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Sedona Councilman Ward No Vote Applauded

Sedona AZ (June 11, 2014) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

From: Eddie Maddock
Date: 6/11/2014 9:49:22 AM
To: Mike Ward
Cc: radams@ci.sedona.az.us; MDinunzio@ci.sedona.az.us; blitrell@aol.com; DMcIlroy@ci.sedona.az.us; Jessica Williamson; JMartinez@ci.sedona.az.us
Subject: THANK YOU

Sedona City Councilman Mike Ward cast the only no vote to award the Sedona Chamber of Commerce a contract for destination marketing on June 10

Sedona City Councilman Mike Ward cast the only no vote to award the Sedona Chamber of Commerce a contract for destination marketing on June 10

TO SEDONA CITY COUNCILMAN MIKE WARD:

Thank you for being the only voice in the wilderness to deny the Chamber of Commerce contract for destination marketing at yesterday’s City Council meeting. Please understand, my position is not against the Chamber or the idea of destination marketing.

It has been and remains steadfast that contributing public funds to a member-driven organization without benefit of RFP’s was wrong from the get-go. The determination by certain council members to sanctify the Sedona Chamber as the hallowed do all and be all to run the city is so in-the-face of residents and city-limit businesses it’s almost an embarrassment. Feedback I’m receiving is more and more businesses AND non-profits are dropping Chamber memberships which are probably being quickly picked up by non-tax collecting establishments outside City Limits.

Let us not forget the rental tax city-based businesses are paying for their locations, even if their particular enterprise does not contribute to sales tax (real estate, insurance agencies, for example.) Another kick in the ass to those folks who struggle on a daily basis to keep their doors open while City Council members thumb their noses at them, give the Chamber excessive funding without substantial credibility or a reliable method to account for a return on the investment providing such a thing exists. The logic, or lack thereof, reverts to that meeting last July when Lodging Council representative Steve Segner repeatedly appealed to the City Council the words: “Just trust us.”

sedona chamber of commerceThe combination of Chamber funding from their own membership, their tourism division, city and perhaps other sources is vague at best regarding how, why, and where the money actually sits as it perhaps is being recklessly dispensed on discretionary disbursement by the Chamber of Commerce and anointed disciples.

By Jennifer Wesselhoff’s own admission, only Chamber members are being given recognition at the 70% City funded alleged “Sedona Visitor’s Center” which is clearly labeled solely as the Chamber of Commerce.

Realizing all of this is “old news” it just seems appropriate to acknowledge appreciation of your logical thinking and contribution although it didn’t do a lick of good. Your questioning other council members about their concern relating to increased lodging occupancy from my vantage point in watching the meeting produced six vapid, expressionless faces. The almost silent response, in my opinion, was “What are you asking such a stupid question?”

When Mayor Adams denied you the opportunity to make a final statement, it wasn’t the first time he has cut you off, while he will let others who are in agreement with his own line of thinking ramble on at length.

What we can depend on is that no matter what, an upswing in economy will be reason for the Chamber to claim fame to increased tax base and fires, floods, or the inconvenience of ADOT road closures will be the cause for sluggish sales. Clogged traffic, gridlock, and lack of parking will not factor in. You were wise to make a point of the traffic and quite possibly the only deaf ears it fell upon were those of your fellow council members.

Good luck to you in your future endeavors with the Forest Service and I hope they have more sense and good judgment than what is being displayed by the majority of the Sedona City Council.

The opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

Sincerely,
Eddie S. Maddock
Sedona Registered Voter

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

14 Comments

  1. jack says:

    I get sick every time I watch a city council meetings. Glad to see someone else see what I see. Thanks Eddie for sharing your letter. It’s a shame Mike Ward didn’t rerun. He is the only one who seems to think.

