Posts Tagged ‘Grijalva’
By Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone, Inside Tucson Business | 0 comments
Has Tucson’s Democratic machine overplayed it’s hand? Are moderate Democrats and the growing number of independents ready to make some changes in this year’s Tucson City Council races or next year’s Pima County Board of Supervisors races?
Will the business community show up with their dollars and their support? Have we hit the tipping point?
Here are the facts:
1. Rio Nuevo gets new board to wrest control away from the Tucson City Council.
State Attorney General and FBI investigations have been launched find out what happened to $230 million of taxpayers money spent on downtown redevelopment with little to show.
2. Buses and light rail priorities.
The city council panics over 10-cent low-income bus fare while at the same time prepares to build a $196 million streetcar system that will cost millions per year to run and will need dense development in old neighborhoods to sustain any ridership. To build a much-needed student housing project in the hole that was an old YMCA at Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street, the developer pays $15,000 and monthly payments of $2,500 for 15 years to the surrounding neighborhood in order to get the council’s approval. How much longer will developers pay to play to invest with uncertainty or skip by Tucson?
3. The City Council refers a half cent sales tax to voters only to be defeated by 20 percent margin.
Voters have lost confidence in city government and the Mayor and Council. Did the council get the message that it’s time to tighten belts and reprioritize? Tucson moved $13 million in federal money for pothole repairs to build a bridge over the Santa Cruz River to qualify for other federal money for the four-mile streetcar. Priorities?
4. University of Arizona versus University Medical Center.
The UA makes a public power play to bring UMC back under its control. The hospital was spun off in 1984 to keep if from folding. Today, UMC generates $90 million per year to support future nurses, doctors and pharmacists. Follow the money. And yet just two weeks ago, Inside Tucson Business’ 2011 List of Largest Employers showed the UA surpassing Raytheon Missile Systems for No 1. This despite state budget cuts, tuition increases and a hiring freeze.
5. Where are the jobs?
A 300-acre solar farm in an old cotton field near Marana gets caught in the political buzzsaw of neighbors and paybacks for old political scores. Supposedly, Tucson is a top 25 Solar City in the United States yet we continue to delay and politicize an investment in green technology? County Supervisor Sharon Bronson and her colleagues are delaying the project by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, the Spanish firm that is one of the world’s leading solar power operators, may look to go elsewhere. We already know about the supervisors trying to block the Rosemont Copper mine. And now a solar farm?
6. U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva.
The five-term congressman’s call for a boycott of Arizona over passage of SB 1070 almost cost him re-election from previously unknown Ruth McClung. Are voters tired of the rhetoric?
7. Back-room deals.
The city council votes on a land deal to sell downtown redevelopment property in Rio Nuevo to the Gadsden Company for $250,000, which resells the property to a low-income housing project for $1.43 million, according to the Arizona Daily Star’s Rob O’Dell (March 22). Councilwoman Shirley Scott joined the majority after she received a letter from Gadsden’s attorney, Larry Hecker, detailing the $1.5 million Gadsden said it put into the project. “I think that speaks well for this group,” Scott said, adding Gadsden is not asking for any special treatment. And, it just so happens, Hecker is Scott’s campaign chair for re-election. He was also campaign chair for City Councilwoman Nina Trasoff’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign and Bronson’s 2008 campaign. When will Tucsonans say enough is enough?
8. Marana wastewater fight.
Pima County’s heavy-handed clout using its wastewater management system as awakened Marana and now the town’s voters may be ready to change find a supervisor in 2012 that is more in turned with their goal of becoming a world-class municipality.
9. Pima County property taxes keep going up.
The Pima County Assessor’s office actually increased the values of most of the commercial property in the county, despite three years of the most depressed real estate market in generations. Now, the supervisors are looking at raising the county’s property tax rate by 17 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Pima County government had 8,396 full-time equivalent employees in 2008 and has 8,132 today. Take out a loss of 450 positions through a contract shift at Pima Health Systems and the number of Pima County employees actually grew.
10. Democratic party primary endorsements.
Typically, political parties don’t weigh picking favorites until after their electorates choose candidates in the primary election. But Pima County’s Democratic Party already has picked its slate for the Tucson City Council and the primary isn’t until Aug. 30. The endorsements brought a sharp letter of rebuke from six Democratic state representatives, including Tucsonans Sally Ann Gonzales, Matt Heinz, Bruce Wheeler and Macario Saldate.
