Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Ash’
Mike Hein was the victim of a coup yesterday by 4 manipulative & conniving people. While Mike Hein was far from perfect his firing is an obvious diversion from the micro managing and bad decision making democrat council members have consistently engaged in. It will be their ultimate downfall in the fall election. Unfortunately, for now the citizens and business people of Tucson are the ultimate losers in this political pissing match.
How will this council find a new city manager who would put up with the vast amounts of crap dished out by these folks? They might as well make it a world wide search. Someone will either have to agree to be the council’s tool OR a fool to consider taking this job. This council believes in a strong Council style of government and not our chartered strong City Manager form. They continue to have dis regard for this and many other rules they are required to live under. In the meantime these bad actors will continue to run the city into a ditch. In the midst of this crisis this council must also find a new police chief and pass a balanced budget that finds $80,000,000 of savings fast. They have failed at doing this so far and show no signs of being able to pull this off anytime soon.
There has been a fire burning in City Hall for 3 years. That fire has now gone out of control. We need 2 more new and good people to stand up and run to defeat Trasoff, Ullich and the open seat in Ward 5 where Fimbres will presumably be the candidate. Will our party be the answer?
Are we going to stand up and help our city or will we continue to cower under the rule of the current regime? Besides Steve Kozachick do we have the will to prevail in the upcoming election? What are our plans? Hein’s firing gives us renewed chance to win in 2009.
To paraphrase what a famous person said recently, ” We can benefit from this crisis.”
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.
SALC (Southern Arizona Leadership Council) is a group of CEO’s that came together 20+ years ago. Members pay upwards of $6000+ per year to be a part of an elite club. They get together to lament on the great work they are doing in the community and support the work of local government. Judge for yourself the results.
As of late SALC has taken on the Tucson Town Hall forum, which brought together various community and political leaders together to talk about our regions problems. They are running a pretty cool ‘Tucson Values Teachers – a support teachers campaign’ and working hard on literacy issues in our community. SALC and Tucson Town Hall sponsored an Urban Land Institute series on the coming Megalopolis. There was a time when SALC was a little more willing to push an agenda – HERE. See SALC members list HERE
SALC just put out a position paper asking the state legislators to tax our business properties to balance the state budget. Not your typical position for a group of business leaders.
Hey guys, Arizona’s budget took 100 years to get to $6 billion (2001) and five to grow another $4 billion. Between 2001 and 2006, our state budget had ballooned to $10.3 billion. Budget growth far outpaced population increases at every level of government. What caused the huge increase in dollars to the state coffers you ask? Only one of the biggest housing booms in the United States history.
What does each level of Arizona government depend on as their economic piggy bank? Construction! Huge amounts of sales taxes, income taxes and assorted fees rolled into City, State and County government and they spent spent spent.
Time to pay the piper. Private businesses are laying off and cutting to the bone to survive. Entire industries are virtually shutting down. Why shouldn’t government be doing the same? You spent too much in the good times and now it’s time to trim back in the bad. My home values are back to 2004 levels, how about yours?
Don’t gimmick, shift between funds, bond, sell our lottery revenues, put up speed cameras all over the place, borrow or use accounting tricks. Cut back like we’ve had to do.
Certain areas are going to be hurt. Unfortunately things like university education, 21st Century Fund, Rio Nuevo, k-12, healthcare among others are going to suffer a little pain. It’s not going to be a fun time. We will emerge through this tough spot in a better position. It’s the cycle of life. Booms and busts have come and gone for generations.
The states, cities and counties that address the issues head on will emerge stronger and attract better and stronger industries. Better and stronger industries mean more money for government……you get the point. The first sentence of the SALC position statement should say it all……
While agreeing that Arizona’s tax policies deter business and the creation of jobs, the SALC Board of Directors believes that it is imprudent during the state’s financial crisis to permanently repeal the state equalization property tax. It is critically important to preserve the state’s infrastructure for the future, and SALC believes repealing the tax right now would do more harm than good. SALC believes that preserving the tax is only one part of a larger set of actions needed to ensure the state is prepared to be competitive in the future.
Hrm. They also call for the tax to be suspended later, which I don’t agree with, but, unlike our legislators, they seem to understand that cutting revenue when you are running out of money makes no sense. That’s what a business background will do: twist your brain around with practicalities.
Later in the release, they outline what they think state budget priorities should be:
1. Continue to the extent possible to provide basic services to ensure the health and well being of the most vulnerable among us.
2. Consider a combination of spending reductions, deferrals, debt financing, revenue enhancement and other short-term strategies to solve the budget shortfall.