  2. Its a thankless job with foxes all over the place better Mike goes and does something people appreciate then sitting with idiots yammering away for hours and hours and days on end about nothing worth talking about, good luck to you man

  3. No, I did not, could not, believe what was written in the above letter. Therefore, went directly to video of meeting, http://sedonaaz.swagit.com/play/06102014-1020, clicked on Item 9B (AB 1803) and watched the 59.13 minutes of discussion and council vote on acceptance of the Destination Marketing contract with the Chamber of Commerce.

    With the exception of Mike Ward, the entire city council should be recalled, kicked to the curb, for the blatant transgression they committed to the residents and “non-chamber member” businesses in the City of Sedona.

    To hear Barbara Litrell pointedly ask Jennifer Wesselhoff if it’s true, that volunteers at the Chamber are told to not recommend certain restaurants, the truth without batting an eye was admitted by Wesselhoff that non-chamber members indeed were not being given equal treatment in the CITY FUNDED VISITOR’S CENTER. And this City Council sat on their thrones in their brain-dead state and didn’t bat an eye on the fact of the matter?

    Is this Sedona’s version of extortion? Ripping off tax contributing businesses only to benefit chamber membership, most of whom at this point in time are likely outside city limits and therefore not even collecting “city” taxes?

    Since there is a city council election coming up (Primary in August, General in November) obviously there isn’t time for a recall. However, any candidates running for Mayor or to fill the three vacating Council seats should be whipped, tarred, feathered and sent packing if they support continuing Sedona’s version of extortion.

    Even the thought of this shameful sham being perpetuated is disgusting. To continue to earmark millions of dollars for the next three years to promote the Sedona Chamber of Commerce (not the city per se) is ludicrous. Even J. Wesselhoff lied when she went public about the quality of air in Sedona during the Slide Fire. She said it was smoky in the mornings but cleared by mid morning or early afternoon. That was a lie. How unfortunate if visitors suffering from breathing disorders were lured to Sedona based on this deception.

    However, it isn’t Ms. Wesselhoff at fault here. It’s those council members who refused to do the decent thing, get Requests for Proposals when this nonsense was first on the table. But on no, instead they have shown their all mighty power by locking this in for the next three years?

    My one consolation is that I’m no longer in business in Sedona. Of course, with the real estate market still pretty much upside down, many of us are financially stuck here. However, judging from the size of the new phone directory I just received, every year they grow smaller and smaller. What is it that you arrogant do as you wish council members and Madame W., currently in charge of all things Sedona, don’t understand? Sedona’s once positive reputation is diminishing and none of you get it? No amount of money spent for advertising will undo the ongoing damage that you refuse to acknowledge. The vegetation will grow back in Oak Creek Canyon. You stand for wrecking Sedona forever.

    Just watch out folks. “They” are looking for ways to fund the mysterious lack of earmarked money for foolish things like infrastructure necessities. However, should “they” have their way and impose bonds or property taxes, rest assured the Chamber of Commerce will figure out a way to get control of that as well and unless we elect a Mayor and Council Members willing to set out in a different direction, it will only get worse.

    Watch the video. Therein likes the truth.

  4. I too applaud your courage to say “The Emperor has no clothes” loud and clear and THANK YOU to Mike Ward. The Chamber is a private-member organization and it should NOT be running Sedona’s destination marketing with public funds. I own a small Sedona business and years ago I discovered how shabbily this Chamber treats those who are “not with the Plan” so I am not shocked that Volunteers are told which businesses to recommend (or not) to outsiders. We do NOT NEED THEM; this town would do very well indeed if all their grand-standing and big-money ways simply disappeared; then maybe that ridiculous $25 business licence that they and the City forced on us (after telling everyone that it would “never happen”) could also go the way of the Dodo.

  5. William S. says:

    For sure we need Mayor and Council replacements who will reassess spending and make essentials a priority instead of leaving them without a dedicated revenue stream as mentioned in another SE article.

    A “NO” vote on Home Rule might be the only shock to reality that will force a long overdue overhaul of the current practice of free money to advertise the Chamber of Commerce and other undeserving pests that have infested City Hall at an extremely high price.

