Letters to the editor published in the February 24, 2010, edition of The Explorer.
Don't let few chart course for the many
The election season is upon us once again here in Oro Valley, and we must decide if we are better off now than we were four years ago.
If the answer is "no," which most of us think, then we must take this election very seriously as it could have terrible ramifications for all of us, but especially for those of us living through these hard times on a fixed income or unemployed with no ability to further enrich our limited resources.
Once again I would ask that the people of Oro Valley pay close attention to the candidates that the special interests in this area like Tucson Association of Realtors and the Chamber of Commerce have endorsed to do their bidding for them if they are elected, and which candidates are running a "grass roots" campaign financing themselves and will not be obligated to kowtow to the special interests, but rather to you, the people of Oro Valley.
I am all for attracting new viable businesses to this area, but I feel that too often what is good for business is damaging to the people in general, and it is the primary responsibility of those in government to look out for the best interests of the people first and business second.
I would also ask that all candidates running in this election be required to immediately turn over all information regarding their campaign finances and who is contributing to their campaigns, with dollar amounts listed and published in The Explorer for all to see. This is a matter of public record and should be transparent to the public at large, especially if the money is coming from special interest groups.
Finally, and most importantly, let your voice be heard and please vote. Don't let the few chart the course for the many.
David Berry, Oro Valley
Corporations are simply collections of individuals
Thank you for printing the opinion piece by the Rev. Gerry Strattemeier. His point of view is no doubt shared by many who are questioning the recent Supreme Court decision on so-called corporate speech during political campaigns.
The decision by the court is lengthy, but I think the reasoning is sound. Rev. Strattemeier's main theme is that a corporation is not a human being, a point he makes with much fine and flowing language. By that same token, it must also be true that a corporation cannot speak, as it has no larynx, and it cannot pen an opinion, as it has no facility for thought. So what's the trouble?
In fact, a corporation is a collection of human beings, and exists to benefit its shareholders, employees and customers. While many think of a corporation as a global behemoth with vast wealth, they come in all sizes, sometimes only one or two middle-class people. When a corporation speaks or acts, it is the human beings entrusted with its success who speak or act.
For example, Strattemeier suggests that a corporation has no charity, but many corporate entities have given of their own corporate treasure to humanitarian needs, most recently through company-matched contributions of employees to Haitian disaster relief. The fact is that the court saw no reason why a collective of Americans gathered in common cause cannot use the resources of the collective for political speech, and if this logic abides for non-profits, political parties, families, and other collectives, then why not for a corporation?
People assemble into collectives for mutual benefit. Shall we decide the mutual benefits sought by the shareholders, employees, and customers of a corporation are not to be mentioned during a political campaign, whilst all other collectives may facilitate the speech of their members?
The two most cogent concerns I have heard about this ruling are first, that corporations whose concerns are mainly foreign might abuse its provisions, and secondly, that legislators or government executives might be corrupt enough to sell power to corporate interests. Those might be problems worth solving, but it seems to me that preventing American corporations from funding political speech would be an incorrect solution.
Pete Francis, Oro Valley
With tax pose, OV opting for more building
Before voting, I hope Oro Valley voters will seriously consider the candidates' positions on a property tax.
Almost everyone agrees that we enjoy good public services in our town and wants to keep it that way. So the question is how to continue to fund those services.
In the past as it grew rapidly, Oro Valley was funded primarily on growth via building permits. Now with buildable space running out, the town is turning more toward sales tax as a major revenue source.
Both of these revenue sources depend on ever-increasing development of housing and shopping areas. Yet as shown in many surveys, the citizens of Oro Valley highly value our beautiful views and open spaces.
By refusing to even consider a property tax, we are deciding that we must continue to fill more open space with homes and shopping centers. And because each of these activities (building and shopping) decline during recessions, we are choosing a boom and bust cycle of revenue generation. When times are good the town will prosper; when times are bad, we will not have enough revenue and will have to make significant cuts to town services.
No one likes to pay taxes, but in order to provide a more stable source of funding that is not subject to economic downturns and does not require filling every acre of our beautiful desert with homes and commercial properties, we must be willing to at least consider a property tax.
Sally Clement, Oro Valley
OV candidate Snider a true public servant
Mary Snider, a candidate for Oro Valley Town Council, is someone I got to know quite well when I was an assistant principal at Ironwood Ridge High School.
