Posts Tagged ‘Mike Hein’
Three events surrounding Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment have occurred in the last month: the Tucson City Council rightly ended plans to build a convention center hotel, the state Auditor General released an audit of Rio Nuevo’s funds, and we did our first Rio Nuevo “Reality Tour.” As each event unfolded, there was an outcry from a portion of the downtown community. The common line in each was: “Let’s turn the page and concentrate on the future.”
In some cases, letting go of yesterday is a healthy step in the healing process. In this case, $230 million is missing with little to show for it. There needs to be an explanation to the individual and business taxpayers of the city and the State of Arizona.
Here are some things that need explanations: Print this story
• Are people who were complicit in the massive failure of Rio Nuevo still in positions of authority?
• How could the city make wholesale transfers of millions of dollars of assets with little more than a footnote in a financial statement?
• When will taxpayers get an explanation about every single dime that was spent?
There are “ghosts” of Rio Nuevo past. Most have departed the city bureaucracy. The cast of characters who deserve most of the responsibility for the fiasco that is Rio Nuevo include:
Former City Manager Mike Hein is back at Pima County working at the pleasure of County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. There was Hein’s right-hand man and in charge
of the early hotel projects, Jaret Barr. There was the early quarterback Assistant City Manager Karen Thoreson and project manager John Updike. Sprinkle in Greg Shelko — at $100 per hour — and former city managers Luis Gutierrez and Jim Keene, and you have the makings of too many government officials with too little private sector experience controlling a huge checkbook.
The financial audit spelled out the inability of the original four-member city-appointed Rio Nuevo board to manage and control the purse strings. The district was supposed to be autonomous and the board was to act as the gatekeeper of the tax revenues. The original board included former county Supervisor Dan Eckstom, bed-and-breakfast owner Jeff DiGregorio, Anne Marie Russell, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and former state Sen. Victor Soltero.
The chosen few
These are the myriad of consultants, engineers and planners who reaped huge fees for designs that were never used on projects that were never built, like commissioning an out-of-state company to make an $820,000 movie to be played in a museum that never got built. There were countless insider developers and campaign donors who were beneficiaries of $1 rents, free land and prime redevelopment tracks because they hired the right consultants or attorneys with the relationships. At least this is changing and the light is being shown on these backroom deals thanks to Councilman Steve Kozachik, investigative reporting and talk radio.
Three of Rio Nuevo’s “superstars” are gone from the City Council: Jose Ibarra, Steve Leal and Nina Trasoff. Councilwoman Shirley Scott and Mayor Bob Walkup still bear responsibility because they’ve been there from the beginning. Walkup, the chief cheerleader for the hotel and light rail, has burned all his political capital and now needs to begin planning his second retirement.
Councilwoman Karin Uhlich added to the fiasco when she pushed for low-income housing projects that have taken an inordinate amount of attention at Rio Nuevo. Scott, Uhlich, Walkup and Councilwoman Regina Romero all were responsible for green lighting an $80 million bond sale at the worst possible time to sell bonds, and for spending it on museum designs, orange griffen statutes, and an over-priced parking garage. They can also take credit for $18 million to plan a hotel that never made sense.
After researching and leading a tour for 40 people a few weeks ago, we came to a realization that the taxpayer was not only robbed by this Rio Nuevo debacle, but punched in the mouth by the city.
The lines between what were Rio Nuevo assets and City of Tucson assets have been so blurred they’ll be hard to untangle. We’ve identified over $44 million that have shifted balance sheets and will probably involve lawsuits to sort out. There is a $14 million parking garage and $30 million spent on the west side.
And just before the state installed a new Rio Nuevo oversight board, the city removed $30 million of assets from Rio Nuevo. Coincidence?
People who were compliant in the fiasco now must face the consequences. These are the first steps the city must take to regain the trust of taxpayers and the Legislature.
We’ll be willing to turn the page on Rio Nuevo when the city is open and transparent — two concepts that have been lacking in the project so far.
