Thursday, July 24, 2014

Candidates Weigh In On The General Plan: A Guideline Or A Guideline

In 2010, then candidate for Mayor, Satish Hiremath, discussed the "issues" as he saw them.  They were posted on his web site.  One of these is his view of the general plan and what it means to governance of Oro Valley.

Here's what Candidate Hiremath wrote in 2010:

"Oro Valley has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in updating and ratifying its General Plan. If for financial reasons only, the Town should begin to – as the Plan states in its Preamble – follow and consistently apply it. The General Plan represents the Will of the People, and needs to be a critical part of deliberation over fiscal, cultural, and economic requirements."

Mayor Hiremath changed is mind once in office. He has stated repeatedly at council meetings that the general plan is a guideline.  At no time during his tenure as Mayor has he ever referred to the general plan as being the "...critical part of any deliberation" that he stated he was in his 2010 issues statement.

Mayor Hiremath affirmed his position at the Northwest Conservatives Forum:

"It is a policy document hat should be used as a guideline.... Like any document, it is open to interpretation. You have to use that not just as that sole piece but you gotta in context with the larger piece."

At that forum, Mayor Hiremath used the Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance (ESLO) as an example of how he has implemented the General Plan. Mayor Hiremath was correct when he stated: "Under my tenure we ratified the ESLO."  His remark would lead one to think that he had something to do with the ESLO.

Was Mayor Hiremath misleading us?  We think so.  Mayor Hiremath had nothing to do with the ESLO other than voting for it.

These are the facts:
  • The ESLO was required by element 11.2.7 of the 2005 General Plan.
  • It was put on the 'back burner' until Council Member Barry Gillaspie rekindled it, fearing that time was not on the side of ever creating such a plan give the nature of the 2007-8  recession and a push, by the development community, to reduce restrictions.
  • None of the Majority-4, including Mayor Hiremath, ever worked on any of the ESLO.
  • The ESLO was the work of many people, including Council Member Barry Gillaspie and resident, then Planning and Zoning Commission member, Bill Adler.   Neighborhood meetings were held in 2009. The town had an ESLO technical advisory committee that included Carolyn Campbell; Arizona Sonoran Desert Coalition; John Windes, Arizona Game and Fish Department; Sherry Ruther, Pima County Environmental Planning Manager; and Scott Richardson, US Fish&Wildlife Service.
  • Voting on the ESLO had been pulled from the January agenda, though Council Members Garner and Gillaspie (and, yes, then Council Member Solomon) have motioned to consider it then. At that time, the Majority-4 weren't ready to approve it.  The "environment heavies" had to weigh in to get it passed.
  • The ESLO was approved unanimously by council on February 16, 2011, after being "watered down" by appointed Council Member Solomon.  Council Member Gillaspie, working with Solomon, was trouble by the compromises made at the end, but he felt that it was more important to have an ESLO than to not.
  • The Majority-4, and the rest of council, approved a "watered-down" ESLO on February 16, 2011.    
Mayor Hiremath did not do the the heavy lifting.  Council Member Gillaspie and others, like resident Bill Adler, did the "heavy lifting."  Mayor Hiremath did nothing more than to vote for the final version of the plan.

Is this the best example of implementing the general plan that Mayor Hiremath has?  Is there nothing else that he can use to illustrate how, during his tenure, he has considered the general plan "... as a critical part of deliberations" as he had claimed he would in 2008?

Because...

If it is his best example, then he has nothing to point to that shows how he as implemented the general plan.  Perhaps the reason he has no example is because, to Mayor Hiremath, the general plan is merely a guide to be interpreted as one wishes.

Watch the video linked above to learn how the other candidates feel about whether General Plan is blueprint or a guide.

What do you think?
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Straney and Bristow Seek To Unite Oro Valley

"What will you do to unite Oro Valley?" 

That question was put to the candidates at the Northwest Conservatives Forum on July 9.

Candidate Bristow summed up the feeling of many in the community.
"In my opinion there is discord. You can't have 3 council members very active in trying to recall another one, in the papers, out on the streets, and not have discord."  
Don also spoke of the need for respect for the opinions of others, respect that has been lacking in the council: "When you are discussing issues you do not attack people, you discuss the issues." Don would like to be sure in his tenure as council person to get the best opinions of all 7 members of council.