3. Maintain to the extent possible investment spending in areas like education and economic development.
4. Investigate and pursue all non-state sources of assistance, such as federal stimulus spending and federal grants.
5. Base spending cuts on specific programmatic considerations.
Health? Education? Economic development? What sort of anti-American Socialism is this? Hank Amos, Jim Click, Bruce Ash, Steve Lynn, Don Pitt, Katie Dusenberry…trotskyites all!
Remember back to the 2006 legislative session to extend the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) funding for Rio Nuevo? The debate was whether or not to extend the TIF funding.
The idea behind TIF financing is to focus money from existing retail sales in a geographic area and use those funds to bolster tax collections in a new area. Tucson has spent $78 million so far and it’s questionable how much new economic activity has actually occurred. The City politicians point to ’laying the groundwork for future development’. That story is starting to wear thin.
The state legislature is coming into some tough times and balancing budgets is becoming a very big issue. If you take a look at the the current make up of the AZ Senate, no one in the current Republican Caucus voted for the extension and only four or 5 Republicans actually voted for it.
Let me paint the picture for you;
1. Rio Nuevo was a grand idea thought up by City Manager Keene as a way to make Tucson more Berkley like.
2. A fat legislature lead by Southern Arizona golden boy, Tim Bee and a governor that wanted to reward Tucson for supporting her in to office, authorized the TIF funding to jump start downtown Tucson.
3. City mangers changed, elected officials changed, downtown business associations changed, Rio Nuevo offices were opened and closed. Downtown Alliance came and went Downtown Partnership came and went, Glenn Lyons was hired and a new Downtown Partnership was created.
4. Lots of money was spent on lots of consultants and plans that never came to fruition.
5. Enter the current City Manager, Mike Hein. He worked to get the TIF extension in 2006. The extension was a tough one to get and a few caveats were implemented regarding restrictions on eminent domain and using the funds to build police or fire facilities.
6. All total $78m has been spent and people question how much has actually been done. The officials in charge point to ‘infrastructure’ projects that ‘lay the groundwork’ for future Rio Nuevo growth.
7. 2009 will usher in a new slate of legislators that are under the gun to balance a huge budget deficit. The State will be looking high and low to capture all the dollars it can. Couple that with the fact that all but one of the state legislators taking office in this session were not involved in the 2006 extension negotiations and Rio Nuevo is looking at a tough, up hill battle.
From this weekend AZ Star: – HERE
A devastating blowLosing a half-billion dollars in Downtown redevelopment money would be a “devastating blow” for Tucson, said Si Schorr, a local lawyer and active Democrat. “One doesn’t have to hold an MBA from Harvard to figure out that,” he said.George Larsen, co-owner of Larsen Baker Commercial Realty, said losing the money would be a setback for Downtown, adding that the Legislature should be able to mandate changes like accounting reform, but should not be able to suspend or cancel Rio Nuevo.But Cotlow Co. President Dean Cotlow, a commercial real estate broker, said the city doesn’t deserve any more money for Rio Nuevo, given how badly it has misspent the first $100 million. It would be understandable for the Legislature to take the money, given how it has been spent so far, he said.Losing the money would be a blow to the community, Cotlow said, but it would force the city to own up to its mistakes and learn an important lesson.Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup said he’s concerned about the Legislature taking the money, but that he doesn’t think it will happen because the city will make a convincing argument to the Legislature for keeping it.“I think we’ve got a story to tell that a lot of good things are starting to happen,” Walkup said. “We owe them that story.”
Words of cautionSome Republicans are discussing a suspension of Rio Nuevo’s ability to draw on state taxes until the state’s budget crisis passes, said local businessman Bruce Ash, a party leader who has had a long-standing interest in Rio Nuevo.Ash said the city is “playing with fire” with its recent sale of $80 million in Rio Nuevo bonds, since the Legislature may suspend Rio Nuevo state sales-tax deliveries to Tucson. That would leave the city paying for the bonds out of its own general fund, meaning substantial cuts to other city services to pay off the bonds.Antenori also questioned the city floating Rio Nuevo bonds. “They’ve got to realize they could be on the hook for that,” he said.Hein downplayed the potential the Legislature would take the money pledged to the bonds. He said all of Rio Nuevo’s cash flow for the next several years is pledged to the $80 million in bonds sold in mid-December.If the Legislature were to repeal or suspend Rio Nuevo, Hein said it is likely to trigger complex legal action involving the city, the state and bondholders.It would also set precedent statewide that any specially dedicated funding source, such as water or sewer bonds, could be pulled by the Legislature, making it impossible for any Arizona jurisdiction to float those bonds because of that risk, Hein said.Assistant House Minority Leader Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said she knows of no specific plans for Rio Nuevo this legislative session, but added that “you can bet on” someone trying to get rid of Rio Nuevo at some point.Sinema said the Tucson City Council asked the Democratic leadership to try to protect Rio Nuevo funding, something it will try to honor.“What kind of power we have to do that is another story,” she said.
