisions will cover items such as land use, community improvements and service.

YVOF may give the Town Council a greater ability to support unpopular decisions because, as we will point out in future postings, some goals and some action items are contradictory among some chapters of the plan. Therefore, it is extremely important to re-elect councilmembers who will uphold and support the new General Plan.

Get involved with your Town. Read the 90% version of the Your Voice, Our Future, and be ready to vote in November.

Diane Bristow
Shirl Lamonna
Oro Valley Residents

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Guest View-Sara Wright: Show Us The Money

Thanks to the Majority-4, (Mayor Hiremath, Vice Mayor Waters, Councilmembers Hornat and Snider) Oro Valley is bleeding money at a rate it can’t possibly sustain long term. I don’t know about you, but I’m only 35. My children are in early elementary school. I plan to stay in Oro Valley to raise my family, but at the rate we’re going, the Town is going to go bankrupt … or institute a property tax … before my kids hit middle school.

And the worst part? That’s our money!

The Majority-4 has already raised taxes. They have pilfered millions of dollars from the contingency fund to subsidize a golf course the voters didn’t want, a restaurant that competes with local business owners, and to purchase a money pit of a community center that is practically falling down … to the tune of $7,667,000 and counting.

That breaks down to about $747 per family of four.

That money is ours.

It was supposed to go to the police to keep our community safe, improving our parks, and enhancing the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, and restoring the historic Steampump Ranch. No way did we get our money’s worth.

What could your family do with an extra $747 this year?

  1. Make a splash. You could pay for a membership for a family of six at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center for the next year.
  2. Baby them. You could buy 2,731 Pampers Newborn Swaddlers. So … about 3 months’ worth.
  3. Eat local! Your family of four could order a large pizza at ZPizza 30 times. Or pour an average of 1,494 ounces of beer. Whichever.
  4. Summer fun. You could send 2 of your children to Oro Valley Heat Camp for 3 weeks … and have enough left over to get 4 pedicures.
  5. Give back. You could provide 100 meals for Oro Valley seniors who use Meals on Wheels. 
  6. Need a staycation? Your family could stay at the Hilton El Conquistador for 4-5 nights.
  7. Fill ‘er up. If you have a 15-gallon gas tank, you could fill up every week for almost six months.
  8. Cool off. You could buy 3,931 Otter Pops.
  9. Stock up. You could buy 700+ toys at Dollar Tree that your children can’t possibly live without. Consider shopping ahead for stocking stuffers and Easter baskets … until your children graduate from college.
  10. Get a jump on back-to-school shopping. You can buy one three-ring binder for both of your children. Then you can buy one for 370 of their classmates.

What would you choose? Braces? The air conditioner bill? Sports physicals? Your mortgage? Health insurance? Groceries? A gym membership? Dance? Karate? Soccer? Baseball? Gymnastics? Piano lessons?

What I bet you wouldn’t choose … to go out to your backyard fire pit and light $747 dollars on fire. And yet, that’s exactly what the Majority-4 has done with our money.

The candidates running against the incumbents are the Majority-4's lapdogs, ready to do their bidding … which includes continuing to throw away our hard-earned money.

Re-electing Mike Zinkin, Brendan Burns, and Bill Garner is the only shot we have at fiscal responsibility … and maybe getting to splurge on something for our families with the money we save.

Sara Wright
Oro Valley Resident
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Sara Wright is a life-long resident of Oro Valley. She is a mother of two children, age 6 and 8, who attend Basis Oro Valley Primary. She is currently a second-year student at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. Previously, she spent a decade in television news, with much of her career spent at KGUN 9 On Your Side. She actively volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, Pima County Teen Court, and the Volunteer Lawyer’s Program through Southern Arizona Legal Aid.

Guest View-John Spitler: “Play it Again Sam”

Some songs are lasting and just never go away.

I think of the Song and Dance that the folks of Oro Valley have been getting all too often and especially now that there is an election brewing. 

How do the words go?

[referring to the community center]…. (Wait till) ”Next year the forecast calls for roughly $2.1 million in revenues and $1.9 million for expenses, which would leave the fund balance in the positive by roughly $200,000.” Now doesn’t that chorus have a familiar refrain? We have heard this one regularly - kind of a catchy number that one quickly starts to hum…. Hummmmmm!

Right you are, we all have heard it played for us over and over.

Oh, another tune that is played very quietly and softly is – ‘We better make the books look good or we might all be out of a job, tra-la tra-la’.

