Councilman Zinkin responds to Hiremath - The Explorer: Northwest Chatter

Councilman Zinkin responds to Hiremath

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Posted: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 4:00 am | Updated: 1:26 pm, Fri Jan 3, 2014.

It was with disappointment and sadness that I read the attack on me by the mayor in last week’s Explorer.  It was filled with hearsay, innuendo, inaccuracies, and twisted “facts.” Considering that he won his election for mayor against me by a mere 30 votes, there was a time I hoped that we might be able to work together.   After all, I was elected to council by a substantial margin.  Unfortunately, he is now using his position in an unprecedented public effort to engage in character assassination to enhance his position as a viable candidate for re-election.

So, I will respond to his article factually:

Sexual harassment is a crime.  In 30 years in government service, I was never accused, let alone convicted, of sexual harassment, nor have I been now.  The people making these allegations are the same people alleging that I was fired as an air traffic controller (despite evidence I have provided to the contrary) and that I use inappropriate language at the town hall.  All this is devoid of truth, and I can only hope the citizens of Oro Valley can see through these repeated attempts to defame my character.

I attempted to place OVPD supervision under the town manager, like over 95 percent of all other cities and towns in the nation.  That idea was rejected by a council majority (all of whom were endorsed by the OVPOA.)  Since the OVPD currently reports to the council, I attempted OVPD oversight and have been attacked by the OVPOA and the Mayor, who carries an OVPOA endorsement.

I did mention during a phone conversation with the police union that if an analysis showed that the OVPD needed to be “right-sized,” nobody would be fired.  The junior lieutenant would simply be made a sergeant.....the junior sergeant an officer.  It was unknown to me at the time that the junior lieutenant is a female.  My statement was not “anti-female,” nor an attempt to “intimidate” anyone.

The so-called “hit and run” accident was thoroughly investigated by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and no charges were filed.  It was not a hit and run.  In fact, the person who offered to fix my car was the brother of the owner of the subject vehicle that was not damaged.

It’s true that I inquired about how much money the OVPD spent to escort the Prescott Fire Fighters.  I have yet to receive an answer.  Apparently, it’s easier to attack my alleged “insensitivity” than answer two simple questions:  “How much did it cost and how did it enhance the safety of Oro Valley residents?”  I have also asked the OVPD how much the take-home car policy costs the citizens.  I don’t see this as anti-police, but pro-accountability.  If the OVPD can justify such expenses in terms of enhanced safety, then the expenditures are worthwhile.  I still don’t have answers, only attacks.

The mayor conveniently did not mention that the attorney general is currently investigating two open meeting law violations against him, or disclose from whom he has accepted money.  When I campaigned, I said the only endorsements I wanted were from citizens.  I accepted no endorsements or money from builders, developers, or PAC’s representing special interests.  The mayor accepted then (and does to this day) money and endorsements from such organizations.

This recall is a veiled attempt to shore up the mayor’s council majority (all of whom are up for re-election in 2014).

These special interests and the mayor have underestimated the intelligence of Oro Valley voters, and I encourage readers to consider the motivations of those behind these relentless, antagonistic  attacks.  Let’s move forward in 2014 and together celebrate our town - Oro Valley.

 

(Editor’s Note: Mike Zinkin is a member of the Oro Valley Town Council. The opinions expressed in the above column are Mr. Zinkin’s and do not necessarily reflect those of The Explorer.)

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Welcome to the discussion.

14 comments:

  • phemmert posted at 11:29 am on Wed, Jan 8, 2014.

    phemmert Posts: 8

    Don, the reality is that anyone can choose a random name in the phone book, dig up information about that person, and trump up events and statements to make it appear that person to be the anti-Christ. That is precisely what's going on here, and it's shameful. Doesn't the fact that Mayor Hiremath and Mr. Zinkin are obvious political opponents and disagree on virtually every major issue ring alarm bells? Do you think it's appropriate at all that a mayor should even be choosing sides in a recall effort? It seems to me the ethical and proper position, as the mayor, would be to remain neutral, stand at arm's length, and let the process function without taking sides. Don't you think, because of the political differences, Mayor Hiremath is biased? Do you trust everything someone tells you, or do you prefer to ascertain the facts and arrive at your own conclusions based on those facts? Finally, we voters must be allowed the opportunity to judge the facts, and ascertain whether these alleged "behaviors" are actually worthy of a recall. Have we been afforded that? No. Voters are forced to rely on assertions by people who are literally the foxes guarding the hen house. Again, more alarm bells are ringing.