There was no "grad night" for seniors at that school (or Canyon del Oro HS) until Mary started the Project Graduation group in Oro Valley. For the last several years, seniors at both schools have enjoyed a safe, fun and memorable evening on their campuses.
Mary mobilized dozens of volunteers and succeeded in getting contributions from many Oro Valley businesses and the town council in support of these events. She also included students themselves in the planning and worked with Amphi administrators on scheduling the use of the gymnasiums and other facilities at both sites. Mary has also offered her kind assistance to parents at the high school I now serve as a principal as they plan a grad night for the Class of 2010.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mary's pragmatism, work ethic and ability to work with people from all walks of life will help to make her an outstanding member of the Oro Valley Town Council. She has already proven that she is a true public servant.
Rex Scott, Tucson
MUSD voters deserve more on override effects
On March 9th, Marana School District voters will vote on whether or not to raise a previous voter-authorized override from 10 percent to 15 percent.
In the voter pamphlet furnished us is a statement giving the rationale for this request. Besides blaming reduced state funding and lower enrollments, three points are given to support the increased override. They are: 1) appropriate class sizes; 2) full day kindergarten; 3) programs that support student success.
Sorry folks, if you want more money, the voters deserve more specifics. What will be the actual effects, particularly to the students, of either a pass or fail of this measure? We are talking about $10 million to $15 million of additional taxes over the next several years.
Good economic times or bad, a school administration should be able to quantify additional requests for tax monies. Is the Marana School District up to doing its job?
Tom Vana, Marana
This election most crucial ever for town
As a longtime Oro Valley resident and property owner, I believe that the current Oro Valley election is the most critical in the town's short history.
We will be electing a mayor and three council candidates – a majority of the seven council positions. Oro Valley has had a dismal turnout of our registered voters over the years, and I urge all registered voters to perform their civic duty and vote for the candidates of their choice.
With revenues plummeting, budgets and personnel shrinking and leadership lacking, we must make our voices heard – if we don't, shame on us all. I along with many organizations, including the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce, have endorsed Satish Hiremath for mayor and Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters for town council.
We must have a mayor and council who can work together for the betterment and survival of the town. Please vote for your candidates of choice when your ballot arrives in the mail.
Gregg Forszt, Oro Valley
Kunisch's presence will be missed
Last Wednesday night, Councilman Al Kunisch submitted his resignation. We know this was a difficult decision for Councilman Kunisch.
We want to thank Councilman Kunisch for all he has done for the community. His presence on the council will be greatly missed.
Since being elected to the council in 2006, Al has demonstrated leadership and a genuine concern for all the citizens. He was not run by any special interest group. He did his homework on the issues and really listened to the people of Oro Valley. He has stood up to the continued criticism of his staunch support of our fine police department and Chief Danny Sharp.
Mr. Kunisch has been involved in the Oro Valley community for over 10 years because of a lifelong passion for public safety. Al knew the value of creating and keeping safe neighborhoods was a key to a vibrant community that others would want to move to and enjoy. He worked on a number of projects such as establishing Neighborhood Watch groups.
Al was instrumental in key projects on the Historic Preservation Committee and the Land Conservation Committee that included Hohokam Preservation, Steam Pump Ranch and Kelly Ranch projects.
One of the many things that Al did in the Maravilla neighborhood was to obtain the road closure on Hidden Springs and Klinger Canyon. He had noticed that cars were using the neighborhood as a thoroughfare with some drivers were going about 60 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. This was clearly a very unsafe condition for everyone. Through Al's and Keith Smith's tireless efforts, this dangerous road condition was corrected and the area made safer for all our residents who use the park.
We send special thanks to Pam for all the support she gave to Al over the years and all the efforts she made to make Oro Valley a better place to live.
We are proud to know Al and Pam as very good friends and neighbors. God's blessings to both of you.
Thank you, Councilman Kunisch for your service to the Town of Oro Valley.
Jill Anderson, Mary Caswell, Linda Shatto
Hiremath offers a bright opportunity, ex-resident says
As a former resident of Oro Valley and graduate of Canyon Del Oro High School (1992), I have a vested interest in how your mayoral race shapes up on March 9. I still have family in Oro Valley, and I want your community to succeed and prosper.
After living in Michigan for eight years, I have seen my fair share of leadership failures that have led to our current state of unemployment and hardship. Michigan could only be so lucky to have a mayoral candidate as trustworthy and dedicated as Satish Hiremath. You have been given a bright opportunity.
