Regarding a paid advertisement from Aug. 8, page 7: The endorsement by a retired general extolling the integrity of current Oro Valley Mayor Hiremath speaks volumes. Consider this: “Members of the Armed Forces may not wear the uniform during or in connection with furthering political activity or when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity may be drawn.” DoD Instruction 1334.01, para 3.1.2.
General Wickham should know better. He has his right to free speech. But even though he is retired, using his rank to endorse a political candidate is considered by some ethically dubious. Gen. Eisenhower didn’t vote in U.S. presidential elections until he himself ran for president, as he didn’t think it proper.
But Gen. Wickham went further in the half page ad (I assume paid for by Hiremath’s campaign) with a color photo of himself in full dress uniform. The military has always considered this wrong, and an active duty member could be disciplined.
So perhaps the fact that the general sees no problem with this really does reflect something about the character of Hiremath and the current city council.
—Christopher Cooper, MSgt, USAF (ret)
Smoke and Fire
Regarding Aug. 15 letter “False Information”: Mr. Cox provided a staunch defense of our mayor and incumbent council members Hornat, Snider and Waters accepting special interest donations to outspend their opposition. However, “where there is smoke there is fire.”
Mr. Cox demands evidence of wrongdoing by the current mayor and council. However, he doesn’t dispute that they have been accepting monies from the developers who are requesting council approval of changes to our General Plan and rezoning to squeeze more units in and more profits out.
He suggests that all these developments have been in the best interests of town residents. If that’s the case why do so many speak out against the developments at every stage of the process? Why did well dozens of residents show up to protest building houses and two access roads in Big Wash?
Contributing money to politicians provides access, access leads to influence, which leads to numerous unanimous council votes for developer requested rezoning. Seven Oro Valley residents picked at random would have done a better job of representing all Oro Valley residents. All one has to do for evidence is look at the council scoreboard.
Vote no to more special interest influence. Vote no to developers controlling the Oro Valley General Plan.
Regarding Aug. 15 letter “False Information”: I’m glad that Don Cox challenged my Explorer letter, thereby giving me the opportunity to present more information in a rebuttal.
Cox has been on the Planning and Zoning Commission for most of the past 10-plus years, including three re-appointments granted to him by the current Town Council incumbents. This isn’t a sign of a healthy democracy. Cox has also managed PAC’s to help get the incumbents re-elected. He also twice violated the Town’s Code of Conduct while serving as a commissioner. The incumbents looked the other way both times, appointing him to serve again in 2016.
Cox tried to create a diversion in his letter by arguing that my timeline of events was incorrect regarding a proposed development adjacent to Catalina State Park, but he did not deny that the events took place. He did not deny that Councilmember Hornat stated that he wanted to see the ridge overlooking the park lined with quality homes. Does anyone care if Hornat made the comment during my P&Z interview or if he made it immediately before or after a P&Z meeting? Does Hornat deny saying this? Does Cox deny that this is what they both want?
Rezoning land should only be done if it benefits the common good of the community, not for the benefit of the land owner who knew the zoning restrictions when he purchased the land. If you agree, then please join me in voting the incumbents out of office on Aug. 28.
No horses here
Regarding Aug. 15 letter “Don’t Swap Horses”: I had to read General Wickham’s letter twice to make sure I got it right. The general quotes President Lincoln, “Don’t swap horses in the middle of the stream,” and yet President Lincoln did just that.
Lincoln replaced generals and changed the command structure of the army several times before he finally selected Ulysses S. Grant to take command. In World War One, generals were replaced as well as in World War Two. While visiting the island of Okinawa, I learned about General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. being killed one day before he was to be relieved of command. In fact, when he was killed he was a Lieutenant General and only got his fourth star posthumously.
I’m sure General Wickham knows personally of many officers of high rank that were relieved of their command. General Wickham is to be commended for his service to our country, but Oro Valley is not the Army. Mayor Hiremath is not President Lincoln.
No one is riding horses and where is there running water in Oro Valley?
Month late, dollar short
Regarding Aug. 15 story “Incumbents hold huge fundraising advantage…”: A month late, the Explorer finally published an article on the second quarter campaign finance reports confirming major developer contributions to Hiremath, Hornat, Snider and Waters. Listed in the article were HSL properties President Omar Morales and Owner Umberto Lopez, the previous owner of the town’s three golf courses.
Joining HSL were John and Herbert Kai owners of Kai Enterprises of Marana. Herb Kai a council member in Marana and not an Oro Valley resident was so pleased with the “great job” the incumbents are doing that the Kai’s contributed to the four incumbents’ reelection campaign in this first reporting period. Joining HSL and the Kais were Jeff Grobstein of Meritage Homes, and local developer Greg Wexler.
