Home » Community, General » J. Rick Normand: Sedona Mayor on Tourism Ad Dollars Unnecessary – Part Two

J. Rick Normand: Sedona Mayor on Tourism Ad Dollars Unnecessary – Part Two

J. Rick Normand, examines City of Sedona contract with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce in the second of his two-part Op-Ed series.

Sedona AZ (August 10, 2018) – Thanks to the decade long influence peddling to the last several Sedona City Councils by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and the Sedona Lodging Council, the effective design and implementation of a successful and sustainable resort town development plan has been stifled. However, Sedona can still manage a highly desirable quality of life standard for its fulltime and faithful residents through implementation of the following formula:

1a.] All successful civic planning that has tourism as a primary economic driver starts with the targeting of high end shoppers and high net worth destination travelers, not to mention high end project investors and ultra wealthy resident benefactors who will contribute heavily to civic programs to take care of its needy and the arts. Never market to the low end travelers who haven’t the means to finance upscale City development plans through their local purchases and resulting bed and sales tax contribution to City coffers.

Think about this: The City of Palm Desert negotiated with Marriott to build their highest quality Resort, pictured below, on an unexciting piece of featureless raw desert. Nevertheless, it was designed to attract extraordinarily high net worth and longer stay travelers. Meanwhile, Sedona negotiated with Marriott to build Marriott’s low end Courtyard brand hotel (its really an upscale motel) on a prime piece of real estate with a view only God could create in a moment of ecstasy. This is the difference between the two resort towns.

J. W. Marriot Desert Springs Resort, Palm Desert CA – Elevated Viewing Area Over Foyer

J.W. Marriot Desert Springs Resort, Palm Desert CA – Foyer at Main Entrance

1b.] Consistently merchandising a resort town to high end travelers/visitors results in the attraction of high end retailers such as Palm Desert has done. To wit, the City of Palm Desert has been able to attract high end retailers such as Gucci, Armani’s, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Prada, Coach, Saks 5th Avenue, Burberry, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic and Apple, as well as ninety five more “Rodeo Drive” retailers. Not one of these is willing to open in Sedona, even if we had the necessary store facilities with high end tenant improvements like our own Schraeder-Martinez designs and builds around the country. Why is this? It’s due to the fact that our Chamber markets to Destination Travelers who can’t afford to shop in those stores.

Palm Desert California El Paseo Shopping District aka The Rodeo Drive of the Desert - Gucci

Palm Desert, California El Paseo Shopping District


Palm Desert’s El Paseo Shopping District aka The Rodeo Drive of the Desert - Coach

Another view of Palm Desert’s El Paseo Shopping District a.k.a the Rodeo Drive of the Desert.


2.] High end retailers attract high end investors (hedge funds, venture funds, institutional investment funds, etc) to finance high end retail projects such as Palm Desert’s El Paseo Shopping District.


Palm Desert’s Rodeo Drive of the Desert aka El Paseo Shopping District - Ralph Lauren

Another view of Palm Desert’s Rodeo Drive of the Desert a.k.a. El Paseo Shopping District


Night shopping in Palm Desert CA

3.] High end investors attract high end project developers, high end hoteliers and high end residential citizens and philanthropists who spend money on high class altruistic civic projects.

Another view of night shopping opportunities in Palm Desert’s El Paseo Shopping District – Sedona AZ doesn’t even offer night shopping.

4.] Once the four factors above are in place, then those factors attract a higher quality City staff with higher qualifications whom have greater vision and budget management capabilities…usually due to their prior experience in these types of environments.

5.] And, then, all the above starts the cycle over again and again which results in the civic success of places like the city of Palm Desert!

Sedona has been a dismal and perpetual failure at learning and employing the above mentioned formula. Why? Sedona Government enablers, who have been induced or willing to subject themselves to Chamber and Lodging Council influence peddling don’t have backgrounds with demonstrable experience and a track record for success in those disciplines! Then, too, they need the moral character to resist the relentless influence-peddling of the Chamber of Commerce and the Sedona Lodging Council. Neither of these professional requirements have ever been the case in the last decade of Sedona government with the exceptions of John Bradshaw, Cliff Hamilton, Mark DiNunzio, Pud Colquitt, John Martinez, Mike Ward, and current Councilor John Currivan.

Sedona traffic is moved by the same amount of highway as Palm Desert but an ADOT study found 50% of the traffic merely drives-through causing traffic backups and reduced quality of life for residents. The Mayor and City Council incumbents want to move these cars through Sedona neighborhoods in order to alleviate traffic on main roads rather than discontinue Chamber of Commerce funding that attracts these daytrippers. The mayor and incumbent city council give the Chamber millions of tax dollars for destination advertising and marketing. A hotly contested August 28 election is asking voters to approve the current business model with a Yes on Home Rule vote and re-election of incumbents and mayor, or signal a stop and re-evaluate Chamber funding with a No vote and election of new mayor and new city councilors. Early ballots have been mailed.

I’ve never observed any such other City Councilors and Mayors in the last decade who could even remotely understand the above recited formula which is prevalent across our country in successful resort town developments. Not only that, but it has been in the best interests and the prime motive of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and the Sedona Lodging Council to deny the implementation of the traditional resort town development plans in order to enhance the pure profit motives of some of their more powerful members. Thank them for nothing because you, the full time residents in Sedona, owe them absolutely nothing!

Meanwhile, the city of Palm Desert in California has had the precise opposite long-term development story than that of the city of Sedona.

In fact, in an article published in Sedona’s Red Rock News by Christopher Fox Graham on July 27, 2018 entitled “Pickels: Legislator’s ‘grossly deficient’ SB1487 complaint against Sedona is missing 5 key pages,” Graham wrote this: “In conclusion, Pickels wrote, “The city is fortunate to have a local, accredited destination marketing organization which understands the dynamics involved with Sedona’s tourism industry.” Really?

I don’t think that’s what we have in Sedona!

Accreditation does not equate to top ranked performance status. And, if the Chamber understood the dynamics involved with Sedona’s Tourism Industry, then we wouldn’t have the street traffic and hiking trail head trash and parking problems that are stifling our quality of life in Sedona today.

