Monday, February 11, 2019

Guest View: Diane Peters ~ The “Art” of Time Management

As you begin reading this article, you might ask yourself…what does this have to do with Oro Valley? Bear with me for a moment and it will become clear.

Have you ever been on the Internet, perhaps Facebook, and you've clicked on a video that is of interest to you? Maybe it was a heartwarming video of a soldier being reunited with his dog that he hasn’t seen in a year. Maybe it was a stunningly beautiful nature video. That’s what you chose to watch…and then BAM!!!...your video is interrupted with a commercial for dental implants or car insurance. You’re annoyed, yes? The commercial might last only 30 seconds, but 30 seconds seems like an eternity when you’re not interested in the topic and you’re waiting to see something else.

And this brings me to the “Youth Art Program by the Arts and Culture Ambassadors” that I and many others have been forced to sit through during council meetings when we are there to listen to and perhaps speak on an agenda item that is of importance to us.

The only “art” I want to see at a Town Council meeting is the “Art of Time Management.”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate art. I love art. One of my favorite past-times is visiting art museums and art galleries. But when I’m in an art gallery, I don’t want to discuss town business or politics. And when I’m at a Town Council meeting, I don’t want to sit through a Youth Art presentation. I decided to speak on this issue because the Youth Arts Presentation was just on the council agenda four months in a row (Oct-Nov-Dec-Jan).

Town business should be the #1 priority
We have approximately 17 town council meetings per year. These meetings should be for critical town business, not for art shows. It’s a disservice to the residents who are waiting to speak on an issue of importance to them (usually a development proposal) to have to first sit though these presentations which usually last anywhere from 8 to 13 minutes. I remember one marathon presentation that went on for over 30 minutes, at which point I got up and walked out, missing the agenda item that prompted me to attend the meeting in the first place.

Another meeting where the inclusion of the Youth Art Program was particularly annoying was the December 6, 2017 meeting. The room was packed that night due to the agenda containing FOUR PUBLIC HEARINGS on contentious development proposals. These included:

• General Plan amendment regarding the 302 acre Tangerine North Annexation
• General Plan amendment and rezoning for a 131 acre residential development in Big Wash
• General Plan amendment for a 76 acre residential development on Shannon Road
• General Plan amendment to change a 15 acre property from office park to residential

The town had to know that this meeting would be a standing room only crowd, packed with residents who were opposed to these development proposals, and that this meeting would last for hours. The room was packed and the meeting lasted 4 hours and 34 minutes, not ending until 10:30 PM. This was not the appropriate time to include a Youth Art presentation on the agenda.

On that particular evening, (former) Mayor Hiremath asked those who were there for the above agenda items to give up their seats to the parents and kids because the room was over capacity. [You can watch the full video clip above.  A partial transcript of his speech is below.]

HIREMATH: “Because it’s such a packed house…would people who are not here for the Youth Art presentation please relinquish your seat and just kind of wait outside so the parents and kids can get a seat?...We have an ask from the Fire Marshall because we’re over capacity.”

A time and a place for everything
My point is that people come to town meetings to listen to and speak on important issues. Therefore, Youth Art would be better celebrated in a place where parents and friends could appreciate it. I’d like to suggest that Youth Art be displayed at the library where people can enjoy it on their own time.

Diane Peters has lived in Oro Valley since 2003, moving here to escape the humidity of the East Coast. She’s been involved in OV politics and development issues since 2006. In 2014, she organized a citizens group, Citizen Advocates of the Oro Valley General Plan, who over a 9-month period, successfully negotiated a controversial 200-acre development project. In her past life, she worked in medical research at various University Hospitals in New England. Her interests include reading, writing, nature photography, travel, art galleries, museums, and politics.