A Notice of Claim has been filed against former Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and Tucson City Council members Regina Romero, Paul Cunningham, Steve Kozachik, Richard Fimbres, Karin Uhlich, and Shirley Scott for damages incurred by Tucson resident Cecelia Cruz due to “intentional lying and other abuses of process by you or your agents.” The claim also includes City Attorney Mike Rankin, known as Tucson’s “shadow mayor,” and Dennis McLaughlin.
Cecilia Cruz has been attempting to obtain documents related to the propose purchase of El Rio Golf Course by Grand Canyon University in 2013.
According to the legal filing by Attorney Bill Risner:
“Arizona’s public record law is very simple and stated in a single sentence: “Public records and other matters in the custody of any officer shall be open to inspection by any person at all times during office hours.”
“Unlike other laws in other states or the federal FOIA law related to public records, Arizona’s laws do not have a waiting period. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 39- 121.01(D)(l) “any person may request to examine or be furnished copies, printouts or photographs of any public records during regular business hours . ..” Furthermore, the public bodies and officers “shall promptly furnish” such public records. Our Supreme Court has defined “prompt” in this context as being “quick to act” or producing the requested records “without delay.”
Risner notes that the City of Tucson’s Administrative Directives do “conform with state law as they must,” and as a result, Cruz is not challenging the City’s written rules, but filed the Notice because of the City’s “willful and improper use of judicial process for the ulterior purpose of concealing from citizens information about what their city government is up to and to financially drain or ruin them if they challenge your wrongful actions.”
In other words, the City Council and Mayor are doing nothing to ensure that residents get the information to which they are entitled by law.
The timing of the filing could not be more serendipitous. On Wednesday, the Arizona Republic revealed Grand Canyon University “dropped plans to open a sizable satellite campus in south east Mesa next fall opting to concentrate on it’s Phoenix location as it attempts to overhaul its business model.” Grand Canyon chose the Mesa location after the Tucson deal fell through. The Republic reports, “Speculation about the viability of a $150 million Eastside investment began percolating last summer though after GCU officials announced they would push back the Mesa campus opening by at least a year to address main campus needs.”
In August 2014, Romero claimed that someone broke into her Ward 1 City Council office and stole her computer tower. However, according to Tucson Police there were no signs of a forced entry and an alarm was not triggered. Romero was at the center of the citizens’ inquiries about the El Rio Golf Course deal, and the computer theft was seen as another attempt to obstruct citizens’ access to documents despite the fact that a Pima County Superior Court judge ordered the documents be turned over.
While Democrats and Republicans like Kozachik used the controversy to blast each other, no one but Cruz tried to bring attention to the cronies behind the El Rio deal.
In fact, three members of the City Council; Romero, Cunningham, and Scott have been running stealth campaigns in order to avoid addressing the many controversies in which the City finds itself. Just today, the trio failed to appear at the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum.
Related article: Tucson, GCU, El Rio public records still not public
Attorney Risner on GCU/El Rio Scam would have cost taxpayer millions: