IT'S PRETTY CLEAR
We hear this word a lot when it is election time in Oro Valley. To quote the Winfield/Barrett/Jones-Ivey/Nicholson (WBIN) slate in 2018...”We are going to be the most transparent Town Council in Oro Valley history!”
There is no commonly agreed upon definition of transparency among politicians, but there is a consensus on the right to know and the public access to information. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability and provides information for citizens about, in our case, what their Town Council is doing.
In a broad sense, transparency is about how much access to internally held information citizens are entitled to, the scope, accuracy, and timeliness of this information, and what citizens, as "outsiders," can do if "insiders" are not sufficiently forthcoming in providing such access.
Secrecy undermines public decision-making quality and prevents citizens from checking the abuses of public power. During the 2019 calendar year, the first year for members Winfield, Barrett, Nicolson & Jones-Ivey, 74% of the council meetings contain an “executive session.” (Executive sessions are a special meeting-within-a-meeting, with legal standards, that allows the council to meet privately out of the public eye.) The role and use of executive sessions are often misunderstood dimensions of governance for newcomers. That misuse of the executive session by taking decisions that are inappropriate for a closed meeting became the standard operating procedure for the mayor and vice mayor.
So let’s take a look at what transparency means to the WBIN team 3 ½ years later.
Did you know that the WBIN team spent the first year of their tenure trying their best to close the Oro Valley Municipal golf courses?
Did you know that there was a complaint submitted to the Pima County District Attorney’s office, by an Oro Valley resident, alleging that the Council violated the Open Meeting laws of the State of Arizona in regards to the closing of the Oro Valley municipal golf courses in 2018/19? Did you know that complaint triggered an investigation by the said DA’s office?
Did you know that the Oro Valley standard is 2.5 commissioned police officers per 1000 residents? We should have 118 commissioned police officers. At present only 104 are authorized (approved by the Town Council) and as of this writing we have only 100.
Did you know that the presence of School Resource Officers in the local high schools has been cut in half?
Did you know that 4 police officers promised by the Town Council have never been funded?
Did you know that the Town council has put Oro Valley $52,000,000 in debt? That’s more than $2663 per household and more than at any time in Oro Valley history.
Did you know that Mayor Winfield stated that the $27+ million they gifted to the police retirement system would save Oro Valley $30,000,000? According to an expert accountant that statement is “overly optimistic estimate, not a fact! Why not hire more police officers???
Did you know that the WBIN administration has created a 3 ½ year void in the construction tax pipeline? And did you know that the construction tax is 26% of our total sales tax? That’s $18.2 million dollars in LOST tax revenue so far and that figure grows every day. Where is that revenue going to come from?
Did you know that Mayor Winfield reportedly nixed the annexation efforts of the 880 acres of State Land to our west in a meeting with State Land Trust Department?
Did you know that the $25,000,000 million in municipal bonds that the Town sold for the Parks and Recreation Department have no specific project identity? In effect, it’s a slush fund.
Did you know that the Oro Valley residents soundly defeated a similar bond proposal when put to a Town wide vote in 2017? So the WBIN council ignored the will of the people.
Did you know that Winfield, Barrett, and Jones-Ivey endorsed Tim Bohen for Town Council, even though he threatened to kill his supervisor at a local engineering firm? An OVPD police report verifies this incident.
Did you know that many of the volunteers we saw on the streets of Oro Valley in 2018 wearing yellow t-shirts supporting the WBIN team were volunteers from outside Oro Valley?
So if you didn’t know the vast majority of the “Did You Knows”, it’s a pretty good sign that the WBIN slate has not been transparent.
WE CAN’T AFFORD 4 MORE YEARS OF WINFIELD-BARRETT-IVEY-NICHOLSON!!!