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Varney: What's Plan B after bond defeat?

The opponents of the bonds had it easy. All they needed to do was scare voters into thinking their taxes would skyrocket and that Pima County officials would mishandle the funds. Neither is true. Perhaps those who took such great pride in defeating a really good bond package will now step up and explain their Plan B — assuming they have one.

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11 comments on this story

1
1770 comments
Nov 6, 2015, 5:38 pm
-0 +1

Excellent piece. Unlike most opinion pieces I read, I can not see a single part of this that I disagree with. Well done.

2
20 comments
Nov 7, 2015, 6:56 am
-2 +0

Dear Voters ~

        Thank you for voting against the Pima County Bonds.  You have shown that democracy works – if we work it.  However flawed, and downright gruesome when a vote doesn’t go the way we want, democracy – the right to make our choice peacefully through the ballot box – is still the best system humankind has yet developed for decision-making.

        Despite being out-spent 30 to 1; despite Yes endorsements from the media, from business groups, from labor, from churches, from the Democrat Party, from special interest groups who would benefit from the bonds; from all the power-wielders in our society; and despite negative attacks from those who should know better – you still exercised your free choice to say, “Not this time.”

        There were certainly some good projects in the bond package, and hopefully they will find their way to us again without the baggage and burden of being wrapped in corporate greed or political chicanery or misleading math.

        In a parliamentary system the Pima County government would now step down and call for new elections, but that is not the way we work.  Still, the November 3 vote was, in fact, a failed Vote of Confidence.  The Board of Supervisors must look at the maneuvering and manipulation by the chief architect of the measures and perhaps encourage his retirement.

        Just consider the “Sonoran Corridor:”  Added to the bond measure late, then tied in with politically-popular road repairs, then moved up in priority while those repairs were stretched out over 12 years, then sold to federal legislators, its failure marks a rejection by the people, and in a democracy the people still count.

        That highway, labeled “I-11” on maps from the County Administrator’s office more than once, might have won support if it simply linked I-10 and I-19 near Raytheon, the airport and the UA Tech Park.  But dropping it south to gift a Diamond Ventures proposed development, and then west to link to his proposed Interstate 11 route that would destroy the communities, wildlife and archaeological riches of the Avra Valley – that inspired hundreds to stand up and fight the bonds to save their homeland.

        It is important to remember, in this election, that all kinds of political lines were blurred in the No coalition that emerged.  Tucson, for instance, is majority Democrat and reelected Democrats while turning down the bonds endorsed by the Democrat Party.  Those to the Right who bemoan the “Demoncrats” need to rethink their prejudices, just as those to the Left should rethink theirs.  What this election showed was that good people of all political persuasions can work together when the cause is just.  Thank you all.

Albert Lannon, Avra Valley Coalition

3
1770 comments
Nov 7, 2015, 9:58 pm
-0 +0

Still, the November 3 vote was, in fact, a failed Vote of Confidence.  The Board of Supervisors must look at the maneuvering and manipulation by the chief architect of the measures and perhaps encourage his retirement.

Please…give me a break. You must be new here. Every one of the BOS will be reelected, and Huckleberry will more than likely die in his position. Voters have very short memories. Tucson voters’ memories are almost non-existent. They’re so short that they forgot who forced the traffic cameras that they hate upon them.

If one single BOS incumbent runs for reelection and loses, then I’ll come back here and apologize. But, I am certain that won’t be the case.

4
8 comments
Nov 8, 2015, 11:18 am
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I agree with Bret, every single county supervisor will get re-elected and Chuck Huckleberry will remain the administrator until he no longer wants to be.  I also agree with Mr. Varney’s op-ed.  For the record I voted for all the bond packages.  I own 4 houses; my personal residence and 3 rental properties and I felt the trade off for the greater good of the community was worth the rather meager increase in my taxes.  There were projects in the packages that I didn’t agree with, but you take the good with the bad.  That’s how the sausage is made.  My take on the election is that the yes campaign had lip service and the no campaign had active mobilized boots on the ground.  Coupled with a low voter turnout it was much easier to make the case to simply say no.  I disagree with the no campaign, however I tip my hat to them because they got involved, organized, and mobilized.  I think the community squandered a good opportunity to invest in itself for the better, however we collectively did not take that opportunity.  Life will go on.  However when people piss and moan about the roads, lack of economic development, flooding during monsoon season, etc. just realize that you had an opportunity to do something about all of those things and you decided to say no.  We get what we deserve.

