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SPECIAL EDITION, OCT. 4, 2014

NOT ALL THE SICK PUPPIES CAN BE FOUND AT THE POUND


Some of them are part of one of the most stupid and cruel political campaigns in the history of Arizona.

By Emil Franzi

Never has more false information and misplaced vitriol been spread in a local political campaign than is currently being circulated by the opponents to Pima County Prop 415, the proposal to build a new animal care facility. Pig masks to illustrate alleged pork are being worn by sign wavers at Ina & Oracle. Unsourced robocalls charging "pork" and referring you to a website filled with more inaccuracies. A Pima County Supervisor obsessed with insulting her colleagues who also insults hundreds of dedicated volunteers working with our many animal rescue groups who are the folks who asked for a new facility and are its biggest supporters.

Many opponents purport to be conservative Republicans yet they join Supervisor Ally Miller in this unhealthy fixation. Miller herself should have been thoroughly discredited with any fiscal or social conservative by her own ethical lapses into the realm of real "pork" from the thousands of tax dollars she spent redecorating her office (including $700 in silk flowers) to her high end meals on the county credit card at expensive restaurants. Why do these folks excuse her $9 taxpayer provided water bottles? Worse, her putting in the fix for a road paving project to a major supporter and contributor's house is a classic example of the genuine corruption she has displayed that she vaguely alludes to in others.

There is a pocket of self-proclaimed conservatives now putting more effort into defeating a measure that, even if they were correct about the outlays, would cost the average home owner under three bucks a year. They do this by diverting effort from genuine issues and events like the governorship, three US House races, Attorney General and State School Superintendent, and local school board races. There are also school override elections, and statewide ballot props that fight federal powers and extend the right to use experimental drugs to the terminally ill. Pick one - I don't see any of these folks doing sign waves about any of the above. Strange priorities, stranger loyalties.

I went to the website promoted in the robocalls (which illegally have no disclaimer). It names a chairman of the PAC they have formed and one committee member somewhere but is clearly a by-product of a sleazy on-line hate sheet known as the Arizona Daily Independent that claims conservative views. Known for everything from plagiarism to outright smears, it has been publicly condemned by others on the GOP right from National Committeeman Bruce Ash to former State Senator Frank Antenori. The Pitchfork Republican faction voraciously swallow its wild charges and phony exposes like one of the poor starving dogs we see at the Pima Animal Center.

Here are their basic talking - or often shouting - points you will also hear on some local talk radio shows who's irresponsible hosts should know better.

- Pima County has twice as much debt as all other Arizona Counties combined.

True, because most counties have joined Maricopa and transfer almost all of their debt producing functions to other, often paper, jurisdictions. The only way to judge is by per capita debt. The per capita debt owed in Maricopa County is only $35 compared to Pima's $1400, but that doesn't take into account the extra taxing entities Maricopa has laid costs off to such as countywide jail and hospital districts. As 94% of Maricopa County is in an incorporated area as opposed to only 64% of Pima, just about everybody there is in hock for its CITY'S DEBTS.. Try Scottsdale at $5500 per capita.

All of you complaining about that backbreaking Pima County debt should note that unlike the other 14 counties, Pima has NO SALES TAX and but two countywide special districts, the Library District funded by property taxes, and the RTA funded by a � cent sales tax.

Next time you're driving through Eloy and stop for coffee check the receipt and note that your combined sales taxes are over 10%.

But the biggest item...the 64% of Pima County residents living in incorporated areas owe, in addition to the $1400 per capita in Pima County debt (almost all voter approved) an additional amount depending on which town. The following are a couple of years old and are probably higher, but Sahuarita is the lowest at an additional $1600, Oro Valley is well over $2000, and both Tucson and Marana are well over $2500. Almost all municipal debt was NOT voter approved. Unlike the county, they don't have to ask voters to bond for many items. Pima County has less taxing power because our voters were smart enough to turn down county home rule. We still require a unanimous vote for a sales tax and a REAL tax fighter has been GOP Supervisor Ray Carroll who denied his colleagues that last vote for years.

