Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Earlier today, I posted a story about Mayor Bob Walkup using a procedural maneuver to delay a vote on the Convention Center Hotel project. Councilman Steve Kozachik, who has been trying to kill the ultra-expensive hotel project since he took office, said on a local radio show that he has the votes to do this.
In a subsequent e-mail from Kozachik today, he stated that the powers that be were “calling for the discussion of both the hotel and the Gadsden project to take place in executive session.” (I told him that my readers would not be happy with that, but I used somewhat different language.)
The Gadsden project was covered by the Arizona Daily Star last Sunday. Check the link for the complete story, but basically, the city sold land for cheap and may get screwed again. (Again, as I have asked many times before: Who negotiates these deals and writes the contracts? The Mayor and Council only sign off.)
Kozachik has now throw down the gauntlet and asked that the hotel vote and the Gadsden project discussion be held in the sunshine– not behind closed doors. Here is his media advisory.
Today, City Councilman Steve Kozachik has formally requested that a vote to decide the future of the Tucson Convention Center Hotel be set for Tuesday October 19 during the City Council meeting. Similarly, he has requested that both the Rio Nuevo Notice to Proceed and the Gadsden agenda items be conducted in open session and not in executive session as the City Manager presently has them scheduled.
At the Council meeting on Wednesday, Councilpersons Kozachik and [Regina] Romero both expressed deep concerns about the hotel project and the risk to taxpayer’s money. “Unfortunately, even though the City Manager had received my request to agendize a vote, the City Attorney took the position that it was not worded in a way that allowed for a vote to occur. It is a shame that decisions are being held up by attitudes and protocol.” Councilperson Kozachik believed that the vote had been reset for the next meeting. “But then I was informed that again due to protocol, the only way that we could vote on October 19th is if the Mayor officially grants my request.”
Similarly, during the discussion at last week’s study session on the Gadsden Project, it was made clear that, as has been the case up until now, the answers to the questions raised by the Arizona Daily Star article on the project must be provided through an open and transparent process. The Council conducted a comprehensive open dialogue, and raised numerous questions related to the project. To conduct a discussion of those questions in closed, executive session after having raised them in an open forum sends the wrong message to the public about how this governing body is conducting the people’s business.
Today, a request to Mayor Bob Walkup was officially made. (attached is a copy of the request) In light of the coming elections that deal both with taxpayers’ trust of a sales tax for core services and an increase in Mayoral power, I feel the time is now to demonstrate to the voters that we mean what we say. If the Council is not allowed to discuss these items openly and to vote on the Rio Nuevo Hotel proposal, it will send a clear message to both the early voter and those who go to the polls.
Councilperson Kozachik joins other Councilmembers in the firm stance that this Convention Center Hotel Project is too risky and should be voted down immediately. “We had consensus at the meeting so why are we wasting more time, energy and taxpayer money to allow out of town developers to lobby us. They need to take their show to another city and let us get on with projects that we can afford.”