Home » City Council, Community » J. Rick Normand: Sedona Mayor on Tourism Ad Dollars Unnecessary

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

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

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act!- George Orwell

Have you seen the Chamber’s new signs? “Let’s Fix Traffic…Vote Yes on Visitors Rule!” (..over us, that is?)

OK, the signs actually say “Vote Yes on Home Rule,” but Home Rule enables the funding of the Chamber and it is that direct funding mechanism for tourism advertising that is causing the slow traffic strangulation of our once lovely little town. Those signs have a singular purpose…which is not to convince you, but to confuse you. Home Rule is an intentional misnomer that sounds like a good thing, when, in fact, it’s a budget tool to allow the City to increase City borrowing capacity and related indebtedness without constraints and, therefore, to fund the Chamber’s unrelenting advertising campaign to draw hordes of day trippers to Sedona.

As you read the article below, keep in mind that the Arizona Department of Transportation has already published a study projecting that Sedona’s traffic congestion will DOUBLE in just the next five years. If you think its bad now, just wait five more years to see your town die of strangulation of its quality-of-life standards and its economy. Voting “Yes” for Home Rule will guarantee this fateful demise of Sedona as we once knew it. And, yet, we’re using public money that, in fact, belongs to the City upon payment of bed taxes by tourists which is then used to pay for our own destruction by targeting advertising of Sedona to a tourism sector that spends far less here that the high-end traveler.

Notwithstanding that the Chamber and Sedona Lodging Council think they own Sedona, all of our City’s prospective voters need to know that on July 18, 2018, at the videotaped “Meet the Candidates for Mayor” forum at the Sedona Public Library, Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty made the following comment… “Tourists aren’t goin’ to go away whether the Chamber advertises or not, frankly. They’re not goin’ away! There’s a million ways people hear about Sedona. They’ve been hearing about it for years…everybody knows about it!” Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amliK0cf8a8

This clearly proves the point that public money paid annually to the Chamber (yes, bed taxes are the property of the City when they’re collected at the front desk on check-in) is a total waste of public money that could have been used for city infrastructure building and maintenance and/or pay-down of the City’s ever-increasing debt load.

The Mayor’s clear statement also reveals that the City has been perpetrating something akin to a fraud upon its own unsuspecting citizens. After all, our Chamber of Commerce is the only municipal Chamber in the U.S., save one, that is financed with public money rather than merely membership dues, as well as corporate profit givebacks and donations.

The one other Chamber which enjoys public financing? It is the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (17.5 million annual visitors) wherein the FBI has conducted its ongoing investigation of Operation Myrtle Beach Mafia. Operation Myrtle Beach Mafia concerns cashier’s checks paid to local politicians by Chamber President Brad Dean after a 1% advertising tax was awarded to the Chamber of Commerce. The 1% tax brings in as much as $30 million and was passed by their City Council. Indictments there should put an end to the lock that one local hotel group (represented by a City Lodging Council, no doubt) has had on running the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber.

Does this raise any City eyebrows in Sedona? Hmmm!

In a study from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives entitled “Revenue Models…An examination of income trends for Chambers of Commerce” [a white paper from the American Chamber of Commerce Executives] in cooperation with the Western Association of Chamber Executives, subsection entitled “Economic Development Funding” by Katherine House, it is stated that the Western Association of Chamber Executives…have noticed some local governments in western states “going back to local chambers asking them to pick up the slack” when government funding is not available. Furthermore, the study says “It’s more important than ever to provide as much transparency as the organization possibly can in relation to services agreements with public entities,” says Jay Chesshir, CCE, IOM, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas, “It protects both the organization and the elected officials.”

The Sedona Chamber has never submitted to a public audit to ensure transparency. Why not?

There’s another wrinkle in generating revenue, says Rob Radcliff, managing principal of Resource Development Group in the Columbus, Ohio: “…the face of corporate giving is changing. Corporations ‘do not give less money, but they give to fewer people,’ he says, making it more critical for executives to present a strong strategy to position themselves as worthy in a competitive field.” In addition, there has been a “steep rise” in the number of corporate foundations in the past 10 years. Some of the funds a chamber or economic development organization seeks may come from a donor corporation’s operations, while others are donated by corporate foundations, making it necessary for community leaders to be well versed in a foundations’ [private funding benefactor] goals and operations.

“Quality of place and the whole notion of making the community better” is front and center in today’s economic development strategies! Does our Chamber, Sedona Lodging Council, and or Sedona’s city government understand any of this? Not hardly!

Imagine this readers at The Eye: While the American Chamber of Commerce Executives are telling the rest of the country that Chambers should be raising funds from their corporate members and benefactors in order to fund their host cities, the Sedona City Council and Chamber are preaching precisely the opposite. Most all other Chambers are raising money from corporate donors and channeling it back to their municipal hosts while our Chamber sucks its host dry! When will the residents of Sedona say “enough is enough!” or, more importantly, ask the ancient Roman question, “Qui Bono?” (Who benefits?) Dare we ask since none of this adds up?

Meanwhile, Sedona is now deep into a muckraking election campaign that has devolved to the level of federal politics. No facts are employed, just innuendos, name calling, failures to disclose, and fake news and fake slogans! All an interested party can do to find the truth is employ logic to arrive at a fair conclusion. So, to do that, let’s employ the elements of George Orwell’s most famous quote posted above.

Part One: Elements of Universal Deceit in Sedona

Sedona’s tourism and Home Rule debates are bogus by design! Sleight-of-hand (make ‘em take their eye off the ball) is the tactic to promote a counterfeit argument over “more or less tourism” when the correct argument is about the “quality of tourists – high net worth” targeted in the Chamber’s marketing plan.*  (*Part Two of this article.)

The Chamber is suddenly supporting high-net-worth traveler destination marketing, ever so reluctantly, after justified relentless badgering from those who support the cut-off of City funding to the Chamber vis-a-vis the City’s 55% pass-back of bed taxes to the Chamber. (OMG, the City’ calculation of 55% may be incorrect…it may have paid out 65% which would have been discovered in a scheduled audit which the City has never done!)

