Posts Tagged ‘Frank Antenori’

24th June
2009
written by Arizona Kid

Antenori and Farley were on Arizona Illustrated back in March (at 9:29) talking about the State Budget. Farley relayed a story about his young daughter coming home one day from school sad over a favorite teacher that had been let go due to budget layoffs. Antenori responded that state cuts to education to date have been minuscule and the real reason for TUSD’s layoffs were caused by 1600 less students choosing charter schools or moving away.  The drama was in full swing from the Farley camp.

It appears that Farley’s up to it the high drama again. This time Scarpinato took a swipe at him.

Better than the big summer blockbuster.

Dry eyes in the House…

06/24/2009 11:55 AM
Daniel Scarpinato

Early this week state House Democrats sought to put the Republican’s proposed budget cuts in context by highlighting a young Arizona woman’s emotional life story.

But one Tucson Democrat apparently thought the story needed a little early helium when recalling it to his constituents.

At the Democrat’s regular Monday morning press briefing this week, Capitol reporters heard from a 16-year-old Phoenix high school student named Becca. Becca has suffered from a congenital heart defect nearly since birth and said she is served through a state program called Children’s Rehabilitative Services.

Democrats suggested that the program and Becca’s care could be at risk if the Republican’s cuts are passed — although they admitted it’s unclear at this point what programs in the Department of Health Services would be cut.

Well, in Rep. Steve Farley‘s latest “Farley Report” that he emails to constituents and supporters, the Tucson Democrat recalls the incident. But most of the reporters saw one glaring fabrication in his retelling.

“As she told her story, even hardened Capitol reporters were brought to tears,” Farley wrote.

Farley is away in Ireland for a week and has not yet responded to an email asking for details. But no one — including this reporter — remember reporters turning on the waterworks, although Becca’s compelling story clearly did move many of the lawmakers in the room.

Both the “hardened” reporters — and those of us of softy sorts — stayed composed from what we remember.

12th June
2009
written by Arizona Kid

A few months back Rep. Antenori at the request of the Green Valley Chamber of Commerce, took aim at the MTCVB for lack of love going down Green Valley way. Antenori worked up a bill to allow funds to be diverted to the GV Chamber. The bill was stopped and appears a deal was struck.

(From Green Valley News – Follow below link)

Pressure helps bring tourism dollars to GV

By Daniel Newhauser, Green Valley News

Published: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 7:17 PM MDT
Green Valley will see an influx of money to help spur tourism thanks to months of negotiations and pressure from a bill that would have changed the way hotel bed-tax money is doled out.
In an agreement with the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, which receives 3 percent of county bed taxes from hotels in unincorporated areas, will use a percentage of tax money that comes from Green Valley hotels to promote tourism in the community, said Jim DiGiacomo, chamber president.

“It’s a milestone for the chamber and this area,” he said. “It’ll bring more people here and, in turn, it helps businesses.”

Rep. Frank Antenori, who represents Southern Arizona and Green Valley, mediated the discussions between the two organizations in his Phoenix office. He said the contract stipulates that the visitors bureau will calculate the total bed-tax revenue collected in Green Valley and give one-third of it in the form of a grant to the chamber to use to promote tourism.

“We sat down, hammered it out, and came up with a deal,” Antenori said. “Now, (Green Valley is) going to be able to pull the resources of all the hotels and resorts in the area and get a good marketing effort together.”

DiGiacomo said the money will be used to pay upkeep for the chamber office as well as produce and distribute pamphlets showcasing tourist attractions and beef up online promotions.

The agreement also gives the chamber representation on the visitors bureau’s marketing committee and a chance to be on the board of directors, he added.

The change will take effect July 1 and last for three years after which both parties have the option to renegotiate.

Jonathan Walker, the Tucson visitors bureau’s president and CEO, said Green Valley should see more tourist spending as a result of the efforts.

“We’re going to figure out how to work hand-in-hand to better market Green Valley as a tourist destination,” Walker said. “We’re trying to do something positive for the Green Valley area.”

He added that the bureau has similar agreements with other Arizona communities.

The change comes on the heels of a now-dead state bill that, if passed, would have change the way bed-tax money is divided.

Currently, Pima County levies a 6 percent tax on hotels and motels in unincorporated areas such as Green Valley; the tax netted $8.7 million in fiscal year 2007-08. Half of that, per state law, is designated for the county’s “recognized tourism promotion agency.” The only such agency in Pima County is the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose Web site — www.visittucson.org — describes it as “the chief marketing agency for Tucson and Southern Arizona.”

