Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Town Council Candidate, Elizabeth Robb – A Life of Service

Today we present Oro Valley Town Council Candidate, Elizabeth Robb’s opening statement during the Sun City Candidate Forum held on June 12.
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"My name is Elizabeth Robb, and I have been fortunate enough to have led an interesting life as I was born into a military family.

My father served in Vietnam, and while I was in college getting my Animal Science degree, despite being told “a lady doesn't do that,” I took ROTC and I joined the North Carolina National Guard. My basic training is what brought me out to Arizona, and during Desert Storm, I applied for active duty. I spent three and a half years in Germany as an interrogation platoon leader, as a headquarters executive officer, and as a signals battalion intelligence officer. I then returned to Arizona and got my company command at the intelligence school at Fort Huachuca.

I met the man who was eventually going to be my husband, got married, and went into the Army Reserves out in Phoenix. I then passed the national EMT exam, and I volunteered for the Southern Arizona Rescue Association as a rescuer, as a medical instructor, and as a board member.

In addition to raising my own special needs child, I raised two step-daughters, and I was a foster care infant emergency placement home. I ended up adopting one of my placements. He just graduated from CDO High School. I’m very proud of him.

I volunteered for 15 years in the amphitheater school district, doing assorted jobs. I eventually became a classified substitute so that I could continue doing those jobs even after my kids moved on. My boys were active in Boy Scouts, and I participated as a Cub Scout den leader, an outdoor coordinator, a merit badge counselor, and an Eagle mentor. Additionally, I've served as treasurer in five different organizations, and I've run my own successful small business for the last 15 years. Fiscal responsibility is an area where I excel.

I’m not an incumbent so I can't talk about my voting record. I can only talk about the skills I bring and the vision that I have for the future of Oro Valley.

When I moved to Oro Valley 26 years ago, the town covered 28 square miles, and my house was across the street from the southern border of Oro Valley. That border is now almost two miles further south, and the town now covers 36 square miles. I've watched our town grow and I would now like the opportunity to be a part of shaping that future -- together, with you.

I believe my experiences and unique set of skills will serve me well in representing you on the Oro Valley Town Council and guiding the direction of our town for the next four years. I've served my country, I've served my community, and I've served my family. Now I'm ready to serve you on the Oro Valley Town Council.

I ask for your vote on July 30th. Thank you so much for the opportunity to introduce myself to you."
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Monday, July 15, 2024

Solomon Attacks "Big Community Survey"... Greene Agrees

Last week, we highlighted in the “Big Community Survey”. The survey results will be used by working groups as they craft the 2026 General Plan. We hope you found our three articles useful in understanding what was in the survey. Today,  we focus on the council's reaction to the survey results.
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Councilmember Solomon scotches survey results 
Last month, Town Planner Milini Simms and the town's external consultant presenting the survey results to the town council. Council member Steve Solomon criticized the conclusions, stating they are internally inconsistent. According to Solomon, the results "... contradict each other and are mutually exclusive." Solomon voiced his opinion that more rooftops would be needed to attract additional businesses like restaurants, which some survey respondents desire. This, according to Solomon, would also increase traffic. That is contrary to residents' preferences. Regarding the drinking water supply, Solomon argued it is not a pressing issue, despite residents' concerns about the long term water supply. He maintained that Oro Valley has an ample water supply, reassuring residents there is no need for worry. 

Greene Agrees… and so does Jones-Ivey

Council member Mo Greene, as usual, echoed Solomon's sentiments: '"I want to thank Councilmember Solomon for raising these issues." Joining them is Councilmember Jones-Ivey, who appears to have only skimmed the survey slides. "My Concern was pretty much ... stated by Councilmember Solomon. As I look at this I'm seeing that [residents want] no more growth, but [they] want more restaurants [and] more services .But [they] don't want any more traffic." Neither Greene nor Joyce-Ivey seemed to have fully reviewed the materials because that's not what they want.

Barrett goes to the facts to prove Solomon “wrong”
Fortunately, here's the good news: Both Vice Mayor Barrett and Councilmember Bohen thoroughly examined the materials. Using survey statistics, Barrett quickly pointed out that only a small percentage of respondents expressed a desire for more restaurants and businesses in town. In contrast, over half of the respondents prioritize environmental concerns such as preserving views. Managing town growth while ensuring water availability and environmental protection are top priorities for residents. Barrett emphasized that there are no inconsistencies in these findings.

