Specter of Rio Nuevo: Closing arguments in Tucson records case today

For months, a group of Tucson residents have fought in Pima County Superior Court, for public records, regarding the failed deal between the City of Tucson and Grand Canyon University. Closing argument on their case is set for this today, April 1, 2014, at 10:00 A.M., in Judge Christopher Staring’s courtroom Room 586, Superior Court Building, 110 W Congress.

The group is seeking the pursuant to Arizona’s public records law, A.R.S. 39-121, which makes it clear that, “Any person may request to examine or be furnished copies, printouts or photographs of any public record,” and mandates that public bodies must “…promptly respond to a request for production of a public record.”

The City of Tucson has a tradition of secrecy and a unresponsiveness to the public. Despite the fact that a court order mandates that the City release all the El Rio-TREO/GCU records, the City continues to fight the group of residents on releasing those records. Members say that the City’s refusal to turn over the records is evidence that the City is hiding a “smoking gun.”

“Whatever it is that the City is hiding, it has to be big for the City to go so far as to lie to the judge. We suspect it has to do with the City’s early involvement (i.e., in January-February, 2013, and maybe as early as December 2012) with TREO in the El Rio-GCU matter,” members of AUDITAZ noted in a statement released on Monday.

According to the group, “We at AUDIT-AZ work to promote greater transparency as a means to fight corruption. We see our work as a public good and are committed to making information open and accessible. We believe that an organization like ours and the MSM has a democratic duty to provide citizens with the information that allows them to understand the day’s main issues. For us, openness also means that citizens should be able to use that information to shape policy,” As a result, the group has filmed all of the public meetings and court proceedings.

“The City’s flagrant disregard of the law is inexcusable. They have dragged out the release of records for almost a year.” The group asks, “Without knowing what the City is doing, how can the public hold City staff and elected officials accountable?”

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