Well, with all that discord, I like the “Three Amigos”[Burns, Garner and Zinkin]. They are playing the kind of music I like to hear. Yet, I am looking for a new tune, but I might have to wait till the Fab Four are up for some new gig!

John Spitler
Oro Valley Resident

Monday, July 25, 2016

Guest View-Diane Peters: Who's Really To Blame For Oro Valley's High Density Developments?

Many Oro Valley residents have stated their displeasure with all the high density developments that have been approved since Mayor Hiremath and Councilmembers Hornat, Snider, and Waters took office in 2010. The three new apartment complexes on Oracle Road have been most frequently cited.

In response, someone, has attempted to take the onus off the Majority-4 by claiming, in a published letter entitled "Laughable Presentation,that all three apartment complexes on Oracle Road were approved by a unanimous vote. The writer specifically named Councilmembers Burns, Garner, and Zinkin as partaking in those unanimous votes.

The writer was wrong.
  • All votes were not unanimous. 
  • Zinkin and Burns were not on council when these approvals occured. 
  • Garner voted against two of the three complexes.
These are the FACTS as stated in the public record:

Encantada at Steam Pump ~ 270 apartments:
This rezoning was approved in April 2011. Mike Zinkin and Brendan Burns were not on council. They took office on June 6, 2012, so how could they have voted to approve a rezoning that took place in 2011? The Conceptual and Architecture Plans for this project were approved in May 2012, but it would still be another month before Burns and Zinkin would take office.

El Corredor at Oracle and Linda Vista ~220 apartments:
This one required a Major General Plan Amendment to convert 13 acres to high density residential. That vote took place in December 2011. Zinkin and Burns were not on council and Bill Garner voted against it. When the high density rezoning for this project was approved in May 2012, Zinkin and Burns were still one month shy of having any voting powers on the town council.

Villas at San Dorado ~ 274 apartments:
This rezoning was approved in April 2012. That’s right… Zinkin and Burns were still not on council and Bill Garner was absent that night. Yet the writer claimed that all three of them voted to approve it! When the Conceptual Site Plan was approved in November 2012, Zinkin and Garner were opposed.

Then council member, now current council candidate, Steve Solomon voted to approve all of these:
  • Encantada: Solomon approved the rezoning, the Conceptual Site Plan, and the Architecture Plan.
  • El Corredor: Solomon approved the Major General Plan Amendment and the rezoning that followed.
  • Villas at San Dorado: Solomon approved the rezoning. He lost his bid for re-election the following month.
If you want to protect what’s left of our scenic views, and you want YOUR VOICE to continue to be heard, please join me in re-electing Brendan Burns, Bill Garner, and Mike Zinkin to the Oro Valley Town Council.

Diane Peters
Oro Valley Resident

Zinkin: "Town Balks At Providing Fiscal Year 2016 Financial Results Before Election"

"On April 2, 2016, Councilman Burns and I placed on the advanced agenda the need for a Study Session on Aug. 4, 2016. The purpose of the session was to discuss the end of the fiscal year financials. The fiscal year ends on June 30, and we thought that 5 weeks would be sufficient time to prepare this report.

When this item was placed on the future agenda, there was not one word from the Town Manager (Greg Caton) or any other staffer that this timeline was unrealistic. In fact, not only was nothing said at the meeting, there has been nothing said in the interim....that is, up until now.

I am sending you this email chain, which is a public document, in hopes that you might assist me and the People of Oro Valley in getting this information in time for the upcoming election. As you know, ballots go out Aug. 3 and many people will have voted by mid August. Maybe to power of the media can help get the information to the People.

Thank you,
Mike Zinkin
Oro Valley Town Council Member

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guest View-Shirl Lamonna and Diane Bristow: Is Oro Valley Main Streets Project a Road to More Taxes?


Is Oro Valley Staff Off On Yet Another Folly?
Were you, like us, confused by the postcard and Explorer advertisements about an Oro Valley Main Streets Project? Does Oro Valley really need a "downtown?" Is this what the residents want?

After all, Oro Valley is already 85% built out.

Isn’t a planned downtown area a little too late? Didn't Oro Valley already pass on this? Why didn't Oro Valley move forward with a "Town Center" that was originally planned at Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Moore Road? At one time, wasn't the strip center on Oracle and First Avenue (across from Rooney Ranch) supposed to be a gathering place? Didn't the Majority-4 tout the Community Center as a gathering place? So why does Oro Valley need a Main Streets project and who will pay for the project?

Several of us attended town staff hosted workshops (See panel below).
At these workshops, we were told that the idea of Main Streets grew from the Town Council's 2015 Strategic Plan, the Planning & Zoning fiscal years 2016 and 2017 work plans and the town's 2016 General Plan "Your Voice, Our Future" project.