As I mentioned before, Roger Brooks International, the world’s premier resort town and DMO consulting specialist in community branding, product development and marketing in the U.S., with 1,500 municipal clients, has just relocated its headquarters to Peoria, Arizona.

Sedona is fortunate to have this firm just 110 miles down AZ I-17 unlike its other 1,500 resort town clients. Is City Attorney Pickels even aware of this fact? Why doesn’t the City of Sedona talk to any other recognized experts in the field of Destination Traveler marketing?

Meanwhile, I’ve checked with the major Destination Traveler Industry ranking services known as Destination Market International, BrandsUSA, TripSavvy, The National Tour Association, and the Destination Marketing Organization International. They all rank DMO’s (Destination Marketing Organizations) and CVB’s (Convention Bureaus) up through the top 100 with some of them. Most of them rank the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp as the best in the United States last year.

Not so strangely, though, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce is not ranked by any of these rating services. Yet we keep hearing Council and Staff publicly distributed superlatives about our Chamber as a great DMO to support arguments as to why our Chamber shouldn’t be required to submit itself to competitive bidding through an RFP process.

This just doesn’t add up.

The industry doesn’t even recognize our Chamber. And, by the way, almost all the ranked DMO’s and CVB’s are managed and staffed by their own city governments whom they represent. Why isn’t our City Staff capable of doing what far lesser destination traveler resort towns accomplish with fewer employees relative to our City’s size?

So let’s find out why Sedona hasn’t performed as well as, let’s say, the hugely successful resort town of the city of Palm Desert, California when Sedona had so many more advantages over Palm Desert when it started marketing itself to Destination Travelers.

In early 1943, the U.S. was deep into fighting World War II. But we were in defensive fighting mode rather than offensive. The then-Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General George C. Marshall (after whom the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe was named) recalled General George Patton to Washington to give him instructions for the initial U.S. offensive ground thrust against Germany. General Patton was told that the U.S. would launch it first ground assault against the Germans in North Africa and instructed to go out to the American West and find the most inhospitable or, colloquially speaking, the most “God-Forsaken” place in the country to train our invasion troops. In other words, Patton was to establish the “certifiable” most God-Forsaken place in the western United States.

Meanwhile, at that time, a little town sat in the Red Rocks Country of the Verde Valley known as Sedona. In fact, Sedona may have been “certifiably” the most beautiful place in the country. It still should have the same moniker today! So, what does the certifiably most God-Forsaken place in the country have to do with our likely most certifiably beautiful place in the country that we call Sedona?

Well, the certifiably most God-Forsaken place of 1943 is now one of the most physically gorgeous, economically successful, and efficiently governed and managed resort towns in the United States – which is embarrassingly outperforming Sedona in every possible travel destination metric…except to the extent that Sedona still has all the natural beauty and they have little. I’m talking about the city of Palm Desert, California.

What Palm Desert has done, starting with nothing, compared to what we have done with our visually blessed city of Sedona to whom the supreme Deity gave everything, is to compare supremely visionary government to abysmal governmental planning and misdirection, and an utter lack of ability to attract visionary talent to its service!

When a City can’t attract top highly paid talent to its employment rolls, as the city of Palm Desert has done, the result will always be the hiring of far more staff than should be necessary as Sedona has done, coupled with the hiring of a professional tourism marketing organization or consultant who will have to work without the needed visionary leadership of the City that hired them.

So, now then, let’s look at the ultra-successful tourism economic driver of the city of Palm Desert to find out if there’s anything we can learn from them.

The City of Palm Desert, California


The City of Palm Desert, CA Story

Number of City Employees, 112 (Compared to Sedona’s 142 and soon to be 144)

Permanent Residents: 50,417 (Five times the size of Sedona)

Seasonal Residents: 30,000 (Sedona has a much smaller amount, but hasn’t figured out how to determine this figure)

Housing Units: 34,329 (about seven times bigger than Sedona)

The city of Palm Desert holds approximately $70 million in reserve. The expenditure budget for all funds for fiscal year 2017-2018 is $118,624,985. This amount represents an increase of approximately 13% from the original “fiscal year 2016-2017 all funds budget,” most of which is attributable to capital projects.

The problem for Sedona is that its impending fate can’t be prevented by adopting a development plan such as the city of Palm Desert has because it’s already way too late to redesign the City, and the city has already used up all its excess borrowing capacity to fund the types of projects outlined above and below. But, here’s the best plan that is still achievable to significantly stop our economic, reputational and quality of life tailspin, and partially revive our viability in all these just mentioned respects:

This Sedona Arizona City Council has raised taxes every year and has approved new annual rate increases through 2020.

1. Terminate, or legally have set aside, the DMO services contract with the Chamber as Sedona Destination Traveler Organization (DMO).

2. Take the DMO Services in-house like the City of Palm Desert and hire Roger Brooks International as a DMO consultant to the City.

3. Employ the City’s powers of Annexation and Condemnation to get rid of blight like the north side of 89A from Safeway to Andante (or even further west) and redevelop those areas into ‘high end retailer” dominated tourist meccas. Include the Cultural Park in this plan. Eye sores kill high net worth traveler tourism. Apparently the City and Chamber have never figured this out. And, btw, bury those hideous overhead wires along the south side of AZ 89A in West Sedona.

4. Market Sedona only to high net worth/big spender tourists who will stay here several days in succession. The result will be more sales taxes and bed taxes, but far less traffic in town.

5. Annex and develop the gorgeous four hundred, or so, acres the City owns on the south side of 89A west of the City Limits, where the sprinklers now are, plus the Cultural Park into a high tech development company incubator campus, and become a landlord for these young maturing high-tech development product companies. Continue to develop that reputation as a haven for clean, nonpolluting high tech product development companies and give them incentives to move to Sedona.

6. Develop two story parking structures Uptown and get rid of angled-in parking. Add new driving lanes. Add high tech traffic management systems and provide visitor assistance hand-held device apps for tourists.

