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Pinal County Board of Supervisors

Rich Vitiello

By Rich Vitiello

I find it appalling that the incumbent would try to pull the wool over our collective eyes and hide the facts.
FACT: Contrary to what he claims, the incumbent presented a motion to approve an open grow marijuana farm in the unincorporated area outside of Casa Grande and voted in favor of it on Feb. 18, 2015.

His claim is not merely misstating the facts, but a denial of his own actions. He stated: “…I voted against creating this medical marijuana grow facility…Also the application for the medical marijuana facility was for an enclosed facility and not an open grow facility.” Here’s what the official transcripts from the county board of supervisors meeting states:

“Supervisor Smith said he was a supporter of farmers and their property rights to be able to grow the crops they choose.”
“Motion was made by Supervisor Smith…to approve…deleting the requirement that cultivation be inside a completely enclosed locked building…” We see that the incumbent voted in favor of his own motion for an open grow facility on a roll call vote which passed, 3-2. There is no ambiguity here — he voted for it but yet denied that he did it.

It amazes me how the incumbent in good conscience could claim that he was against a marijuana grow facility when the records show that he voted in favor of his own motion.

The incumbent also stated “A medical marijuana distribution center does not exist in Supervisor’s District 4 or anywhere in Pinal County.” Research shows there to be at least four such distributors of medical marijuana (dispensaries) according to Weedmaps.com: one in Superior, another in Casa Grande, and two in Maricopa, including a delivery service. That makes four. Additionally, according to Copper Area News (www.copperarea.com), in a story entitled, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Possible for Oracle (Feb. 5, 2014), “Pinal County currently has medical marijuana dispensaries in Eloy, Superior, Casa Grande, Coolidge, Apache Junction and Maricopa”. Plus those either applied for or active since he took office (Oracle and Florence). It seems to me that the incumbent is either wrong, again, in denial, or…well.

FACT: A medical marijuana distribution center (dispensary) in Oracle was approved by the incumbent in a board meeting on June 18, 2014.

I asked the question: “Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash?” The applicant before the board for a medical marijuana facility in Oracle (Glenn Wilt) stated that the facility would be managed by Bloom Dispensary (Copper Area News, 2014-02-05). According to research, Bloom has four such locations: Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, and now Oracle. (ref. bloomdispensary.com website)

Public records indicate the name Bloom Dispensary is a fictitious business name registered to Medpoint Management LLC. Medpoint is owned by other limited liability entities, having a common principal in Yuri Downing. Mr. Downing is the sole member of Ask Nice Twice LLC and Here is Now LLC, which owns Medpoint.

Research into Medpoint and Downing shows Medpoint was forced into bankruptcy by creditors over stiffing the prior owner on the sale, but because the nature of the business is contrary to Federal law, the court dismissed the bankruptcy due to “unclean hands” of the parties. (ref. 528 B.R. 178 (2015), case no. 2:14-bk-15234-DPC)
A story in the East Valley Tribune published on July 3, 2005 (A Man’s Bizarre Odyssey to Infamy) identified Mr. Downing and described how he was arrested with “…hundreds of contraband documents, including stolen utility bills and fake Mexican identification cards. The IDs featured Downing’s photo and a variety of different names”.
Downing, a former libertarian candidate, with two other former candidates, was ordered by the Arizona Clean Elections Commission to pay the state back over $100,000 for misused and misappropriated funds. According to the Tucson Citizen (July 31, 2003), the “trio of defeated Phoenix-area legislative candidates spent thousands of dollars on alcohol, food, rental cars and entertainment expenses at trendy Scottsdale nightspots” with state-funded campaign money.

Downing was indicted (July 14, 2004) and later convicted in Maricopa County Superior Court under the name YURIKINO CENIT (“YURI”) DOWNING-GARCIA on December 18, 2008 for two counts of identity theft (Taking Identity of Another Person) (case no. CR2008-007337), felony flight (Failure to Appear in the First Degree) (case no. CR2005-011593), and perjury (case no. CR2004-018522). All of these convictions are FELONIES.

