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Eddie Maddock: Business as Usual?

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie S. Maddock

Sedona AZ – At a Special Sedona City Council Meeting, 3:00 –Wednesday afternoon –January 11, 2017, after three long years of a contentious destination marketing agreement with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the City will again revisit the issue. We can only hope the negotiations will prove to be less controversial, fairer and, in turn, result in acceptable transparency which will dismiss suspicion and mistrust of City Hall dealings. That might very well have been the case had the original commitment for Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) as well as certified outside audits been upheld as proposed during the initial negotiations. Ignoring both valid concerns was a disservice to everyone.

Five options will be discussed at this meeting as follows:

Option 1: Move forward with the negotiations of a new contract with the Chamber of Commerce.

Option 2: Issue an RFP for tourism promotion services.

Option 3: Create a stand-alone destination marketing organization (DMO) without ties to the Chamber of Commerce.

Option 4: Create a City Department to handle tourism promotion.

Option 5: Issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a travel industry consultancy to assess the current structure, funding relationships, etc. and provide recommendations to the city.

Pros and cons of each option will be discussed at length, such as concerns RFP’s will include bids from for-profit agencies. That brings up several questions. Without an official outside audit from a qualified source, how do they know the Chamber has not been making a profit? How many employees have they hired? What has been the cost of improvement to their own facilities, etc? And what is the source of funding for those operating expenses?

And will the City acknowledge the Chamber currently offers their own RFP’s for specific services, realistically reducing them to a mere middle-agency, acting on behalf of the City of Sedona?

And how do they justify the extended branding of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce that has occurred within the past three years? What has been the source of that promotional funding for the Chamber instead of the City?

By creating a stand-alone destination marketing organization, the City could avoid real or perceived conflicts between tourism promotion services and the various other functions of the Chamber of Commerce. Although they specify: “Unclear how local and regional partners would react,” why should that concern the City? Should their focus at long last be redirected to the residents of incorporated Sedona? They are the people who created the City in the first place, clearly, and with knowledge, it attracted tourists.

Sure, a stand-alone destination marketing organization “would result in the re-creation of an already established and successful local agency.” However the extent of success of the present local agency has never been undisputedly proven. The source of increased revenue after the great recession coupled with a reduction in gasoline prices has never factually been factored into the increased tourism and resulting upswing in revenue. Nor has it been determined to what extent advertising monies have merely resulted in excessive day-tripping, which the City’’s infrastructure clearly cannot handle.

As for the suggestion for Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a travel industry consultancy to assess and monitor the current structure, would that be nothing more than a baby sitter for the contract with the Chamber of Commerce? Should the City have been serving that function for the past three years?

It has frequently been said the City could not afford to operate their stand-alone department. And how would they know? With a Chamber of Commerce now providing funding for USFS trail maintenance, contributing money back to the City for their traffic study, and other generous, but questionably frivolous expenditures, most recently to propose purchasing property on behalf of the City with what appears to be leftover funds from the bed tax rebate, how can they make that determination without a precise and reliable audit from an authentic source? They cannot. Is there any reasonable explanation why the City should not take responsibility for allocating the bed tax revenue -– all of it – including over and above destination marketing?

And the perfect opportunity to establish a genuine Sedona Visitors Center has been ignored by not including such a service at the Western Gateway. How long will this City tolerate discrimination of their own legitimate licensed, tax collecting businesses within City Limits unless they are forced to be members of what clearly is a regional Chamber of Commerce? And the practice of paid referrals is common, but should the City be involved by financing the activity with public funds, and further discriminating against in-city businesses?

Molly Spangler

With the recent hiring of a professional, Molly Spangler, to serve as Economic Development Director, there i’s really no need to burden our busy Chamber of Commerce with more additional duties besides servicing their members, which is the purpose of their non-profit organization.

And, since when was “The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau” deemed “the Destination Marketing & Management Organization in Sedona for 65 years”? Up until just a few years ago was it not the Oak Creek Canyon Sedona Chamber of Commerce, then changed to Sedona Chamber of Commerce, and most recently “”& Tourism Bureau”” was tacked on? This elaborate extension of creating yet another illusion that simply does not exist is pretty much over the top. Wouldn’t you agree? Dumb question.

There i’s already a campaign in motion to “Make America Great Again.” How about a local endeavor to “Make Sedona Respectable Again”? Meet and greet our visitors with an authentic Sedona Visitors Center and related advertising. Don’’t we deserve it like other places? Flagstaff (AZ) and Park City (UT) are, but two, examples that offer proof they survive very well without financial support to their respective Chambers of Commerce.