Candidate Straney observed: "I like energetic discussion... I seek alternate opinions. When people feel strongly... you need to do the hard job of listening."

It is not possible to fix a problem if you deny there is a problem. the Majority-4 deny that Oro Valley is a divided community.  Here is where they stand:

Hornat: "I don't think there is discord."
Council Member Hornat supports his position with information on council votes.  During the tenure of this council, there have been "..15, votes out of 158 votes that were 4-3 votes;  99 of them were 7-0 votes."  He feels that the council has aired their differences very well.

Hornat, as we previously reported, was gathering recall signatures at Fry's in Oracle in the last days of the recall effort when he was supposed to be at a meeting a Securaplane.  Hornat is also one of the 2 individuals on council who attack, rather than discuss issues.

Mayor Hiremath: I did it because it was right
Mayor Hiremath led the failed Zinkin recall effort. He did not answer the question as to how he would bring Oro Valley together.  Perhaps, he simply does not care to or think there is as need to bring the community together.  Rather, Hiremath lectured that it was his job to enforce the rules and that's what he was doing when he led the recall of Council Member Zinkin.

Council Member Snider: If someone is still offended "... all we need to do is talk about it."
Council Member Snider thinks that "I think the recall issue is over."  This from a council person who was still talking about the recall on February 24, a month after it failed.  She gave a speech at council on how "offended" she was by alleged remarks.

Council Member Waters: "Theres nothing wrong with disagreement,"
Council Member Waters asserted that "It is untrue that sitting Council Members organized any recall." Water's role in the recall was to advise the other members of the Majority-4 on how to "make the recall personal." Thus, Snider's Februry 24 remarks.
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Watch the video of the candidate responses.  Tell us which candidates are best qualified to bring Oro Valley together.
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heather's Corner: Monsoons-It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love the monsoons! So does Beatrice.

So what if my backyard floods every time it rains. I don't care that I have to keep towels by my front window when the water decides to come at the house in a horizontal down pour. And least of all do I care that our dog, Beatrice, thinks the sofa is her personal grooming towel to dry off when she comes back in from doing her business. I love it all!

So I thought I would share a few facts I found on monsoons with you:
Beatice Enjoys The Monsoon!
  • 32 percent our of Arizona’s yearly rain totals come during the monsoon. 
  • 40 percent of In Pinetop’s yearly rain totals come during the monsoon. 
  • 62 percent of Bisbee’s yearly rain totals come during the monsoon. 
  • Lightning will strike about 500,000 times during the monsoon. 
  • There are between 500 and 600 Arizona weather spotters. 
  • The term “monsoon” comes from the Arabic “mausim” meaning “season” or “wind shift”. 
  • The Arizona monsoon officially begins June 15th. Until recently, the monsoon was official three consecutive day of dew points above 55 degrees. Now it officially starts whether there is any change in the dew point or not. 
  • The official last day of the monsoon is September 30th. 
  • The word “monsoon” refers to a season by definition, and should never be used with the word “season”. 
  • The Arizona monsoon usually continues for about two months resulting in about 2 1/2 inches of rain and about 1/3 of our yearly rainfall. 
  • Monsoon storms range from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms. Arizona monsoon storms start with heavy winds sometimes resulting in a visible wall of dust hundreds of feet high. 
  • Dust storms during the monsoon are normally accompanied by thunder and lightning and often lead to heavy downpours. 
  • The longest Arizona monsoon is recorded as 99 days in 1984. -The shortest Arizona monsoon on record is 27 days in 1962. 
  • The most rain generated from an Arizona monsoon was 9.38 inches in 1984. 
  • The driest monsoon in Arizona was .35 inches in 1924 
Arizona Stupid Motorist law, enacted in 1995 for governments to hold motorists responsible for rescue and recovery who knowingly enter a roadway or wash in rushing waters from a monsoon, even has it's own Facebook page now.

There you can learn: "If you get caught in a ‪monsoon, pull over and turn off your lights. Stay safe. Don't be a stupid motorist!"

