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Archive for March, 2011

31st March
written by clothcutter

This March is going down as the worst hotel/tourism revenue March in the last 20 years.  The complete loss of Spring Training (which the Bureau took credit for business booked from) and lack of destination marketing and unique branding is taking a heavy toll on local business.

Do we see anything bold coming from Mr. Walker and Mr. Vahuagn?  No, not really.  It’s nice to see that that they are finally moving off the uninspiring “Real, Natural, Arizona” tagline and moving to the “The Real Southwest”.  In addition to that, same old stuff. 

They are masters at feathering their bureaucratic nest, doing Powerpoint “dog and pony” shows and ensuring their combined $400,000 in salaries.  So, what do they do to help their members after the worst March ever?  Hit them up for money to paid to Steve Rosenberg’s BizTucson to fluff up their image.  If you are hotel/resort/attraction GM and you actually pay money to a local mag, just so it can make Walker and Vahaugn look good, you are failing your property pretty miserably.

How about directing that money in a bold initiative that can actally produce some business for your suffering members?   Oh, that would be serving them instead of yourselves. Sorry.

From an e-mail to their members:

March 28, 2011

Dear MTCVB Partner,

We are pleased to announce that BizTucson will feature a special section profiling the many achievements, strategic vision and marketing strategies of the MTCVB, as the editorial centerpiece of the Summer 2011 edition of the magazine. The business of tourism has a significant impact on our economy and BizTucson will provide the business community with an in-depth Special Report on this important economic driver. The MTCVB will also be able to utilize the Special Report as a year-round business development tool and marketing piece (frame it and put up in their offices?) …  locally, nationally and internationally.

The MTCVB section also presents an exceptional business-to-business (B2B) marketing opportunity for your organization. Plus, it’s important for our business community to show its unified support (that was gone a long time ago)  of MTCVB and our region’s tourism initiatives.

 By placing your advertising message in BizTucson, your company will reach the region’s leading CEO’s, Presidents, CFO’s, entrepreneurs… plus, top-level managers in the private and public sectors. These individuals make purchasing decisions for their companies. The MTCVB special section is funded by advertising support (Rosenberg wouldn’t say nice things about them for free?) . As the ad support increases, the editorial coverage within the special section increases proportionately. (Give Rosenberg more of your money and we will get more pages to exaggerate!)

As BizTucson enters its third year of publishing, its mission is to continue reporting on the region’s business success stories (SALC Members Complimenting Each Other Issue was amazing!), which is important in portraying our city in a positive light. Tucson’s world-class resorts, spas, golf courses, guest ranches and attractions many times receive significant national and international press, yet in many cases this success remains “under the radar.” There’s a lot to be optimistic about! (Like Walker and Vahaugn being shown the door)

Please consider joining us for this upcoming special edition. BizTucson is offering MTCVB Partners a special discount of up to 20% (WOW!) for advertising in this special section. If you wish to advertise, the space reservation deadline is April 22, 2011. You can reach Publisher Steve Rosenberg at 520.907.1012 or e-mail: steve@biztucson.com.

Wishing you and your business continued success!! (You’ll need it!)


Best regards,


Jonathan Walker

President & CEO


31st March
written by clothcutter

Today’s the last day of the outgoing Chamber of Commerce blowhard, Jack Camper.  He was a mainstay of the “good ole boys” network and chamber head since the CARTER Administration. Jack was also the poster boy for the Tucson business community’s inaction and indifference that helped the region descend into its current stagnant business climate.

Jack was famous for alienating many groups.  Many of these groups splintered off from the Tucson Chamber.  You may have heard of them:  MTCVB, SALC, Rodeo Committee, Caballeros del Sol and others.  GTEC (and now TREO) were started by the SALC crew, because the Chamber was failing heavily at the job (Not that TREO really doing anything) Hundreds of members quit and joined the plethora of other Chambers searching for respect and effectiveness.  That’s why the Chamber went from about 4, 000 members to an estimated 900. We now  have to bring all these different business factions together to provide the balance that Mr. Camper helped facilitate.