So if debt REALLY bothers you, have a chat with your local Town Council. One of the best places to live in Arizona for lowest total per capita debt is unincorporated Pima County.

- $280 million road repair problem with no fix in sight.

And? Three possible ways to get the $280M. More bonding, more taxes, cut something out of current spending. Many of us are waiting to hear from those who preach the latter. I assume if under $3 a year an average household is too much for you, you won't support the bond option here for more than ten times that.

- Tax rate increased over 24% over the past two years

We got that part - again, tell us what to cut. And please note that the TAX ASSESSMENT is made by an independently elected County Assessor, not Chuck Huckelberry. If you at this point cannot name him or which party he comes from, then perhaps you are not qualified to discuss basic tax policy.

That was a test. He's Democrat Bill Staples and I and others are up to here with people in the current GOP leadership of this county who piss and moan about $3 a year for a new Animal facility who not only can't bother to recruit a candidate for this office but are actually unaware of its presence and significance to the taxes they continually bitch about.

- The Supervisors can just use the money wherever they please and have before.

Pure Crap. That only occurred when they moved some money between road projects years after bonds had been approved. Any funds moved from what is on the ballot can only occur under special circumstances and must remain in the same category.

In fact, in 2013 in response to a rather shrill claim by a local GOP legislator, the Arizona State Auditor General reviewed the Pima County program and found that the previously approved bonds were "fairly used" in accordance with the voter's wishes.

What I find most interesting is the same people claiming the sanctity of the voter's choice on this issue then proceed to berate the Board for making open space purchases using bond money the voters passed. Supervisor Miller doesn't quite grasp that concept either.

$22 million ($28-$30 w/interest) is just too much money. Other places did it for less and the Square Foot cost is greater than the new hospital in Green Valley.

The initial amount requested was an early estimate that couldn't be raised but can be lowered. The Board already reduced the cost of the project to $18.5 million and the bond interest rate will probably be lower than projected depending on inflation. The SF cost is now closer to that supposed number in GV but the real final figures on that project aren't in. They will probably be very close. And had the County attempted to convert an old school house to anything more than another bleak warehouse, as some thought, the SF cost would've been more. The buildings were also property of the school districts who's acquisition would have been costly.

That was at least an intelligent alternative as is the comparison to other recent construction at other locations over which there still seems to be some debate. Suffice that comparing the type of facility on the ballot to other jurisdictions shows its costs to be about average.

Three far less rational complaints are:

- Why not get the bids before we have the election?

That came from Supervisor Miller and is ludicrous on its face. There is no reputable contractor who would bid on a project not yet passed by the authorizing agency. She could have discovered that with a couple of phone calls.

- The private sector needs more involvement.

Miller again. Apparently she doesn't count the over a thousand volunteers and over a hundred volunteer rescue groups involved NOW. They are the folks who asked for this measure in the first place. And counties cannot "contract out" the Health and Law Enforcement portions of Animal Control established by the state legislature. How does a private entity bust an animal abuser or an unhealthy puppy mill?

- It's all a Democrat plot to help Ron Barber by raising Dem Turnout

So does that mean R's care less about pets than D's? Clue to the clueless who tell this one. If you continue virulent opposition to 415, you will then raise the turnout among its supporters thereby making your hoaky claim a self-fulfilling prophecy injuring only GOP candidates.

- The whole thing is just about pork with $3 million in consulting fees,

The real focus of all those piggie masks and the cartoon on their website is "pork"., which apparently translates into the Supes just drooling over this part so they can cut in all their buddies. Huh?

Those consultants are mostly called "Architects" and "Engineers". Kinda hard to build stuff without them. And they'll be chosen by competitive bid. If you have evidence of it being otherwise, please consider presenting it to the appropriate law enforcement agency or member of the responsible media, not some Mickey Mouse website.

Absent that, please put a sock in it.

  

 

 

 

Emil Franzi 

Editor-in-Chief    

 

 

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