More consultants, big plans keep Rio Nuevo unchanged

rioWhile the Rio Nuevo Board voted 5-2 to proceed with a name change contest, nothing in yesterday’s Board meeting shows that anything has changed.

It appears as if the Board is gearing up to convince the public for the need to raise $100,000,000 million dollars to rehabilitate the TCC and to “activate the surrounding area” in partnership with the city, county, and state in order to “find a way to finish Rio Nuevo’s mission.” The Board voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to accept the Arizona Office of the Auditor General’s conclusions in its recent audit, which was performed by C.H. Johnson Consulting, out of Chicago.

In what many described as a highly unusual statement from an auditor, Johnson claimed that the Board “gained the credibility of the stakeholders and deserved a chance to oversee the completion of the downtown revitalization,” according to a statement released by the Board.

The board also unanimously authorized a contribution of $40,000 toward the $125,000 for yet one more consultant, Urban Land Institute, to conduct a site visit and make recommendations regarding the future of the multi-jurisdictional lands around and west of the TCC. Other participants include the city, the county, Pima Association of Government and the private sector. ULI will present their recommendations in a public forum this Friday.

The Board, in a 5 to 2 split vote, elected to continue with the name change contest proposed by the NonProfit News Source and authorized the contest rules. While the Board’s lawyer claims that the District can legally change its name, only Board members Cody Ritchie and Jeff Hill recognized that a name change was merely cosmetic.


  1. Sorry but Gabby voted for Obamacare. Remember DEMOCRAT Patrick Murphy from PA, when he insinuated that she was shot for her vote?

    Seems he knew how bad it was, didn’t he? But he still doesn’t even know the truth. MsNBC hired him. Probably to write script for Martin Brazziere.

  2. Did we just give the Urban Land Institute $120,000 to help us figure out who we are? Where do we go? This is exactly what happens when you dream big and have no leadership.

    Now all they can do is deny it.

  3. Fletcher, follow-up thought. I understand that RN is no longer city run. In fact, I was thrilled when the state stepped in and took it over. I thought, finally, the checkbook is taken from the crooks and put in more responsible hands. But, when the new chair starts looking for answers that most of us want, and then gets kicked off when she gets too close, that seriously damages the credibility of your board, and makes it look like the same corrupt circus that it was when it was city-run.

    For RN to ever have any sort of credibility, there needs to be accountability for the stolen millions, Since that will never happen, RN will never have the credibility that you seek. Sorry, man. You may not like that, but it is reality. So, you’re left with three choices, here…

    -Start digging for answers…in which case, you’ll most likely be kicked off the board like Jodi Bain was
    -Accept the fact that the words “Rio Nuevo” will forever evoke emotions of anger and mistrust from most of this community

    Because of the history of RN, who are your three options, and there will never be a fourth one provided to you.

  4. Fletcher, “unfairly applied”? Um, no. Not unfairly. Bain, as most of us, wanted someone held accountable for the stolen millions and wanted consequences provided. When she was getting too close to something the power brokers didn’t want her to know, she was replaced with you. Look at it from where I am. Doesn’t it look like that the whistle-blower was replaced with someone who would, like Kozachik would say, just “move on” and stop looking for answers? You certainly don’t seem to be looking for answers as aggressively as Bain was. If you did, you’d probably be replaced, too. But, what do you care? This is an unpaid position for you, right?