Copyright © 2010 Inside Tucson Business
by Jim Nintzel – The Tucson Weekly – April 15, 2009
Rumors are swirling that the underlying tensions between council members Nina Trasoff and Karin Uhlich—exemplified by the fact that Trasoff was furious about Uhlich’s decision to fire Mike Hein last week—stem from the fact that both women harbor ambitions about becoming mayor in two years, when Republican Bob Walkup’s third term comes to an end.
Uhlich says she believes in a simple, nonpolitical mantra: “Do good work; work hard; stay centered on the public’s interest; and the politics unfold. I don’t know what doors will open to me in the future, if any. I think a lot of people in public office get pulled off-track by looking toward whatever ambition might lie ahead. And so I don’t do that.”
During the TV interview, Uhlich also said she was open to increasing the city’s environmental-services fee, which was derided by Democrats as a “garbage tax” when Uhlich and Trasoff were running for office four years ago.
Uhlich, who had supported a trash fee when she was on the city’s budget committee in the 1990s, was more careful about her rhetoric than Trasoff during the campaign. Rather than calling for a repeal of the fee, she criticized the implementation of it. She also declined to take any kind of position on what should be done about it, saying only that the council needed “to revisit the whole thing and put everything back on the table.”
After they were elected, Uhlich and Trasoff made an effort to persuade their colleagues to consider reducing the fee, but the once the incumbent Democrats who had opposed the “garbage tax” actually had the power to do something about it, they discovered they liked spending all that money. Surprise, surprise.
Now Uhlich says the fee, like many others in the city, isn’t too high after all. Instead, it’s too low and should be indexed to inflation and subject to regular increases. Now that’s what we call revisiting.
Uhlich says indexing fees to inflation makes sense, because too often, politicians don’t regularly increase fees.
“Often, governing bodies are afraid of any revenue discussion,” Uhlich said. “We avoid it, avoid it, avoid it, avoid it, and then every 10 years, there’s a 25 to 50 percent jump.”
We wonder why politicians are afraid of talking about raising revenues, which is the latest code for hiking taxes. It could be because when they do, challengers come along and relentlessly pound them for doing so. Good thing Uhlich is above that kind of thing.
Listening to Uhlich reminded us of how the City Council avoided any talk of raising bus fares until last year, when the Transportation Department suggested a 25-cent hike in bus fares. Who led the opposition to that increase? Oh, yeah—Karin Uhlich.
Instead, the City Council threatened to fire Hein and created a new mass-transit committee to consider whether the increase was justified. And even though that committee came back with a recommendation to hike the fee, the council has taken no action.
So let’s see if we understand how this is supposed to work: First, support a fee. Then oppose its implementation, because the increase is too high. Then once elected, keep it at its current level until costs increase, and then call for annual future increases.
We can’t imagine why Mike Hein would run into trouble working with these people.
(We wouldn’t be surprised to see Ward 4 Councilwoman Shirley Scott show some interest in that contest as well. And we’re not counting out Ward 2 Councilman Rodney Glassman, although we hear he might have his eye on the larger prize of Arizona secretary of state.)
On Arizona Illustrated last week, Uhlich said she had no plans to run for mayor in two years and is concentrating on winning re-election in November. But she also declined to pledge to serve her full four years if re-elected.
From today’s Citizen – HERE
Uhlich, who made the motion to dismiss Hein, said Tuesday evening that the decision to fire Hein would not have a substantial effect on the city’s wrangling with precipitous drops in revenue or its struggle to maintain the Rio Nuevo sales tax stream the state Legislature has threatened to sever. “The city certainly doesn’t ride on the rise or fall of one person,” she said.
Romero provided similar assurances, referring to the city as “a well-oiled machine” staffed with top-notch department leaders.
She cited concerns about transparency. “I think Tucson deserves better,” Romero said.
The vote left Hein’s three council supporters fuming.
“I think it was one of the most patently shortsighted and ill-conceived decisions they could have made,” Trasoff said of her colleagues.
Glassman said, “I supported the city manager based on his work performance and the importance of consistency and focus on taking care of our neighbors during these troubled economic times.”
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.
