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Letters to the editor published in the November 2, 2011, edition of The Explorer.

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Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 3:00 am | Updated: 4:12 pm, Mon Nov 7, 2011.

Vote for Prop 400 to educate future leaders

I am an educator in the Marana Unified School District and have been watching what people are saying about Proposition 400. In the Nov. 2 edition of The Explorer (“Proposition 400 means higher property taxes”), Mr. (David) Lutz wrote a letter demonstrating his lack of understanding of said proposition. He is under the impression that passing Prop 400 would increase his taxes. This simply is not true. If passed, Prop 400 would NOT increase property taxes, but would leave them at the current rate.

Proposition 400 requests a continuation of a tax people are already paying to keep the school district functioning. If this should not pass, it will have a negative and direct impact on thousands of students, faculty, staff and families, not to mention the future workplaces of Arizona and beyond.

Mr. Lutz and other citizens, including myself as a homeowner, have a responsibility to educate our future generations. After all, the students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Do people who oppose Prop 400 want uneducated or undereducated people caring for him in the hospital, cooking his meals, fixing his appliances and making decisions for him? I know I don’t. I urge everyone to think about the future and understand Prop 400 won’t cost them anything more than they are already paying. An affirmative vote on Proposition 400 is a positive vote for our future.

Angela Wagner-Gabbard, Tucson

Proposition 400 means higher property taxes

Vote no on Proposition 400 and say no to high property taxes. My property taxes have gone from $1,500 to $5,000 in three years due to all the tax increases.

When they defeated the growth and delisted the pygmy owl, it allowed a building frenzy in the Marana Unified School District that flooded the district with huge enrollment increases.

Now they want to keep taxes high to keep the classroom sizes down. If they want to do that, then they need to stop all the building that is flooding the schools with more enrollment, which is driving classroom sizes way up.

I am fed up with high taxes.

David Lutz, Tucson


Proposition 400 helps maintain school district

On Nov. 8, voters will have the opportunity to reauthorize the 10-percent maintenance and operations budget override that they approved in 2007 (for the Marana Unified School District). I encourage our community to support the override vote and help us maintain this funding for the Marana Unified School District.

As a concerned MUSD parent, I would like to share information that is pertinent to the override issue. MUSD administrators have been accessible to the voters and taxpayers during this process, sponsoring forums and providing facts and information on their website. I have communicated with district administrators and governing board members, who have willingly provided information and answered questions.

MUSD has seen its state funding decrease by $14 million over the last three years due to funding cuts by our state legislature. At the same time, the legislature decreased education budgets; they also shifted how some of the school funding is accounted for. State funding was cut to local counties, and counties raised their primary tax rates to prevent funding shortfalls. As a result, we property owners saw a primary tax rate increase on our most recent tax statements.

MUSD is not responsible for the increase in the primary tax rate. This is a Pima County tax. The override is attached to the secondary tax rate, which will not increase. If Proposition 400 is not passed and the budget override is not reauthorized by the voters, MUSD will (lose an extra $6.4 million in funding to its operating budget). Fundamental cuts to our classrooms will unavoidable. Vote yes on Prop 400!

Jenny Cawley, Marana

 


 

Legislators need to cure our ailments

On Sunday, Oct. 16, the nation dedicated a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During the day we saw a film of the famous 1963 March on Washington, which I am proud to say I attended. I realized Sunday, while watching the films repeated throughout the day, that if I were to ask anybody in that massive Washington crowd what exactly he or she was there for and what the solution to the problem was, they would probably respond, I don’t know the answers. I only know something’s wrong and we have to fix it.

The day before the dedication in Washington, once again, after a 48-year period of complacency, I found myself marching. This time in the Occupy Tucson protest in Armory Park. Again, I thought of the question: What specific thing needs to be done to right these wrongs? And I realized it is not the job of the patient to cure himself, it is his responsibility to realize something is wrong and needs correction, and to see a doctor, someone who could offer a responsible, definitive cure.

