Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oro Valley Top Stories For 2009

There were dozens of issues (including our budget shortfall) that had an impact on those of us who reside in Oro Valley. From our perspective, here's what we believe were the ten top stories concerning the politics of Oro Valley during the 2009.

We'd like to hear what you think: Whether you agree----or not.

10) Oro Valley Council Votes To Stop All Retail Giveaways.

In an action, we believe was a long time in coming, the Council voted on January 21, 6-1 to stop all retail giveaways. Who was the only "No" vote? Mayor Paul Loomis.


9) Oro Valley Council Votes To Continue Utility Tax

The Utility Tax on our gas, water and electric bills that was passed by the previous council was due to expire on April 1. This tax on water is used to pay for Police. Go figure. Anyway, the tax got extended. Lead by Mayor Paul Loomis, the Council voted on March 4 to continue
this tax.


8) Another Water Rate Hike

Although the Oro Valley Water Director indicated the town didn't need yet another rate hike, he saw fit to ask the Council for an increase at the November 18 meeting. Sadly, only Bill Garner and Salette Latas voted "no," and as such, we will see higher water bills starting in 2010.

7) The Arizona Supreme Court Heard CityNorth Subsidy Case

On September 30, the Arizaon Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the suit brought by The Goldwater Institute contending that the city of Phoenix violated the Arizoan Constitution Gift Clause by offering an out-of-state developer in excess of $90 million in future sales tax revenue for a retail development. We all anxiously await the court's decision which should have an impact on prior Oro Valley "giveaways."

6) Oro Valley Sign Code

The Oro Valley sign code became a very contentious issue pitting, for the most part, the business community and real estate agents against the scientific community and a vast majority of homeowners. The two main points of contention are the lit storefront signs from "dusk to dawn," and the "open house" signs displayed by real estate agents. Hopefully, the council will come up with a compromise, (if that's possible) in 2010.

5) The "Police Issue"

Although you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who is not happy about the safe community we all call home, there are many who don't like the tactics of the Oro Valley Police Unions. Many of us believe the police look out more for their own than they do for the people of the community. Why do we say that? You need look no further than the fact the Police refused to consider a layoff of even one of their own while every other department in town was concerned about our budget constraints.

Too bad Mayor Loomis got his way and "caved in" to the cop's demands.

4) The Library Issue--Double Taxation.

Certainly the "library" was another of those contentious issues. On one side, for the most part were the "friends of library" who had every right to have their voices heard, as they gave so much to the library even being here. On the other side, were many of the taxpayers of Oro Valley. Most of us appreciate the value of having our "own library" but don't like the fact that we incur double taxes in doing so. The issue is: Should the Oro Valley Library remain autonomous and should we be obligated pay double taxes; or should the Library cede control to Pima County, like the other 27 branches in Pima County and save us hundreds of thousands of dollars?

The Pima County Board of Supervisors, by a 3-2 vote, denied Oro Valley's request for more funding for the Oro Valley Library. In addition, the Board also voted to oppose any attempt by Oro Valley to change State Law so the we can have our own library.

3) Paula Abbott Resigns From Council

On November 9, Ms. Abbott abruptly resigned from the Oro Valley Council, "effective immediately." We believe Abbott's action came seven weeks too late, as she joined with Loomis, Carter and Kunisch on September 23 to force our Town Manager out after his eighteen years of dedicated service.

2) Mike Zinkin Runs For Mayor Of Oro Valley.

We couldn't have been more pleased to learn that Mike Zinkin decided to run for Mayor of Oro Valley. Mike brings so many things to the table. His work experience as an Air Traffic Controller certainly allows him to work under the most stressful conditions. His experience on the Development Review Board, including two years as chair gives him the experience to know how to run a meeting. Most important is Mike's demeanor. He knows how to treat people and will work closely with the council & staff. Additionally, Mike appreciates that the people of Oro Valley are its main asset, and he will treat us all with dignity and respect. We are proud to support Mike Zinkin for Mayor of Oro Valley.

1) David Andrews Terminated As Town Manager After 18 Years Of Dedicated Service.

