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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On July 19, 2018 the Glendale Star ran a story entitled “Petitions ready to keep festivals in place.” Bud Zomok, a local downtown Glendale resident, was interviewed about his effort to run an online petition using the internet site ipetitions.com. The purpose of the online petition was to garner support for preserving Glendale’s downtown festivals exactly the way they have always been.

Let’s take a closer look at the representations of support depicted in these petitions. Zomok said he collected 958 signatures. That is factually correct. He said that people for all zip codes in Glendale responded. That is factually correct.  I reviewed all of the petition signatures Zomok presented to each member of the city council. Here is the signature break down by zip code in Glendale:

  • 85301 43 signatures
  • 85302 40 signatures
  • 85303 10 signatures
  • 85304: 30 signatures
  • 85305: 5 signatures
  • 85306: 18 signatures
  • 85307: 1  signature
  • 85308:  21 signatures
  • 85310: 11 signatures
  • Glendale, AZ no zip code:    8 signatures

The total number of identifiable, provable signatures representing Glendale total 187. The balance of the signatures, another 771, had no zip code or if a zip code was entered it was outside of Glendale. In fact, one signature was from France.

Yet Mr. Zomok says, “There were 400 signatures from within the city, while 500 were from the rest of the state and beyond.” I went back and took a closer look at the petitions to see if there was some marker that I missed that would allow Mr. Zomok to definitively identify 400 signatures from within the city. I could not find anything. Did he contact all of these people by email to confirm their residency in Glendale? I doubt it and you should as well. It would be difficult to convince anyone that he had personal knowledge of the claimed 400 Glendale residents.

Now, it is possible that more of the signatures could be from Glendale residents but without a zip code or other descriptor it is not possible to verify. Therefore the only rational course is to accept those petition signatures with stated Glendale zip codes.

While many of the 187 Glendale residents who signed the petition left a comment in support of the festivals there were many more respondents who did not leave any commentary at all.

I selected one page, page 27, at random and reproduced it below:

There is nothing wrong with the use of petitions to convey support for an issue. However, an online petition becomes suspect when anyone who is online can sign it, without claiming a Glendale zip code and without any comment about the festival which indicates a lack of knowledge about the festival. Petitions generally work and have meaning (except for the 1,000 Glendale residents who signed a petition in opposition to an amended Stonehaven plan and were ignored) when locals circulate them among the local population. It does a disservice to every reader of this news article to represent that there is overwhelming support from scads of Glendale’s residents.

No one has suggested that the festivals be eliminated in their entirety. Far from it. In fact, it appears that the city manager has identified enough funding to add one of the three weekends back to Glendale Glitters. So instead of four weekends of city funded programming there will be two. 

In an informal poll that ran with this blog 53% of the respondents approved of changing the festivals while 47% of the respondents did not.

There is nothing to preclude the downtown merchants from getting together, seeking sponsorships and developing programming for the two weekends that will not be funded by the city. It’s not too late to do so. I am sure the city would work with the merchants to facilitate their needs should they decide to take up the task. The merchants would have to raise the money needed for associated production costs such as police, security and sanitation. The city has made clear that it believes the dollars used to cover the costs associated with four weekends can be used more effectively with other initiatives to achieve the goal of driving visitors downtown on a yearlong basis.

The general sentiment seems to be that the festivals need refreshing, not elimination in their entirety. I have some ideas and I have heard some good ideas from the merchants as well. I hope they will come together as one voice and share those great ideas with the city. Let’s work together.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Should downtown festivals be changed?

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Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Let’s talk about Glendale Glitters, the city’s major downtown festival. First let me preface that it was former Marketing Director, Paula Illardo, and I, as a brand new councilmember, which asked the city council in 1994 for the very first investment of funding for 50,000 Christmas lights in Murphy Park. Over the years the number of lights has increased year over year and this year downtown Glendale will have 2 million lights – not just in Murphy Park but throughout the downtown footprint.

Courtesy of the Arizona Republic

I have always supported the downtown festivals but lately, in at least the last 5 years, I no longer enjoyed visiting on any given weekend. Rather my family and friends would visit during the week when one could actually look at and enjoy the light display.

What turned us and many others off? Councilmember Malnar is correct in his council workshop comment that it had become a carnival rather than a festival (and there is a distinction). The footprint for the event was too small to accommodate all of the attendees. It was no fun to walk the park packed in like cattle. It became too difficult to actually visit a vendor or to truly enjoy the lights. Over the years, the quality of merchandise offered by the vendors declined as well.

Let’s look at some facts. I don’t think anyone expects the downtown festivals to be money makers but I believe the expectation is that the revenues should cover the cost to the city to produce them. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 total revenues for Glendale Glitters and Glow were $442,789 and in FY 2017-18 total revenues were $313,846. Revenues declined by $128,943 in every measurable statistic:

  • Vending fees were down by $88,461
  • Sponsorship fees declined by $23,500
  • Beverage sales were down by $3,731
  • Parking fees declined by $13,240

Festival attendance has also declined with an attendance in FY 2015-16 of 235,000 and an attendance in FY 2017-18 of 216,000 totaling a decline of 19,000 visitors. It is fair to say some of the decline is attributable to the changes made in FY 2017-18 with fewer vendors. However, until a visitor arrived at the festival that visitor would not have known there were fewer vendors or perhaps a first time visitor would not have even realized that there were fewer vendors. Attribution to the changes made in FY 2017-18 is not sufficient to explain the decline.

Why are the festivals declining? I am sure to receive many opinions as to why and many will lay the blame at the feet of the city, most specifically the city manager and city council. But there is more to the problem. Glendale now faces competition from all over the Valley. Many communities saw the success of Glendale Glitters and mimicked the event. You can now attend a Glendale Glitters-like event all over the Valley.

I think it’s also fair to say the event has become stale. It’s the same template year after year. A certain percentage of visitors having attended once will opt for a newer, fresher event knowing exactly what they can expect from Glendale Glitters. With the exception of last year, Glendale has not attempted to refresh the event for over 20 years. Admittedly the changes did not help but if we don’t try we won’t learn what new things work and what doesn’t.

An equally important factor is the inconsistency of hours of downtown shops and restaurants. What does every business do during the holiday season (which is typically when they earn 70% of their annual revenue)? They extend the hours when they are open. Today’s customers are spoiled and expect merchants to be open until 10 PM in the evening, every day of the holiday season. It should also be acknowledged that online shopping is having an effect driving local merchants to offer unusual or original items not usually found online.

Courtesy of the Arizona Republic

 It is so disappointing to view the downtown lights and to discover that half of the shops and restaurants are closed. I know I will hear from some downtown merchants saying they are open and I congratulate them for their entrepreneurship. But there are many others that are closed and they do no favor for those fellow businesses that do stay open. They harm the entire downtown business community.

As I said at the recent city council workshop, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I do not want to eliminate these festivals. I don’t think anyone wants to do that. But it is time to try to do something different.

That’s where merchants and general public can weigh in. The solution is not to ‘resist’ and to cling to past practices especially with a petition to ask that the festivals remain exactly the way they have always been.

I urge you to use this platform to share your ideas and comments. I promise to share them with the city council and senior management. I ask that you remain respectful of all individuals whether it be a citizen, merchant, elected, or city management.

It’s time to take a fresh look at these festivals and to offer your solutions to refresh them, to make them equally competitive with other Valley holiday events, and to preserve the spirit of its 1994 original intent – the celebration of the holiday with all of its wonders to be shared with our children.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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