After reading an article about a rezoning vote in the October Wickenburg Sun (on the Web site, of course), I sent the following letter to the editor. I’m not sure if they’re going to print it, so I’ll put it here.
I recently read an article on your Web site from October 4 regarding a zoning change for Hermosa Ranch. I was shocked by the information it contained and the failure of the Wickenburg Sun to provide all of the facts.
The Sun reported that the Town Council, including Mayor Ron Badowski and Councilman Phil Richardson, voted to approve a zoning change that would allow more than two houses per acre on land previously zoned for one house per acre. It did not report that Jerry Diddy, the developer, contributed money to both Badowski’s and Richardson’s campaigns.
Can someone explain to me why Badowski and Richardson are voting on a zoning change that would benefit one of their campaign supporters? This is a clear conflict of interest. Yet the records show that Badowski and Richardson have consistently voted in favor of zoning changes that benefit their campaign supporters. Further, it is a conflict of interest for Richardson to vote on ANY rezoning issue. As a real estate professional, he stands to benefit from any zoning decision that increases Wickenburg’s roof count, as this rezoning so obviously does.
Your article also made it clear that the town council was not sufficiently addressing valid concerns put forward by Wickenburg residents — something that didn’t surprise me in the least. One of these concerns, stated by council candidate George Wilkinson, pointed out the proximity of Hermosa Ranch to the Wickenburg Airport. [See photo; Hermosa Ranch homes will be right under the approach path for Runway 23.] Doesn’t the Town Council know that its Airport Sponsor agreement with the FAA requires it to limit airport-area zoning to “compatible” uses? That approving zoning for houses close to the airport can cause the town to lose airport funding — including the millions of dollars the FAA is supposed to pay for recent airport improvements? I don’t think Wickenburg taxpayers want to foot that bill if the FAA pulls funding due to Wickenburg’s violation of its agreement.
And there are people out there who think Wickenburg doesn’t need an Ethics Policy? The press is reporting again and again that campaign contributions and lobbying payoffs are corrupting politicians. Yet when it happens right here in Wickenburg, the Sun neglects to report it.