We believe unequivocally, that the vote of Mayor Loomis, Vice Mayor Carter, Council Person Al Kunisch, and the recently resigned Council Person Paula Abbott was the most egregious action ever taken by any council in the history of Oro Valley. We contend that Loomis orchestrated the removal of Mr. Andrews and that he and the other three violated the Open Meeting Law of Arizona by conspiring PRIOR TO the September 23 Special Session in having David lose his job. The final chapter of this despicable action is yet to be written. For one thing, Loomis does NOT deserve the vote of any fair minded person. So let's remind Paul Loomis how egregious his actions have been by voting him out when the ballots hit the mailbox in February.

17 comments:

RanchoT said...

You are dead wrong in you judgement of the Oro Valley Police Department. I am a volunteer that works from time to time with this department. I have never ever seen a group of more dedicated officers that these people. The dearly love their town and work to maintain it as the safest town in Arizona. They are extremely proffesional in their dutys which they take seriously.
Chief Sharp is a warm and brilliant man who runs a tight ship and who is respected by his staffand officers.
Before criticizing one should attend the citizens accadamy that is held several times a year. Their you would learn all about the department and the multituce of tasks that they have to accomplish that goes beyond the cop on the block.
A call to 911 in Oro Valley always gets a prompt responce with an trained officer ready to help and assist.
It's always easy to cast stones when you never walked the walk. I suggest you do more than lip service to this town. We respect individuals that get envolved and know what the facts are.

artmarth said...

Rancho T---Thanks for you comment.
Rather than respond, here is an unsolicited email we received two days ago. I will not post the name of the writer as I don't have permission. Needless to say, it offers another point of view.

Art
***********************************

I've lived in Oro Valley since 2000 and in the last 12
months, my family has been repeatedly pulled over for minor infractions.
Sun damaged license plate, turning into the far lane, etc. During the same period of time, the secretary at our church was kidnapped and robbed(but was
able to talk her way out of the situation with a promise of police silence).
I have always been a firm believer in police protections but it seems like the police are busy generating revenue, not protecting.

AZCactus1 said...

The police issue is absolutely relevant and applicable. It is utter insanity that 50% of the OV budget goes to support a bloated police dept. OVPD could be a quality police dept responsive to the needs of our community on a smaller budget.

We are living in a time where rumors in OV suggest the prospect of a property tax, and the Mayor has affirmatively stated the prospect of such. The Council must reallocate funds from OVPD to other town departments well before we seriously consider implementing a property tax.

A property tax should be implemented as a last resort, particularly given the economy. All departments should be evaluated, and a reduction in town employees will likely be required before any property tax is proposed.

The Town of OV govt has exploded under the direction of the current mayor, and many here do not appreciate it. My property tax bill in OV is astronomical, and now OV wants its own town tax---not going to happen.

The OVPD budget must be reviewed, and reductions must take place wherever necessary.

Merry Christmas bloggers!

Oro Valley Mom said...

Rancho,

I can't see where Art was criticizing the police. He was criticizing the tactics of the union, which seems to be in the business of promoting bigger (bloated?) government at the expense of the taxpayers. And he was criticizing the mayor for caving in to their demands.

I'm sorry that you think that we all need to drink the blue Kool-aid and attend the police academy before we have a right as taxpayers to question government spending. By that logic, we would all need to attend medical school or pharmacy school before we could criticize donating money to C-Path or question government spending on healthcare.

artmarth said...

OV Mom---Thanks for reading the post, and comprehending what was said as it pertains to the "police item."

Also, although some may question your analogy, I think it makes total sense.

Interesting, that the ONLY comments are about the cops. I thought the way David Andrews was terminated; the fact that Mike Zinkin is running for mayor; the library "double tax" and a few of the other issues, deserved some dialog.

John said...

We enjoy an extremely high quality of live in Oro Valley, a major component of which is the public safety afforded by our police department. Having said that, I was offended by the attempt at intimidation I observed with the police (in uniform) attending the council meetings and demanding no layoffs.
It is not reasonable that they can be protected against layoffs considering the financial situation in the state and town. We need an objective analysis of places we can save money, and that most likely will include reductions in public safety staff. They are doing it in Tucson and many other areas around the state; we can't stick our heads in the sand and avoid the inevitable.
Speaking of inevitable, our financial woes can only be ultimately managed with a combination of spending reductions AND revenue enhancements. I supportede the utility tax extension, and I believe the stability of a well constructed property tax would help maintain our quality of life. I hope it is placed on the table for a reasoned debate among our other options.

boobie-baby said...

