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Archive for March, 2009

21st March
written by Mike

What’s the deal with these baseball teams. It’s like each time one gets a shiny new stadium the rest of them want their multi-million dollar piece of the pie.  Catch the first line of the below post….opt out of a 20 year deal!  How about we all stop poaching each others teams and focus on Florida.

From the Arizona Republic

The Cubs could opt out of their 20-year lease with Mesa for $4.2 million and leave in 2012. The Cubs would be required to notify Mesa before spring training 2010.

The Chicago White Sox opted out of a similar agreement this year and moved from Tucson to the new Camelback Ranch Glendale complex in northwest Phoenix.

With the opt out clause looming and a change in team ownership pending, Smith said it was anticipated that the Cubs would ask for improvements. He expects to have a list in hand shortly.

19th March
written by clothcutter


To follow up on a previous post:

It seems that our motorcycle riding City Manager has not managed (pardon the pun) too well since that post.  In just the last couple of days, we have seen him using his wife’s e-mail account to conduct city business and Rio Nuevo is pretty much dead(the official ax is imminent).  Mr. Hein’s seems to be working from a very defensive posture.  He almost seems like he’s looking for his next job and doesn’t want to rock the future job-interview boat.  As a service to him and the community, I have searched for some jobs that might suit him.

Link to site:  http://www.govtjob.net/

Featured Job Opportunities:

 City Administrator, City of Connell, WA; Apply by April 19, 2009 (first review, open  until filled)

 City Manager,City of Redmond, Oregon; Closes May 8, 2009

 Borough Manager, City & Borough of Wrangell, Alaska; Closes March 29, 2009 (first   review, open until filled)

 Deputy Director, Chelan County, WA Regional Justice Center; Closes April 5, 2009   (first review, open until filled)

 City Manager, City of Columbia, SC; Closes April 20, 2009

 Fire Chief, City of Oroville, CA; Closes March 27, 2009

 Director of Parks and Trees, City of Oroville, CA; Closes March 27, 2009

 County Administrator, Blaine County (Hailey), Idaho; Apply by March 8, 2009 (first   review, open until filled)

 Village Administrator, Village of Kildeer, Il, Closes March 20, 2009


I think the “Village Administrator” job in Kildeer, Illinois looks challenging, but I think Mr. Hein might be able to handle it.  You have had a rough time here, Mr. Hein.  You’ve tried your best and it just wasn’t enough.  Good Luck on your new job! 

And remember as Bill Clinton’s wife once said “It takes a village”.

19th March
written by Downtown Dudette

A coalition of representatives traveled up to Phoenix a few weeks back for an update of the TIF funding for Rio Nuevo. We ran the story a few days ago - HERE.  The Tucson delegation’s performance was unprepared and the legislators where under whelmed.

What did come out a few days later was that our Southern Arizona legislators, Antenori, Melvin and Paton, changed their minds and decided to support continued funding of Rio Nogo.  With conditions.

The conditions for continued funding focuses on all Rio Nuevo TIF funding going ONLY to the arena and hotel – PERIOD!

Tuesday Romero and Trasoff initiated a motion, which was passed, to take $3 million in Rio Nuevo funds for a project west of the freeway. Clearly not what the legislators had requested.  Word is leadership is not happy. Who knows what next. The City of Tucson is definitely playing with fire on this one. Stay tuned folks.

Rio Nuevo’s mission gardens on the way

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 03.17.2009

What is it?

Mission Gardens is an agricultural area along the bank of the Santa Cruz River associated with the Mission San Agustín — Tucson’s cultural birthplace. Rio Nuevo is re-creating the gardens as part of its replication of the mission complex, which included a two-story convento, a granary and other buildings.

What will it cost?

The estimated cost is $3 million, to come from Rio Nuevo funds.

When will it be done?

The project was originally slated for completion in 2010, but city officials now believe it will be done within months. — Rob O’Dell

19th March
written by madge

The Star ran a story today about a series of emails that went back and forth between City Manager Mike Hein, Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, Mayor Walkup’s aid, Andrew Greenhill and former City Manager and current representative of the UofA Joel Valdez and two Rio Nuevo beaurocrats; Shelko and Barr.

The jist of the story is an attempt by all or most of the parties involved to spin the crazy spending going on with Rio Nuevo funding.  It’s bad, smells of incompetency at best and cover up on the City’s side at worst.