5
20 comments
Nov 8, 2015, 12:15 pm
-0 +0

Just a small item for the record:  voter turnout was 27 percent.  Voter turnout in the 2004 bond election was 20 percent, and in 1997 less than half of that.  The Animal Control Center bond measure took place during a general election—as all bond elections should—and saw a much higher vote and approval.

6
20 comments
Nov 8, 2015, 12:30 pm
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Actually, I erred.  Turnout in Pima County was 36 percent.  Pretty damn good!

7
8 comments
Nov 8, 2015, 1:46 pm
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In relative terms given the current political climate, yes 36% is pretty good.  In absolute terms in a country where citizens walk around with an erection about liberty, democracy, and freedom 36% is an abomination.

8
1770 comments
Nov 9, 2015, 10:47 am
-0 +0

jonralston wrote:

I agree with Bret, every single county supervisor will get re-elected and Chuck Huckleberry will remain the administrator until he no longer wants to be.  I also agree with Mr. Varneys op-ed.  For the record I voted for all the bond packages.  I own 4 houses; my personal residence and 3 rental properties and I felt the trade off for the greater good of the community was worth the rather meager increase in my taxes.  There were projects in the packages that I didnt agree with, but you take the good with the bad.  Thats how the sausage is made.  My take on the election is that the yes campaign had lip service and the no campaign had active mobilized boots on the ground.  Coupled with a low voter turnout it was much easier to make the case to simply say no.  I disagree with the no campaign, however I tip my hat to them because they got involved, organized, and mobilized.  I think the community squandered a good opportunity to invest in itself for the better, however we collectively did not take that opportunity.  Life will go on.  However when people piss and moan about the roads, lack of economic development, flooding during monsoon season, etc. just realize that you had an opportunity to do something about all of those things and you decided to say no.  We get what we deserve.

You say the proposed tax increase was negligible, and you’re absolutely correct. As I stated in another thread…I did the math, and for me I would have ended up paying an additional $18 a year in taxes if all seven passed. While I don’t really trust the current Board of Supervisors with 18 cents over a lifetime, I thought that less than an hour’s worth of work each year was a minor gamble on the BOS lucking in to a few good improvement projects.

I legitimately believe it wasn’t a money issue that defeated these bonds. I believe it is the same old mentality of “If we don’t build it, they won’t come”. The “we don’t want to be like Phoenix” crowd who lives in some serious denial over the fact that Tucson is already a big city, and try to scare away residents and jobs in a futile effort to get Tucson back to the small town that they envision in their drug-induced stupor.

9
8 comments
Nov 9, 2015, 12:47 pm
-0 +0

In terms of who comprised the coalition to oppose the bonds my observation is that the most vocal opponents voiced the following sentiments 1) don’t raise my taxes, 2) I don’t trust Chuck Huckleberry and the Board of Supervisors to actually spend the money on the projects specified in the package, and 3) there were too many unnecessary projects thrown in with legitimate projects and the bond package was essentially a grab bag for various special interests.  My observation regarding those 3 factions is that the don’t raise my taxes argument is a personal decision each voter has to make based on their finances.  In my personal circumstance I can afford the rather meager increase in my taxes and as I said before I think the overall good to the community outweighed the expense to me personally.  I suspect that a lot of the don’t raise my taxes folks could actually afford the tax increase but simply said no because they are ideologically opposed to government and they want to “starve the beast” sort to speak.  But that’s just my own speculation.  I think the people who make the I don’t trust Chuck argument are essentially the same people in the don’t raise my taxes camp.  They just aren’t being honest with themselves that first and foremost they don’t like tax increases, and are letting their distaste for a specific individual cloud their judgement on what’s best for the community.  The people with the grab bag argument have some merit in my opinion, however as I’ve said before in these types of sausage making situations you have to take the good with the bad.  I’m sure as you postulate the “keep Tucson/Pima County Small” contingent also factored into the No coalition, but I haven’t heard that argument made in comment forums here, on the Tucson Weekly, or on the Daily Star comments sections.  I also haven’t heard that argument made on the public affairs radio and television programs I consume.  I’ll say it again I think our community missed a good opportunity to invest in itself and I’m disappointed in that.  It is my opinion that a large portion of the people in the No coalition are the same people who vigorously complain about roads, lack of economic development, parks, etc., and I am frustrated that these people didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to address these issues with the bond package.  But what’s done is done, life will go on.

