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Posts Tagged ‘City of Tucson’

25th April
written by clothcutter

Translation:  If you don’t approve to tax yourself more to support an inept (and possibly corrupt) municipality, kiss off!

City may cut, end furlough days for some
Rob O’Dell Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
Posted: Monday, April 25, 2011 12:00 am
To appease unions upset at the city’s ongoing budget cuts, the City Council on Tuesday will consider ending furloughs for some employees and halving the furloughs for most employees if the economy improves.

The city has had unpaid furloughs for two years, and will continue them for the fiscal year that begins July 1. For next year, employees again were facing nine furlough days, which constitutes 3.5 percent of their salaries.

Union officials, including those in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have urged for months to end furloughs for those employees in enterprise departments such as Tucson Water and Environmental Services. Union officials also want to end furloughs for any city employee who is funded with grant money from the state or the federal government.

Top city officials had been hesitant to agree, in part because eliminating furlough for some departments and not others can raise issues of equitable treatment. The issue is particularly problematic with grant funding because employees in the same departments could be paid through different funding sources.

But the council will consider a new plan that guarantees employees paid by the general fund and Tucson Water workers will have only five furlough days. They would need to be taken between July and December. The remaining four furlough days could be waived if the economy improves and the city’s budget is in better condition at midyear.

Employees in Environmental Services and those who are funded by grants could see their furloughs end by July and have no furloughs next year, said City Finance Director Kelly Gottschalk. The city will still have to work on the employee-equity issue for grant-funded employees, she added.

For example, more than 50 police officer positions are grant-funded, but the city doesn’t want to force officers not funded by the grant to take furloughs, while treating those funded by the grant differently, Gottschalk said.

“We’ll look at grant-funded employees grant by grant,” Gottschalk said.

The unions originally had sought an increase in the furloughs in early 2010 as a way to stave off massive city layoffs at the height of the city’s budget crisis.

Michael Coiro, the executive director of AFSCME Local 449, said he’s happy about ending the furloughs in Environmental Services and grant-funded positions, as well as the possibility employees paid out of the city general fund could have their furloughs nearly halved.

But he said he won’t accept that the furloughs for Tucson Water remain. He said city leaders have been hesitant to reduce those employees’ furloughs because they don’t want water users to pay more.

Coiro said city residents turned down a request to raise the city sales tax to pay for services, so he isn’t concerned about that.

“The users denied the tax,” Coiro said. “My heart is not bleeding for the citizens.  My heart is bleeding for the employees.”

10th October
written by madge

The Tucson Weekly makes their picks for City of Tucson City Council. Looks like the incumbents didn’t fair to well. The Weekly passes on picking the Republicans because that would would be way too far of a stretch.  We commend The Weekly and Nintzel for resisting the temptation to go against his liberal roots and through a couple Democrats under the bus. 


Ward 3: Sonoran Hot Dog

Voters will choose between Democrat Karin Uhlich, Republican Ben Buehler-Garcia and Green Party candidate Mary DeCamp.

Uhlich, who is completing her first term, is big on transparency and process, but we fear that too often, those terms have been used to cover an unwillingness to make a decision.

While we agree with Uhlich on some issues, her waffling on budget issues has cost the city. She led an effort to delay a 25-cent increase in bus fares last year, only to agree to an increase this year. Over that 12 months, the city lost out on a million dollars.

Uhlich also voted to cut the costs of the Parks and Recreation Department’s leisure classes when she was first elected. Now she thinks those fees need to be increased, but won’t support doing it until next year. That’s the kind of delay the city can scarcely afford.

Uhlich’s opponent, Ben Buehler-Garcia, is a decent enough fellow who has been active in economic-development issues. But we can’t endorse someone who is supporting something as dreadful as the Public Safety First Initiative, which will screw up the city’s budget for years to come.

We feel that Green candidate Mary DeCamp’s ideas—such as creating a new currency for Tucson residents—are just too far ahead of their time for her to earn a spot on the City Council. She can do more to push those innovations in the private sector.

And so we endorse the Sonoran hot dog found at El Guero Canelo, 2480 N. Oracle Road. This feast combines the four food groups—vegetables, grains, dairy and bacon—and reflects the melting pot of cultures that is Tucson. This dog never disappoints, even if it’s not very good for us.