I spent considerable time with Satish on the tennis courts in the mid-1990s. His background as a member of the University of Michigan men's tennis team and his ability to coach were of tremendous value to me. He sacrificed time and effort in helping me improve, and never charged me a dime. He told me, once, that all that really mattered to him was how positively he impacted the lives of others. It doesn't surprise me, now, that he has chosen to serve all of Oro Valley's citizens' best interests.
While coaching me, he forced me to look in the mirror and assess how to do things better, even if it meant tweaking what I thought was already good enough. Government can tend to think it is doing "good enough," but that's not how Satish operates, and he won't take your trust for granted.
Voters today are frustrated, and rightly so — from heavy tax burdens to high unemployment. You deserve new leaders who can affect their influence on the voter's behalf.
Satish understands the small business owner, as he is a successful business owner himself, and he understands the needs of local families, as a father of three children. He will expect excellence, and yet, he'll keep a steady sense of humor along with his structured approach. I even believe his strongest opponents will respect his ability and will gladly work alongside him, once elected.
Good luck, Oro Valley. Michigan envies you.
Andy Caldwell, Traverse City, Mich.
No party is perfect; it's lesser of evils
Politics is essentially about picking the lesser of two evils. No party is perfect, be it main stream or third party.
Reality is that two major parties hold a lock on the U.S. political system and will continue indefinitely. Independents rarely get elected. So while Don Hartmann may lament what the parties have become, they are what they are. Not accepting that, and petulantly "teaching the party a lesson" by embracing a third party only serves to ensure that the other candidate (and her party's policies) wins.
I can relate to Hartmann's frustration in that there is no party that representing my beliefs. However I have concluded that Republicans in general come closest, not by what they stand for, but by what they don't, and that almost unanimously Democrats are a very dangerous party.
I've gone from a Democrat to a Republican to an independent, and back to a Republican. During my frustration-with-Republicans phase I voted for Ross Perot. Most of those voters were disaffected Republicans and conservative independents. The result was wasted votes resulting in Bill Clinton as president, the third worst president in modern times (Carter is the worst followed by LBJ). But I persisted as an independent.
As the new millennium dawned I became increasingly alarmed at the hatred and vitriol spewed by the Democrats, and even more alarmed by their increasingly radical fascist agenda of enslavement. Yet I persisted in not recognizing reality until November 2008.
After the last election I was so horrified at what had happened I registered as a Republican and am now actively working to elect Republican candidates at all levels.
Why? Simply because while the Republicans are far from perfect and many of their planks annoy me, they are infinitely preferable to the alternative, which is continued expansion of radical fascism.
Emil Franzi is absolutely correct. The correct-thinking independents need to awaken, look around, forget idealism, and do everything they can to defeat Democrats. Our national survival depends upon it. We can worry later about ideological purity. It doesn't exist. Never has and never will. Get over it.
Rick Cunnington, Oro Valley
Just who is represented by GOP's leader?
"Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money," Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told college students at the University of Arkansas.
Tell that to the unemployed. Most citizens in the Tucson area probably can't relate to Steele's comment. Those of modest means or less (and that's most of us) can look in the real estate ads to see what million dollar homes look like and we can only imagine what people earning a million a year actually do with it – once they've bought that dream house.
So who does Michael Steele represent? Is it the well-rewarded who invest wisely, creating jobs for others, who help other less fortunate Americans? Is it the good citizens who send charitable donations to Haiti and pay their taxes, reasonably secure in the knowledge that it will go toward the greater good? Hardly.
No, the nonchalant Mr. Steele represents reverse Robin Hoods – those who appeal to the disaffected with words of fear while picking their pockets, who downsize our work force to squeeze out more profit for their cronies on top, who send contributions to the lobbyists on K Street ensuring that our public servants represent the fat cats, who demonstrate at public gatherings, waving fearful signs and unsightly caricatures of our President while shouting about socialists and Nazi-ism, and those who declare that our government is our enemy.
Are such self-proclaimed "patriots" proof that this is democracy, or has democracy gone dangerously sour?
Steele's followers are the ones who vote against health care but are unable to explain why. They complain that big government is being thrust upon them while being the first to insist that we have the strongest armed forces in the world. They hate all taxes.
Where do they think the wherewithal to pay for protection of the strongest country comes from? And how do we remain so strong if they ask for a government so small they can drown it in a bathtub?
Is that any way to influence the young and impressionable?
Mr. Steele, you have some explaining to do.
Kathy Pastryk, Oro Valley