Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Tuesday’s Mayor and Council Meeting will be one of the liveliest meetings they have had for months. Both the Convention Center hotel project and proposed medical marijuana zoning are on the agenda for October 26.
The public meeting will be held at the Tucson Convention Center. Councilman Steve Kozachik pushed for a larger venue because people had been shut out of earlier Mayor and Council meetings due to insufficient seating. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. There is a call to the audience where anyone can voice their opinion. Here is some background information, and if you follow the agenda link there are background PDF documents online.
Convention Center Hotel
Literally for years, Tucson’s Mayor and Council have been debating, negotiating, and planning for a Convention Center hotel downtown. Once the Great Recession hit, the hotel’s construction and the politically and financially risky debt associated with it became one giant hot political potato.
Everything got muddier downtown after Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature created the Rio Nuevo Board to rescue us poor Tucsonans from ourselves and show us how to spend our money. My understanding was that the businessmen (of course, we know that they have our best interests at heart) on Rio Nuevo Board would make the decisions on how to spend the Rio Nuevo funds, since progress has been… well… spotty, deals and plans have fallen through, wild ideas like the UA’s $300 million-dollar rainbow bridge and the turtle-shaped arena football stadium have been floated, and the M&C’s decision-making has been mushy.
Unfortunately, the Rio Nuevo Board appears to be more interested in playing politics and fighting the Mayor and Council– rather than making sound decisions. (Hello, Jan, this isn’t working. Are you paying attention to the mess you created?) Consequently, the Rio Nuevo Board has added to the problems, rather than coming up with solutions. In an earlier article, I likened this back-and-forth bickering to the classic Abbot and Costello skit, “Who’s on First?”
For the last few months, Kozachik has been trying to get the Rio Nuevo Board to take responsibility for the convention hotel decision, and they have been avoiding it. To add to the political theater, Mayor Bob Walkup, the primary cheerleader for the ultra-expensive hotel, has been using agenda maneuvers to avoid a yay or nay vote on the hotel by the City Council. Kozachik has been pushing for open debate and vote on the hotel; Walkup wants discussions behind closed doors.
Medical Marijuana Zoning
Prop 203, which is on the November 2 ballot, proposes to legalize the use of medical marijuana. Since the Arizona voters have passed this law at least twice before, it is expected to pass again– despite the intense campaign efforts by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, who trying to stop it (1, 2). Cities and counties around the state need to make decisions regarding zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation. Again, check out the agenda for more information.
Holding this meeting at the TCC is about as public as you can get. So, take this advantage to participate in your local government and come downtown on Tuesday! If you can’t make it, you can watch the proceedings on Tucson Channel 12 (online or on television).