And how, pray tell, are the OVPD officers any different than the TPD officers who showed up en masse at the most recent Tucson City Council meeting when cuts were discussed?

Does anyone doubt one of the roles of unions--to watch out for their own? Have you ever had a union rep come to you and say, "You know, we have too many employees/members so let's cut back and let some of them go?"

Public safety is ALWAYS the largest percentage of any municipal budget. It takes upwards of $200,000 to place one officer on the street (recruiting, testing, training, vehicle, computer, supervision, equipment, salary and benefits). OVPD officers like to argue that they should be paid similarly to their bretheren in Tucson. Those kinds of decisions CAN be made by the Council, but at the risk of losing officers to neighboring jurisdictions. You lose an officer and say "good riddance?" No, you start the whole $200,000 process all over again.

What's to be done? Well, for one thing, make the time to attend the OVPD citizens academy. It will be time well spent. [And, no, I am not now nor have I ever been a public safety officer]. And, if you have explored the OVPD budget, where do you see items or programs that can be cut and which will survive a Council vote?

artmarth said...

Boobie-- I'm not sure who you might have been addressing your questions, but I'll give you MY answers.

I understand the function of the police union, and that, boobie, was the crux of the issue. They look out for their own. The message I got was, "layoff whoever you have to, but don't even think of letting go one of us." There was no concern for any Public Works worker, or Planner, or administrative worker, or anyone else. Their concern was only themselves.

You say: "You lose an officer and say "good riddance."

I say, "good riddance." We have more cops running around giving out tickets. If they must, so be it, but why does it take two or three to ticket one poor sole? Don't tell me it's for safety reasons, because I'll tell you, they have nothing better to do.

As for the OVPD citizens academy---how is that going to help? One does not need to take an OV Citizens Planning Class to know you don't allow a 75 foot hotel in an area when the code says, no hotel and no structure over 36 feet. These classes won't make up for someone lacking in common sense.

As to "where do you cut?" That was why Bill Garner requested and the council approved, a management company do a study. Don't be surprised if they determine our police budget is too overwhelming and needs to be cut back.

Where do you cut? Eliminate more take home vehicles for one. Eliminate unnecessary positions like the CAT squad that none other than the Police Chief was willing to cut. How about dispatchers? Might there be more than necessary? How about the SWAT team that spend most of their time catching unsuspecting drivers going a few miles over the speed limit?

I'll leave it to others in case they wish to respond further.

Zev said...

Rancho, just because much the Town of Oro Valley wants accountability from each and every one of it's departments including the OVPD it does not mean that the citizens who want such are anti police, anti police union, anti Chief Sharp, anti Parks and Recreation, anti water utility, or anti whatever; they are pro accountability, period, and that, sir or ma'am, is OUR RIGHT and, supplying that accountability, is every departments' absolute DUTY!

boobie-baby said...

[Art--for clarification purposes, I was referring to the Police citizen's academy, not the one operated by the Planning Department].

As much as it may pain me to say it, I do agree with Art regarding this particular police union and some of their demands.

But let me assure everyone that fiddling with take-home car policies and the number of dispatchers (does anyone in OV REALLY want to cut the number of dispatchers?) and revision or dissolution of the SWAT team--all of these will not make any significant dent in the OVPD budget.

As I've written numerous times, a budget contains only two items: people and things. Unless a Council is willing to commit political suicide by cutting OVPD by 20-30%, there will be no substantial changes, a management study notwithstanding.

OV does not stand alone in the midst of a national recession. Only when the nation and the state start to rebound will OV be able to meet its needs as in the past. Sadly, I believe that even a change on the Council will not substantially impact the finances of the Town.

Although it's no one's favorite, only a property tax will have any significant impact on the Town's ability to meet all of the needs of the citizens. But, let me remind everyone on this blog, the Town Council CANNOT unilaterally impose a property tax. If the question comes up, state law requires that it go to the voters first, so there will be healthy debate, I'm sure. In the mean time, other fees (and even the utility tax) won't make up for the loss of sales tax and state-shared revenues that have dropped, through no fault of the Town's.

Nombe Watanabe said...

Bloggers. A property tax will only encourage the status quo.