The TENTATIVE BUDGET for the 2018-19 Fiscal Year was adopted as the Final Fiscal Year 2018-19 Budget by the City Council on June 26, 2018. Entitled “Tourism Management & Development” totaling $2,187,250 (65% of bed tax collections?) go to www.sedonaaz.gov/home/showdocument?id=34616 – click on “City Manager’s Office, Table of Contents.

First, let’s examine City/Chamber partnership shenanigans:

The sole local print media, the Chamber of Commerce and the Sedona Lodging Council, as well as their captive Council members and certain City Staff members (let’s call all of them together the “Cabal”) are attempting to channel the primary election debate into an intentionally misleading argument which is…“Does Sedona benefit from more or less tourism?” Of course, they will make sure that the answer turns out to be “Yes.” But, that is NOT the cogent argument which will determine Sedona’s deliverance from daytrippers.

Moreover, the singularly compelling argument is…“What TYPE of traveler will reduce traffic congestion, increase bed-tax revenue to the City, provide more funding for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, reduce trash on our streets, reduce trash on our hiking paths and trailheads, reduce the wear-and-tear damage to our streets caused by our high traffic count, as well as, reduce the excessive downstream human waste in the waters of Oak Creek?” And, of course, the imposition of the right argument, and its logical and correct conclusion, into this current election mish-mash will put constraints on the relentless drive of the lodging industry to enhance profits at the expense of all the rest of us.

The correct answer to this dilemma “how do we bring the right kind of high-spending tourists here while simultaneously imposing budget constraints on our free-spending Council” will also force the City of Sedona to finally live within its means – subject to a passed voter proposition known as the Permanent Base Adjustment to [ARS §41-563. Expenditure Limitations] which is, more or less, a hybrid offshoot of the “Home Rule” statute known as the Alternative Expenditure Limitation in our State’s revised statutes.

The deceptive argument of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, stated at public forums as a political belief system of the City of Sedona’s (Minister of Propaganda?) City Manager, Justin Clifton, and his Assistant City Manager (Assistant Propaganda Minister?), Karen Daines-Osborn, that the bed tax (now 55%/65% paid back to The Chamber who is a functionary of the Lodging Industry) is paid by tourists and not the citizens of Sedona is also bogus and yet another sleight of hand.

Tourists dump mountains of trash and use City and Village roads, public rest rooms, State Parks, trailheads and hiking paths, sewer systems, utilities, parking lots, water channeling facilities and more, causing wear and tear and overuse at an accelerated pace which, then, requires the expenditure of citizen provided City funds to clean them up and repair, modify, or extend them.

How about the fact that the Sedona Chamber of Commerce subcontracts out its DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) services to Miles Management who is almost always a primary DMO anywhere else in the country?

In light of this, why does the City need the Chamber at all to charge us this humungous extra mark-up? At the very least the Chamber needs to, but certainly will not, submit to competitive bidding for the City’s DMO services and submit to annual audits of their books which has never been done by the City.

Roger Brooks International, the world’s premier DMO specialist in community branding, product development and marketing in the U.S. with 1,500 municipal clients, has just relocated its headquarters to Peoria, AZ. Why is the City of Sedona not soliciting a DMO services proposal and bid from Roger Brooks International, not to mention a direct primary bid from Miles Management? We, the residents of this City are being used and abused…period!

Non Chamber businesses in town will tell you, as will many uptown retail merchants who are Chamber members, that the Chamber has an anti-business attitude towards non-members and even members who aren’t in the lodging industry.

The City of Sedona’s attempt to paint the State of Arizona investigators as evil is nothing less than heinous as well. Why is the State of Arizona inherently evil while the City of Sedona paints itself as holier-than-thou?

Just remember these rules (taken from Germany’s WWII Reich Minister GOEBBELS’ PRINCIPLES OF PROPAGANDA):

  • Rule 2:    Propaganda must be planned and executed by only one authority (a govt entity). (This is the Council’s tactic in Sedona.)
  • Rule 12:  Propaganda must be facilitated by leaders with prestige.
  • Rule 14:  Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.
  • Rule 16a: Propaganda must reinforce anxiety concerning the consequences of defeat (such as…Are we doomed if the passage of Home Rule is denied by the voters?).

City Manager Clifton and Assistant City Manager Osborn, while pushing the envelope of questionable lawful activities, with the support of Chamber President Jennifer Wesselhoff, have clearly exercised all four of the above rules of Propaganda engagement. They’ve done it in print, along with verbal presentations supporting tagging as “evil” any suggestion of a need for change in the City’s current path of fiscal and social mismanagement.

Sedona voters voted for Home Rule in 2014. As I write this, “Let’s Fix Traffic-Vote Yes on Home Rule” signs are appearing all over town. At the same time as you read those signs, you can see the traffic congestion that was brought about by the last favorable vote for Home Rule.

Home Rule gives the Council the opportunity to funnel huge sums of money ($2.4 million this year alone) to the Chamber who spends it on advertising Sedona to daytrippers. These signs currently going up, as just mentioned above, with the help of certain Realtors associated with the Chamber, in my opinion are undeniably and deliberately fraudulent.

The various State of Arizona investigations of the city of Sedona: (Maybe this is why our little town has four staff attorneys and a standby arrangement with an outside law firm?)

  • On July 17, 2018, the Office of the Arizona Attorney General delivered to the City of Sedona a Notice of Submission of Legislator Request for Investigation Pursuant to A.R.S. 41-194.01, more commonly referred to as a “1487 Complaint.” The latter designation references Arizona Senate Bill 1487, which created the right for individual state legislators to demand that the Attorney General investigate alleged violations of state law by local jurisdictions. In the July 17 complaint, Senator Judy Burges (R-District 22), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose legislative district includes the cities of Glendale, Peoria and Surprise, alleges: (1) that the City of Sedona’s bed tax ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution’s gift clause, AZ Const. Art. 9 sec. 7, because 55% of the revenues are distributed to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau Chamber); and (2) that the City’s Tourism Promotion & Visitor Services Agreement with the Sedona Chamber violates the gift clause due to a lack of adequate consideration given to the City; and (3) that the Chamber, also in violation of the gift clause.

