At least one person had a good start to his week.
On Monday, the Rio Nuevo board unanimously approved a $40,000 raise for former Rio Nuevo board member and Republican state legislator Jonathan Paton for lobbying services.
Paton has been the lobbyist for the district at the state capitol since February when the board authorized paying him $25,000 to monitor activity during the 2013 session.
With the pay raise comes added responsibilities. In addition to his monitoring services, Paton will now draft and promote any legislation the district deems worthy, chairman Fletcher McCusker said.
Exactly what legislation Paton would help draft isn’t clear yet. But even though no particular agenda exists, McCusker said it’s unlikely it would involve asking for any money from the state.
Instead, the focus would probably be on the numerous technical issues that exist for a district like theirs, McCusker said.
The extension and pay raise troubles at least one Tucson City Council member.
Councilman Steve Kozachik said since the city and Rio Nuevo just buried the hatchet, now may not be the best time to bring in a divisive figure with a track record of antipathy towards the city.
“The Board will do what they want to with taxpayer money,” Kozachik said. “But to pay the same guy who signed onto a $47M lawsuit against the City, and who they had to indemnify from a defamation lawsuit from a developer, to represent them at the legislature strikes me as an odd way to keep our positive momentum going in the right direction. We've finally got tax increment dollars going to hotels and the TCC. That should be our focus.”
But Paton’s hire shouldn’t be interpreted as a slap in the face to the city or a sign old hostilities will return, McCusker said.
Instead, he said, it’s prudent to hire a Republican to maneuver through a Republican-controlled legislature.
“We discussed the value of having a lobbyist who is representative of the majority in power,” McCusker said. “And that’s why we hired Jonathan Paton and not somebody else.”