BRUTAL HOODLEMS?????

Oro Valley Councilman Mike Zinkin has a record of outrageous, unwanted, inappropriate and racist comments. All have been well documented which led to a recent recall effort.  Mismanagement of time available to gather signatures doomed the recall effort.  But the bright side is that it exposed the true Zinkin and hopefully ended his political career in Oro Valley. He is a ‘one-and-done’ councilperson.  And the community of Oro Valley is better off for it.

But we have a ’new anti-police villain’ on the town council. I use the single quotes only because those of us who have closely and neutrally observed Councilman Bill Garner’s record knew all along that he was anti-police in spite of his rhetoric.  Now we have documented proof. Garner can NO LONGER CLAIM THAT HE SUPPORTS THE ORO VALLEY POLICE DEPARTMENT. In fact his comments indicate that he has no respect for the police department that keeps Oro Valley rated as one of the safest communities in Arizona.

In an article published in the Northwest Section of the Arizona Daily Star on Thursday, April 17, 2014, Councilman Garner stated that the Oro Valley police department was, “a prima donna department”.  He also stated that the department engaged in “thuggery”.

Allow me to define “prima donna” and “thug” according to my copy of the Webster’s New World Dictionary:

prima donna: the principle woman singer in an opera.

thug: a brutal hoodlum, gangster 

It is outrageous for one of our elected officials to refer to  those who protect our community, place their lives on the line every day and who are revered by our citizens (according to every poll taken in this community)in that way.  And following Zinkin’s recently exposed performance, is this another comment that is inflaming the hostile work environment by Garner?  Obviously so. How do you suppose the police department both commissioned and administrative employees feel about those comments?

Maybe now you can understand why this blog exists.  We exist to bring to you the unvarnished truth about our elected representatives and our community and to counter the idiocy of other local on-line publications.

Response from a citizen.  Letter to Garner from PD

The link to the AZ Star Article that started (or should we say continued) it all, if you haven’t already read it.

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/northwest/oro-valley-police-respond-to-councilman-s-allegations-of-waste/article_6a3385bb-3fc0-5229-99a6-18754495465e.html

2000+ Voters Reject Zinkin!!!

While the legally required number of signatures (2131) was not gathered in time to meet the 2/11/14 deadline, the recall effort of Mike Zinkin was successful on many fronts.  Supporters were able to gather  nearly 2100 signatures in a little over 6 weeks. Unforeseen logistical issues prevented the gathering of signatures until after Christmas 2013. Five valuable weeks were lost. Had the signature effort begun immediately after the papers were filed, the goal would have been easily met.

The effort brought to light the true character of Councilman Zinkin and his complete lack of respect for women and minorities. He claimed that he had difficulty adjusting to a different world than being “an air traffic controller”.  Mr. Zinkin hasn’t  been an air traffic controller for years and active in the Oro Valley public sector for several years. You would think that this was sufficient time to “adjust”, IF he wanted to adjust.

Mr. Zinkin repeatedly stated that the accusations against him were false. When confronted about the sexual/vulgar comment attributed to him by Councilwoman Snider in her complaint to Town Manager Caton, Zinkin stated, “I don’t know what she is talking about”.  He flatly denied making some of the statements attributed to him.  We knew then and now everyone knows that all of Zinkin’s denials were patently false statements. Does that mean that Zinkin is also a liar? We’ll report. You decide.

In a report submitted by Laura Lawless Robertson (see link below to read the entire 14 page report), an independent Phoenix based attorney retained by the Town of Oro Valley to investigate the allegations against Council member Zinkin, Mr. Greg  Caton, Town Manager states,”…many of the incidents had occurred more or less as Employee A described them.”  Mr. Caton also confirmed that the term, “harassment” was used in his discussion with Zinkin. Zinkin had claimed that the term “sexual harassment” was never used. This was his (Zinkin’s) way of skirting the facts. When you are harassing someone using the terms like  Viagra and porn it is difficult, in our opinion, to come to a conclusion that they are not related to sex. Ya Think????

In summing up her investigation, Ms Robertson stated the following:

“That said, there is ample corroboration that the Councilmember has made at least several inappropriate comments of a sexual nature or regarding persons of Mexican national origin that have troubled Town employees and possible third parties as well.”

In a later paragraph we find this comment:

“While significant progress has been made in reducing the frequency of unwanted sexual and/or national origin comments in the workplace, there remains what was described by several witnesses as a culture of distrust and fear of retaliation among employees at the Town.

So where does that leave us? For the time being,  we are stuck with Councilman Zinkin and his Neanderthal  conduct.  Let’s pray someone doesn’t sue us as we now have a tarnished record.