7. Issue building permits only for extreme luxury hotels….no mid-range hotels like Marriott Courtyard.

8. In prime areas un-incentivize trinket shops.

9. Annex north of Uptown and South of City Limits on AZ-179 and west of Sedona Pines.

10. Seriously cut city staff positions and recruit personnel with far better resumes and give them free housing in a special condo project in that 400 acres the City owns south west of the Water Treatment Plant.

11. Sell private sponsorships of head-in parking spaces in new parking structures owned by the City. Imagine, you pull into a parking space and you’re greeted by a sign that says…You are welcomed to Sedona by the Cowboy Club, or whatever business may sponsor that space who will be required to pay a fee to the City for the advert.

And, most important of all:

12. Find and joint venture with already proven private partners/investors who have been developers in highly successful resort towns.

Think of this as you vote on August 28 and November 6: Traffic and the ADOT Five-Year Projection of the doubling of traffic in Sedona. Sedona’s and the Village of Oak Creek’s current daily traffic, added together, exceeds that of AZ I-17 between Camp Verde and Exit 298.

Voters will have two decisions on the August 28 ballot: One will be to vote to approve or not to approve the city-endorsed Home Rule and your other vote will be for 5 seats for city council members, including the Mayor.

The City Council voted (except for Councilman Currivan) to suppress a public vote on Permanent Base Adjustment. The Council did not want you voters to know about it. But, they failed and the PBA will be on the ballot on November 6.

This is not how elected officials should conduct themselves; they are running this City like they own it.

They don’t even understand the City they govern!

To repeat: A Permanent Base Adjustment ballot initiative, sponsored by Arizona Liberty though a citizens’ initiative, has been reviewed by the Arizona State Auditor General’s office and the Permanent Base Adjustment ballot initiative will be on the November 6 ballot this year.

Voter passage of Home Rule (yes vote) allows the city to spend $49.5 million or more in fiscal Year 2019-20 which is $10 million more than estimated actual expenditures of $39.7 million in fiscal Year 2017-18. If Home Rule fails (no vote), City spending will be capped at $24 million.

Voter passage of Permanent Base Adjustment caps spending at $36 million in fiscal Year 2019-20 which is in-line with recent years’ actual annual expenditures. A Permanent Base Adjustment will allow the City’s spending to increase over the next four fiscal years by changes in population and the cost of living.

Both Home Rule and Permanent Base Adjustment require voter approval this year. Past Councils could have put a Permanent Base Adjustment on the ballot, but chose NOT to for 22 years thereby creating a possible “Armageddon scenario” if Home Rule fails this year. Passage by the voters of a Permanent Base Adjustment (PBA) is an “insurance policy” or “backstop” for the City should Home Rule pass or fail.

Home Rule and Permanent Base Adjustment are separate, NOT competing votes.

Your vote matters – how your city is operated and how our money is spent – is in your hands. If you care about Sedona, it is imperative you get educated and vote. Doing nothing ensures more of the last four years and worse!

We’re about to lose our beloved City’s quality-of-life standards by forfeit to the lodging industry’s unrelenting drive for greater commercial profits at our citizens’ expense. Subject to the outcome of this upcoming election of Council incumbent candidates plus the approval of a ballot item colloquially referred to as “Home Rule” which is being pushed by the City itself to give itself unbridled budgetary powers, the full time residents of Sedona could lose their last hope of restoration of our once happy lifestyles here.

If we don’t deny to a new Council the power of the (mislabeled) Alternative Expenditure Limitation, otherwise known as “Home Rule” then we will never again find the past reality of a standard of living that induced most of us to move here in the first place.

On August 19, 2014 this writer wrote an article at www.SedonaEye.com entitled “Separating Wheat From Chaff In This Election Campaign” in which I speculated on almost the same issues today, except for the consequences of voting in the current Council. Well, now, we can see the consequences; namely, utterly stifling and soon-to-be doubled traffic congestion (ADOT 5 yr traffic forecast for Sedona), diminishing air quality, an increasing per-capita debt load that is quickly becoming a budgetary crisis even before an inevitable economic downturn, proposed rerouting of choke-point relief streets through quiet neighborhoods, poorly maintained high-traffic streets like Rodeo and Mule Deer Road that now look like hell, and, increasingly out-of-control City staff growth earning astounding high five and six figure salaries in this little town.

Recently City Manager Justin Clifton has been making his rounds on the public speaking circuit in Sedona pushing the City’s version of the alleged budgetary risks of voter denial of Home Rule – or its hybrid known as the Permanent Base Adjustment – which is an ongoing violation of ARS 9-500.14 on his part. The City Manager has a gift for gab, but that does NOT excuse pushing the envelope of the law. He’s pushing a political point of view which is not his job. Why can’t any City Councilors speak for the City’s position other than use their hired gun to do it? Better yet, why doesn’t the City Manager and his Council string pullers ever bring up the point that Sedona’s City management over the last ten years had been grossly inferior to that of cities like Palm Desert, California which was blessed with no natural wonders such as the Supreme Deity granted to Sedona?

The problem for Sedona is that its impending fate can’t be prevented by adopting a development plan such as the city of Palm Desert has because it’s already way to late to redesign the city of Sedona and Sedona has already used up all its excess borrowing capacity to fund the project outlined above and below. But, here’s the best plan that is still achievable to significantly stop our economic, our reputation and quality of life tailspin, and partially revive our viability in all these just mentioned respects:

Roger Brooks says…

“The only challenge of a Chamber of Commerce acting as a DMO is the core fact that chambers tend to market only Chamber members. Otherwise, why join? When using lodging taxes and other public funds, the Chamber must market everyone whether or not they are a Chamber member. As long as that clear division is in place, there have been few challenges to Chambers acting as the local DMO.”

Until now, that is!


VOTE “NO” ON HOME RULE ON AUGUST 28, then vote “yes” on Permanent Base Adjustment on November 6.


Read www.SedonaEye.com for daily news and interactive views!


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  1. Eddie h says:

    You nailed it . Qualified people just don’t get into politics especially city council.
    They no zero about management or marketing. Worse yet the end up working for re election and their own interests and not local business or residents .
    If voters want more of the same and keep status quo . And then shut up because it’s your ways that are causing ridiculous spending and poor solutions.
    Take a hard look at the direction and fixes being proposed or suffer the consequences.