Nevertheless, Sedona City Attorney Robert Pickels replied to the State’s investigation through an article written by Christopher Fox Graham entitled “Pickels: Legislator’s ‘grossly deficient’ SB1487 Complaint against Sedona is missing 5 key pages.” Furthermore, he (Pickels) says ‘While the complaint alleges the absence of any specific performance metrics by which the Chamber is accountable to the city, the complaint conveniently did not include Pages 4-8 of the contract, which specifically and in great detail outline the performance metrics required under the agreement.’ And, finally, the ‘It can only be inferred that this was an intentional omission done to misrepresent the facts and mislead the investigation,’ Pickels continued.”

Inferred by whom?

Isn’t it interesting, though, that amongst the multiplicity of alleged missing Chamber performance metrics in the State’s Notice of SB1487 Complaint, the performance metric that the City Attorney never mentions as even existing, in fact, is the one of a requirement of submission by the Chamber to a City audit relative to the Chamber’s compliance with the performance metrics of the subject co-ownership contract?

By contract provision, the City apparently intends to rely upon the Chamber’s good faith monthly reporting of its own contract required performance metrics compliance.

Oh sure. I mean, given that there are, indeed, four pages of Chamber performance metrics in the 401 Jordan Road co-ownership contract, how can the City possibly determine if the Chamber of Commerce is performing to the performance metric standards it is required to meet? This is just another sweetheart deal that the City gives to no one else? In fact, this contract may very well be illegal and what if the City knew that when it entered into it?

Furthermore, the City Clerk says that the City follows ARS 42-17103.A (not ARS 9-481) thus the GFOA requirement to submit the budget within 90 days of adoption (June 26, 2018). The GFOA’s (Government Finance Officers Association of Arizona) deadline is the end of August. The GFOA is not the law. Arizona Revised Statute 9-481 is. Yet, the City hasn’t submitted its current legally required budget as of the writing of this article. Are they trying to figure out what part their budgeting plays in the tourism debacle Sedona now faces?

    • State Law ARS 9-481 – Audits of cities and towns; posting; budget states: “The financial statements must be retained and accessible in a prominent location on the official website for at least sixty months.” It is against the law to NOT have the FY 19 ANNUAL BUDGET document posted on the City’s website. It could have been done last June.

The “Cabal’s” favorite ploy is to bring up “fake news” yet never mention the first cousin of fake news, namely their favorite tactic, which is failure to disclose. So, who’s backing the “Cabal”? A PAC by the name of AZ Elections 18 Pac. And, who are its financial contributors?


Residents First Vote YES on Home Rule:

STEVE SEGNER (El Portal & Lodging Council but whose Sedona residency is questioned) $ 2,855
ROBERT HOLEMAN (Sedona Real Inn) $ 1,000
WENDY LIPPMAN (Tlaquepaque) $ 750
NANCY MATHEWS (Sedona School of Massage) $ 700
CHERYL BARRON (Courtyard by Marriott) $ 500
HOLLI PLOOG (CGI Technology & Solutions) $ 500

SEDONA LODGING COUNCIL (Steve Segner and Lonnie Lillie) $ 2,000
DIAMONDROCK (L’Auberge) $ 1,000
CANYON BREEZE (Al Spector) $ 1,000
CANYON PORTAL (Al Spector) $ 1,000
GRAND TOTAL AS OF JUNE 30, 2018 – $17,305
Source: June 30, 2018 Campaign Finance Report submitted to the Secretary of State.

AZ SR 89A trash

The “Cabal’s” attempt to push to the limits the envelope of ethical behavior, if not the law itself by virtue of bending every rule of ethics, including interlocking board and association directorships, questionable real estate fees paid by the Chamber to family members who are Realtors and or agents, and allowances of relentless influence peddling (the provision of campaign financing to friendly Councilors and Mayors) to Council candidates by the Chamber and the Sedona Lodging Council, not to mention exotic travel destination benefits provided to City employees as a circuitously channeled taxpayer expense, all to ultimately enhance the relentless no-cost profiteering of the lodging industry in Sedona and in the Village. And a print partner reportedly used its sacrosanct platform to threaten one current candidate with this: “Don’t pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and newsprint by the ton.” The “Cabal” must feel that they are entitled to operate outside any known code of ethics?

The treatment of those whom the “Cabal” has disenfranchised, including not only non-Chamber businesses, but many of the Uptown Chamber business members, is abominable!

This Sedona Arizona City Council has raised taxes every year and has approved new annual rate increases through 2020. Several council members are up for re-election August 28.

The 401 Jordan Road Chamber real estate purchase, as well as its less than arms length beneficial broker (Rick Wesselhoff), in this (corrupt?) deal structure stands as proof of the Chamber’s complete lack of ethics; this said in light of the fact that there are interlocking directorships between “Cabal” players and the Chamber, not to mention the guarantee of the Chamber’s private purchase money mortgage by the City.

What a sweetheart deal solely at taxpayer risk! If the Chamber resells the subject property for a profit, the Chamber gets to keep it all, but if its sold at a loss, or foreclosed, the City absorbs all the loss on the defaulted mortgage payback. But, meanwhile, at least the Chamber does provide perks given to key City employees especially for exotic travel. Yet, despite all the questionable business deals between the Chamber and the City, with no downside to the Chamber, the City is using City employees to push political pro-Chamber messages to an unsuspecting voting public…Clifton and Osborn are pushing scare tactics…

IF the City Manager does not cover Permanent Base Adjustment and Override, then the question is “Mr. Clifton, a Permanent Base Adjustment to $36 million should be on the ballot in November 2018 which sets the spending limit for the City well within past audited financial statements the City has posted on its website. With that VOTER SET LIMIT, not a STATE SET LIMIT, the voters can vote on that in November. If Home Rule goes down, the City will get along just fine. The Council can also ask the voters to approve an override in MAY 2019 before the start of the next fiscal year. Why has the city NOT explained IN DETAIL these two very viable options and safety nets to the our citizens?