  6. Terrie Frankel says:

    Amen… Bravo to Mike Ward…After millions of dollars have been dolled out by the City to the Chamber – without one iota of accountability expected – the lack luster ad line they came up with is, “My Sedona.” If you have a moment, take a gander at the Chamber’s pedestrian website, which I hear is finally being overhauled. I agree with William S. who suggests “a “NO” vote on Home Rule might be the shock to reality that will force a long overdue overhaul of the current practice of free money to advertise the Chamber of Commerce…”

    I am a big believer in NO HOME RULE… Here is some of my argument that will appear in the upcoming ballot… I had a difficult time getting this argument on the ballot because even though I had my signature notarized (I understand this is a new rule) – the Clerk said the notarization I obtained from Chase Bank wasn’t good enough! So, the Clerk recommended someone at the City who could notarize it “properly.” I’m hoping they don’t find a further loop hole to justify not printing it. We shall see… Last election on Home Rule, the City illegally charged for the privilege of posting an argument. Thus, there was only one argument against Home Rule on the ballot…. In any event, here is the argument I submitted…
    PLEASE VOTE NO FOR THE ALTERNATIVE EXPENDITURE LIMITATION…
    This is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Simply put, Resolution No. 2014-05, drafted by our City Attorney, Mike Goimeric, and signed by Mayor Rob Adams preemptively justifies the over-riding of fiscal responsibility by declaring that once ‘good money’ is dolled out by the millions to the Chamber of Commerce – special interests – pet projects and the waste water debacle (presently doubling our bills with no end or solution in site) – our Mayor and Council can then ‘vote’ to spend money we don’t have on ‘necessities’ as long as we call them “emergencies”….
    A vote of ‘Yes’ is a vote of unlimited spending with no tax payer control. Don’t be misled into believing you are voting for something you are not. This new name they have attached to Home Rule – calling this the “Extension of the Alternative Expenditure Limitation” misleads citizens, by making it appear that by voting ‘yes’ they are voting for “limitations” in spending – when in reality, by voting ‘yes’ we would be giving the City Council the nod to spend further money the City doesn’t have – thus getting us deeper in debt. According to Arizona’s Department of Revenue, Sedona’s per capita debt is presently $5,096.68 – the 7th Highest of Arizona’s 91 Cities. With no over-sight, the city’s money for capital improvements is set to run out in three years.
    The No Home Rule vote was created by the State of Arizona to come to the rescue of Cities like Sedona – that spend more money than they have coming in. Time for our Tax and Spend Mayor and City Council to take a step back and manage our money wisely, by trimming the fat and spending it where it will help Citizens and hard working city personnel first. Please vote ‘no’!

  7. Terry Frankel makes some excellent points including how difficult it becomes to have a letter accepted for the Voter’s Information Pamphlet.

    Having heard similar complaints in the past I decided to not waste my time.

    Referencing “Home Rule” as the “Alternative Expenditure Limitation” in order to confuse people is in keeping with past scare tactics like maybe “there won’t be funding for basics” or “if we don’t spend the money we will lose it” and are meaningless without factual data to back up such claims.

    Wasn’t it just recently disclosed by Asst. City Mgr. Karen Daines in the RRN and another SE column that “Projects without dedicated revenue streams, including most sidewalk, drainage, and public safety projects, must all compete for a finite amount of General Fund resources?”

    Isn’t it amazing that money isn’t available for simple things like maintaining basic infrastructure and yet unlimited dedicated revenue streams prevail for the likes of the Chamber of Commerce and their ongoing City financed march to promote themselves without a lick of accountability?

    Splash Pads? Dome for Barbara’s Park? Mystery money for improvements to Brewer Road Property? $13,000 artificial non-ice skating one-week rental for Posse Grounds Non-Christmas Freak-out? More proposed funding for Non-Christmas Holiday Central? Duck ponds? Purchase of creek side property? Mystery negotiations with present owner of Cultural Park property and secret negotiations relating to Soldiers Pass Road property?

