When The ‘Big Deal’ Goes South: Taxpayers Ripped Off Again

In November, 2006, with great fanfare, Pima County Administrator Charles Huckelberry announced that the county and Walmart, with developer Donohue-Schreiber Realty, had reached a $35 million deal for a new supercenter at Ajo Way and Kinney Road.  The Walmart money was to go to transportation needs, environmental mitigation, and improvements in Tucson Mountain Park.

Huckelberry told reporters the road improvements were critical both to the county and Walmart.  “We had fairly little leverage other than saying we’re not going to let you do a huge retail project without adequate transportation,” he said. “They want to be successful, and it’s going to be hard to be successful without improving the roads.”

The deal was called a “model” meeting the needs of residents, the store, and the environment.  Walmart was to pay $20 million upfront, with an additional $15 million to be paid to the county through 2 percent of the Wal-Mart store’s sales for up to 25 years.

On June 8, 2018, Huckelberry told the Board of Supervisors in a memo that the deal had fallen through and was being terminated by Walmart and the developer.  He blamed the “faltering economy” after the agreement was signed and noted that the financial obligations “were never triggered.”  In other words, the $20 million was never paid to the county and county efforts, planning and enabling legislation costs were down the drain.

But: For several years the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has been working on those same traffic improvements, widening Route 86, Ajo Way, from Valencia to Kinney Road, in anticipation of meeting the needs of a superstore-anchored shopping area.  ADOT said, “The purpose of the project is to enhance safety and improve traffic flow along this segment of SR 86 in Tucson and meet current and future traffic needs.”   Construction began in February, 2016, and is expected to be completed soon.

Drivers familiar with the area told us that, before construction started, delays and congestion were rare.  It is clear that the road widening was to meet expected traffic increases due to a new shopping area being established.

While the cost of the project was not available on the ADOT website, earlier news stories estimated the price to be $41 million taxpayer dollars.  ADOT did not respond to an email query about costs in time for this story to be filed.  An additional $80,000 was spent by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to study the need for wildlife linkages in the project area.  Those added up to $7 million in proposed bridge and underground crossing projects.

So: About $50 million dollars spent for a deal that never happened, for jobs that never materialized, for a crony’s broken promise.  How many potholes could have been filled with that money?  And while we’re on the subject of taxpayer money down the drain, whatever happened to the promised “expert report” about the World View Spaceport explosion and damage six months ago?


  1. Filming on the new Tom Cruise movie “A Few Worthless Supervisors” is slated to start up soon using the counties Theresa Lee clap clinic as the main set.

    A sneak peak of the proposed script is riveting:

    Voters: WE WANT THE TRUTH!

    Dingleberry: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

    Dingleberry: We live in a world that has deals, and those deals have to be guided by men with vision.
    Who’s gonna do it?
    You, Ally?
    I have a greater responsibility to local power brokers than you could possibly fathom.
    You weep over the potholes and you curse the backroom deals. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know; that the WalMart deals death, while tragic and resulting in the wasting of millions of dollars of the people’s money, probably saved expanded oppertunity for future graft and even greater corruption.
    And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, makes millions for the insider players.
    You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at Democratic rallies and fund raising parties, you want me on that governing board. You need me on that governing board.
    We use words like graft, corruption and insider oppertunity. We use these words as the backbone of a lifetime spent defrauding taxpayers. You use them as a punchline.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to voters who use and drive my roads under the blanket of the very transportation system that I provide, and then question the manner in which I provide it!
    I would rather you just said “thank you” and paid your increased property taxes. Either way, I don’t give a *damn* what you think you are entitled to!


    And while we all know it’s completely fictional, Some just might see the irony…

    The Oracle

  2. I will be so glad to leave this area this fall. This cesspool is starting to stink more and more. The COT wants to increase my water rates for an additional revenue stream, the state wants to increase my secondary taxes to pay for desegregation of TUSD which is already desegregated. My water and sewer fees are going up to meet the needs of Tucson Water, the roads continue to fall apart at a faster clip than before and all we here is tax, tax, tax. SSDD in liberal land. Cut half of the city and county employees and make due with the budgets you already have. I have to but then the liberals have never met a taxpayer or crony that they didn’t love. Pathetic.

  3. I am hopeful that next election will see a new bos majority and Could ty Attorney.

    One of the task should be a criminal investigation on the use of public funds over that last few years ( statuary limits of prosecution). Nothing could cheer me up than this gang of criminals being bought to Justice.

    One can just hope.

    Richard Hernandez

  4. Listen, Tucson, y’all came out of this one smelling like a rose. It’s us poor schmucks in the rest of the state who got shafted this time. Maybe someday ADOT will build the rest of us our own bridges to nowhere.

  5. Why do voters keep electing the Supervisors, Democrats Bronson. Elias and Valadez that sustain the corrupt Mr Huckleberry in his job? They are the culprits pulling the strings for their ring leader Democrat Raul Grijalva. Huckleberry is just the face of their corruption. It is astounding to me that Supervisor Ally Miller does not understand this, a lack of understanding that prompted Miller to promise to support a tax hike to fix the roads if Huckleberry resigned. Even if Huckleberry did resign, does anyone believe that the Grijalva machine Supervisors would actually spend the increased tax money for the purposes promised? They would not. They will still be corrupt and would probably use part of the increase in tax receipts to give a retired Huckleberry a million dollar consultant contract to continue doing what he has been doing in service to the Democrat machine. However,compared to others in Pima County, Huckleberry is a bargain, he is only receiving a single pay package while some other machine “employees” are receiving their current salaries AND full pensions from the City and/or the County as well. I would like to believe that voters in Pima County would throw out Supervisors Bronson, Elias and Valadez if we had an honest news media but perhaps not. Thanks to ADI, the Goldwater Institute and others, the information on the nature and extent of the political corruption in Pima County is readily available so maybe the problem also rests in large part on an ongoing ineffective GOP leadership here and throughout the State.

  6. Just give me Three more good years, With housing prices rising so i can sell my Home and get the heck out of dodge, before the AX falls…

  7. Meanwhile – Tucson makes another list – #31 on the top 50 worst places to live.

    “Tucson is the second most populous city in Arizona and the only city in the state to rank among the worst U.S. cities to live in. The typical Tucson household earns $40,021 a year, only about three-quarters of the median annual household income in Arizona. Additionally, nearly one in every four city residents live in poverty, compared to 14.0% of Americans and 16.4% of people in Arizona. Crime is also relatively common in Tucson. There were 799 violent crimes and 5,891 property crimes in the city in 2016 per 100,000 people, more than double the comparable crime rates on a national scale.”

    Tucson – 5th poorest in the country and DAMN proud of it! Liberals Rule!!!



  9. CHUCK HUCKLEBERRY EARNED 466,856.36 IN 2017

Comments are closed.