    It's no secret that Mayor Hiremath has his own history with regard to how he interacts with others. Personally, I see that as a failure in leadership, but not worth trying to recall him.

    No one is perfect. But stepping back and examining the big picture, including the involvement of the OVPD union leadership, it's apparent that "they" wish Mr. Zinkin to go away. This is junkyard politics, and demeaning to the Mayor's office, and the citizens he represents.

    I would also say be prepared for what you might not be wishing for, should a recall be successful. The rule of unintended consequences can be inconvenient, at the very least.

     
  • Don posted at 6:24 am on Mon, Jan 6, 2014.

    Don Posts: 33

    phemmert.....I respect your right to an opinion and to say that the "allegations are seriously exaggerated" is just that. It is your opinion.

    However the FACTS are that in the documents, there are repeated references to "inappropriate behavior", "hostile work enviornment" and "inappropriate language" . In addition Councilman Zinkin apologized to Mayor Hiremath and stated that he needed to "watch what comes out of my mouth". Councilman Zinkin has NEVER denied any of these charges. His response was that he has "never been charged". These are not opinions, but quotes from the documents you state you have read.

    This matter is not about political differenced or management of the Police department, It is about the conduct, repeated conduct, of Zinkin.

    And we didn't even get to the racist remarks, which stand alone and are a reasonable basis fior a recall....in my opinion.

     
  • vet66 posted at 10:33 am on Sun, Jan 5, 2014.

    vet66 Posts: 18

    Mr. Zinkin lost me when he questioned the cost of sending representatives of our town to assist in the support of the firefighters who lost their lives fighting fires in our state their families and friends. If there is no emergency fund for escorting a funeral cortege, one of our own who has fallen in the line of duty, and patriotic functions in our state then Mr. Zinkin is not doing his job. Additionally, Mr. Zinkin is becoming tiresome and too much in the news when he should be concerned about Oro Valley's budget, health care and pension considerations for city employees and keeping the budget under control. Quit worrying about the Police department and channel your apparent unlimited energies on keeping the debt down and putting surplus money in the rainy day fund, or, horror of horrors, lowering our property tax and services. I voted for you in the past but will not do so again because you are not a team player.

     
  • phemmert posted at 10:22 am on Thu, Jan 2, 2014.

    phemmert Posts: 8

    Bransonbro, as I said, I've read the files myself. I've read various communications between police union leadership and council members. I'm aware of historical efforts to change police department oversight, going back over several years. I'm aware of the back and forth open-meeting violation allegations. I'm quite aware of the David Andrews debacle. When taken in total, it's readily apparent what's going on. Of course, certain people are banking on the hope that voters won't bother searching for the facts, and rely only on innuendo and public mudslinging for the intended effect.

    I suggest you read the files and email threads yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

     
  • phemmert posted at 9:38 am on Thu, Jan 2, 2014.

    phemmert Posts: 8

    I've personally read all of the documents in Mike Zinkin's file - they are public information. It's patently obvious to anyone who looks over the file that these allegations are seriously exaggerated and grossly slanted to try to paint a false picture. Folks, the bottom line is that the Oro Valley Police Department, while comprised of excellent, professional people, is doing what it can to preserve its precious status quo. The number of officers per 1,000 residents is one of the highest in the nation, and wants to increase that number. During the national economic downturn, the OVPD did not take a single penny of cuts, unlike every other Town department. Unlike the vast majority of communities, oversight of the OVPD is shared by sitting council members, each with their own priorities, which simply leads to failed management - a perfect case study of how not to manage an entity that consumes about half of the entire operating budget. It's ridiculous on its face. And now we have the Mayor, who was endorsed by the OVPD during his election, throwing potshots at one of his councilmen, an obvious tit-for-tat that's demeaning to the political process. Let's face reality - Mayor Hiremath is not exactly neutral, is beholden to the OVPD, and rocking their boat is not in his own political self-interest.

