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In need of answers

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Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:01 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Results from the Sept. 2 primary election are in, and have been counted. There are interesting races ahead Nov. 4, for the Arizona Legislature, Congress and the presidency. Arizona voters face important decisions with regard to ballot initiatives. Oro Valley residents must decide the fate of bonds for the Naranja Town Site park.

Before that, Pima County must find answers to the questions of vote counting and tabulation.

On and before Sept. 2, 98,070 of Pima County’s 471,187 registered voters cast ballots, according to unofficial results. That’s a turnout of 20.81 percent, low by any measure.

Yet it took a week for the county to resolve the tight Trent Humphries-Marilyn Zerull race for a Republican nomination in House District 26. Other counts were unofficial for days after the voting. Questions have been raised about ballot management.

We ask — can “early” votes be counted early? What will the county do come November, when a presidential election pitting an Arizona senator and the first African-American major party nominee could mean a record voter turnout?

Those and other questions need answers.

Saturday night’s Jazz Legends in Concert, brought to Oro Valley by the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council and by benefactors Al and Marilyn Cook, was a true wonder.

On a stage poolside at the Hilton El Conquistador, beneath a nearly full moon rising above Pusch Ridge on a beautiful late summer’s evening, some of America’s premier jazz musicians shared their craft. They are rich in jazz lineage, gospel and blues roots, and musicianship.

Tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard reached deep for pure notes. Bassist Lynn Seaton thrummed hard enough to make bones rattle. Drummer Butch Miles poured himself into the beat. Trumpet player Byron Stripling, recipient of a special award for his contribution to America’s art form, called upon his gospel roots, and commanded the stage. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon brought sharp, strong sounds and varied pace from his slide. And, when pianist Bobby Floyd created new, consuming beauty from the standby Amazing Grace, turning a short tune into minutes of his heart pouring through his hands onto piano keys, someone described the feeling of near levitation. Which is what great music, great jazz, great art, can do, for hearts and souls and minds.

GOVAC, and in particular the Cooks, deserve real thanks for a terrific event. Al was still jazzed — pardon that — Monday morning, talking about the public’s response and the future of this event.

With the help of the Cooks, GOVAC and the community, Oro Valley could grow a signature event around America’s art form, jazz.

In August, the Town of Oro Valley distributed post cards to residents advertising a 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, public hearing on the Arroyo Grande general plan amendment. People were welcome to speak about the proposal before the planning and zoning commission that evening at Casas Church.

About 40 residents showed up, and a number signed cards indicating their interest in speaking.

Then, when the meeting began, officials from the town, county and state spoke at length about the proposal, and its changes, and they responded to queries from the planning and zoning board.

The conversation was educational and relevant. Trouble is, it wasn’t the public speaking. The hearing didn’t start until 8 p.m., two hours after advertised. A number of people stuck it out and said their piece. Others, discouraged, simply left.

Two ways government can improve its standing with people are, first, doing what it says it’s going to do, and, second, respecting the people’s time. If a public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m., it should start at 6 p.m. Not 8.

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