Corporate donors to the Yes on Pima Bonds campaign are way ahead of the No side’s small donations more than ten-to-one. The business community is providing the leadership as well as the money for the Yes effort. But while business is generally considered to be more Republican politically, GOP grass-roots activists and candidates are lining up with the No campaign, led by Taxpayers Against Pima Bonds.
Listed as Yes co-chairs on the “Yes” campaign website are corporate lawyer Larry Hecker, who chaired the Bond Advisory Committee; Tom McGovern, Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Lovallo, Southern Arizona Leadership Council; insurance agency owner Edmund Marquez; and Mara Aspinall, Ventana Medical Systems. Other co-chairs are Joseph Blair, Blair Charity Group, offering youth sports activities; Carolyn Campbell, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection; and Nancy Schlegel, Reid Park Zoological Society.
Hecker is a frequent donor to Democrats. However, he also served as Governor Bruce Babbitt’s Chief of Staff during the bitter 1983-84 copper miner’s strike when Babbitt sent the National Guard into Morenci with tanks to break the strike.
DIRECT BENEFITS TO FUNDERS
Major funding for the Yes campaign comes from CopperPoint Insurance in Phoenix ($15,000), Tucson Medical Center ($15,000), and Campus Research Corporation, which runs the University of Arizona Tech Park ($10,000). Other major funders include Diamond Ventures, Inc. and Banner Health Corporation, which have not responded to requests for information.
Several of the “major” funders listed on the Yes website stand to gain directly and indirectly from passage of the bond propositions. Diamond Ventures is believed to own land that bond money would acquire for open space and Davis Monthan. Pima County has purchased such land from the company in the past. The $30 million Sonoran Corridor project in the bond measure would provide Diamond Ventures with a highway close to two planned developments, Rockin’ K and Swan Southlands.
The University of Arizona and their partner Banner Health Corporation also stand to gain directly from passage of the bond measures. The UA Tech Park would get a $10 million road and a $20 million building along with a $6 million Y. Banner Health would get an $18 million expansion of its south campus.
Marana Mayor Ed Honea was the featured speaker at an August 12 event held at the University Marriott. Honea was quoted when the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to put the bonds on the ballot as saying, “No, no and hell no!”
Speaking in front of a screen which read, “Wakeup Tucson Happy Hour Presentation: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime…plus $849,999,999.90?” Honea told the gathering he opposed the bonds “out of love for the community…things are falling apart…The system is broken. Don’t sell your future out for a quick fix!”
He called the combined Pima County debt “staggering” and warned against one-person rule over the County budget. The reference was to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry who seemed the crowd’s least-favorite person. Honea cited the Regional Transportation Authority’s transparency and collective decision-making as a better style of managing budgets.
Taxpayers Against Pima Bonds spokesperson Joe Boogaart, a dissenting member of the County Bond Advisory Committee, warned that by the time interest and maintenance and operations costs were included, the November 3 bonds’ price tag “was really $1.6 billion.” That would have to be paid with rising property taxes.
The room had a decidedly Republican flavor, although no overt campaigning was allowed and at least one Green Party pin was spotted. Present among the crowd were District One Supervisor Ally Miller, who voted against the bonds, along with 2016 GOP candidates Gary Kiehne (Congressional District 1); Kim DeMarco (Supervisors District 3); and Tucson City Council candidates Kelly Lawton, Margaret Burkholder and Bill Hunt. KVOI morning radio host Chris DeSimone acted as MC.
Taxpayers Against Pima Bonds campaign manager Gini Crawford said the event raised about $700, bringing the No war chest to less than $5000 donated by almost 100 individuals, with no corporate donors. They have distributed over 15,000 pieces of literature and provided templates for home-made signs. Printed yard signs are now available.
Both link to County sites. The bonds will be on the ballot as seven propositions, Props. 425-431. Voter registration closes October 5 and the election is November 3.