With four major hotels and a number of bed-and-breakfasts, Green Valley pays a significant amount of money into the bureau’s funding stream but doesn’t get its fair share back, said Randy Graf, chair of the chamber’s governmental affairs team.

“We felt that most of that was being concentrated in Tucson itself. We didn’t feel like enough of it was coming here,” he said. “The word ‘metropolitan’ in there sort of indicates that they are working for the greater Tucson area.”

So chamber officials proposed to Antenori HB 2487, which would have allowed more than one recognized tourism promotion entity to receive part of the distribution from the county. That would give the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, or any number of agencies from unincorporated areas, the opportunity to get a piece of the county funds.

Instead of seeing the bill through the Legislature, however, chamber officials met with visitors bureau officials several times since March to negotiate a way to share existing funds, Graf said.

“Bills like this can get people’s attention, bring stakeholders to the table,” he said. “If they can get together, negotiate, then the bill is no longer necessary.”

After the deal was struck, Antenori said, he killed the bill.

“The bill had its desired effect, which was to basically level the disparity in how the bed tax was done,” Antenori said. “I think everybody wins. In the long run, I think it’s going to pay off big time for Southern Arizona.”

And he added that the agreement could serve as a precedent for other unincorporated communities: If they organize chambers of commerce and a solid marketing plan, they could appeal for a chance to get funding, too.

“That’s a fair way to do it,” he said. “I don’t see what’s wrong with that.”

dnewhauser@gvnews.com

11th March
2009
written by Arizona Kid

Looks like Paton, Antenori and Melvin are going to have to stick their necks out to keep the TIF funding for Rio Nuevo. You can bet there will be many strings attached. The idea of rational, business owners, without a stake in the project is a critical part of the plan.

From today’s AZ Star,  discussion on Rio Nuevo:

“I don’t want to kill Rio Nuevo,” Antenori said. “As much I’d like to do it for spite to the City Council, the reality is the business impact is far more important. We have to save it.”

“The city government in Tucson is dysfunctional in almost every dimension,” said Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler. “And the idea that we would trust them, even in some reconfigured state, with $500 million to advance the economic growth of Arizona, I would find astonishing.”

Waring told fellow Republicans that Rio Nuevo Director Greg Shelko didn’t further his cause at last month’s hearing.

“It was a really underwhelming performance; I can’t emphasize that enough,” Waring told a group that included Senate President Bob Burns and Appropriations Chairman Russell Pearce, who will be putting the budget together. “It was really, really ugly. … It was about as bad a performance as you’re going to see down here. They really didn’t articulate what it is that’s happening.”

Even local lawmakers were critical. Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, said, “Quite, frankly, as a Tucsonan, I was embarrassed.”

But Paton also said the hearing was a wake-up call for city officials, who are now focusing on the plans for the Convention Center, hotel and arena as signs of progress.

“I had been telling them they had problems with the Legislature,” Paton said. “I don’t think they really took that seriously. I think they started talking it pretty seriously after that hearing.”

 Rio Nuevo’s future could rest in the ability of Tucson Republicans – Antenori, Paton and Sen. Al Melvin in particular – to convince their colleagues the project is worthy.

Melvin, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has the ear of Pearce. Melvin indicated Tuesday he wants to keep the funding in place with Paton’s legislative changes.

“All these things, if we can incorporate them, hopefully we’ll get it on the right track,” Melvin said.

In what he himself calls a “twist of fate,” Antenori, a long-time critic of the project, has taken the lead defending Rio Nuevo to House leadership. He wants to retain all funding.

15th February
2009
written by Arizona Kid

Education is a hot potato right now in AZ. This press release came our way from the legislative leadership.  

A prior post regarding Antenori’s Op-Ed denial by the Az Star pointed out that;

Raise taxes you say and and cut less? Here’s an interesting fact I heard from another State legislator; it took Arizona 100 years to grow it’s budget to $6 billion. It took Napolitano only 4 years to grow it to $10.3 billion. Do you think we over spent a bit? 

 Google, Education Spending Arizona, and you’ll find a bunch of sources for yourself. Look at the issue and do some homework, then make up your own mind.