  2. Mike H says:

    Occasionally you do get qualified people that just want to help their community. I think Currivan, a Lawyer, fits that category. Often you just get busy bodies that want to feel good spending other peoples money. We have a chance to elect the majority of a new city council. If you re elect the same people you will get the same results. The new city council needs to clean out city management which is a big part of the problem.

  3. Gretchen says:

    Love it…

    Now J. d Normand is a travel expert…lol.

    (deleted by editor)

  4. @Part Two says:

    Great follow-up to your previous article.

    My wife and I had a townhome in Palm Desert for many years as a weekend/vacation getaway place when we lived in Southern California.

    El Paseo and the surrounding amenities – even then – were eclipsing Palm Springs as the place to go. It just continues to get better.

    A couple of years ago, over the Christmas holidays, we spent the night with an old friend who still lives there.

    Walked around, ate lunch and dinner, did some shopping – all first rate. (Even the vehicles looked classy.)

    And the new resort/hotel complexes were very impressive.

    Too bad Uptown has become such a rubber tomahawk mecca.

  5. F.Y.I. says:

    City Council 8/14/18 Agenda – Executive Session Item 3.a.:

    “Discussion and consultation regarding personnel matters, specifically to discuss City Manager Justin Clifton’s annual evaluation…”

  6. J. Rick Normand says:


    You better start worrying about being unemployed soon!


  7. M Mallon says:

    RE:City Council 8/14/18 Agenda – Executive Session Item 3.a.:

    It would be excellent if this was Justin Clifton’s last evaluation in Sedona. May he find a job somewhere else for which he is better suited. Mr Clifton “Traffic is our Destiny !” should go east, far , far east. I hope the next city council finds Sedona is not in need of his services.

  8. Jim, Jordan Rd says:

    You did nail it. Now watch the council fools and staff try and pretend they don’t want this, go any place in Sedona and listen. Only a fool would think this is arguable. Only a business fool would fail to see this is not the answer. Forgot City road work uptown, more stupid than stupid idea, leave uptown alone, let chips fall on stupider than dirt landlords that in spite of their stupidity will benefit when high end businesses start to take over those leases of cheap Chinese imports stores that should have Dollar General or Dollar Store as their store names because merchandise is the same.

    This is same council that let’s people be charged to park up on airport mesa. This is same council that raised our taxes many times. This is the same council. What don’t you get when voting? Are you that ignorant to vote for these council people AGAIN?

  9. Adoc's husband says:

    Justin Clifton was chosen because he was spineless and proves it time and again. Let the egomaniac spineless double crosser go. He’s immature, not intelligent, morally compass-less.. and knows about Sedona “specialness” as a prison inmate knows how to avoid getting arrested. Want to hear what he says about you behind your backs..

  10. Charlene, Sedona says:

    ditto Clifton comments
    @j rick normand Both great articles, thanks for the time and effort. Send it to every email address you’ve in your computer and wish for the best. Everyone else should do the same and if you’ve Snapchat/ FB / Twitter / Linked In and other apps bsure2 share it #RT every day. Normand needs to do same. Get it out there voters!

  11. Mike Schroeder says:

    Justin was running Bayfield Colorado, a one stoplight town before he came to Sedona. Not stellar experience for this position, especially when the leadership of the council seems to lack direction. Kicking the can down the road and doing studies seems to be the norm.

    On another point, I want everyone who is reading this, and I believe many do and do not comment, to know that a substantial theft of property occurred Saturday night. For lack of a better word, the (name deleted by editor) Cabal was out in full force.

    You are all familiar with our NO TO TRAFFIC – NO ON HOME RULE yard signs, whether you like them or not is not relevant. We are estimating that at least 30 were stolen, and mysteriously enough the signs next to them, sponsored by the VOTE YES “SedonaHomeRUle.com” group seem to be anchored just fine. In fact, the thief, or thieves were in such a hurry in some cases they left the mounting wires stuck in the ground.

    It is a Class 2 misdemeanor- A class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 4 months in jail, a $750 fine plus surcharges and 2 years of probation. You need to ask the question why are these people so desperate as to risk this kind of penalty? Are they that afraid of losing their $2.5 MILLION a year corporate welfare check? Are the citizens of Sedona actually going to support a group of people who stand for THEFT, Criminal Class 2 misdemeanor violation, Trespass on Private Property and lying about Home Rule?

    If you agree with these criminals then by all means Vote YES to encourage their illegal activities – and join with them in their potentially ill gotten success. But don’t expect to feel good about it. It is not justified, especially when we have succeeded in BEATING THE CITY down and getting the taxpayer option of an adjusted Permanent Base Adjustment (PBA) on the November ballot. This GUARANTEES that the average expenditures of Sedona are more than adequately covered based on the last 5 year average audited statements.

    Let that soak in. Has it soaked in? NO CHANGE. Everything the city HAS been spending, they still CAN spend WITH programmed increases ongoing as time marches on. Has that soaked in yet? NO CHANGE. What changes is that the city may actually have to look at what it is spending money on rather than taking taxpayer dollars for granted. What a shock.

    But let us get back to the story of the criminals which may be some of our neighbors. In addition so stealing over 30 campaign signs, and risking jail time, they have now littered the city with VOTE YES posters stapled to everything that will take a staple, INCLUDING other campaign signs. More importantly these signs are stapled to private phone poles, trees (nice environmental touch) of which many are ON PRIVATE PROPERTY, subdivision Marquees if they are made out of wood, Private Property, on Jordan Road on 4X4 real estate For Sale posts (Private property) and about everywhere else where there is something can accept a 1/2″ staple from a staple gun. Like walking your dog at the dog park? City property. Signs all over the place. By the way – the city CANNOT take a position on a ballot measure, so those signs are ILLEGAL on city property.

    So…you want to vote for HOME RULE with this bunch in charge? This is the same group that is supporting the incumbents, the Chamber of Commerce and their $2,4 MILLION and going up annual unlimited UN-AUDITED renewal contract present. Be our guest.

