Ally's Follies

Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller just can't seem to get along with her colleagues

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So: About that 911 call.

On Friday, Feb. 21, the Weekly published a story online about the street fight underway at the county. It revealed that among the streets that Miller wanted the transportation staff to repave was Oasis Road, which was just one block from Miller's home. The article also included comments from fellow Supervisor Valadez. To illustrate the story, the Weekly published a map that included Miller's home and its proximity to Oasis Road.

Less than an hour after the story was posted, Miller called 911.

Miller told the 911 operator that "Ramón Valadez and Jim Nintzel put my home address and a picture of where my home is located in an article that they just published. ... I'm very afraid for my life because a man had to be removed from my office by the sergeant-at-arms last week."

As the 911 dispatcher began getting information from her, Miller requested round-the-clock Sheriff's Department patrols to keep her safe and asked: "Can you do something about making them take that (article) down?"

The 911 dispatcher responded: "Ma'am, I can't do anything. This is just 911."

The Pima County Sheriff's Department agreed to do regular checks at Miller's house to ensure her safety. Miller got more attention than she was probably seeking after the Star posted a recording of the 911 call online last week and the story scored a link on with the headline: "Pro Tip for Politicians: Calling 9-1-1 to tell a dispatcher to pull an article from the newspaper is a not a good use of taxpayer money. Bonus: 9-1-1 call included in article. Double Bonus: Said politician freaks out at detractors in comments section."

Several of the posts pointed out that Miller's address is a public record that's easily found on several county websites. Her address is also listed in the documents that Miller filed with the county when she ran for office and is included in the phone book.

Whether Miller had cause to be "afraid for her life" because of the man who was removed from the 11th floor is yet another questionable claim.

The man in question was Bob Dorson, 61, a longtime local businessman who helped run Dorson's Furniture for 30 years until it closed in 2000.

Dorson says he went to Miller's office following a Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 11 because he was unhappy after reading the Star's exposé on Miller's office spending.

"It bothers me when the United States spends a billion dollars building an embassy in Iraq," Dorson says, "and it bothers me that $600 was spent for two nights in Phoenix. If you can't take care of those small amounts, how can you take care of the big amounts?"

Dorson said he asked to see Miller, only to be told she was in a meeting. Instead, he met with a Miller staffer who told him Miller couldn't meet with him but they'd answer his questions via email.

Unsatisfied with the response he later got from Miller's office, he returned the next day and was told again that Miller was in a meeting and couldn't see him. He said he'd wait, suggested he might call the media to let them know about how Miller was avoiding him, and sat down in the lobby. Before long, four security guards and a sheriff's deputy arrived and told him he had to leave. He says he was told he was "acting in an angry way and becoming belligerent."

Dorson said he never even raised his voice during his visit to the county building and that being escorted out by security was a first for him.

"I've never been asked to leave a place before," Dorson said.

The day after she called 911, Miller turned to her friends at the Arizona Daily Independent to help her spin the story about paving the road in her neighborhood.

The Independent published a story claiming that Pima County was actually retaliating against Miller's supporters by stopping the repair project before it got to their homes.

The county's jurisdiction, however, stopped at the Marana town limits; the eighth of a mile of Oasis Road that remained unpaved is within Marana.

The Independent article also included a (since removed) picture of Miller sprawled out on the street. It claimed that the website's photographer snapped the photo after Miller tumbled to the ground after tripping on one of Oasis Road's remaining potholes.

"While Miller was out on Saturday investigating the reporter's claims and meeting with ADI, she fell after tripping over a gaping road hole in the vicinity of her donor's home," the Independent reported.

Huckelberry was so concerned by what he saw that he sent a letter to Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.

"The attached Arizona Daily Independent article discusses Supervisor Ally Miller falling in a pothole in Oasis Road and includes a photograph of the incident," Huckelberry wrote. "Since the Arizona Daily Independent is an online publication with limited exposure, I thought I should bring this matter to your attention so you could consider making the appropriate repairs, as well as provide this information to your Risk Manager, given the article's implications regarding liability."

Miller is just 14 months into a four-year term, so it remains to be seen how her battle-against-corruption narrative will play among voters if she decides to run again in 2016. District 1 includes Marana, Oro Valley, the Casas Adobes area, the Catalina foothills and the Tanque Verde Valley. Voters there are among the county's wealthiest, best-educated and best-organized residents.

Before launching her campaign for the Board of Supervisors, Miller dabbled in politics. She co-founded the Pima County Tea Party Patriots and launched an effort to recall Bronson that went nowhere.

She won the District 1 primary with just 38 percent of the vote. The remainder was split among Mike Hellon, a former Republican national committeeman and head of the Arizona Republican Party, who got 32 percent; former state lawmaker Vic Williams, who got 21 percent; and Republican campaign operative Stuart McDaniel, who got 9 percent.

For all of her odd behavior, Miller has her defenders. Tucson Metro Chamber President and CEO Mike Varney said last week that he finds Miller to be "refreshing."

Although Varney didn't agree with Miller's vote against helping Raytheon with the Hughes Access Road relocation, he said he appreciated her support for the Rosemont mine and her willingness to challenge Huckelberry.

"Any public policy maker who lends that critical eye, lends that alternative voice, lends that 'Plan B' or 'gee-did-we-think-of-this' kind of thinking to things is almost always healthy," Varney said. "Otherwise, you get a unanimous rubber stamp."

Miller still has her supporters among District 1 neighborhoods. Donna Heidinger, who works with the La Cañada/Magee Neighborhood Association, said she thought it was "unspeakably horrific" that the supervisors transferred road funds from District 1 to District 4 last month because District 1 roads are in dire shape.

But Heidinger said that Miller might find it hard to be an effective supervisor because of her tendency to hammer on her fellow board members.

"Those three Democrats have the power," said Heidinger. "I have never seen a point in being terribly confrontational."

Other District 1 residents are not happy with Miller. Radio talk show host Emil Franzi, a longtime political operative who has worked in county politics for decades, says he "resents her behavior in public office."

"I live in District 1," said Franzi, who has advised both Carroll and Bronson in the past. "I have a county supervisor who is so wrapped up in herself that she is attacking all of her colleagues—including a Republican colleague—and calling them names and calling them corrupt and making all kinds of accusations that she can't support. And then she wonders why they take away all of her road money."

Hellon, who is not one to speak ill of his fellow Republicans, said that Miller has "poisoned the well" on the 11th floor.

Hellon doesn't buy Miller's repeated allegations of county corruption: "She talks about it, she rails against it. But everything she points to, every single time, going back to the FBI investigating Rio Nuevo, what happened? Nothing. The auditor general coming down to audit the bonds and all this nefarious stuff she claimed was going on. What happened? Nothing. It's all smoke and mirrors with her. ... She has harmed herself and District 1 an awful lot with these ill-conceived, erroneous accusations of misconduct on the part of people who are simply doing their job. If there's one thing she's alleged about corruption or misconduct that turned out to be true, I'm unaware of it."

Hellon said little had changed since Miller was throwing around bogus claims on the 2012 campaign trail.

"Not withstanding her claim to have a master's degree in finance or something, she has no understanding of politics, apparently no understanding of the financing of government operations and she apparently doesn't want to spend the time to learn," Hellon said. "She hasn't learned a damn thing."

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