THANK YOU MR ZINKIN!!!!!

PS: Mr Zinkin was overheard at a recent meeting gloating about his ‘victory’ and threatening lawsuits.

 

Town_of_Oro_Valley_-_February_2014_Report

 

 

Residue

 

The title of this post may seem a little odd and maybe it is, but it is what is left of the attempt to recall Mr. Zinkin.

It is the response or Council Report given my CM Snider with reference to the investigation by the outside attorney. We publish this with permission.  We have not edited this other than to remove some underlining that may have been for emphasis during the actual report.

Make of it what you will.

Thanks for your interest in the Truth.

Council Report – February 19, 2014

 

I am submitting a Council Report to our residents and employees summarizing the findings of a recently concluded outside investigation of alleged inappropriate remarks made by Councilmember Zinkin to female employees of the Town of Oro Valley.   This report came to Council one week ago today.

As the sole woman on Council, I feel a sense of responsibility to speak for the women that are employed by the Town.  No woman should have to come to work and be made to feel uncomfortable by sexually suggestive comments made by members of this Council, and then fear retribution for raising the issue with her supervisors or other Town leadership.  That is what has happened here and it is totally unacceptable to me.  It must stop and we must make some changes.

Our residents and employees deserve the facts. The outside investigation reveals ample evidence that two inappropriate remarks by Mr. Zinkin have been corroborated.

As much as I would like to not have to deal with this issue, I want to assure all the women and minorities that work for the Town that they deserve and have a right to come to work in a safe place.

To assure the audience, my comments have been reviewed by our Town Attorney, Ms. Kelly Schwab, to insure that my statements are factual and that it is appropriate to make this report during the “Council Reports” portion of tonight’s agenda.

The report is a public document, and is available in its entirety to anyone who wishes to obtain a copy.  To do so, please contact the Town Clerk’s office.

This outside investigation was conducted and reported by attorney, Laura Lawless Robertson, of Squire Sanders, of Phoenix.  Ms. Robertson has assisted the Town in the past, and her work is widely respected.

From the report of the investigation we learn:

 

  • Ms. Robertson found (quote)“ample corroboration that the Councilmember has made at least several inappropriate comments of a sexual nature or regarding persons of Mexican national origin that have troubled Town employees and possibly third parties as well”.

 

  • The comments were (quote) “unwelcome by the employees interviewed, and may expose the Town to liability as well as public embarrassment within the business community and with government allies”.

 

  • Though the Councilmember states that the he has apologized to the Town Manager for offending any employees and insisted repeatedly that he never intended to offend or insult anyone, the investigator reports that (quote) intent is not required in order to create a hostile work environment.  The issue instead is what a reasonable person in the position of the alleged victim(s) perceived, that is, were the purported victims subjectively offended by the comment and would a reasonable woman in the position of the victim(s) find the behavior to be objectively hostile and unwelcoming.” Ms. Robertson further states that it is essential that the Councilmember (quote) “refrain from comments of a sexual or racial nature.”

 

  • I can personally corroborate Mr. Zinkin’s tendencies to be degrading towards women because I have witnessed it firsthand.

 

  • (quote) “While significant progress has been made in reducing the frequency of unwanted sexual and or national origin comments in the workplace, there remains what was described by several witnesses as a culture of distrust and fear of retaliation among employees at the Town.”

 

  • Staff are generally reluctant to speak up. An employee interviewed (quote) “reports that staff and other Councilmembers are more aware of the Councilmember’s alleged tendency to tell off-color stories and are more likely to intervene to prevent him from doing so.  In her opinion, although the Councilmember’s self-regulation has improved, he still has a predilection to tell sexually inappropriate or culturally insensitive stories, requiring increased vigilance by others such as Mr. Caton and others Councilmembers.  The employee goes on to describe to the investigator there exists(quote) “a general level of concern among employees regarding the community’s reaction to the investigation into these matters, which she feels may make employees reluctant to raise complaints and, in turn, which may compromise the integrity of the investigation.”

 

  • The Councilmember (quote) expressly denies using or intending to use his office to affect Town employee’s professional lives, adding that he “can’t control people’s paranoia”.

 

  • (quote) “ Mr. Caton has implemented parameters on Town staff being alone with Councilmembers.”  Because an elected official (quote) “cannot be removed from the work environment or transferred away from the employees who made the internal complaints, the Town faces a challenging task providing the appropriate buffers to address the employees’ concerns.  Mr. Caton’s implementation of protocols that reduce the frequency of direct interaction between employees and Councilmembers outside his presence have been largely successful.  They insulate employees from uncomfortable communications and should remain in place and be enforced.”