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  1. Ronnie W. says:

    @chamber gets special favors from the city of sedona But it doesn’t matter!! THAT’S what the people just last year voted to MAINTAIN!!

    There was actually the opportunity for change, but, duped by false information such as if they didn’t vote FOR Home Rule there wouldn’t be a Library, etc, etc, etc. That in particular stands out because the Library was here LONG before Sedona became a city and to this day isn’t part of Sedona City Government.

    Yep folks. You bought into false information and now Sedona is hog-tied by an IMO fraudulent “non-profit” regional membership club – aka Sedona Chamber of Commerce. I repeat – MY OPINION – as it is and remains my opinion that someplace there exists a “slush fund” to go along with the, quite frankly, shell game system. Again IMO – and isn’t that still a right in the USA? Oh – maybe the USA but here? It’s no longer OK to express an opinion in Sedona? Worse yet, as proven by election results voters took heed to false information and opinions without merit and acquiesced to scare tactics.

    Yep – steamed would be putting it mildly when analyzing the obvious set up in motion to continue slam-dunking the great-give-away to the C of C using a newly devised purpose as “Destination Services” instead of “Destination Marketing.”

    Millions of dollars will be handed out to the Non-Profit C of C (for clarification – NOT 501(c)(3) tax-deductible) but still incorporated as “non-profit.” What’s wrong with this scenario? What’s wrong with our City Council Members?

    Oops forgot! They are what the people reelected so clearly the direction being taken is exactly what the residents of incorporated Sedona wanted and asked for.

    So then who’s griping here on Sedona Eye besides me? Evidently people who either didn’t bother to vote or did vote to keep things status quo and an open door to enable the liaison with the C of C to become even STRONGER!!

    DESTINATION SERVICES (plan of work?) And for how many MILLIONS of $$$$ ????? Reap what you sow, Fools!

  2. Gripe all you want says:

    Perhaps posting comments on the SedonaEye is better than nothing, but not much.

    A lot of effort by a number of people you can count on your fingers was made to fund and support opposition candidates in the last election, but VERY FEW got out to poll, to go door to door to support the candidates.

    The ruling Cabal of Sedona city manager, DORR, the Library, the Sedona Red Rock Fake News Soy Boy’s, and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce all turned out to promote their special interests .

    Low information voters voted their feelings, and Sedona lost.

    When you want to see who lost Sedona, look in the mirror. Somebody needed to do something, and there were not enough somebodies on the opposition side willing to make the effort.

    It is said it only takes a dedicated 3% of the population to make a change. Just voting is not enough !!! Better luck next election, if you can even get some opposition candidates to run.

    If you had spent the time you will spend sitting in traffic knocking on your neighbors doors, maybe Sedona could have been saved. In my opinion, Sedona is ruined. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

  3. @Gripe all you want says:

    wow, you are absolutely right. I think that it’s time to put everything into perspective, our businesses need to make money to stay open and 95 percent of us came here as tourists and now that we’re here, we have to remain a tourist destination. I feel bad that you are just so unhappy living in a tourist destination but I guess it’s time for you to relocate. One very unhappy guy lost his political aspirations for mayor and saw the handwriting on the wall and moved. I think that was a good idea perhaps you should do the same.

  4. Steve Segner says:

    You guys are so funny, You Say :The ruling “Cabal” of Sedona city manager, DORR, the Library, the Sedona Red Rock Fake News Soy Boy’s, and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce all turned out to promote their special interests .

    Your follower will not go to or speak at council meetings, you do not participate or support Sedona organization, you just complain on the Sedona Eye…..you Bad mouth every city council or city manager in the last 20 years , Sedona is a liberal leaning city (good) and getting more so Great, Sedona is working on roads, connector roads , parks, and housing and all you do is complain about the chamber , the chamber , the chamber…….The City took away the six year contract with the chamber , the city council now sets the marketing and visitor service budget and you still complain…..and Really you are going after the ” Library,” meals on wheels and you expect to win elections…….The Last election showed support for the city council and city manager. It was not a small “Cabal” but the majority of citizens in Sedona that call the shots.

  5. Not True says:

    Those that need to earn a living can’t speak up. They are bullied by those third party clubs taking TAXPAYERS money to pay for their business ads.

  6. Library scam says:

    “We have to have HOME Rule or the Library will be closed !!!”

    What they really meant if if we don’t have home rule it won’t be as easy to steal your money.