11. All mail elections.
Under the guise of trying to “save money,” the Tucson council changed the rules of the election game just as its Democratic incumbents face tough re-election campaigns. An investigation is underway over irregularly marked mail-in ballots in South Tucson and now mail ballots have gone missing in this month’s Sahuarita council elections. The “save money” argument is a smokescreen.
12. Tourism in the toilet.
As reported in Inside Tucson Business, passenger traffic at Tucson International Airport for March, normally the busiest month of the year, is at 16-year lows. Tucson didn’t have Major League Baseball Spring Training this year for the first time since 1947. Now the economy is beginning to feel the negative impact of mismanagement of the tourist assets that have been taken for granted. Last month Travel+Leisure called Tucson one of their top 25 “most under-rated cities in the world” – not just the United States, the world. That’s not a good thing for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau whose job it is to get the word out.
13. Arizona is projected to add jobs, but not Tucson.
State economic development officials are projecting Arizona will add more than 17,300 jobs in the next year but the Tucson region won’t see any of them. To accentuate the point, tourism is expected to grow by 3.1 percent statewide but will drop 0.2 percent in the Tucson region.
14. More low-wage jobs.
When Intel announced earlier this year it was spending $5 billion to expand and build in Chandler, it included a projection of 1,000 high-paid new jobs. Within days of that announcement Tucson, landed its expansion that will be bring us another 400 call center jobs. This on top of the announcement that Tucson-based Raytheon Missile division decided to build its newest plant in Huntsville, Ala., not here.
15. Mexican-American Studies.
A student demonstration prevented the Tucson Unified School District governing board meeting from taking place April 26 because the board was due to vote on moving the program to an elective instead of allowing it as a substitute for the core subject of American History.
Moving Mexican-American Studies to an elective would put it in line with African American Studies, Native American Studies and Pan Asian Studies as well as art, music and some foreign languages among other important options students can choose. Mexican-American Studies serves 5 percent of the district’s approximately 53,000 students, yet it has taken an inordinate amount of the attention.
Meanwhile, there are issues with procurement irregularities, school closures and students’ low achievement scores on standardized tests.
Tucson is not a shiny liberal city on the hill. The so-called political progressives like to look up to cities like San Francisco or Portland, Ore. They admire the environmental commitment of Boulder, Colo., and dream of being the Berkeley, Calif., of the desert.
But Tucson’s city core crumbles while suburbs flourish. This region’s vision and planning is taking place in Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita.
Lately, people including Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” have had some fun over Democratic leaders’ idea of Southern Arizona becoming a 51st state. It’s just a diversionary tactic from Democrats trying to gloss over the facts we’ve presented here.
Tucson may be the butt of jokes but those who are struggling to run businesses and earn a living here aren’t laughing. It’s time for a change starting with this year’s city elections.
Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at firstname.lastname@example.org. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.
By Inside Tucson Business staff
Published on Friday, September 17, 2010
Editorial: Convention Center faces huge dilemma The Tucson Convention Center has not been a cash cow for the city of Tucson through the years. Indeed, it has been operating in the red since its inception in 1971. This year, the expected deficit is $2.5 million.
Sept. 2, 1996
The center is considered too small with too few neighboring hotel rooms to be very competitive. While conventions have great economic impact, they only make up about 3 percent of the use of the TCC.
In February 1995, a consultant released an operational assessment of the TCC. The Stein Report had a number of recommendations to increase the bottom line. The city however, rejected the recommendation to privatize the community center. (from yesterday’s Star - TCC merging departments and may be removing director and losing millions per year.)
The city adopted some of the Stein Report’s recommendations, such as adding a ticket surcharge and eliminating free parking. Currently, the “facility fee” surcharge is $1 per ticket and parking, typically, is $8 per vehicle.
The TCC still runs at a deficit of about $3 million a year. The city’s goals to expand the TCC and build a convention center hotel are still unmet. (With the City of Tucson managing the TCC I’m bullish on the next 10 years)
GTEC assails personal-property taxes on businesses
Oct. 21, 1996
Blaming hefty personal-property taxes for dissuading companies from choosing Tucson as a prime location, the Greater Tucson Economic Council has placed the issue high on its hit list for the coming year.
A special committee dealing with the dilemma will be set up by GTEC as the organization pursues its goals of recruiting high-wage employers to the Tucson area.