    The crooks are in control of the campaign and the campaign is primarily funded by the HOTEL industry in Sedona…let that sink in. So instead of this group trying to be a balanced partner in the city with the residents, they are worried about one thing and one thing only…their bottom line – and the residents be damned.

    As Justin Clifton said, “Traffic is our way of life”, and so are jammed trail heads and all the other issues. No Justin – it isn’t.

    If you don’t like what these people are doing, and you do not want Sedona to be harmed with less money to spend, then your decision is very easy. You vote NO on Home Rule and YES in November on Permanent Base Adjustment.

    Want to see the signs that are being stapled all over town by these criminals?

    I will make it easy.
    Scroll down the page

    If you want some entertainment after this disgusting presentation on the Cabal in Sedona, enjoy some of our videos.

    And if you want to know what PBA REALLY means to Sedona, attend one of our Town Halls – every Tuesday

  12. Ray says:

    I’m checking my home security videos.

    Come on neighbors and fellow Sedonans. Do the right thing and slap these animals with a fine and court time.

    If I find that my surveillance shows a vehicle or person walking near my property I’m turning it over to the police after I make a copy in case it’s mishandled. Thugs aren’t welcome in my town and aren’t welcome in city hall.

    Maybe I’ll YouTube it – to be sure no one mishandles my evidence.

    I wasn’t yes or no in this fight, but you Yes guys lost my respect and vote. Don’t trample on my rights. You’ll go to jail if I can help. This was organized and not vandals. No it wasn’t kids either, it was a group of adults with a disgusting plan.

    I call on the council mayor and incumbents to resign immediately. You’re tainted goods with this abuse of power. Resign!

  13. Tony Tonsich says:

    This same group has stolen about 75 of the 100 signs my campaign purchased.

    It’s pretty clear, if they were in the right, and doing the right thing, they would not steal. They will steal signs, they will not hesitate to steal taxpayer money. This whole group needs to have made clear they are not welcome in our town. The first way we can do that is to vote in a whole new city council. The next thing is to cut off Home Rule. I wrote one of the arguments on the ballot against Home Rule 4 years ago.

    NO to incumbents, NO to Home Rule.

    If you are not mad, you are not paying attention.

  14. Gretchen says:

    @Mike S

    Hey nice speech…
    I’m voting YES on homerule.

    God man stop the sniveling…. You expect people to overlook AZ Liberty’s dirty little tricks as well…

  15. Richard S says:

    If those signs were put in place along along 179 or 89a then that’s illegal and then they were justly taken…

    Mike you can’t call an infraction while committing an infraction… Like it or not your sign were placed illegally… aZ Liberty started the “ball rolling”..

  16. Kim Chott says:

    As always Rick, you get your point across in an extremely informative matter. Many of us would love to see you involved in our City politics.. You are always professional and research for solutions, not creating more problems.

    Not surprised at the tactics the other side is using (sign stealing). This should tell us all where they are coming from. Pretty sad what they’ll do to win.

  17. Mike H says:

    We should send Justin Clifton back to Bayfield. They have 8 people on city staff, and 8 people in the Marshall’s office. He’s way out of his depth, he can take all of the overstaffed City managers office with him.

  18. @Ray says:

    Yea ok

    So dramatic and disingenuous ..

  19. Thomas P. Sedona says:

    (Deleted by editor)

    I’m voting Yes Mike S.

  20. Joan says:

    Good article.

    BTW School Resource Officers do not have to be from the Sheriff’s department but most good news is they can be past retirement ages and job share. Step up all you bored first responders.

  21. J. Rick Normand says:

    @Richard S

    If Mike’s signs are illegal on the shoulders of 89A, then why is Lisa Dahl allowed to have her opposition signs in front of her restaurants on the public right-of-way? Secondly, and as proof of Mike’s allegations, I put up several of his signs in West Sedona. One of them was on Rodeo straight across from the north Safeway exit on the east side of the street so that everyone leaving Safeway would see it. I put it right next to Scott Jablow’s sign. Today, the one I put up is gone and 10 ft north of Scott’s still standing sign is a “Vote Yes On Home Rule” sign. You’re a monumental hypocrite Ray and probably one of the thieves as well !


    You’re voting Yes On Home Rule because you’re one of Sedona’s few truly nasty -tempered employees that knows your position is unnecessary and that your salary is a waste of public funds. To repeat, you’d better start looking for another job…not that any other city would hire you.

    @Thomas P. Sedona

    You’re the worst of all…both illiterate and a total yellow-belly!

    @All Readers at The EYE:

    Most of your comments here are well thought out as well as well written. Have those of you in this category noticed that those who write their comments as short vitriolic personal attacks are ALWAYS the one’s who are the least educated relative to the point of the article?

  22. M Mallon says:

    “Richard S says:
    August 13, 2018 at 8:27 am
    If those signs were put in place along along 179 or 89a then that’s illegal and then they were justly taken…”

    If they were ‘justly taken”, why were the Yes on Home Rule not taken?

    Theft is theft.

  23. Gretchen says:

    As usual JDN..

    Your overblown EGO manifests itself in your pontification..
    Don’t work for the city (deleted by editor)

  24. @M Mallon says:

    They were taken as well..

    Stop spreading lies ok

  25. J. Rick Normand says:


    Who exactly is JDN? You’ve obviously never read the article, not to mention you’re not terribly bright. Maybe that’s why you can’t make an intelligent comment.

    @ @M Mallon

    The “Vote Yes on Home Rule” signs WERE NOT taken.


  26. Gretchen says:

    (deleted by editor)
    Yes J.D Normand ALL signs were taken..
    (deleted by editor)

  27. John Astor says:

    Did you know Las Vegas spends $300 million a year to attract tourists? That’s one of the eye-opening facts in my Friday Red Rock News article.

    I also explain how local governments typically contract Chambers of Commerce who are Destination Management and Marketing Organizations (DMMOs) to market the community to potential visitors. Aspen, Colorado and Park City, Utah are two examples. So is Sedona.