    The Sedona Library was paid off the day it was built with donations.
    The Sedona Library has over $2 million in its reserve fund.
    The Sedona Library collects over $900,000 every year from your property tax.
    The Sedona Librarian ( Library DIRECTOR !!) Makes $90,000 per year
    The Sedona Library has over 150 unpaid volunteers.
    The Sedona Library then accepts a grant of $400,000 per year from the City of Sedona.

    It would still be open if the City of Sedona disappeared. You were lied to.

  7. Steve Segner says:

    Library scam says:
    Please run with this next election, oh please make my life easer ,The people that actually vote and go to council meeting and are active in Sedona also use the Library , so please be my guest and run people opposed to Library funding.
    We are very lucky we have a city that is funded by visitors that can afford to fund our Library with city funds along with county monies.

  8. They don't care says:

    The Cabal running Sedona don’t care if it is needed, they just want to spend money. Your money. If visitors funded the city there would be no tax on your utilities. Sewer fees would not keep going up. The fees on building a home would not approach $20,000.

    They don’t care the the Chamber gives tax money to the US Forest Service. The Cabal is not interested if the library actually needs the money, money was asked for by the library and so the city gave it.

    The fact that a grant and who knows what else is given to the Wine Fest, an event Mayor Sandy owns, is not given a second thought. After all, she abstained on voting for her own grant, so it is OK, wink , wink.

    Why are the City Manager and Asst City manager getting car and phone allowances? Are they traveling salesmen?

    Have you noticed the traffic and high taxes? If you don’t care, why should they?

    They enjoy playing Santa Claus, with your money.

  9. @ They don't care says:

    “Why are the City Manager and Asst City manager getting car and phone allowances? Are they traveling salesmen?”

    LOL! Good one!

  10. Get This says:

    Claiming the City is funded by visitors is more heinous BS from Steve Segner.

    As commented previously, the CITY OF SEDONA COMMUNITY REPORT SPRING 2018 states under the heading “Sedona Facts” (Page 2): “FY 2017 city revenues generated by sales & bed taxes . . . .57%, two-thirds of which is paid by visitors.”
    Two-thirds of 57% is 38%.

  11. F.Y.I. says:

    @They don’t care – According to Sperling’s Best Places to Live “Compared to the rest of the country, Sedona’s cost of living is 46.50% higher than the U.S. average.”

  12. Peter, Sedona says:

    @Steve Segner says June 24 @ 7:05 PM: “We are very lucky we have a city that is funded by visitors that can afford to fund our Library with city funds along with county monies.”

    That statement , Mr. Segner, implies that we wouldn’t have the library without Sedona being incorporated and it is NOT true. The Sedona Library was established in 1958, long before incorporation. And that is also true of other local non-profits such as the Sedona Humane Society and, yes, even the Chamber of Commerce! Sedona was far better off before we had local government. We didn’t have all the quest and pull for power and control. People actually were friendly and got along. Incorporation ruined Sedona and it continues to get worse. What more proof of that is needed than the ongoing dissension and you, like it or not are a HUGE source of the problem Mr. Segner. An example is the opening quotation – your words.

    1958: A volunteer group, Friends of the Library, established Sedona’s first library in donated space, with three shelves of books and magazines also donated.



  13. Rita says:

    nailed it

  14. Steve segner says:

    I did not imply that at all, it is your statement. I said it’s nice that we can fund the library Above what we get from county taxes along with the I Humane Society Sedona is lucky that it has a good steady income source if we don’t need the money for savings and why not use it on public service, in many towns the city funds Humane Society Parks and Recreation and libraries. Remember your county taxes have nothing to do with the operation of the city of Sedona that is determined by our city Council based upon the income that we get from tourism
    So library funding is so dangerous that you can’t even use your real name on a simple discussion you people are all pathetic . Just remember the voters of Sedona use the library I know how to read .

  15. San Clemente , Sedona AZ says:

    Deliberate misrepresentations are like doctors writing prescriptions for patients but not knowing the disease to cure. This tax and spend mentality propelled Sedona’s first downturn in 2008-2014 and catapulted the loss of jobs and businesses. You can’t tax what can’t be generated, ruin the generator and you’ve destroyed the engine. Don’t take my word for it. Open an accounting or economics book at a local library and read it, and I’d state that it’s a free service but you’ve clearly overpaid the library for no discernible return this year or two. Go get your money’s worth?

  16. @steve Segner says:

    Why should the TAXPAYERS give the library one cent? They are handsomely paid from OUR PROPERTY TAXES!!!!!!!!

    They have MILLIONS in the bank and in stock. They don’t need it. They own everything no mortgage payments, the Sedona public library puts the gift from the city taxpayers in the bank.. Looks like a double dip. I got an email they wanted yes on homerule. They should be reported to IRS. They are a 501C3.