Council Candidate Ward 6
Breaking News – City Manager Mike Hein lost a vote of confidence with the Tucson City Council. The motion was made by Uhlich, seconded by Scott and ratified by Romero and Leal. Trasoff pushed hard to keep the City Manager during the discussion phase but ultimately the votes weren’t there.
What about Rio Nuevo……
Despite the council’s criticism of Hein’s handling of Rio Nuevo, state Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, said the city’s problems with the Legislature will only grow worse if Hein is fired. He said he’s heard from numerous people in Tucson and Phoenix that Hein’s neck is on the chopping block.
Paton, who wants to reform Rio Nuevo rather than kill it, said that job will quickly become impossible if Hein is fired.
While he said he didn’t agree with everything Hein has done, Paton added, “The credibility of Rio was done with his word and his handshake in 2006″ when the Legislature voted to extend Rio Nuevo.
“All bets are off if they get rid of him,” he said.
So complete is Mike Hein’s lack of ego and presumptuousness that when it came to becoming the lone Tucson city manager “candidate,” he didn’t campaign for the job, didn’t prepare a resume and had consolidated his retirement accounts into the state system to which Pima County employees belong. As a deputy Pima County administrator, Hein was content to guide the landmark transformation of the region’s increasingly splintered, increasingly stumbling economic-development effort. He was pleased to work the details and handle the negotiations aimed at a full county takeover of the Tucson-Pima Library System, freeing up to $10 million a year in city money. He was satisfied in his $144,456-a-year job bringing–sometimes dragging–the county’s economic development and community services into the 21st century.
He was pleased, after moving from Marana city manager to the county post in August 2003, to be County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s heir apparent.
Now he will presumably be Huckelberry’s counterpart, a near equal in the management of the region’s other $1-billion-a-year government. Supporters also hope Hein will tame the openly obdurate city bureaucracy to create the first example of solid city-county cooperation–or at least a sharp reduction in the waste of money that decades-long turf battles have cost taxpayers.
At 38, Hein would be the youngest man to take the top job at the city in modern history.
Unlike Tucson Water Director David Modeer, Hein did not parade for the job. Unlike former IBM executive Rick Myers, Hein did not engage in an orchestrated movement to be considered for the position.
City Hall insiders confirmed last week that Myers was but “a half-vote away” from becoming city manager late last year. Myers, the immediate past point man for the pro-growth Southern Arizona Leadership Council, rose like Icarus and rapidly fell. It is a pattern for many initial front-runners for municipal leadership. Even as they were touting Myers’ ability to listen and build consensus, the influential players in this contest began talking up Hein.
Hein, an utterly humble Wisconsin native who worked in South Tucson, survived Nogales politics and led Marana government’s efforts to grow up responsibly. He executes what Myers preaches.
A registered Democrat who lives in Oro Valley, Hein was thrust into the lead position several weeks ago, when some at City Hall approached Bob McMahon, head of a Tucson restaurant empire, about the dawdling pace of the City Council’s national search for a manager.
McMahon needed little convincing of Hein’s skills, and he began the push with help from his longtime friend, Joel Valdez, the former city manager and current vice president for business at the UA. Others included Myers’ Leadership Council pal, S.L. Schorr, a Tucson lawyer; developer (La Paloma and Dove Mountain) David Mehl; and Larry Hecker, the lawyer who has aided local governments on commissions and committees for many years.
McMahon knows little about the details of city government, but he can host a sit-down at his steakhouse and has the ear of most council members. Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar, two Republicans who will be fighting for re-election this fall, were particularly attentive; they dropped ideas of a national search. Steve Leal, the Democrat who is the council’s senior member, also supported Hein. Leal is seeking a fifth term in the fall. Two other Democrats, Shirley Scott and Jose Ibarra, also supported forgoing the search in favor of Hein. Mayor Bob Walkup, a Republican, first said he supported proceeding with the search, then voted with five others to focus on Hein. Only Democrat Carol West protested.
Valdez’s support was key. He was an effective and powerful city manager for 17 years–longer than the combined tenure of his five successors. He also remains a key leader in Tucson’s diverse Hispanic community.
