Most of the 18 citizens who testified tonight expressed outrage over the past Rio Nuevo mismanagement to the new Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District Board in a public hearing at the Tucson Convention Center’s Greenlee room. Many expressed anger that there has been no accountability for the $230 million spent of tax payer money over a 10 year period, and asked questions about whether a full fledged “forensic” audit could be performed. Several speakers asked for an “accounting” of the spending, to see who signed the “canceled checks” and that research be done on the major contracts which were not performed. Only 2 of the 15 Rio Nuevo projects were completed (the Fox Tucson Theatre and the Presidio wall).
Most of those who spoke tonight:
1. James Kelley (“The Cholla Jumps” blogger)
2. Mikki Niemi
3. Bud Foster, KOLD 13 reporter
4. Ally Miller, Pima County Tea Party Patriot organizer
5. Steve Kozachik (Ward 6 Councilmember)
6. Michael Tony
7. William Beard
8. Sherese Steffens, Pima County Tea Party Patriot organizer
9. Lillian Lopez Grant, neighborhood activist
10. Barney Brenner, candidate for District 3 Pima County Supervisor in 2008
11. Dick Bayse, Pima Assn. of Taxpayers
12. John Kromko, Pima Assn. of Taxpayers
13. Joe Sweeney, recent Republican candidate for CD 7 U. S. House
14. Ken Scoville, historian
Several speakers called for an investigation by the F.B.I. of any criminal behavior, and a state investigation by Attorney General-elect Tom Horne. The Pima County Tea Party has called for such a criminal investigation today (click here). Some speakers did emphasize the need to move forward in developing downtown, despite this negative report.
The audit found that the city’s Rio Nuevo downtown redevelopment district was beset by mismanagement and a lack of financial oversight and internal controls that left a majority of its projects incomplete after more than $230 million was spent.
The audit, conducted by Crowe Horwath of Los Angeles for the state auditor general, said much of Rio Nuevo’s money was spent on planning or projects that stalled.
Unfortunately what was revealed tonight was that the recent audit released at the end of October was only a “financial analysis” and not a full audit (financial statement, performance, or forensic). And the Rio Nuevo Board heard tonight from Crowe Horwath representatives that a full forensic audit may cost in the neighborhood of $1 million, since it would span several years.
The Pima County Tea Party Patriots will be holding a protest rally about this “Rio Nuevo Waste” prior to the Tucson City Council meeting on Tuesday December 7, 4:30 p.m. at Mayor/Council chambers, 255 W. Alameda.
Pima Association of Taxpayers is holding a meeting on “Rio Deceivo” at the Woods Library on December 16, 3455 N. 1st Avenue, 6 to 8 p.m.
The Rio Nuevo board has to prepare a “response” in 10-12 days based on tonight’s public hearing for the legislature.
For more: read O’Dell’s article in the Star about this public hearing attended by about 80 people: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_3a598e2d-e572-5eae-93a6-39b4f3c6d969.html