by Jim Nintzel
The Range reported yesterday that District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller created her own list of preferred road projects rather than going with the recommendations of the Pima County Transportation Department.
Miller’s list included Oasis Road, which happens to be in her own neighborhood—and the road that a political ally and three campaign contributors live along.
So far, that Oasis Road project—at a cost of $330,000, according to county documents—is the only one that has been completed in District 1. And after Miller’s four fellow supervisors voted earlier this week to move the remainder of the District 1 funding for this fiscal year to a needed improvement of Colossal Cave Road, it appears that none of Miller’s other pet project will be completed this year.
As we explained yesterday:
Miller said the other supervisors were targeting her because she has relentlessly been dogging them as corrupt big spenders who are mismanaging the county.
But Supervisor Ramon Valadez says political differences on the relative value of budget items—such as support for the county’s southside University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus (formerly Kino Hospital), programs to help Mission Manor Elementary School students attend a special science and math program at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and spending on the Hughes Access Road to support Raytheon, Tucson International Airport and other potential high-tech companies—do not equal mismanagement.
“When you disagree on public policy, that doesn’t mean it’s mismanagement,” Valadez told The Range yesterday. “That means there’s a disagreement.”
Valadez says the Miller opened the door to losing the District 1 road dollars by ignoring staff recommendations regarding how the money could be spent. When the Democrats on the board voted to include $5 million in road-repair dollars, they did it with a caveat that “it has to go to regionally significant and major arteries,” Valadez said. “Why? Because then I can go to my voters and say, ‘This road might be located outside your district, but you take Oracle Road, don’t you? You take River Road, don’t you?’ And you can make the argument that we all benefit.”
To better understand Valadez’s point, it’s instructive to look at exactly what Miller did.
Transportation staffers originally suggested that District 1 get $1.16 million in funding for its projects—considerably more than Valadez’s District 2, which was set to get a mere $94,000, or Richard Elias’ District 5, which was getting about $828,000.
Staff recommended that the pavement be patched on River Road in two areas: between Shannon and La Canada roads and between Campbell and Dodge Avenues. They also suggested patching Thornydale Road between Rudolph and Daphne roads, Sabino Canyon Road between Ventana Road and River Road; and Sunrise Road between Swan and Craycroft.
But Miller didn’t like that plan, other than the work on Thornydale Road. As you can see from the above map, Miller instead came up with her own list that included Oasis Road in her own neighborhood, and projects in subdivisions where only a handful of District 1 residents would see any improvements. (One was off in a far corner of Sabino Canyon Road in the Sabino Town and Country Estates, while another was in the Golden Heritage Village near Ina and Mona Lisa roads and a third was Bowman Road from Golder Ranch Drive to Rollins Road way out in the Catalina area.
Miller has not returned a phone call seeking comment about why she decided to pave little-used streets in subdivisions rather than major arterial corridors.