By Peter Miller
They must think we’re all stupid in Maricopa. And they must think that the Pinal County Board of Supervisors are, too, along with county taxpayers.
Who’s “they?” The backers, lawyers and lobbyists for the proposed Attesa racetrack outside of Casa Grande.
You see, they find their own plan so inadequate that I think they have orchestrated an attempt to thwart the Apex Motor Club in Maricopa, a compelling project unanimously approved by Mayor Price and the Maricopa City Council in April.
It’s an effort so duplicitous it demands outrage from everyone in Pinal County. Here’s a little more background. Warning: It may cause you to get angrier than you’ve been in a while.
Recall that Apex is a 280-acre private automobile country club on the far, southwestern outskirts of Maricopa near the train tracks. Enthusiastically backed by local economic development officials it faced no opposition until one day former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods waltzed into town and started threatening Maricopa. When asked who he was representing the slick lawyer danced more than the name of a baseball team from Los Angeles.
Could there be a connection to Attesa? Owner Dan Erickson told Apex associates months previous that he would have to “kill” the Apex project if it moved forward.
After Maricopa leaders summarily dismissed Woods, an opposition group emerged to put the Apex approval to a public vote. It makes all the sense in the world that the group would be chaired by someone from Scottsdale and its treasurer from outside Maricopa as well. Indeed, the chairman of Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, Robert Rebich, has a colorful and embarrassing history.
Of course, there’s no coincidence the effort was organized by Joe Villasenor, who worked with Woods to ensure a massive taxpayer subsidy for the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. It’s no coincidence either that Villasenor and Nick Wood, Attesa’s lawyer, are about as close professionally as Hall and Oates.
Most recently, Woods has engineered two lawsuits at Attesa’s behest. For one of the cases, who is the only plaintiff he could find in Maricopa to support the ridiculous litigation? Someone who lives some 5 miles from the site who was paid by Villasenor’s group to gather signatures against the project. That’s pathetic. Oh, and it’s totally natural that a petition circulator would care enough, or have the dough to pay a high-priced lawyer like Woods.
Lastly, on July 28 Erickson posted this entry on the Attesa blog talking about how great a private automobile country club in Chicago appeared after his recent visit there and what a cool addition it would be at Attesa.
Sounds a lot like Apex. Sounds like he just admitted, willingly or not, what he’s been up to all along to oppose Apex.
Throughout the process Erickson, Villasenor and Wood have all stated that they were not behind the opposition. Right.
Fortunately, there are remedies before all of us. First, lying to elected officials is a crime in Arizona. Second, so is masking the true funding of political campaign activities.
Both possibilities need to be explored by all robustly because what Attesa is doing is an embarrassment to all of Pinal County. But we can and should do more.
That’s why I have decided to form a group and serve as chairperson for a new political action committee called VILE: No on Attesa. It stands for “Voters Incensed about Lying to Electeds.” It’s being filed with Pinal County.
Unlike Apex, Attesa is seeking tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to support its development. If that approval ever comes before the Board of Supervisors, and is approved by them, we will collect signatures to put it before all voters in Pinal County for a vote. We will do the same for their zoning requests.
This is a shame because no one in Maricopa or Apex wishes anything for Attesa but good luck. But when a bully walks into the playground and starts hurting anyone and everything around there’s only one choice: Hit back. Hard.
Peter Miller is a resident of Maricopa.