Ward 5: Democrat Richard Fimbres

Richard Fimbres is new to the world of city politics, but he learned the ropes of managing public budgets while on the Pima Community College governing board. He’s got a solid background in law enforcement and budget review that will serve Tucsonans well if he wins his council race. Fimbres, who hopes to replace the retiring Democrat Steve Leal, has spent more than two decades managing programs with the Pima County Jail; he’s worked in law enforcement in the military; he’s headed up the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety; and he’s even been the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Man of the Year. It’s an impressive résumé, and it’s enough for us to encourage you to vote for him.

His Republican opponent, Shaun McClusky, is a political rookie who supports the Public Safety First Initiative and shows little grasp of the city budget, which disqualifies him from our endorsement.

Ward 6: Jasper the Marbled Polecat

Councilwoman Nina Trasoff has disappointed us too often for us to support her. Like Uhlich, Trasoff voted to delay an increase in bus fares and supported an irresponsible decrease in park fees that she now regrets, even though she’s not doing anything to increase them—thereby solidifying the city’s economic base—until next year. And to say that she mishandled the fiasco with the Rialto Theatre over the summer is a considerable understatement.

Republican Steve Kozachik has done admirable work developing new athletic facilities at the University of Arizona, but like Buehler-Garcia and McClusky, he’s supporting the Public Safety First Initiative, which makes him far too irresponsible for us to support. Kozachik tells us he can identify all sorts of waste in the city budget, but he doesn’t want to share that info with us. Well, we’re not buying that he has a secret plan to balance the budget.

Unable to support either candidate, the Weekly instead endorses Jasper the marbled polecat, who arrived this summer at the Reid Park Zoo. Although a new resident of Ward 6, Jasper seems so adorable that we can’t believe he’d make a bad decision at City Hall.

25th September
written by JHiggins

By Joe Higgins, and Chris DeSimone – Inside Tucson Business
Published on Friday, September 25, 2009

You’ve quietly mumbled under your breath while watching the evening news. You’ve commiserated with colleagues at lunch. You may have even taken the time to write an e-mail or call the office of one of our elected officials. A handful of you may have even showed up at a city council meeting, taken your three minutes of fame at the podium delivering a speech that would make Jimmy Stewart proud. Or maybe you rationalized that you’re too busy. That someone else will carry the load. You wrote a check to a business association or chamber of commerce so your work is done. 

What have your efforts accomplished?

Try higher property taxes, increased bed taxes, taxes on tanning salons, ballooning utility costs, more regulations and red tape, a rotting city core, larger pot holes, scarier streets, more graffiti, less baseball and a whole lot more vacancies. As business people, we want to believe Tucson welcomes our entrepreneurial spirit. We tuck in each night dreaming of a community that wants us to succeed. They appreciate the hard work and risks we take. After all small business is the economic engine the politicians all love to brag about. Dream’s over – time to wake up!

Our current flock of elected officials seem to have little interest in supporting you or making your road to riches any easier. You’re in this community to be taxed, regulated and demonized. If you’ve made a business career here you’ve really done something special. 

Want to know how we got here? Take a look around. How many of our local politicos have ever owned their own business? How many have built a successful career in the private sector? How many have spent their careers in nonprofit or government jobs? Most have risen from the ranks of the progressive party machines. Are there exceptions?  We guess so.

Let us share the real problem the business community has in our region. Our politicians don’t get us. They don’t respect us. And they certainly don’t fear us.

Since the dawn of the democracy, when elections come around politicians count votes. Environmental lobbies, neighborhood associations, unions and university and government employees vote. When a politician’s primary goal is to get re-elected or move to a higher office, catering to the groups that walk the streets, pick up the phones and show up at rallies is perceived as essential to future success.

What are we as a business community to do? For starters, we need to identify strong pro-business candidates then truly support them. The heat will get turned up on you or your business but you must take a stand. A trite chamber of commerce endorsement isn’t going to cut it.

We must ensure that our elected officials are true friends of business. If they aren’t we must take them out of office in a strong and swift show of force. When we do win a seat, the business community needs to remind the other sitting officials that we have the power to influence an election. Once they fear us, they will respect us. Once they fear us, they will listen to us. Once they fear us, things will change.

Don’t fall back on your indifference. Don’t go back to watching “Dancing With The Stars” or “The Biggest Loser.” Sure, we can continue to wait and hope someone else will carry the load but how’s that worked out for us so far?

Wake up business community. Wake up Tucson.

Early ballots will be arriving in mailboxes Oct. 8. If you haven’t requested an early ballot, call (520) 740-4330. Any registered voter in the city of Tucson can vote for any of the six council candidates running. This is a partisan race — for now — and it’s not limited to individual ward-only voting. Inform your employees, family and friends of what is at stake in this election. Research the candidates and measure results.


Contact Joe Higgins at joe@joehigginsinc.com or Chris DiSimone at provenpartners@comcast.net. They’re the hosts of “Wake Up Tucson,” which airs 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Information about the show is online at WakeUpTucson.net

29th April
written by Arizona Kid

It’s that time of year again, the election cycle at the City of Tucson is beginning.

Being a fan history, I stumbled upon a great synopsis of the race in 2001 when two Republicans, Dunbar and Ronstadt won seats in Ward 3 and 6. Emil Franzi a long time campaign strategist broke down the race pretty well.

What jumped out to me was how Dunbar and Ronstadt won the race on the growing east side. The east has the Republican and moderate votes needed to change the democratic strong hold on city politics. In 2005, the national Republican brand was loosing it’s shine and their wasn’t any major issues to get the faithful to the polls and two  upstarts, Uhlich and Trasoff won decisive victories. Ronstadt didnt’ really have his heart in the race and Dunbar stumbled late in her race and let her emotions take over. Either way both lost 60-40.

What happened in 05′ ?

1. Munger left the control of the Republican party and Judy White was at the reigns. Enough said.
2. The Democrats got their act together. They gained substantial ground under the leadership of Paul Eckerstrom.
3. There weren’t any independent campaigns to bring out the great unwashed conservative to moderate Republican base.
4. The national Republican ‘brand’ wasn’t as strong as it was in 2000.
5. According to Emil, the NRA stayed home and many of the die hard conservatives. With 20-30% turn out the guy that gets the most of their people to the polls wins.
6. With a 3-2 voter advantage toward the Dems, cross over voting didn’t happen.

What are we looking forward to in 2009?

1. Rio Nuevo – Rio Nuevo – Rio Nuevo; It’s been a mess and with elected officals continually botching the entire process some heads should roll.  Council voted recently to send TIF money to a project that the State Legislators expressly asked them not to do. If they lose the funding it’s squarely on that vote.
2. Bush is gone, things are bad, will the Obama factor make a difference come November?
3. The bureaucrats, elected officials and residents of Tucson are finally connecting the fact that a healthy business class is critical to a healthy community. They’ve  neglected, ignored to down right impeded the business community for the past few years. Is the pain enough to get a voter to try a different path?  You think I’m kidding? Google Tucson and Land Use Code, Sign Code, Development Services, new ad-rental-vendor- taxes, Certificate of Occupancy, Infill Zoning, Historic Districts, Neighborhood Preservation, funding of Department of Neighborhood Services (to the tune of $1 million per year),  loading every citizen committee with NIMBY neighborhood activists or groups like, Chicano Por La Causa, Habitat for Humanities, Casa Maria Soup Kitchen and more.
4. Police – Crime is OUT OF CONTROL! This council is dinking around with niceties that buy voters and neglecting the basics like protecting their citizens. If your city isn’t safe, houses don’t get bought, people don’t shop and your community rots from the inside.
5. Approval ratings for this council is in the low 20’s. Bush at the time of the polling was in the low 30’s.
6. The base may be fired up. A good candidate that is on the right side of the issues will bring out the right.
7. Will the business community finally get their act together and do something?
8. The Republican party has shifted to Bob Westerman. Bob and I campaigned together. He’s got a vision and a plan and he brings executive leadership from his career at Ratheon. Having been a candidate he knows what is desperatly needed. He’s inherited a mess but he’s starting to turn the ship.
9. The Citizen will soon be gone and the Az Star is loosing ground each and every day. Alternative sources of news like this blog and others are where people ar turning for their news. Jon Justice has rose to the top of morning talk because he’s found an audience that wants and alternative.


Taking Council

Tucson’s leading political piranha chomps into the city election’s real winners and losers.