 

  • Ms. Robertson outlines the importance of training now suggested for all Councilmembers, in addition to staff.  She states (quote) “Given the seriousness of this issue, it is expected that ­ALL Councilmembers would voluntarily commit to training”.  This recommendation is made even though Councilmember Zinkin has already voluntarily participated in and completed an online sexual harassment course in the fall of 2013.  Town Attorney Kelly Schwab advises me that Council should implement the recommended policy and additional training remedies for employees and ­all Council members in order to reduce potential liability of the Town.

 

Councilmember Zinkin’s actions have resulted in a toxic work environment for Town employees, strained relations between Councilmembers, increased costs to the taxpayers, and exposed the Town to potential liability.

If Mr. Zinkin were an employee of the Town, the results of this investigation would likely yield at least a reprimand, if not termination.  Councilmember Zinkin is an elected official.  The Mayor, Councilmembers, the Town Manager and the Town Attorney have no authority to take action against him.  As an elected official, he is accountable only to the voters.

Councilmember Zinkin’s actions will cost the taxpayers, beginning with  the cost this investigation of $8,500.  There will  be added costs associated the implementation of new training programs for Town employees and Councilmembers.  I believe those changes are necessary. There is also the potential for unknown liability costs associated with Mr. Zinkin’s behavior.

Tonight I am asking Council to direct staff to prepare a report laying out a timeline to implement the recommended policy changes and new training programs for staff and Council, including  budget estimates .

Finally

It is important that I make these comments tonight because it is my message to every employee of the Town that you can come to work and not fear being subjected to comments of a sexual nature, or racially charged jokes, or fear for your job if you speak up when you are treated inappropriately or made to feel uncomfortable.

To NOT address this head on would be to allow a toxic work environment to continue.

We need to boost morale with our employees to have a healthy organization and we need to stand together as a Council tonight on that point.

It is my hope that we will work together with the Town Manager, Town Attorney and staff to implement the recommendations of this report.

With permission from CM Mary Snider

Recall Zinkin – Final Status

We have been advised by the “Oro Valley Citizens for Ethical Government” PAC that they did not get the required number of signatures to put Mr. Zinkin’s name back on the ballot.  There were 2131 signatures required and they fell short by about 38.

This was quite a feat. They want to remind everyone that there were over 2000 registered voters in Oro Valley who saw fit to sign the petition. They wish to extend their  “Thanks” to everyone who worked carrying petitions and of course a huge THANK YOU for those who signed the petition.

For now the PAC has advised the “Truth” that they are waiting for information concerning the Town’s outside counsel investigation.  They believe the information will be forthcoming within the next several days.

As a note, those findings will be published in full here, assuming we can get them and there is no problem with the information.

“LAST CALL!!”

IF YOU WISH TO AND HAVE NOT SIGNED A PETITION REQUESTING A RECALL ELECTION FOR MIKE ZINKIN PLEASE  CONTACT:

RECALLZINKIN@OROVALLEYTRUTH.COM

OR

RECALLZINKIN@AOL.COM

OR

CALL 520-262-7427

THE DEADLINE FOR TURNING IN SIGNATURES IS 2/11/2014

 

Zinkin and Garner….short sighted….again or still?

The following is the text of a “blue card”  comment submitted by  Debra Arrett who is rightly concerned by a request by CM’s Zinkin and Garner to Council to reduce  the “Utility Tax”.  These are the same people who  requested an increase in tax’s several weeks earlier.  It is well written and exposes these two and their flawed,  inconsistent reasoning.

You should really watch the whole exchange at Council on the Town’s web site (Item 3) at the November 20th regular meeting…including comments by other Council members.  It is very interesting and to watch the “talk around” by Garner defending himself is almost mystical in its ridiculous posturing.

“I was surprised to see this on the Agenda.

At the first meeting in September, Councilmember Zinkin moved and Councilmember Garner seconded a motion TO INITIATE A 60-DAY PUBLIC NOTICE PROCESS TO DISCUSS A RENTER’S TAX, but the motion failed.

Based on Councilmember Zinkin’s Guest Column in the Explorer the following week, I learned that he felt the revenue from this proposed tax was needed for new projects and I quote he “would like to see Oro Valley improve, not just exist.”  I too want to see Oro Valley improve and not just exist.

More recently at the Town Council Meeting held on October 16th Council DISCUSSED POSSIBLE DIRECTION TO THE TOWN MANAGER TO EXPLORE LOWER LEVELS OF THE UTILITY TAX DURING THE PREPARATION OF THE 5-YEAR FINANCIAL FORECAST. The motion was made by Councilmember Hornat and seconded by Councilmember Zinkin to take no action and the Council unanimously agreed.

