Lawsuit over public documents request for GCU deal wraps up in c - Tucson News Now

Lawsuit over public documents request for GCU deal wraps up in court

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A lawsuit over a public documents request to find out more about the deal to sell the El Rio Golf Course on the west side to Grand Canyon University has wrapped up in Pima County Superior Court.

The judge heard closing arguments in the case on Tuesday morning.  The case was filed by Cecilia Cruz with the El Rio Coalition 2, a group of neighborhood residents who wanted to know more about the talks between city leaders and Grand Canyon University officials, to build a campus on the golf course put under private management.

Residents said they had been promised the land would be used as green space for the community, and were surprised to hear about the talks to build a university on the golf grounds.

Although Grand Canyon University backed off due to the public backlash and opted to build a campus in Mesa instead, residents have continued to fight for answers.

The group filed a public records request last May, but said the city had not released all the documents they asked for.

Bill Risner, a trial lawyer hired by the group said this lawsuit had implications for all Tucson residents, because it showed a lack of transparency in city government.

"As a taxpaying citizen I say the city is mis-managed. What their lawyer is saying is they planned this multi-million dollar deal and they don't have more records?  The city is saying they kept no notes, no written agendas, no calender notes.  So what? They just meet in halls and come up with these deals?" questioned Risner.

Cecilia Cruz said she was tired of the delay tactics and wanted to see the public documents.

"I've lost the trust in city government, yes," said Cruz.

Residents wanted to know who came up with the idea to talk to Grand Canyon University about a deal to build a campus on the golf course?  They wanted to know which officials and elected leaders were involved in the talks, and what information they presented to the University to entice them to Tucson.

"How did it all come together?" asked Cruz.

Risner said all they were asking for was transparency. 

"We want an open process and we want to find out what's going on.  We don't want to have insiders pulling strings and making deals," said Risner.

Tucson News Now reached out to city officials for a comment and got this statement from City Attorney Mike Rankin's office:

"Out of respect for the court process, I will not comment on this still-pending case, other than to say we have presented our position and arguments to the court, and will await the judge's decision."

Residents said the judge was expected to issue a ruling within the next couple weeks.

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