Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oro Valley Council Votes 4-3 To Purchase ElCon

The Oro Valley Town Council voted last night to purchase the The El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Country Club, invest in it to create a community and recreation center, and raise the sales tax one-half cent to help pay for its operation.  This decision came afte 5 1/2 hours of discussion. The next step is for Town Manager Caton to negotiate the transaction.

The vote was along traditional lines. The Majority-4 block voted yes. Council Member's Burns, Garner and Zinkin voting no.

The no votes were on the basis that there are either suitable alternatives or that the council has not had sufficient time to review the numbers. They assert that they have been receiving materials on this transactions up until an hour before the meeting.

There were approximately 40 public speakers:
  • One resident, Rick Chandler, stated the he offered the town that he would form a business group that would lease the golf operation from the town and take them out of the golf business. Oro Valley would then have the community center with no golf.
  • Some residents asked whether the town would be willing to "bail out" other Oro Valley failing golf courses. 
  • The Sun City Homeowners Association announced that they unanimously voted to not support this transaction. They asserted, among other things that "This purchase and a sales tax increase will cause our residents to subsidize additional golf courses that will be in direct competition with our own golf course." (Source: SCOV Press Release)
  • Residents living on or near the golf courses supported the purchase.
  • Many recommended that the town spend more time considering open items. Mayor Hiremath said that they must make this decision tonight or the deal would go away.
Council Member Zinkin made the case for the town building its own facility for what it is going to cast to take over the facility.  He observed that the City of Tucson simply can not turn its losing golf business.  "14 yes and 25 no" speakers, noted Zinkin. "What is the point of holding a public meeting if you are not going to listen."

"This is a deal we should walk away from," observed Council Member Garner. However, Oro Valley didn't. "You can rail road this through...It is not in the town's position that Oro Valley be in the land buying business."

"This deal stinks," stated Garner. "The forward thinking is to build it ground-up," noted Garner.

"We should not be in the golf business. We should have a public:private partnership," observed Council Member Burns.

Council Member Snider spoke of the emotions of purchasing a property that is in the heart of Oro Valley and of its importance to our community. This is something she believes the town must do.

Council Member Waters noted that people in Oro Valley want a community center. "When this proposal came up I said: 'Oh my God, for a million dollars we can have a community center'.. and what better place for it than right in the heart of Oro Valley."  Water's said that Oro Valley has a history of intense opposition to everything. He pointed to the "sale" of Cayote Run to the RTA and the turnover of the library to Pima County.  "Intense opposition," he observed. Waters continued: "If it were up to me, I'd push the golf off to the side and let someone else handle it."

To me personally, it is about controlling the destiny of 324 acres." in the heart of our community, observed Mayor Hiremath. "That's park and recreation area", observed Snider. It does not have to make money. "There is no relationship between the town and HSL," asserted Snider.

After the meeting, we were told that a group is forming to petition for voter referendum.  The referendum would require a public vote.  We will report more on this as we learn the details.

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Richard Furash, MBA said...

I will spend my money other place than Oro Valley except for food

Richard Furash, MBA said...

This is another example of failed leadership. A significant majority of last night's speakers spoke eloquently and forcefully to this Council about their concerns, which I believe are valid. Yet, the same majority we are accustomed to, turned a complete deaf ear to these concerns. Instead of heeding the warnings and concerns of it's citizens, our majority falls in line, once again, with the Mayor's desires. The Council minority asked tough, thoughtful questions, and offerred alternative solutions. The majority waxed enthusiastic about how we "need" a community center, completely ignoring the many issues brought forth by concerned citizens. I thought our Council were elected to represent us, not third parties looking for financial benefit. How is it that any government entity feels the need to assume significant risk, using tax payer dollars? We might as well take a $1 million, go up to Vegas, and take our chances at the craps table. What are these people thinking?

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Voters who supported the Gang-of-Four, in August, were warned and did not listen. They will pay thru the nose, as will we all.

Plus, who knows what other "surprises" they have up their sleeves? Stay tuned.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

We don't "need" a community center. What we "need" is a council that knows the difference between needs and wants and we "need" a majority on council that has critical thinking skills. But this is what you get when you elect 4 people who barely have one college degree among them.

Look at their bio's on the town website. Snider: 2-year degree from a community college; Hornat: no college at all. Waters: no degree mentioned. Only says he "attended" the Univ. of Minnesota School of Architecture. If any of these people had degrees or post-graduate degrees, don't you think they would list them in their bios?

Contrast this with:
Burns: Law degree
Garner: Master's degree

Zinkin: Master's degree

This is why when you listen to any council discussion, the most thought-provoking comments and questions are always offered by the minority-3, not the majority-4.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Not only were there many more speakers AGAINST than FOR last night, but e-mails to council members were also running 75% AGAINST and only 25% FOR.