West has spoken for City Hall bureaucrats who adamantly opposed anyone from the county. She first gave voice to the city bureaucracy’s dislike for all thing county when Dunbar and Ibarra floated the concept of luring Huckelberry to the city’s top job.
Hein appeals to McMahon’s hope for regionalism and greater, if not great, city-county relations.
Democrats were always comfortable with Hein. It can be argued that he is their guy. He came out of South Tucson, the political turf of former powerful Supervisor Dan Eckstrom, and Nogales. Leal, Eckstrom and their colleagues in the southside Democratic power structure apparently got their man in the city’s top job while Republicans did the heavy lifting. Ronstadt’s motion last week to abandon the national search while interviewing Hein was quickly seconded by Leal, a supremely rare voting combination.
So little did Hein covet the job that when the city’s human resources people called for his resume, Hein said, “I don’t have one.”
“If there is solid proof (that he wasn’t eyeing the city manager position)–if you don’t believe the resume story–I put all my retirement in the state system,” Hein says.
Mike Hein is a relaxed, fit man with a calm demeanor and self-deprecatory manner. A lifelong athlete, he is not too pious to have a cigarette. He is polite, but he isn’t overly impressed. He is nice, but he isn’t weak, and you quickly get the impression that he won’t be the one to back down from a fight.
He says he is “a little overwhelmed by all the positive expressions from such a wide cross section” that includes business leaders, developers and neighborhood and environmental activists.
“It is gratifying to know people believe that I treated them fairly,” Hein says.
Orphaned as a youngster, Hein was adopted and grew up in a loving foster family in Wauwatosa, on the Milwaukee line. His father was a mill worker in a lumberyard and his mother was a “loving and typical” Midwestern homemaker.
His father was seriously and permanently injured when he was struck by a car. Hein was in middle school. His mother didn’t drive and used city buses to ferry Hein and the other kids.
“It wore on my mother,” Hein says.
She, too, was tough. “She was in and out of hospice four times before she passed when I was in high school,” Hein says.
Hein played basketball in high school. He fesses up that he and the coach didn’t get along. He also concedes that he “never aspired to high education. I wanted a job so I could enjoy a six-pack once in a while.” A Jiffy Lube seemed like a suitable place to earn that kind of money, but Hein saw some college literature that included partying. Bearable.
Filling out financial aid papers, Hein says he asked his dad what the family’s annual income was.
“What did you make with that coaching job you had last summer?” his dad responded.
That was it.
“Loaded,” as Hein says, with Pell grants, he headed off to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He graduated in four years in 1988 with a double-major in public administration and political science, and a double-minor. He interned, in a bit of foreshadowing, for the city-county government.
The kid who considered a Jiffy Lube career for beer money then was prodded by professors to go to graduate school.
Money mattered. Hein said he would have loved Maryland for its joint law and master’s in public administration program, but the school didn’t offer assistantships. The University of Chicago had the prestige and assistantships, but horrid winters. The UA had both warm weather assistantships; Hein accepted a job as a dorm director.
“I packed everything I had in an Army C bag, got on a plane for the first time in my life and came to Tucson. I landed with $21 in my pocket,” Hein says. “I put the bag in oleander bushes outside Apache-Santa Cruz dorms and went to a saw mill for a job. Where else is a kid from Wisconsin going to work?”
Backing up, Hein notes that he borrowed the money for his plane ticket from his wife, Patricia. The two grew up on the same block and attended the same high school, but didn’t meet one another until later.
“She continues to remind me that she loaned me the money,” Hein says.
At the UA’s highly ranked MPA program, Hein flourished but baffled his professors. All of his classmates in the class of 1991 were bent on Washington, D.C., internships. Hein liked local government and its delivery of goods and services. Faculty eyes glazed over. What about government ethics, Hein asked.
“You’ll be unemployable,” he was told.
And then the Keating Five scandal broke out, with Arizona’s two senators, Republican John McCain and Democrat Dennis DeConcini, having to defend their actions in sticking up for convicted financier Charles H Keating and his collapsed Lincoln Savings & Loan.
“I had a sense of obligation,” Hein says of his grant-supported education. He wrote to many Wisconsin politicians, from then-Senator William Proxmire on down to county executives (the mayors of some county governments), saying he would work for free.
