Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reality Slams Cloth

Tucson, Arizona. Daniel Scarpinato of the Arizona Daily Star has an article today that points to the strong likelihood that the city of Tucson is going to lose its most lucrative TIF funding for Rio Nuevo, a project that was supposed to lead, starting eight years ago, to a variety of attractive downtown enhancement projects. Those familiar with this blog know that it dug into Rio Nuevo last year with a TIF for TAT series that started here and continued here. The series drew quite a bit of readership. A few months later, Rob O'Dell of the Star ran an article that sure looked familiar, but I was not involved, I promise.

I've long since moved on, and odds are high I leave Tucson permanently within the next year. However, it was interesting to read Daniel's piece that just dripped with what I saw years ago, the world of the Cloth, a set of overpaid suits that attend luncheons and flatter each other while accomplishing nothing, and I mean NOTHING, for the citizens of this town. Worse, they attack any efforts they perceive as competing or in any way contrasting with their own lack of results. Local cloth includes TREO, our do less than zero economic development organization, Downtown Tucson Partnership, a group that used to do something under a different name, but since it did something, its leader and staff were replaced by those who know better than to accomplish a result, and MTCVB, a group that promotes tourism.

Sadly, these do nothing clowns and the millions they squander can damage noble and worthwhile efforts like Science Foundation Arizona, which was recently lumped into the same crowd as TREO by state representative Frank Antoneri. Groups that actually produce something can find themselves entangled with the trash and tossed out. In the world of cloth, notions like "deserve" and "merit" and "results" are shaped more by self-flattering fraud than facts.

Well, it's interesting to watch how long a total sham can fool its funders. Rio Nuevo had a pretty good run, snarfing perhaps $100 million to stuff the suits of its pals to pretend to conduct studies and attend luncheons, not a bad take over eight years, but it appears Rio Nuevo's time is running out. The folks in Phoenix aren't particularly impressed with the small stack of blueprints and obsolete stacks of paper.

Remember when TREO flew in Cloth God Richard Florida? For $50 grand of taxpayer money, the snake oil swindler came into town and told us we needed more artists and gay bohemians to boost our creative class. I don't have the slightest problem with gay bohemians, but anyone that talks about them as the drivers of Tucson's economy should consider a degree in Cloth. Last I heard, one obtains such credentials at the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.

Rio Nuevo appears slated for termination. I wonder how long TREO and DTP can continue to swill at the trough. Over a quarter million dollars for a blueprint no one reads. Fifty grand for a one hour con artist that left us with what?

A bill.

See what I mean?


Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

The Tucson Cloth, in partnership with the Phoenix Cloth, are holding a press conference at UA today to discuss some partnership to try to lure California companies to Arizona.
Huh? Wasn't this tried in the 80s and the 90s, to no avail?

2/12/2009 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

x4mr, glad to see you back on local issues. Honestly, I haven't been checking this blog as religiously as I used to, but with the article in the Star today, I figured that might nudge you into posting something on the likely demise of Rio Nuevo.

As scary as the Republicans in the Legislature can be, it was amusing reading about them slamming Shelko and Lyons.

The City of Tucson has been in total denial on this threat from the Legislature. They are like a defendant who should be taking a plea bargain but arrogantly and foolishly insists on a jury trial to prove his innocence.

The City needs a total house-cleaning.
Hein, Barr, Okoye, Shelko, Trasoff, Walkup, Romero. All must go.

And their enablers: Hecker, Lynn, Lyons, etc.

Why did Frank Abeyta quit as City Finance Director on January 30 with no notice? And why did he address his resignation letter to Deputy City Manager Mike Letcher and not Mike Hein. I'll bet there is an interesting story yet to be told.

2/12/2009 8:23 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

The Citizen has an article about the DTP "overpaid suit" Lyons that reads just like the "cloth," i.e. rhetoric of no substance.

Did Lyons really hire the wife of Nina Trasoff's chief of staff, C.T. Revere? If so, then he fired the prior Executive Director of the group only to replace him with the spouse of a city council member's right hand guy.


