Regina Romero, the Center for Biological Diversity’s first national director of Latino engagement, killed a deer in June on her way to her suburban home nestled in the Tucson Mountains. Romero, a Tucson City Councilmember, failed to report the accident to law enforcement authorities according to documents obtained by the Arizona Daily Independent.
Romero did file Form 103 – Incident Report with the City’s Risk Management Department. In that report, Romero claims: “I was driving home at night around 10:15 p.m. about 25 miles per hour when I turn (sic) from Speedway onto Painted Hills when a group of deer ran and one hit the drivers (sic) side.” Romero, who was driving a City of Tucson-owned vehicle, also admits in the report to failing to file a report with law enforcement.
According to Administrative Directive –Responsibilities Regarding Utilization Of City Vehicles 6.01-1:
A. No employee of the City is authorized to use a City vehicle for other than the performance of assigned official duties, except for vehicles assigned to Mayor and Council, the City Attorney, and the City Clerk. No personal use of City vehicles is permitted unless provided for in Administrative Directive 6.01-7.
B. The vehicle-operator will maintain strict adherence to all traffic laws, wear seat belts and require the same of all passengers, control speed in accordance with posted limits, give proper and timely signals, comply with regulatory signs or traffic signals, and practice road courtesy at all times.
C. Drivers of City vehicles are expressly prohibited from picking up hitch-hikers or providing rides for persons not directly associated in some way with the processes of City business.
A. Motor vehicle accidents shall be reported immediately to 911 and the employee’s immediate supervisor. Property damage accidents or accidents occurring on private property shall be promptly reported to the employee’s immediate supervisor.
There is no exemption for City leaders from the reporting requirement. However, the fact that a member of the Center for Biological Diversity’s team killed an animal would have proved to be embarrassing. The fact that a member of that team lives in a suburban area that has encroached on wild animal habitat could prove to be devastating.
Romero represents residents of the eighth poorest metropolitan area in the country, who mostly live in the crowded and crumbling City core. Romero, and her husband Ruben Reyes, who works for Congressman Raul Grijalva, live high above the Ward 1 residents in the plush Tucson Mountain range.
In their press release announcing her hiring, the Center for Biological Diversity noted that Romero “achieved two more firsts in 2007 when she became the first Latina elected to the Tucson City Council and the first woman to represent Tucson’s historic Ward 1.”
The killing of a deer by a staff member might be a first for the Center of Biological Diversity.
In that same press release, Grijalva was quoted: “Ms. Regina Romero is a significant addition to the Center for Biological Diversity’s staff and mission. As the director of Latino engagement, she brings knowledge, instincts and shared purpose to the Center’s presence. Furthering the building of a diverse and inclusive constituency to protect and defend species, the environment and our common future, leaving no one behind.”
Based on Romero’s sparse City of Tucson calendar, she may spend more time defending species than killing them or representing the people of Ward1.
On the day of the incident, Romero had only one City event entry on her calendar. That was one more than she had on the three preceding days.
Law enforcement experts, who reviewed the Form 103 report, and the photos submitted by Romero for vehicle repairs, say the extensive damage does look like that a running deer might make. The Vericlaim damage estimate for $4,907.92 reads:
We believe this vehicle could be in the repair facility 9 to 10 days, once the necessary parts have been obtained. We project an additional 2 to 3 days to obtain the necessary parts.
Please be advised that due to high mileage, the repair cost is over 60% towards the value of this vehicle. Utilizing CAPA certified parts would bring the repair cost down.
Joan Stauch, Director of the City of Tucson General Services Department advised the ADI in an email that the vehicle was not repaired and Romero was given a rental car. That vehicle was supposed to be returned on August 8, 2016, but Stauch advised that “the rental has not yet been returned.”
Romero’s vehicle did have unusually high mileage despite the sparse calendar. What is more unusual is that while the mileage is high, and her calendar shows few City obligations, Romero’s mileage report for the period February through April shows that she claimed only 384 personal miles compared to 4040 business miles. Romero’s staff did not respond to an email from the ADI seeking details on Romero’s deer incident and another accident that apparently occurred in March.
A wildlife expert questioned Romero’s claim that a herd of deer ran out in front of her. Experts say that the incident occurred in Arizona Game and Fish Game Management Unit 38M. Because of human encroachment, that unit has few mule deer and as a result, only archery hunting has been allowed in late December and January for years. The likelihood that a herd crossed the road is slim at best.
That same expert from an Arizona firm, Veritas Research, which specializes in natural resource issues, questioned “why a supposed city leader, let alone a staff member of the Center for Biological Diversity, would choose to not report the incident to state wildlife experts.” They stated that Romero’s failure to report the incident immediately may have cost the deer its life if it had only sustained treatable non-life threatening injuries.
“While Regina Romero’s Hispanic outreach kills Bambi, the mostly Hispanic constituents of Ward 1 are left to fend for themselves and live in fear of the legendary beast that lurks in the barrio; commonly known as Grijalva. Whilst in stark contrast, the outreach done by the AZGOP and Legislative District 2 Republicans, empowers those same Latino families and reassures them that they have a choice; they don’t have to be El Gordo’s prey,” said LD2 Chair, and AZGOP Latino Outreach Director Sergio Arellano.