A CLOSER LOOK

We received an e-mail from one of our readers asking us if we would post a guest observation which was titled as you see above. It has been fact checked and so we are happy to print it here.

We also encourage others to do so also. In keeping with the tradition of this blog we will fact check any post we receive for accuracy, unlike the other blog in Oro Valley. We will not publish your name unless you request it.

We thank the submitter for their support and their post.

“The first Oro Valley Candidate forum is behind us and we have had a chance to hear the candidates answer questions ‘from the voters’. It is the belief that some of the questions were written by current council members. The group hosting the July 9 forum was headed by a group known to be strong opponents to the incumbents. That adversarial attitude came through as the moderator was quick to reprimand Council members Snider and Waters on minor issues regarding their responses but was mute when the same infractions were committed by the challengers.

I believe it is important to closely examine the challengers in this election. A change of one individual in the makeup of this counsel would result in a dramatic and I believe negative impact on the future of Oro Valley in the short and long term.

Pat Straney moved to Rancho Vistoso in 2004 and is the current President of the Rancho Vistoso Board of Directors. He has held that position for seven years. Beyond that I do not believe Pat has served on any Town wide board or commission. This is Pats first run at an elected position in Oro Valley.

Pat was the subject of a recent letter to the editor in the Explorer. The following was copied from that publication:

“As president of the developer-controlled Vistoso Community Association, Mr. Straney spoke in favor of retaining a vendor for the community at a cost almost $250,000 more than two other qualified vendors.  When it became apparent his preference may not prevail, he called for a secret ballot.  Apparently he thought he could swing votes if directors weren’t publicly accountable. Mr. Straney also consistently calls for executive sessions, which is politaspeak for secret meetings.”

Don Bristow arrived in Oro Valley in 1999. He too has not served on any Oro Valley board or commission but does list in his bio that he participated in focus groups.  Those close to Oro Valley happenings know Don for his multiple filing of sign code and outdoor display violations and for his VERY close relationship to Council members Zinkin and Garner.

Both challengers are strongly supported by the other blog in Oro Valley. THAT FACT MUST NOT GO UNNOTICED. A quick review of previous candidates also supported by that “citizen centric” blog reveals they supported:

A veterinarian with a history of legal domestic issues and outstanding warrants for Game and Fish violations.

A female council member who was alleged to have had an extramarital affair with the Town Manager. Both resigned and later married.

A council woman who they later referred to as “a loser” on their blog.

A  current councilman who attempted suicide and is currently under indictment for 1st degree burglary and  disorderly conduct.

Another presently sitting councilman accused of harassing Town employees. An outside independent counsel determined there was “ample corroboration that the council member has made at least several inappropriate comments of a sexual nature or regarding persons of Mexican national origin…”

Now I am not implying that Bristow and Straney should be lumped in with their predecessors. But it is fair to note that the other blogs track record of endorsements has not been stellar! It is also fair to draw some conclusions from who supports these challengers.

Be careful who you listen to and choose wisely.

ORO VALLEY 2014 ELECTIONS…..READY, SET, GO!!!!!

As you can probably tell from the proliferation of political signs the 2014 election cycle is upon us. And it is one of those years when there are a LOT of elections. And sadly (my opinion) the local Oro Valley elections were mandated by the State to be held on the same dates as the state and federal elections.  I always thought, and still do for that matter, that it was kind of nice to have the local elections on their own date.  I feel that you can get a better feel for the local stuff when you are not so distracted by the state and federal hullabaloo.

And that brings me to my first point of this posting. Local elections are different.  A local election  is truly a place where YOU can make a difference. Yes, every vote counts but locally is where that is really true. In the last Oro Valley mayoral election the difference between the winner and the loser was 31 votes. Think about that for a moment. The registered voters in 16 family dwellings made a difference.  A couple of years before that we had a town council seat won by a margin of 4 votes. Locally you can make a difference.

More importantly there are a plethora of votes that take place at the local level that have a direct effect on your life. Allow me to give you one example.

Several years ago the Town of Oro Valley was faced with the same issues that faced every small community in America. How do we continue to protect our residents with a police force that is properly manned, well equipped and trained? How do we maintain our roadways in such a manner that they will not only be safe and enjoyable on which to travel but not cost the resident an arm and a leg?  How do we generate sufficient revenue to pay our Town staff a reasonable wage so they stay here and provide us the expertise necessary to stay ahead of the curve?

The answers are pretty obvious. We must increase our revenue (income) and maintain or reduce our expenses.  How simple is that? On the surface it appears relatively easy but when you get down to the real finite decision making process it becomes dicey. I use the term “dicey” because the only source of revenue for any government entity is the wallet of the people they serve. “Dicey” is also an applicable term when it comes to a reduction in expenses which translates into programs and services being cut. I am reminded of a tightrope walker.  One small misstep and the fall can be pretty painful; dicey if you will.

The true measure of good governance is when faced with tough choices, knowing that whatever decision is reached is going to rub a percentage of the population the wrong way, the governing body consistently  makes correct decisions and the intended results are achieved while ruffling as few feathers as possible.

I’ll close this segment with one example of good governance. When faced with a serious budget shortfall as a result of the recent recession the current Town Council had choices. They could have easily mandated a cut of 15-20 personnel (most likely the majority coming from the police department) and easily eased the problem. This reduction of force could have resulted in a substantial increase in crime in our community.  Or they could have made a minor adjustment in the utility tax, held the line on individual merit increases, made decisions that made it easier to do business in our community thus increasing sales tax revenues and reduced the workforce through attrition.  This latter solution obviously worked.