Even after the workshops however, we weren't clear that the desire to "create the heart" of Oro Valley and reinvent Oro Valley was a priority to residents.
So, we checked out town staff's stated justification for investing resources to even plan this concept. After all, don't they have better things to do than look for work?

We found no compelling reason for a "Main Streets" Project
Reviewing the Oro Valley 2015 Strategic Plan, we found within the Economic Development Focus Area two strategies possibly referring to Main Streets:

  • Continue developing Steam Pump Ranch as a cultural and historical destination.
  • Evaluate the development of an entertainment district that includes music, sports, museums and private/nonprofit galleries.

From the Town’s website, we were not able to locate the Planning & Zoning Commission work plans to which the staff had referred. We did find mention of it in the "Oro Valley Main Streets Background Inventory, under Project Origin". There is mentioned a Planning & Zoning Commission Commission Work Plan – Item 3: The District… “The Work Plan identifies the District project as a high priority… includes… a complete streets policy and mixed-use zoning.”

We then reviewed the 2016 yet to be voter approved General Plan, Your Voice, Our Future (90% Completion). In the Complete Community Section, "Neighborhoods", we found Policy CC.6: “Promote the creation of unique community gathering places that are inviting, walkable, attractive and vibrant and offer commercial, entertainment or cultural activity.”

We also found Action 10, relating to Policy CC.6.: “Develop a plan for designating areas of Oro Valley that serve as the community’s gathering places."


Finally, we analyzed the Your Voice Our Future telephone survey to gain a better understanding of the backing for the project. We discovered that...

The desire of the residents for a central gathering place is as rare as the demand for golf and a restaurant at the Community Center
In other words, it is so far down on the list of wants to be irrelevant.

Our conclusions:
There is minuscule resident interest in creating a downtown
Why do we say this?
First, very few residents attended the Main Street's workshops (see panel above).

Second, the statistically valid 2013 survey of residents that was used to define portions of the 2016 General Plan did not contain a single question about a downtown or community gathering place. Few people commented on a downtown area or a central location to meet people. Only 3% of the 306 respondents believed more restaurants and dining choices were required to make Oro Valley a more complete or livable community.

Third, we imagine there will be even less resident interest in this if the residents will have to pay in any way for Main Streets. At the moment, this is considered long-range planning so cost and maintenance cos was not addressed despite direct questions on funding of the project.

Our apprehension with the Main Streets Project centers on the fact that Oro Valley Council and Staff seem to have an agenda to reinvent Oro Valley into a crowded Scottsdale-like city, despite a complete lack of community interest. Instead there is an overwhelming community's desire to retain Oro Valley's small town feel. 

Diane Bristow
Shirl Lamonna
Oro Valley Residents

Monday, July 18, 2016

Guest View: Segal Says; "Good Bye Oro Valley. Good Luck. You'll Need It!"

On Aug. 1, 1993, my wife I arrived in Oro Valley, after spending the previous 28 years in our home on Long Island N.Y. Knowing we wanted to spend our remaining years enjoying the great weather, views, and everything else it afforded us,we were fortunate to buy a home in La Reserve, and watch as it was being constructed.

That was 23 years ago, and Oro Valley had a population about one-third what it is today. From our vantage point, we were able to look out at the whole valley, most of which was desert, filled with various cactus, giant sahuaros, palo verde and mesquite trees. Not surprising, thousands of other folks, both young and old, soon found what a great community lies just to the north of Tucson, and, literally, right before our eyes, the desert was filled not with the native plants, but asphalt, homes, apartments, and commercial buildings. So much for progress!

Soon after arriving, I became a little familiar with our local government, which, at the time consisted of a mayor and 4 council members. As the years went by, I got involved, attended most council meetings, and became an outspoken critic of many of the decisions made by the majority of the council.

I don’t recall the exact year, but there was a point in time, that Richard Furash and I started a local blog, that I was proud to name the “LOVE blog”-----an acronym for “Let Oro Valley Excel.” Our intention was to keeping our Oro Valley neighbors aware of the goings on in the community, and mainly the politics, and how decisions affected all our lives.

About a dozen or so years ago, the town council grew from 4 to 6 council members, plus the mayor. Although there seemed to almost always be a majority that leaned towards favoring what I refer to, as the “Special Interests,”------builders, developers, and the like, it wasn’t until the election of 2010 that it became evident a “coalition” of 4 were running as “a team,” and garnered enough votes to get elected-----and re-elected again in 2014.