Bohen concludes that the survey does show what the community wants

Council Member Bohen noted that the survey results are "good news." He emphasized that respondents are clearly telling the council not to dismiss survey responses. Bohen stated, "What the community wants isn't complicated. I think the message from the residents to us and also to the staff is to begin managing the town in accordance with our current reality, not where we wish to be

Still time for residents to participate
The survey process isn’t over. According to Planner Simms: “Come August and September, we're going to be asking residents to go to the website and make sure that the vision reflects what they said,”. You will be able to access those questions here.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Oro Valley’s Biggest Challenges: Residents Identify Five Challenges Facing the Community

This week we are devoting LOVE's pages to the findings of the "Big Community Survey." That survey will be used used to guide groups in planning the 2026 "Path Forward" General Plan. Today we focus on the Oro Valley's challenges, as perceived by survey respondents.
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Residents identify five big challenges ahead for Oro Valley
Residents who participated in Oro Valley’s big survey identified areas of biggest challenges. Meeting these challenges will crucial a critical part of the town’s 2026 General plan.

Balancing expansion and community character
One of the primary concerns for Oro Valley residents is managing the town’s growth. As the population increases, there is a need to balance development with preserving the community’s unique character. “We need to manage growth carefully to keep Oro Valley’s character intact,” one resident emphasized. This challenge involves strategic planning to ensure that new developments do not compromise the town’s small-town charm and open spaces.

Ensuring sustainable water
Water availability is another significant challenge facing Oro Valley. With the increasing demand due to population growth, there is a need to ensure sustainable water resources for the future. “Water conservation and maintaining our water supply should be a top priority,” a resident pointed out. This challenge requires effective water management practices and policies to secure the town’s long-term water needs.

Preserving natural beauty and biodiversity
Protecting the natural environment is a critical issue for residents. The scenic beauty and biodiversity of Oro Valley are highly valued, and there is a strong desire to preserve these attributes amid development pressures. “We must protect our natural landscapes and wildlife corridors,” one survey respondent noted. Efforts to conserve native plants, maintain wildlife habitats, and expand conservation areas are essential to address this challenge.

Addressing increasing congestion
As Oro Valley grows, traffic congestion and mobility issues are becoming more prominent. Residents are concerned about the impact of increased traffic on their daily lives. “The traffic on main roads is getting worse every year,” commented a local resident. Addressing this challenge involves improving road infrastructure, enhancing public transportation options, and promoting alternative transportation modes such as biking and walking.

Creating job opportunities and diverse businesses 
Economic development is a key challenge, with residents emphasizing the need for more job opportunities and diverse businesses within the town. “We need more local job opportunities to reduce commuting,” one resident stated. Fostering economic growth involves attracting new businesses, supporting local entrepreneurship, and creating a balanced economy that can sustain the community’s needs. 

Call to action
We encourage you to get involved and develop creative solutions to these and other challenges to ensure a vibrant future for Oro Valley. Your engagement and ideas are vital for overcoming these challenges and shaping the town’s prosperity.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Big Community Survey: Top 5 Least Liked Things About Oro Valley

This week we are devoting LOVE's pages to the findings of the "Big Community Survey." That survey will be used used to guide groups in planning the 2026 "Path Forward" General Plan. Today we focus on the five things residents like least about Oro Valley.
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"Big Community Survey" identifies five least liked features or Oro Valley 

The Big Community Survey has shed light on both the beloved and less appreciated aspects of living in Oro Valley. While there are many qualities that residents cherish, certain issues have surfaced as areas of concern. This article explores the top five things that Oro Valley residents like least about their community, based on survey results.

Traffic Conditions: Growing congestion issues
Traffic congestion is a significant concern for many Oro Valley residents. With increasing development and population growth, commute times have lengthened, and congestion has become more prevalent. One resident expressed their frustration, stating, “The traffic on main roads is getting worse every year, making my daily commute much longer than it used to be.” Addressing these traffic issues is crucial for maintaining the town’s quality of life.

Distance or Lack of Services: Essential amenities out of reach

Another major issue is the distance or lack of essential services. Many residents find it inconvenient to access certain amenities, such as specialized healthcare, shopping, and entertainment. A survey participant shared, “We need more local services to avoid long drives into Tucson for basic needs.” Enhancing the availability of local services could significantly improve daily convenience for residents.

Growth-Related Concerns: Balancing development and preservation
Rapid growth and development have raised concerns among residents about preserving the small-town feel and open spaces that characterize Oro Valley. Many worry that continued expansion could lead to overcrowding and loss of the town’s unique charm. “We need to manage growth carefully to keep Oro Valley’s character intact,” urged one resident. Balancing development with preservation is essential for sustaining the town’s appeal.

