The voting citizens of Oro Valley were handed a gift this past week which they cannot ignore. Our residents have been recently bombarded by lies, half truths and innuendo all in attempt to recall four of the best elected representatives we have had in many years.
In a recent letter to the editor of the Explorer, Don Bristow, defeated candidate for Town Council, stated that his trust in local government (specifically referring to Mayor Hiremath and Council members Snider,Waters and Hornat) had eroded. His reasoning was :
“ Backroom deals, withholding critical information, and ignoring the residents’ desires are not acceptable behavior for our elected officials.” (I couldn’t agree with your more, Mr. Bristow)
Ms. Diane Peters, local gadfly (according to Webster, “one who annoys others” ), stated about the aforementioned elected officials, “they destroyed our beautiful town”.
At the Town Council meeting held on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, the same Ms. Peters, spoke before the Town Council. It was mostly self aggrandizement , but she did reveal some very interesting information which cannot go unnoticed. Ms. Peters spoke about the December 10, 2014 Town Council meeting at which a General Plan Amendment was heard. It was an amendment that had received a great deal of attention from the NIMBY/CAVE coalition (NCC). I probably don’t need to tell you that the NCC was opposed to the amendment. Go figure!!!
Just as an FYI, a major general plan amendment requires a super majority (5 of 7) to pass or deny. Only a simple majority is needed for a continuance.
At the end of the general plan hearing Councilman Zinkin offered a motion to deny the amendment. He threw up a smoke screen about the Regional Transportation Agency(RTA) not being finished with other projects and their (RTA’s) lack of reliability. He then went on to tell folks that in spite of his motion to deny he would work with them in the future to work out the issues. However if the amendment was denied, as he motioned, there would be no opportunity to work with anyone in the future. The applicant would have to start over and wait until this year to re-apply. But Zinkin, KNEW his motion would not pass. He needed 5 votes, two of which would have to come from Hiremath, Snider, Waters or Hornat. We all know that wasn’t going to happen so his motion was disingenuous and simply part of a pre-arranged scheme .
Mayor Hiremath then suggested that Zinkin withdraw his motion and replace it with a motion to continue the item. That occurred and the item was continued and heard on May 6, 2015.
What Ms. Peters disclosed last Wednesday was that she had made “a deal” with Councilmen Zinkin, Garner and Burns before the December 10, 2014, Town Council meeting. This can be heard by watching the video of that meeting on the Town web site. It begins around the 1:18 mark on the recording. They (Zinkin, Garner and Burns) were to vote to deny the general plan amendment or to have it continued. Since three votes can’t deny a major GP amendment a continuance was the goal. What follows is a quote of her testimony as to why the amendment did not pass:
“The reason they did not pass is because I had worked out a deal with Councilmen Zinkin, Garner and Burns to either reject the amendments or to vote for a continuance with the caveat that the applicant had to conduct further negotiations with us.”
So just to recap and to make this perfectly clear, unless Ms. Peters, is lying through her teeth (a possibility I admit), a “back room deal” was made, before the matter had come before the Town Council for consideration, by three sitting council members. In this case a minority (3 of 7) could not deny the plan. I believe that this “deal” between Ms. Peters and Zinkin, Garner and Burns could well be a violation of the Arizona Open Meeting Law. At the minimum it is unseemly and a violation of their Code of Conduct.
This, my friends, is what we are dealing with in this community. A group of renegade, uninformed citizens and three sitting Councilmen who have no respect for the legislative process or their own rules.
Mr. Bristow is absolutely correct. “Backroom deals” are being made. But it isn’t Mayor Hiremath, or Council members Snider, Waters or Hornat making them.
I hope you will remember this when it comes time to vote. I’ll remind you just to be sure.