Wednesday, August 5, 2020

2020 Town Council Election Update

Too Close to Call as of 2:00 PM Wednesday
As of 2 PM Wednesday, the Oro Valley Town Council election is too close to call. Ballots are still being counted. Additionally, mail-in ballots that were dropped off at the polls yesterday will not be counted until the signatures are verified.

The Pima County Elections website states that Provisional Ballots will be counted on Monday, August 10th, early ballot counting is expected to finish on Wednesday, August 12th, and the official canvass will take place on Friday, August 14th.

The threshold needed to win
As explained on LOVE previously, in order to win in the primary, a candidate needs 50% plus 1 vote. The formula for determining that threshold is to take the total number of ballots cast divided by the number of open seats divided by 2.

With the ballots currently counted, the formula looks like this:

31,450 ballots cast divided by 3 open seats = 10,483 divided by 2 = 5242 plus 1 = 5243 votes needed to win in the primary.

Right now, all five candidates are well over that threshold. However, it will be the top three vote-getters who will be declared the winners in the primary.

Pima  County Elections Results as of 2 PM Wednesday


Proposition 480
Current results reveal 65% approval (7,379 votes) and 35% voting no (3,994 votes).

Monday, August 3, 2020

Five Things To Keep In Mind When You Vote Tomorrow

Our fact check sets the record straight
Three things happened since we posted our "Election Primer" on July 14.  First, things got nasty in the form of expensive post cards containing outrageous accusations that were mailed by Greene, Rodman and Solomon. Second, because things got nasty, Mayor Winfield, Vice Mayor Barrett and Council Member Jones-Ivey endorsed Bohen and Garner. Third, last week we finally got the truth on developer campaign financing of Greene, Rodman and Solomon.

So, as you vote, do think about these things and more...

All candidates support public safety
There are two issues that are always lightning rods in Oro Valley elections. One is support of public safety. 

In every election since 2010, one set of candidates accusing the other set of "not supporting public safety." This year  Candidates Greene, Rodman and Solomon did just that is an expensive (60 cents per) glossy 6x11 post card. 

We've fact checked the accusation. All candidates support public safety. In fact, Candidate Garner did the hard work in 2008 of saving police positions.


First responder and school support has nothing to do with the Oro Valley Town Council
That same flyer accused "the other guys" of not supporting first responders or education. Where did that come from? First responders are not part of Oro Valley operations. They are a separate taxing district. Schools are not part of Oro Valley operations. They are also a separate taxing district. These things have nothing to do with the Oro Valley Town Council.

No candidate is encouraging policies that will likely lead to a property tax
The other lightning rod is an Oro Valley property tax.  An Oro Valley property tax is antithetical to the founding of Oro Valley. Oro Valley was founded on the basis that it would not have a property tax. Not having an Oro Valley property tax is in our DNA.  It is simply in not an issue.  The council can not mandate a property tax. Only the voters can do so.

According to candidate Bill Garner, speaking on a Jim Horn Oro Valley Podcast: "We should never be at that point [of needing a property tax] providing that you elect candidates that are stewards of your money. I have always been a fiscal steward of taxpayer money."

The campaigns of Greene, Rodman and Solomon are financed by the special interest developer community
Last week, we confirmed our earlier observations based on the Rodman and Solomon campaign funding of their 2016 campaign. As they did then, developer money has flooded Oro Valley politics.  All the usual characters are back - HSL, Realtors of Southern Arizona, Town West Real Estate, The Kai Family, Beztak (Sam Beznos) and Heritage Homes- to the the tune of $35,000. Solomon and Rodman alone received 75% of their campaign funds from them.  See our posting last week to learn more.

Garner and Bohen are endorsed by Mayor Winfield, Vice Mayor Barrett, and Council Member Jones-Ivey
Mayor Winfield, Vice Mayor Barrett and Council Member Jones-Ivey were silent at first regarding which candidates they would prefer to be on council. That changed once the expensive post cards containing outrageous accusations were mailed to homes. They have endorsed Garner and Bohen for council. That is an endorsement of the people with whom they will work for at least the next two years. See our posting of July 15 on the endorsement of Winfield and Barrett.  See our posting of July 22 with quotes from Barrett and Jones-Ivey.
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Friday, July 31, 2020

Bits and Pieces

Town Considers Allowing More Noise From Businesses To  Residential Areas
Those living near commercial property beware. On July 7, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a measure that would reduce the "quiet enjoyment" of your home if you are located near a commercial property. This was pointed out o us in the recent appearance of Tim Bohen on Jim Horn's Oro Valley Podcast.