Sedona Mayor caught on tape saying, “Tourists aren’t goin’ to go away whether the Chamber advertises or not, frankly. They’re not goin’ away! There’s a million ways people hear about Sedona. They’ve been hearing about it for years…everybody knows about it!” See it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amliK0cf8a8

IF the City Manager says that Home Rule is better because the City can spend more, or that the City needs more, or some other such blather, the answer is “…The issue is you’re proposing huge increases in a budget that (more than likely) will never be spent, and the STATE has given voters the power to control spending through limitations. In an emergency, the Council can still come back to the voters in May.”

So, why does our City government not want its citizens to be involved with their government? Quite clearly, the City of Sedona DOES NOT want its citizens to be involved in influencing City government, except through influence peddling.

Read this and think carefully about its implications: A local PAC has filed a lawsuit against the City of Sedona because the City Clerk refused to accept 111 legitimate signatures collected from citizens living in the Coconino County side of Sedona to place Permanent Base Adjustment on the November 6 election ballot because she said the signatures were not from the “county of majority” in the City. This is the City’s unfounded interpretation of the law. Election officials in both Coconino and Yavapai Counties say they have no knowledge of such language or requirement. It’s as if the City doesn’t believe that the citizens living in the Uptown area are part of Sedona because the county of the majority in is Yavapai County. The purpose of this underhanded tactic is to keep the Permanent Base Adjustment off the November 6 ballot thus eliminating a third choice for voters to either Home Rule or No Home Rule! The City feels that No Home Rule will scare our voters into voting for Home Rule which will leave the Council with unbridled authority to run ever-increasing deficits.

Always remember “A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!”

Coming soon Part Two: The Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth and What To Do Now!.

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


  1. @D Normand says:

    What a blow hard..(deleted by editor)

  2. Mike H says:

    Well written and factual.

    Well done Rick !!

  3. Eddie Maddock says:

    Thank you, Rick, for a superb production.

    Probably the number one reason people are reluctant to vote NO on Home Rule is due to the threat of severing city funding to non-profits. Much has been offered on SedonaEye relating to that concern via other articles and many, many comments. However, the constant propaganda generating fear of the closure of the Library, Humane Society, Sedona Recycles, etc. is running rampant and people are listening.

    It’s a difficult situation at best even with valid facts and impeccable research such as you must have spent hours and hours to provide in this well documented disclosure.

    Maybe the best we can hope for is fair decisions from upper levels of jurisdiction which will allow residents of Sedona their rightful opportunity to pick up the pieces and resume the quality of life to which we had become accustomed. After all, isn’t that the very reason we chose Sedona as our home? Not to live as herded animals and directed by a special interest force that really most of us neither asked for nor appreciate.

    To have fallen into a fate of captivity by a member driven organization inappropriately named Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau (admittedly they serve a “region” far beyond Sedona City Limits) has become a stark reality and defies all purposes for why we live here. Transparency where are thou?

    Thanks again, Rick. Brace yourself for the hecklers. Their wild and perhaps even uncontrolled reactions will confirm you really got to them! Well done.

  4. #overus says:

    Give me a break… ‘over us?’ …who do you think you are? The same vocal, whiner minority, who is responsible for that parking lot on 179, roundabouts that block traffic, and the street lights that don’t-light. Nimby’s are selfish? …nice tuff guy jacket, btw. lol…

  5. Matt Shobert says:

    Oh, look what I found from 2006, in your competitors archives!! …is gloating bad?

    “The SFD has been identified as a stakeholder by the city.

    According to Shobert, the district’s interest in an alternate route stems from striving to better serve the residents of Greater Sedona.

    From my vantage point, we could better serve our community, if we had a way to get across the creek in that vicinity, Shobert said.

    Shobert is also concerned that the incorporation of roundabouts in the Hwy. 179 project will drastically slow the district’s response times. Eight to 32 seconds is lost per-roundabout, Shobert said.” lol.

  6. Library funding says:

    Let’s look at the most recent Library tax return

    Gross receipts $1,693,177

    Librarian pay $95,699

    Stock Account :$2,165,377
    Cash on hand :$1,147,000

    Paid by city of Sedona, about $400,000 per year I think they will do OK. Like for about 30 years. Of course, they will always take more.

  7. Matt Shobert, fire chief retired says:

    In 2006, I voiced, loud and often – my conerns about the proposed, ‘new’ roadway system in Sedona… ADOT spent $41 million this parking lot, after being bullied by the VoC.

    I shoulda been a fricken Jeannie

    (Deleted by Editor)

    (Nice recent Sedona Parking Lot pics)

  8. JRN says:

    @D. Normand (whoever that is)

    The reason you hear me blowing hard is because you can’t read. So, I would guess, you went to my article to look at the pretty pictures. Right?


  9. Why not? says:

    In 2006, I voiced, loud and often – my conerns about the proposed, ‘new’ roadway system in Sedona… ADOT spent $41 million this parking lot, after being bullied by the VoC.

    I shoulda been a fricken Jeannie.

    “The SFD has been identified as a stakeholder by the city.

    According to Shobert, the district’s interest in an alternate route stems from striving to better serve the residents of Greater Sedona.

    From my vantage point, we could better serve our community if we had a way to get across the creek in that vicinity, Shobert said.

    Shobert is also concerned that the incorporation of eleven roundabouts in the Hwy. 179 project, will drastically slow the district’s response times. Eight to 32 seconds is lost per roundabout, Shobert said.”

    – Redrock News, 2006

    (Recent Sedona Parking Lot pics)

  10. Sales Tax Bed Taxes are City Coffers says:

    Greed is at chamber-lodging.

