Council must act - and has - to make Rio Nuevo accountable

2010-11-09T00:00:00Z Council must act - and has - to make Rio Nuevo accountableShirley Scott, Regina Romero and Karin Uhlich Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

On Oct. 29, the Rio Nuevo audit was released just after the mayor and City Council rejected a proposed new convention hotel.

The audit reflects what the public and the mayor and City Council have known for many years: The mistakes of the past must be acknowledged and learned from, or they will surely be repeated.

Rejection of the hotel proposal was one of the many steps the mayor and council have taken since 2008, when it was crystal clear that the structure of Rio Nuevo was flawed.

First and foremost, we rejected the hotel because, like projects in the past, the hotel developers stood to gain the most, with city taxpayers footing the bill.

Other significant steps we have taken since 2008 are listed below:

• We formed the Independent Audit and Performance Commission to provide an appraisal of city programs, policies and functions in order to help management perform more efficiently and effectively. September 2008.

• We authorized a bond package to make it clear how Rio Nuevo funds could and could not be utilized in order to end any moves by city management to pick and choose how to invest taxpayer dollars without public accountability. December 2008.

• We made several attempts to separate the management of the Rio Nuevo district from the city, and to demand autonomous checks and balances through the Rio Nuevo Board. March 2009.

• Finally, we moved to change city management. The new city manager, Mike Letcher, (May 2009) and our new finance team headed by Kelly Gottschalk have implemented the kind of open and accountable management the citizens of Tucson rightly demand.

Every elected official must strive to bring about change and to maintain accountability.

We welcome the chorus of voices at the mayor and council table and on the new Rio Nuevo Board joining with us to demand sound management and absolute accountability in local government.

As a visible sign of this partnership, we look to the pending completion of the new intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Rio Nuevo Board.

This agreement will clear the way for a renewed and joint focus on the primary component of the Rio Nuevo District - a modernized Tucson Convention Center.

Now is the time.

The authors are all Tucson City Council members.

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

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