Currently, commercial endeavors are not allowed to have noise from their business be more than 40db as measured at the property line of a residence. For example, if you live near a restaurant that has an outside speakers or events, the noise level can not be more than 40db to your property line. Town staff and Planning and Zoning Commission want to change this to 55db. on average and 75db at the max. 75db is equivalent to the sound of a vacuum cleaner. (source). You read about the proposed change here.
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Could flooding happen to the homes in Big Wash?
 "TUCSON (AP) — Pima County authorities say many homes and businesses could face flood damage in the wake of the latest large wildfire in the Tucson area. The lightning-caused Bighorn Fire started on June 5 and charred more than 187 square miles in and near the Santa Catalina Mountains before it was fully contained last Thursday.

The Arizona Daily reports that close to 1,000 homes and businesses lying along a number of washes could be flooded during a 100-year storm. That’s more than double the 431 landowners in those areas who got letters from the county in late June telling them their homes could be flooded during a big storm." (source) You can watch of video of flood debri pouring down the CDO wash on July 15 at this link.

Paving on La Cholla next week, as project nears completion
As LOVE previously reported, the construction of LaCholla is near. Final paving starts next week. 
"La Cholla Blvd from Overton Road to Lambert Lane will get the final layer of asphalt starting August 5 through August 14. The down side… paving is like watching paint dry. It takes 4 hours from when the pavement is laid to it being hardened and capable of being driven on. Just a suggestion, try to keep out of the area for those days or be patient because it may be some time before you can make a turn on to certain roadways. After that some stripping work a few extra tweaks and the will move to the next section to the north to complete! So if you do drive the area mark it in your calendar and don’t be surprised!" (Source: Town of Oro Valley)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Guest View-Marvin Whitfield: Rodman the Rezoner

Rodman Rezoning and General Plan Amendment Votes
Council member Bill Rodman, who is running for re-election, has a history of siding with developers. His voting record as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner was detailed in a previous letter. Below is an excerpt of his Town Council voting record.

November 16, 2016
The same night that Rodman was sworn into office, he voted to approve a Major General Plan Amendment to change the land use on 17 acres at Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Vistoso Highlands Drive from Neighborhood Commercial/ Office to Medium Density Residential.

Rodman's vote came just 8 days after our new 2016 General Plan had been approved by Oro Valley voters, a plan that was 3 years in the making and was designed to last 10 years. That same night Rodman voted to ignore town grading codes and allow the rolling hills east of First avenue to be graded down 12-15 feet for development of the Sanctuary at Silverhawke.

December 6, 2017
Despite a huge resident turnout and strong opposition, Rodman approved a General Plan Amendment and Rezoning on 76 acres on the east side of Shannon Road from rural low density (144,000 sf lots) down to 36,000 sf lots, a change that was incompatible with existing custom homes on lot sizes of 3.3 acres and larger.

That same night Rodman voted to approve a General Plan Amendment to change land use and zoning designations for 108 acres of undeveloped land along Honeybee Wash and Big Wash to allow over 400 homes on lot sizes of 7,200 sf lots and 5,400 sf lots on mass-graded sites.

April 4, 2018
Despite the Saguaros Viejos parcel (85 acres) already being rezoned from R1-144 (144,000 sf) down to R1-20 (20,000 sf) in 2016, Rodman voted to approve another rezoning to even smaller lots of R1-7 (7,000 sf) with mass-grading.

Mr. Rodman’s council votes have repeatedly supported developers.

Place residents first by voting for Tim Bohen and Bill Garner.

Marvin Whitfield
Oro Valley

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

HSL Dominates Contributions to Rodman, Solomon and Greene

HSL leads the pack
HSL properties, the owner of the El Conquistador Resort, partner in the future of the Oro Valley Marketplace, owner of a large apartment complex on Oracle Road, dominated the funding of pro developer Oro Valley candidates Rodman, Solomon and Greene. This continued what they had done in financing the 2016 campaign of Rodman and Solomon. (source)

Two sources contributed 71% of funds
The three amassed $34,450 in contributions from special interest developers and realtors as revealed in the 2020 Pre-Primary campaign finance report. HSL contributed $15,000 of that. The other big contributor in the amount of $9,000 were the Realtors of Southern Arizona PAC.

