[UPDATE] On February 23, in a late night session the House ignored voters’ wishes and passed HB2436.
On Wednesday, February 23, Arizona State Rep. Todd Clodfelter held a press conference to announce legislation, HB2436, that will provide state funding for a January 8 Memorial. Shortly thereafter, the bill was passed by the Appropriations Committee.
In 2016, Pima County voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to fund a January 8 Memorial with taxpayer money. With memorials dedicated to the individuals, who were shot and killed on that tragic day, sprinkled across the County, voters declined to fund one more.
Voters rejected the 2016 bond measure that included the planned memorial due to the fact that tremendous money has been poured it into the downtown area to benefit a handful of investors, while the surrounding infrastructure crumbles. Politically connected players have invested considerable money downtown, but have been unable to draw crowds to the new hotels and restaurants without a central attraction.
Immediately after the January 8 shooting, former Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, whose administration was scarred by scandal, announced that Tucson was the “Mecca for hate and bigotry.” Now, deep-pocketed business interests are hoping to turn downtown Tucson into the Mecca for gun control advocates.
The Pima County Courthouse plans have been in the works behind the scenes with members of the Rio Nuevo District Board for about 3 years. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry had been devising a plan to swap the District’s west side properties for the old County Courthouse. The west side properties would then be used as a hub for a geotourism scheme.
In his article, Pima County Bonds: Love Fest, Albert Lannon explained that the January 8 Memorial group among other entities listed in the bond package were projects the pro-bond supporters hoped would turn out voters and were facing problems with fundraising efforts to complete their projects, including matching funds.
Clodfelter’s bill will most likely succeed due to the fact that he is a Republican in a Republican controlled Legislature and no one would with you want to be politically incorrect enough to deny funding for the project.
Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller on Wednesday said in an interview on the James T. Harris show that the Board of Supervisors recently approved millions of dollars to do work on the courthouse in preparation for integration with the January 8th Memorial against the wishes of the voters. She noted that “voters voted it down by almost 67 percent.”
Miller said that Huckleberry has “gotten the Board to approve almost $6 million in contracts to go ahead and rehab the courthouse and he’s been doing that since last October.” Miller said that the “courthouse rehab was an integral part of the January 8 memorial and voters said ‘no.’” Miller said, “Chuck went ahead and said forget it voters we don’t care what you have to say.”
Meanwhile, the Legislature appears to be ignoring the voters as well and continues to shortchange counties on funding for roads and other important infrastructure projects.
Reps. Daniel Hernandez, who was an intern for Congresswoman Gabby Giffords; the target of the madman shooter, Jared Loughner, and Dr. Randy Friese, who was the Emergency Room doctor on that day, joined Clodfelter.
HB 2436 would appropriate $2,500,000 over five years in matching funds to Tucson’s January 8 Memorial Foundation for construction of the memorial if the U.S. Secretary of the Interior establishes a national memorial site. Arizona’s congressional delegation has introduced federal legislation to establish a January 8 national memorial site at the behest of Giffords’ successor Congresswoman Martha McSally.
McSally has pushed the Memorial in order to win votes in her heavily Democratic district.