The tumult and drama at the Board of Supervisors keeps churning on, with new issues and conflicts arising at each meeting. Many people, mostly fresh faces, have been exercising their right to free speech during Call to the Public, making their feelings and opinions known publicly and to the Supervisors. This is precisely the part of democracy that is most precious, and lately seems the most endangered.
The good news is that free speech is alive and well at the Board of Supervisors meetings. After several rancorous sessions, which resulted in the Chair directing the Deputy County Attorney to ban a citizen from attending the meetings for three months, the Board voted unanimously to rescind and lift that ban and allow the citizen to return. Much of this drama could have been avoided a long time ago had the Chair acted judiciously and evenly in running Call to the Public and controlling irresponsible Supervisor behavior on the dais. Obviously, all Supervisors agree that banning attendance and prohibiting free speech are not answers, solutions, or good policy. Further, as is a major concern of mine, such actions will generate expensive lawsuits and large judgements against Pima County. For now, we can celebrate a decisive “win” for freedom of speech.
On another serious note, fixing our roads has always been a priority of mine; one that I ran on in 2016 and concerns me to this day. Recently, some changes came to light within our 10-year Pima County road repair program that I felt merited public discussion. I placed an agenda item on this topic on the April 18 Board of Supervisors agenda. During the meeting, we learned that when the Board agreed to “front load” scheduled funding from later years in the program in order to accommodate fixing more roads sooner, and because of inflation and debt service, funding for later years was dramatically reduced.
When the Board approved the new $526 Million road repair plan in 2019, along with that approval came a promise that every road in unincorporated Pima County would be repaired to a “good” condition within 10 years. Now it appears that the road repair plan has been “reimagined”. An emphasis on the repair of “collectors” and “arterial” roads has replaced attention to “local” roads. A local road is the street in front of your house, and many have not been touched in decades. The rating of road conditions has been altered as well. The percentages used to help categorize a road from “excellent” to “poor” to “failed” have been reconfigured, with “failed” even being omitted. The County uses these ratings to prioritize what roads will be fixed and when, utilizing a “fix the worst roads first” approach.
During the meeting, the County Administrator conveyed strong assurances to the Board that the original financial commitment would be spent on fixing the roads. That’s all well and good. However, my concern is keeping our 2019 promise of fixing every county road in ten years.
Therefore, my response to the County Administrator is to give us the same assurances that Pima County will keep its promise. We will monitor program developments and look at funding scenarios to ensure that every road in unincorporated Pima County will be in good condition by 2029.
Pima County District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy
33 N Stone Avenue • Floor 11 • Tucson AZ 85701
520 724 8094