 

Education Funding

Rank

Source(s)1

§         Estimated Funding Per Pupil (from all sources): $9700

 

JLBC, 2009
§         Estimated Funding Total from all sources: $10.3 Billion

 

JLBC, 2009
§         K-12 & Higher Education comprise nearly 60% of the state General Fund

 

JLBC, 2009
§         % increase in expenditures over 20 years (in inflation-adjusted $$)

4th

ALEC, 2006
§         Funding Per Classroom of students

26th

ALEC, 2006
§         Total Revenues from State Government

19th

NEA, 2008
 Teacher Salaries

 

 
§         Average salary of all instructional staff2

12th

NEA & BEA, 2006
§         Average salary of all instructional staff relative to per capita income

2nd

NEA & BEA, 2006
§         Average salary of public school teachers

24th

NEA & BEA, 2006
§         Average salary of public school teachers relative to per capita income

17th

NEA & BEA, 2006
 Academic Achievement

 

 
§         ACT composite scores

21st

ALEC, 2007
§         SAT composite scores

27th

ALEC, 2007
§         Of the 26 states where the SAT is more predominantly taken than the ACT

3rd

ALEC, 2007
§         Overall Student Achievement

31st

ALEC, 2007
 Enrollment

 

 
§         K-12 student enrollment

13th

NEA, 2008
§         % increase in enrollment over 10 years

2nd

ALEC, 2006
§         % increase in enrollment over 20 years

2nd

ALEC, 2006
 Other

 

 
§         Charter School Laws

4th

ALEC, 2007
§         % of individuals 18-24 years-old with a Bachelor Degree

11th

NSF, 2005

 

Why it is INACCURATE to say Arizona ranks 49th in Education:

§         This is just ONE statistic, based solely on a “per pupil” spending calculation

§         The “per pupil” spending calculation does not take into account the following:

                     i.      uniformity as to what funding categories go into the calculation from state-to-state (for example, Arizona has consistently ranked at the top for capital expenditures per pupil, but none of those dollars are factored into Arizona’s per pupil calculations)

                   ii.      actual dollars spent in the classroom from district-to-district or state-to-state

                  iii.      cost of living adjustments

                 iv.      voter-established constitutional requirements/limitations for education funding

                   v.      estimates and redundancies in student counts

                 vi.      calculation variances that occur because of rapid growth issues faced by states like Arizona, versus states experiencing little, no or negative growth

§         It makes absolutely no sense for public policy to be driven by one isolated apples-to-oranges statistic, which looks at education spending in a vacuum

§         There are better gauges to education ranking that are outcome-based indicators, such as student achievement, test scores, etc.

§         The per-pupil expenditure is really a reflection of class size, excluding the idea of efficiency

§         A general state analysis by ALEC, as well as one by the RAND Corporation of California’s massive (and expensive) effort to reduce class sizes, has found no correlation between class sizes and test scores.

1 JLBC: Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee; ALEC: American Legislative Exchange Council; NEA: National Education Association; BEA: Bureau of Economic Analysis; NSF: National Science Foundation; ATRA: Arizona Tax Research Association.

 

2 “Instructional staff” includes teachers, as well as principals, supervisors of instruction, guidance personnel, etc.  It does NOT include administrative staff.

13th February
2009
written by JHiggins

Antenori took a lot of heat from the local papers during his campaign and realized early on he wouldn’t get a fair shake. He actually refused to go to the editorial interview for his general election race, the Citizen endorsed him anyway. 

This week he’s taking a bunch of heat for cutting the $25 million annual funding of the the 21st Century Science Fund. The fund was set up with the help of SALC, Greater Phoenix Leadership Council and the Flagstaff 40 to set up state funding for economic development purposes.  Read our previous post HERE.

Needless to say Antenori took a lot of heat for cutting 21st Century. The house leadership, Governor, business community and newspapers piled on. I spoke with Frank and can sympathise with his position. How do you tell a mother that AHCCCS isnt’ going to cover her child’s needed procude due to budget constraints and then let anything non essential exist on the states dole?

Raise taxes you say and and cut less? Here’s an interesting fact I heard from another State legislator; it took Arizona 100 years to grow it’s budget to $6 billion. It took Napolitano only 4 years to grow it to $10.3 billion. Do you think we over spent a bit?

In the middle of all the anger and arm twisting Antenori chose to write and OP ED to the Az Star. Thanks again to Gila Courier. Here is his response from the editorial board;

 

Dear Mr. Antenori,

Thank you for submitting a guest opinion to the Arizona Daily Star. We regret to inform you that we have decided against using your article because it fundamentally misrepresents how Science Foundation Arizona works and how it uses state money.