Further, Supervisor Rios called for an investigation into an alleged bribe from Bloom Dispensary issued to any medical marijuana recipient who attended the supervisors meeting. (Reported in the Oracle Town Crier on July 9, 2014 and at CopperArea.com on July 4, 2014.)

So, again, my question was, “Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash?” And I repeat: I seriously doubt it.

FACT: On June 18, 2014, over the objection by the sheriff’s department, several Oracle residents and the county attorney, with Yuri Downing in the audience, the incumbent motioned to approve the medical marijuana facility in Oracle. The records prove it.

And about that vote to approve a marijuana distribution facility just outside the Florence city limits — it’s a little too coincidental that the incumbent accepted a $1,250 campaign contribution from the medical marijuana dispensary applicant and didn’t show up for the vote. It’s too bad he wasn’t present to do his job to represent his constituents. But on this issue, it doesn’t look like he does, anyway.

As I previously stated, the people of Pinal County don’t need ineffective leadership and mismanagement…But that is what the incumbent has brought. People looking for leadership in government don’t like to be taken for a ride. They need honest representation. Not the Smith experience.

Rich Vitiello is a candidate for Pinal County Board of Supervisors District 4, running against incumbent Anthony Smith.

Rich Vitiello

By Rich Vitiello

“Troublesome alliance” is what the incumbent termed the relationship between Sheriff Paul Babeu and me. Tony Smith might want to look in the mirror before he casts stones.

There’s a reason that the sheriff endorses me, and I was endorsed in my 2014 bid for Maricopa City Council by our firefighters and police officers: I support the efforts and dedication of our public safety personnel – all of them, not just the first responders. The incumbent doesn’t.

In a time of increased need and population growth, the incumbent slashed public safety and other budgets across the board, regardless of the consequences. A 10-percent reduction in essential services means residents of Pinal County are doomed to suffer from potential increased emergency response time and a manpower shortage of untold proportion. He’s cut essential services to the people who depend on them the most while at the same time spending taxpayer dollars needlessly.

The people of Pinal County don’t need ineffective leadership and mismanagement resulting in cuts to public services, bloated government and wasted taxpayer dollars. But that is what the incumbent has brought. People looking for leadership in government don’t like to be taken for a ride. They need honest representation. Not the Smith experience.

Soon after taking office on a “fiscal responsibility” mandate, the incumbent gave his staff a 28-percent pay raise against county personnel policies. This, to the expense of county taxpayers and the rest of the county’s employees who didn’t get a dime in raises, and many who faced layoffs due to budget cuts. Not to mention the critical public safety positions that can’t be filled because of his actions.

What this supervisor has brought is a higher risk to the residents of Pinal County by a reduction of personnel and resources dedicated to policing our streets, keeping our residents safe, healthy, and prosecuting criminals apprehended.

That’s the Smith experience.

On his watch we saw a medical marijuana distribution center placed in his district over the objections of his constituents. He voted for it. Did he look to see if the person at the end of that business chain is a convicted criminal wanting to get a license to distribute pot and keep the cash? I seriously doubt it.

He accepted a $1,250 campaign contribution from another medical marijuana dispensary applicant in April 2015. It’s on his campaign finance reports. A short time later, he voted to approve that facility just outside the Florence city limits.

He OK’ed an open grow marijuana farm in the unincorporated area outside of Casa Grande. The property owner was represented by none other than his law firm benefactor.  Could it be another coincidence? I don’t think so.

That’s more Smith experience. We don’t need it.

Looking at his campaign finance reports is concerning, to say the least. When a campaign donor list looks like a who’s who of people who depend on a politician voting the “right” way, residents should be alarmed. That type of troubling alliance is especially concerning when campaign donors and a law firm are tied to the politician at the hip.

The people put out of their jobs because of his failures are our friends, neighbors and family members, having needs and obligations of their own. These are public servants, many of whom took an oath of office to serve and put the public good ahead of themselves. This supervisor’s lack of leadership and dismal performance can’t be justified. That’s troublesome. That’s not the type of leadership voters want. I say it’s time for a change.