And for those looking for a more scientific approach to monsoons, they are most simply a response to the sun heating up the atmosphere. "In Arizona, the process starts with the hot and dry weather of May and June. Usually, the winds are from a dry westerly direction, so humidity is low and temperatures soar above 100 degrees in the deserts. As the atmosphere warms, the jet stream retreats northward. this allows the winds to shift to a more southerly component and bring in the moisture. Most of our humid air comes from the Sea of Cortez, but a good portion also comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Once the moist air arrives, our strong summer sun heats the moist air causing the familiar thunderstorm (cumulonimbus) clouds." (Source)

We'd love you to share any monsoon photos with us.

In the meantime keep enjoying all the benefits of the monsoons and this photo of Beatrice doing the same.
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Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest View-Don Bristow: Why I Want To Represent You On Council

After attending most of the Town council meetings for the past four years, I became aware of the growing dissention among council members. This dissention has become unacceptable to many Oro Valley citizens, myself included. For the sake of the Town and its citizens, this discord has to change.

After much thought, I decided the best way to return civility, cooperation, and team work to the council was from within. I will apply my consulting skills in team development and facilitation toward achieving this goal.

Attending council meetings, I also became aware of how few citizens attended and participated in these meetings. Since many may find it difficult to attend these meetings, I would like to be their voice as their citizen-centric council member.

My foremost responsibility will be to the citizens of Oro Valley. I pledge to seek and hear as many opinions as possible before making any decisions. I will respect the views of others, and offer compromises when appropriate. Additionally, many citizens have noted that some council members consistently show up unprepared for meetings.

I pledge to prepare for Council Meetings by researching agenda items in advance. I will listen carefully to presentations and speakers; ask pertinent follow-up questions; carefully evaluate each proposal; and adhere to the Oro Valley General Plan and Town Codes when making decisions.

The future of Oro Valley is very dependent on its financial health and a clearly written 2015 General Plan. I will support major projects, such as the development of Naranja Park, only after input from citizens and consultants and after financial plans has been reviewed and approved. I will strengthen fiscal responsibility by spending wisely on residents’ priorities, and by requiring supporting documents for all non-urgent projects. I will base my decisions on facts, not fantasy.

As your council member, I will work to strengthen the approval criterion for 2015 General Plan amendments and rezoning. I will maintain public safety and quality of life for all. I am also running for council to advocate for environmental and historical preservation as well as increased cultural, recreations, and learning opportunities for all ages.

Thank you for your support. It would be an honor to be your Councilmember.

Don Bristow
votedonbristow.com

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bits and Pieces

What Me Worry? Lou's Confused

Council Member Lou Waters must have been confused at last week's Northwest Conservatives Forum.  He said that he moved to Tucson to be news director at Channels 4 and 13. Actually, before that, he worked for friend Phil Richardson at KTKT Radio.

Do You Agree With The Oro Valley "Approved" Vision

In May, the Oro Valley Town Council approved a vision statement the will be in the general plan. It is:
"To be a well-managed community that provides all residents with opportunities for quality living. Oro Valley will retain its friendly, small-town character, while increasing access to daily services, employment and recreation. The Town’s lifestyle continues to be defined by a strong sense of community, a high regard for public safety and an extraordinary natural environment and scenic views."
Let the town know what you think by taking the survey.
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Firefighters Weigh-In On The Election

As we surmised on June 30 in our posting: 2014 Election: Majority-4's Oro Valley's Special Interests , the International Association of Firefighters, known to many of us for their work in supporting "Jerry's Kids," are back supporting Dr. Hiremath for Mayor.

Once again, we ask: What skin do they have in this game?

The answer is: NONE.

Firefighters have their own fire district. They are not going to be impacted by the Oro Valley election.
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Watch Oro Valley's History

There are 3 excellent videos that discuss Oro Valley's history. One was produced by Oro Valley resident Bill Adler. It is entitled: "Determining Our Destiny: Oro Valley's Heritage."  It was produced this year.

The other is a 2-part video entitled: Oro Valley-An Oral History. It was produced in 2007. Both of these videos are the recollections of 2 individuals.  One video is a video of Henry Zipf.  Henry lives in Amado.  Henry is the grandson of George Pusch, who founded Steam Pump Ranch. The other significant individual is Jim Kreigh, a town engineer who was one of the of the founders of Oro Valley.
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State Funds Some SRO Programs

The State of Arizona has provided grants to the Marana, TUSD, Amphitheatre School Districts for School Resource Officers ("SRO").  The grant provides for a "whopping" one SRO for the entire district.