As a guest opinion writer, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but your facts must be correct. In this case, they are not. Please see our notes embedded within your article below and you’ll see where we believe the guest opinion is in error. In general, we believe your article mischaracterizes the funding as a cash bonus to big corporations and neglects to mention that corporations contribute money to match the state’s money.

Sincerely,

Martin Rosales
Editorial writer
Arizona Daily Star

4th February
2009
written by Arizona Kid

Follow the bouncing ball. This gets a little complicated and the story is still developing but here is what we know so far. Thanks to Gila Courier – HEREfor filling in some of the pieces. And a post HERE from American Conservative Blog digs into the mission of 21st Century a bit more.

Here we go…

1. AZ is facing a major budget shortfall as we all know. Conservative Republicans have the power and through a combination of hatchet and scalpel they are carving back the expenses and refusing to touch the income. Education is the big hit along with across the board cuts in almost every program.

2. A group of House legislators go after an apparent sacred cow, the 21st Century Fund;

The Arizona Guardian reported on Friday that Rep. Jerry Weiers (LD 12) was part of a group of legislators who fought against the continued funding of the corporate welfare, slush fund known as the 21st Century Fund. Saturday the Arizona Republic reported that Rep. Sam Crump (LD 6) and 4 freshman legislators also stood against the system and made sure that the $22.5 million went toward education instead of special interests and large corporations. The Republic did not state who they were but this blog has learned that at least 5 freshmen possibly one more stood their ground.

The comment section of Seeing Red AZ had some details but this blog has uncovered more of the story. The five new Representatives who stayed strong in opposing corporate welfare were Carl Seel (LD 6,) Steve Montenegro (LD 12,) David Stevens (LD 25,) Frank Antenori (LD 30,) and David Gowan(LD 30.) Seel, Montenegro, Stevens, and Antenori were summoned to the governor’s office for some one on one time. They all stood firm.

3.  Rep. Sam Crump was stipped of his chairmanship by speaker Kirk Adams in retaliation for spear heading the cuts. 

In a stunning development, House Speaker Kirk Adams has stripped State Representative Sam Crump of his committee chairmanship and is also apparently taking steps to strip him of his office space and administrative assistant.  Adams is taking these steps to punish Crump for his lead role in cutting the funding for Janet Napolitano’s 21st Century Fund.

4.  And now for the Tucson connection. Apparently Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC) got very up in arms over the cut of 21st Century Fund and went into motion. The Greater Phoenix Leadership Council, Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Flagstaff 40 were instrumental in setting it up in the first place.

5. The final connecting of the dots. 21st Centruy Fund awarded $2.2 million in 07′ and $9 million in 08′ to a group created here in southern Arizona called C-PATH. Their mission is to bring pharmaceuticals to market quicker than the traditional FDA process. The two areas of focus for C-PATH are cancer and alzhiemer drugs. Who was just appointed to run C-PATH? Non other than Rick Myer the former head of SALC and one of 3 finalist for the TUSD Superintendent job.

The cost and time to bring a drug to market in the U.S. is staggering. Only a fraction of the promising drugs ever emerge beyond the phase IV studies to become a viable product. The days of the blockbuster may be behind us. The industry is trending towards more niche drugs that fit ever smaller patient populations. Couple mergers of major pharma companies like Wyeth and Pfizer, tightening of the FDA approval process and you can see that C-PATH is a tough investment, especially if it’s public dollars. It’s getting to be that the only companies that can weather the R&D storm and  bring a drug to market are the big boys, pretty risky investment with public money.

Economic development is critical to our state and our region. Without knowing to many of the ins and outs and successes of the new C-PATH program it’s hard to say if the states investment is going to pay dividends. C-PATH is clearly a well thought out long term investment that was lobbied for by big business interest in our state. The question is will the cut in funding be the cut in end of the program? Will private industry step in and carry the torch. Will SALC and Meyer continue to flex their muscles to protect their funding?

From American Conservative Repubican;

Making Arizona competitive in a global economy may be a worthy goal for the private and public sector, but it shouldn’t be funded with your tax dollars. Every citizen is free and encouraged to donate to any charity or non profit they wish to, but government funds are the people’s money, it is taken out of the pockets of the people by the force of law and should be used, as Lincoln said, to do those things the people can’t do for themselves.

28th December
2008
written by Downtown Dudette

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 blow
Losing 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.”
Come on Bob are you kidding me. I believe in being a cheerleader for the City but how about a dose of reality now and then….
And what about the City’s idea to bond now before the state can pull the funding?
Words of caution
Some 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:

Voter Authorization

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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