    NOT your MONEY Chamber-Lodging. GIVE it back.

  11. J. Rick Normand says:


    “Visitors Rule-(over us)” is a euphemism or, more properly, an equivoque. Apparently you don’t know how to recognize even a simple one. As for your question, who do I think I am?…Well, most certainly not you since I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself that way.


  12. Kathy Howe says:

    Another divisive article with incendiary words meant to win the author’s point of view at all costs. Tourism is up all over the world. Many of us have traveled the world and see the same issues everywhere. Do you really think Sedona could remain the sleepy little spot in the road just for you? Yes, the infrastructure should have been done under other administrations, or at least started; but, where would the monies come from? But, the visitors will continue to come. I remember when heading to my hotel in London, the cabbie charged me an additional $35 to enter into London’s inner-traffic area, and that was about 15 years ago. People, everyone is trying to manage traffic.

    Sedona is not just for retirees or wealthy individuals who “want to be alone” We need to be a community for everyone, the young, the middle-aged, the workers, the business owners, and the visitors. I’ve known Sedona since the late 60s-early 70s. I would come down from Flagstaff to shop (hitching posts in front of the shops) before there was a “Y” Do I want that life again? No. I love the energy the businesses generate. Am I going to diss past councils for not making the hard decisions earlier? No.

    Can we move on…

    Not backwards…

  13. J. Rick Normand says:

    @ Kathy Howe,

    “Can we move on?” We’ll see what you have to say after ADOT’s 5 yr projection comes true.


  14. Tony Tonsich says:

    Great article Rick !!

    Voters have a choice. If we stay with the current Chamber run City, they will pave as much as possible and call it an effort to insure sustainable tourism.

    Sustainable definition “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” By that definition bumper to bumper traffic is sustainable.

    I want to preserve the character of Sedona, its beauty, its positive energy, its spiritual nature. The Chamber and their supporters would have Sedona all paved like some 3RD Rate Disneyland.

    Please Vote for me, Sam Tardio, Noelle Julian, Brock Delinski and Mike Ward for the two year seat.

    Please Vote No on Home Rule.

    We can take our town back.

  15. D. Cohen, Portland says:

    @KathyHowe I challenge your premise that Sedona cannot retain its character as a small town. There is no reason for it not to do so. Bar Harbor ME does and faces similar access and growth opportunities without caving into the greedy and cheap of tourism demands.

  16. Not Voting For says:

    Our current Mayor Sandy has not filed her campaign finance report. Something to hide? No vote to Sandy.

    Bill Chisholm has filed his, one of his donors was Steve Segner. No vote to Chisholm.

    Janice Howe Hudson, chamber supporter donors and life time government employee. No vote to Hudson.

    No to all incumbents, no to home rule.

  17. J. Rick Normand says:

    @ All Readers at The Eye:

    The video link of Mayor Sandy’s comment, mentioned in my third full paragraph above, was taken down from the member subscription site at Vimeo and moved to the free site at YouTube. The new link for the mentioned video of Mayor Sandy’s comments is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amliK0cf8a8


  18. J. Rick Normand says:

    @ All Readers at The Eye:

    Video links of the Mayor’s statement about there being no need for costly Chamber advertising are multiplying. Here is one more:



  19. Thank you Tony T says:

    Appreciate your endorsements for city council Tony..

    I will now be voting for Anybody but YOU and those you endorse..

    Oh yes….I’m voting Yes on homerule… if your agaisnt it….I’m for it.

  20. @ Not Voting For says:

    Don’t forget the other candidates not worthy of a vote because they either thought City $ to advertise Sedona was a good idea or were noncommittal. See https://sedonaeye.com/sedona-council-candidates-pass-fail-question/

  21. Steve segner says:

    ha rick came out of his mothers basement , where he polishes his guns all day.

  22. @why not says:

    Please don’t blame the good people of the VOC for the 20 or so Yahoos that sit on all the committees and find ways to exclude residents. They have excluded so many people and now they are slowly dying off with no one to replace them and yelling on top of that to get involved.

    VOCA is run by small pretend groups filled with indentured servants to the County or use it as a way to feed their HUGE retired egos. You can not believe the EGOs here.

    It is a village of mostly unaware good people.

    40% of stakeholders don’t live here and the County is now All about the money now that Davis is gone it is worse. He at least tried to communicate to residents.
    Garrison is going to turn the village into a baby Cottonwood with no care of obliterating the small town community and the view shed of the tourists driving through. Just wait till Marriott is done with the Westin and there is more to come.

    Sedona Vista Village but the vista is now only for the guests staying at the hotel.

    Wow, Marriott taking over Sedona South in the Village and at the west gateway to Sedona with Courtyard and Residence inn coming in.
    Are smelling the corporate takeover of the area?

    Home rule will slow that all down with a no……..
    We love Sedona too…….as much as our Red Rock Country

  23. Dave, VOC says:

    Don’t mistake that Villagers would be part of Sedona city tax and spend schemes! We said no once before and we won’t be in future! Gross negligence by Sedona council hasn’t changed and will always be the same. We’ll take our lesser taxes and more self control here in the Village. Liking this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVH27A1lxPQ

  24. Gretchen says:

    @Steve Segner

    That’s a good one Steve..(deleted by editor)

  25. Donna Joy Varney says:

    The issue of home rule has nothing to do with a political party or an a action group. It boils down to the way our city treats the residents, non-profits and businesses. The city of Sedona has disenfranchised and disabled us. Disregarding, disrespecting us ALL. The City Council doesn’t listen and has made $edona about MONEY.

    I have been here over 25 years, own and operated a businesses. One in uptown, three in west sedona (3 locations), sat on the board of directors for non-profits, started non-profits, founded the Sedona Bridal Fair and operated it as a VOLUNTEER without city-funding. (I declined the offer of city $$$ for the event) and raised my family here.

    Home Rule only works if you TRUST the City Council 150%. They have shown you how they don’t care about you and failed to do their fiduciary responsibility. Failed to follow a code of Ethics.