    As in Sedona, cities around Arizona and the US levy bed taxes on hotel visitors to fund tourism marketing. Scottsdale’s bed tax-based budget is more than $12 million. Mesa’s $3.1 million tourism budget is almost 50 percent larger than Sedona’s $2.1 million. The aforementioned Park City, Utah is funded by $9 million in bed taxes. In fact, the national DMMO average is $3.39 million. Sedona’s budget is significantly lower than other Arizona cities and the national average.

    You can also learn more about our public accountability and how competition is addressed when it comes to local DMMOs. I hope you will take a few moments to learn the facts about tourism in Sedona, and get even more information at our new tourism FAQ page (deleted by editor)

  28. J. Rick Normand says:

    @ John Astor,

    You sound like Roger Brooks and I happen to agree with all your talking points, John. There’s just one little matter you left out, though. Our Chamber, acting as Sedona’s DMO, advertises to day trippers who have no money to spend here. That group accounts for 70% of our stifling traffic in Sedona and those same people, not so coincidentally, have trashed our formerly world-famous trailheads not to mention the waters of Oak Creek. Las Vegas, Aspen and Park City merchandise themselves to upper-income travelers and induce top-end hoteliers to operate in their locales. Sedona doesn’t do either! Unlike the resort towns you reference, Sedona does a truly pathetic job of commercial self-advocacy. That’s because we don’t have a true DMO consultant. And, btw, the City of Palm Desert doesn’t retain DMO services at all…they do it in-house and look what they’ve accomplished. I guess you didn’t actually read my article.


  29. Gretchen says:

    Hey Sedona Eye editor.

    Does J Dick Normand work for you organization… I am sure he does. Why can he attack people and name call thier character unfiltered while my opinions or statements get craved up or outright not posted….

    Has SEdona Eye become a platform for only those in cohorts with AZ Liberty…
    Had SE become a “tool” hired out to the highest bidder…!!??

    Sure seems that way
    Very disingenuous and somewhat fraudulent..

    I am sure you won’t post this in its entirely.
    Gretchen Sedona Resident

  30. @John Astor says:

    Thnks for the information.

    Oh yes…I see you webpage you were referring to was deleted …
    Please be aware that you CANNOT list webpages of your references unless you are a member of AZ Liberty or you outright believe in malcontent toward all government..

    J Rick Normand works to manage this SE “FACT” site and any other information besides what he approves will not be posted ..

  31. M Mallon says:


    So all those Yes on Home Rule Signs we see driving down 89A are just figments of our imagination? Things that can’t possibly exist, like the hotel bills for staff staying at the Ritz Carlton? Things that can’t exist like Cities without a City Manager or Assistant City Manager, even though Justin Cllifton says he has found many without either?

    I have lived in Sedona for a long time, and I sometimes have visions of the future. I have had a vision of a new city council that eliminates the entire city managers office. I have visions of no funds being given to the Sedona chamber.

    My visions often come true. Many had better start looking for another job.

  32. Andy says:

    I was told don’t go there and don’t forget or Say anything on that site!

    Don’t sweat it. A friend in city hall told Sedona eye not to get ruffled by city tactics to tell the truth. They’ll try the smear campaign and know they’ll only get the uninformed voter. They are after you Sedona Eye. Clowns!

    We got Your back SE.

  33. Fake News Spending says:

    For you information :

    Steve Segners PAC, AZ Elections 18
    Income $38,348
    Expenses $27,917

    All spent to influence your vote to continue the Home Rule Scam. They want to keep the $2.5 million they are gifted from the City.

    If you’re not mad, you’re not paying attention !!

    No to incumbents, No on Home Rule !!

  34. Mike Schroeder says:

    Part 1:

    Las Vegas spends $300 million on destination marketing? Where did that fantasy number come form? Our City Chamber? The TOTAL expenditures for 2017 were $765,975,013. Only took a couple of seconds to get that.


    Maybe the hotels are spending THEIR money? Gee, what a concept.

    And what an idiotic statement to compare Las Vegas to Sedona, AZ with our two roads and no hope of having any more. This really isn’t worth commenting on.

    Part 2:

    Signs we are losing are not on 89A or SR179. The signs at the Y were stolen once, we had 4, replaced them. That 89A is owned by the CITY, not the state and therefore is a city street. The signs we lost, and continue to lose are on the feeder roads to SR179 and SR 89a and those roads are city property.

    People also get a kick by just pulling them and laying them down, thinking they did not break the law becasue they didn’t steal them. WRONG. Class 2 misdemeanor. So far over $1000 worth have disappeared, about 170.

    When you have to cheat, misrepresent and outright lie about the benefits of the Permanent Base Adjustment and how nothing changes in Sedona, you better start looking under the covers to see who is really benefiting, and usually it is the people on the gravy train telling how good a job they are doing with OUR money.

    And any signs that are placed incorrectly the police will give us a call and ask that we remove or relocate them. The police do not remove signs unless they are still there after the required 24 hour notice.

    So all you armchair lawyers out there need to get accustomed to the law before type. We had to.


  35. @andy says:

    Yea OK

    Your post sounds like a total fabrication and dishonest statement..
    I’d put money on that “FACT”

  36. steve Segner says:

    Mike said Las Vegas spends $300 million on destination marketing? Where did that fantasy number come form? Our City Chamber? The TOTAL expenditures for 2017 were $765,975,013. Only took a couple of seconds to get that.

    Well mike The LCVB- own Las Vegas Convention Center almost a $800,000,000 budget and you know it is almost a Billion $ and why would they advertise everyone knows about Las Vegas they can just google it !

    By Richard N. Velotta / Las Vegas Review-Journal
    May 8, 2018 – 12:53 pm

    Attracting more international visitors to Las Vegas is always high on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s to-do list.
    On Tuesday, the LVCVA’s board of directors took two big strides in that direction.
    Board members unanimously approved the second portion of a $900 million bond sale in support of the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project that is nearing a late 2018 startup.
    The vote authorized the sale of $500 million in revenue bonds that are expected to be sold by the end of this year or early 2019.
    The board also approved spending $2.39 million in each of the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years for 12 offices that represent Las Vegas in 19 countries and regions on three continents.
    Expanding the convention center is part of the LVCVA’s strategy to stay competitive in the global meetings and trade-show industry.
    $400 million in bonds
    The board already authorized $400 million in bond sales in February and Clark County has issued $200 million of them with an average interest rate of 3.9 percent, according to LVCVA Chief Financial Officer Ed Finger.
    The LVCVA is on track to determine a guaranteed maximum price for the project by fall.
    The Las Vegas Convention Center District plan allows for $860 million plus a 5 percent contingency — a total of $903 million — to be spent for the Phase 2 expansion portion of the project. A renovation project for four existing exhibition halls will begin in 2021 after the completion of the new 600,000-square-foot hall planned at the northwest corner of Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive.