    Ad infinitum. Enough!

    Keep in mind that if voters say “NO” to this ballot measure, it isn’t forever. If Home Rule is denied it will mean a mere four year slap on the wrist as a suggestion to shape up, ship out, or more realistically get your ducks in order.

    If City based businesses don’t vote “NO” then shame on them. The fact they are not even being acknowledged in the City financed Visitor’s Center without expectation of becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce is shocking. That Jennifer Wesselhoff suggests a “Pay to Play” admittance when it’s taxes being collected by City businesses which fund the Visitor’s Center is insulting. It’s the bed taxes being spent on the campaign to make Sedona Chamber of Council perhaps world renowned but definitely not respected.

    Personally if I were in a position and a City business owner I would spearhead a Class Action Law Suit that might prove to be far more effective at shaking the sheets of our snoozing Council Members than a mere temporary restriction to State imposed spending limitations.

    Vote “NO” . . . Best Way to GO!

  8. Between the “Pre-Meeting” (3:00) and “Regular Meeting” (4:30) on 6/24, there will be a SPECIAL City Council Meeting at 4:00 PM (AB 1813), a Public hearing/discussion/possible action on approval of a resolution adopting the City of Sedona’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

    Then on Wednesday, 6/25 @ 3:00 PM there will be another SPECIAL City Council Meeting to include the following:

    AB 1804 Discussion/possible direction on the Barbara Antonsen Park design competition jury selection committee recommendation for the preferred design team concept, and to enter into negotiations for a design contract for detailed design and use of the Construction-Manager-at Risk method for procuring construction services for this project.

  9. @all respondents

    I ask every current candidate for Mayor and Council to answer these two questions. I have already done so before and all have declined or ignored the questions. The questions are:

    1] Are you for or against Home Rule (“against” meaning, the candidate supports a “NO VOTE FOR THE ALTERNATIVE EXPENDITURE LIMITATION”)

    2] Are you for or against requiring Sedona’s Destination Travel Marketing be put out to [RFP] competitive bidding? (“against” meaning that support would be given to requiring the Chamber of Commerce to submit to competitive bidding for the City’s Destination Travel Marketing contract)

    A refusal to publicly answer these questions within 30 days from today should be considered by voters as support by said candidates for the status quo, that is, more “Home Rule and its attendant uncontrolled spending” and more “non-competitive DMO contract favoritism” granted to the Chamber of Commerce.

  10. Just Sayin' says:

    Mr. Normand:

    That’s a good challenge of course, it means something IF any of those people check in on this site.

    Just sayin’

  11. William S. says:

    My guess is that none of the candidates will respond to J. Rick Normand’s suggestion which means that they all support the current process of “non-competitive DMO contract favoritism” for the C of C as well as unlimited spending as offered by the present Home Rule policy.

    Therefore, what are the options? Three will be elected to city council, one as mayor, but nothing will change?

  12. Let’s face it. Has anyone known of a politician willing to decrease spending? Do not expect the suggestion of “limitations” imposed as a result of voter turn down on Home Rule to favor a warm reception to any of those running for office.

    Little wonder they so far refuse to take a stand on “touchy” issues regardless of the importance to the people who will be responsible for electing them.

    Therefore it isn’t up to the seven people sitting on that City Council now or in the future to regain sanity to Sedona City government. It’s time for the Sedona registered voters to rally and do the job our elected officials continue to refuse to do.

    Vote “NO” on Home Rule (Alternative Expenditure Limitation), a step in the right direction.

  13. SUGGESTION says:

    ATTENTION CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL

    Referring to the comment from J. Rick Normand, that apparently you opted to ignore responding to him, how about considering the following in case anybody else is so bold as to ask you questions you prefer to avoid:

    “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” a commonly know quotation attributed to an Irish playwright named Oliver goldsmith (1728-1774). It means that if you don’t ask me a question, then I won’t have to lie to answer you!

    Respectfully,

    Eddie Maddock

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