    The State of Arizona sets the rules, Sedona is not an island. The standard operating mode is Baseline Computation. OTHER than that the City NEEDS VOTER APPROVAL. These voter approvals allow YOU to use YOUR Power to direct the 7 elected officials. It is Not an entitlement to operate under home rule. Sedona has survived without Home Rule before.

    VOTER OPTIONS are 4-

    No Home Rule allows the VOTERS to decide:
    Permanent Base Adjustment-
    Override Amount set in any amount-
    Baseline Computation-


    You can GIVE your Control and VOICE to City Council & Staff to decide for us ALL. NO input Folks.

    If you GIVE your Voice to them remember they CAN and will do as they feel.
    Giving the Chamber Control
    Changing and destroying uptown Charm
    Increase Traffic
    Stealing and destroying YOUR BACKYARDS to make more room for Tourism
    Killing the businesses with TRAFFIC ruining the small business
    Giving YOUR VOICE via Citizens engagement to Cronies, Outside Businesses.
    Driving the Residents, tourists and businesses Out of Sedona-city.

    KILLING the heart and soul of OUR SEDONA. The land is our sacred place.

    Please stop and think it through, put money aside, Do the right thing. Stop making $edona about money, a tourist trap and bring Sedona back to the people who respect and cherish it.

    I Love Sedona

    Built a website for education http://www.SedonaCity.com
    Not paid

  26. A Reigistered Independent's Views says:

    Thoughts on Sedona Council Candidates:

    After having attended Council candidate forums, as an Independent voter, I thought I would give my opinions for those who weren’t able to attend and might like to share my viewpoints.

    As for the mayor position, Sandy Moriarty has served her town, but I wonder if she still has the passion and energy to continue on…. she is unwilling to stand to speak as the other candidates do. She exhibited some anger outbursts that concerned me, which showed me that this job has become a hassle for her. Maybe her time has come.

    Tony Tonsich is a solid candidate and knows the issues well. He does have the passion for it, but he seems a bit reactionary and radical at times. While Sedona needs passion and change to address the myriad of problems it faces, I am concerned that he might actually be a bit too passionate. Shooting from the hip can cause other problems.

    Pete Conrad is the voice of reason in this group. While he is not an “in your face” type candidate, he seems to have the intelligence, ideas, and polish that Sedona needs. I liked his delivery and calm rational demeanor. His traffic solutions make the most sense of all the solutions I’ve heard. He will get my vote for mayor.

    As for council, Janice Hudson commented that the aquifer was in decline, which concerned me greatly. I have since called the Arizona Water Resources Dept, and they told me this concern was unfounded and couldn’t be further from the truth….and that the aquifer was in great shape and of no concern. This kind of disinformation from a candidate seemingly meant to alarm residents has no place in our public discourse, in my opinion.

    Scott Jablow seems aloof and uncaring, as if the council position was just a paycheck for him. He reads off a script and never engages with the audience… a lack of passion and energy.

    Bill Chisholm is a solid candidate but a bit too middle of the road for me. I still think he cares greatly about the community and would be a good candidate if he can focus more on one side rather than both sides. You need to be able to take a stand in the political arena.

    Mike Ward and Sam Tardio are both solid council candidates. They are knowledgeable of the issues and speak with authority, caring, and experience. They have what it takes to be an immense help to Sedona. They are rational and reasonable. I trust their judgment, and trust is hard to find in politics these days!

    Noelle Julian is an amazing, young, energetic talent that brings enthusiasm and genuineness to the table, a breath of fresh air. She has a great grasp of the issues. I am hopeful that someday she would be a great mayoral candidate for Sedona.

    The other candidates are ok, but I’m afraid, just ok. So my votes for council go to Noelle, Mike, and Sam. Thanks for reading my brief synopsis and opinions. We need to get Sedona on track, so we can continue to enjoy one of the best places on earth as our home.

    Ray Roehner

  27. ANOTHER THING @ whynot says:

    From my vantage point, we could better serve our community if we had a way to get across the creek in that vicinity, Shobert said.

    But you do have one and you know this Shobert!!!!

    There is a bridge across the creek for emergencies and that is through a high end development(an old boy deal) on both sides of the creek. The rich seem to not want to be bothered and the first attempt at the crossing was stopped for an old friend of the former supervisor living down by the creek. That is how beaver head flat was built.
    Vote no to Home Rule

    Most of the SFD live in Phoenix and elsewhere, they are not stakeholders. They are hired help generously paid for by you.

  28. J. Rick Normand says:

    @Steve Segner,

    Once again you’ve proved that you’re utterly ignorant and illiterate. You had better get Lonnie Lillie back on your leash! You need him to write your short comments, too.


  29. Alarmed says:

    Not Voting For got it right saying “No vote to Hudson.”

    Janice Howe Hudson was a member of four Citizen Engagement budget work groups: Citizens Budget for FY 2016, FY 2017, FY 2018 and FY 2019.

    Budgeted Expenditures exceeded Estimated Revenues by
    —-$ unknown for FY 2016
    —-$5,149,971 for FY 2017
    —-$9,989,641 for FY 2018
    —-$3,566,542 for FY 2019

    The City’s Actual Expenditures/Expenses have increased by 41% over the last ten years. That is, from $28 million in FY 2008 to $39.6 million in FY 2018.

    NO vote to Hudson. NO vote to Incumbents. NO vote on Home Rule.


    Please don’t be in a hurry to mail in your early ballot….you have till August 28th.

    There will be more crucial information coming out soon that may impact your choices.

    The Attorney General’s report on his SB1487 investigation of the City and the Chamber is due on August 12th and the Yavapai County Superior Court Judge’s ruling on whether or not the Permanent Base Adjustment will be on the November 6th ballot is expected by the end of next week.

    Please wait to get ALL of the information before casting your ballot.

  31. Liz says:

    Overheard interesting conversation. I’ll vote for Tardio.

