In recent weeks, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath took many residents and elected officials by surprise when he took an official stance in the recall efforts of Councilman Mike Zinkin. His column ran in the Dec. 25 edition of The Explorer.

In his column, Mayor Hiremath stressed he felt it was his duty to speak up and protect the Town of Oro Valley, calling on residents to sign the recall petition. The call to recall Zinkin centers around complaints that have been filed against him by two female employees. With claims of sexual harassment, the mayor continues to stress he is protecting the town and its employees.

Mr. Zinkin responded to Hiremath’s column in the Jan. 1 edition of The Explorer. He said he meant no offense to the two female employees for whatever it is he said, and has apologized. Was it an admission of guilt to sexual harassment? No.

In the end, where do the two columns leave voters? The Explorer fielded several phone calls last week with readers asking plenty of questions about what is going on. Interestingly, The Explorer Newspaper was originally started 20 years ago because local residents wanted more information about ongoing recall efforts.

Now, here we are 20 years later under the same situation. Readers want more information, but what impressed me most about many of the phone calls is that none of them are interested in rumors, insinuations and gossip. Many of them pleaded with me for just the facts.

Unfortunately, the facts are tough in a “he said, she said” situation. Are there two complaints against Zinkin? Yes. Is the mayor right when he says in a private company someone being accused of such things would likely lose his job? Yes. 

However, Zinkin is not employed by a private company, he is a town official elected by voters. One might inquire what happens if an elected official is accused of such a thing. For the most part, short of resigning or a recall, there’s not a lot of recourse that can be taken against an elected official.

Look at Paul Cunningham with the City of Tucson last year. He drank and was accused of harassing women during a conference in San Diego. He weathered the storm and remains in his elected seat.

The concern I have with the accusations coming out against Zinkin is how much of the negative attention centers around the Oro Valley Police Department.

Is the police department becoming too political? While I respect Chief Danny Sharp and the officers on the department, I do believe the department has become way too political.

Zinkin and Councilman Bill Garner do have a point when they say the department is managed by the council and therefore requires oversight. At times, Zinkin does appear to be a little overzealous in his constant questioning of the department, but in the end, isn’t that what we want elected officials to do?

Zinkin is going up against a strong opposition, he questions the authoritative manner in which the department is run, and he is facing an uphill battle as he continues to do so.

While Zinkin seems to need a filter between his brain and his mouth on occasion, the question is does Oro Valley need this type of political official running the town?

I believe in balance. I believe that when you only have yes men running any kind of board – the citizens lose in the end.

Having something more meaningful than seven votes of approval on every issue is important.

Garner and Zinkin may not be right in everything they question, or how often they push the issues – but they do bring up some good points and deserve a lot more attention than they receive on occasion. 

As for Zinkin, more sensitivity training might serve him well moving forward.

(5) comments


"Yes. Is the mayor right when he says in a private company someone being accused of such things would likely lose his job? Yes."

Not without full due-process, Ms. Grimes. Until now, I held you in full respect; please do not shade your editorials with such slothful writing in the future...

John Flanagan

Excellent article. Fair and balanced reporting on the troubles at Oro Valley Town Hall. In my view, it is not necessarily "political" when police chiefs in a small town take sides with some council members, while disagreeing with others. It boils down to budget issues, limited resources, priorities, and looking out for your own department. It only becomes a problem when there is an unbalanced neglect of other town departments and needs.
It is necessary for Town leaders, at this point, to take a time out, and get down to the work of managing and compromising on the issues. If Mr Zinkin, as was suggested, tends to speak too bluntly, he will need to do so in a less offensive manner. While directness and honesty are virtues, there is still the need to articulate issues without ruffling feathers.
In any case, the Town should proceed with the business of governing and if problems cannot be worked out, the voters will have to make future changes in the next election.

John Flanagan

In Thelma Grimes' defense, cfox201, it should be noted that she was quoting the words of the mayor himself, and it cannot be considered "slothful" writing to merely report what the subject stated.


So when she writes 'Yes.' (NOT quoting the mayor) she is not implying that if someone is simply ACCUSED of such things, a person will be fired? I don't see how that is not 'slothful' at all. It would never happen without due process. Therefore, this writing shades her meaning with a bias against Mr. Zinkin.


Thelma, your “We Say” is just that, another opinion piece. If the people want facts why not do some investigating and give them what they asked for. I’m sure you have looked at or requested the documentation that has led up to the Zinkin Recall. I’ve done some research for you as it relates to sexual harassment.
From The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
Sexual Harassment
It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
Your comment, “Zinkin is not employed by a private company, he is a town official elected by voters. One might inquire what happens if an elected official is accused of such a thing.” Why don’t you run that question by the EEOC?

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