I'll bet some people are having affairs, but I don't want to turn x4mr's blog into Peyton Place.

2/12/2009 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that's what Lyons did. And the word from La Placita is that the wife of Nina's chief of staff collects a $60,000 salary and only has to work 4 days a week.

The really galling part of that fluff interview with Lyons is where Lyons predicts that the Legislature won't kill Rio Nuevo, and that we need Tucson business people to rally the troops and tell the Legislature how important Rio Nuevo is for Tucson.

Excuse me?! That's exactly what happened almost three years ago, when Roger Karber rallied 35 Tucson business leaders to meet with the Senate leadership to secure the passage of the bill extending the TIF to 2025. The bill only passed because just enough Republican senators who didn't trust the Tucson City Council were persuaded that there was actual private-sector participation with Rio Nuevo.

Then, these same people asked the city to adopt a plan for investing the TIF that would emphasize commercial development early, so as to maximize the TIF earned in downtown.

Well, we can see what happened, and now Hein and Trasoff's Enablers at the Downtown Tucson Partnership are asking Tucson business people to beg the Legislature to save them. Sorry, too bad. Too late.

What, you think Bruce Ash is going to make that pitch again? Or Roger Karber, after Hein and Trasoff screwed him over?

And now, according to another Teya Vitu fluff piece on Glenn Lyons from this week, it has been announced that the city is circumventing its procurement process to give Lyons and the Partnership a no-bid deal to "manage" the ParkWise department. This is just another way to shovel public money to the DTP.

In December, the Citizen reported that the ParkWise Commission voted to require that an RFP process be used to give other organizations or companies an opportunity to bid on the contract. Teya, where is your follow-up?

2/12/2009 10:56 PM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

NPR had a short story on today (at 5:59 AM) about Colorado wooing California businesses. They're starting with a Valentine theme, kinda schlocky, but better than anything TREO Cloth could come up with. And why do they have to go -- not only out of town and out of state -- but OUT OF THE US!!!! to find a marketing firm.
What a rip off.

2/13/2009 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Observer, are you referring to Cara Rene? Former Tuc Citizen editor?

2/13/2009 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

It's possible I don't have the name exactly right. I don't know the woman. But yes, she was at either the Star or the Citizen, and she lost that job (not sure how), so Lyons fired the Alliance guy (good guy, uh, something Donovan or Donovan something?) so he could hire Trasoff's pal.

Anon is right. The woman gets $60,000 and doesn't have to do jack. Just like x4mr says, these people do NOTHING. It is pure cronyism and fraud.

2/13/2009 1:03 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Hard times have a way of bringing at least a few of the most egregious cases of misuse of public funds into the spotlight.

It is looking bad for Rio Nuevo but who can say they don't deserve to get axed?

I don't understand this Trasoff woman. When she was running for City council, she kept yapping about how Tucson should try to be like Portland, Oregon. Like it was feasible that we could bulldoze the city and start over. Anyhow, what is her agenda? Does anyone know?

2/13/2009 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Scarlett letter said...

It was Don Durband, very competent. He was treated like Herb Stratford by the Cloth.
Yes, Cara Rene was very visible for the First Night thing they ran downtown.
All very, very intriguing...
Citizen has a story today that Trasoff is announcing Monday for re-election. That should start the howling on the comments sections!

2/13/2009 2:44 PM  
Blogger Policon said...

x4mr- You're right about Richard Florida. His books praised Tucson as a mecca of creativity; now, his article featured on the March 2009 cover of The Atlantic slams communities like ours. "Sadly, and unjustly, the places likely to suffer most from the crash.. newer, shallow-rooted Sun Belt communities whose recent booms have been fueled in part by real-estate speculation, overdevelopment, and ficticious housing wealth.

Rio Nuevo and its TIF funding turned out to be as opaque and corrupt as the legislature feared, thanks to city manager Mike Hein's corrupt ways and Nina Trasoff's arrogance and incompetence.