    I suggest we knock off the witch hunting and get back to the business of effective governing. This means compromise, intelligent debate, and making the occasional difficult decisions, on behalf of the people of Oro Valley, and not favored Town departments.

     
  • Don posted at 6:12 am on Thu, Jan 2, 2014.

    Don Posts: 33

    Might I suggest that you go to OroValleyTruth.com and click on the recall Zinkin tab. That may help you "know the facts".

     
  • Don posted at 6:09 am on Thu, Jan 2, 2014.

    Don Posts: 33

    John..... I too would like to see the picture you paint. However you must face the reality of the situation and Zinkin has no one to blame but himself. As an administrator the Town simply cannot ignore complaints of sexual harassment. They cannot sit idly by while a Councilman makes racist remarks. If his peers don't address the issue then they 'appear' to be condoning the conduct. Zinkin has, through his mindless comment, made a mockery of this community. He needs to be stifled and in Arizona there is but one was to legally do it.

    It's not politics, it's risk management. With no action there is a lawsuit on our horizon and all of the hard work put into keeping our financial base sound will have neem wasted.

     
  • bransonbro posted at 10:14 pm on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    bransonbro Posts: 2

    Wow phemmert, it seems you have all the scoop on what’s going on with the Town. Let me enlighten you with the facts. You state that the political agenda is driven by a zealously guarded police department. Where are your facts? Zinkin has spent the majority of his time on Council “scrutinizing” the PD and has found nothing of concern…because if he did he would be shouting it from Pusch Ridge. More importantly, you conclude that the Mayor’s facts are clearly unfounded and at least severely distorted due to the “zealously guarded police department.” How is sexual harassment of Town female employees (which there is factual documentation of...just FOI it as many already have) racist comments about Hispanics, criminal behavior and utter disrespect for fallen firefighters related to the police department? You seem to be as obsessed with trying to trash the police as Zinkin! You state that “These allegations ignore the fact that the OVPD union has refused to work with some members of the Town Council…” What “fact“ are you referring to? According to Zinkin, he has had discussions about police staffing with union leadership, discussed demoting current staff and not wanting to leave a "paper trail". WHO is it that you are saying is "in bed" with the union?. . It seems like the union was willing to work with him until he was caught lying to them and working to undermine the positive working relationship the Town Manager has with the Union. Maintaining good relations with the Town staff is not being in the “same bed,” it is sound leadership and management. A true leader gets the most from those he leads…He also alerts the community about behavior that threatens the community we all love and want to see prosper. Get off the cop bashing, it has nothing to do with Zinkin’s lack of character!

     
  • AZsheeplady posted at 3:45 pm on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    AZsheeplady Posts: 9

    Just curious- When is the election for Town Council? Primary season or Nov? I am tired of the negativity and name calling from Mayor Hiremath. I don't know all the facts here, but am turned off by the Mayor's accusations in public. I would love a sit-down chat with Mr. Zinkin. Another question- why are there so many police cars parked at headquarters every day? Does every officer have his own vehicle that no one else uses?

     
  • Takea posted at 1:15 pm on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    Takea Posts: 8

    I am compelled to comment about the Sexual Harassment charges. Apparently in Mr. Zinkin’s mind one has to be convicted of the deed in order to be guilty. I feel sorry for the female victims who have been marginalized for coming forward to their supervisors. It is unfortunate that the mentality that once existed in the workplace is still prevalent today. How dare he (Zinkin) and his supporters claim sexual harassment did not take place. This is exactly why woman do not come forward with their stories because it is turned around on them. Meanwhile men enhance their power while leaving the harassed female to hide in the shadows, feeling betrayed, humiliated and concerned for their livelihood. These scares last a lifetime Mister I didn’t do anything inappropriate.