Rich Vitiello is a candidate for Pinal County Board of Supervisors, District 4.

Supervisor Anthony Smith

By Anthony Smith

For the past several years, it has been my privilege to serve first as the mayor of the City of Maricopa and currently as a Pinal County supervisor.  Public service is something that I encourage all citizens to consider and, if it fits their circumstances, they should step up to do it.

Although I applaud Mr. Rich Vitiello as he makes another attempt at public office, the circumstances for his run as my competitor for County Supervisor gives me great concern.  Not as a competitor, but as one who is concerned about the blatant conflict of interest being perpetrated by Sheriff Babeu and Mr. Vitiello.

According to the news articles announcing his run for supervisor, it appears Mr. Vitiello has already signaled his intentions to support any budget request the sheriff puts forward, all in the guise of public safety.  Public safety is my number one priority as well.  When Sheriff Babeu and Mr. Vitiello say they want increased funding for public safety, what they really mean is that their intent is self-serving, as they want more money for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO).

What Mr. Vitiello and the sheriff fail to recognize is that the vast majority of what we do in county government has to do with the health and well-being of our citizens.  In fact, at least 75 percent of the functions of county government have a direct impact on public safety.  I argue that other functions related to public safety such as safe roads, health immunizations, disease control, building safety, food safety and a host of other public safety functions are vitally important, too.

When we create a county budget, we make sure all critical county services are given a careful review to ensure we are providing the best service to the citizens.  The bottom line is that, even in this era of very tight budgets, we have and will continue to do the right thing for the taxpayers.

When voters go to the polls, they need to have the facts before casting their vote.  As your county supervisor, I have been steadfast in my efforts to reduce taxes, balance the budget, and restore financial health to our county in a fair and unbiased manner.  I believe that should be the preferred alternative to the troublesome alliance established between Sheriff Babeu and Mr. Rich Vitiello.

Anthony Smith is the Pinal County supervisor for District 4.

Rich Vitiello, with his wife, announced his intention to withdraw from the city council race and run for county supervisor during Tuesday's council meeting. Submitted photo

Rich Vitiello is running for office, but he’s changed his mind about which office he is seeking.

The businessman had pulled a packet to run for a seat on the Maricopa City Council. Sheriff Paul Babeu was instrumental in his decision to instead run for the District 4 county supervisor seat against incumbent Anthony Smith.

“Public safety has always been No. 1 for me,” Vitiello said. “I was endorsed by fire and police when I ran two years ago.”

Vitiello ran for an abbreviated term on the council in 2014, but lost to Nancy Smith, the wife of Anthony Smith

As supervisor, Tony Smith got crosswise with Babeu over the county budget. The sheriff felt the supervisors have not given public safety the priority it deserves. He singled out Smith for going beyond the county manager’s request of a 3-percent budget cut and suggesting a 4.5-percent cut. Though Babeu will not be the sheriff next year, instead running for Congress, he reached out to Vitiello to run against Smith primarily because of that issue.

“It’s important to have leaders that understand that, to have leaders who will make that a priority,” Babeu said Tuesday. “I thought Rich would make a good candidate, he’s offered himself as a candidate before, so I thought he should consider it.”

Vitiello said he consulted his family and friends before making the decision.

Rich Vitiello in council chambers Tuesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Rich Vitiello in council chambers Tuesday night. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

He said he disagreed with the supervisors on their handling of the budget. “No businessman cuts straight across the board,” he said. “It’s impossible.”

Vitiello has worked in what he describes as the international cycling business for 27 years. He is employed at Autonation Honda.

He said things should have been moved around in the county budget to make sure public safety remained a more of a priority.

“Here in Maricopa, 51 percent of the budget is public safety. I’m 100 percent behind that,” he said. “A safe city brings CEOs and businesses. It’s public safety that brings economic development. I’m all about economic development. I’m all about public safety.”

Though he said he is passionate about Maricopa, Vitiello said he still needed to learn about the rest of District 4, which includes Hidden Valley, Stanfield, Saddlebrooke and Oracle.