What the Explorer failed to mention is that the Kai family has recently received a unanimous council approval to build homes on postage stamp lots allowing mass grading. They requested and were granted over a dozen zoning variances, minimum lot size reduced, higher heights, side setbacks, street setbacks, etc.
It is no wonder these Marana businessmen and Oro Valley landowners are funding the four incumbents’ reelection so they can continue “doing a great job.”
Regarding Aug. 15 story “Spike Lee’s ‘BlacKkKlansman’ a gripping true story”: In his recent film review, Patrick King castigates the director because “....he attempts to score political points” in the film’s closing scenes. Yet in the very same sentence in which he does this, he characterizes the Black Lives Matter movement as one of “hatred towards law enforcement.” (Of course, BLM would likely respond that they don’t hate all law enforcement officials, as implied by Mr. King, but rather oppose unjustifiable police force against people of color and perceived lack of accountability at times for such acts).
Somehow the irony of Mr. King injecting his own personal distaste for BLM gratuitously into a film review “to score political points” seems to have sailed over his head undetected.
In the current budget, town manager Mary Jacobs has proposed a bond to repair the golf courses and “improve” the community center. This cost has grown substantially since her February review and recommendation to council. But what is most alarming is how she is going to spend the money.
First let’s back up and revisit the National Golf Foundation Study report presented to Council and privately by Jacobs in “invitation only” meetings with the golf members and nearby homeowners. In addition to suggesting that nine holes of golf be removed and create 32 acres of open space, the study recommended that millions be spent to update the tired golf property to more successfully compete with the nine other local golf clubs.
After repeated records requests the town has come clean and revealed what the funds for “ Community Center improvements” will get us a new golf grand entrance, a refreshed golf pro shop, rebuilt golf men’s and women’s locker rooms and an elevator.
In addition, Jacobs in February boldly stated that the town would no longer accept losing thousands every month in the Overlook restaurant, which Oro Valley had upgraded with town capital, and that the town would close the restaurant.
In reviewing the records request response, closing to Jacobs means spending money to rebuild the restaurant on the ground level with a new large kitchen, indoor bar and dining, plus a patio with casual seating for golfers. We can then continue to lose money every month, but now with a relocated restaurant to help generate more subsidized golf rounds.
Only one thing will stop this lunacy. Vote ‘em out.
This month we’ll elect our town leaders for the next four years. It will set the course for Oro Valley’s future. Please consider whether your vision for the town matches the incumbents’ vision before you vote.
The incumbents are asking for four additional years of their “proven leadership” while ignoring our desire for a small town feel. They’ve consistently approved significant growth through residential re-zonings of large acre lots to small cookie-cutter lots. While we see a lot of mass grading driving through town, much of the construction hasn’t even begun.
The incumbents say growth is required to support both existing and new retail at the Lambert/La Cañada Main Streets project. They say growth will increase sale tax revenue. But with the shift to online shopping, will it really increase revenues significantly?
What’s the down-side of Main Streets? The plan calls for on-street parking, a pedestrian bridge over Lambert, town funding for signage and more. Frys will move to La Cholla which opens the door to converting their current building to apartments. Does this density and congestion support your vision for Oro Valley? The small town feel we voted for as our vision in the General Plan?
Oro Valley is a unique place with sunshine nearly year-round and beautiful desert and mountain views (albeit somewhat more obstructed since 2010). We have a good mix of younger families and seniors. We have great schools, well maintained roads and excellent public safety. Let’s keep it.
The growth/increased density doesn’t match my vision for Oro Valley, a vision that preserves our safe, small town where we can raise kids or enjoy retired life. I’m not willing to risk it for the sake of a few more restaurants and retail.
Eight years of the incumbents’ vision is enough for me. It’s time for a change.
Editor’s Note: Shirl Lamonna unsuccessfully ran for Oro Valley Town Council during the 2015 recall effort.
Elephant in the room
There’s an elephant in the room concerning the Oro Valley council election. In the current council election season there’s one point not often mentioned in the campaign rhetoric. Oro Valley is funded primary by sales tax and building permits.
The citizens of Oro Valley have rejected a local property tax. We choose to rely on growth. While it is at times disconcerting to long-time residents to see more and more development, it is necessitated by the funding mechanisms we have chosen. If we choose no or less growth, property taxes could become necessary. Keep that in mind as you pick your candidates for town council. The incumbents seem to favor growth and increasing business more than the challengers.
The other day was my child’s first day of Kindergarten in Oro Valley and I was appalled at what I saw.
On the corner of the school were supporters holding up signs for Winfield, Barrett, Ivey-Jones, and Nicolson. On a day where parents like myself are worried sick about sending our children back to school making sure that they have everything they need, calming them down and dealing with the trauma of the first day of school, I can’t believe that these people were more concerned about getting a vote.