     
  • Jen posted at 11:50 am on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    Jen Posts: 2

    I am very pleased with the quality of service the Police Department provides and I can't really understand why this guy seems so focused on them. It would be a different story if the citizens didn't see where their tax dollars went but the fact that I always see a police car when I'm driving around and we have police officers in every school gives me peace of mind (not to mention all the other services they provide). Yes they are half the budget but Oro Valley does not pay for fire service, trash or many other services that other cities provide.
    I completely agree with some over site, but Zinkin seems like a micro manager. He wanted to know "Who approved " four motorcycles to help escort fallen firefighters from the Yarnell tragedy and "How much it cost". I'm not an accountant, but I have common sense. Even I can figure out about how much it would cost to send four cops to Prescott (salary+gas X 4). Last time I checked, Police Chiefs get paid pretty well to make decisions like "Should I sent four motorcycles to help escort 19 deceased firefighters in one of the largest losses of life in the history of firefighting?" I understand now why the police unions are fed up with this guy. I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg and they have dealing with stupid inquires like this from his first day in office.

     
  • John Flanagan posted at 10:50 am on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    John Flanagan Posts: 329

    Political intrigue can be as nasty at the local level as it at the state and national arena, and even school boards and HOA leadership can often disagree about fiscal spending, lines of authority, and over reaching regulations.
    I think we all can recognize that there are differences in philosophy of governing, styles of articulating our preferences, and personality. However, these personal attacks by Oro Valley officials need to be reduced for the sake of the family. The Oro Valley citizens need transparent but smooth and efficient government and good stewardship of our tax resources.
    It would be better if the Mayor and the town leaders air differences in a civil but public way without getting personal and openly hostile towards one another. Like it or not, they MUST work together and MUST cease making pot shots through local media.
    Come on folks, let's bury the hatchets, take off the war paint, and make peace.

     
  • Lleva Corbata posted at 10:29 am on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    Lleva Corbata Posts: 6

    Don't forget to read Thelma's article. Well done and balanced Did you notice Mr. Zinkin has been to sensitivity training.
    Do you also know that the police department has for its entire history in OV other than 3 years during the Andrews Town Manager area, reported to Council?
    As for the mayor going public, the other side of this would have been a cover up of a seriously flawed elected official making decisions that affect OV citizens lives.
    Lets not be fooled by his "oversight" of the pd. It his bias that is in question. Why would he have asked someone else to get information for him and then hide the request. He could easily have had a sit down with the chief....nope didn't do that.
    Really folks, are you seriously defend his actions. Is this the kind of thing you would want your wife or daughter to tolerate. Man up!!

     
  • phemmert posted at 9:05 am on Wed, Jan 1, 2014.

    phemmert Posts: 8

    It's unfortunate that political agendas, driven by a zealously guarded police department, result in allegations that are clearly unfounded or at least severely distorted. As voters, we are entitled to unemotional statement of facts. Mayor Hiremath's attacks on Councilman Zinkin are one-sided, and devoid of an unbiased assessment of factual information. These realities include the fact that the OVPD, while consuming approximately half of the entire town budget, escaped with zero budget cuts while other town departments experienced reductions. These allegations ignore the fact that the OVPD union has refused to work with some members of the Town Council (entrusted to managerial oversight of OVPD) in a collaborative manner.

    It's questionable on its face that a sitting mayor would even take public sides on a council member recall question. It smacks of trying to remove a person who doesn't agree, and doesn't tout the entire OVPD party line.

    Mr. Zinkin is not sleeping in the same bed with OVPD cronies who don't want their comfortable bed rocked, and is now forced to contend with these trumped up, exaggerated claims of nefarious behavior. We should be embarrassed as citizens of this town.

    Perhaps Mr. Hiremath's effectiveness as a true leader should be more closely scrutinized. Enough of the fox guarding the OVPD henhouse please.

     

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