Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Watchdog Report: September 2017 Community Center Financials

Continued losses
In September, the Community Center Fund (CCF) finished $86,016 in the red. (At this time last year, the CCF had a positive balance of $161,744.)

For the first quarter of this fiscal year (July 1 through September 30th) the fund has lost $307,862. This takes into account the fact that the sales tax revenues for the first quarter were $507,985, which is $22,557 more than last year during the same time period.

Troon (golf, food, beverage, tennis, non-aquatic center swimming) is performing about the same as this time last year. In the first three months of this fiscal year, Troon has lost $754,307, while last year at the same time the losses were $760,069.

Member dues are down by nearly $8000 dollars
So far this fiscal year, member dues are $178,621, while member dues last year at this time were $186,537. Why do we still cater to the members when their support of the investment is dwindling? Meanwhile, Troon continues to feather its own nest as the payroll and employee benefits through September 2017 were $39,863 higher than the same period in 2016.

Food and Beverage losses
Food and beverage, primarily the Overlook Restaurant, lost another $8,333 in September 2017. This brings the total losses so far this fiscal year to $34,034.

The National Golf Foundation Study spoke loud and clear
The losses are continuing and there appears to be no end in sight. The contracted National Golf Foundation study (for which the Town paid $50,000) states:

“This facility is aging and has seen declines in activity and is now operating at a deficit, up to $2.1 million+. The loss on operations is a result of several influences…a recent recession, increasing competition, declining physical condition, and declining interest in golf.”

“The current financial condition [of El Con Golf] is worse than most public sector golf operations in the U.S. where 67% of municipal golf course operations are able to cover on-site expenses.”

"El Conquistador G&T is well-located in Oro Valley, but has limited appeal for customers beyond the local Oro Valley area. With an offering of multiple golf courses, ECGT can provide service to a wide range of golf customers, but the club is having difficulty filling up all 45 holes of golf.”

Oro Valley Voters spoke loud and clear
One might think that after the landslide defeat of Prop 454 (The Naranja Park Bond), that the Council would start to take a closer look at their irresponsible spending. The Citizens told them loud and clear... "We are tired of all the taxes, we are tired of not being your first priority, we are tired of our Town Council only looking out for the developers and builders who fund their campaigns.”

Financial Update through September 2017 hidden in Consent Agenda
The Fiscal Year 2017/18 Financial Update through September 2017 is on the Consent Agenda for the November 16th Town Council Special Session. In fact, the entire agenda for this session is made up of a Consent Agenda. As in past council meetings, don't expect the financials to be removed for discussion and don't expect this meeting to last more than 45 minutes.

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 in 1969. He worked as an Air Traffic Controller for 30 years. He and his wife moved to Oro Valley after retiring in 1998. Mike served on the Oro Valley Development Review Board from 2005-2009, the Board of Adjustment from 2011-2012, and the Town Council from 2012-2016. During his time on council, he was named as one of 23 Leadership Fellows 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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Guest View: Diane Peters ~ Town of Oro Valley vs. First Amendment. Part 2.

In Part 1 (published yesterday) I relayed the background of what transpired shortly after I distributed LOVE flyers to attendees just prior to the start of a Town Council meeting a few months ago. Today, in Part 2, I will share the letter that I sent to the Town Clerk along with some follow-up thoughts on this latest chapter in Oro Valley politics.

My letter to the Town Clerk

Mr. Standish,

On a recent visit to the Town Hall, there was a sign in the window that read:

NOTICE
Distribution of handbills in Town Meetings prohibited
OV Town Code 10-9

I have reviewed the Town Code (Article 10-9 Handbills) and I have a few questions as some of the laws stated in this Article do not make sense and some are contradictory.

10-9-1: INTENT AND PURPOSE:
This section states that it is written "To protect the people against the health and safety menace and the expense incident to the littering of the streets and public places by the promiscuous and uncontrolled distribution of advertising matter..." I agree that littering the streets could be considered a menace, however, how would handing out flyers to individuals at town meetings who willingly accept them be considered a health and safety menace or promiscuous and uncontrolled distribution?

It goes on to say "To preserve the people's constitutional right to receive and disseminate information." This does not make sense. How is the town preserving our First Amendment right to distribute handbills at town meetings by preventing us from engaging in that right?

