Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Guest View: Diane Peters ~ Vice-Mayor selection reveals the hypocrisy of Councilmembers Pina and Solomon

During the December 4, 2019 Town Council meeting, the annual discussion took place regarding who would serve as vice-mayor for 2020. Melanie Barrett served as vice-mayor in 2019. Just one year. Prior to that, Lou Waters served as vice-mayor from 2012-2018. Seven years. Keep that in mind as you continue reading.

Councilmember Jones-Ivey nominated Melanie Barrett to serve for another year, seconded by Mayor Winfield. Councilmember Solomon nominated Bill Rodman, seconded by Councilmember Pina.

Discussions began and the hypocrisy ensued.

Councilmember Solomon’s argument:
“…it’s appropriate that since Councilmember Barrett has already served a year as Vice-Mayor, that it’s time to let another council member step in and serve in that capacity.”
Councilmember Pina’s argument:
“I think that Councilmember Rodman would bring a different perspective to work with the mayor so I’m in favor of Councilmember Rodman being the Vice-Mayor for the following year…Why not give someone else the opportunity?...Why not do something different and have someone that would give a different perspective?”
Mayor Winfield pointed out that regardless of title, they all have the opportunity to share their perspectives and they each have one vote.

A tangled web
According to Pina and Solomon, the necessary criteria for the vice-mayor is:
• they should not serve more than one year
• it should be someone who has different views than the mayor

Interestingly, they felt much differently about this “criteria” when they were in the majority on council.

Lou Waters was the vice-mayor when Pina-Rodman-Solomon were sworn in on 11/16/16 and he had served as vice-mayor for five years at that point (2012-2013-2014-2015-2016).

Yet when Waters was nominated for vice-mayor again for 2017 and 2018, Pina and Solomon never argued that someone else should be given the opportunity or that it should be given to someone with a different perspective than the mayor. They elected Waters with a 7-0 vote to serve as vice-mayor in 2017 and 2018.

In fact, on December 6, 2017 it was none other than Councilmember Steve Solomon who nominated Waters to serve as vice-mayor for 2018…despite Waters already having served as vice-mayor for 6 years at that time. Solomon was just fine with Waters serving as vice-mayor for a 7th year.  (See referenced minutes from 12/6/17 meeting below):

Now that Pina and Solomon are in the minority, they’ve suddenly decided that it’s imperative to give someone else a chance. Waters can serve as vice-mayor for 7 straight years but Barrett can serve for only one year.

Voting Results
Mayor Winfield held a roll-call vote. The vote was 5-2 for Barrett as Vice-Mayor for 2020.

• YES votes: Winfield, Barrett, Jones-Ivey, Nicolson, and Rodman (yes, Rodman)
• NO votes: Pina and Solomon

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, who over a 9-month period, successfully negotiated a controversial 200-acre development project. 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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Council Member Solomon "Blows His Top" In Council Meeting

Historically unruly behavior gets worse
In the video below, you will see a completely out of control council member. That council person is Steve Solomon.

LOVE has reported his unprofessional behavior before. Solomon tries to take over council meetings by dominating discussions and talking over people. He has no composure. No patience with opposing views.

This time Solomon tries to take over the December Oro Valley Town Council meeting, yelling at council member Joyce Jones-Ivey. Then, yelling over Mayor Winfield.

"Stop it. Or you will be removed"
Solomon's behavior is so condescending that he calls Jones-Ivey "Ivey-Jones" when he tries to apologize to her for his behavior. He does this while talking over both her and the Mayor.

Solomon is anything but the civil, professional, positive force on council that he said he would be while campaigning in 2016.

The fact is, Solomon can not control himself.

In the video, Solomon is so out of control that Mayor Winfield warns him that he will be removed from the meeting if he has one more outburst.

Watch this video, courtesy of

It is an eye opener.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Bits and Pieces

Town announces Parks and Recreation master plan open community meeting date: January 23
"The Town will host a community meeting on Thursday, January 23 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall Council Chambers, 11000 N. La Cañada Drive. The meeting will start with a 30-minute presentation about the project and then open up for public discussion so we can hear from you." (source: Town Of Oro Valley News Release.)