High Cost of Living: Financial strain on residents
The high cost of living in Oro Valley is another notable issue. Residents face higher expenses in areas such as housing, utilities, and property taxes compared to neighboring regions. One resident highlighted the financial strain, stating, “Living here is becoming more expensive, and it’s hard for families to keep up with the rising costs.” Addressing affordability can help retain the town’s diverse population and ease the financial burden on residents.

Limited Recreational and Cultural Amenities: Desire for more community spaces 
While Oro Valley offers beautiful natural surroundings, some residents feel there is a lack of recreational and cultural amenities. There are calls for more community centers, arts venues, and recreational facilities. A survey respondent emphasized, “We need more places to gather and cultural activities to enjoy as a community.” Expanding these amenities can enhance the community’s social and cultural vibrancy, providing residents with more opportunities to connect and engage.

These are challenges with which Path Forward will "deal"
The Big Community Survey reveals that traffic conditions, distance or lack of services, growth-related concerns, high cost of living, and limited recreational and cultural amenities are the top five least liked aspects of living in Oro Valley. Addressing these issues is essential for improving residents’ quality of life and ensuring the town remains a desirable place to live. Community involvement and ongoing feedback will play a crucial role in shaping Oro Valley’s future.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Big Community Survey: Discover The Five Top Reasons Residents LOVE About Oro Valley

This week,  we are devoting LOVE's pages to the findings of the "Big Community Survey." That survey will be used used to guide groups in planning the 2026 "Path Forward" General Plan. Today we focus on why residents LOVE Oro Valley.
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"Big Community Survey" provides valuable insight into what makes Oro Valley great

The Big Community Survey conducted in Oro Valley has unveiled a wealth of insights into what makes this town so beloved by its residents. With thousands of responses collected, the survey highlights the aspects of Oro Valley that people cherish the most. From its enviable climate to its strong sense of community, here are the top five reasons why Oro Valley residents are singing their town's praises.

Great Climate
Residents overwhelmingly appreciate Oro Valley's great climate, enjoying sunny days and mild winters. As one resident noted, "The weather here is perfect for outdoor activities all year round. I love waking up to sunshine almost every day." The consistent, pleasant weather encourages a healthy, active lifestyle and makes Oro Valley a magnet for those seeking an ideal climate.

Public Safety
Safety is a significant concern for any community, and Oro Valley excels in this area. Survey respondents frequently mentioned the town’s low crime rates and effective law enforcement. "I feel safe walking around my neighborhood at any time of day or night," shared one local. This sense of security enhances the overall quality of life, making Oro Valley an attractive place for families and individuals alike.

Scenic Beauty and Natural Environment

Oro Valley's scenic beauty and natural environment are major draws for its residents. Nestled against theSanta Catalina Mountains, the town offers breathtaking views and abundant green spaces. "I love the stunning mountain views and the beautiful parks," said another resident. The well-maintained natural surroundings provide numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, contributing to both physical and mental well-being.

Recreational Opportunities
The town’s diverse recreational opportunities are another highlight from the survey. Oro Valley boasts numerous hiking trails, biking paths, and sports facilities, catering to a wide range of interests. "There's always something to do here, from hiking to community events," remarked a survey participant. These recreational options promote a healthy and active lifestyle, ensuring that residents can always find ways to engage and enjoy themselves.

Community Spirit
One of the most intangible yet significant aspects that residents love about Oro Valley is its strong community spirit. The sense of camaraderie and support among neighbors is frequently mentioned in the survey responses. "We have such a friendly and supportive community here. It's like one big family," commented a local resident. This strong sense of community creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, making Oro Valley not just a place to live, but a place to belong.

Combined...you get a high quality of life
The Big Community Survey highlights that Oro Valley residents value their town's great climate, safety, scenic beauty, recreational opportunities, and community spirit. These elements collectively create a high quality of life and make Oro Valley a highly desirable place to live. As the town continues to evolve, preserving these cherished aspects will be essential in maintaining its unique charm and appeal.

For more detailed survey results and additional information, https://www.ovpathforward.com
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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Your Vote Matters! Discover the Top Candidates for the July 30 Council Election

Your mail in ballot should be in hand
By now, you should have received a mail-in ballot for the July 30 council election, if you requested one. If you have not received a ballot, you should contact the Pima County Recorder to determine where your ballot is. It’s not too late to request a mail-in ballot if you’re not going to be around on June 30 for the election.

You can vote for up to three council members. However, you should only vote for the council members that you want on the council. 
Voting for additional candidates can increase the threshold for the members you want to be elected. This means you can vote for one, two, or three candidates.

We have provided you with briefings on all of the candidates
...except for council member Mo Greene. In his case, we merely pointed to his record of doing nothing on the council during the past four years, except seconding anything Council Member Steve Solomon proposed. 