10-9-4: THROWING HANDBILLS IN PUBLIC PLACES PROHIBITED
This section states that "it shall be unlawful for any person to deposit, place, throw, scatter...any...handbill in or upon any public place within the town."

With regards to handing a flyer directly to a person, it says, “it shall not be unlawful for any person to hand out or distribute…any…handbill in any public place to any person willing to accept such handbill.”

10-9-7: DISTRIBUTION OF HANDBILLS WHERE PROHIBITION PROPERLY POSTED
This section states that "it shall be unlawful for any person to distribute, deposit, place, throw, scatter...any...handbill upon any premises” if a notice is placed prohibiting this action.

Although the town has now posted a sign prohibiting the distribution of handbills, it would be impossible to enforce the distribution of a handbill to a person since Section 4 states that it is not illegal to do so if the person is willing to accept the handbill. Additionally, placing a handbill "upon any premises" would appear to include only leaving it on a counter (premises) but would not include handing it to an individual (person).

As you can see, Section 4 and Section 7 are confusing, ambiguous, and contradictory. As such, Oro Valley residents should be allowed to distribute handbills to individuals prior to the start of town meetings since, according to the Town Code, this does not appear to be an illegal action.

I am requesting that the town answer the questions in red (above) and also advise on the contradictory statements in the Town Code.

Respectfully,

Diane Peters

It’s Orwellian
Reading OV Town Code 10-9 invoked a comparison to modern day Russia where the State now controls the majority of media content. Obstructing people from something as simple as distributing handbills plays in to this kind of behavior by preventing citizens from having a voice in public matters. The words “promiscuous and uncontrolled distribution” are Orwellian in disposition.

What separates America from authoritarian regimes around the world (such as Russia, Venezuela and China) is our First Amendment. It guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition.

Conclusions
What conclusions should we draw from the Town’s actions? Are they merely enforcing an old code or is there something more insidious going on? Why suddenly post the notice now, 15 years after its inception? Coincidence? I think not. The town felt no need to post this notice after a Hiremath supporter was handing out “I LOVE OVPD” stickers during a council meeting over a year ago.

Diane Peters has lived in Oro Valley since 2003, moving here to escape the humidity of the East Coast. She’s been involved in OV politics and development issues since 2006. In 2014, she organized a citizens group, Citizen Advocates of the Oro Valley General Plan, who over a 9-month period, successfully negotiated a controversial 200-acre development project slated for the LaCholla-Naranja-Lambert-Shannon area. In her past life, she worked in medical research at various University Hospitals in New England. Her interests include reading, writing, nature photography, travel, art galleries, museums, and politics.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guest View: Diane Peters ~ Town of Oro Valley vs. First Amendment. Part 1.

Background
At a Town Council meeting a few months ago, I distributed LOVE flyers to residents as they began taking their seats. I received some looks of trepidation from the mayor and council when they entered the room to take their seats. However, no one tried to stop me from distributing the flyers because I had a right, under the First Amendment, to distribute and disseminate information to the public.

The flyer I was distributing is at right (Click on the flyer to enlarge it)

The worried looks on the faces of the mayor and council indicated that they would most likely scramble to find a way to prevent me (or anyone else) from distributing flyers at future meetings. I suspected that if there was already something in the Town Code pertaining to this practice, they would resurrect it and make it known. If there wasn’t anything currently in the Town Code covering the distribution of flyers, they would instruct staff to add it to the code.

So it came as no surprise to me when I visited the Town Hall recently, to discover that a notice prohibiting the distribution of handbills had now been posted at the entrance. It reads:




NOTICE
Distribution of handbills in
Town Meetings prohibited
Oro Valley Town Code 10-9

Research revealed that this article/section was added to the Town Code in March 2002. I moved to Oro Valley in 2003 and in all these years, I’ve never seen this notice posted at the Town Hall. It appears that the Town Council decided to resurrect this law in an attempt to prevent citizens from engaging in their First Amendment rights. As such, I recently followed up by emailing a letter to the Town Clerk (with copies to the Town Manager and Town Attorney).
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Part 2 (including my letter) will be published tomorrow.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Rest In Peace, John Musolf

Former Oro Valley resident and irreplaceable LOVE contributor, John Musolf died in early October.

John was an immeasurable help to LOVE when he lived in Oro Valley. We met him at a Oro Valley Town Council meeting. John attended every meeting. John took notes. He participated in "Call To Audience" portion of the meeting. He was engaged in what happened to our community.