The majority-4 does not listen to the citizens EVER. Everything they want is a DONE DEAL long before the public hearing is held and the vote is taken. The public hearing is just "for show."

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I'm on the fence regarding this "acquisition" by Oro Valley. Full disclosure: I am no longer an OV resident, but I follow what happens in the town. To propose that the council does not represent the citizens is incorrect in my opinion. I would argue that while a majority of those in attendance at the council meeting were against purchasing the property, and had valid concerns, they did not necessarily represent the majority of the town's citizens. The only quantifiable results that show what the majority of Oro Valley's citizens wanted was demonstrated last August. The election results were pretty clear that the majority of Oro Valley residents support the direction of the "Majority 4".

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I am not an apologist for the current council majority, but
you are being disingenuous by implying that the majority of the council “barely have one college degree among them”. According to the mayor’s biography, he is a graduate of the University of Michigan, (considered a public ivy) and has a dental degree. I would consider a post-graduate dental degree as more than barely.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I vigorously disagree, based on what I witnessed last night. Three hours of citizen input, and not a single council member in favor of this "purchase" made any reasonable attempt to address the wide variety of concerns expressed by many in attendance. It was obvious the vote was already taken. What data or basis do you conclude "they did not necessarily represent the majority of the town's citizens?" Councilmember Zinkin stated that fully 80% of his input was opposed. Be that as it may, you are absolutely correct that the recent election results are what they are. But to sit and watch the "majority" fail to address any of these concerns, and spent the majority of their speaking time trying to justify this proposal, it was obvious to anyone in the room that this proceeding was formality to seal the deal.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

It might be somwhat dubious to ascribe educations levels to the judgment abilities of these council members, but I will say that there was little effort on the part of 3 of them in particular to truly delve into the "devil-in-the-details" that are troublesome to a significant number of people. It struck me, at the least, as intellectually lazy. That was contrasted to the the minority, who had obviously prepared for this meeting, and asked probing questions. Councilman Hornat actually noted that the appraisal document they received, at the last minute, was "quick and easy reading" because of all the photos. That comment didn't inspire much confidence in his desire to peel back the onion, address significant concerns, and try to answer the issues brought to light. As I say, done deal before the opening gavel. That is NOT representing the citizens of this Town - we deserve and need better.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

My point was that of the majority-4, only one has an advanced degree. Of the minority-3, all three have advanced degrees. I believe that's why the best questions and best analyses come from those three. They're not intellectually lazy and their educations have given them critical thinking skills.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Last night, Ms.. Snider, made it known she was the Council liaison to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. She discussed the Board’s involvement in this issue. Ms. Snider or other Council Members and Staff forgot to mention this Board rejected the acquisition proposal. After spending hours discussing the Town’s plan, the Parks Board voted 5-1 to advise the Town council to go ahead with the purchase – without the golf business.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

A college degree does not mean someone is smart or has common sense.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Try looking at it this way. Did you know more at age 15 than you did at age 10? Did you know more at age 40 than you did at age 25? More at 60 than at 40? The more education and the more life experiences you have, the smarter you become. And the more educated you are, the more life experiences you have because a much larger world is opened up to you. So with that in mind, there is no way that Joe Hornat or Mary Snider are smarter than or have superior critical thinking skills to Garner, Burns, and Zinkin.

Yes, there are some people who go to college who don't come out much smarter than when they went in, but that's because they remained intellectually lazy during their college careers or they focused only on one topic while remaining ignorant of so many others.

Conversely, there are others who never went to college but who are extremely well-read and therefore quite knowledgeable on a variety of topics. I don't get that vibe from Hornat or Snider.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

C'mon Cowgirl - This degree discussion is really a low blow - cheap shot and fully destroys any credence you may have had in these discussions. I am not necessarily a fan of the Mayors political actions and affiliations, but to make this personal with these kind of nefarious comments certainly shows the lack of educational acumen on those who see fit to launch these personal attacks. In addition, the Mayor does have a PhD equivalent degree from one of the best medical schools and prestigious universities in the country. I'd be surprised is anyone of us in this discussion could match this level of achievement .

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I stand by my comment. You might want to read it again. I said nothing about Hiremath, only Snider and Hornat. Here's an example or two: I was once married to a doctor who knew a lot about medicine and history, but didn't know anything about anything else and didn't have a lick of common sense. I've worked for doctors who were brilliant in their field but couldn't figure out how to work the copy machine. I also have a friend with only a GED who is quite smart because he is interested in many topics and is very well-read. I'd be interested to see what books are on the shelves of the majority-4 know-it-all's. I'll bet Lou Waters is the only one with an interesting and varied collection.