  5. Fletcher, I just don’t understand why you don’t equate sales tax with other taxes. A tax is a tax no matter where it goes. Taxes pay for streets except here in Tucson where the ignorant voters put them on a credit card. Taxes will pay for the “reactivation” of the surrounding neighborhood. As one blogger put it so well, if downtown Tucson was so important private industry would be there in a heartbeat. Downtown is only part of the picture. You didn’t mention the cesspool that is TUSD, the inept leadership of both the COT and Pima County. These are the huge roadblocks facing Rio Nuevo. As long as this area wants to be Baja, AZ and drive out any business of any size that wants to settle in this area with taxes, miles of red tape and bureaucracy so intrenched that you would need a drilling and blasting team to get them out of their jobs then this area is doomed along with downtown. Businesses need talented labor and a labor pool. there is none in Tucson. Why does all the talent that graduates from the U of A leave? The local governments need to set priorities but unfortunately the COT and Pima County have and its not to the benefit of the citizens and any business. Why do you think the BOS continually raises the property tax rate every year. They simply need more money to feed the monster and not offer any services. Until the attitude locally moves away from all things green and environmental then you are looking at a very large and possibly impossible project to rebuild the downtown area. The COT has built their hopes on college students that are only in town nine or ten months a year. Ever drive down University Avenue in Tempe in the summer? What are the majority of tenants of the downtown area Fletcher? Its governments. Who pays for those buildings and employees? Gee, we have gone full circle to the taxpayer once again.

    • Oh, you are so blind, Jon!

      Go downtown sometime (preferably before you have to start dodging the trolley – I don’t want you injured). Very colorful. You can visit the kinky leather shop, or the strip clubs, or the Marxist book store (I don’t know whether the planned head shop has been opened yet). Don’t want to spend money? We have had several events going on down there too – you should have visited during Occupy Tucson and listened to the drums, smelled the exotic odor of overflowing toilets. There is always the chance of catching a good riot too, if the Wildcats ever win another championship; there is nothing like the sight of a burning police car to inspire. Or just wander around and enjoy the antics, the college kids and other derelicts vomiting in the streets; the antics of the prostitutes (especially the transgendered ones). For some eye candy, you can watch the lady defense lawyers scurrying up and down the courthouse steps (they are easily identified – they’re the ones with the skirts that are much shorter than the prostitutes).

      There is just so much to enjoy in beautiful downtown Tucson.

  6. Exactly right Point. The UA seems to indoctrinate non thinkers in Alinsky tactics. With Obamacare on trial, Progressivism ignorance is about to collapse under it’s own weight. Too bad most Americans don’t understand what’s going on.

    They think their time is better spent watching the Kardashians. Veterans fought for their freedoms and they are too stupid to accept and defend them.

  7. If Rio is such a great money maker which will bring the Apples of the world, where are the venture capitalists wanting in on this money maker?

    There are plenty of companies wanting in to build, consult and manage “The Rio”, but none other than the taxing authorities, willing to put up the cash. Why? S. Az. is anti capitalism, run by the Saul Alinsky Utopia crowd and until they run they’re cycle, the smart money will not put up cash but is more than willing to participate in the use of free money, can’t say that I blame them, there are few other games in S. Az. And, having Republicans on the board means nothing other than the same ole crowd sleeping around with the same ole crowd. Rio Neuvo could be called “Best Little Whorehouse on Congress”.

  8. Our board too was not happy with the lack of prosecution and, FYI, we have elected to continue our forensic auditing because the AG left a tiny crack open in his declination letter that if new evidence comes to light they would reconsider. As the Auditor General indicated (read the whole report) this board is returning to its legislative mandate to help rebuild our downtown. The anger and mistrust you identified was my whole point with this blog, it is unfairly applied to the current board and current situation, particularly when ADI says nothing has changed. We report to the legislature, this is no longer city run, our legal mandate is quite specific, if you go to our website you can see every penny we spend. No other government entity in the state has that level of tranparency, and the Auditor General praised the District for its work, something the ADI reported as “unusual” but along with its headline that nothing has changed.

    • Rio Nuevo has lost all trust, deservedly so.

      The “mission” is really, really stupid. Government doesn’t need to build a convention center. Government doesn’t need to build a hotel. We already tried that idea. We tore down the barrios for it.

      Why in the world would anyone want to come to Tucson and stay in probably the ugliest part of town, just 2 miles down the road from the stench of our sewer plants when we have beautiful mountains and resorts that do concerts and conventions quite fine. You expect the conventioneers do double as tourist and visit government buildings when the sun goes down?

