Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hiremath Accuses Garner Of Lying About El Conquistador Country Club Purchase

On February 26, Mayor Hiremath called Council Member Bill Garner a "liar" several times during an interview with KNST host Garrett Lewis. The interview regarded the town's purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club. You can listen to the mayor's comments here.

The Mayor had requested the interview. Lewis had  interviewed Garner two days earlier.

Mayor Hiremath provided his view on why he feels that it was right of the council to approve the purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club. However, rather than simply refuting what Garner had said in a respectful manner, Mayor Hiremath chose to call Garner a liar.

So, we investigated the Mayor's charges:

Garner Asserts: A Rushed Decision To Purchase The El Conquistador Country Club

Mayor Hiremath said the Council Member Bill Garner is "flat out lying. As a matter of fact I know that he is flat out" lying.  Garner had said that the council members had been rushed into the decision to purchase the El Conquistador Country Club.

You can watch the video of the December council meeting in which the decision to purchase the El Conquistador Country Club was made. The minority members of council felt that Mayor Hiremath had exceeded what he was authorized to do and that they were blindsided by the rush to make a decision give the lack of accurate, thorough information.

We can not confirm that their allegations because the minutes of the special council sessions in which this information would have been provided are not available to the public.

We can confirm the following:

  • The numbers the town was presented in relation to the purchase were constantly changing. 
  • In addition, during the December meeting, Council Member Burns says that it was he who authorized the Mayor to pursue discussions but that the Mayor was never authorized to make a deal to purchase the El Conquistador Country Club.

Garner Asserts Costs of Building a Community Center Are Far Less That Town Guesstimates

Later in the interview, Mayor Hiremath said that Garner lied about the cost of building a community center.

The Mayor said he has never seen "anything detailed that shows what the cost [of building a community center] are going to be."

Council Member Garner's estimates of what it would cost to build a center are based on looking at what he considers to be comparable facilities that have been recently built.  Town Manager Caton has also done an estimate.  The numbers differ substantially. That does not mean that either is lying. It simply means that no one, in this case the town, invested the time to get the kind of detailed estimate the Mayor has never seen. This is standard procedure in making a purchase versus build decision.

Mayor Hiremath Says Garner and Zinkin Want A Property Tax and Sun City Will Welcome It Gladly

Next, Mayor Hiremath stated during his interview that:
"I've heard Council Member Zinkin say that  for the sun city residents, he is sure that they won't mind paying a property tax."  (KNST Interview: 25 minutes).
When asked by LOVE, the Mayor said that he had not heard this directly. Rather: "I heard this comment second hand because I was not there. but it came from a very reliable source who wrote it down."

We checked with Debra Arrett of Sun City Oro Valley. Debra is Chair of the Government Affairs Committee who organized and  attended the meeting where Mike Zinkin spoke. She reported, "I never heard Mike Zinkin or Bill Garner say that they wanted a property tax or that they think the voters of Sun City would approve it."

Apparently on some sort of "roll" during the interview, the Mayor felt compelled to continue: "...Council Member Garner and Council Member Zinkin have repeatedly wanted that subject [of a property tax] put up.." for council discussion.

We asked the Mayor to clarify this: "Councilmembers Garner and Zinkin have advocated for other revenue sources to include discussions of commercial lease tax, renters tax and property tax because we need to diversify our revenue sources and all three of those would have to go to the voters."

Mayor Hiremath believes that asking that something be discussed is same as "advocating" for that something.  "I find it illogical to think that if they do not support something then why would they bring it up?"

We asked Council Member Garner why he even brought it up.

Garner told us that he has done so because he feels there needs to be a discussion as outlined in the strategic plan of 2014. He never has advocated for a property tax and never will as the Town of Oro Valley founding fathers wanted to keep the property tax out of our Town and continues to run on a fiscally responsible platform.

Garner has reminded us that the majority four would not even allow for a discussion of alternative revenue sources over the course of several attempts at various meetings throughout 2014. In Garner's mind, a discussion of alternative revenue sources to be potentially taxed is far different than voting to put one on the ballot for a vote.

Those are the facts.

So, was Council Member Garner lying? You tell us.

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