Walkup denied knowing anything about e-mails his chief of staff wrote, although he received some of the e-mails in the chain.

The mayor said the point is the city has not agreed to foot more of the bill for the science center, adding the e-mails were “preliminary” and “just conversation.”

“I don’t know anything about e-mails,” Walkup said. “E-mails do float back and forth. … An e-mail is an e-mail.”

Anyone want to explain to me why the Star didn’t address the fact that elected officials, representatives of the mayor and our city manger used personal emails to communicate on such a sensitive subject? 

If you answerd  they were concerned that through the Freedom Of Information Act that all public emails systems are open to the public you would be correct.  Hey guys, if your going to avoid the public don’t copy recipients that are using public email addresses.

Real bright folks. I sure hope someone has a tape recorder rolling somewhere.

Read em and weap or read em on the way out of office  – HERE.

17th March
written by JHiggins

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, released by Pelosi’s office late Monday, the San Francisco Democrat asked the department to weigh the public benefit of saving The Chronicle and other papers from closure against the agency’s antitrust mission to guard against anti-competitive behavior.

“We must ensure that our policies enable our news organizations to survive and to engage in the news gathering and analysis that the American people expect,” Pelosi wrote.

Hey, send some of that TARP over to Tucson Choices.com, we ain’t proud.

15th March
written by JHiggins

I had the opportunity to be in the audience at last weeks commercial real estate industries annual meeting.  The news wasn’t good George Larson’s but the delivery was hilarious! 

From Sunday’s Star – HERE

Larsen, co-owner of Larsen Baker Commercial Realty, rocked the crowd of commercial brokers at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Thursday by imitating Mayor Bob Walkup in a mock state of the city speech.

Here are some of Larsen’s zingers …

The economy:

“Tucson’s economy has been thrown around like a drunken dwarf at a biker’s rally.”

City Council:

“We’re a tightknit group in City Hall. You scratch my back, and I’ll stab yours.”

Rio Nuevo:

“I’ve got to hand it to that Greg Shelko(Rio Nuevo director); he is always stirring up apathy.”

Larsen also suggested Rio Nuevo’s new slogan should be “where fun goes to die.”

Mayor Walkup:

“I want to be known as a green mayor. No one loves this planet more than I do. I live here most of the time.”

In a telephone interview Friday, Larsen said no one should take his comments too seriously. He’s a supporter of Rio Nuevo and the mayor. He was just trying to lighten up the conference.

“It was done in fun,” he said. “I don’t mind that you want to put a couple jokes in there. I was just trying to add a little lightening to what I thought was going to be a fairly somber outlook on commercial real estate.”

He then said the comments were nothing compared with the cracks he makes about the Star.

Oh, really?

So, Larsen served up this one: “I heard you had to sell your corporate jet. It’s difficult to sell, though, because it only has a left wing.”

For those wondering, Larsen did say he expects retail vacancies to hit 12.55 percent this year.

Economic recovery will take 2-3 years, says Diamond

When developer Don Diamond speaks, Tucson’s business community listens.

Diamond of Diamond Ventures Inc. gave the keynote speech at the Certified Commercial Investment Members Southern Arizona forecast competition.

He said it will take at least two to three years for the economy to recover — and that’s just getting back to normal, not back to what he described as the “euphoria” of the housing boom.

“This one is different. It’s not just a recession. It’s just a deep, deep feeling all over the world,” he said to the group. “I don’t think it’s down at the bottom because we are all trying to figure a way out of it.”

In an interview Friday, just before he headed off for a fishing trip, Diamond said Tucson is going to learn real quick how dependent it is on real estate and development.

“What this entire community is about to realize is that real estate is the driver for Tucson,” he said. “Now that our industry is totally depressed, we, being the entire community, should rethink and realize that we have to do some very innovative things to help our real estate industry recover.”

It’s too hard to get projects done in Southern Arizona, he said, and this downturn represents an opportunity to change that. Otherwise, when the bottom shakes out, Tucson will continue to lose business to other desert cities.

Diamond has some ideas — he didn’t want to share them — that he plans to pitch to CCIM’s executive committee and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

Meanwhile, he didn’t have kind things to say about our elected leadership, particularly the City Council.