You can learn about this master plan project at this website.

It's a sellers market for Oro Valley homes
Oro Valley continues to be a seller's market for all homes prices at under $600,000. The total number of homes available (60) is at its lowest level in two years. Most of the homes available for sale have price range over $600,000. The median sales price of a home has not changed in zip 85755 but is up a bit in zip 85737 (when comparing a 3-month period this year to last year). (Source: Long Realty)

Water rate increase likely to occur in August
The town in the process of increasing our water rates. The rate increase will happen in August. There will be a public hearing in at the June 3 council meeting. The increase is inevitable unless residents become involved.

According to our water expert:
"The new rates come from a financial model put together by an outside consultant. The assumptions are documented, but not defended. The primary goal appeared to be taking the opportunity to re-examine the split between potable water rates and reclaimed water rates in light of the closure of the Vistoso golf course and the resulting drop in demand for reclaimed water."

Supervisor Candidate Rex Scott on Jim Horn's "Oro Valley Podcast"
This week, Jim Horn interviews Rex Scott, candidate for Pima County Supervisor, District 1. Rex talks about his qualifications and his goals if he’s elected. Listen on or on the Apple Stitcher, or Google Play apps (key words; "Oro Valley Podcast") .

Section of LaCholla closing from January 27 to April 22
The widening of LaCholla Blvd continues. The section from Lambert Lane to Overton will be closed for an extended period. "Local access to homes, churches and other facilities on La Cholla Boulevard will be maintained throughout the closure. La Cañada Drive has been designated as the detour route." (see panel)

The town is closing the section in order to allow construction in that area in a safe manner. (source)

Council candidate handbooks now available
Those interested in running for council can get candidate handbooks by making an appointment with town clerk Mike Standish (520-229-4700).  There are 3 council seats up for elections. "The number of signatures required is at least 463 and not more than 925. Candidates may turn in nomination papers from 8 a.m. on March 9, 2020, to 5 p.m. on April 6, 2020." (Source) The primary election will be on August 4.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Crowded Field Files For Miller's Supervisor Seat

Seven District One Pima County Supervisor Candidates
Seven people have filed to fill Ally Miller's District One seat as Pima County Supervisor. This is a partisan election. There are four republican and three democrat candidates. They will compete in the August 2020 primary. The winners will be on the November Ballot.

A competitive race
Supervisors are elected by district. There are five districts: Five supervisors. The term of service is 4 years. Most supervisors run for reelection so a real competitive election rarely occurs. This one, however, may be the exception.

District One is more than Oro Valley
District One includes all of Oro Valley. It includes pieces of Marana, Catalina Foothills, and unincorporated areas north to the county line and south past River Road. These areas have little in common. So, it is a challenge to serve as district one supervisor.
Pima County District One

The seven candidates
Oro Valley council member Rhonda Pina is running on the republican ticket. Three other people are running as republicans. Two are Steve Spain and Bill Beard. Former state representative Vic Williams is also a republican candidate. His papers were not visible on the county web site.

Current supervisor Ally Miller has endorsed Spain. Beard is a former special staff assistant to Miller.

There are three democratic candidates: Rex Scott, Brian Radford and Jeff Farrell. All filed in September.

Pina raised $53,000 in one month
Oro Valley Council Member Rhonda Pina entered the race in December. Her PAC has raised almost $53,000 (source) in just one month! Major contributors include Jim Click Family ($12,900) and the Assenmacher Family ($12,900). William Assenmacher, President of CAID and on the board of Fly Tucson, is the PAC's chairperson. Other contributors are HSL and related ($6,950), GRFD board member Vicki Cox Golder ($3,000), and members of Diamond Ventures ($3,750).  Pina also loaned $20,000 to her campaign. The other republican candidates just filed for their candidacy this month.

