On Monday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors, on a 4-1 vote, agreed to provide $650,000 to Sun Corridor for economic development services. The contract with the organization grew this year from $441,000.
Before voting on the contract, Supervisor Ally Miller asked a series of question of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry because Sun Corridor head Joe Snell had already fled the room. When asked by Miller what the other participating counties; Pinal, Cochise, and Santa Cruz, would be paying Sun Corridor for services, Huckelberry claimed ignorance. Miller then advised Huckelberry that she had contacted Pinal County. She revealed that while Pima County will be paying Sun Corridor the six figure amount, Pinal County, will only pay $50,000 for the same services.
In a memo discussing the contract, Huckelberry wrote to the supervisors: “The County is agnostic as to where new jobs and economic opportunities are located, provided they are within Pima County or on the boundary of Pima County where our residents will substantially benefit from those opportunities.”
As residents of the eighth poorest metropolitan area in the country, it is unlikely Pima County taxpayers would support picking up the bulk of the tab for economic development in Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Cochise counties. However, only Miller cast a “no” vote.
Miller also questioned documents related to the Sun Corridor deal. Miller explained that the attachment to the proposal claimed that Sun Corridor, formerly known as TREO, had generated $384,000,000 in economic development in five years. However on the last page of the same attachment, the organization claimed it had generated $875,000,000 in the same amount of time.
Remarkably, Huckleberry told Miller that the larger amount was correct. In fact, in his own memo Huckelberry claimed that Sun Corridor/TREO had a $2.43 billion economic and fiscal impact on southern Arizona.
During the Call to the Audience portion of the meeting, Supervisor Sharon Bronson was serenaded by Board gadfly Keith van Heyningen. “I am glad to see Ray stepping down finally but I am here with a shopping list,” began van Heyningen. “I want to keep Ally Miller where she is at. I want to elect Kim Demarco for District 3. I want to elect Marla Closen in District 4. I don’t want puppets. It has been proven through email leaks – be it nationwide or right here in Pima County – and God I love FOIA requests. We have two people that are carpet baggers. Steve Christy and John Winchester are carpet baggers, period. Put there by the machine. All you have to do is listen to your local media, then listen to Pima County media. It’s the same. If we elected two more good women to this Board we would have a three – two majority. Then the old boy’s club would have to change because there would be no more Huckleberry and these guys’ attitudes would have to change something fierce. I would like to see it. I’d think that angels would be flying around.”
“Are you guys making a landing strip for a space shuttle I don’t know about? Looks like about eight miles or longer, eight lanes wide and looks like it goes about twenty miles out to the Ryan Airfield,” continued van Heyningen referring to the supervisors’ apparent decision to ignore promises they made to residents to oppose the proposed I-11 Highway. “Or is that for that Highway 11 thing nobody wants? I mean it is just going right through the desert, nobody cares right?”
The highway route would harm area residents, and bypass Tucson which would devastate its economy.
Van Heyningen concluded by taking a jab at Supervisor Sharon Bronson, who recently destroyed a County owned vehicle, during a recent storm when she ignored roadway warning signs. He sang, “Sharon went surfing, surfing USA.”
The supervisors also increased the Fire District Assistance tax on a 3-2 vote..