“Perhaps in this dull period, a period where we have a little more time, we can straighten out our local politics. … We have terrible people representing us,” he said during his speech.

He didn’t back down over the phone Friday.

“You get in representation and politics what you deserve,” he said. “It doesn’t say much for us.”

13th March
written by Arizona Kid

Ms. Trasoff

Ms. Trasoff has announced she wants to selectively revise the Tucson Land Use Code.

Bully for her.

But it is time to COMPLETELY revamp the antiquated Tucson Land Use Code and not perform some selected minor elective surgery.  Ms Trasoff you are wrong – again!

A total revamp of the code is what is needed to create a brighter future in Tucson.  But revamping the code will be a dangerous task for her to accomplish and the reason Trasoff and Company do not wish to pursue this endeavor is because their neighborhood special interest group allies do not want this to happen. 

These are the same folks who help elect Trasoff and her Democrat crew along with BIG LABOR.  That is why she has been so unwilling to make any substantive changes to happen and only reluctantly suggests some tinkering with the code.

Is it in Tucson’s best interests to continue to elect council members who are beholden to special interest radical neighborhood groups and BIG LABOR who lead our City Council around the nose on issues which are so important to ALL Tucson?

Rio Nuevo was to be Ms. Trasoff’s jumping off point to run for mayor of Tucson. 

She had hoped for success with the project and so did each of us who also wanted there to be a vibrant downtown.  That is why local community leaders and myself worked so hard and sacrificed our personal reputations at the Arizona Legislature to expand the TIF only to be embarrassed by her and the council.

Trasoff, the rest of the council and her supporters squandered the most positive business cycle in half a century flopping around like a fish from one failed concept after another.

Further, Ms. Trasoff sanctioned selling $80,000,000+ of bonds at the worst possible time in an effort to threaten the Legislature against cutting off the TIF expansion. 

When the bonds were sold Trasoff said this was one the greatest developments for Rio Nuevo.  Trasoff says she “owns” Rio Nuevo.  If she does then let her sink with this stinker.

This week Ms. Trasoff will announce she plans to seek re election.  Her bid MUST be rejected.  She is an amateur who is in charge of millions of our dollars and while she would believe our tax dollars have been well spent she and her friends are delusional.

12th March
written by JHiggins

Oro Valley made a deal with a developer to put in the Oro Valley Marketplace. It’s been a hotly contested deal and cost a few council people their seat. The development agreement involved a $23 million sales tax rebate back to the developer.

Goldwater Institute has taken a case to the Arizona Supreme Court arguing that the use of sales tax rebates are allowing local governments to selectively favor one private firm over another.

OV put the payments they agreed to into an escrow account until the court issues a ruling.  From teh AZ Republic today:

At issue is a 2007 agreement between the city and the development under which the developer, after constructing and opening 1.2 million square feet of retail space and parking garages with 3,180 free spaces, would receive 50 percent of sales taxes collected by the city from the development during the previous year. The agreement would go for 11 years, 3 months or until the total reached $97.4 million, whichever comes first.

More broadly, the case is about the circumstances under which cities may enter economic development agreements with private organizations – whether it is sales-tax breaks to major retailers or property-tax breaks to proposed resorts or offices……


The Goldwater Institute has until March 23 to respond. Then the other side is permitted a response. After that, the court will schedule the case for review. On that day, the court will decide whether or not to hear the case. If it rejects the case, the Appeals Court ruling banning the agreement stands. If it accepts the case, a briefing schedule will be drafted and a date will be set for oral argument. The court then would rule, but is not required to follow a particular schedule.


The outcome on this has ramifications for a number of deals already done, not to mention future projects.

12th March
written by JHiggins

Mark Kimble’s goodby commentary from AZ Illustrated – HERE

Easy on the bloggers Mark……

12th March
written by JHiggins

We put up the story a few days ago about the Gaylord Resort group’s proposal for a new resort and conference center in Mesa. Last night the voters approved the $51 million BED TAX incentive package.  Bed tax dollars, by statute can be used towards economic development activities.  

It’s not a done deal because there is still property tax rebates that are part of the deal. Goldwater is challenging the property tax incentives and a decision is due from the AZ Supreme court shortly.

The Oro Valley Marketplace is anxiously waiting that court decision as our a number of large projects that have been done or are being considered.

Read the East Valley Tribune article HERE.

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