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Wizards of Sedona: The Fourth Wizard

Sedona AZ  (June 11, 2018) – The following is a letter to the SedonaEye.com editor:

Sedona Voters and Residents,

City of Sedona Council chamber is influenced by four entities of power (wizards) writes an appalled and concerned Sedona resident.

Originally I wrote about the three main industries – Tourism (the Chamber), Real estate/Development, and Construction which run Sedona politics and policies from behind the scenes.

These vested interests are aided and abetted by the Sedona Red Rock News, which serves to promote and justify their pro-growth, make-us-rich agenda. One of our web-zines that are the alternative sources of news dubbed these powerful groups as “the Three Wizards.” (I briefly digress to acknowledge and honor the Sedona Eye and Sedona Biz for serving as the vox populi forums, where residents can express their opinions and debate a variety of issues.)

As true of all levels of government most everywhere, business mostly and some special interests infiltrate and eventually take over the government(s) which are supposedly representing their residents/citizens. Then, these interests ignore that duty and primarily legislate for their own benefit, which they shrewdly define and promote as “the greater good.”

So, it’s not surprising that this has happened here in Sedona. What is surprising for me personally is that it took me so long (only just 6 months ago) to identity a Fourth wizard.

Our city government colludes with the other wizards to advance the pro-growth agenda. Just a few examples; the City gives the Chamber approximately $2.5 million annually and has ceded some of its executive power to the Chamber by allowing it to jointly decide how to spend this money on “product development.”

The City has recently bought the million-dollar 401 Jordan property for the Chamber which, of course, benefits the real estate/developers as well. Furthermore, this latter wizard received windfalls, when the City bought the Sinagua property for $850,000 (when assessed at only $775,000) and the Brewer Road property for $650,000 (when assessed at only $520,000).

Now, the City wants to rehab the current structures and build a park. Obviously this is a benefit for the Construction industry, not to mention this wizard will make millions on all the proposed traffic improvements.

City government itself reminds me of the 1958 movie, The Blob, in which an alien organism devours everything in its path, becoming larger, redder and more aggressive. Like any bureaucracy, it seeks to grow and feed/benefit itself. Employees are well paid and have great benefits. Some enjoy perks like their own cars and free lunches at fancy restaurants.

But, more mind-boggling, is the question: Why does the City outsource so much work when employees should be doing that work?  For example, why does my wastewater bill come from some company in Utah?

Moreover, I’ve come to believe that the City Staff runs the Council. They give the Council so much material to read that it’s overwhelming. It’s a shock-and-awe tactic that then allows the staff to “suggest” what the Council should do. The bottom line is that many policy decisions are being influenced and possibly made by unelected members of the Chamber and the City staff.

In any case, below is an email from a friend that shows the “Blob Effect” of city government:

From City’s State of Arizona Official Budget Forms:

FISCAL FULL-TIME* TOTAL ESTIMATED PERSONNEL
YEAR BUDGETED EXPENDITURES/EXPENSES EQUIVALENT EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION

2014   $36,145,299         119     $ 9,314,090
2015   $38,385,154         120     $ 9,605,326
2016   $52,817,475 **     125     $10,387,843
2017   $38,360,866         125     $10,322,070
2018   $47,752,118         142     $12,648,970

*In 2009, before the Great Recession, the City had 120 FTE (Full Time Employees). The City’s population was 11,436.

This fiscal year (2018) the City has 142 FTE. The Arizona Office of Employment & Population Statistics projects the Sedona 2017 population as 10,333.

**There was a wash entry of $9,300,000 as a result of refunding and refinancing the 2007 Bond Series.

The FY 2018 Budget was balanced between expenditures, revenues, use of reserves set aside for capital projects, use of restricted grants and donations balances, and the reduction of fund balances exceeding policy reserve requirements, including $3.484K in Wastewater Enterprise Fund reserves.

One full-time position was added; two part-time positions were added; seven temporary positions were added; two positions were reclassified; and, a position title and/or hours changes were made to some part-time and temporary positions.

Indirect cost allocations involving the WW Fund were instituted. A total of $1,056,950 was charged the Waste Water Fund by various City departments in FY 2018.

All this should make voting No on Home Rule a no-brainer.

Henry Twombly
Sedona, AZ 86336

 

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3 Comments

  1. Isky Gaines says:

    find enlightening

  2. Tired of name callers says:

    I took Citizen’s academy a little while ago. I have met with some elected councilmen, served on a city committee, and here are some things I heard and or noticed:
    *Councilpersons rely on the city employees for direction to a high degree. Personally I want to see a move towards councilors actually directing city employees priorities, which I feel is not the case though I expect someone to argue this. It is none the less my opinion based on some reasonable experiences with both the city and councilors.
    *During the meeting with Community Development while in Citizens academy, I asked – have you projected the carrying capacity of city infrastructure and stress of community in terms of lodging size. In other words, how much lodging can Sedona handle? The answer: trout mouth. No was the answer. Many in the CA thought that was a good idea. About 2 years later and to my knowledge, there is no public assessment of that question still.

    And separately – I am sure history show us that Business/ the pursuit of profit, will always go as far and make as much as possible generally regardless of consequences (to others). Government role should and I believe was intended in a democracy anyway, to represent to collective, the workers, and to set boundaries to prevent such happenings. However in America in 2018 I am seeing many many signs of failure in this regard. I believe Sedona is a sad example of this failure. Collective action by us the VOTING residences who are able to have compassion and think beyond ME/MINE only, are the only likely possibility of changing this mess. I believe businesses need boundaries, people living here need to find common ground, stop hating each other, and find common ground among those of us living here.
    And yes business is good, we need businesses. But we need limits because we have limits here physically. I want
    compassion and livability. Sedona is supposed to be a healing place, so let’s add a goal, heal not hate.

    Who can state a fact or opinion without insulting someone else on this site. Let’s keep track.

  3. Tony Bremmer says:

    https://youtu.be/AJF7qPBQAkM

    Pay attention Sedona media and Sedona city government. We’re sick of your social engineering and lies about Chamber funds. Just sayin.

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