This is exactly the kind of leadership we want and expect from our Town elected officials. This is what we have experienced from Mayor Hiremath and Council members Hornat, Snider and Waters.  They should be applauded for their steadfast commitment to making our community safer, fiscally strong and the envy of many communities throughout our state and the country.

Vindication!

We can’t think of a better headline than that for the Explorer Op Ed  by Thelma Grimes.  We’ve attached the link to this article showing some “enthusiasm” for the Truth in the journalistic world and some support for the Recall attempt.

Congratulations to Thelma and also to Don Cox the victim of Mr. Zinkin’s unjustified attack.  This Op Ed proves Mr. Cox is not the only one who sees the Zinkin hypocrisy!

Take a minute to read this link.  Forward this on to your friends.

http://explorernews.com/northwest_chatter/article_1e27ce30-f676-11e3-a383-001a4bcf887a.html

As a point of interest, 0ver a month ago the Truth received an email from Mr. Zinkin’s adult son.  The email alleges some past actions by Mr. Zinkin that seem to confirm there is a pattern of inappropriate remarks and attitudes in his history.

We did not publish the email since we had no way of verifying the source.   The Town Council received a similar email.  We have since learned that Mr. Zinkin has responded to Town Council concerning his son’s email verifying it is from his son.  We may at some future date publish both on the Truth.

We doubted the “origin” of the son’s letter, but since Mr. Zinkin saw fit to respond and not deny it was his son, we may publish both here at a future date.

 

THE BUDGET……and more :-)

Here in Oro Valley, the annual battle of the budget has once again come to a close and by a vote of 4-3 the FY 2014-15budget has passed. There was the usual bantering by the three (as in 4-3) banty roosters prancing around clucking about take-home vehicles, paying our employees too much (some haven’t had a raise in three years) and a new wrinkle offered this year by Councilman Burns who voted no because we were not doing enough for the down trodden.  It was a classic liberal plea to redistribute the wealth. However Burns gets one style point for bringing forth a new reason to vote “no” that doesn’t apply.

But the 2014-15 award for the most hypocritical anti-budget commentary award goes to an Oro Valley citizen who get’s more camera time at council meetings  than any other person. This year we are proud to announce that John Musolf  is the award winner. John has risen on multiple occasions to discuss the errant fiscal ways of the Town and to chastise the council and staff for their excessive spending habits.

Below is a chart from the Town web site. (Once on the town site, click on departments, then town clerk, then public records request.)  It shows the number of public record requests submitted by individuals and the amount of Town staff time that has been expended responding to the requests. There are many more folks mentioned  but we only copied the first page. It’s pretty clear who submits the most and how much time is spent complying with the request. Keep in mind that some of the time shown is attorney time and that ain’t cheap. We are guessing that the total cost to you, the taxpayer, is close to $10,000.

And I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen or heard of any results from his many inquiries. So the next time you see Mr. Musolf chatting about Town expenditures, you may want to remind him of the cost he is creating by his pointless requests.  And as a courtesy congratulate him on the award.

Last 12 Months
Time = Amount of staff time utilized to complete the request.
Name Count Time
John Musolf 25 245 Hours, 25 Minutes
Phil 6 1 Hours, 10 Minutes
Scott 4 1 Hours
Donald 3 18 Hours
Kim 2 25 Minutes
Don 2 1 Hours, 15 Minutes
Richard 2 50 Minutes
Candice 2 5 Hours, 5 Minutes
Donna 1 5 Minutes
Robert 1 10 Minutes
Danick 1 1 Hours
Paul 1 30 Minutes
Wally 1 15 Minutes
Diane 1 1 Hours, 55 Minutes
George 1 5 Minutes
Brendan 1 5 Minutes
Janet 1 50 Minute

Oro Valley Finance Department nets three national awards

Oro Valley, Ariz. (May 29, 2014) – The Town of Oro Valley has been tapped for three more national awards in the areas of financial reporting, budgeting and procurement.
The Town received two awards from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The first is the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the FY 2012/13 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). This is the 20th consecutive year that the Town has received this honor.
Oro Valley Finance Director Stacey Lemos commented, “It is truly an honor to be recognized by these national organizations and a true testament to the dedication and commitment to excellent fiscal management by our Finance Department team.”
For the sixth consecutive year, the Town of Oro Valley has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, which required the Town to satisfy a set of stringent, nationally-recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.
Of the 91 incorporated municipalities in Arizona, Oro Valley is one of only 27 municipalities in the state to receive both awards from the GFOA.
These two awards are the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting, financial reporting and budgeting, and they represent a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.
Additionally, for the sixth year in a row, the National Procurement Institute has honored the Town of Oro Valley with its Achievement of Excellence in Procurement (AEP) Award.The AEP award is sponsored by every major public procurement association in the country and is recognized as the benchmark of excellence in the profession. The Town of Oro Valley is one of only 16 government agencies in Arizona, and one of only 58 cities in the United States to receive this award.
In a press release, Stephen J. Gauthier, director of the GFOA Technical Services Center stated, “Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.”

TIME FOR RECOGNITION

 

On May 21, 2014, at the Oro Valley Town Council Chamber there is going to be a show of public support for the Oro Valley Police Department(OVPD). This is not a political event, but rather an opportunity for the average citizen to show up and indicate support of our police department.

This date was chosen because the 2014-15 Town budget will be voted upon bu the Town Council members. In this budget there is money to provide the first pay increase for our police officers in a couple of years.  Please join us in showing your support for the men and women who keep us safe and make this a great community.

We will gather at 5:50PM. “I LUV OVPD” stickers will be available for the first 150 people who show up. If you wish to verbally express your support please fill out a comment card (blue card) and address the town council. There are several folks who have agreed to do so.

Hope to see you there.

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

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

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

 

 

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.