It should be an interesting District One race

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Guest View: Mike Zinkin ~ The Danger in the Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)

Oro Valley was incorporated in 1974 to allow more citizen input
In the 1970’s, a group of local citizens were worried that Pima County and Tucson would annex this area and they started an incorporation process. The result was the establishment of Oro Valley in 1974. The people that voted to incorporate did so because they did not want to be governed by the policies and mind set of Pima County or the City of Tucson.

One of the factors that made Oro Valley unique was the importance of community involvement and input on the Town’s development. Neighborhood meetings and citizen Boards and Commissions were established to provide a vehicle for citizen input to be given to the governing body – the Town Council.

Chiseling away at citizen input began about 8 years ago
About 8 years ago, the Town Council passed the Economic Expansion Zone ("EEZ"). Originally this allowed for fast-tracked development only in Innovation Park as long as there was no residence within 600 feet of the development. The development could be fast-tracked to the Council with only an Open House to introduce the development to the public. There was no requirement to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission. All the current building you now see in Innovation Park was a result of the EEZ code.

In 2018, the (Hiremath-led) Council amended the EEZ to eliminate the 600-foot residential buffer requirement and to allow for all Tech Park designations to be treated as an EEZ.

More citizen input limitations on the horizon
Now enter Town Manager, Mary Jacobs. A couple of months ago, Ms. Jacobs and her Economic Development Manager, J.J. Johnston sent a 14-page PDF to the Council explaining the new CEDS. The Council passed on the CEDS which mandated that staff come forward with changes to the Town’s zoning codes. Now these changes are coming before the Council for their approval.

Staff believes that these code changes are justified because this is how they do things in Tucson and Pima County. Remember, this is the reason we incorporated. We did not want to be like Tucson and Pima County. In the new CEDS, many of the now required neighborhood meetings are eliminated and many important decisions will be “administratively” approved by staff.

Town staff are not elected officials and not accountable to the citizens
It is not a good idea to allow the staff to make major decisions because the Town’s administration, including the Town Manager, is NOT accountable to the citizens. The Council is the elected body and the only part of the government that is accountable to you and me. The Council should remain the decision makers. There should be no allowance for administrative approvals. There should be no elimination of neighborhood meetings and other vehicles for citizen input.

The Council needs to tell Jacobs and Johnson that we are the decision makers and we wish to remain in that capacity. They need to vote NO on the CEDS code modifications.
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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Oro Valley Bonded For Golf Improvements In 2016

The town has borrowed to pay for golf improvements
During the recent discussions on the “pay as you go” status of the golf courses, staff presented their forecasts for the next five fiscal years. The forecast shows no debt service. In reality, however, former Mayor Hiremath and his council did borrow for this facility.

Transfers out of the CCF pay for the debt
An inquiry was made by former council member and Oro Valley resident Mike Zinkin as to whether the forecasted “transfers out” of the community center fund ("CCF") included the $120,000 transfer to the General Fund to pay back the initial $1.2 million "loan" from that fund. The answer from Town Manager Mary Jacobs was that the $120,000 was included.

A follow up communication asked about the additional $148,810 forecasted transfer out. The response was that the $148,810 was the debt service for an "Energy Efficiency Bond". That borrowing was used to pay for a new pump on the El Conquistador Course and for an HVAC for the clubhouse that is now the community center.

The bond was issued in the amount of $2million in 2016. They are payable semi-annually from now until 2032.

This manner of reporting the debt service buries the fact that the town has borrowed to pay for golf and community center improvements
LOVE did not previously detect this because of the way the town accounts for the debt service on this bond. Rather than show it as "debt service" in the forecast, it is shown as a  “transfer out.”

According to Town Manager Jacobs, in response to Zinkin's inquiry: “We use fund accounting references in the budget. 'Transfers Out' accurately reflects the accounting of the dollars being transferred to the Debt Service Fund, then applied to the specific expenditure as noted…. The debt service payment for the energy efficiency bonds is then accurately reported in the Debt Service Fund, as the payment is made from that fund and not the Community Center Fund.”

This is not the first time we've been confused in the manner the town is reporting financial information. Check our posting entitled: "Jacobs Presents A Tricky Budget." There we report that the town changed the way things were reported so that readers could not easily compare this past year's budget to prior years.