Friday, June 03, 2011

Creeping Corruption in Tucson

Tucson City News

I am hearing all kinds of stories that are really accusations of corruption if analyzed from a certain perspective. 
One story indicates that the 'Central Democrats' have decreed that if a Democrat on the City Council cooperates with the lone Republican, then they can expect to lose official support, use of the phone banks and other resources and will not win the next primary because of the rug jerked off from under them.   So does this mean that the city council is controlled by the local Democratic Party honchos?  Nobody voted for them.  Are the current members of the council really just doing what they are told, instead of what should be in their hearts and minds to help the people of this city?
Was it a lack of moral engagement that resulted in the recent failure to actually balance the budget, relying instead of on 'restructuring debt' and borrowing more cash to get by for another year?  Perhaps the honchos at the central office lack the moxie to see that some council members understand more than others and forwarding the foolish and shortsighted is actually a negative for the city.  Or are the Democrats hiding yet another scandal like more Rio Nuevo?  Advising against needed funding cuts because big Democrats might get a haircut is counterproductive to the goal of actually balancing the city budget. 
In elected officials, corruption is allowing others to make decisions that you should study first and then make from your heart and mind.  Corruption is allowing others to control you for reasons that have nothing to do with the common good.  Whatever happened to altruism?  Politics is apparently trumping human kindness and cooperation, particularly among council members.  This is uncivil.    
Another story has to do with the mayor's and council members' aides meeting like a quasi council meeting to discuss and decide the issues that will be fed to the actual council members.  Once again, the lone Republican is left out of this action with no input and no representation allowed.   Considering the level of corruption in the Rio Nuevo squandering, perhaps it is time to allow input from a fresh source.  This kind of political infighting is despicable and is resulting in huge debts and mismanagement.  I call borrowing money to make it through next year a failure. 
Several funds need to be examined:  The subsidized housing is expensive and I think that the rents should reflect the value of the real estate rented out.  I smell a disparity between what the city is now subsidizing and the rental overcharging that is bolstered by city subsidies.  I think an investigation is in order.   Maybe the city is paying too much out in these subsidies.
How much is the city paying out in insurance?  All insurance!  This needs to be exposed and documented and then examined as to how to cut those costs, even if old 'friends' are the agents.
Parkwise should be phased out or forced to contribute to the general fund instead of spending all the excess on bureaucrats.  The parking is too expensive, the fines too punitive, and the money generated never goes for repairs, like it used to.  Of course, if party 'friends' are those bureaucrats, then party honchos can take over and tell you what to do. 
These creepy people who are 'legal' but skirt the intent of the law are like the recent expose of the RTA hiring in-laws and avoiding the bid limit by a few dollars.  Discretionary spending should all be local, even if needy family members want the work.  Sorry guys, the purpose of tax money is not to hire your in-laws or other relatives.  I think the lesson in this is that the initiatives should not be allowed to put more than one project in a line item vote.  No more massive building programs stretching for 20 years, tying up funds for projects that may not be needed or wanted down the road.  We should be able to vote on one project at a time.  We are losing our rights to pick and choose through these massive spending initiatives that mandate tax money to go to people who hire their in-laws and relatives to do the jobs.  Local people need not apply.  I am disgusted with the never ending nest feathering by powerful individuals while the rest of us pay for it and there are no jobs for anyone but insiders.  I don't want to pay for it any more.    
All city leases need to be reviewed as to their legality and enforceability.  Leasing city land for 50 years for a dollar a year is a gift of public funds.  All these leases should be cancelled.  Patronage like this is not free enterprise and as for the artists, let them compete on the same venue as others.  I don't want to subsidize them with a gift of public funds.  Any official who assigns a gift of public funds should be fired and investigated as to criminal activity. 
Another story is the Tucson Convention Center that is used about 10% of the time and  is being subsidized by the city for $6.5 million.  Evidently policy favors the use by non-profits over the paying customers.  Must be nice not to have to pay for it and be able to choose the best dates before anyone else has a chance.  It's nice to have friends to set that up for you.  No business will bump paying customers in favor of the freeloaders.  I don't want to subsidize freeloaders and run off paying customers.  This kind of mismanagement shows me that the ones responsible for this foolish policy should be terminated immediately, the cause being irresponsible fiscal behavior.      
How about the Fox Theater?  Burdened with debt, the people in charge are in default of $7 million to the city but the city does not want to repossess it.  A suggestion has been made that  the TCC music hall, the TCC theater and the Fox Theater all be put under one private enterprise that will bring in acts to fill the empty time.  Conjecture is that the Fox sublet itself to somebody for 50 years at a dollar a year.  Please tell me it isn't so!  Can you do that over the top of a $7 million debt?  I doubt it.  I like the idea of a management group for the three venues but I think they are now charging too much rent to be competitive.    
Tucson was never an Aspen or even a Sedona.  Tucson was always a competitive town with reasonable rents and freedom to run a business without having to pay officials to allow it.  Restore property rights and get rid of most zoning and watch the businesses crop up like Sonoran Hot Dog stands.  Now rents are too high due to excess debt on properties sucked dry of profit by the 'equity' people.  Lower the price of TCC use and bring in more attractions.  Free parking would also aid the financial recovery.            
It is time for more retirements and resignations of those who do not treasure fiscal responsibility.  Hopefully our pension system will not be burdened with double dipping, in case any of them want to return in another capacity. 
Dorothy Prater Niemi    1 June 2011