During the November 16, 2016 council meeting, outgoing councilmembers Bill Garner and Brendan Burns were given plaques of appreciation from the town. Mayor Hiremath’s acknowledgement of their years of service was brief, abysmal, and in stark contrast to the lengthy acknowledgements he gave to outgoing councilmembers Barry Gillaspie and Steve Solomon when they left office in 2012, which included some tearful blubbering over Solomon’s departure.
The mayor expressed no regret over the loss of Councilmembers Burns and Garner despite them both being elected by the people. The service of these true independent thinkers and champions of the citizens was barely recognized.
- Councilmember Bill Garner was first elected by the people in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, serving our town for a total of 8 years (2008-2016). His 8 years of service, which included fighting to preserve the town’s transportation service for the elderly and disabled (Coyote Run) and working with citizens to prevent development of apartments on LaCholla, was given a contemptibly inadequate 10-second acknowledgement from Mayor Hiremath who merely read the inscription on the plaque. [10 second speech]
- Councilmember Brendan Burns was elected by the people in 2012. His 4 years of service, which included efforts to bring more town services to needy and disadvantage children, was given a mere 12-second acknowledgement by Mayor Hiremath, who again simply read the inscription on the plaque. [12 second speech]
- Councilmember Barry Gillaspie was elected by the people in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, serving our town for a total of 8 years (2004-2012).
Hiremath acknowledged Gillaspie’s 8 years of service with a 150 word, one-minute speech, a portion of which included these sentiments: “Barry’s involvement being on the council, his involvement with Planning and Zoning, his sheer will to preserve the look of Oro Valley for the last 8 years really is unmatched. Oro Valley is Oro Valley because of the efforts of Barry Gillaspie…Oro Valley owes you a great deal of debt.” [1 minute and 10 second speech]
- Councilmember Steve Solomon was appointed to council in 2010 and lost his bid for election in 2012. He served only two years and was never elected (let alone re-elected) by the people.
Hiremath acknowledged Solomon’s 2 years of service with a 274 word, 3-minute speech! Just a few seconds after applauding Barry Gillaspie for his unmatched sheer will to preserve our desert views, Hiremath falsely claimed that it was Solomon’s “single efforts” that resulted in the environmentally sensitive land ordinance! He also gave him sole credit for the town’s current transportation system for the elderly and the disabled, ignoring the involvement of the citizens group, “Friends of Coyote Run” who had already laid all the groundwork.
Hiremath’s tribute to Solomon included, “I envy you because in 2 short years, you have taken what Councilmember Gillaspie has done, and prior councils, and solidified by code, by ordinance, the environmentally sensitive land ordinance…and…I envy you because you along with Vice Mayor Waters really were tasked to serve and provide for the residents that can’t provide for themselves…So again, through your single efforts in the last two years, you have retained the character of what Oro Valley is going to be in the future as well as provided a transportation system for needy residents…and really made Oro Valley very, very unique.” [2 minute and 44 second speech]The person who served the least amount of time and who was appointed rather than elected, is the person who received the longest and most heartfelt acknowledgement and thank you from Mayor Hiremath (including some tearful blubbering which you can witness for yourself on the video included with this posting).
A little perspective
It was disingenuous for the mayor to credit Steve Solomon with providing a transportation system for needy residents. Solomon voted to eliminate Coyote Run in 2011, the town’s original transportation service for the elderly and disabled. It was only after a huge outcry by those very citizens (over 100 of them packed the council chambers to express their outrage) that the mayor was forced to form a sub-committee to identify alternatives. The “solution” was to turn it over to the Regional Transportation System (RTA) of which Mayor Hiremath just happened to be Vice-Chairman of the board of directors.
Additionally, the citizens group, “Friends of Coyote Run” worked diligently with the RTA for more than 6 months to retain the services of Coyote Run. Steve Solomon’s “single efforts” is nothing more than a smokescreen and a pipe dream!
NOTE: Councilmember Mike Zinkin was out of the country on November 16th. The Town mailed his plaque to his home.