  32. Donna Joy Varney says:

    We do have to look at those being enriched with a Yes vote. How the non-profits are being scared into a yes vote.

    Unlimited budget with no restrictions has allowed the City council to BUY votes. They BUY Votes by gifting money to the largest voting blocs.

    Look at those that did the Yes on Home Rule Forum. The two Yes side neglected to tell you that BOTH f them are tied to non-profits and are recipients of Grant and Service-Contract money from the City of Sedona.

    Since August of 2012 the Sedona Public Library has received 2.3 million from the city of Sedona via a service contract even though they are funded by the property taxes from both Yavapai and Coconino County. The service contract located here: http://www.sedonacity.com/Grant-Service.htm indicates that the library must provide services for Residents & Tourists. Why do the residents need to be double taxed?

    Why isn’t that .5% bed tax dollar being used for tourism improvement if the tourists have increased the burden on the Sedona Public Library? When Andrea Christelle stood up and spoke Yes for Home Rule, she neglected to tell you she was employed by the LIBRARY and recently QUIT.

    The Sedona Art Center has received via grant money totaling $106,125 from August 2013 to August 2017. Why didn’t Holli Ploog tell you she is the Treasurer of the Sedona Art Center? Holli Ploog also Contributed to Az Election Pac the is fighting hard to keep the Chamber no-bid Contract. Why didn’t they tell you at the forum they were involved in these two non-profit that may funding without Home Rule? http://www.sedonacity.com/FollowControlSedona.htm

    Then we get into AZ Elections 18 who are they? Who are they paying? Steve Segner president of the Sedona Lodging Council, an affinity group of the regional Chamber. The Sedona Chamber the recipients of a no-bid contract = 2.5 million a year.

    The regional-chamber uses that money for their exclusive use, and the legitimate businesses that are required to impose, collect and manage those in-city-taxes got no voice and no vote nor do they get to do a performance review on the Chamber so called Destination Marketing. Why is that?

    Looking at those contributing to this group are 90% from those being enriched by the Chambers no bid contract. Those being paid through AZ Elections 18 are also being enriched by the no bid chamber contract with the city. Comello Media is paid by AZ Elections 18, owner Al Comello sits on the Chamber board. He was also Sandy Moriety campaign manager back in 2012. Al also sits on the Adult Community Center as a director.

    Front Burner Media owned by Heather Herman was hired by AZ Election 18 according to their report. Heather serves on the School board, worked for the Sedona Chamber and is married to Mike Herman. Mike Herman is employed by Pink Jeep Tours and also sits on the Sedona Chamber Board of Directors.

    The AZ election 18 promoted by the Chamber are fighting hard to keep control of taxpayer’s money. There are ads in the Red Rock News while Kyle Larson of the Red Rock News sits on the Chamber Board of Directors also. The newspaper is a major tool for marketing of the Chamber. So we can only image what a great source of income the Sedona Chamber’s account is to the paper.

    It doesn’t matter where you come from 2.5 million a year is a hell of a lot of MONEY.

    Money is on the table folks and THAT is what the vote is about.

    Vote YES for GREED

    Vote No to make the playing field level.

  33. J. Rick Normand says:

    @ Donna Joy Varney,

    No one knows this town better than you, Donna. Thank you so much for identifying the people who actually make up “The Cabal” which I mentioned in my article. The Cabal believe they own this town and that all of the rest of us are merely here to serve their personal profit motives. Furthermore, to reiterate from my article, other Chambers of Commerce around the country are giving back money to their host towns while, our’s alone, sucks up its host city’s financial blood like a parasite. When a mosquito draws its victim’s blood, it quite often leaves behind a disease in the victim’s bloodstream. To complete the metaphor, the disease that the Chamber leaves in our City’s quality-of-life bloodstream is known as traffic and trash strangulation.

    @ A Registered Independent’s View,

    In addition to Donna, I would like to thank you, Ray, for your ever so well researched and written comment. Just so you know, I am a registered Independent and always have been. I just want to add to your observations about Council Candidate Bill Chisholm…he has taken money from Steve Segner and chums around with New York City’s contribution to our local election, candidate-for-re-election Scott Jablow. He, along with Janice Howe-Hudson, are committed to become part of the problem, not part of the solution. I’m always concerned about candidates new to the local election process who haven’t thoroughly researched the issues and the surrounding players.


  34. A.S. says:

    No vote on Janice H. Hudson is a good decision. She’s awful for Sedona. No votes on all incumbents. NEVER vote again for Williamson even for dog catcher because she hates the people in this town & we voted her off the council last time but her council buddies appointed her like a Slap in our faces by her besty pals Scott Jablow and Mayor Moriarty. Wrong wrong wrong. ONLYVote for 2 council members Sam & Noelle. Don’t give any others a vote and Tonsich for mayor. Clean house. Scrub it clean. It stinks over there in city hall.

    Business owners ought to reconsider belonging to the Sedona Chamber. Why do you need to be? What’s the reason? You’ve got a lock on the market. Keep your money for a year and see if it matters. Wager you’ll find it doesn’t matter one bit.

  35. Keep It Right says:

    Vote against traffic and incumbents. Protect the beauty of our Sedona with a ballot marked for good people and good ideas this election. Do the right thing.

  36. Rita Valdez says:

    More information to make you think. Takes a long time to read tho.

  37. Bill Chisholm says:

    I thought we had talked enough during our one on ones for you to understand that I talk to everyone, alienate no one. I live and teach in this town and would like to be friendly with all.

    Don’t confuse that with trying to please everyone. I know how to separate business from pleasure and have demonstrated that on numerous occasions in my corporate life. If talking to everyone to assess all perspectives of an issue is a character trait you do not support, then do not vote for me – trying to understand all sides of an issues is a fundamental leadership trait I bring to the table. However, you strike me as a person interested in getting all of the facts to make fully informed decisions as such my confusion at your characterization of me as “…committed to become part of the problem, not part of the solution…” when I also work to get all of the facts and try to understand the various perspectives that exist on a topic.

