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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  1. Steve is a continual spiked cog in the wheel. He should be ashamed of himself for his inaccurate information and distortion of the truth. Tsk tsk.

  2. The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
    Arizona Governor
    Executive Tower
    1700 West Washington Street
    Phoenix, AZ 85007

    Office Locations

    Arizona State Capitol Complex
    Governor’s Office
    Executive Tower
    1700 West Washington Street
    Phoenix, AZ 85007

    Arizona State Office Complex – Tucson
    Governor’s Office
    400 West Congress
    Suite 504
    Tucson, AZ 85701

    Phone Numbers

    Phoenix Office:
    Tucson Office:
    Here is the contact information for Governor Brewer:
    Fax Number:
    In-State Toll Free:

    (602) 542-4331
    (520) 628-6580
    (602) 542-1381
    1-800-253-0883 (outside Maricopa County only

  3. What has happened to you Steve. Who are you protecting that you do not want the truth to be reveled on this fiasco of Rio Nuevo’s mis-spent $230 million. You are really disappointing a lot of taxpayers and voters by your recent change. Don’t you no longer stand for accountability or transparency? Why do you attack those that want the truth known.

  4. Finally we are getting the truth. will it matter though? SALC and Click are going do what they do and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

    • There is something we can do! Call or email the office of Gov. Jan Brewer and tell her to use her authority to pull the plug on Rio Nuevo! That can still be done. The more calls for her to do this, the more chances it can happen.

      In the mean time, it’s up to the citizens of Tucson to get this article out and become proactive in holding those responsible accountable – and to quit relying on the wallet of Jim Click. Maybe Tucsonans can send a message to Click by avoiding his many businesses in the area.

      And if anyone wants to see Tucson seriously move in the right direction, start by voting ALLY MILLER to Pima Co. Board of Supervisors! She’s been on the Rio Nuevo matter and is the reason an investigation was launched in the first place.

  5. I too was taken in by Steve K’s promise. Unfortunately, he has become a huge disappointment, acting as he does as the “Republican” defender of the inept and venal Democrat Tucson city council.

    His diatribe over the recently released Rio Nuevo audit is replete with confusion and venom. Steve K demanded a ‘neutral’ audit. He has forgotten that the ‘new’ Rio Nuevo board was established by the legislature to review the malpractice of the City of Tucson in which $230M was wasted or illegally spent. The Board was not to be a co-equal with the City Council and administration. The city of Tucson is the defendant in this mess.

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