Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Tippers

Tucson, Arizona. New blogger James submitted the following comment (#16) at the SuperGroup Story published here last Sunday. At the Tipping Point Story published Wednesday I speculated that the rise of Tucson's population as well as Web 2.0 (including blogging) and other items (please see the story) are fueling an upcoming avalanche of change on many levels.

Directly from James:
Rob O'Dell is a shill for the Manager's office. They point out what records to request and he does it. Hein skips off scot free while a city bureaucrat is thrown under the bus-this time Rick Singer. The unreported story is that the RFP for the arena construction was approved by the Mayor and Council on January 26, 2004, and Team Zocalo selected that summer. And since then NOTHING has happened other than a few hundred grand being spent for a "feasibility study" and schematic of the tortoise shell design.

Here's a 2004 article from the Weekly describing the arena proposal.

His link needs repaired, but I found the following TW articles:

Margaret Regan, 11/23/2006
Dave Devine 4/26/07

In January 2006, Hein put out a memo taking personal leadership of Rio Nuevo but has not been held responsible for anything! Of course construction costs are going up! You don't need to do a public records request to figure that out. But perhaps if the brain trust that inhabits the 10th floor actually began construction back in 2005 we'd be discussing opening day events and not escalating construction costs.

I believe the back story is that the 10th floor cut a deal with some folks involved in the hotel proposal that was approved by the mayor and council back in November. That deal, which includes folks like Alan Norville and Humberto Lopez, has probably fallen apart so Hein needs to scuttle the whole thing. What better way than to point out how much costs are going up and that we'll have to rethink the whole thing. And some how moving the Greyhound Bus terminal fits in this but I just can't figure out why. The Star reports that it has to be moved to make room for the arena-as if the bulldozers are parked out front ready to start construction. The only thing being built in downtown Tucson is a Potemkin Village.
4/09/2008 2:10 PM

James represents one of what I call the "Tippers." The Tippers are distinct from the "Supergroup" and by SG I do not refer to O'Dell's reference to a downtown group. At this blog SG refers to the status quo movers and shakers that stroke each other in back room deals, some of it good work, some of it self-serving corruption uncovered by a press whose owners sit on the boards (er, council of trustees) of the organizations they are supposed to be holding to account. Keep in mind game theory is involved. People in the SG could "tip" against fellow SGer's.

The content is not abstract blogger BS, but real material that impacts real people with real lives that bleed real blood. For those new to the blog, one example of the SG at work is Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc (TREO) pocketing the funding allocated to other non profit agencies in the community. TREO took $132,500 from a training institute that barely broke even, destroying it. It took $60,000 from the Microbusiness Advancement Center and forced the MAC Executive Director to resign. It took $30,000 from Goodwill Industries. It pocketed all this money and bragged of "improved financial performance" in its annual report. TREO also destroyed the Inland Port development efforts of Augie Garcia, throwing him out of work. Setting Herb up at the Fox Theater smells of SG antics. The press mentioned the demise of Augie and Herb. Do you think they said anything about the funding taken from MAC, Goodwill, or SAIAT?

Cigar Man is the original tipper, approaching me in late 2004. More recently, others have come forward with blog comments including Travis, Robish, The Associate, Thelma, Commenter #29 and others that post anonymously because they would be fired for speaking out. What most tippers share is anger with the the SG's: 1) arrogance 2) incompetence 3) corruption.

James suggests the newspapers report as instructed regarding SG affairs. Remember, matters are not black and white. The SG could not care less about a Daniel Scarpinato piece on the race heating up in LD 26 or CD 8. The SG cares about TCC, MTCVB, TREO, downtown, and the trough of public monies for development in various areas. Regarding workforce development, TREO shut down an entire training institute, pocketing 100% of its support, with nary a peep of discussion. The following stories at this blog (in particular the comments that follow them) contain Tipper information some readers might find interesting. You won't find this material in the SG owned Tucson Newspapers.

