October 11, 2006 - One Oro Valley councilman has started a monthly newsletter in pursuit of getting his voice heard on town government issues.
Terry Parish, a Pima County deputy sheriff, e-mailed "The Parish Perspective," complete with Oro Valley logos and photos, on Sept. 29, hoping to inform citizens who don't go to the council meetings, he said.
"I've been talking about doing it for about a year," Parish said. "It was suggested to me by some citizens."
The EXPLORER and the Arizona Daily Star cover the Oro Valley council, but Parish said his perspective is different, and he wants it to be heard.
The newsletter came out one day after Parish called the EXPLORER complaining about an article on the proposed turnover of the Oro Valley library to Pima County. Parish said Oro Valley's library does not have the same pornography policy as Pima County, as the article stated.
Mary Hartz-Musgrave, director of the Oro Valley library, said computer users ages 18 and older may view pornography on library computers. A computer log-on system prevents children under 18 from doing so. The county follows the same policy.
In his newsletter, Parish wrote a "Library Q&A," addressing the pornography policy first.
"I believe Pima County has a policy that currently endangers children and encourages pedophilia," Parish wrote. "Pima County took the extra step to facilitate this viewing of pornography by adding privacy screens on the computers."
Parish said this makes it harder for parents to watch what is going on near their kids.
"I am an Evangelical Christian and my beliefs will not allow me to ever vote to allow this policy in the community I am sworn to protect."
The newsletter also is designed to keep citizens abreast on upcoming agenda items, Parish said.
This month's copy included a section titled, "Upcoming subjects that deserve our attention." It included town revenue sources, library control and funding, zoning code regarding church signage, zoning code regarding church locations, environmental sensitive land ordinance, state trust land planning and the Naranja Town Site.
Parish said that so far his work has been well received.
"I've gotten several people that were appreciative of it," Parish said. "Some 'great jobs' and so forth."
The e-mail went out to about 28 people, including other council members and town staff who regularly attend the meetings.
Parish said he'd love to send it out to hundreds or thousands of people, but said he doesn't know if that's realistic.
"I'll just cater to those that are interested," he said. "I'm not making any money, just get as much information out as I can."
There are no costs associated with the newsletter and Parish does all the work himself from his computer, he said.
No other Oro Valley council members send out newsletters, but Parish said Nina Trasoff, a Tucson councilwoman, does.
But Trasoff's assistant Carol Soike said Trasoff occasionally sends out brief e-mail updates about news or events in Ward 6, but doesn't author newsletters.
Mayor Paul Loomis said the council discussed newsletters as a way to inform the public at its retreat in July.
"And that, in turn, evolved into, 'My message may not be the same as your message,' so that evolved into discussions of individual blogs and newsletters," Loomis said. "There is certainly nothing out there that prevents us from trying to use other alternatives to get our message out."
Loomis said he knows of officials in other cities and towns that do it. And he said he used to write a newspaper column called "From the Desk of the Mayor" for a monthly publication, though it wasn't near the length of Parish's three-and-one-half page report.
Councilwoman Helen Dankwerth said she thinks Parish wanted to inform people of where he stands on current issues, and he did so in an appropriate way.
"I think he did this to share his opinions on issues important to the people and offer information and explain his stance," Dankwerth said. "But if you're asking me if I will do it, the answer is 'no.'"