We should examine the following ideas:

1. Any cuts to OV government should be fair.

If required,OV must cut personnel. The Police Department should be cut just like any other department. I would suggest that they NOT be cut at the same percentage as, say, a department that has less work due to the housing crisis.

2. When a family or a business is faced with financial problems, they take rational action. They cut the fluff and focus on food, housing and utility bills.

Any government should follow the example of the family and focus on core services.

If you provide a government with additional funding, the government will spend the funding to continue current operations, with no savings and indeed may increase spending on non-essential items like the Steam Pump boondoggle or the gold plated park.

A property tax is not the answer.

Chuck Davis said...

Management studies are a great vehicle for delaying to take the necessary actions required be taken. Additionally, they take a long time ( 4 months to design and pick a surveyor, 4 months to take and 4-12 months arguing over the results)to complete.
So, here is an idea of the leadership needed while we wait 12-18 months for the completion of the management study.

The council should direct the police chief to develop 2 budgets. One of these will reduce 2009 expenses 10% and the second will reduce expenses 20%. Included in the analysis will be a list of services that will be eliminated and or reduced. This analysis will form the basis for the 2010-11 budget.

What's wrong with this approach? I am sure that it can be improved. How would you improve it.

Nombe Watanabe said...

Mr Davis has presented a good idea above. I wonder what the police union thinks of such rational thought?

Zev said...

Chuck Davis gives a very clear and concise proposal to the Town of Oro Valley in alleviating the OVPD dilemma(? for the NOW. Too,in the meantime, the Town should initiate an action that would transform our old hat 'traditional budget' methodology and transform ourselves into 'zero based' budget management. We're operating a Town on old, worn out historical fiscal practice instead of embracing 'new age' methods for today's modern necessities (for those of you who do not understand the difference, simply type 'zero based budgeting' in your search engine). Yes, ZB budgeting is a bit more complex in working it, but, in the long run it paints a much more accurate 'need' picture than the older alternative.

Victorian Cowgirl said...

Boobie-Baby,

Your comment, "OVPD officers like to argue that they should be paid similarly to their bretheren in Tucson" was interesting. This is the first time I've heard this, although I don't doubt the validity of it since it's in keeping with the big ego's of the OVPD.

So they actually think that the job they do is worth the same amount as the job that a Tucson cop does? Tucson has many "marginal" neighborhoods, OV does not. Tucson has much more crime (including violent crime) and drug dealing than OV. Tucson cops are actually working "the mean streets." OV cops, for the most part, have it easy. As I've said before on this blog, one OVPD officer (one of the nice ones without the bloated ego) told me that most of the time he is just driving around looking for something to do. I doubt very much that those words have ever come out of the mouth of a Tucson cop.

I know that every cop puts his life on the line every day whether he works in Mayberry or Los Angeles since a violent person can show up anywhere, but to say that being a cop in Mayberry is just as difficult and dangerous as being a cop in Los Angeles and therefore both should receive the same rate of pay is absurd.

Yes, we could lose officers if they decide they can earn more money in Tucson, but on the flip side, if the pay rate were equal, then what would be the incentive for any cop to work in the "rough" part of town when he can work in Mayberry for the same pay?

The Zee Man said...

For those who do not know... ZB budgeting is "zero based budgeting".

It is simply building a budget from the bottom,justifying ever expenditure requested. This is different from the current approach where departments request budget increases from whatever they spent last year.

Zero base budgeting always results in improved services are reduced cost. The other approach always results in bloated budgets and wasteful spending.

boobie-baby said...

VC,
Yes, I'm correct about OVPD officers wanting comparable salaries/benefits as Tucson officers. (They might not want what they wish for given Tucson's financial problems). The argument is that the bad guys come through OV (Oracle Rd.), and that there have been stash houses in the community. In the mean time, there have been no homicides in OV for years, even though some bloggers might want to have shot a Council member or two ;-).

In turn, TPD looks to the Phoenix area for comparable salaries, so you can see how the spiral goes.

Zee Man--Unfortunately, zero-base budgeting had its day in the sun and is not used widely any more. At the same time, I would encourage everyone to attend the budget study sessions that will be open to the public. There you can see how the sausage is made and what the hard decisions really are. It's ugly, but it's real.