“The property tax is singly the most important issue in the upcoming year,” said Bob Walkup, chairman of GTEC. “If we don’t want to fix that issue, we have to be content with low capital density.”GTEC President Robert Gonzales said two big firms—a printing company and a semiconductor company—bringing hundreds of jobs and $600 million in investment were lost this year due to property taxes.
Tucson will be forever relegated to a service economy as long as the city taxes away capital intensive industries and their well-paying jobs.
Business taxes are still an issue in manufacturing-starved Tucson and Arizona. The bottom line is that equipment-related taxes make the state and its cities uncompetitive.
Existing business taxes include assessments for signs, office supplies, communications equipment, and security systems. Office equipment (computers, desks, chairs and copiers) also are taxed along with display cases and shelves, and cash registers.
Specific to the manufacturing industry, taxes are piled on machines, tools, fork lifts, cranes, testing equipment and special tools.
At the GTEC meeting, Walkup, who became the city’s mayor in 1999, highlighted the need to eliminate the business personal-property tax. That hasn’t happened. Neither has the city reined in its appetite for sales taxes. Currently at 9.1 percent, Tucson has the nation’s 16th highest rate of combined state and municipal taxes, according to the Tax Foundation of Washington, D.C.
It might not be fourth down and long, but organizers of the Copper Bowl need a successful game plan to ensure the success of Tucson’s post seasons collegiate football game. Once again, the Copper Bowl Foundation has had to ask county and city officials for financial assistance for the Dec. 27 game.
Dec. 23, 1996
“After this, the time has come for them to make it on their own,” said Mayor George Miller, who has voted to support the bowl game with public funds. The bowl game lost its title sponsor this year—Weiser Lock withdrew after four years and about $4 million.
Insight Enterprises stepped in and kept the bowl game in Tucson until 1999 under the name of the Insight Bowl. In 2000, the game was moved to Phoenix and is now played at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium.
While most of the local political attention is focused on the new Democratic majority that takes control of the Pima County Board of Supervisors this week, just up the road, Marana is sizing up its place in the area’s development picture.
Dec. 30, 1996
Marana Mayor Ed Honea likes what he sees.
“I think Marana is going to be the golden child of Pima County,” Honea said. “Oro Valley is impacting developers, the county is about to impact and the city of Tucson is about out of desirable property. That leaves Marana.”
The impacts that Mayor Honea refers to are impact fees, a hot topic in the recent supervisors elections. It is an issue that helped Democrat Sharon Bronson unseat Ed Moore and put the Democrats in control of the board.
“I think the county is going to be in big trouble,” Honea said. “They’re going to send an anti-business, anti-development message. Marana is already in the alley where development is headed.”
Marana has an economic development strategic plan in place for its future. Marana’s location puts businesses close to the highly desirable physical assets of an interstate freeway, airport and a rail yard. The plan defines the types of commerce sectors and where they will be located within the town.
Marana does not assess a property tax and has no impact fees for commercial or industrial development, other than utilities.
With a recent history highlighted by infighting and controversy, members of the 1997 edition of the Pima County Board of Supervisors agree there is much work to be done in the coming months.
Jan. 6, 1997
That work will be done with a new Democratic majority leading the way. Sharon Bronson’s ouster of the controversial Ed Moore has given her and fellow Democrats Raul Grijalva and Dan Eckstrom an edge over Republicans Mike Boyd and newcomer John Even.
A hot issue for the supervisors is likely to be the future of County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. During the last major shift in the board’s balance of power, the Republican majority handed the job to Manoj Vyas.
Rumors persist that Huckelberry could be ousted for Enrique Serna, who was axed by the Republicans in favor of Vyas.
Since 1997, Democrats have remained in the majority. Huckelberry not only survived the replacement rumors, but has grown his authority to the point where he is one of the most powerful public servants in Southern Arizona.
Foreseeing the swing to Democratic control, Supervisor Raul Grijalva spearheaded the County’s first development impact fees in Nov. 1996. Since that time, Supervisors have put additional financial burdens on land developers and builders, demanding that they pay their fair share of growth-related expenses. (Elections have consequences folks! – Not only did impact fees hit but we spent $200m on open space, with another $500m on deck, pygmy owls added $20k to EVERY home in Pima County, mines are bad, voter approved bonds don’t get spent on the things voters agree to and Kino Hospital has become a $100m hole to treat the poor – the SHINY PROGRESSIVE COUNTY ON THE HILL.)
In 2003, Grijalva was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Arizona’s 7th congressional district. (Boycott Arizona – need we say more).
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