The history of Rio Nuevo: Koz’s sour grapes

Part I

For at least two months Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and City Councilman Steve Kozachik have been working overtime to affect changes in the legislation related to Rio Nuevo, changes in the minds of legislators, and changes in the public’s perception of the whole Rio Nuevo debacle.

To that end Steve Kozachik has pulled out all the stops, from sending extortionist-type texts to legislators, to meeting with them and “making it clear” that the Legislature better clean up the “mess it made with respect to the intent of the use of TIF money.”

On Tuesday, Kozachik met with state Senator Steve Pierce and gave him a piece of his mind, and then advertised his bravado in his weekly newsletter. Using all the access and power afforded an elected official; he took his pot shots at anyone who needed marginalizing, including other elected officials and public servants.

Kozachik hit bottom though, in his attack on Alberto Moore. He characterized Alberto Moore’s careful presentation of Rio Nuevo’s problems and politics to an information starved public, a diatribe.

Kozachik wants what he wants and will do whatever he has to do, to get it. He wants the legislature or new members on the Rio Nuevo Board to make it okay, or look the other way, while the City of Tucson bails itself out with taxes or bonds intended for downtown revitalization.

In interviews and newsletters, the duo has advised the public that the recently released Westside audit was, at the same time 1) flawed, and 2) correct. It was flawed because the auditors were biased, but in that bias they still managed to tell the truth. That truth they say is that the City has made a mess of things, but not so much of a mess that they can’t be trusted to spend the next millions of dollars wisely.

The history of that mess is important to know, on the outside chance the duo gets what they want with a little help from the powers-that-be, it can’t be repeated.

This begins the first in our series on the history of Rio Nuevo. We will begin by examining how the Rio Nuevo debacle reached such a shrill crescendo recently, after years of slow simmering dissatisfaction.

In 2008, Steve Kozachik wanted desperately to be involved in the Rio Nuevo arena project. When he was running for Tucson City Council in 2009, he told the public that he was running, “Because it matters. I reached out to Councilwoman Nina Trasoff’s office in the middle of last year because I saw that they were floundering. They didn’t answer. It makes me crazy to use out-of-towners for Rio Nuevo.”

He wasn’t volunteering at all, He was applying for a job. He was, in reality, a scorned job applicant.

Kozachik, according to the website BFA, “wanted to be head of the Rio Nuevo project starting at the design stage and continuing as building ops manager when the arena was built.”

In January of 2009, Kozachik wrote City Councilwoman Nina Trasoff’s aide, Alex Hingle, about his prospects. He advised Hingle that he wanted to “discuss the prospect of my hiring on with them to oversee the actual construction of the arena, beginning with design, then as stakeholder representative through the building and finally building ops manager when the project is completed. It’s exactly what I do for Intercollegiate Athletics -witness the recent completion of the Richard Jefferson Gymnasium (which you’re still invited to come and see) -so I believe the fit is perfect, as is the timing. With that, whatever you can get me re contact information / name, # , etc / so I can initiate some contact would be great. Thanks -Steve K.”

He didn’t get the job. According to various sources, and to quote the BFA, “What made him crazy may have had more to do with getting passed over for the job than worrying about the best interests of the city.”

By hook or by crook, he was going to be involved in the arena. So, he asked the voters for a job. Calling himself a Republican to be different, “Steve K.,” won with the help desperate voters who hoped someone would challenge the not-so-partisan-powers-that-be.

When Democrat Party leader Jeff Roger’s suggested “bitter feelings” helped fuel Kozachik’s candidacy, Kozachik called the charge “ludicrous,” and said, “I don’t have sour grapes. I’ve got a good job.”

The public bought it. But that was before they realized that Kozachik could have a job RULING the City and still have sour grapes ……and an obsession.

In 2009, the BFA article concluded, “Maybe the snub just made him crazy, not bitter.” In 2012, it appears it may have done both.

In 2012, Kozachik’s determination to control Rio Nuevo has left good people sullied and the taxpayer bullied.

New members are coming onboard the Board. The public can only hope they will be people without an axe to grind or an economic interest other than the one we all share; a healthy, vibrant Tucson.

Check back tomorrow for Part II: The real history of the Rio Nuevo District

Check back tomorrow for Part II: The real history of the Rio Nuevo District, the part you aren’t supposed to know

Related articles:

Rio Nuevo audit “res ipsa loquitur”

Moore and Hill reveal the truth about Rio Nuevo

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