I hope the new Chamber head does what needs to be done.  The first couple of years are going to be difficult. Mr. Camper’s buddies are still on the Board, it will take awhile to get his stink off the organization.

Adios, Jack.  The business community is not going to miss you.  The neighborhood associations, environmentalists and the bureaucrats who kicked your butt for the last couple of decades probably will.

29th March
written by Arizona Kid

March 29, 2011

Voting With Their Feet

By Thomas Sowell

The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.

When you break it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy.

Whites are also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds of states in the midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

Although California has long been a prime destination of Asian immigrants and the homes of their descendants, the 2010 census shows a striking increase in the Asian American population of Nevada, more so than any other state. Nevada is adjacent to California but has no income tax nor the hostile climate for business that California maintains.

The movement of the black population– especially educated young blacks– is the most striking of all.

In the past, the massive movements of millions of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was one of the epic migrations of a people– comparable in size with the millions of the Irish who fled the famine in Ireland in the 1840s or the millions of Jews who fled persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In more recent decades, blacks have been moving back to the South, however. While the overall black population of the northeastern and midwestern states has not declined in the past ten years, except in Michigan and Illinois, the net increase of the black population nationwide has increasingly been in the South. About half of the national growth of the black population took place in the South in the 1970s, two-thirds in the 1990s and three-quarters in the past 10 years.

While the mass migrations of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was to places where there were already established black communities, such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, much of the current movement of blacks is away from existing concentrations of black populations.

Blacks are moving to suburbs, and even to cities like Minneapolis. Overall, the racial residential segregation patterns are declining in the great majority of the largest major metropolitan areas.

Among blacks who moved, the proportions who were in their prime — from 20 to 40 years of age– were greater than in the black population at large, and college degrees were more common among them than in the black population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with liberal policies.

Detroit is perhaps the most striking example of a once thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies. Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit’s black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.

It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit’s population today is only half of what it once was, and its most productive people have been the ones who fled.

Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run– and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.

As whites were the first to start leaving Detroit, its then mayor Coleman Young saw this only as an exodus of people who were likely to vote against him, enhancing his re-election prospects.

But what was good for Mayor Young was disastrous for Detroit.

There is a lesson here somewhere, but it is very doubtful if either the intelligentsia or the politicians will learn it.

Copyright 2011, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/03/29/voting_with_their_feet_109369.html at March 29, 2011 – 07:07:49 AM CDT

28th March
written by clothcutter

From our friends at Inside Tucson Business:

“Underrated’ Tucson”

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 5:00 pm | Updated: 3:44 pm, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

“According to the editors of Travel + Leisure magazine, Tucson ranks among the most underrated destination in the world.

“It’s not just rodeos and golf courses,” according to the magazine, specifically noting the efforts to revive downtown with top-notch dining.

Other underrated destinations included Detroit; Nara, Japan; Bratislava, Slovakia; Galsgow, Scotland; and Taipei, Taiwan.”

This is not really good news, as the ITB puts it.  It means we have a great destination that no one really know about.  A big contention of whistleblowers at the Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau is that Mr. Walker has built up a army of employees at the expense of actually marketing the destination.

Preliminary findings of the Pima County Tourism Audit Commission are pointing to an % increase in payroll over the last several years(except the last year or so)  at the MTCVB.  Over the same period, there has been a % decrease in the actual marketing expenditures.  I am sure that the MTCVB’s Board Members who see this article might be encouraged, but they shouldn’t.

It’s time for a change at the the top of the MTCVB.  Mr. Walker and Mr. Vahaugn have worn out their welcome. After a decade of them and their rubberstamping boards of directors, they have achieved quite a goal:  Tucson is a best kept secret.  I am sure that makes all the business owners in Tucson who rely on the tourist dollar very happy.  This March is going to go down as possibly the worst March (tourism revenue)  in the last 20 years. It is time to find some new people with new ideas.

(Pictured:  The CVB Brass Enjoying a Cocktail in Scotland)

Maybe Bratislava looking for new arrogant 1-2 combo at the MBCVB.