    Regarding the fund-raising comment you made – you cherry picked one contributor to my campaign to make a point. If you looked at all the contributors, you would see a wide representation of views. I have a standing commitment to my independence and have during this campaign asked to be removed from media distributions aligning me with candidates from multiple sides of this non-partisan election.

    Based on our previous interactions your comments about me are a surprise. I would have preferred you picked up the phone to discuss your concerns with me voice to voice or face to face vs. on a public forum where there is no opportunity to read body language or interact to reach understanding.

    Regardless you are entitled to your opinion and I respect that. I do appreciate that you make the effort to get involved and speak your mind even though I may not agree with you or reach the same conclusions that you do.

    Have a great rest of the weekend.


  38. J. Rick Normand says:

    @Bill Chisholm,

    Bill, do you recall during our second meeting that you mentioned there were “sure a lot of people” who had a low opinion of me in town? Yes, and a greater number have the opposite opinion. That’s because I write the truth regardless of what anyone thinks about what I say. When I write, I get it right and I document what I say.

    Nevertheless, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but I was told that between our first and second meeting you had been talking with Scott Jablow and John Martinez, for sure, and probably several Councilors and City Staff I’ve called out before. They fed you their anger and you bought it without having done your homework! Then you came out, publicly, and supported their agenda which is one of no change whatsoever. Why is it I had to find that out from whistleblowers (and I have them everywhere around town) instead of from you, Bill? In our second meeting, you never mentioned who your sources were. You just leveled their remarks at me. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones my friend…and you are currently living in an aged glass house!

    And, btw, before you endorsed Home Rule so quickly you should have learned more about Permanent Base Adjustment. When I met with you, you didn’t have the slightest idea what that alternative to Home Rule was about. Why don’t you attempt publicly discussing it now? In fact, I’m wondering if your would debate, in a public forum, the merits (or lack of them as you may see it) with Mike Schroeder? Are you up for that?


  39. Bill Chisholm says:

    Your assumption regarding ‘low opinion’ sources is 100% inaccurate. In retrospect I did not need to mention that to you, but you had already disclosed your previous role in the community, so I did not think you would mind. You obviously did and for that I apologize.

    I do not need to debate Mike because he knows my position as I have discussed it with him. Basically, I agree our PBA needs to be increased but I am not ready to support a specific number yet. In my opinion more work needs to be done.

    If you would like to share your personal views with me on the PBA topic, I would be happy to hear them.

    Let’s meet face-to-face. Just call me and we can pick a date and time.

    Thanks for your feedback – I appreciate your willingness to engage in civil discourse.


  40. Alarmed says:

    On the front page of the August 2018 RED ROCK REWARDS handout, Scott Jablow states “Our city has no property tax and is funded primarily by sales taxes of which 65% is paid by tourists.” This is BS. Only the operating budget is funded by sales taxes. In FY 2017 38% of the City’s total revenues came from sales taxes from tourists.

    The State of Arizona shares a portion of its revenues with the City of Sedona and other cities. State shared revenues amount to: a portion of income taxes, sales taxes, vehicle registration fees, and highway user funds. The State shares these revenues so that cities will not need a property tax.

    BTW, a property tax must go before the electorate. Sedona voters would indubitably vote NO. Please don’t vote for Scott Jablow or any incumbents.

    Vote NO on Home Rule.

  41. Art, Sedona says:

    Facts & opinions, interesting read, agree 85%. Losing PJ now that’s a big loss if happens on 89a up in town. Losing our history now that’s cutting the gold rush. Should pay attention to those California fire stories in Sacramento Bee & SFE about how towns that didn’t want tourism & it’s paying off because these fires are breaking the economies of some tourist towns relying on those dollars after they sold out years back.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Six possible industries were reported on in “The NCS Sedona. AZ Community Livability Report 2017.” Survey participants were less supportive in increasing tourism or warehouse and distribution businesses as opposed to Healthcare, Outdoor recreation, Technology, and Arts and Entertainment. Only about 4 in 10 respondents supported growth in tourism (“i.e., hotels, restaurants”) and light warehousing and distribution (“i.e., truck operators, stock clerks”).

    Vote NO on Home Rule. NO vote to incumbents. NO vote to Janice Howes Hudson.

  43. Dana Varney says:

    Sad how Myrtle Beach has declined as a tourist destination since this Lodging Council wreaked havoc on this unsuspecting beach town. The people have been turned off and will not return as it has become too expensive due to the tourist tax. The Sedona resorts outside city limits are booming. It is 7% cheaper than in city lodging. For an event, that is a substantial sum. Nothing like driving business out of town Segner.

  44. Sotheby Realtors says:

    You were right, city was wrong. http://sedonaeye.com/sedona-voters-prevail-in-court-against-city/
    Can the city council kiss its as is goodbye? Maybe we’ll keep our property values after all?

  45. Larry, Sedona says:

    Good article JRick. Amsterdam says no to tourists and cheap tourist shops is hyperlink below. Sedona should follow its example and more to preserve our fragile eco-culture. We should also ban all but two county tagged dogs (get that tag that says you live in Coconino or Yavapai) on our trails and parks because of e coli contamination and unclean forest areas! Don’t get me started on diapers…disgusting.


  46. Tony Tonsich says:

    @Larry, Sedona

    Thanks for the link for the great article on Amsterdam. People should be able to preserve their home and stop it from becoming a theme park.

  47. Home Rule Presentation/Voting Aug 28 says:

    Some of you may or may not have attended one of our presentations at Christ Church on Home Rule and the other two funding options that the city has that the voters get to choose from… A 19 minute presentation based on our 40 minute presentation at the Church.

    Please share to anyone who may be confused about the three funding Options for the city that are available to the voters. There are choices.

    REMEMBER – VOTE ON TUESDAY! Elks Lodge on airport road for all Yavapai Residents. You may drop off your mail in ballot there also.

  48. Nancy says:

    Now go vote please and vote for Sedona and not against her, voting no saves our city.

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