by Jim Nintzel
Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik responds to the news that the Rio Nuevo Board is suing the city of Tucson for $47 million:
Late Friday afternoon, the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District filed a notice of intent to sue the taxpayers of this area. The name on the suit is the City of Tucson. The people paying any settlement are you, the taxpayers.
Let's be very clear about a few facts:
1. There are two forensic audits in progress that will identify whether or not there was criminal wrong doing in past Rio Nuevo financial affairs.
2. There is a FBI investigation in progress that will identify whether or not there was
criminal wrong doing in past Rio Nuevo financial affairs.
3. There was an Auditor General report issued last year that identified "gross financial
mismanagement" in past Rio Nuevo financial affairs.
Every one of those audits and investigations are warranted and necessary. Let them finish. Let the guilty parties be identified.
But the taxpayers of the City of Tucson are not the guilty parties.
Let's also be very clear about what the Rio Nuevo Board has, or has not, spent your money on since it was appointed by the Governor and State Legislature early last year:
1. Spent - Hundreds of thousands of dollars on attorney fees
2. Spent - Their current budget has over $900,000 earmarked for "Administrative Fees"
3. Has not spent - Zero on rehabilitation of capital needs to the Tucson Convention Center
4. Has not spent - Zero on any project related to revitalization of downtown
5. Have not spent - refused to pay local sub contractors for work they performed on the east
entry of the TCC
Let's also be very clear about where they have invested their time and efforts:
1. Threatened shut-down of the Rialto Theatre
2. Threatened shut-down of the Fox Theatre
3. Involved in litigation now with Garfield Traub
4. Accused their own Bond Agent of withholding information related to Bond revenues
5. ...and now a lawsuit for $47,000,000 against the taxpayers of the City of Tucson
Adopted 2012 City of Tucson Budget:
- Parks and Recreation: $55,197,910 - shall we shut down all of our parks to pay Rio
- Tucson Police: $150,038,470 - shall we lay off nearly a third of our police force to pay
- Tucson Fire: $72,193,670 - shall we shut down over half of our fire department to pay
- Budget, Internal Audit, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology and Procurement: $48,362,920 - how about if we just eliminate all support services and let the City operate on auto-pilot so this Legislature/Governor appointed Rio Nuevo Board can sue the taxpayers?
Make no mistake: The legacy of Rio Nuevo is one of financial mismanagement that needs to be investigated. The taxpayers deserve to see those who have broken the law punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Make no mistake: The lawsuit filed by Rio Nuevo does nothing to advance that cause and is yet another waste of taxpayer money that only funds attorneys. It reflects a total disregard for the greater good of our community by appointed officials who have successfully kept the legacy of Rio Nuevo alive and well in our community since early 2010.