Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller moved transportation projects, were donors retaliated against?

PIMA-COUNTY-ROAD-SCANDAL-400In Pima County, there are no coincidences, but there is incompetence

On Friday, a Tucson tabloid, best known as the spot to find the latest and greatest in sex toys and services, published a map showing Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller’s home in an apparent effort to intimidate and smear her. Miller’s fellow board member, Ramon Valadez, participated in the effort by telling the name of a street that borders her property.

The hit piece was part of a calculated and continuing campaign to terrorize the supervisor and her supporters and rile up the rabble. Just this month, Miller’s staff had to call security to remove a man, who was angry over a sensational piece done about office furniture. The residents and elected officials in Southern Arizona have grown concerned and sensitive about her health and welfare after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the killing of so many.

A crack tabloid reporter made the claim that Miller had changed the County’s plan for road repairs in her District to accommodate her own home. The crack reporter then wrote a follow up story alleging that “the road project also benefited her political allies and contributors.”

Miller jokes around after tripping on a pothole.
Miller jokes around after tripping on a pothole.

Had the crack reporter visited the scene of the alleged corruption, he would have found that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, he may have uncovered a scandal, but not the one he was shooting for. It seems as if repairs stop almost immediately on the road in front of the entrances to the donors’ homes, and new paving begins again past their homes.

In other words, a fraction of the failing road was not repaired. That fraction runs from a few yards before the road that leads to two donors’ subdivision and ends before the third donor’s home.

One of the residents and Miller supporter, Sherese Steffens said, “That reporter, if you can call him that, should have come out here and taken a look before he took the unsubstantiated leap. He would have found corruption, for sure, but not the corruption he claims. Maybe that is why he didn’t come. He didn’t want to tell the truth. The truth is, it appears that we have been retaliated against and most certainly, not rewarded for our support of the transparency and accountability Miller is fighting for.”

While Miller was out on Saturday investigating the reporter’s claims and meeting with ADI, she fell after tripping over a gaping road hole in the vicinity of her donor’s home. It was precisely that kind of danger which drove Miller to request that the County make repairs to that road. She had also received calls, letters, and a petition about the road in question.

With those requests in mind and the news of a $6 million Notice of Claim by the Pima County Deputy Administrator (the number two man behind Huckelberry) for injuries he incurred on a County road, Miller sought to have the failed road repaired rather than the County’s plan for her district. That plan would have provided only patching in her district, while the other districts’ road would have received mill/fills and two inch overlay.

Contrary to the other supervisors’ claims, each of their districts will or have received road repairs this year. In District 3 (the Tucson Mountain Subdivision), in District 4 (the Ventura Subdivision), and in District 5 (the Mountain Gardens Subdivision) have road repairs planned. Supervisor Miller is the only one during this fiscal cycle, who had to request to receive additional road repairs.

Miller has made herself a target for tabloid reporters and her fellow Board members after exposing some of the County’s shadier dealings and asking tough questions.

It was her questions about the County’s plan to move a road near the Raytheon plant at last Tuesday’s Board meeting that set about the most egregious and blatant retaliatory attack to date. Miller questioned why the County administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, was asking for another $12 million to move the Hughes Access Road.

Miller noted that Raytheon did not send any representatives to the meeting to request the road change. In fact, the only verifiable comment about the road was made in a letter dating back to 2006 by a vice-president in response to a letter by Huckelberry, in which he proposes the Hughes Access realignment.

While the proposed realignment would move the road closer to land recently purchased by the county from a Huckelberry crony, according to Miller, it appears it would do little for Raytheon. Miller points out that Raytheon has, since 2006, built a new complex in Alabama at their own expense of $300 million and has not expanded in the County. Miller says that instead of spending $12 million plus on a road that is questionable, the County should use the money to rebuild its failing streets. It should be noted that Miller has been fighting to stop a lawsuit against Raytheon initiated by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 2009. This lawsuit is ongoing and yet to be settled against the areas largest private employer.

Miller asked the audience at Tuesday’s meeting if any Raytheon employees were in attendance to support the road. None came forward. She asked if any of her fellow supervisors had recently heard from any Raytheon representatives in favor of the road. None answered in the affirmative.

In retaliation for her expression of concern, Miller’s four fellow Board members moved to reallocated monies for road repairs in her district to road repairs in Supervisor Ray Carroll’s district.

The attack continued in a column in the Arizona Daily Star, in which a member of the small staff wrote that it was Miller who needed to learn to get along with the county crew. That was followed by the Friday afternoon online hit piece which said that that Miller “moved the money away from major arterial roads and to her own priorities.”

The crack journalist concluded, “One of those priorities—and the one project that got done before the remainder of the District 1 funding was moved to Colossal Cave Road…As it turns out, that road happens to be just a block from Miller’s own home.”

The crack reporter was assisted by Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez, who gives a quote that just happens to be even more specific about the location of Miller’s home. The reporter in this instance, appears to have an obsession with Miller that began long ago in the primary race.

pima-county-road-scandal-overviewAt the urging of family and friends, Miller contacted the Sheriff’s department to simply advise them of the very public notice and ask for their advice on how best to protect herself from the crazies, who might use the new information to harass her or cause her and her family harm. Miller is obviously concerned now that her fellow Supervisor Ramon Valadez has not only participated in the hit piece but also noted the street she lived on with a map highlighting her property.

The crack reporter, Jim Nintzel, wrote that he “learned that the road project also benefited her political allies and contributors.” He noted that Miller collected $1,080 from three residents in the vicinity of the road way, to which one donor responded in the comment section below the tale, “It just so happens that XXX Road in front of my house, Steffens and Jimenez’s didn’t get paved. It was conveniently stopped just before the driveway to Steffens and Jimenez’s house. So maybe you should get your facts straight before you print a hit piece. And in case you also didn’t check out the facts, we pay pima county property taxes and a lot of them. Was stopping the paving before our houses political retribution for our support of Ally? Looks that way doesn’t it..”

In his follow-up piece about the alleged favoritism shown to Miller’s donors, Nintzel failed to mention that late last year, one of Valadez’s campaign donors, Gabe Loyola, was awarded a $40K contract with the County for consulting services. Loyola, from Phoenix, held a fundraiser with Dan Eckstrom for both Richard Elias and Valadez.

Editor’s note: According to sources, the property in question was recently annexed by the Town of Marana, which might explain why the road repair was not completed in front of the donors’ properties. There is no explanation forthcoming as to why the crack reporter failed to visit the scene before making the claim that Miller’s supporters somehow benefitted from their donations. In light of the concentrated targeting on Miller and her supporters, there is little wonder why her neighbors might have thought that they had been targeted by the County.

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