Last week, the Republicans won their first multiple victory in a Tucson city election since 1969 (non-partisan recalls don’t count) because they ran better candidates, were better organized and, courtesy of independent committees, had more money. Democrats blew it because they ran inferior candidates, had no real message and got bogged down by peripheral issues of interest only to the fringe portions of their coalition.

While Republicans went out of their way to appeal to Democrats, Democratic candidates never gave a GOP voter any reason to cross over besides the tired old bitching about “special interests.” Voters know that everybody is supported by some special interests-Dems have trial lawyers and unions. The special interest must be named. They would have done no worse visibly running against the Growth Lobby instead of tap-dancing and not wanting to be called “no-growthers,” which is what they were perceived as anyway.

The Republicans were hardly invincible in a 3-2 Democratic town. Poll data taken by one group supporting Republicans Kathleen Dunbar and Fred Ronstadt had Ronstadt up 10 points against Democrat Gayle Hartmann, and Dunbar about even with Democrat Paula Aboud in the last 10 days of the campaign. Ronstadt blew part of his lead with a dippy radio spot that offended many by playing off the current national crisis–a ploy that burned most candidates of both parties other places this election. Fred’s spot made it sound almost un-American to criticize him and demanded that Hartmann quit the negative campaigning while the independent committee supporting him and Dunbar was running one hell of a negative campaign against Aboud. Many noticed that hypocrisy. Many inaccuracies flawed that negative campaign against Aboud, but that didn’t stop it from working, nor did Aboud’s consistently evasive responses.

The Kumbaya BS coming from GOP leaders about how it “wasn’t really a Republican victory” is peculiar. The state GOP didn’t drop a 30 grand bundle on this one because they just wanted good government. They, and all the Republican voters they urged to the polls, wanted a Republican win. They got it, and their leaders should politely revel in it and use it as a base for party building.

Besides allowing election officials to pander to the lazy, the stupid and the uninterested, this politically correct attempt to raise voter turnout has another constituency besides the election bureaucracy–those with enough money to run a lengthened campaign. For now that will favor the GOP in most local elections, as it did this year. And someday it will increase voter fraud. Chicago voters know–they don’t let election officials hold onto their ballots any longer than necessary.

The Dems simply couldn’t leave a politically irrelevant symbolic issue in a City Council election alone. There were several hundred real bodies at a couple of gun-rights rallies for Dunbar and Ronstadt, crowds that clearly outnumbered those being drawn by the heavily touted neighborhood groups, and those attending were all voting one way. If the GOP doesn’t want to claim this win, the NRA should. They worked their several thousand members well. Mayor Walkup should notice that it’ll be easier next time if these people are at least off his back.

He came out early and hard for Dunbar and later for Ronstadt. The most popular Democrat in Pima County is probably the least popular in certain Democrat circles. And the net result will be that even more candidates will be kissing his butt in 2002.

Probably the luckiest man in local politics. He was standing just close enough to be able to claim he had some impact upon this election. He now has two years to come up with a program that reaches beyond slogan. Fixing some potholes would be a start.

When the French attempted to determine who had won the Battle of the Marne, their commanding general, Joffre, responded, ” I don’t know who won, but I know who everyone would’ve blamed had we lost.” Despite his modesty over claiming it for the GOP, Munger was party chair for the biggest local Republican win in three decades. We’ll claim it for him.

Hartmann did it to Ronstadt; he whined and lost votes. The independent committee did it to Aboud; she whined and lost votes. It works. Get used to it–it’s only been around since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800.


Everybody lives in a neighborhood–so? The leaders of these groups never noticed that the constituency of those who looked upon them as leaders was shrinking and they weren’t replacing it. Part of that occurred when they added superfluous issues ranging from gun control to sign codes and forgot about stuff like sidewalks and street lights. Part of it was natural attrition and burnout. And a big part comes from geography and growth–these groups are mainly from the static central city, which is being gradually swamped by the growing east side. Dunbar and Ronstadt only carried the two eastside wards–and that was enough.

When these groups get some new leaders and some new ideas, they could again be relevant.

Ronstadt told them to stuff it. He won. They used to scare the hell out of every local politician. They no longer do. They should read a little more Saul Alinksy about when to bluff.

City Councilmember-elect Kathleen Dunbar said candidly (candor was another reason she won), “Nobody cares about billboards”. It is hardly a hot-button issue, but those frightened by “visual pollution” are disproportionately represented in Democratic circles. It resembles what the late Murray Rothbard said about neo-conservatives: “There are only 105 of them in the entire country, and 78 of those have syndicated columns.”

