Authors Articles byMickael K. Rich

Mickael K. Rich

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InMaricopa.com has obtained an anonymous memo sent to the city in February regarding Assistant City Manager Roger Kolman.

The memo consists of three documents: An anonymous cover letter, supposedly from a city employee, a memo supposedly from Kolman to then City Manager Kevin Evans and two pages of invoices.

In the cover letter, the anonymous “employee” states that while researching files he/she discovered the memo in materials left behind by Evans when he left to pursue other employment.

The alleged memo from Kolman to Evans states the two invoices give the city the ability to walk away from the claim filed by McDonald against the city with no damage.

The memo also makes it seem that Kolman instigated the latest criminal charge against McDonald in an effort to damage his reputation and protect the city.

According to a release from city spokeswoman LaTricia Woods, the memo’s allegations placed the city in the difficult position of trying to assess information from “unknown, phantom sources” who could not be interviewed.

Despite the difficulty, the release states, “Based on the information the City has, the City strongly believes that this memo is a forged document and does not believe in its authenticity or that any similar document would exist. Both Kolman and Evans denied that they ever wrote or saw such a document.”

Preliminary investigation revealed that at least one of the vendor history reports was forged and that several statements made in the documents were false, according to the release.

Woods declined to answer follow-up questions regarding the investigation.
 

Letters 031611

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City of Maricopa recreation coordinator David Aviles has returned to work after being placed on administrative leave nearly five months ago.
 
Aviles was relieved of his duties by the city in late October after he was indicted on nine criminal counts, including one count of forgery, one count of hindering prosecution in the first degree and one count of tampering with a public record.
 
The charges stemmed from Aviles allegedly modifying city records between Sept. 1, 2010 and Sept. 22, 2010 to the benefit of former city employee Marty McDonald, who was laid off and arrested on charges of stealing by deceit and is involved in a claim against the city.

One of the charges against McDonald is that he billed the city for athletic equipment that was never purchased, and Aviles was indicted for allegedly changing city records to show that the equipment had been received.

McDonald’s lawyer Clair Lane said that what Aviles did was part of his job description and he was just updating an inventory list to correctly reflect the city’s equipment inventory.

“He committed no crime,” Lane said.

Aviles officially returned to the job March 4 after an internal investigation.

Aviles’ lawyer Dennis Gorman filed a motion for dismissal of the charges against his client in late February.

The court is yet to rule on the motion.

Aviles declined to be interviewed and his lawyer was not available for comment.

More information about the outcome of the charges against Aviles will be released as it is made available.
 

The Maricopa Police Department is investigating three burglaries that occurred New Year’s weekend.

CNC Barber Shop and Spa, 19756 North John Wayne Parkway, was broken into Dec. 31, according to the store owner Carla Neal.
 
Neal said someone smashed the front door and broke open the cash register.
 
“There wasn’t even any money in the register,” she said. “What hurt us was we couldn’t open up for the New Year weekend and it is typically one of the busiest of the year.”
 
“It was basically a smash and grab, where someone threw a rock through the door and tried to grab whatever they could find, but apparently nothing was taken,” said Maricopa Police Department spokesman Sgt. Stephen Judd.
 
The store had security cameras in place that caught an image of the suspect, but Neal said it is hard to make the person out.
 
Maricopa high school was victimized by burglars twice over the weekend according to Judd.
 
“We got a report at 1 a.m. of a burglary of the concession stand at the high school,” Judd said. “At 5 a.m. there was another report of a burglary where someone broke into the cafeteria.”
 
Though the school burglaries were reported on Monday morning, it is believed they may have been carried out earlier.
 
The perpetrators vandalized both buildings and stole undetermined amounts of property. District officials would not comment as to what types of items were stolen.
 
“The investigating officers are still looking into what may have been taken in the burglaries,” Judd said.
 
The school and police are currently reviewing security camera footage to gather information on the suspects.
 
If you have any information about these crimes please call the Maricopa Police Department at 520-316-6800.

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Public sector development is about to spill over into the private sector in a big way as Central Arizona College gears up to break ground later this year on a Maricopa campus that could one day serve 15,000 students and employ more than 1,000 faculty and staff members, bringing tremendous economic benefit to the city.

While there is no specific data on the economic impact the new CAC campus will have on the city of Maricopa, studies conducted across the country on similar-size institutions provide a basis for projections.

One such study completed in January 2011 looked at the impact of Blinn College, a two-year institution in Brazos County, Texas. According to Blinn College Provost Ted Raspiller, the study showed Blinn, which has 885 employees and 12,000 students, generates more than $94 million a year for the local economy.

Another study from Texas released in November, “Moving Texas Forward,” reports Texas taxpayers see a rate of return of 6.9 percent on their investment in community colleges and that Texas sees an annual addition to its gross state product of $1.6 billion from these institutions.

The report says every dollar of state and local tax money invested in community colleges yields $28 in cumulative benefits that eventually accrue to residents as added income and avoided social costs.

Workforce growth is key
To formulate these impact figures, studies typically look at growth in the quantity and quality of a
regional workforce, according to Kjell Christophersen, senior economist with Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc.

Christophersen’s firm has conducted studies for more than 1,000 community college districts and is considered the foremost expert on modeling colleges’ economic impacts. “Typically 70 to 80 percent of the students who attend a community college are from the region and will remain in the area when they finish their education,” said Christophersen. “That kind of educated workforce creates higher earning potential and a larger tax base.”

Besides increasing regional earning, Christophersen said community colleges are economically beneficial due to money the colleges spend in communities, jobs they provide for teachers and other staff members and dollars spent by students and staff on local goods and services.

Capitalizing on education
Christophersen said the positive impact of a college is reduced if students move out of town after graduating. To capture the skilled workforce the new CAC campus will produce and fully capitalize on its economic benefits, the city of Maricopa will need to attract employers for those students.

Happily, this is a proposition the college will empower, according to Maricopa Economic Development Director Danielle Casey. “Higher education is one of the top three site selection requirements companies look at,” Casey said. “Having a college here can only make Maricopa more attractive to potential employers. It will also help generate a measure of retail and entertainment.”

Jim Rives, president and CEO of the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to attract employers, backed up Casey’s assessment.

“CAC’s willingness to make a large investment in the city of Maricopa is sending a strong message to companies looking at Maricopa,” Rives said. “The school not only brings a big investment in the campus and facilities, but also creates options for the city to improve the skills of residents.”

“The immediate economic impact will be in at least two areas,” said Jim Rhodes, director of CAC’s Small Business Development Center. “First will be the actual construction jobs, some of which will employ Maricopa residents. Next, construction will engender development of numerous ancillary support businesses, such as stores, restaurants, medical offices, cleaners.” Many of these will be owned by residents of Maricopa. In the longer term, businesses in areas such hospitality
and entertainment will develop.”

Jim Rounds, an economist with Elliott Pollack and Company, agrees that the employment and fiscal benefits of the construction phase will be substantial, but he is less certain about the about the future ability of the college to attract employment on its own.

“Permanent college jobs will help diversify the employment base, and easier access to technical and job training could be a lure in terms of business recruitment,” he said. “But this amenity will have to be packaged with other community assets; alone this will not be a game-changer. The city’s current workforce is already highly skilled, so it is less about correcting for a current deficiency and more about assuring efficient development going forward.”

Photo by Michael K. Rich

A version of this article appeared previously in InMarciopa News.