    • On second thought, maybe the idea is brilliant. We can attract thousands of middle aged fat men to downtown and with the university coeds moving in to student housing, we could have a boomtown of strip clubs and sex parlors. Just think of it, Bourbon Street in Tucson. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • Fletch, why don’t you grab the two plaques that the previous crooks paid for and see what you can get for them at a recycler? You know, the one that honors Ed Pastor, Marxo-Democrat representing South PHOENIX, and the one that honors Jim Kolbe, Marxo-Republican formerly mis-representing Tucson? You won’t even have to pry the Kolbe plaque out of a wall, since it is waiting to be put on a building that is still a vacant lot.

      Only a drop in the bucket, of course – but it would be a start…

  9. Yeah, but since you were the appointee to replaced the mysteriously-outed Jodi Bain…one would have to work VERY hard to convince me that you don’t know something…or even had advance notice of it.

    Keep your secret if you must. But you have to accept that, especially now that we know there will never be consequences provided for the thieves of a quarter of a billion dollars, that Rio Nuevo will forever have a stink on it that won’t wash off. There are many in this community, probably a majority, who think that this whole thing should be identified as the failure that it is and just shut down. The words Rio Nuevo will never evoke anything except anger and mistrust from most…including the ADI.

  10. Without it we could have lowered AZ tax rates and allowed people to feed themselves. The State should not pay for the City to re “develop” itself. Poor management by the Mayor and Council(s) for years has caused this. It will not be fixed.

  11. Not free, What? Again, but allocated to Rio Nuevo for two specific purposes: to deal with the arena and to launch an area hotel. Prior boards have strayed far from that mission, which is how we got into this mess. The Auditor General’s recent report states that we are finally on mission. The legislature now sets our priorities, not the city or the county and we report to legislative leadership and to the Governor.

    • Gee, Fletcher. Guess what. We already have a convention center. We already have a downtown hotel. And guess what Fletcher, downtown is nothing more than a personal living room for government and the lawyers that support it.

      Tucson’s economic fate was sealed when Tom Volgy as mayor negotiated away the Tucson to Phoenix air route to America West. That killed our airport and noone is coming to the home of illegals, degenerates and big government liberals without decent air service. Travel about Fletcher, and when you tell business people you are from Tucson, watch them turn up their nose.

  12. Not free, What, Again?, but allocted to downtown Tucson by the legislature for two primary purposes: the renovation of the arena and the development of a downtown hotel. Prior Rio Nuevo boards strayed dramatically from that mission. As the Auditor General audit identified we are today, on mission. A scope not determined by us but by the legislature. A new arena would cost up to $200M dollars, and then who would supsidize it? Our current arena would be competetive for about a quarter of that.

  13. The Tucson Community Center should be built in Vail at the PC Fairgrounds. Include an outdoor amphitheatre for rock/country venues. Don’t force people into the one way funnel they call downtown.

  14. If you want to hear corruption, just listen to Fletcher McCusker telling us those state tax dollars are free. He is deliberately misleading the public so that he and his cronies can literally steal tax dollars from all the other needs of our state, INCLUDING distribution to Tucson, to put under their personal control instead.

  15. Now, another thought…add me to the list of people who think that the TCC is just a money pit. I am not understanding how it wouldn’t be more financially beneficial to just knock it down and start over. Might cost a little bit more initially, but in the long run I think we’d be a lot better off.

  16. Fletcher, another thing that has not changed with Rio Nuevo is that there is still a lack of accountability for all the millions that were stolen. And, as we learned a few weeks ago, that will NEVER change.

    Since you’re cheerleading, why don’t you tell us all, publicly, the REAL reason Jodi Bain was kicked off the board? What exactly is it that she was getting too close to? Please don’t try to sell to us that you don’t know…

  17. The Rio Nuevo board is 6 Republicans and one independent, we are a State agency. Hundreds of millions of State tax dollars have been wasted, our job is to stop it, and invest it properly. The Auditor General just indicated that we are doing precisely that.

  18. Sounds to me like you’re reasoning out the waste of state tax dollars. Why is it that Phoenix can use this money so much more efficiently, to actually create transportation solutions and job growth?

    Oh wait, they aren’t run by Democrats are they?

    Good luck.

