The following letters appeared in the May 28, 2008, issue of The Explorer.

Oracle’s Clark did not help with facilities analysis

Earlier this year, Supt. Clark asked the Oracle School Board to approve a $60,000-plus architectural and engineering study with the intent of placing a multi-million dollar bond issue on the November ballot for a major overhaul of the school campus.

The board deferred because of the cost and the time schedule. An advisory committee was appointed to help define the facilities needs with the input of Mr. Clark, the faculty, the Arizona School Facilities Board, and the engineers of the school district’s insurance carrier. The committee was to report by June 1.

At our first meeting, we requested Mr. Clark’s assessment of the district’s facilities needs. Several months later, we received a one-page listing with no backup or justification. It was not helpful. We then received copies of the faculty survey. Most items listed were just routine maintenance that had not been performed. We then got the SFB report.

The good news was that “…all buildings were found to be fully capable of continued usage” (with one possible exception the insurance company’s engineer was to look at). The bad news was that “The SFB simply cannot be held financially responsible to correct items that a district would address through Capitol or Building Renewal Funding on an annual basis, versus at the point of failure”. That’s one way to say “if you didn’t take care of it over the years, don’t come to us for money when it finally falls apart.”

With the strong leadership of Chairman Alex Gort, it was soon obvious the committee would not rubber stamp and resubmit Mr. Clark’s $60,000-plus proposal. Probably because he could neither control nor take credit for the outcome, Mr. Clark boycotted most of the remaining meetings. The last straw was when he filed an open meeting law violation against the committee and did not have the courtesy to appear to explain it in person (it was e-mailed a few hours before our latest meeting, which he again boycotted). The claim was because at one meeting when we did not have a quorum (due to a last-minute family illness) we took no action but informally discussed some things to do for our next meeting because of our tight deadline. We have now run out of time and there will be no committee report.

Fortunately Mr. Clark’s contract was not renewed and the district can move on more constructively with new leadership.

Gary Hammond, vice chair

Oracle School Facilities Advisory Committee

Writing as an individual

Oro Valley voters have awakened

This letter was addressed to Oro Valley Mayor Paul Loomis. – Ed.

Permit this letter to explain why Barry Gillaspie was re-elected to the Oro Valley Town Council by a huge margin, to join Salette Latas and Bill Garner, who were elected in the primary also by huge margins.

In a nutshell, the voters of Oro Valley woke up. The voters realized that if they allowed developers and their minions on council to operate without restraint, Oro Valley would double in size, their taxes used to subsidize unwanted development, and their water supply depleted to facilitate ill-advised growth.

Voters used the ballot box to express disdain for heavy-handed, rude treatment when they spoke at town council meetings; the complete disregard for their opposition to subsidies for Wal-Mart; failure to follow Robert’s Rules at council meetings; council decisions that staff claimed were administrative and legislative, at the same time, thereby neutering citizens’ ability to control their council; the destruction of Honey Bee Canyon; the potential destruction of the Tortolitas; and for those of us with longer memories, the nefarious obstacles used to stop the Town of Tortolita from its formation and the extensive open space that would have resulted.

Folks became organized in Oro Valley. Republicans and Democrats joined together, set aside their busy lives and organized meetings, focus groups, and house parties to help Gillaspie, Latas and Garner define their message and effectively deliver it. They examined the root causes that resulted in Phoenix and refused to accept that future. They attended seminars on referendum and the initiative process and learned the power ordinary people have to control wayward government in Arizona. Finally, people rejected the high-priced, misleading advertisements for those council candidates who failed them in the past.

This grass roots movement became a professional-style campaign organization and easily achieved its goal of electing council members who represent a fresh start. Given their success, you can expect these same people to play an increasing role for the remaining two years of your term.

The people have spoken and, given the electoral margins, Oro Valley voters are likely to never be silent again.

Barry DiSimone

Oro Valley

Eventually, Oro Valley's water will be 'all used up'

“All used up”: that’s what that the O’odham word hohokam really means. Hokam means one thing that is used up. Repeating the first syllable in the O’odham language makes it plural: “all used up.” When O’odham people referred to a ruin as Hohokam, they were not naming the people that built it, they were just describing its ruined condition. Romantic glosses such as the “vanished people” aside, hohokam just means something that is “all used up.”

Oro Valley has one place – in Honey Bee Canyon – that is officially signed as hohokam – “all used up.” In the years to come, and given present development policies, it might well be that one day an O’odham commentator would describe the whole town of Oro Valley as hohokam – “all used up.”

I applaud supervisor Ann Day’s criticism of the Oro Valley town council on open space conservation, and would appreciate her continuing oversight. With a couple of noble exceptions, the current council has demonstrated an inability to make responsible decisions without adult supervision.

Ann Day is right; Rancho Vistoso is already hohokam — “all used up.” Unless the council and their developer allies are stopped, they will make the Arroyo Grande property hohokam – “all used up” – as well.

Colorado River water is over-allocated, and Arizonans – including the town of Oro Valley — are last in line for the water. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guarantees Mexico’s right to Colorado River water. The Native American right to Colorado River water is guaranteed by an early 20th century U.S. Supreme court ruling, the Winters Doctrine. And Arizona relinquished absolute rights to Colorado River water as part of the settlement to a lawsuit between the two states which enabled the building of the Central Arizona Project.

Oro Valley planners think they can pipe water in from the Central Arizona Project to water the lawns and feed the misters that will be distributed over the development that was Arroyo Grande. But they are wrong. By the time the water is needed, it will be hohokam – “all used up.”

Erik Shapiro

Oro Valley

In OV, they’ll offer opinions, and keep score

Driving along Lambert Lane past the mayoral residence, I couldn’t help wondering what Mayor Loomis must have been thinking as he removed the two Terry Parish signs he had so prominently displayed for many months on his front fence.

Of course I might ask him the next time I see him, but sometimes it’s more fun to speculate: How might Mayor Loomis interpret the new splash of handwriting on the wall? Does he see it as his failure to deliver?

I would think that the mayor has to be be disappointed that his favored Terry Parish, second-the-motion stalwart, golden poster boy for developers, and consummate law-and-order candidate, must now step down to devote himself to his career in the sheriff’s department.

Terry probably doesn’t see that as a step down, but the move fuels quips about law officers becoming busier and busier once Wal-Mart opens its doors in October.

Those who handsomely funded the Parish campaign must be feeling mightily chagrined. Can they still count on Mayor Loomis viewing development through rose-tinted glasses? Or will a change in the wind coupled with a bright, new council somehow sharpen the mayoral vision? We can only cross our fingers, offer comments and suggestions, and keep score as events unfold.

Citizens proved at the ballot box that they’re not buying the old razzamatazz anymore. By embracing Salette Latas, Bill Garner and Barry Gillaspie, three of the very best Oro Valley has to offer, they invited the winds of change to sweep out the halls of the town hall complex as well as council chambers.

May all who labor here realize that the residents who vote here pay their salaries — and we want much more than the same old lip service.

Kathy Pastryk

Oro Valley


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