January 18, 2012
Rio Nuevo Board Wins Battle for Transparency, Releases Wells Fargo Documents
After many months and substantial legal fees, the Rio Nuevo District Board just won the battle to confirm authorization to release Wells Fargo bank documents for publication. The documents will first be available for public viewing Friday, January 20, 2012 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm at 400 West Congress, Room 158. Some District Board members will be on hand to speak with the public as well.
The 100+ documents are also being prepared for posting on the District’s website. Wells Fargo has acted as the trustee of the bond accounts for years, and according to Chair Jodi Bain, “after many months, emails, telephone calls, and actions by the Board, Wells Fargo began to supply some account documents which we were asked not to make public. The District just received confirmation it was permissible to publish these documents by Wells Fargo.”
Growing frustration with the City’s continued claims that the District had obtained all account documents, led District’s Special Counsel Sean Brearcliffe, to write Wells Fargo officials on January 4, 2012 “Finally, unless I hear from you otherwise by e-mail or otherwise that we cannot, and we are given clear reason not to, make them public, on or after January 6, 2012 the documents we have received relating to these accounts may be made public, both in response to Public Records Requests and as part of our general disclosure obligations.”
Brearcliffe noted in his letter that the account disbursement documentation the Board received within the last few weeks was significantly less than what was anticipated as the District, “expected to receive bankers boxes full based on our discussions, but only received a single file of documents.” (Letter Attached)
Jeffrey Hill, Rio Nuevo Board member and Treasurer, told Inside Tucson Business and the District’s Board at a recent meeting that the District has struggled pinpointing “its financial status” due to the unavailability of the Well Fargo records.
Inside Tucson Business reported that, “Rio Nuevo District Executive Director Larry Lewis made similar claims at the meeting, saying District accountants have been unable to complete the audits because Wells Fargo won’t provide the requested information.”
Constant critic Councilman Kozachik wrote of the District and Wells Fargo struggle in his October 6, 2011 newsletter, “Evidently, their own third party neutral Trustee won’t tell them what’s in their own account. So the pivot is now from the City withholding information, to their Trustee doing the same.”
To date the District has saved the taxpayers over $3M, while over $16M of Rio Nuevo District funds have been spent on the TCC.”