In addition, the Kai family, currently seeking a general plan amendment for a Silverhawke related property, donated $2,500. Missing from this list was Venture West. Generally, they contribute $1,000 to each pro developer candidate.

More and 80% of Rodman funding.... 72% of Solomon funding
Candidates Rodman and Solomon were particular dependent on special interest funding. 81% of Rodman and 72% of Solomon campaign funds have come from the special interest developer community.

The charts that follow tell the story


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Murphy Tips The Scale of Common Sense... The Wrong Way

Inexperience trumps common sense
Mary Murphy is a new member of the town's Board of Adjustment. Her inexperience showed at yesterday's meeting where she cast the deciding vote to deny a homeowner a "no brainer" common sense frontage 2.5 foot frontage variance.  You can learn more about that request here.

Solomon a "No Show"
Council Member and council candidate Steve Solomon is the council liaison to the Board of Adjustment. He had told the applicant at one time that he thought that approval of their request was a simple matter. Perhaps his input may have been helpful to the applicant had he been there.

Bohen supported the request.
Council candidate Tim Bohen is a member of the town's historical commission. He, unlike Solomon, attended the meeting. Bohen read a letter that he had written last fall in support of the variance request.

Community support was strong
The applicant's next door neighbor and the neighbor across the street spoke in favor of the variance request. A leader of the homeowners association also spoke in favor. The Oro Valley Country Club had written a letter of support.

But the hardline would prevail
Chairperson Helen Dankwerth summed up her position. Simply put: State law is what it is and town staff has made a recommendation to deny based on their interpretation of state law. She was going with their analysis. Deny. Vice Chair Stephen Roach denied the request on the basis that he thought the town had recommended reasonable alternatives. None of these, however, suit the historical character of the property. Neither Dankwerth or Roach live in the area or have ever visited the property.

According to Oro Valley resident Mike Zinkin, our expert on everything regarding code: "The Board of Adjustment is forced, by State Law, to decide on a variance to a code on 5 objective standards.  However, as it turns our, the objectives require judgment.
(source)

Apparently, two other members felt it did meet the standards. they supported the petition. One, David Perkins, thought that a 2.5 foot frontage request was a very simple matter. It made sense. The other member Octvioa Barcello had visited the property earlier. He saw the situation. He voted to approve.

Then there was Mary Murphy. She sat silent the entire hearing. She asked no question. She voiced no opinion. She simply said "No."

Our opinion: This was not her best day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

CHCA and Town Golf Agreement Creates Conflict Of Interest

Agreement approved unanimously
On July 15, the Oro Valley Town Council unanimously approved an agreement with the Canada Hills Community Association ("CHCA"). CHCA (and The Villages of La Canada Master Association) will pay the town $125,000 annually, starting April 1, 2021 through April 1, 2025.

Implied agreement to keep 36 holes operating and in good condition
In return, the town agrees to use its best efforts to operate and maintain two golf courses subject to the following major contingencies:  "Conquistador Golf Course irrigation and repairs to be completed in 2022 and irrigation and repairs for the Canada Course in 2023..." subject to the financial impact of the pandemic.

CHCA Endorsement in light of this agreement is a conflict of interest
The CHCA is now doing business with the town. They are receiving something of value for money.

The problem is that the CHCA is also actively participating in the election by endorsing candidates Greene, Rodman and Solomon. (Source) They are doing this at the same time they are under contract with the The Town of Oro Valley.

Enterprises that are under contractual arrangement with the town should not be advocating in elections
This is a de-facto rule. For example, The Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce receives funds from the town in return for providing services. It does not participate in elections. It does not endorse candidates. We believe that its agreement with the town prohibits this activity.

As individuals, the CHCA Board Members ( Rich Crocker,  Steve Jones,  Robin Jones, Chuck Milhiser, and Je LeFevre) are free to extoll the virtues of any candidate they prefer. They can donate to them at will. They can endorse whomever they wish.

However, the Homeowners Association they represent really should not do so.
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