"Each district handles safety at its schools differently. For example, some of the schools in Amphitheater Public Schools fall within the Town of Oro Valley boundaries. Oro Valley Police say they provide school resource officers at all the schools within town limits through a grant or its budget." (Source)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Northwest Conservatives Forum Incumbents Misstate The Facts On Oro Valley Demographics

This coming monday, we we will post regarding candidates comments on the Oro Valley General Plan: Is it a guide or a blueprint? The comments were made in response to question at last week's the Northwest Conservatives Forum.

In response to this question, each of the Majority-4 responded that Oro Valley is getting younger, demographically, and that the 2015 General Plan should reflect this.

The Majority-4 continues to misstate the facts.  Knowing the facts is important because it influences whether, for example, the town should build a community center or more ball fields.  The Majority-4 have focussed on the latter.  Perhaps their lack of knowing the facts has resulted in their ignoring the needs of Oro Valley's senior community, a community that should get even larger once the 800 plus "luxury" apartments are completed and occupied.

We posted this item last fall.

Oro Valley is getting order, not younger demographically.

Here are the facts...
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(November 6, 2013)

In his State of the Town address, Oro Valley Mayor Hiremath observed: " “Oro Valley is no longer just a “retirement” community!” According to town communication director, Misti Nowak, the Mayor was making the point that in spite of Oro Valley’s reputation as just a retirement community, according to the latest Census data, there are as many people over 65 as under 18."

The facts don't exactly support this assertion.  According to the 2010 Census,  there were actually 37% more people over 65 (10,699) than 18 or under (7,888).  Still, it is important to remember that Oro Valley is more than a retirement community.

The problem is...

Oro Valley's Population Is Actually Getting Older

Here are 5 striking facts.  During the 10 year period 2000-2010:
  • The growth in the number of people in the 65+ group was twice that of the 18 and under group: 3,959 to 1,996, respectively.
  • The percent of households with individuals who are 65 or older increased from 35% to 40.5%.
  • The percent of households with individuals who are 18 or younger decreased from 28% to 24.7%.
  • The percent of the population with individuals who are 14 or younger decreased from 17.8% to 15.1%; and
  • The actual number of people 14 or younger increased by 892 in the 10 years, an increase of 17% while the overall population of the town increased 38%.
Indeed, the overall statistic, average median age, bears this out.  It increased to 49.6 years in 2010, up from 45.3 years in 2000. (The median age is that age at which there are as many people over 49.6 years as under 49.6 years.)

It Matters That  Oro Valley Population Is Actually Older, Not Younger

The statistics matter because the direction the numbers are headed should impact planning.

A younger community, one where the youth population is growing significantly, requires more schools, more recreation facilities, and more youth family services.  An older community, one where the population is aging, requires more medical service, less outdoor recreation facilities, and strong police and emergency services.

The young, after all, have different needs, different dreams, and different aspirations than seniors. Striking a balance between the desires of the young and the old will be key to the 2015 General Plan update.

Given This Aging Trend, Does Investing Town Reserves In More Youth Facilities Right Now Make Sense?

That's something of which you need to be the judge.

Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will discuss spending $2.3 million on two multi-use fields and a dog park at the Naranja Town Site. Multi-use fields are most suitable for soccer, perhaps some softball.  This would be something primarily for the young people of our community. The dog park, which really should be put at Riverfront Park, has appeal to those who own pets.   It is really age neutral.  Its cost is a small part of the $2.3 million.

Neither of these things, unless you are a pet owner, serves an aging community.

If, for example, Oro Valley has $2.3 million to invest, and there is some discussion as to whether this is even the case, why not invest it in a Community Center? This could be used by young and old. Perhaps the town should use some of the money to seed our parks in the winter so that the parks don't look like brown fields of muck, as they are beginning to look now.  Just go visit Riverfront Park.

We are not for or against two multi-use fields or the dog park.

The statistics tell the facts: These are facilities that most of us will not use.

So, we question the wisdom of it at this time.

We question the wisdom of investing in the Naranja Town Site without a suitable plan for the rest of the facility.  We question the wisdom of spending the town's reserves when the economy of our country continues in a malaise.  We question how the town can come up with money to build a significant facility but not have enough money to even over seed are parks in the winter.   We question why commitments that were made in our last general plan, such as for a community center, have never been discussed, let alone met. 