28th March
written by clothcutter

From the Ward 1 incumbent:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Our campaign is off to a great start (that’s what Grijalva told me to start with).  Our team of volunteers has collected the maximum of required nominating signatures from our neighbors in Ward One, and now we’re on to the next phase.  But these are tough political times, and we’re not taking anything for granted.  In Tucson’s last city election, Republicans managed to score a narrow victory (63% is more like a decent whoopin’!)  by using independent expenditure committees and nasty anonymous attack ads. (You mean threatening layoffs and holding back revenue reports to scare voters was noble?)  Things didn’t get any better for us in 2010: we lost one of our finest (Nancy Young Wright, really?) state reps to a Tea Party novice, and watched helplessly as Governor Jan Brewer sailed to victory on corporate tax giveaways (Gadsden’s not a giveaway? Free Rent to Maynards, but not to others at Depot?) , anti-immigrant legislation and massive education cuts.
This year’s upcoming city election is about more than just Tucson.  It’s about whether Republicans and their corporate backers (yes, the Pima Dems refuse checks from business people!?!) can continue to erode Southern Arizona’s progressive strength (Progressive strenth like $230 million of Rio Nuevo waste, Westside embarassments like Gadsden and Mission Gardens?) and inject Pima County with the kind of politics that have embarrassed our state on the national stage. 
I am the only Democratic candidate (and pre-endorsed by Jeff Rogers and the Pima Dem Party, that doesnt’ sound progressive) in this year’s City Council election cycle facing opposition in the Primary, so we especially need your help now. We are trying to complete our fundraising by the end of May for the election August 30.  I am participating in the City of Tucson’s matching funds program, so each dollar you give is doubled, and will enable us to send a strong message to voters. The maximum contribution is $430—but your contribution of $10, $25, or $50 will prepare us to overcome the challenges ahead this election year.
Click HERE to contribute to my campaign today and stand up for our families, neighborhoods, and businesses!  (Having a business roundtable doesn’t mean you actually care about business.)
In community,
Regina Romero
P.S.  We still have a long way to go, and we need volunteers to help bring my message to the voters in our neighborhoods, click HERE to sign up for a shift!  We need your help knocking on doors, making phone calls, and helping out at events!

P.S. #2:  My husband and I are still using Ruth McClung campaign signs to protect our driveway from a nagging dripping oil pan on our car.

27th March
written by JHiggins

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 10:00 am

Bureaucracies could use a little entrepreneurial attitude adjustment By Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone, Inside Tucson Business Inside Tucson Business | 0 comments

In a recent conversation with a local mechanic we learned the City of Tucson pays its fleet services department more than $90 for an oil change on a police car. You know as well we do, it’s pretty easy to find a good mechanic who will do the same thing for $29.95. Do a little shopping and it’s possible to get it done for $19.95.

Why does the city pay itself so much for the same services?

The answer is that bureacracies lack the same motivations and competitive pressures that you find in the competitive marketplace. Government bureaucracies exist to keep existing. Add in a unionized workforce that understands the political system and you can see how difficult it becomes trying to make government efficient.

Less than five months ago, Tucson voters overwhelmingly rejected a sales tax increase despite city leaders’ threats that thousands of jobs would have to be cut, including police and fire protection. In hours after the results were in, the number of lost jobs was cut to 400 by Mayor Bob Walkup and City Manager Mike Letcher. In the end, the “crisis” was averted and there were no layoffs at all.

So how can we trust Tucson leaders crying wolf? If they can mysteriously find enough money to keep from laying off anyone, how confident can we be that they are spending tax dollars efficiently?

There are a handful of game-changing bills working their way through the Legislature this session that will attempt to get our region back on track.

Here’s a look at three bills that will make an immediate and long-term difference in your daily life:

• Outsourcing all city services over $50,000 (SB 1322). The example of the $90 oil change is too common in local governments. This bill requires all services be bid out to the marketplace except for police, fire and the judiciary. The city can bid to keep the services currently provided in-house, but it must justify the true cost of every function and prove to the voters why a private sector shouldn’t be doing the service. This idea was implemented by Sal DiCiccio, a Phoenix city councilman who has been running into obstacles trying to reform the way his city does business. The threshhold population was originally set so that it would apply only cities of over 1 million people but that has been reduced to 500,000 so it would apply to Tucson.