The Americans in Tucson, Wall Street, Boston, and protests across the country are pointing out that something is wrong with the current system. Detractors say the protesters have no focus and no specifics, and are merely expressing anger and frustration. Perhaps they are right. But, as with the patient who only knows there is a pain in his side and doesn’t know the remedy, we are now bringing our pain to the legislators, the elected officials and the Congress of the United States.

We are asking them to recognize the complaints of the people and right the wrongs that are disabling this country and preventing it from attaining its true place in history. They are our representatives.

Like the doctor, it is their responsibility to listen to the patient, and take action.

Doug Mitchell, Tucson


Citizens should learn more about consequences of redistricting

Arizona voters amended the State Constitution in 2000 to establish an “independent” commission to draw legislative voter districts according to established guidelines, one of which was competitiveness between political parties. The commission was established because the political party in power always chose district lines that favored their re-election.

New rules are required because ruling officials continue to exert tremendous pressure with threats on the commission to draw maps that favor their party. Out of 30 districts statewide, only four draft maps are party competitive. 

Competition is the American way. It makes the voters turn out for elections. Sadly, it does not exist for Oro Valley. The draft map shows the Republicans have a competitive advantage of between 11 to 17 percent over other parties.

Indeed, Oro Valley has been kicked out of Pima County to vote with Pinal County for legislators. It’s not that we don’t appreciate our fellow Americans north of us, we just hate that Republicans vote for legislators who sign pledges of loyalty to Grover Norquist and ignore the wishes of independents and other parties.

If non-Republican voters/candidates in Oro Valley don’t want their votes canceled by the majority Republicans in the draft District 8 for the next 10 years, they should visit the commission website at www.azredistricting.org or attend a meeting to record their input for a more competitive district.   

 

Ben Love, Oro Valley

Editor’s note: The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Friday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. in the Marana Municipal Complex auditorium, 11555 W. Civic Center Drive. Citizens who cannot attend can watch a live stream of the hearing online at www.azredistricting.org.

UPDATE: The Explorer has confirmed that this meeting will be held, despite the Arizona Senate's 21-6 vote Tuesday to remove Colleen Coyle Mathis from her position as chairwoman of the AIRC.

 


 

Understanding the truth about the Oracle school bond proposal

 

Last week The Explorer published an editorial by Richard Brinkley (“Anatomy of a bad bond – the cost is too high,” Oct. 26, 2011) opposing the Oracle School District bond issue to be voted on Tuesday. Mr. Brinkley is active with a small group of anti-tax/anti-government/anti-public education zealots closely associated with the SaddleBrooke Republican Party, which contributed $1,000 to support the allegedly nonpartisan group’s anti-bond activities.

Mr. Brinkley’s rant is one among many distortions and untruths about the bond issue generated by the group (Pinal County Citizens for Excellence in Government, or PCCEG) since they first learned of the possible election in May. The group has produced 500 misleading yard signs, harassed and threatened the school board, and made numerous diversionary claims that have no relevance to the bond proposal. It is no wonder voters may be confused.

Brinkley and his friends make a number of false claims, including imaginary, disproportionate consultant fees and commissions of 15 to 16.6 percent and ranging to more than $2 million. The fact is that the project manager serves for a 2 percent fee. Other costs are for architecture, mechanical, electrical, structural, civil, soils and environmental engineering. No commission will go to the bond consultant for bus purchases, as claimed by Mr. Brinkley.

The Oracle School District has only two schools, both in the town of Oracle. One school serves pre-K and kindergarten students; the other educates children in first to eighth grade. 

High school students are bused to the high school of their choice either in San Manuel or Canyon Del oro.

With a budget of $5.2 million last year, the district enrolled 733 students (492 in pre-K to eighth grade and 241 high school students). Its growth rate is approximately 3 percent per year. The average cost per student and the district’s revenues remain far below average.

The bond issue will not solve that, but it will help take care of the immediate physical needs of the schools.