Fuming mad on the way home I started to notice just how many signs they had and also noticed little nasty signs next to other their opponent’s campaign signs. Are these the kind of people that we want representing Oro Valley? Not me. I will not be voting for them and neither should you.
Vote for Shedd
As the Republican Primary contest for Arizona Congressional District 1 appears to be devolving into a knock-down, drag-out mud-slinging contest between candidates Wendy Rogers and State Sen. Steve Smith I can’t help contrasting candidates Rogers and Smith with the third candidate, Tiffany Shedd.
While both Smith and Rogers have left, shall I say, less than accurate robo-call messages on my answering machine bashing each other, Tiffany Shedd has not left any such messages. In fact, all of Tiffany’s campaign materials have been refreshingly devoid of disparagement for her competitors. All her materials, both electronic and print media focus entirely on her own qualifications—which are extensive—and her plans and ideas for solutions to challenges facing the citizens of the district—which are highly down-to-earth and practical.
The several times my wife and I have had the opportunity to hear Tiffany speak, we have come away with the strong conviction that she is the only candidate in the CD1 race who cares deeply about the people of the district and the issues that really matter to them. Thus we would sincerely recommend everyone looking away from the mud-slinging and to investigate a candidate who offers a refreshing viewpoint with real solutions: Tiffany Shedd.
Sabotaged from the start
I have lived in Oro Valley at the townhouses at the El Conquistador for 36 years. I would like to comment on the dishonesty of this mayor and council. In 2015, at a meeting on the town’s purchase of the golf courses and approval of the new tax, a homeowner asked about the status of our nine-hole Pusch Ridge golf course. A town representative shouted out “The golf course will remain a golf course as is” and received a large applause. About 500 people heard this statement and supported the purchase and sales tax.
Since the town closed the transaction, no one in three years has seen a single promotion or advertisement for golfers. The short practice green was cut up and moved, leaving an area that looks like a vacant lot. The golf office has been closed. The new hours are typically 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The golf course is only open from mid-October until the 1st of May, otherwise closed. Forty-year-old plants are dying on the sides of fairways. Most electric carts have been moved to the 36 holes on La Cañada, forcing the women’s group of 45 golfers to leave our course.
When the town in February made the decision to cease operating the course, the Town Manager’s presentation stated simply “There are less players, the annual financial numbers are way down, we take this to mean that people don’t want to play this course, so we are choosing to quit operating it”. No other explanation.
Oro Valley has misled, broken promises, and lied. The nine-hole Pusch Ridge course was sabotaged from the start.
In 1887 Lord Acton stated in a letter, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
At our local level of government, absolute power is the majority that has been at the helm for the last eight years. The first six produced a continual four-to-three vote which included the purchasing of the country club and the golf courses. However, since 2016 and a perpetual unanimous majority, the town council of Oro Valley has been on a binge to transform our vision of where we live to that of the vision of the developers who have filled their campaign coffers.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is stacked with long-serving enablers with incumbent Joe Hornat’s proposing lifetime appointments. Somewhere along the way, “planning” got left by the wayside, and what we have left is the rezoning commission. This group supports and provides cover for the council’s unanimous decisions which includes approving all aspects of every proposed developer’s and land speculator’s enrichment scheme.
How has this occurred? Very simple: Follow the money. Since 2010 Satish Hiremath discovered how he could buy local elections and gave the signal that Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters were “open for business” and with that the special interest contributions to their campaigns have exploded.
When our locally elected officials have received monies from land use decision applicants and others looking for special treatment and favors, then it is time to make a long overdue assessment of those in power. Priorities of the developers and the support of them is not consistent with the priorities of the citizens.
We cannot change the laws or the behavior of business. What we can alter is the people who accept the money. Vote ‘em out.
Follow the money
The incumbent Mayor Hiremath and councilmembers Hornat, Waters and Snider received the vast majority of their donations from the development community and special interests in their 2014 through 2015 election campaigns. Since 2016, this Council has voted unanimously in favor of the developers’ projects including re-zonings, high density residential projects and more. Many of these projects were against the wishes of the residents.
So far in this 2018 election’s first reporting cycle the Mayor and Councilmembers Hornat, Waters and Snider have received approximately tens of thousands from the same interest group of developers/ special interests.
In an article in the Arizona Daily Star dated July 7, 2018 Hiremath emphasized that “We have created incredible relationships with developers”.
Do you wonder who runs Oro Valley?
Consider this quote from Charles Keating known for the S&L debacle of the 1980s and 1990s. Keating was also a Phoenix real estate financier involved with early development of Rancho Vistoso.
When Keating was asked if his financial support influenced politicians to support his cause, the Orange County Register reported that he told reporters, “I want to say in the most forceful way I can: I certainly hope so”.
And the beat goes on.
