by Jim Nintzel
At a debate last week between the four Republican candidates who want to replace Ann Day on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, Tea Party patriot Ally Miller slipped up big-time when talking about the county's road-bond program.
As you can see in the video above, captured by ace videographer Dino Kadich: Miller, a self-proclaimed budget expert, declared that the county “is using (HURF) money for the bonds that we should be paying for with our secondary property-tax rate. We should not be using HURF money to pay for bonds. And that’s what they’re doing, and they’re playing a shell game with the money, and they’re moving it around. … That is wrong, and it shouldn’t be happening, and it needs to stop. In the last five years—I’ve done an investigation here—$80 million has been raided.”
Miller is evidently unaware that county voters, when they passed a 1997 bond package, specifically supported using HURF funds to pay off the roads bonds.
You could have argued against that route in 1997—as the Tucson Weekly did, saying that the county should use a pay-as-you-go approach instead of borrowing against HURF revenues. And you can say that the road-bond money, once it started coming in, wasn’t spent that well, as the late Chris Limberis argued in these pages back in 2001.
But you can’t say the money is being “raided” if it’s being used for the purpose for which voters said it should be used. What Miller is proposing—namely, using property taxes to pay back revenue bonds—is the sort of illegal shell game that she spends so much time bemoaning.
Also: It’s not much of an “investigation” if Miller can’t figure out at some point that her basic premise is wrong.
Call us old-fashioned, but we believe that if you're going to accuse someone of criminal acts, you ought to at least get your facts straight.
We emailed Miller to see if she wanted to clarify her comments, but she is evidently still not speaking to us.
We'll have more on Miller's debate performance—including her fierce denouncement of the Tucson Weekly—in this week's Skinny column, available on many newsstands now!