Steller: Rio Nuevo member hijacks project's scoring system

2014-08-19T22:00:00Z 2014-08-20T09:19:42Z Steller: Rio Nuevo member hijacks project's scoring systemTim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 19, 2014 10:00 pm  • 

What was to be a “legacy” is becoming a farce.

On Monday, members of the Rio Nuevo board turned in their second set of score sheets for the two proposals to develop a key downtown parcel along the east side of Interstate 10.

The East Germans won.

Four of the five board members who turned in sheets Monday apparently took their job seriously, scoring the proposals — each of which has merit — closely. The fifth member acted like a Soviet-bloc judge during a Cold War Olympics.

Alberto Moore, who has previously spoken out in favor of Allan Norville’s proposal, ensured it would win by giving it a gigantic margin. Moore gave Norville’s Nor-Generations LLC team a perfect score on all seven criteria listed, leaving him with 1,000 points out of 1,000 possible.

To Norville’s rival, Ron Schwabe and his Peach Properties team, Moore awarded 70 points out of 1,000 possible. That’s a margin of 930 points.

This round of scoring was strictly on the oral presentations the teams made Aug. 12. During the previous round of scoring, based on the teams’ written presentations, Moore also gave Norville a perfect score and a 225-point margin — eyebrow-raising but not so brazen.

In the end, Moore’s total margin for Norville was 1,155 points. When you add up all the board members’ score sheets to arrive at a winner, Norville’s total margin of victory was 970 points. In short, Moore gave the gold medal to the East German figure skater, Norville.

Here are the total margins of the five other board members who scored the two proposals. Member Jeffrey Hill missed the oral presentations, so only his scoring of the written presentation was counted in the totals.

  • Chairman Fletcher McCusker: 20 points for Norville
  • Jannie Cox: 175 points for Schwabe
  • Jeffrey Hill: 100 points for Norville
  • Mark Irvin: 185 points for Schwabe
  • Chris Sheafe: 35 points for Norville

With those scores added up, Norville won the right to negotiate a development agreement with the Rio Nuevo board. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the Peach Properties team will get a crack.

Moore’s abuse of the scoring system means Rio Nuevo will have to trash that system, which was adapted from the city of Tucson’s procurement code. In the city, an independent panel would likely have scored the proposals before sending a recommendation to the City Council, which would then have cast the deciding votes.

Rio Nuevo board members decided to do the scoring themselves — and make their scores the deciding factor, turning a two-step process into one step. It might have worked had all the board members scored fairly.

“It was a hybrid process,” McCusker said Tuesday, adding: “This clearly suggests the process is flawed.”

Moore grew angry when I called to ask him about his scoring.

“Let me tell you what you should do. You should look at what the visions are for this community,” Moore said. “You’re being very stupid in going after individuals. You should be looking at what’s good for Tucson and the overall vision.”

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” he told me before hanging up.

I should be ashamed of myself?

I don’t have any investment in Schwabe’s proposal or Norville’s other than what I’ve already written: Schwabe has a record of getting projects done downtown while Norville does not. Also, I’m dubious of Norville’s proposal for a visual-arts center, while appreciative of the pedestrian plaza his plan calls for at West Congress Street and the I-10 frontage road. I like the emphasis on housing in Schwabe’s proposal and his raised walkway.

Moore has been over-the-top in his support of Norville’s proposal, to the point of violating the procurement procedures previously. At a board meeting Aug. 12, after the two teams gave oral presentations, Moore gave an impassioned endorsement of Norville’s proposal, only to be interrupted by McCusker’s gavel because he was not supposed to try to sway fellow board members during the scoring period.

Before he was interrupted, Moore proclaimed, “This is our legacy.”

Moore’s building a legacy all right — a legacy of undermining Rio Nuevo’s still-shaky credibility.

How they scored the oral proposals:

NameNorville proposalSchwabe proposal
Mark Irvin740775
Jannie Cox700855
Fletcher McCusker835795
Chris Scheafe980965
Alberto Moore1,00070
Total4,2553,460
Board member Cody Ritchie recused himself due to a conflict of interest. Board member Jeff Hill did not attend the oral interviews.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at tsteller@tucson.com or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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