So, it’s clear to us who the three best candidates are: 
  • Tim Bohen
  • Mary Murphy
  • Elizabeth  Robb
Bringing Bohen back on council is a "no-brainer”. He works tirelessly for the people and even gets in trouble for it; but he doesn't stop working hard to make sure that things come to light. Adding Murphy and Robb brings fresh thinking to a council that often gets stuck in spending most of its time just complementing town staff for simply breathing. Murphy has some interesting ideas regarding releasing the town council from the bondage of making minuscule golf related decisions. Robb adds fresh thinking on how to bring fiscal sustainability to town finances. Together, these three will will bring a new level council involvement. And let's face it: residents don't need not need four more years of a Solomon's "Yes man. ” 

Growth...land use...water...financial sustainability at issue
It's important to look beyond this election to the 2026 council election. That election will result in four seats on the council, including the mayor's seat, being open. We don't know who will run for those seats or if the incumbents will seek a third term. However, we do know that it will be a significant election and that outside developer money likely will pour into pro developer candidates.

The 2026 general plan is under development. Those on council for the next two years will have a significant influence over the final product. Land use will be a big issue. Other current issues include whether the Church of the Nazarene will get a sports facility; or if the town will ever extend reclaimed water to three recreational facilities, thus ending the use of drinking water for irrigation.  By 2026, fiscal sustainability will be a critical issue. Unless the town moves to annex major open areas, which we do not recommend, it will have to learn how to live within its means—something it has never had to do before.

Elections matter. The future of Oro Valley is in your hands. This is one time you can really make a difference. So please take this opportunity to do so.
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Monday, July 8, 2024

From Excellence to Exile: How Oro Valley Water Czar Abused and Forced Out a Dedicated 18-Year Employee

If this is even close to being true, then it's disgusting
The following is an email that was forwarded to us. It shows the alleged harsh treatment given long time Oro Valley Water Department employee by water czar Peter Abraham, and his staff.
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18 year employee Maryann Jacob notes how effective she and the staff was under former Water Director Philip Saletta
"My name is Maryann Jacob. I have been an Oro Valley Water employee for the past 18 years. The first 15 years of my employment were under the leadership of Director Philip Saletta and Administrator Shirley (Seng) Kiel. During that time, I received continuous reviews of excellence and multiple recognitions for superior work and dedication to the department. The atmosphere of the water department in those years was friendly and highly productive, with little to no turnover. All staff, office or field, were treated with respect and felt welcome in the positive work environment. Even the Town Manager, at that time, sent a memo saying how valuable it was to have so many long-term, experienced town employees.

Staff treated poorly under Abraham and his team
Sadly, that all changed, January 2020 when the water department leadership was taken over by Director Peter Abraham, Administrator Mary Rallis, and field Administrator David Allred. Immediately there was a different atmosphere. Instead of being "Valuable Assets" to the town, we were branded "Legacy Employees" not "fit" or "beneficial" to the Town of Oro Valley. No more daily greetings to staff from administrators, office staff were ignored, publicly criticized, harassed or threatened with termination if policy or procedures were questioned. Next, field staff and customer service staff were told they could not talk to each other, and field staff could not come into the office. Anyone in violation of this policy received an immediate phone or e-mail reprimand. Next, customer service staff were instructed not to talk to each other. Any violation received the same treatment of reprimand.

Bullied and demoted
Employees with decades of "experience" chose not to accept this treatment and quit or were fired. Those of us who stayed, hoping to "reach full retirement" were "bullied" or "demoted" to lesser responsibilities.

Passed over in favor of new staff
New staff, with only 1- or 2-months experience was given preferential treatment and participated in training for new software systems, while experienced staff were criticized for not knowing the new software even though we weren't given the opportunity to have the training. If there is any doubt about these turnover conditions, I suggest a review by the town auditors of the turnover rate for the 4 years 2021-2024 compared to the 4 years 2016-2019. I excluded 2020 due to Covid-19.

Badgered by Abraham... "When are you going to quit?”
Finally, after 2 years of constant badgering by the administrator "so when are you quitting?" and "are you going to retire soon?" I have been coerced into resigning my position at Oro Valley Water Utility; at great cost to me emotionally and financially. I had always wanted to reach my "20-year mark", but the treatment by the current administrators has made that impossible. 

Human resource department tell her to: "Deal with it” 
Going to Human Resources was no help. All HR ever told anyone who complained or who filed a Hostile Work Environment complaint was, "Deal with it".

Calls for action
I hope you rectify this situation for the benefit of the department, the town, and the customers you serve.” 
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