“No one called or wrote back. I must have written bad letters,” Hein says.
He stayed and worked an internship and several jobs in South Tucson.
“I cherish that to this day,” Hein says. “You get wide exposure and greater variety in smaller jurisdictions. I helped reformat the budget, worked with police, public works, the fire department. I encourage graduate students to go to the small communities. They need the help and you can do more.”
From the frying pan, Hein went to the fire when he joined Nogales city government as planning and zoning director, the first of several jobs that included finance director and assistant administrator from 1993 through 1997.
For all the rough and tumble of Pima County politics, it pales in comparison to Nogales, where political treachery has been both art and sport, particularly when the Nogales city charter guaranteed conflict with a strong mayor as the CEO. Continuity was out the window because mayors served a two-year term and were limited to just two consecutive terms.
Hein, by all accounts, kept everyone happy. He served Jose Canchola, the businessman who owns several McDonald’s restaurants in Tucson and Nogales, during Canchola’s choppy tenure as mayor (during which he was blasted as a carpetbagger) and the more turbulent term of the boy mayor, Louis Valdez, just 20 when elected.
“When I look back, I have no idea how I survived,” Hein says.
Valdez, ripped for his attention to MTV and his bar tabs covered with city credit cards, once presided over a meeting that produced a narrow vote to support a tight budget. Reporters captured Valdez saying all the right things after the meeting: the budget was a compromise, and no one got everything they wanted. But the next day, with Hein out golfing, Valdez exercised his right to veto the budget. Chaos ensued. The fiscal year began. Money wouldn’t flow. The city was like the federal government, needing a continuing resolution to keep basic functions and services going.
Out on the golf course, Hein’s beeper wouldn’t shut up. It flashed 911. Hein answered the summons and the mayor’s office still wearing his spikes. Valdez was entertaining some federal big shot and was set to leave on an extended European trip.
“Mike,” he told Hein, “I’ve vetoed the budget. You’ve got to sign it.”
Hein refused, pitching the document back to Valdez. But he secured sufficient votes from the council to keep the city operating. That was, Hein says, a time when he considered himself fired. He went home and didn’t answer any of the panicked calls.
Cesar Rios won a heated election to succeed Valdez, but he didn’t bother to await the official canvass of disputed results to call Hein and ask for office space. Hein finessed a way to get the mayor-elect space in City Hall, where Valdez still, if temporarily, presided.
Hein considered himself on thin ice, but the new mayor called him to say, “We’re going to keep you, but with a cut in pay.” That changed to, “Mike, we’d like to keep you with the same pay.” And that evolved into, “Mike, we want to keep you, but with a raise.”
Hein brought financial reforms and stability to Nogales and tapped federal sources for the overstressed city’s needs. He assisted in the rewrite of the city charter to eliminate that mayoral-council animus.
Unruffled as he is, Hein and his wife spotted the ad for the Marana position for someone to succeed Hurvie Davis, a former Tucson transportation director who announced a long-range plan to groom a replacement.
Some 200 people applied. The ultimate test for Hein and the few other finalists was a reverse field trip. Ora Harn, then Marana’s mayor and the embodiment of the town’s country-bumpkin government, and Davis, a sharp and personable man, were to “observe” Hein in his Nogales environment.
It worked. Hein started as an assistant manager in June 1997 and took over from Davis a year later.
Hein picked up where Davis left off, forcing Marana to grow into its wildly expanded borders and to quit its practice of being the region’s patsy for developers.
Under Hein, Marana levied the highest impact fees in the county upon new construction. It pioneered the construction sales tax. And when it couldn’t wait for county transportation bonds or hope that the money would ameliorate dreadfully congested roads, the town passed an increase in its sales tax for roads. Tucson and Pima County have failed to do so four times.
Hein also got Marana positioned with Pima County for the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and Marana, though it has big developments like Dove Mountain, began to demand set asides for open space and preservation.
Environmentalists have been pleasantly surprised. Developers praise Hein for helping institute rules they all know. Hein gives the credit to his Marana councils for all progress, big or small.
