Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Guest View-Diane Peters: What You Need To Know About Rhonda Pina

This is the last in a 3-part series of what voters should know about the challengers running for Oro Valley Town Council prior to casting their vote in the primary election on Tuesday, August 30th.

Pina has admitted that she wants to continue to foster growth of business. Of course she does! Look what’s in it for her. At the Sun City Candidate Forum, she stated that she is employed by Wells Fargo where she manages, “a commercial banking portfolio that includes multi-million dollar non-profit and for-profit companies.” These are her customers. This is her bread and butter. She has an incentive to keep her customers happy. Give them what they want and they will continue to seek out the services of Ms. Pina and Wells Fargo for all of their business and development needs.

Simply stated, Wells Fargo makes money off of the interest from these commercial loans. The more money that Ms. Pina makes for Wells Fargo, the more money she makes in commissions and perhaps she even gets a nice bonus at the end of the year. As such, if she is elected to council, she has a huge incentive to approve any new business or development proposals that her customers bring before council. It’s a win-win for Pina, Wells Fargo, and their commercial customers.

Pina can’t think for herself
In fact, an Oro Valley citizen called Ms. Pina and told her that it would be a conflict-of-interest for a commercial banker to be on council. The citizen then asked Rhonda how she would handle that problem if elected. Rhonda was dumbfounded and had no answer. The morally and ethically correct response would have been to say that she would recuse herself from voting on any items that present a conflict-of-interest. But Ms. Pina couldn’t even think to say that, probably because it hadn’t been scripted for her beforehand by the Majority-4.

Anyone attending the candidate forums could plainly see that Ms. Pina’s answers were scripted as she just kept repeating the same talking points…that she will solve every problem by being part of “a cohesive council” and “working in a collaborative manner.” When that response didn’t fit the conflict-of-interest question, Rhonda was stumped.

However, even if Ms. Pina recuses herself, it won’t change the outcome of the vote, it will just allow her to disown any responsibility for it. Her Majority-4 buddies plus Rodman and Solomon (if elected) can still vote to approve the commercial proposals submitted by Pina’s clients and Pina and her employer will still benefit from them but her hands will be clean.

Political Connections
But wait, there’s more! Rhonda’s husband, Raul Pina, is a civil engineer. His history includes making large campaign contributions to Pima County Supervisors. So it was quite suspicious when his company, Collins-Pina Consulting Engineers, began receiving lucrative country road contracts despite other firms being chosen by the selection panel. It was so suspicious that the FBI launched an investigation. Of course, Pima County Supervisor Chuck Huckelberry, then-supervisor Dan Eckstrom, and Rhonda’s husband Raul all denied any wrongdoing. Of note is that Huckelberry and Eckstrom have now donated to Rhonda Pina’s campaign. You scratch my back…

Raul Pina’s current company is CPE Consulting, LLC. The website advertises their experience in land development, infrastructure, pipelines, roads and bridges. If Rhonda is elected, will her husband’s firm suddenly begin receiving Oro Valley civil engineering contracts?

These are just more compelling reasons to re-elect Bill Garner, Mike Zinkin, and Brendan Burns. They are not politically-connected. There is no cronyism and no conflict-of-interest. They do not stand to gain anything personally from being on the town council. They are there to work for you. There will be no suspicious contracts awarded, and no political paybacks to wealthy special interests in return for large campaign contributions. Burns-Garner-Zinkin have always worked for the people.

Councilmember Zinkin summed it up best during his closing comments at the candidate forums: “With their special interest money and endorsements, the challengers want you to see how powerful THEY are. As the voice of the citizens, we want you to see how powerful YOU are.”

Diane Peters
Oro Valley Resident