This first story is in keeping with the spirit of the Christmas season. Right after Thanksgiving a Phoenix hiking group erected a 15-foot Christmas tree at the summit of Camelback Mountain. Within a day someone had cut the tree’s top half down and stole it. Park rangers removed the bottom half instantly. Phoenix (the Grinch of this story) has a “leave no trace” policy in its parks and refused to allow the group to replace the tree. After discussions with the group, Phoenix relented and will allow the Christmas tree to be up for a month. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2016/12/02/camelback-mountain-new-christmas-tree/94826794/ hootPostID=e6b4bacfb975fca570a98e83f2a0f9f3 . A win win solution for everyone showing that even a Grinch can have a heart. Good for you, Phoenix.
Not so with Glendale. Tony Escamillo erected a United States flag at the summit of Thunderbird Mountain Park symbolic of our national pride and out of his love of country. It keeps getting removed. By whom? None other than the City of Glendale. Another Grinch identified. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken and this could be one of those ‘sometimes’. Come on, Glendale, make this an exception. Perhaps there is a reader out there who will start a Go Fund Me account for permanent placement of our country’s flag on Glendale’s one and only mountain top. Here is a link to this story: https://www.facebook.com/FOX10Phoenix/videos/1188934381155107/?pnref=story .
The next story is a cautionary tale for Glendale’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Experience Scottsdale (previously known as the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau) was audited this year. Here is a link to that story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2016/12/01/city-tourism-audit-ciritical-experience-scottsdales-high-pay-lack-focus-city/94353844/ . The major thrust of the audit was on Experience Scottsdale’s executive salaries. At the present time that is not an issue for the Glendale CVB and is irrelevant but some of its other findings are worth paying attention to.
This group receives half of Scottsdale’s hotel-sales-tax collections each year, amounting to about $9.4 million in fiscal year 2016. Glendale also allocates a portion of its bed-hotel-sales tax collections to its CVB. Currently, $30,000 of its total hotel-bed-sales tax will be used to promote the Civic Center. While Glendale’s hotel bed-sales-tax numbers are not as grand as those of Scottsdale with its bounty of hotels, especially high-end ones as more hotels come on line in Glendale, that bed-sales-tax number will become more significant.
Scottsdale’s audit report discovered that of the 536 convention bookings, only 297 were actually on Scottsdale properties. In another instance, the Scottsdale CVB reported 167,000 room nights as a result of the conventions booked. Actual room nights in Scottsdale proper were about half that number, 84,000.
The Scottsdale CVB has 411 members but 180 of its members, or a little less than half, are outside of Scottsdale so the benefits to its members do not translate as exclusive benefits for Scottsdale businesses. The Scottsdale CVB reported 2.6 million visitors to its website but failed to account for repeat visitors in that reported number. The audit revealed the economic impact related to visitor inquiries at Experience Scottsdale around $262 million, about 16 percent less than the figure reported by the CVB.
The Scottsdale audit recommended that its CVB set annual goals based on the previous year’s results; that it prioritizes Scottsdale-based businesses; and that it annually submits documentation that verifies its performance claims. That sure does sound like a strategy the Glendale city council should adopt.
The last story is about Buckeye and is in the ‘what in the world?’ category. In April of 2015, about a year and half ago, Buckeye purchased Global Water Resources for $55 million dollars. The deal was touted as being more efficient. Residents were assured that current customer water rates were sufficient to cover the expense of the acquisition over a 20 year period. The city said that opening up the areas previously served by Global would generate new development. It said there would be new sales tax, property tax and employment as a result of the enhanced water system. Here is the link to the original 2015 story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2015/04/06/buckeye-adds-new-water-customers-promises-benefits/25269607/ .
Obviously something went terribly wrong. Over the past few months suddenly Buckeye water customers have had bills that spiked – upwards of $400, and some as high as $1,400. There is nothing that makes a resident sit up and take notice more than an issue that hits the pocket book and this surely did just that. Residents made noise and filed complaints with the city. Nothing has happened except for the sound of crickets chirping. On November 22, 2016 residents had had enough of the city’s inaction and so filed a recall petition against Mayor Jackie Meck. Here is a link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/southwest-valley/2016/11/30/high-water-bills-prompt-recall-effort-buckeye-mayor/94634980/ .
Meck, in response, acknowledged “some growing pains” as a result of the city’s purchase of Global. What might they be, Mayor Meck and why haven’t you shared them with your residents? More crickets chirping. It has been my experience that a city’s mayor knows exactly what’s going on with everything even remotely city-related. Meck says he’s “working on it” but it’s a little late for Meck to suddenly play dumb.
Jackie Meck has been around for a long time and seems to represent the good ole boys of Buckeye. His response has been to say, “I have lived in Buckeye all of my life. Through it all we have never gone through a recall. It is not how we have settled our differences.” It appears that Meck is ignoring his residents at his peril. Didn’t we all just experience something similar on a national level as the Democrats ignored their core constituency of the working class resulting in their election losses? It would seem that anyone running against Meck this time around has a good chance of unseating him (despite his recent August reelection victory) for it’s obvious that there are a lot of angry Buckeye water customers out there and they, too, are being ignored. They just may express their anger and frustration through the ballot box as well.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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