Monday, November 28, 2016

Guest View ~ Diane Peters: Just As We Predicted

Oro Valley Town Council: No Dissent. No Citizen Representation
Prior to the election, Mike Zinkin warned voters that electing Pina-Rodman-Solomon to the town council would result in, “a council that will ignore your needs and agree only with each other.” Supporters of Burns-Garner-Zinkin opined that there would be no more “healthy debate” and “no discussion.” They told you to expect a lot of 7-0 votes as the Town Council would now operate with a “group think mentality.”

Their supporters also warned citizens that the mayor’s goal was, “getting rid of those who oppose him and replace them with those who will fall in line.” Brendan Burns stated at the Sun City Candidate Forum that electing even one of the challengers would give the mayor a supermajority that “will allow them to easily amend the General Plan.”

In my previous Guest View, What you need to know about Rhonda Pina” I observed that Pina appeared to be in way over her head as evidenced by her abysmal performance in both candidate forums. She had difficulty answering questions that hadn’t been scripted for her in advance by the Majority-4. Pina had no thoughts or ideas of her own and just kept repeating that she planned to solve all the town’s problems by “being part of a cohesive council.”

So it comes as no surprise that all of the above predictions came true at the first meeting of the new council held on November 16th.

Prediction #1: Agreeing Only With Each Other – Group Think Mentality
There were three items on the Regular Agenda, all related to development issues, and as predicted, all three passed with a 7-0 vote. They even ignored a plea by former Oro Valley Mayor, Paul Loomis, detailed later in this article.

Prediction #2: No Healthy Debate – No Discussion
There was an item to approve a Conceptual Site Plan for Alterra at Vistoso Trails subdivision. This includes 150 single family homes and the addition of a traffic light at Moore Road and Rancho Vistoso Blvd. Waters motioned to approve the item. Solomon seconded it. Motion passed 7-0 with no discussion.

There was also an agenda item to approve a grading exception on the rolling hills on the east side of First Avenue at Naranja. This will allow the developer to grade the hills in excess of the 6 feet that is allowed by Town Code in order to build an access road into the future residential development known as the Sanctuary at Silverhawke. The rolling hills are approximately 20 feet higher than the adjacent intersection. Solomon motioned to approve. Hornat seconded. Motion passed 7-0 with no discussion.

Prediction #3: A Supermajority Will Easily Amend the General Plan
Probably the most contentious item on the agenda was a Major General Plan Amendment to convert 17.8 acres at the NW corner of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Vistoso Highlands Drive from Neighborhood Commercial/Office to Medium Density Residential.

This item was originally on the September 21st agenda, but was postponed at the suggestion of Mayor Hiremath until November 16th. This just happened to be the night that the new council members would take office. Clearly, this was done so Hiremath could avoid any conflict since Burns-Garner-Zinkin had the potential to prevent the approval of this amendment which required 5 votes to pass.

Despite the fact that the new General Plan (Your Voice, Our Future) had been approved by the voters just 8 days earlier, Rodman motioned to approve, Waters seconded, and the new Majority-7 council voted 7-0 to approve the amendment!

They also made this decision despite a very well-presented argument by Oro Valley citizen and former Mayor Paul Loomis, who reminded them that the General Plan vote had not even been certified yet and they were already considering amending it and that “past policy was to not allow amendments in the year of revisions or for a year after voter approval.” Of course, it didn’t matter what Paul Loomis said or that he was right, because this council agrees only with each other.

Prediction #4: Rhonda Pina is in over her head
Not only was Pina the last one to say "Aye" after waiting to see how the others voted, but she also never uttered a word during the entire council meeting. She didn’t ask any questions of staff. She didn’t offer any opinions. She never motioned to approve anything. She never seconded anyone else’s motion. The only thing she did was to chime in with her “cohesive” votes, just as she was hired to do.
NOTE: The Town Council did not certify and adopt the final results of the OV election until November 23rd.