  37. @fake news spending says:

    Oh no you got it wrong…

    We are paying ATTENTION to Dishonest tactics used by (Deleted by editor) regarding HOMERULE and other issues you twist around to confuse.

    That’s why I’m voting YES on Homerule and voting agaisnt anyone your group endorses…

    BTW I hear a lot of crying about your signs .. well I see you Yes signs on 89a roadway in W Sedona…

    Oh I see place them illegally….24 hours to have them removed after police notification… Then put them up in a new spot and start your tricks anew..
    Then after thier removed cry that someone took them..

    We’re on to you games (Deleted by Editor)

  38. Tony Tonsich says:

    Steve Segner and his AZ Elections 18 PAC would have our beautiful, spiritual Sedona become Las Vegas.

    Sedona should be preserved and maintained for those that come after us. Long after we have left this piece of Heaven on Earth people will come and view what we did. Will we be proud that we tread lightly? Or do we let those with greed in their heart pave paradise?

    WE can tell him and his AZ Elections PAC… NO. NO on Home Rule, NO to all incumbents, NO to ex government workers. NO to greed. NO to paving paradise.

  39. J. Rick Normand says:

    @ steve Segner

    Once again, you and Lonnie, prove yourselves dumber than a rock. What Las Vegas, the LCVB, and the LVCVA do to acquire funds and what they do with those funds, has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR STIFLING TRAFFIC CONGESTION OR OUR HIKING TRAIL TRASH PROBLEM HERE IN SEDONA. NEITHER DOES YOUR POSTED INFO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE OPERATION OF THIS CITY’S CHAMBER, OR YOUR LODGING COUNCIL. Can’t you ever, just once, post an argument predicated on deductive logic (major premise, minor premise, conclusion) and stop posting tons of irrelevant garbage information that you think makes you seem like an intellectual? Oh, I’m sorry…I know you don’t know the meaning of that last word just before the question mark.


  40. Donna Joy Varney says:

    The Sedona Chamber-Lodging council continues to put out fake news. 2.5 million last year for their exclusive use is big motivation. They love to used examples of in-city marketing programs, County and Transient Bed Districts and compare themselves to.

    DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. Every single one they name are apples to cars.

    Many are confused and think Sedona has a Transient Bed District. We don’t. Many states operate under area districts that all lodging in that district pays into. Sedona doesn’t.

    Sedona is the only city that has a mandatory in-city transient Bed Tax program THAT PAYS COMPETITION!!!!!!! Those outside the city limits are enriched with the city-bed-tax. Remember folks those hotels that get the city-bed-tax imposed on them have to pay the chamber thousands of dollars every month to be a chamber member. The chamber charges hotels by the room!

    Read more on this. http://www.sedonacity.com/ChamberTransBedDistricts.htm

    Chamber to chamber data

    Scottsdale Flagstaff Prescott Sedona
    Population 246,645 1,459 42,513 10,397
    Income $1,112,792 $699,861 $484,721 $2,828,400
    City Funded to Chamber 0 0 0 $1,959,734

    visit http://www.sedonacity.com

  41. Ginger Barrand says:

    Living in Arizona is rated better than California and New York and Illinois on the top states to live in 2018 list. Sedona has been patterned after the power monkeys that moved here with very old ideas of what to do with power monkey privilege, or the pseudo belief in their own elitism. Voting no means Sedona is due better than what the power monkeys have done to her.

  42. Tim says:

    I think it’s great that everyone can voice their opinion. Opinions are important because they are an expression of what is going on in a persons mind. They draw from the past and extrapolate the future. The problem with posting these opinions publicly is that these “back when’s” and “what if’s” are individual and the reader has none of that information to reference. So we interpret the information based on our own experiences, expectations, the tone and whether or not we are indifferent to the topic. I don’t want to tell you how to vote. I don’t really want to offer any recommendations outside of asking you to think. You may stop reading now. You have a choice.

    So down to business. I doubt I’m exaggerating if I say Sedona has a reputation for being a “spiritual” community. If the world outside could see the anger and frustration exhibited online and on the streets about the upcoming vote they might think all is not as they thought. That being said, I am not a “spiritual” person in what I perceive to be the “Sedona” type. There is my opinion showing.

    It would be great if all the city council candidates could express their most complete image of Sedona 10 years from now. Claiming that something is “ruining” Sedona tells me nothing. What was it before and why was that a good thing? Claiming that something will “fix” Sedona tells me nothing. Is it really broken now and did it ever really work? Define your terms. Cite your references. Get consensus. Basic scientific stuff. Most importantly, understand, correlation does not equal causation. One element by itself can not be the cause of every ill. Civics is a messy business and solid information as well as a willingness to present and stand by your positions with concrete and transparent information is key to public support. It is important to not be vindictive in your position. No body likes a bully.

    We all have an image of “the good old days”. A moment in time when we think things were great. It should not surprise us if that moment is different for everybody. Whether you were born here 80 years ago or moved here last week, we all have an individual image of Sedona that makes us happy. Trying to preserve each of those images is impossible. The best we can do is manage the present. Planning for the future is important but the unexpected is far more likely than the vision. Things that are beyond your control can “ruin” your plans.