The Obama promises of change and transparency seem eerily suspicous now that Pelosi-Reid's stimulus package has passed in the dead of night with publication to occur only after the vote. We're seeing a national "rio nuevo" being birthed.

Has your Obama-adoration been tested in any way yet?

To where will you most likely be moving?

2/13/2009 8:59 PM  
Blogger Policon said...

x4mr- Let me be more specific about my Obama question. For instance, are you able to be objective enough yet to question Obama's choice of the tax cheater, Timothy Geitner as Treasury secretary, and in turn Geitner's immediate hiring of the former chief lobbyist for Goldman Sachs as Geitner's chief of staff? Why couldn't Obama tell him "NO" after just outlining his no-lobbyists policy?

You expressed your opinion on January 21 that Obama will rank as one of our most succesful presidents. Having gone on record thusly, will you probably become an apologist now for gaffs like Geitner, and Obama's allowing the critical stimulus bill to be anything but a bipartisan effort? Is cow towing to Pelosi and Reid (in their unfettered assemblage of the unpublished bill) the mark of a great president, or do you suppose he'll veto it and send it back for a more productive-jobs focus?

2/13/2009 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

The problem with the Richard Florida paradigm as it relates to a place like Tucson is that you can't sustain a supportive environment for the "Creative Class" if you don't provide the basics as a community--public safety, civic pride, good schools, an environment that supports entrepreneurship, and create a big enough tax base to go beyond the basic public services. You don't attract and retain the Creative Class, however you define it, unless you have decent-paying jobs. You can't ask the Creative Class to choose Tucson over Seattle and Boston when they are forced to work at call centers for $11 an hour.

Tucson's leaders have failed to support business development and the growth of a tax base that pays for police, fire, basic services, schools, etc. They have failed to properly manage Rio Nuevo, which would have created the only walkably urban place in Tucson. The Creative Class could at least have found a home at a vibrant, walkable downtown Tucson.

Interestingly, according to a recent Citizen article, 4th Avenue businesses have not been hit much by the recession. Why is this interesting? Because the City of Tucson pretty much leaves 4th Avenue alone. It's not part of the Rio Nuevo district. It's not part of the Downtown Tucson/Hein/Trasoff Partnership. 4th Avenue merchants should be thankful that the city government treats it like an unwanted stepchild.

2/13/2009 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liza, Nina Trasoff's agenda is the promotion of Nina Trasoff.

They don't call her Nina the Narcissist for nothing.

2/13/2009 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yes, it was Cara Rene that Observer was talking about.

Not sure what she does those four days each week that she works. The website ( says that she is the VP of Community Development.

I've heard that the merchants don't see her or Glenn Lyons.

2/13/2009 11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you google "Glenn Lyons, University of Calgary", the first entry that comes up tells you that for $350, students could learn about real estate development from Glenn Lyons.

The course was taught on 2 weekdays in December, plus a Saturday.

In Calgary. As in Alberta, Canada. NOT through teleconference linked from Tucson, where Lyons is paid $130,000 a year to be the savior of downtown Tucson.

I hope he used vacation days for that.

2/13/2009 11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets start a lottery to guess how many leases will not be renewed downtown in the next 3 years. The renewal will have no 'gentes'!

2/14/2009 3:54 AM  
Blogger Policon said...

Wait till you see Rob O'Dell's latest blockbuster in the Sunday Star! What stunning arrogance by Jaret Barr, Shawna Dralle, and the dimwitted Nina Trasoff. For thirty years, every single person in the bond industry has known that only desperate or ignorant municipalities issue bonds in December rather than January.

Nina, if you only had a modicum of objectivity in your body, you would have asked around.. called even one single stock broker for a second opinion. You seriously thought no one would ever learn that you backed the bonds with our general fund. You might want to issue a quick apology to the civil servants you've screwed.

2/15/2009 12:18 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Front page story in Sunday Daily Star on Rio Nuevo bond issuance may have a direct tie to Frank Abeyta's demise.

2/15/2009 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

More regarding Frank Abeyta:

2/16/2009 1:33 PM  

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