Tonight Councilmembers Zinkin and Garner are proposing the opposite with POSSIBLE ACTION TO REDUCE THE UTILITY TAX. First I was surprised, now I’m confused. While I am trying not to be too critical, this erratic posturing over the course of just 11 weeks seems shortsighted and not necessarily in the best interest of Oro Valley.

However, I want to return to what Councilmember Zinkin and I do agree on. We both want Oro Valley to improve and not just exist. I’ve been surprised, confused and now I’m hopeful that he and Councilmember Garner will realize that the 2% increase in the Utility Tax back in 2011 costs each of us around 20 cents a day and putting all those dimes together generates almost $1.4 million of revenue for the town each year.

Council unanimously approved the Naranja Park Improvements at the last meeting. I applaud all of you because that is indeed Oro Valley improving. This is very basic and just an example, but visualizing that plan with the sections for the multi-sports fields and  the dog park at a cost of $1.7 million, in my mind’s eye, I see continued improvements in blocks with dollar signs – $1.4 million each – the annual revenue from 2% of the Utility Tax.

Councilmember Burns brought up the 2008 Bond Issue at the last meeting. I did vote in favor and agree it was unfortunate that it failed. However, reducing the Utility Tax would be equally unfortunate. If we all agree that we want to see Oro Valley improve and not just exist, then we should also agree that giving up this revenue stream would be an unfortunate mistake.”

 

 

 

 

 

2013…A LOOK AHEAD

Now that all of the festivities  are behind us, the incessant chatter about the ‘fiscal cliff’  has waned and  our life is back to as close to normal as it is going to get, I want to share some thoughts with you and  start planting the seeds  that will produce a stable future for us. I am speaking of the Oro Valley Town Council election which will be held in early 2014.

I know your initial reaction is probably going to be, “Do I have to start thinking about that already?” In my humble opinion, the answer to that question is “Yes, you do.”

There are four seats on the Town Council that will contested in the 2014 election. The current incumbents are Mayor Satish Hiremath and Councilpersons Mary Snider, Lou Waters and Joe Hornat.  This blog is supportive of these current office holders and would be pleased if each was to seek re-election and be successful.

Allow me to be so bold as to suggest that you spend the next 30-45 days accomplishing the following:

  1. If you are pleased with the way the Town has been governed for the past 2 ½ years please make it a point to, in some way (e-mail, telephone call, personal note), let the incumbents know and encourage them to run again. Running for office is a BIG job and that effort should begin shortly.
  2. Begin to become involved in the elective process. By that I mean, think about what YOU are going to do?  Will you fiscally support your candidate(s)? Can you hand out flyers door-to-door or at public gatherings? Will you allow a candidate sign(s) in your front yard? Will you write a letter of support to the Explorer? Will you host a neighborhood, ‘Get to Know the Candidates’ event? Will you participate in a voting drive to maximize turnout?

The candidates are going to be building their team and looking for assistance in the near future. Knowing there is widespread support for them will make that task somewhat easier.

Unfortunately, far too many residents pass up the opportunity to vote in local elections.  To demonstrate my point, in the last local election (March 2012) there were 27,612 registered voters in the Town of Oro Valley. The individual with the highest number of votes received 5,576 votes. That translates into 20.1% of the registered voters. We should not be governed by 20.1% of the population.

It’s really not too early to begin this effort. You can bet that others are thinking long and hard about how they can unseat one of these incumbents.

A ROGUE COUNCILPERSON???

 

I was talking to a resident of Oro Valley this past week and we got around to discussing the Town Council.  He expressed some usual concerns about a divide between the council but thought in general everything was functioning reasonably well.

He did talk about one problem that, as he described it, “Needed to be nipped in the bud.”

Two of the incidents that bothered him we have already reported on in previous posts. Another was troubling on two fronts and went something like this. While the sequence may be off just a little the events described DID happen.

There was a posting on another local blog about the possibility of potholes becoming a problem in Oro Valley. I looked it up and it was penned by one of the town’s gadflies.  Just to be safe, a gadfly in Webster’s is described as “one who annoys others”.  The gist of the story was an expression of concern that the streets in Oro Valley would end up like those in Pima County and Tucson because the Town Engineer had not budgeted as much money for maintenance as in past years.

Enter the ‘rogue councilperson’, to request that the Town Manager meet with the gadfly and ease  his concerns.

Newly promoted Town Manager Greg Caton has a history of keeping a level head and making reasonable, measured decisions. In my opinion in this case he did not. Not only does Mr. Caton agree to meet, but also includes the Finance Director, Director of Development and Infrastructure Services AND the Town Engineer in the meeting.  That’s a lot of power, time and salary in one room to respond to a blog posting about future pot holes .