It’s true the district has many needs. Last year, the state cut more than $700,000 from its appropriations, 13 percent of the budget, resulting in the loss of eight teachers, increasing class sizes, and dropping a number of needed programs.

The board did its due diligence, in the public, for nine months prior to even beginning to deliberate on whether to go for an election. It appointed a community-wide study committee and engaged two expert consultant firms to evaluate needs and costs. Each recommended a bond issue of $15.6 million, less than the $17.6 million for which the district is eligible.

After another two months of deliberation, the board reduced the proposal to $13 million, the least they calculated would get them through the next 20 years, and then cast a unanimous vote for the reduced proposal.                                   

The school board identified and prioritized all repairs and improvements that must be corrected in the next 20 years, which is the life of the bond. New items will be acted on only after the must-do list is completed. Returning to the voters when new repairs arise is simply impracticable.

State law clearly defines how monies may be spent.  For example:

• Bonds may be used only for capital improvements listed in the proposal.

• Regular maintenance funds, under law, may not be used for capital improvements.

• Monies in the Maintenance and Operation (M&O) budget cannot substitute for capital costs.

These issues should not be confused. Other claims are diversionary, false or irrelevant. Voters are encouraged to compare the claims of the opponents to the specifics of the official election bulletin sent to each household by Pinal County.

This is a difficult political year. It’s important not to let the extremists among us hinder the task of improving educational opportunities in our public schools.

Now it’s time to stick together to work for the kids in our larger community. Please vote yes on Nov. 8.

Boyd Bosma, SaddleBrooke

 


 

Brinkley is wrong, vote yes on Oracle bond

In the You Say column on page 17, the article by Richard Brinkley (“Anatomy of a bad bond – the cost is too high,” Oct. 26, 2011) is grossly spreading false information about the Oracle School District No. 2’s bond request.

The consultant’s fees are 2 percent, not the 15 percent as Brinkley claims. The consultant, GVE, is serving as project manager for a 2 percent fee. The balance, more than $1.3 million, is for professional architecture, mechanical, electrical, structural, civil, soils and environmental engineering.

A contingency fee, normal for all construction projects, low at 5 percent of the project cost of $546,633, is for cost overruns in the event of unforeseen expenses.

No administration offices will be remodeled. It is to upgrade fifth-grade bathrooms and renovate the nurse’s and ill student areas and bathrooms. This is a No. 2 priority item.

Busses are a No. 1 priority. They will be purchased over time to replace older buses, those without air conditioning.

Even if a commission were charged on the cost of busses, it would be 2 percent, not the 15 percent as stated by the author. The 2 percent would equal $12,000, not $90,000, or $3,000 per bus.

It is unfair to break out one item to promote a point of commission; looking at things in that light would mean commissions are paid on everything, like doors, windows and air conditioning.

In actuality, the commission (would pay) a 2 percent fee for the consultant, GVE, for serving as project manager during the entire length of, and the totality of the bond issues.

Current interest rates are at record lows. Now is the time to act.

Oracle School District has two schools, not just one as stated. There are two full-time administrators: Todd Kissick is both superintendent of schools and principal of Oracle Ridge pre-school and kindergarten, and Dennis Blauser is principal of Mountain Vista, grades 1-8.

The group Brinkley belongs to has been given clarifying information on several occasions, yet the false information just keeps coming. Let’s just hope that the voting public will not vote for lies.

Please vote yes on the school bonds. Thank you.

Jack Walden, Tucson


Can’t wait to elect new representatives

So now our Rep. Vic Williams questions the “ethics and politics” that went into the redistricting process, along with do-nothing Al Melvin.  That’s funny, I guess that no “ethics and politics” were any way important when they and the rest of the Republican legislators decided that it wasn’t right to accept the extended unemployment benefits from the federal government last summer, monies that cost the state of Arizona nothing. 

The elections can’t come soon enough. Many, many people in this state are sick of politicians who let their ideology cloud over any little bit of common sense that they may or may not have.

 

Frank Sapone, Oro Valley


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