    There is a lot of traffic in Sedona. There is a lot of traffic in Cottonwood. There is a lot of traffic in Flagstaff. Have you been to a national park lately? I spend quite a bit of time in small resort communities and they all have a lot of traffic. I go to these communities to enjoy the public lands adjacent to them. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, camping. I moved to Sedona two and a half years ago from a ski town roughly half again a big after almost 17 years. On a big weekend over 30,000 people could pass through town, tripling the population. Most of the growing pains they suffered are what I see in Sedona today. They are what I see in all these types of communities. They are all pushing year round activities in order to support business and taxes for improvements. The shoulder seasons, as they are called, have eroded in order to ensure diversity and solvency. This means more people all the time. The people who do most of the service and construction work in those towns as well as many public and utility employees, live outside of these towns. Costs and access are potential reasons for this. It is also possible that some make a conscious decision to live one place and travel to another for a higher paying position. Commuting is not new. The lumber yard is very busy. All the trades are very busy. Everyone seems to be taking advantage of a rebounding economy. I suspect much of the traffic is merely Verde Valley folks supporting themselves. If you are retired please understand that many of us are still working.

    Paid parking, a roundabout at Jordan road, a second southbound lane and anything else the city builds to deal with traffic might not do a thing. Traffic engineers will tell you that if the speed limit is 25 people will drive 35. So if you raise the speed limit to 35 to accommodate the trend, they will now drive 45. These could be just short term feel good fixes. I know that as much as I want to go to Flagstaff on a summer weekend I probably won’t because I don’t want it to take two hours to get home. If there is a promise of a quicker return I will and others might too. Now you’ve got more people on the road and slower traffic. No one is even talking about Oak Creek, Slide Rock and all the campgrounds up the canyon. This could be the single biggest source of the day trippers filling up the roadway. As long as it’s hot in the summer, people will gravitate towards water. No stopping that.

    Short term rentals have been demonized as the root cause for people leaving town or having to look other places for homes to rent. It’s a easy target because they became legal about the same time folks started really complaining about traffic. There is not doubt in my mind they play a part but to what degree no one knows because the information just isn’t there. Are there people in town who find the opportunity to make a little extra cash operating a short term rental so they can continue to live here, cover health costs or take a vacation themselves? I’m sure. Are some of these properties owned by non residents? I’m sure. Are long term rentals in town owned by non residents. I’m sure. The house I purchased and live in was a long term rental owned by a woman in Chicago who inherited the property. I suspect there are commercial properties in the city that are owned by non residents. Maybe even a few uptown. In many resort communities I have visited or lived in, long term rentals are occupied by multiple single people who could not otherwise afford to live there. This means your neighbor could be 6 twenty something guys with 6 pickup trucks and 6 big dogs and all the other things that go along with this scenario. I have seen this. You can’t pick who moves in next to you. With all the talk about sustainability, it seems that short term rentals could be the ultimate expression of “By Local”. When a guest stays at the Hyatt, Marriott, or a Diamond resorts property, does the money stay in town or is it ultimately dividends for international investors? I came to Sedona a couple of times before moving here and always stayed in a private short term rental. It was not legal then but quite available. Making them illegal will not make them go away.

    Sedona is a destination for people from around the world and all economic classes. Controlling who comes here is impossible. Controlling advertising is impossible. Social media has made traditional advertising a thing of the past. Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Twitter and Pinterest will do more to bring people to town than any billboard. Experiences have replaced things as the purchase of choice. I have an acquaintance who works for one of the jeep tour companies who believes this was a fantastic year for them. I suspect the balloon and helicopter business is pretty flush too. In contrast I hear stories about shops struggling uptown. Is it possible this has more to do with changing societal interests than bringing the right people to town? FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out when a friend or a famous person posts a picture of themselves on the red rocks drives vacations. The Mountain Bike Festival and magazines pull tens of thousands of riders here every year. Many of them are from Phoenix up for the day or weekend. Sedona is a very hot spot right now.

    Traffic and housing are important topics. Worthy of a lot of discussion. How about looking at what truly supports a community. The people who live there. What type of people does the community want to attract as permanent residents? Resort communities are filled with what I call long term transients. People who romanticize about an area, mover there for a hand full of years and then move on. In my short time here I have seen this to be true in Sedona also. There is nothing wrong with this. It does not, though, promote positive long term investment. Middle class families have all the right criteria. School age children, extra income to spend and energy. To attract middle class families and keep them here, you have to speak their language. Good schools, youth programs and sports, technology, modestly active nightlife, shopping and a community that is receptive to following trends in society. Shutting down to maintain an antiquated system does not make for a vibrant community. It may only result in more long term transients. The tourists, that you can not stop, might not be the problem.

    Embrace the traffic because it means that folks can support themselves. Do your shopping early and not on the weekends. Get up and get out early. You’d be surprised how few vehicles are on the road at 7 am. I hike the trails around here several times a week when the weather is right. I love meeting and talking to the people on the trails from out of town. I help them find where they are going, tell them the best sights to see and where to grab a bite afterwards. They do seem to really appreciate it. I’m happy to do it.

  43. Neyland Stad says:

    Excellent analysis of our little town of Sedona.

  44. Barbara says:

    Understanding your point that Sedona could’ve should’ve would’ve been a rich man’s paradise, you’ve missed the bigger picture. It’s a small town meant for men and women who retire here because it can’t grow and offers nothing but scenery and off the beaten path quiet. End of Sedona story. You can have retirees who are nutcases, narcissists and fruitcakes but it’s still going to be a small place with small economic groups clustered together in happy harmony, one serving the other.

  45. Richard Saunders says:


    Right on Tim

  46. @Darien says:

    Actually you are incorrect …
    It’s not Sedona TOWN..

    It’s called the CITY of Sedona. Fyi

  47. UGGGGHHHH..... says:


    The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau won the award for “Outstanding Rural Marketing Campaign” for its Sedona Northern Lights holiday event, which boosts tourism in the city as well as depopulating the natural habitat during the historically slow period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The event bills itself as “the nation’s largest 3D light show on a natural canvas”—the canvas being Camelhead Rock.

    Follow the Corporate trail.


  48. &Uggggghhh says:

    You really need to “get a life”

    You spend ALOT of time filling your head with something you hate.
    Get some mental help.

  49. @ UGGGGHHHH..... says:

    Awards are total BS. The inventor of the lobotomy got a Nobel prize and Obama, who dropped more bombs than Bush before him, got the Nobel peace prize.

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