Monday, October 9, 2017

Editorial ~ Chaos ensues at the Naranja Park Bond Open House

The Town held an Open House educational meeting on the Naranja Park Bond on September 13th. The Open House format is frowned upon by citizens because it does not allow for everyone in attendance to hear the questions and the answers. Instead, after the Town’s formal presentation concludes, citizens are directed to various tables stationed around the room where they must stand in line and wait to ask their questions in a one-on-one conversation with a Town staff member.

With this format, only the person asking the question (and perhaps 1-2 others standing next to him/her) can hear the question and the answer rather than all of the questions and answers being heard by everyone in attendance. Those waiting in line at other tables cannot hear the questions and answers being addressed at the remaining tables.

The attached video contains an excerpt from that meeting. Although the highlights are outlined below, please watch the video to witness the chaos for yourself.

The video begins as Assistant Town Manager, Chris Cornelison, finishes his presentation and begins to walk off the stage.

Audience member: Can we ask questions now?

Cornelison: No, go to the stations. That’s kind of the difference between the Open House Format to give you an opportunity to get more one-on-one time.

The audience continued trying to have their questions answered from the floor.

Audience member (2:00 minute mark): The other thing I wanted to clarify is that you indicated that the cost of the bond was $17 million dollars. That’s not true. The cost of the bond over 20 years is $28 million dollars. Is that right?

Cornelison: The cost of the amenities and to build the project, yes, is $17 million, but like with any bond loan, there is interest. Like I said, we're happy to answer your questions at the stations. Everybody has different questions.

Cornelison never admitted to the $28 million dollar figure. This figure is also not mentioned anywhere on the Town Website. If the Town Staff is not advocating for or against this bond measure, but merely providing information, why wasn’t he forthcoming with the $28 million figure?

He again leaves the podium. Audience members begin expressing their disappointment with the meeting and the format.

Audience members: The cost is not going to be $17 million…So this is not a public forum.

Cornelison: Come over here and I’ll answer your questions. I don’t want to yell over everybody. (That could have been avoided by remaining at the podium and using the microphone.)

Audience: But we all want to hear it!

At the 3:10 mark, people begin moving to the tables when they had no choice.

Citizen: What I want to know is why can’t the newer fields be built the same way, on a pay-as-you-go basis?

Cornelison: That’s the way we had been approaching it, however, the community requested that they wanted the additional fields expedited.

Citizen: Sir, who made that request?

Cornelison: Oro Valley sports groups, families, youth.

Citizen: But are they Oro Valley residents? Because I heard they’re not.

Another citizen: No they’re not!

Citizen: There was a survey on line…10,000 people signed it…but only 167 of them were from Oro Valley.

Citizen: Why didn’t you tell us that this was to be a 10-minute, one-sided presentation? This is absolute chaos. Why can’t we have a forum where we ask one question at a time? Kind of like a press conference. That’s why we came. (4:47 mark on video)

Editors Note: The refusal to state the $28MM figure leads us to believe that Town staff has been issued a directive to never state the $28MM total cost of the bond. They are apparently under orders to just keep parroting the $17MM figure.

Legally, the Town is not allowed to advocate for or against it, but in deliberately and repeatedly omitting the $28MM figure, the Town is working in concert to tip the scales in favor of a YES vote.