A little history on the original set up of Rio Nuevo and the 2006 legislative extension from Blog for Arizona:
Rio Nuevo is a multi-use redevelopment district which diverts a portion of the tax revenues collected in the district, in this case Sales Taxes, and places them in a fund for redevelopement projects. A TIF district like Rio Nuevo must be authorized by a public vote. In 1999, voters approved Prop 400 which authorized the Rio Nuevo TIF for a period of 10 years.
Or did it?
Many in support of reauthorizing Rio Nuevo (disclosure: I personally support it), felt that it would be unwise to ask Tucson’s voters to reauthorize the Rio Nuevo TIF. The most honest accounting of that concern I have yet heard was from LD 28 state legislature candidate Steve Farley, who opined that if Rio Nuevo went back to the voters, it wouldn’t win. The dithering, incompetence, lack of visible progress, and repeated redrawing of the plan with new and better boondoggles, has left many Tucsonans with an impression, not entirely unjustified, that Rio Nuevo is a failed experiment.
So how could those who support it avoid sending it back to voters? Just have the legislature reauthorize it. There’s just one pesky little detail: the law. ARS 48-4237, which authorizes multi-use TIF districts has a requirement: Section D states “The board shall state on the ballot the purpose of the tax, the maximum rate of the tax and the maximum number of years for which the tax will be authorized.” Well, that’s a pickle; Rio Nuevo expired after 10 years.
Supporters of the ‘legislative only’ reauthorization approach found a solution. They proclaimed far and wide that Rio Nuevo could be extended without refering it to the voters because, though the voter pamphet distributed to voters, and all the press coverge leading up to the vote, specified a period of 10 years, that limit wasn’t actually on the ballot. Thus the Rio Nuevo TIF was not technically limited to 10 years and could be extended indefinitely. Only problem is, then that ballot violated state law.
Hair-spitting gone wild. But water under the bridge. But it leaves those advocating for the ‘legislative only’ approach without any real, good-faith basis for their argument. Well, actually, there isone. Back to Steve Farley’s honest assessment. We won’t have a vote, because it won’t pass. So, no vote. If you really think Rio Nuevo is nifty and you don’t care much about those pesky rules we call the law, there’s no problem.
Unfortunately for Downing, he did care about the law. And he cared about the right of taxpayers to decide how their money is spent.
You see, the hundreds of millions that ‘would just go to Phoenix’ if not devoted to Rio Nuevo is only half the story: literally, half. Every dollar of Sales Tax that get diverted to Rio Nuevo by the TIF, must be matched with revenues by the local government. So, reauthorizing Rio Nuevo wasn’t just keeping Tucson dollars in Tucson, it was also a decision to spend hundreds of millions of local tax dollars to match those funds, all of it tagged only for use on Rio Nuevo projects. So a handful of state legislators, no matter how well intentioned, took it upon themselves to decide how hundreds of millions of Tucsonans’ general fund tax dollars would be spent: on Rio Nuevo. And we don’t get any say about it.
Foraker ran a great timeline of events for Rio Nuevo on his blog – HERE. One of the highlights of the blog post worth a read;
November 26, 2007: Marketing Exec sees a lack of ‘wow’ factor in Rio Neuvo(Teya Vitu – Tucson Citizen) Margaret Pulles, deputy director of the Smithsonian’s Affiliations Program, looks at what is going on and declares, “You’re going to have a ghost town if you don’t change your frame of thinking.”
After landing the city contract to brand Rio Nuevo, Margaret declares that she didn’t see much to brand, i.e. where are the clothes on this emperor? (Remember Bablove Ridgewood Workgroup? Lack of clothing didn’t stop them from taking a quarter mill or so to make a yellow streak.) Margaret’s “Where’s the beef?” remark infuriated Rio Neuvo Director Greg Shelko. He declared, “I don’t think she knows what we’ve been doing the past two years.”
I’ve never met Greg or Hecker, but the cloth alarm is screaming. I have met Snell. I speak with confidence that if you asked these three to team up and bake a pizza, they’d drop fifty grand on an oven study, twelve grand to fly to Greece and watch them, $40 grand to consultants to study 1) dough, 2) sauce, 3) ingredients, 4) cheese, 5) baking temps, 6) pizza size, and 7) crust thickness policies. After extensive meetings and interviews, Snell would drop 75 grand for glossy pamphlets no one will read because everyone’s already left for Pizza Hut, where it takes 20 minutes and costs about twelve bucks.
January 10, 2008: Glen Lyons, the new director of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, arrives. Salary $100-$120K. Now things will really start to happen.
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