Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Guest View-Bill Garner: Danny Sharp Is Oro Valley’s “One Trick Pony” (Part 1)

Danny Sharp lies about his opponent
The Oro Valley citizens have been inundated by multiple postcards and ads paid for by the campaign of “Danny Sharp for Mayor,” telling you that we need a new mayor. 

Look closely at these political hit pieces and examine how easily Sharp is able to throw out lies without any regard for his opponent. Sharp may extoll his integrity, but this behavior is his character. 

His negative campaigning is no surprise coming from our former Police Chief Danny Sharp because I oversaw his smoke and mirrors management tactics from 2008 -2016 as an elected member of the Oro Valley Town Council. It was during that time, especially when I attempted to do my job as an elected official and provide oversight to then Chief Sharp, that I discovered the depth of his ineptitude and extent of his fondness for abuse of power.

Danny Sharp is financially inept
There is perhaps no better example of Mr. Sharp’s combination of incompetence and arrogance than his inability to make sound decisions during difficult times. During the fiscal 2009/2010 budget cycle, he was so ill equipped to cut costs during a budget crisis that he had to reach out to an Oro Valley resident for help with the police budget. That resident was John Musolf, a retired budget and finance guy with over 40 years of experience. 

You see, then Chief Sharp had gotten himself into some financial trouble. When asked, like every other department head, to come up with cuts to his budget, he would only offer the elimination of six Community Action Team police officers. He believed that doing this would be so objectionable that it would exempt him from the work of the budget cutting exercise. 

When the Town Council pushed back on his idea, then Chief Sharp found himself at a loss. Thankfully, John Musolf agreed to meet with Chief Sharp, the Deputy Chief, and his Administrative Services Manager to come up with an alternative budget. After  assistance, the total savings in the police budget exceeded $1.3M with no cuts to police staffing. 

In a vote that had the full support of the police, staff, and citizens, the Oro Valley Town Council unanimously approved the 2009/2010 police budget. Sharp came along for the ride, but by no means was he the architect of the solution.

When Danny Sharp was “acting town manager” he had to hire an Assistant Town Manager to do his job for him
Sharp speaks to his service as acting town manager as his qualification to be mayor. He served as acting town manager from June 2016 to September 2017, exactly one year and three months on the job. The Town operates on a July fiscal cycle, which means during his tenure Sharp only contributed to one Town budget (2017/2018 fiscal year). He made that contribution by hiring Town Finance Director Stacey Lemos to be his Assistant Town Manager. 

Sharp added that assistant town manager position to an existing budget where no such position was funded, something for which the Hiremath council should have admonished him but didn’t. This position had been removed by the former Town Manager Greg Caton as unnecessary. But Sharp reversed that decision because for him it was very necessary. 

As I have stated, Sharp needed Lemos because he has no financial background. He was no model of monetary efficiency as Police Chief. One could conclude that if Sharp needed to hire someone to do his job as Town Manager, he will need to seriously augment the office of mayor to provide even the appearance that he has any competence at all. What will that cost the taxpayers?

When it comes to spending, Danny Sharp loves his “pet projects”
This brings me to Danny Sharp’s claims that the current mayor and council are mismanaging your funds and are on a reckless spending spree to include pet projects. Sharp was the “King Of Pet Projects” when he served as Police Chief.

During the time the Hiremath council enjoyed a majority (2011 to 2018), Sharp’s overall police budget increased every single year. During this time, the number of police officers never increased. The staffing level of 133 police department positions remained the same. His spending increased but the number of officers serving the community didn’t. 

Where did the money go? 

Pet projects of the police variety.

Did you know we had a bicycle patrol during Sharp’s tenure as police chief? Under his watch in 2008, the program was restarted with the cost for bicycles and equipment at $19,000. The only overt sign that Oro Valley had a bicycle patrol were the bike racks mounted on the back of patrol cars. One might ask how this expenditure added to public safety. Or perhaps this program was just another item to tick off the list when he spoke of his innovative policing model on the lecture circuit? We should all wonder how much the Town recovered from their initial expenditure when the program was again abandoned.

This is but one example of Sharp’s lack of respect for taxpayer money. 

You see, Sharp isn’t so bothered by pet projects if they are beneficial to the mystique he weaves about his unsurpassed skills in devising perfection in the policing model. 

But wait. There’s even more…
The Daniel G. Sharp Police Department Substation and Evidence Facility is located at 500 W. Magee Road. It is another example of fiscal mismanagement under Mr. Sharp’s watch. 

During the 14 months of project construction, you, the taxpayer, were saddled with over $2 million in unnecessary cost overruns. The 22,000 square-foot facility had a final buildout cost of about $6.1 million. The original building and property was purchased by the town through foreclosure for $315,000.. Sharp spent 20 times the building purchase price for this substation!

Now, let’s look at the lack of regionalization of special units during the early days of Danny Sharp’s tenure as Police Chief. Beginning in 1991, the Town of Oro Valley Police Department had its own SWAT team. You read that right—and we even had an armored personnel vehicle, not to mention the training and equipment costs that go into a dedicated unit. The Oro Valley taxpayers funded SWAT for 14 years, until SWAT was regionalized with Pima County in 2005, because regionalization of this type of effort makes good fiscal sense. 

One might reasonably ask: Why did it take Danny Sharp five years as Police Chief to pursue regionalization of the SWAT team if, as he alleges, he is so superior to the current mayor, council, and police chief in fiscal management of police resources?  He was building his empire at the expense of taxpayers. 

Danny Sharp’s only negotiating skill is “retaliation”
During my tenure on the Town Council, as a councilmember with a background in public safety, I attempted to provide input and oversight into Mr. Sharp’s financial excesses. It was my job to do so as your council representative. Sharp retaliated against me for doing my job. When I ran again for council in 2020,  he called me anti-cop, authoring a smear narrative on a glossy mailer accusing me of being against your safety. Hence, the hateful mailers, ads, and lies he is propagating in this election cycle are no surprise to me. [Note: Read LOVE’s report on this of July 9, 2020)
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Read “Part 2” of Bill Garner’s Guest View tomorrow in LOVE.