The primary problem is the fact that in the past three months. The “rogue councilperson”, Mike Zinkin, has insulted several citizens while attended a Sun City meeting, attempted to make an end run around established policies, procedures and zoning codes in an effort to punish our local business owners and now coercing the Town Manager into dealing with an issue that frankly should have been ignored.

It is the opinion of this blog that sooner rather than later someone should hold a private meeting with Mr. Zinkin and advise him that his conduct leads many to believe that he in incapable of handling the duties to which he was elected in a civilized, responsible manner.

Maybe we need to remind Mr. Zinkin (mzinkin@orovalleyaz.org) that he is not wearing the ‘white hat’ of a referee who can run around on a playing field and throw yellow flags at will in an effort to make everyone think he is important or above the fray. There are rules of decency, civility and common sense that include his comment and his conduct.  He has a history of breaking rules and it would appear as though that conduct remains as part of his modus operandi.

Mr. Zinkin is serving as a councilperson at large and not there to represent only those few voters (16% of the registered Oro Valley voters) who elected him. There are consequences to not listening to the other 84% of the electorate and for repugnant conduct.

GOVERNMENT GONE ASTRAY

There is a policy in Oro Valley that council members are not to have direct contact withTown staff without first going through the Town Manager. It’s a good policy and is usually followed  by most member of the council.

By the same token, although not a specific policy, staff has been instructed  not go to individual council members and ask for special assistance when addressing an issue.  This too should pass through channels to the Town Manager who will take the appropriate action. This too is good policy.

Given the above, consider the following chaotic series of events:

On August 21, 2012 a SPECIAL MEETING of the Planning and Zoning Commission was held to discuss a fine structure for our local business community for violating the sign code. It seems as though less than 1% of our local businesses are violating a portion of the sign code and need ‘to be dealt with forthright ‘ even though it was described by staff as “not being a big problem”.

During the initial presentation by staff it was disclosed that this item was being brought forth at the “request of Town Council”.  When asked to be specific about that statement Planning and Zoning Administrator David Williams clearly stated that it was being brought forth at the request of Councilpersons Zinkin and Garner and not the entire Town Council.

After some 50 minutes of discussion, to include public input, the Commission voted to recommend to the Town Council that the code amendment be denied by a vote of 3-1.

As is routine, the matter then goes before the Town Council for disposition.

When the matter is called at the September 5, 2012, Town Council meeting the aforementioned P&Z Administrator comes forward to present the matter to the full Council. Less than two minutes into his presentation, Mr. Williams announces that  this item was NOT brought forth by Town Council as previously reported ( not mentioning Zinkin or Garner directly) but was initiated by staff to address a reoccurring issue.

During the council discussion Mr. Garner announces that the issue was brought forth by Paul Keesler, Director of Development and Infrastructure Services.

Issues:

  1. Who authorized a SPECIAL SESSION of the Planning and Zoning Commission being called to address an issue that applies to less than 1% of the local businesses in Oro Valley and is described as not a big problem?
  2. Either staff is lying that it was initiated by members of the Town Council OR Council Members Zinkin and/or Garner are lying that staff brought the problem to them.

We Report. YOU DECIDE. Let us know what you think.

OV Police management study not a dead issue…Zinkin seeks fresh eyes…

 This special to ‘The Explorer’ by Alan M. Petrillo appeared in the September 5, 2012 edition. A well written piece containing the same tired Mike Zinkin statement as to why HE believes a management study is necessary as it would “tell us if we’re getting the best bang for our buck…”

Bill Garner, the other usual suspect, negates any studies conducted by the professional staff of the OVPD. Mr. Transparency continues to opine the expenditure to conduct a management study.

The special also includes statements by Mayor Hiremath, Vice Mayor Waters and previous Mayor Loomis. According to Mike Zinkin the above individuals are not experts in addressing how a police department should be run. However, Chief Sharp, Deputy Chief Stevens, the President of  FOP Lodge 53 and the President of the Oro Valley Police Officer’s Association also gave statements, by virtue of the fact that their titles indicate they hold some amount of expertise, this is not sufficient in the eyes of Zinkin and Garner.

Same tired old mantra?

See article at: http://explorernews.com/news/pima_pinal/article_c12f46b0-f6e3-11e1-9a7f-001a4bcf887a.html

About the Author

Alan M. Petrillo is a former journalist, editor, communications manager and firefighter. He has published several non-fiction works, and writes full-time from his home in Tucson,Arizona.