We wonder what you think?
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Northwest Conservatives Forum Incumbents Misstate The Facts On Oro Valley's Employee Wage Increases They Granted

Last week the Northwest Conservatives hosted a candidate forum at the Oro Valley library.  LOVE's John Musolf video recorded the event.  We posted in on YouTube for you to view.  You can access it at the top right panel of this blog.  This posting is first of several that we will post regarding the forum.
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Incumbents Mayor Hiremath and Council Members Hornat, Snider and Waters either misstated the facts of simply obliquely responded when asked the following question at last week's Northwest Conservatives candidate forum.
"Lacking any evidence that the Town has difficulty retaining employees, the recently adopted salary increases were based on a study that compared Oro Valley to cities and counties with much larger populations. The increases are ongoing and also trigger increased retirement obligations for the Town. Given that residents’ incomes are flat or declining, and County property taxes are increasing significantly, please explain your views on fiscal responsibility relative to salaries.” 
Fact Check: When All Is Considered, The Average Wage Increase Is 6.5%, Mr. Mayor, not 2%

Mayor Hiremath stated:  "The reality is, the average raise the employees got was 2%."

Mayor Hiremath is wrong.

The fact is that the minimum one time salary adjustment was 2.7% for Oro Valley's top 24 employees. Some one-time adjustments are as high as 6%.  On top of this, each employee will receive an merit increase on their employment anniversary date of from 3.5 - 4.0% on their new base wage.  Taken together, the one-time adjustment plus the merit increases will average about 6.5%,  Some employees will see a double digit increase over their 2013-2014 compensatoin

Fact Check: There Is No Town Of Oro Valley Employee Retention Problem

No one discussed the retention rate of Oro Valley employees.    Our guess is the incumbents either never checked on what the retention rate is or that the retention rate is high, therefore not supporting their position.  We have seen no mass exodus of Oro Valley employees despite not receiving salary increase for 3 years. This is because there are few comparable job opportunities. 

Incumbent Lou Waters provided two examples of the town is losing employees. In neither case, compensation was not the reason.

Waters pointed to former town planner David Williams. Williams, be believe, left to go into private practice for, what we understand, were personal reasons over which the town would have no control; and the town's Human Resource Director, Ron Corbin, left to return to Yuma to be with his wife.  His position, based on this study, received a 8.3% earnings increase based on the study.

Fact Check: 8 of 11 Municipalities To Which Oro Valley Was Compared In The Salary Study Are In The Phoenix Area

Council Member Joe Hornat disputed that the study included towns bigger the Oro Valley. He observed that Sahuarita and Marana were included in the study. He is correct. However, these are only 2 of the 11 communities considered.   The fact is, as noted in our posting last week, 8 of the 11 cities in the study were in Maricopa County. All of these have substantially larger populations than Oro Valley.

Fact Check: Current Compensation Is Just One Possible Factor That Attracts Or Retains Quality Personal

Council Member Snider stated the following in response to the question:
"Any organization that thinks they can satisfy the needs of their constituents on mediocrity [of employees] is set up for failure."  
We think that Snider equates high pay to retaining quality employees.  Pay is merely one possible reason people want to work for the Town Of Oro Valley.

Some like public service. Some serve because a public sector job presents a more suitable life style than the pressure-filled competitive nature of the private sector. Others like working in the public sector because public sector jobs are more secure than private sector jobs. Some like it because the benefits they receive, like the ones offered in Oro Valley are far richer than those offered in other communities or the private sector.  Even others like it because of the rich defined benefits retirement program, a program that is no longer offered in the private sector. Regardless of the reason compensation is only one reason that motivates people to work for the Town of Oro Valley.

Fact Check: Challengers Agreed That Some Increase Was Warranted, However...

Mayoral Candidate Patrick Straney and Council Candidate Don Bristow observed that raises were in order for town staff.  Employees had, after all, not received increases in 3 years.

Bristow pointed out that it is the basis for determining the size of the raises that is of concern: "The problem is that the study [upon which the decision was made to significantly increase staff salaries] is flawed."

Pat Straney cautioned that Oro Valley should be thinking "long term" when it comes to granting salary increases.  Given the transient nature of most of Oro Valley's revenues: "We need to know the impact and where the money [in the future] is coming from" to pay for increases.
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Please watch the video. Then, tell us: What is your analysis of the responses?