The Tucson Regional Supergroup Authority
The Tipping Point
Shovel Ready
Inland Empire
Build It and They Will Leave
Comment #29
Crashing Cloth
Letter to Mayor and Council

For the record, I did not invent the word "tipper" as one who helps "tip the scale." I also did not invent other upcoming distinctions like "cat's meow" (retiring from the city or county and then being re-hired to double dip a fortune) or the "Shah of Iran" (tenth floor). It is feasible I forge new turf with "SGD" (SG fattened developers).


Blogger The Navigator said...

So James is pointing the finger at the city manager and defending Rich Singer. Other tippers are not so sympathetic to Singer, suggesting he is the one that had it out for Herb at the Fox theater.

I think it was good for you to get out of there. What you are doing now is far better, although it is a shame that SAIAT had to close. TREO wins. Community loses. I like the song Cigar Man posted.

Your "tipping point" piece is really quite thought provoking. I wish more would have added their thoughts. I wonder if what protects Bush and what protects Snell from any accountability is the same, or if it is different.

In front of everyone, they do what they do and get away scot free.

I am not a tipper or in the SG. Thank God.

4/12/2008 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no question that Hein has tipped O'Dell off to stories when it suits him, when he wants someone thrown under the bus.

It does explain how O'Dell failed to trace the Arena snafu back to Hein, although Singer's gratuitous behavior was a story in its own right. Hein positions himself as the protector of the taxpayer by saying it's time to rethink the arena plan, maybe go back and renovate the crappy existing arena.

I don't really agree that Hein skates on this, though, or gets off "scot free". Most people take about a nanosecond to lay this fiasco at his door, even if it's Rich Singer who is committing the overt egregious acts. There aren't any stories related to Rio Nuevo that don't put Hein in a bad light in some way.

The idea that O'Dell is Hein's shill explains O'Dell's failure to do a major investigative piece detailing the squandering of the Rio Nuevo money. A cub reporter could do a decent job with that one, so fertile is the soil.

Hein is a paradox. It could be argued persuasively that he is seeking to control everything, but it could also be argued convincingly that he is trying to off-load as much responsibility as possible so that the blame is that much easier to off-load as well.

Who knows what deal Hein really wants with the hotel, but it's obvious that Singer wants the Sheraton group that he steered the selection committee into recommending. He wants the hotel and convention center all connected so that it would all be part of his little empire. Anyone who has spent five minutes with him at any point in the last five years picks up on that.

4/12/2008 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Previous Anonymous, you seem to know a lot about the situation with Hein. Didn't he bring some hotshot from Marana in to be his assistant, Jared something?

Why don't we ever hear about him, or is he some kind of hatchet man?

4/12/2008 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

I guess it's up to Jim Nintzel and the Tucson Weekly to do the digging. Ain't going to be "The Investigators" on Channel 4!
Or maybe New Times can become interested.

4/13/2008 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jaret Barr is in the paper a lot. Under any article you see about the hotel going up. I don't think you will find him to be hiding in the shadows or anything stealthy about what his role is, at least as reported. The paper does say that he was involved in the negotiations or helped lead them. Just a fact check there.

I want you all to think about something. Why was Hein selected...and particularly in the manner that he was selected? Ask that question again, as it was asked a bit at the time, but this time dig a bit more.

The predominantly stated reason he was selected was that he was the best candidate, that they did not need to look at the 50+ other candidates that had applied, and that he was a known quantity and knows Tucson. He was also city manager in Marana and was very well known among the business and development industries in town. He "knew the area".

Take a look again at the stories and remind yourselves about the special meeting that occurred in the backroom at McMahon's Steakhouse. It was reported.

Now think a bit about the discussion we are having now about Supergroups.

There was a lot of background into how he was selected and how the process was stopped to select him.

Is there conspiracy here? I don't know. But can we raise real questions when talking about the deals downtown...sure.

4/14/2008 12:38 PM  

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