· THE GREEN PARTY>br< What party? They found a decent candidate in Ward 3, and then allowed themselves to be guilt-tripped out of running him after they’d raised money to qualify for matching funds. The stiff they took a dive for lost anyway. They proved conclusively they are nothing more than a front group for the left wing of the Democratic Party, which they should all quietly return to and quit pretending they have a separate agenda.

They will now act as ineffective symbols. Ibarra should find that easy, as he once worked for Supervisor Raúl Grijalva, who’s made a whole career out of being an ineffective symbol, even when in the majority and Chairman of the Board.

While the issue of gun control wasn’t the deciding factor, those who get the support of the NRA, FACT and BrassRoots like Dunbar and Ronstadt are hardly out of the mainstream and can be elected without fudging their pro-gun position even in a generally liberal town.
THE DEMOCRATS allowed the GOP coalition to grow beyond its natural boundaries while their own shrank. To regain the political initiative they lost in the last three local elections they will have to either expand existing elements or find some new interest groups willing to go along with the most vocal parts of their existing team. The temptation will be to do nothing and just wait for the GOP to screw up. Arrogant Democrats will assume they will. The brighter ones will start looking for some new allies.

23rd April
written by madge

Why is the brain trust we’ve elected to steer our city proposing a 2% rental tax (which will cost the average renter $144 per year) and simultaneously adding $2 million to the low income housing trust fund?

While we’re on the subject, why on earth would the city want to administer, staff and support the low income housing trust fund department.  Especially when things are being cut and departments merged?  Wouldn’t it be more efficient to provide the funding source to any of the multitude of non profits already in the low income housing business. Listen to me, efficient and government in the same paragraph.

You could make the round about argument that by controlling the fund the council can ‘buy votes’ and ensure re-election…..but that’s just too devious.

Me thinks a new bureaucracy layer is being hatched right before our eyes……who could be set to run the new director of low income housing? Any guesses? I think I know….

18th April
written by Downtown Dudette

Arizona 8th broke the story of a potential new city manager.  Thoughts?

The Star’s O’Dell put this out today – HERE

7th April
written by Arizona Kid

From the AZ Star comments on the termination of Mike Hein:

Earlier this afternoon the Tucson City Council voted to terminate City Manager Mike Hein. This was yet another clear indication of the inability of this council to work either together or in cooperation with other departments within the City governance structure. Accounts of the day’s events indicate that this decision was discussed for a mere 20 minutes in a closed door session. It is remarkable that such a critical move was given such a brief airing. If any of the council members who voted to retain Mr. Hein had any designs on demonstrating leadership, they should have not allowed the move to go forward without an extensive discussion. Evidently nobody chose to exert a position of leadership and so the vote proceded. The vote is yet another demonstration that this council lacks the capacity to look at the implications of their actions prior to simply shooting from the hip. With this move, the City of Tucson now has a Fire Chief who may have to resign in June if he cannot sell his house and move into the City limits, an interim City Finance director, no eligible candidates for the vacant Police Chief position (a situation the council put themselves into after spending over $10,000 on a search, only to declare the search void and express their intent to consider internal candidates – none of whom meets the residency requirements imposed by the council itself), and we are left with an interim City Manager who has already submitted his resignation, effective in November. All of this while we are looking at a City budget deficit estimated to be at $80 million. You cannot make this stuff up, folks.

The State Legislature has made it clear that ousting Mr. Hein would set in motion the process of removing TIF funding for Rio Nuevo. Without that funding source, there is no Rio Nuevo, which means there is no downtown revitalization any time in the foreseeable future. We are additionally left to sail this rudderless ship towards the iceberg of a budget deficit that places the fiscal integrity of the City in serious jeapardy. Tucson deserves better. Tucson needs leadership and it is clearly not getting that from any of the current council members or the mayor.

