Steven Blomquist, the Tortolitas foothills resident consumed by a battle with the Town of Marana and Saguaro Ranch developer Stephen Phinny over an abandoned easement, purchased 22 TV spots for some $3,000 on a Tucson television station last week to make his case.
"That's how passionately we feel we've been wronged by this government," said Blomquist, who has a pending Marana criminal complaint against him for trespassing and disorderly conduct, and who has filed a civil suit with his wife Sharyl Cummings over Marana's abandonment of an easement into the Tortolitas.
Blomquist purchased the ads on KGUN-TV, a station he does not receive at his home.
"It's a direct consequence of your wrongful actions," Blomquist told the Marana Town council last Tuesday, when he addressed the governing board for the second time in the last six weeks.
Blomquist offered to show the commercial to council. Before the meeting, he'd been told he would not be able to do so, but he asked again during the session. "Someone help me," Blomquist said.
"I don't think so," Mayor Ed Honea responded. In its draft minutes, the council called the request "inappropriate to the call to the public." Each speaker is given up to three minutes to address the town council, and Honea told Blomquist "you've got one minute."
In his prepared remarks, Blomquist said he lives outside the town limits, in "a community that existed long before Marana showed up; in an area Marana specifically excluded from annexation.
"You came to our community, you are affecting our lives, and you have a responsibility to consider us, annexed or not," he said.
Blomquist criticized council members Jon Post, Patti Comerford, Herb Kai and Carol McGorray for their Feb. 3, 2009 vote to abandon the public easement. "With that vote, not one of you showed any courage, honesty or integrity," Blomquist said.
He has since been arrested four times for trespassing on the easement. Three of those charges were dismissed by an Oro Valley magistrate. The current charge, stemming from a Nov. 13 arrest at McClintock's restaurant in Saguaro Ranch, is being transferred to a Pima County court by the Town of Marana.
"Did you honestly think we would just go away when you refused to protect our rights?" Blomquist said. "Did you honestly think throwing me in jail would stop us from wanting to protect the public's access rights in the Tortolita Mountain community that's existed for generations? If that's true, then you no longer deserve the respect that accompanies your elected office. Is no one among you willing to represent right and wrong?
"It's too late for you to undo your wrongful actions," Blomquist said. "But it's not too late for you to admit your mistakes and to try to make amends for what this government has allowed to happen. That takes real leadership, it takes a big person. Characteristics this governing body has not exhibited."
Blomquist said he has "no issues" with members of the Marana Police Department, who arrested him. He does name police officers in his civil claim. "I have always been treated respectfully by you, and I have responded in kind. For all of Marana's faults the men and women on the street with Marana PD rank with the best, when they follow the law and not unlawful order."
In the municipal complex lobby after the meeting, Blomquist offered to show the commercial on a laptop computer.
Councilman Post took Blomquist up on the offer. The commercial was difficult to see and hear, but it has footage of Blomquist in the Tortolitas, holding a sign protesting the abandonment, being arrested at McClintock's, and having an argument at a council meeting with Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler.
Post watched the commercial and extended his hand. "I respect you for standing up for what you believe in," Post said.