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The Tucson agenda

Great Hugo's ghost! Oro Valley considers plan B for pre-K deal with Pima County

A quick look at what's planned for local government meetings

The July sun over Tucson has — as always — frozen time, space and action among our local elected leaders and only the Oro Valley Town Council will brave the mercury and meet next week.

Early education and jails are on the agenda.

The Town Council will vote during Tuesday's meeting on a change in the agreement with the county to take part in the Pima Early Education Program. PEEPS, as it is unfortunately called,  pays preschool operators to help enroll kids from lower income families. The program is in the final year of acting as a "pilot program."

The town agreed to take part in 2021 by providing $100,000 over three years for scholarships for families earning up to 200 percent of the poverty level.

Oro Valley being Oro Valley, not enough families who qualified for the scholarship applied to take part.

In fact, the program is having trouble standing up across the county, and the main problem has been finding enough teachers to run it.

So the county and town staff have a plan B agreement to use that money to upgrade Amphitheater school district facilities used by PEEPS. The new agreement would let the town pay for playground upgrades at Copper Creek and Painted Sky elementary schools and a better classroom to teach science, math and art at Canyon Del Oro High School.

Has anyone seen George Soros hanging out on North Oracle Road?

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I'm a little shocked — and not in a bad way — that the Republican bastion (and the current flavor Republican, mind you) of Oro Valley has agreed to have anything to do with Pima County's early childhood education program. But they are about to vote on new deal to keep on dong just that.

That's right, a publicly funded social service in Oro Valley. They've been doing it for a year.

This is an initiative Pima County supervisors have taken to spend money to help some by collecting cash from other people. It stems from the idea that people should have access to things they couldn't otherwise afford and is all but a declaration that an individual's human value is greater than their market value.

That there is socialism, people and an obvious plot by Hugo Chavez, the Woke Media and Soros himself to destroy God and freedom.

And yet there's Oro Valley, saying "know what? We'll pitch in a little." True, the term "a little" should be emphasized.

Let's not just curse darkness but light candles that illuminate progress.

Good to know you care, Oro Valley.

Otherwise, the town's reputation for the region is for golf and swarming cops.

Speaking of which...

Two other intergovernmental agreements (IGAs in the lingo) would provide money to house people picked up by Oro Valley police.

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All towns and cities in Pima County have deals worked out with to hold people in county jails. The alternative is for Marana, Oro Valley and Tucson to build jails. Municipal jails are best described by municipal governments as "cost-prohibitive." 

A wise man once told me, two of the most expensive things communities can do is operate a jail or a landfill. 

So if they can get out of it by contracting with another government that already has one, that's exactly what they do.

Pima County charges $401 for the first day each person is held at the jail, and then $107 dollars per day thereafter. The upfront cost is for processing.

However, Santa Cruz County charges just $65 per day, so Oro Valley is also executing a deal with the good folks down in Nogales. No, Nogales, Oro Valley isn't sending you their best but they aren't sending that many.

The town has budgeted $125,000 per year to pay for all the people it busts and takes to jail. That's about three people per day in Pima County jail for the full year or five in Santa Cruz County's pokey.

The OV incarceration rate, therefor, works out to about 7 to 10 per 100,000ish. The national rate stands at 358 per 100,000 and that was the lowest level since 1992.

So the swarming squad cars of Oro Valley are either a wild over-reaction to an imagined problem or the flapping arms that keep elephants out of Southern Arizona.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist, who worked in daily journalism for nearly 20 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party.

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The Pima County Early Education Program Scholarships were started in 2021. Oro Valley's terms of participation are about to change.

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Oro Valley Town Council


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