Editor’s Note: Rudy Roszak sat is a former Oro Valley Councilmember from the ’90s.
Pass the Baton
Incumbents Hornat, Snider, and Waters are running on “proven leadership” and we can debate the value of that when all the decisions on developer rezoning requests are unanimous approvals.
But in this election voters need to look to the future not the past. Joyce Jones-Ivey is the senior member of the council challengers, the same age as Mary Snider (the junior member of the incumbents). Josh Nicolson and Melanie Barrett are both 36, less than half the ages of Joe Hornat and Lou Waters. The challengers have degrees in aeronautical engineering, English, law, nursing and divinity while the incumbents attended college. On the issues the challengers won both debates.
This election is about what kind of future we want for Oro Valley and who will best lead it in the direction that is best for town seniors and young parents like Nicolson and Barrett.
I think that council members who will live and raise young children in Oro Valley over the next decades will make the best decisions in guiding our town to continue to be the place where we all want to live and raise families.
I am a senior and early balloter so I have already voted for Joe Winfield, Joyce Jones-Ivey, Josh Nicolson and Melanie Barrett. Please join me in passing the baton to the next generation of Oro Valley leaders.
Editor’s Note: Jack Stinnett advises the Winfield mayoral campaign.
A great place
My wife and I chose to move our family to Oro Valley in 2012. We chose this area to raise our family for a variety of reasons, including highly rated public schools, continual investments in the Town’s infrastructure including parks, multiuse paths and roads. These investments have attracted the attention of other families and businesses who want to live here, helping to create the community we all chose to live in and want to continue to enjoy.
Our Town’s reputation as a desirable community is no accident; it’s come through well managed and fiscally responsible growth. This was achieved through the town’s excellent leadership at the staff level, and an effective council with a clear vision. I hope you can join me in supporting our Town Council members by voting for Mayor Hiremath and councilmembers Hornat, Snider and Waters.
Many people from Marana have asked me why I am supporting Jack Neubeck for the town council. Simple. First, Jack can hit the ground running on day one. Second, he has a history with Marana since the ’80s.
Jack says too many plans and no action.
The council voted for a plan to do downtown Marana over ten years ago at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars to the taxpayers of Marana. So, where is the implementation plan for this plan, and the other plans? The council is all talk and no action. It is time for a change, that is why I am voting for Jack Neubeck to the Marana Town Council.
Editor’s Note: David Morales is a former Marana Councilmember.
I was in attendance at the candidate forum at the Hilton El Conquistador. An oversize crowd was in attendance, illustrating the interest in this year’s Oro Valley election.
Satish Hiremath has had eight years at the helm, most with the financial backing of HSL and assorted builders in Oro Valley. Two terms was enough for George Washington and for all those who followed. It’s time for a new perspective and direction for Oro Valley, minus the special interests.
We are a small township with an oversized budget, personnel and equipment problems. We need to be rid of the special interest funding of the current mayor and council. In a recent letter to the editor authored by Don Cox under the heading “Go Fishing” he asks for proff of quid pro quo. The gold course for one. The numerous re-zoning requests approved for a second.
No one gives money in local elections without expecting something in return! That’s a fact, Jack.
I respectfully ask my family, friends and all Oro Valley voters to vote for the re-election of the Oro Valley incumbents: Satish Hiremath, Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters.
I have been an Oro Valley resident for 21 years and have watched the local election for all that time. During that time, the town has evolved into the best mid-size town in Arizona according to an independent assessment, and is also credited with being among the safest (if not the actual safest) community of its size in Arizona. These are the measures that the opposition to this fine group of elected officials cannot improve upon with a “new direction.” Whatever that means.
The street maintenance and programs of the parks and rec department are also easily the best in the area. The incumbents clearly deserve to be re-elected.
—Richard J. Tracy, Sr.
Anybody but Satish
Twenty years ago, my wife and I left Connecticut. We wanted to retire in a quiet, hopefully upscale community with sunshine and nice amenities. After searching for two years, east to west, we found Oro Valley.
The first ten years were terrific, but what has happened since? Tens of thousands more people, apartments, shopping centers, boundary expansion, new taxes.
Eight years ago, we voted for Satish Hiremath for Oro Valley Mayor. He beat Mike Zinkin by a few dozen votes. How much different would Oro Valley be today with Zinkin? Nobody knows, but we regret that vote.
Satish and his cohorts have transformed Oro Valley into a mini metropolis. Ridiculously, we all own a golf course. What’s a golf course? Eighteen holes in the ground into which one pours money! His buddy, Bert Lopez, knew that. Satish didn’t.
Let’s be different this time. Let’s change the trajectory of our fair domain. Send Satish back to the honorable practice of dentistry, full-time. Vote for Joe Winfield. Bring back Paul Loomis.
Anyone but Satish!