John Musolf
1937-2017
John loved to do research. In fact, he did so much research through his "information requests" to the town that then Town Manager Greg Caton changed the method for getting information, making it a much more difficult and time consuming process. That didn't deter John. He kept at it. He was a bulldog.

John was LOVE's first research guy.

John championed our concept that LOVE had to be factual. We weren't going to be "loose with the facts." No. We were going to be a fact-based news source. John anchored that effort. He got us the facts. We reported them.

John worked with us for 5 years. Then, life caught up with John. His wife Judy needed a bit more care than he alone could provide. It was time to move back to Wisconsin to be with family. It was the best for them given their situation.

And now he is gone, but definitely he is not forgotten.

So, from all of us at LOVE and from me personally, we wish John the lasting peace he has earned.

Richard
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John was 79 this year. He was preceded in death by his wife Judy. You can read more about John's life here.  Please feel free to share your thoughts about John. We've opened commenting for this.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Developer Donations Could Rule Tonight's General Plan Amendment Hearing


Some of the money that developers have poured into Oro Valley's Prop 454 election can be seen in action tonight as the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission hears 3 general plan amendments [Agenda].

The amendments involve changes to the general plan. This is the general plan  that voters approved just last year. The plan took more than 2 years and several hundred thousand dollars to develop. It took thousand of person hours. It was thoroughly vetted. Yet, not even one year into its approval cycle, requests are being made and are being heard.

These are the requests:
  • Changing land destination in Innovation Park from commercial to medium density residential. This is proposed by developer Ford Acrewood, LLC - Anthem Equity Group, Inc. Theyonated $5,000 to YES for Prop454;

  • Taking 302 acres of state land on the western town boundary and designating it as a "Master Planned Community."
    Several developers might have an interest in this land, developers who contributed to YES. These includes Mattamy who donated $5,000, Don Diamond $5,000, Jeff Grobstein $5,000 (who told Town they needed to annex the land so they they had more room to build), and maybe even HSL $5,000.

  • Change land use in several areas of Rancho Vistoso.
    In one instance the change is from golf course to residential; in the other, it is from mixed used to medium density residential. This one is proposed by VWI Vistoso Development $1,000 and William Walker owner WLB Engineering $1,000
The meeting starts at 6PM in Oro Valley Council Chambers.
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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Naranja Park Bond Fails

As of 11 PM Tuesday evening (election night), the results of the Naranja Park Bond were as follows:

YES   4,504 votes    28%

NO   11,565 votes    72%

Our thanks to our readers who took the time and effort to submit Guest Views on this topic and our sincere gratitude to all of our writers, reporters, and researchers for working so diligently on providing us information on this topic. We couldn't have reported the facts without you!

You can read all of the election results HERE.

Early Election Results Show Resounding Defeat For Prop 454

Election results on Prop 454 have been posed by the Pima County Recorder. These results are as of 8:04 PM. We suspect they are for mail in ballots only:

Yes: 4,050
No: 10,209
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Monday, November 6, 2017

Reminder: Tuesday, November 7th is Election Day!

The information below was taken from an article that previously appeared on LOVE.

Last chance to have your voice heard on the $28 million dollar Naranja Park Bond

If you are planning to vote in person on Tuesday on the $17 million dollar Naranja Park Bond (that will end up costing Oro Valley homeowners a total of $28 million), please keep the previous grossly oversold misadventures of the Town of Oro Valley in mind:

A LEGACY OF FAILURE

Oro Valley Marketplace ~ Cost to Taxpayers

$23.2 million in sales tax revenue “shared” with developer Vestar for Oro Valley Marketplace for what was promised to be an upscale and unique mall but turned out to be a discount chain store mall with a 47% vacancy rate.

Community Center and Golf Courses ~ Cost to Taxpayers

$1 million to purchase the Community Center and Golf Courses from developer HSL
$1.2 million transferred from the General Fund Contingency to the Community Center Fund
$350,000 transferred from the General Fund into the Community Center Fund
$4.3 million in sales tax revenues since 2015 directed to the Community Center Fund
$50,000 to hire consultants to make recommendations to improve town-owned golf and restaurant operations


Total Cost: $30 million dollars

Expect the Naranja Park Bond to be another grossly oversold misadventure. We hope that Oro Valley voters will be smart enough to not get fooled again by all of the pie-in-the-sky claims of those who stand to gain from taking YOUR money.