• Annexation and incorporation (SB 1333). As a Pima County property owner, you pay almost four times as much in property taxes to Pima County than what you would pay in Maricopa County. That’s mainly due to the fact that so much of the Tucson region is unincorporated. The Phoenix metropolitan area has 16 incorporated municipalities, all competing for the tax revenues to provide quality of life and public services. Besides Tucson and South Tucson, which it surrounds, Pima County has just Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita. Current law prohibits new municipalities from forming within six miles of an existing incorporated municipality. Since most areas don’t want to be a part of Tucson, they remain unincorporatted. We need more Maranas, Oro Valleys and Sahuaritas.

• Control of wastewater (SB 1171). Since the 1970s Pima County has been in control of our region’s destiny through the wastewater system. By determining who gets connected to the system, the county can solely decide where shopping centers are located and how quickly a manufacturing facility can be up and running. This bill will allow Marana and other municipalities to gain control of their own wastewater systems and, as a result, gain better control over their own economic development. The bill has cleared the state Senate and is being considered by the state House. This is the time to let your state representatives know how you feel.

What these and some other bills have in common is that they promote and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and economic development. They’re about attitude and getting things accomplished. They’re about giving businesses and residents an opportunity to shop around for a lower-priced – and probably better – oil change.

Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.

24th March
written by Land Lawyer

Jim Nintzel

Did the city of Tucson try to sell public-access TV down the Rio Nuevo? That’s the scandal laid out by the morning daily’s new City Hall reporter, Rob O’Dell, who had a front-page story last week suggesting how the city was muzzling any opposition to a bill that would limit the city’s negotiating power with Cox Communications in exchange for an extension of the downtown revitalization district. ……..

If the cable bill passes, the city will be limited in how much it can collect from Cox; the new law could trim as much as $2 million off the $5 million the city currently collects. The bill would also trim the number of public, educational and government channels from eight or nine to four, depending on how you count ‘em. That would mean Access Tucson–the city’s nationally recognized public-access channels where anyone with a camera and a big enough heart for showbiz can put on a show–would likely lose at least two of the three channels it currently has.

You’d expect the city to oppose the bill, but City Manager Mike Hein and city lobbyist Mary Okoye, noting that the city was in a delicate political situation, recommended the council remain neutral on the bill instead of arguing against it. Given that the mean ol’ GOP-controlled City Council fiercely opposed similar legislation last year, it was curious that the new progressive council wouldn’t take the same stand.

The principle players in the deal insist no quid pro quo is in play. They say the neutral position on the bill was more of a ploy in the ongoing renegotiation of the city’s contract with Cox. (Guess who’s giving Cox political advice these days, by the way? Democrats Dan Eckstrom, Tom Volgy and Larry Hecker, the local attorney who recently served as treasurer to Nina Trasoff’s campaign.)

Here’s what we’re waiting to see: Does the City Council vote to oppose the cable bill? And if the council does turn up the pressure, does Rio Nuevo dry up?

24th March
written by Land Lawyer

Beneficial Conservation 

Why are Don Diamond and his Growth Lobby backing the open-space and other bond packages?

by Chris Limberis

As fear of Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan spread among home builders, speculators and the real estate agents they feed, the Growth Lobby’s titular premier, Donald R. Diamond, once rose in a packed land-use conference to label the plan, “dip shit.”

What a difference a little time makes.

Less than two weeks before voters will be asked to take on $174 million in debt to buy up open space–one of two cornerstones of the conservation plan–Diamond and his followers are on board. They support the open-space bonds and have helped underwrite with tens of thousands of dollars the temperate campaign that urges voters to approve the open-space and five other bond questions totaling a record $732 million.

Diamond and his companies, including Diamond Ventures, are among the region’s largest landowners. And what he doesn’t own, he can buy. He has been the region’s top player in real estate since he and his partners bought and sold vast acreage in Howard Hughes’ trust.