10
3 comments
Nov 10, 2015, 8:26 am
-0 +0

Having lived in Pima County for 35 years compared to 4 years for Mr. Varney it is safe to say I have a little more insight on what goes on and has gone on in Pima County Govt.  I worked for small local businesses, large National Companies, and a variety in between during my 35 years in Tucson.  Mostly in Sales and Professional Services asking people to part with their hard earned money for what sometimes were luxury items not necessities.  I met my wife, raised my family, volunteered for numerous local and national altruistic organizations for the greater good including the Chamber many years ago.  Recently I left because of the same frustration of the voters who said “NO”.  Pima County is not Las Vegas where there is an never-ending supply of gambling revenue feeding the economic beast of growth.

Yes Mike fear sells.  However “ACTION” in a positive way sells even better.  The continuous failure of leadership at the City level but especially in Pima County is what defeated the bonds. In previous Bond Elections when taxpayers were asked to support and vote for bonds with very clear and specific criteria as to where the money was going to go and it didn’t happen, voters become very cynical.  If Bond $$$$ from the 1997 & 2004 Bonds that went to the voters of Pima County and were asked to support them were for explicit use as “SOLD” to the public for those $$$$ this Bond outcome might have been different.  Say what you want but when the County uses some of those same funds to buy Real Estate, build soccer fields and line the pockets of their buddies who could benefit i.e. Don Diamond etc…. instead of fixing roads, and improving infrastructure people get angry and they don’t forget.

When you mix that with all of the negative that comes from the “Anti-Growth” mentally of the Supervisors for the last 10-15 years seriously what do you expect. Maybe if the County supported the F-35, Rosemont Copper, Grand Canyon University (in any way that they should have even with City issues) , and had a real vital economic plan to jump start and bolster the economy the outcome might have been different.

Maybe just maybe when constituents came in front of the County BOS with issues about zoning, expanding their small businesses, or land acquisition of their own and they didn’t continually disrespect their constituents on a regular basis the outcome might have been different. It might be good idea Mike for you to attend a BOS in a disguise and see how voters are treated by the BOS and don’t get me started about Huckleberry. 

He has stayed too long at the fair.  The time for him to go has long passed.  Chuck only cares about his absolute power and the good he can do for his local business buddies lining their pockets with taxpayer dollars on projects all the time. I sat next to Chuck with season Football tickets over 30 years ago during the Larry Smith era but then again Mike you might no relate to that because you’ve only been in the community for a few years.

All of these things Mike produced the results that you have no seen with resounding “NO” from the voters in the County.  They want values leadership from their Chief Executive and BOS.  They want to see results and the managing of what tax revenue the County does receive not a continual mismanagement. Fear sells, misconceptions sell…...........blah blah, blah, actually Mike positive action sells even better.  The result of last weeks bond vote has been brewing for a long time.

People are resilient especially those hardworking folks in Pima Co.  They are willing to suffer more to make a statement because they are fed up.  Your commentary sounds a lot more like whining, the the girl who didn’t get asked to the prom and was stood up by her boyfriend.  Hopefully this is a wake up call for you and other leaders in the Community who want action not a constant handout for more money that doesn’t get used for what it was intended.

It is too late for me I got the breaking point and left and moved to Boise, Idaho where positive economic development with positive controlled growth is a day to day reality.

I wish everyone in Pima County the best.  I so deeply loved that community and gave it everything I had but I’m not alone, I know I’m not alone and I know others who will be leaving as well.

Thanks.

11
76 comments
Nov 10, 2015, 11:59 am
-0 +0

I agree that there is a perception of mismanagement regarding previous bond programs and that decisions are made to benefit a few well connected individuals. However, the Arizona legislature, fearful of mismanagement, commissioned a report by the Arizona Auditor General regarding the bonds approved between 1997 and 2006. The Auditor General provided that report in 2013 and from what I can tell didn’t find any major problems. Here are some quotes from that report.

“The County spent the proceeds in accordance with the voter-authorized purposes on projects approved by the Commitee and the Board. In addition, through May 2012 the County had completed 477 of the 513 projects, or 93 percent, on or before the Boards approved completion dates.”

“Changes to projects costs and/or timing were approved by the Board in accordance with county policy and did not appear to be made to reward or punish an entity, party, or official who stood to benefit from or be affected by the projects.”

So these bonds may have had more of a perception problem than anything else.

http://www.azauditor.gov/sites/default/files/Pima_Cty_Gen_Obl_Bd_Programs_Jan_2013.pdf

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