After the 2010 election, it was obvious our voice was not heard by enough concerned Oro Valley voters, and, with regrets of not being able to compete with the tens of thousands of dollars the “Special Interests” were spending to get “their” candidates elected, I gave up on the LOVE blog, and turned it over to my friend Richard, who continued the yeoman task of getting the people aware of what was happening.

Well! My efforts over the years, and Richard’s efforts that are still on going weren’t enough to overcome the “big bucks,” and the results are what we see today.

While Mike Zinkin, Bill Garner and Brendan Burns did all they could, the Majority-4, were always in control of our town's destiny, and that is why, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Oro Valley is losing millions of dollars as a result of being “snookered” by the owner of the El Conquistador resort who had to find a “patsy” to sell his losing golf,  tennis and restaurant operation, along with the golf club on La Canada, in order to maintain the Hilton as a “resort.”

From our home in La Reserve, we have a direct view to the 9 hole golf course, and can clearly see, it is almost totally void of golfers and the course is nothing but an eyesore, looking more like a weed invested place, than a golf course, while our money is being sucked away.

So---- that brings me “full cycle.” When I started this lengthy dissertation, I noted we’ve been here since 1993, and never expected to leave. As a result to seeing what 4 people---Mayor Hiremath and council members Hornat, Snider and Waters have done to our community during their tenure, my wife and I decided to leave before things get much worse.

For those old enough to remember the great Edward R. Morrow, award winning newsman from WWll and the famous CBS news show of the 1950;s, “See It Now,” he would always sign off with his famous closing; “Good night and good luck.”

Paraphrasing Mr. Morrow, I want to say to all our Oro Valley friends and neighbors: “Good bye, and good luck.” We know you’ll need it!

Art Segal
(Soon to be former) Oro Valley Resident

Friday, July 15, 2016

It's "Solomon" not "Soloman"

Campaign signs are now appearing in our community. Really not what we need after years of continuous Oro Valley elections. Just more blight to clutter our beautiful community.

Can you identify what's wrong with this  campaign sign?

Check the spelling of the names.

Yes.

One name is misspelled on the candidate's own sign.

It's not like the correct spelling is hard to figure out. After all, the misspelled name is of biblical proportions. Once he was King.

We asked Don Cox, chairman of the Triple E PAC what happened.

"These are not Triple E-PAC signs. I'm kind of surprised that any [of those sign's] are out there. The error was caught pretty early.

Obviously the person/s responsible for proofing them were asleep at the wheel.

However, I thought it was a great ploy to insure that folks didn't think these three were running as a slate........SOLO MAN!!"

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Guest View-Don Bristow: Power Elite/Donor Class and Campaign Finances (Part 2)

Monday, I wrote about how Oro Valley's "Donor Class" has taken over Oro Valley politics. Yesterday, I wrote about "contributions" to Oro Valley's political campaigns by these donors.

For the Donor Class to receive benefit, their political allies have to retain power. This is accomplished through assuring donations to the Majority-4 that give them the capability to overwhelmingly outspend their opponents.  

Today, let's focus on candidate spending because...

Spending brought control of Oro Valley Government to the Donor Class
State Statute prohibits their supporting PAC, Triple E PAC, from combining or coordinating spending with candidates. However, the spending by this PAC was to support the re-election of The Majority-4. The recall campaign expenses reported by the Majority-4 and Triple E PAC are summarized in this table.

The majority of Majority-4 expense funds, $69,958 (74%), went to a political strategy consulting firm, Saguaro Strategies, in Phoenix.  The combined expenses of Didio, Hartung, Lamonna, and Straney, including the AGN PAC, was $26,278.

In our small town of Oro Valley, why was it necessary for the incumbents to spend over $100,000 to only eke out a win in the 2015 recall election?  Why was it necessary for them to use a Phoenix political strategy consulting firm?  What happened to Shop Oro Valley?

Behind the scenes, the power elites are rewarded.  The funds spent on parks and other residents’ amenities distract the residents as to what is really happening in their Town.  

If it isn’t in their backyard, residents don’t care and don’t know about the total actions of the Majority-4.  It’s time to be concerned about all of the Town of Oro Valley.  If you haven't already been impacted, your backyard will be next.

The Majority-4 and the Triple E PAC are supporting the three candidates running against the incumbents in the 2016 Oro Valley Council Elections.

Visit the websites of Councilmembers Burns, Garner, and Zinkin to learn about these candidates for Town Council. They are your only choices to prevent the Donor Class and Power Elite from achieving absolute control of Oro Valley.  

Don Bristow
Oro Valley Resident