Huckelberry, the county’s top man since the end of 1993 and a county executive for 30 years, has long done a wary tango with Diamond, now 76. He and Diamond, still a key figure in the company that failed to return the county-owned Old Tucson Western theme park to its glory, are inextricably linked.

“It makes us nervous,” Huckelberry says with a big laugh about Diamond’s affection for the open-space bonds and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. “We’re glad. We knew he was potentially a slow learner. But the fact that he’s come to our side shows a little hope for those developers. It’s been a true conversion.”

Steve Emerine, a former Pima County assessor and newspaper editor who advises home builders, opposes the open-space bonds. He says Huckelberry worked key people in the industry.

“Some of them saw this as a chance to perhaps gain future favors from the county,” Emerine says. “Others decided that if they cooperated, the ongoing business battles between the business community and the county could end. And still others felt that if they didn’t cooperate, their future dealings with the county would become even more difficult and more expensive.”

Huckelberry helped his cause by rolling $10 million for land into the open-space bond to buffer Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. He picked up other interest groups, including the gun and hunting lobbies, by vowing to keep the open space truly open.

Diamond came around slowly, Huckelberry says.

“Mostly, it was just the gradual recognition that the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is not an anti-growth measure,” Huckelberry says. “When we began to go through the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, he and others saw that it had growth areas.”

Two of Diamond’s companies contributed a total of $20,000 to the campaign promoting the bonds. Fairfield Green Valley, which sold a big chunk of the Canoa Ranch to the county, also contributed $10,000, as did the Star Valley development company headed by Joe Cesare.

Diamond said in an interview that the infusion of bond money, the benefit to the community and bond rates made it possible to support the package.

Business and other leaders could “pick apart” pieces of the six-package deal, but the overall benefit and the goal of bring together different factions overrode criticisms of specific projects, Diamond said.

There are other reasons for the business support. The complete conservation plan is needed by governments throughout the region, as well for builders; the plan would give the ability to build under local regulations by gaining a federal Section 10 permit for showing protection of habitat for endangered species.

“It’s not just about the pygmy owl anymore,” Huckelberry said.

Open-space backers say the community overwhelmingly supports more purchases. They point to the $28 million in open-space debt voters approved by a wide margin in 1997. The decision was left to the few–as in fewer than one in five voters who bothered to cast ballots.

Huckelberry concedes that open-space purchases could drive up the value of Diamond’s real estate, too. Diamond’s slow-developing but huge Rocking K in the Rincon Valley east of Tucson was approved more than a dozen years ago. More open-space purchases in the region, including at Colossal Cave Park and along the Cienega and Rincon creeks, will only enhance the Rocking K value.

More purchases in the Tucson Mountains, where the activists on the open-space committee have pushed and prodded supervisors to spend and commit disproportionately high shares of open-space money, will increase the value of developable land.

“Obviously,” Huckelberry says, “people want to live next to a preserve, not a landfill.”

Developers like Diamond are supporting the other bonds, for county medical and health services, a new radio system for area law enforcement, parks, courts and sewers. All but the $150 million in sewer upgrades, repaid with monthly and hookup fees, will be repaid with property taxes, already the highest among Arizona’s 15 counties.

For them, the sewer bonds are a way to spread the burden beyond the developers.

Huckelberry says open space and conservation do not conflict with sewer expansion.

“This one probably goes better than the 1997 sewer bonds, because this one is about split about 50 percent for new capacity and 50 percent for replacement and upgrades to the current system,” Huckelberry says. “The 1997 bond was 75 percent new capacity.”

Larry Hecker, the Tucson business and investment lawyer who is chairing the pro-bond committee, has represented Diamond companies.

Support from Diamond and others came “without arm-twisting but rather an appeal to the community conscience.

“To me it’s significant and an important step. It is an opportunity to bridge sort of the gap that exists in the community,” Hecker says. “Maybe we’re looking at a new era.”

23rd March
written by JHiggins

Those that have fought growth for growths sake  finally have something to celebrate. From Marshal Vest’s Census analysis. Bad economy, immigration bills and undercount are likely to blame for the dip in population.

Without successful diversification of industries beyond construction related growth it’s going to be a long and bumpy road in Arizona and especially Pima County.

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