An example of Hein’s local and quaint focus is the time Marana government caught hell from a resident fired up about the lack of a traffic signal that would allow her and her neighbors to get on a main road safely. Her letter was nasty. All the bureaucratic studies–traffic warrants and the like–showed the light was not justified. Plus, there was the fail-safe excuse that the light was not in budget. Hein was determined to make it happen, considering not warrants and other bureaucratic hindrances, but the reality of access. He found out the woman’s birth date and on that day had an aide arrange for a cake decorated with a traffic light to be delivered to the woman’s home. It was attributed not to Hein, but to the Marana council. The light was recently installed.
Totally opposite James Keene, the city manager Hein will likely replace, Hein is best at building consensus among decision makers without alienating other players. He loves to dole out credit.
His first test will be to uphold the proposal he marshaled for a county takeover of library funding and operation, a move that will require city funding for several years.
Hein is a believer in contextual management. He combines art and craft. In Nogales, he says, he used more craft than art and the reverse in Marana.
He blows off steam by “hanging with his wife and kids,” by playing golf and “fat man’s basketball.” Indeed, he is part of the league run by Weekly columnist Tom Danehy.
He’s come, or slipped, a long way from the days when he was a graduate student playing regularly with members of the UA team. “Kenny Lofton (the former UA basketball, baseball and Major League star) was fast. Let me tell you,” he reports.
Hein also attended a summer program in 2001 for government officials at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Now, he is about to move up to a premier municipal job as the CEO of one of the largest cities that is run by an appointed manager.
He is grounded, forced to keep his head and humility by his wife and by his past.
“I don’t have as much stress as most people,” Hein says. “You want a bad job, go be a fry cook. People hollering at you all day. My job changes every day. That’s stress. And clearly I make in a few weeks what my family made in a year.”
By CHRIS LIMBERIS – PUBLISHED ON FEBRUARY 17, 2005:
The city manger is on pins and needles and more worried about self preservation than leading the ship. His cover your A#$s! approach to this years budget has brought the city to a stand still. Hein won’t release a budget until the council gives direction and the council isn’t knowledgeable enough or doesn’t have the guts to propose the needed cuts. It’s an election year for two power hungry incumbents so watch the sparks fly over the next couple weeks.
Do you think there’s a pattern developing in Tucson local government?
From Walter C – AZ Star.
The City budget is full of emotional, nice-to-do things that could be cut to balance the budget quickly without layoffs. But with the leftist, politically correct bunch on council, don’t look for any logical solutions. Mike Hein’s only goals in this are to keep his job, while crippling the City government to prepare it for a takeover by Chuckelberry and the County goons. Nobody in this game is looking for anything more than advancing their personal goals and agendas (including reelection).
Little action on proposalsThe council and Hein have done an intricate dance with the budget over the past year.Hein urged changes the council either rejected or took no action on — or, in a few cases, implemented.While rejecting Hein’s proposals, council members offered few alternatives, and haven’t passed any of their own ideas.Last June, council members complained Hein was over-stepping his authority and they needed to be more involved. But at an October budget-strategy session, in the face of an increasing deficit, they demurred and told Hein to figure out where to make cuts.In most cases, the council and Hein have backed away from dramatic action.A timelineJanuary 2008:Hein created a list of outside-agency funding he believed could be cut. Mayor Bob Walkup stressed belt- tightening in his State of the City speech.February 2008:Hein announced a hiring freeze, travel restrictions and deferring maintenance and acquisitions to help bridge what was then a $12 million shortfall for the budget year, which ended June 30.March/April 2008:Hein suspended the city’s sustainability plan of pre-programmed spending increases for road paving, police officers and firefighters, and parks.June 2008:The council approved this year’s budget, but slammed Hein over a proposal to increase bus fares to raise $1 million. The council soon moved to fire Hein, but then he was retained unanimously weeks later.August 2008: The city announced it needed to use $12 million to balance the previous year’s budget, lowering the city’s reserves from $44 million to under $32 million.September 2008:Hein proposed combining Community and Neighborhood services departments to save $380,000. The council agreed.October 2008:Plunging sales-tax receipts prompted the city’s budget deficit to explode to $51 million. The city said for the first time it might cut or suspend services. The council voted to cut funding for outside agencies by 10 percent, but told Hein to come back in December with a plan for more cuts.November 2008: The city began to quietly cut swimming pools and recreation centers, the TICET shuttle, graffiti abatement, and the Community Food Bank. It laid off some part-time and seasonal workers.December 2008: Hein announced another $31 million in cuts were needed. The council signed off on cutting police and fire academies, some Sun Tran bus service, and Parks and Recreation classes.January 2009: The council said it preferred raising fees and taxes or spending down the city’s rainy-day fund to making massive budget cuts.February 2009: Hein unveiled budget cuts and potential tax increases for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.Cuts included taking $4 million from outside agencies, saving $2 million by combining the Planning and Development Services departments, cutting $4 million in transit, and hitting employees with furloughs, higher benefit contributions and no more sick-leave buybacks to save a total of $10 million.He also offered a menu of tax increases, from which he hoped the council would implement $5 million worth.The council agreed it would back most of Hein’s proposed cuts at that time, but, on Tuesday, council members said they need to think about it further.Still scrapping Despite earlier statements they would back many of Hein’s cuts, council members criticized Hein over his budget again last week.Councilwoman Regina Romero demanded more public hearings on the budget, including longer ones to allow more people to speak.Uhlich was much harsher, saying the council needs to vote on many of Hein’s proposals, rather than continuing to let them linger in the public mind until they become de facto cuts with no council input.For example, the merger of the Planning and Development Services departments is already under way, and employees have been given layoff notices. The council has discussed the plan, but it has not taken action.In an interview, Uhlich said she has been “very aggressive to have the budget come in front of us. . . . Decisions have to be made sooner rather than later.”Councilman Rodney Glassman said in an interview that he has been talking for some time about his priorities of police, fire, parks and roads.But he said the council has not been able to come to any consensus, and he can’t make decisions alone.“The longer we wait, the more difficult our financial situation will be,” he said. “It takes four votes to align my priorities with the budget.”Hein said he welcomes policy direction because he doesn’t want to submit a budget to the council that is dead on arrival. But he told the council that submitting his own budget is “a duty under the (city) charter that I’m willing to fulfill.”He is scheduled to submit the budget on April 21.
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;
Impact Fee (ok by not repealing it its still at tax)
Tax to keep your development plan relevant for multiple years
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.
To follow up on a previous post:
It seems that our motorcycle riding City Manager has not managed (pardon the pun) too well since that post. In just the last couple of days, we have seen him using his wife’s e-mail account to conduct city business and Rio Nuevo is pretty much dead(the official ax is imminent). Mr. Hein’s seems to be working from a very defensive posture. He almost seems like he’s looking for his next job and doesn’t want to rock the future job-interview boat. As a service to him and the community, I have searched for some jobs that might suit him.
Link to site: http://www.govtjob.net/
Featured Job Opportunities:
City Administrator, City of Connell, WA; Apply by April 19, 2009 (first review, open until filled)
City Manager,City of Redmond, Oregon; Closes May 8, 2009
Borough Manager, City & Borough of Wrangell, Alaska; Closes March 29, 2009 (first review, open until filled)
Deputy Director, Chelan County, WA Regional Justice Center; Closes April 5, 2009 (first review, open until filled)
City Manager, City of Columbia, SC; Closes April 20, 2009
Fire Chief, City of Oroville, CA; Closes March 27, 2009
Director of Parks and Trees, City of Oroville, CA; Closes March 27, 2009
County Administrator, Blaine County (Hailey), Idaho; Apply by March 8, 2009 (first review, open until filled)
Village Administrator, Village of Kildeer, Il, Closes March 20, 2009
I think the “Village Administrator” job in Kildeer, Illinois looks challenging, but I think Mr. Hein might be able to handle it. You have had a rough time here, Mr. Hein. You’ve tried your best and it just wasn’t enough. Good Luck on your new job!
And remember as Bill Clinton’s wife once said “It takes a village”.
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