Support my candidacy – votestevek.com – and I committ that I will at the very least bring a clarion call to within the council chambers that we simply cannot continue on in this direction or the City of Tucson will continue to lose quality jobs, continue to live in a lock-down situation due to a lack of police to respond promptly, and continue to provoke the State Legislature in the direction of pulling the life blood from any hopes we may have of revitalizing our downtown. It is the responsibility of the council to provide direction to the office of the Manager. None chose to do that – all of the council is culpable for the situation we now find ourselves in.
Steve K.
Council Candidate Ward 6

8:58 PM

26th March
written by Arizona Kid

Authors on this blog have called from Mike Hein’s head. After 3 years on the job the drum beats are sounding.  With one open seat and two freshman incumbents up for re-election it’s going to be an interesting 9 months. During an election year the word ‘scapegoat’ comes to mind. 

Being the City Manager with this, Overwhelming underdogs of a council must make you want to hide under the covers each morning.

The City Manager definitely has a role in each and every one of the decisions that have lead us to the complete mess we are in today. He’s culpable and part of the problem for sure. Hein is the one making $240k+ while the 7 people that collectively tell him what to do make $180k combined! He’s playing a high stakes game but the game board, rules and even the numbers on the dice change from day to day. 

Finanical Down Turn

The city is falling on hard times financially and the pressure is on.  A manager needs to make quick adjustments to get us through the mess. As long as those adjustments don’t affect artists, free rent arrangements to non profits, funding for working poor, Job Path, graffiti classes, Kidco, Department of a(Organize The )Neighborhoods Resources, public access TV,  bus fares, or cuts to any of the 5000 plus employees that are protected by a strong union he’s got full latitude to do what’s right for the community.

What can he cut? Police, road maintenance, garbage services and emergency response staff and equipment.  You know, all the fluffy stuff a city wastes their budget on. 

So if you can’t cut expense you gotta raise money. You raise money in a crazy thing called taxes.  Here’s some of the BUSINESS specific ‘revenue enhancements’ implemented and or being concidered;
Ad Tax
Rental Tax
Impact Fee (ok by not repealing it its still at tax)
Tax to keep your development plan relevant for multiple years
Utility Tax
Water meter hook up tax
Sign Permit Tax
Building Permit Tax
Business Licence Tax
Secondary Property Tax
Increased Landfill Prices
Increased Commercial Waste Fees
Increased Roll Off Fees

The ‘revenue enhancements’ affecting the RESIDENTS of our city;
Increased Utility Tax
Water Fees Increase up to 10% (on top of 8% last year)
Proposed garbage fee increase

Read our previous post HERE

So if you’re the city manger under this council you are officially between a rock and a hard place.  Hein is dealing with so many council sacred cows and pet projects it’s tough to know where to turn.  Hein can’t cut or raise revenues to certain populations. Hein is forced to focus increases on the one special interest not represented on this current council, the business community. 

How does government pay for all the staff, programs, arts groups, low income housing? Oh yeah collecting sales tax from businesses that are brave enough to open in the city of Tucson. Get the picture?

There Are Short Comings….

I agree on management of Rio Nuevo. It’s been botched before Hein came aboard and until the legislature demands new people overseeing the entire project it will be messed up long after he leaves.  Shelko and Barr, aren’t cutting it. Installing Hecker, Lyons and allowing Trasoff’s chief of staff’s wife into management/ oversight positions is highly questionable. Emails from personal accounts to cover tracks…..not good.

MTCVB and TREO need to pull their weight and function in the light of day. Development Services needs a complete cultural shift. 

Hein pissed off council staff and learned how much power they actually had.  Remember THIS near axing from last year?

Where is his plan? All I’m seeing is reaction to the follies that go on around him. How about a 5 year plan? A vison on where we are going?

What’s the deal with the botched search for a new police chief? Do we blame that on Hein?

Why Is Hein Worth Keeping?

What I like about Hein is his early shake up of the Tucson city bureaucracy.  In a climate where you can’t fire  people all you can do is shift them around. By moving around department heads and entrenched fiefdoms Hein took control of the staff. It sets him up to either put the right people in place  and let them do their job or micromanage every aspect of every department he’s responsible for.

He thinks outside the box and isn’t afraid to take a different approach to a problem. 

If he does go what can we expect from the next victim.  Hopefully a potential candidate for the job reads the papers and our blog to get a sense of what they are in for. Tucson could be a career killer.

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.”

11th March
written by Arizona Kid

Phoenix–There are almost 90,000 local governments in America, with an average of one new local government born each day. Few are models of limited government restrained by a system of checks and balances. Often they are unaccountable, and special interest-driven. Facing a maze of regulations and powerful local bureaucracies, ordinary citizens often can’t fight City Hall. They need a concrete set of rights to protect them from the abuses of local government–the equivalent of a local bill of rights.