  19. It is important to remember that Rio Nuevo is not city or county tax. In fact, tax rates are not impacted by anything Rio Nuevo does. The money Rio Nuevo receives is from state sales tax. The sales tax rate will not change with or without Rio Nuevo. If Rio Nuevo were terminated the sales tax money would just stay in Phoenix. We believe the money Rio Nuevo receives can be a lot better spent than it has been historically. The funds are also designated by law to rebuild our arena and related downtown projects. Cant be used for roads, the airport or anything else. However, if done smartly Rio Nuevo funds can be leveraged. I absolutly agree Rio Nuevo should not be a burden on taxpayers. We should use our state allocation wisely and use the money to attract other funds and other tax revenue producing projects. Properly run Rio Nuevo can be a real resource to Tucson, using funds we would otherwise not have to help launch projects that increase the city and county tax base. Now what our elected officals do or don’t do with increased tax revenue is a whole another matter. This is where continued citizen pressure can pay off-fix our roads, improve our education, improve the quality of life for those of us that live here and stop worrying about recruiting Apple to Tucson. If we had a better city they would come on their own accord. Rio Nuevo can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    • So you think this money is just falling off trees? $250 MILLION TAXPAYER dollars wasted isn’t enough? Make it an even $350 MILLION?

      “A joint state-federal investigation found ample evidence of bungling by the city, Rio Nuevo board members and others but concluded it didn’t rise to criminal conduct despite $250 million having been spent with virtually nothing to show for it, the Arizona Daily Star reported Friday.”

  20. Yea Fletcher, its so sad that the liberals living here in Baja, AZ think of the taxpayer as the endless pot of money. Who the hell is going to use the convention center? What huge groups are going to come to downtown Tucson? Streets are a mess and will continue to be a mess. The streets are filthy. Private money had to be used to spruce up the entrance to the airport. TUSD continues to pump out students that can’t compete in society at an alarming rate. The management of the COT is a mess and worried about trash bags and shopping carts while Rome burns. One of the highest tax county property tax rates in captivity and the beat goes on. But what the hell, its only taxpayer money right Fletcher? And the convention center is sooooo important to the development of a new hotel downtown that will be the magic bullet that will fix everything. Yea, when pigs fly.

  21. $100,000,000?? From the public?? Oh, the illegals. How stupid I have become, forgive me, and we will pack the new TCC with??????. Viva Corrupcion!

  22. Why on earth do the people in government think fixing an old run down arena is worth 100 million dollars? It is a waste of money! It should have been torn down and that new arena built over it! Tear it down and give Tucson an U.S. Airways type arena with expandable seating so that we can host Final Four’s and big events when needed.

  23. The only thing that has not changed with Rio Nuevo over the last year or so is ADI’s negative slant on everything. What this article fails to mention is that the Auditor General acknowledged that, for the first time, Rio Nuevo is 100% compliant with state statute, and also for the first time ever totally on mission. The auditor praised the District for getting its house in order and announced a clean bill of health ( also a first). ADI should appreciate that the ULI study is the first ever partnership with all the jurisdictions involved downtown (another first) and if common goals can be articulated and agreed upon the vacant lands that were the old Rio Nuevo folly might be activated with buildings and programs that benefit the whole region, and the costs of the development can be born by someone other than Rio Nuevo, mostly funded with private sector dollars. The TCC is an embarrassment, should have been fixed a long time ago. The good news is that the City is getting out of the management ( a Rio Nuevo recomendation) and TIF funds are going to its renovation, which was the original legislative intent 13 years ago. If it is not time for a new name it is certainly time for a new attitude! You can read the entire audit at

  24. Wow, after all these years and mistakes, noting changed. They now need more money. How unique. Maybe the COT can chip in some from new fire house that RN paid for. Or how about the U of A spent millions on the “Rainbow Bridge?” Gee, just another 100 Million to “reactivate” the surrounding area? What the hell is reactivate? The new buzz word of the week? The more things change, the more they stay the same. But what the hell would you expect from the “leadership” of the COT and Pima County. The 8th poorest region in the country with wages only ahead of Detroit and damn proud of it.

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