Today the Goldwater Institute released “A New Charter for American Cities: 10 Rights to Restrain Government and Protect Freedom.” This ground-breaking report recommends enacting a “Local Liberty Charter” consisting of 10 judicially enforceable rights to rein-in out-of-control local governments.


“The Local Liberty Charter is not a pledge signed by politicians,” said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute constitutional policy director and author of the report. “It is meant to be enforceable in court by ordinary citizens. Each right would be implemented by policies that furnish a private right of action, empowering individuals to file lawsuits, when necessary, to compel local governmental officials to respect freedom and perform their legitimate responsibilities.”


The Local Liberty Charter is designed to become part of a local government’s charter or statutory legal framework. It would function as a constraint on all ordinances and regulations that a local government passed, much like a constitution defines and restricts the powers of state and federal government.


The Local Liberty Charter is a trailblazing roadmap for local government reform. The 10 rights in “A New Charter for American Cities” are:


Right 1: The Right to a Presumption of Liberty.
Like the Declaration of Independence, the Local Liberty Charter presumes citizens are free to act peaceably and honestly without legal restraint. Therefore, the Local Liberty Charter requires simplifying or reducing burdensome regulation through ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ review, and eliminating regulatory delay.
Right 2: The Right to Use and Enjoy Property.
As long as they do not violate the rights of others, property owners should have the right to develop and use their property however they wish. The Local Liberty Charter requires simplifying and eliminating land use regulations and transforming zoning into a freedom-friendly legal framework.


Right 3: The Right to Separation of Powers.
Municipalities typically concentrate executive, legislative, and quasi-judicial power into one unchecked entity, increasing the likelihood of power abuses and biased decision-making. The Local Liberty Charter requires diffusing the concentration of local power, and giving citizens hurt by local government action the option to request alternative dispute resolution.


Right 4: The Right to Freedom from Crime.
Protecting citizens from crime is government’s core function. The Local Liberty Charter requires performance benchmarking for law enforcement, using overtime as an incentive for high performance, and contracting out failing police departments to other localities.


Right 5: The Right to Fiscally Responsible Government.
Government at any level should not be larger than necessary and should be fiscally accountable to its citizens. The Local Liberty Charter requires outsourcing services, keeping government spending from exceeding growth in population and inflation, and limiting the business of local government to core functions.

Rights 6: The Right to Freedom from Favoritism.
Local governments should not be in the business of singling out individuals or groups for special benefits or harms. The Local Liberty Charter requires eliminating laws, taxes and spending that unfairly single out a particular person or group for benefit or harm.


Rights 7: The Right to Accountability.
Government officials serve the people and should be held accountable for their actions. The Local Liberty Charter requires a “three strikes you’re out” policy for public officials who repeatedly misapply the law. Under this policy, nonelected public officials would be terminated if they violate the law, causing citizens to suffer substantial harm, on three occasions.


Rights 8: The Right to Genuine Local Sovereignty.
The offer of federal funds is tempting, but often comes with strings attached that require matched spending by state and local governments. Additionally, new federal regulations are often implemented without local government coordination. The Local Liberty Charter requires cities, counties and towns to reject federal funds that come with strings attached and obligates local officials to demand coordination from federal agencies to stop the implementation of burdensome federal regulations.


Rights 9: The Right to Transparency.
Transparency in government is crucial to holding public officials accountable and preventing corruption. The Local Liberty Charter requires the public posting of government financial information, deadlines for public records requests to be granted, disclosure of critical public information, such as performance benchmarking, and open municipal contracting.

Right 10: The Right to Reconstitute Local Government.
When local government goes bad, sometimes the best answer is to hit the “reset” button. The Local Liberty Charter requires allowing citizens to vote for “none of the above” when all candidates on a ticket are unacceptable, to dissolve unaccountable special districts, and to mandate bankruptcy filing by fiscally irresponsible localities.


Click here to read “A New Charter for American Cities: 10 Rights to Restrain Government and Protect Freedom” or have a copy mailed to you by calling (602) 462-5000.


About the author: Nick Dranias holds the Goldwater Institute Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan chair for constitutional government and is the director of the Institute’s Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Center for Constitutional Government.


The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

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