    Smells like a vote buy to me.

  17. Liberal BS says:

    ” steady income source if we don’t need the money for savings and why not use it on public service.” Segner and his Cabal can’t even imagine cutting taxes. Raise taxes and spend, spend, spent. They think your money is the Cabal’s money to spend. No consideration is ever made of need. Just SPEND, SPEND, SPEND.

    Ever heard of a rainy day ? Not the Cabal, they will just raise taxes until there is not a resident or business left.

    Karma will not be fun for the Cabal and their parasites.

  18. Peter says:

    To Steve Segner yes, I am a real person and did use my name, thank you very much. What you may not know is many people besides myself have cut back on donating to local nonprofits, even the Sedona Humane Society. My normal contribution to them is now going to Best Friends and National Wildlife Federation. The reason? All the damn money Sedona City has thrown at the Chamber largely resulting in promoting out of city limits businesses in direct competition w/city tax collecting enterprises. That’s why!

    Any more questions Mr. Big Shot Big Mouth?

  19. Steve segner says:

    So no last name Peter , you stopped giving to the sedona shelter because of the chamber? Are you sure your name is not Donna? Perhaps the others readers will see some connection

  20. Peter says:

    @Steve segner I stopped giving to the sedona shelter? What the ….. are you talking about? The sedona homeless shelter or what? What I did do was stop contributing to Sedona based non profits and, yes, it it because of the amount of money and the deal the city of Sedona cut with the regional chamber of commerce. Sorry to disappoint you but Donna? You are Clueless and that, Sir, is the truth!

  21. Freddy in city says:

    If ever there was a doubt about the inmates having taken over the institution the latest antic by city council should leave no doubt.

    By a split vote they approved giving MORE money to the chamber of commerce to promote tourists during the SIM sedona in motion project uptown!

    For months now they’ve been alerting locals about the road construction & now they’re going to advertise for tourists to “visit” and add to the congestion?

    Talk about nuts.

    If this doesn’t take the cake what will? imagine if tourists are crazy enough to believe the forthcoming hype from the over indulged chamber of crazies just what kind of impression do you think they’ll have once they venture up here and can neither get to uptown nor find a place to park even if they do.

    For crying out loud there’s enough traffic during the summer with campers and sightseers going to Oak Creek Canyon.

    And now to give more tax money from legitimate businesses to an organization with probably most of their members outside Sedona City Limits? Oh might add it was the Chamber CEO when asked way back when this program was set in motion how many of the Chamber members were outside incorporated Sedona, she (CEO) responded that it was too difficult to figure it out! HONEST that’s what she said – it was too difficult!

    And millions of dollars continue to be unleashed under the control of this inept and questionable operation?

    Any doubt? Inmates? Institution? Who’s running it? Any questions about that?

  22. Steve segner says:

    • Peter we seem to have a little obsession with the chamber in the city what does that have to do with the Humane Society which I called the shelter and you’re sure your name is not Donna .SHS ,shelter it’s a small allowance from the city to take in dogs but the city Police Department pick up is nowhere near the amount they need. SHS is a not-for-profit locally supported shelter but we know you don’t like anything local

  23. Joyce McClain says:

    Can’t stop laughing @Freddy in the city. Don ‘t you get it? Those tourists who might bite the unprofessional hype bait from the “regional” (regional really being the operative word) chamber of commerce will most likely solicit those chamber members outside city limits (the ones the Chamber CEO is unable to count because it’s too difficult. the ones not collecting Sedona city taxes)

    For crying out loud – if someone counted the members in the C of C information brochure wouldn’t that work? Normally – yes – however, more reasons to doubt the validity of anything done by this controlling force in Sedona. And the beat and endless money thrown at the monster continues.

  24. Plus they model!! says:

    Check out the Chamber Destination Event Planner where the chamber employees took a day, did several outfit changes and became models. (deleted by editor)

  25. Your tax dollars at work says:

    @Plus they model !!

    I bet they got to keep the outfits, after all, who wants used clothing. They have to look their best for “Destination Marketing “. (Deleted by Editor)

  26. Donna Joy Varney says:

    Well I am 100% sure Peter is NOT Donna.You need help Steve. Obsessed? (Deleted by Editor)

    There are hundreds of people that disagree with the city subsidizing the chamber aka your club. If your that good your chamber wouldn’t be 85% funded by the TAXPAYERS. Your MEMBERS should pay their own bills. In my opinion, it is immoral for the chamber to take taxpayers money. The city should follow Flagstaff who give ZERO city taxes to chamber. This is why I quit the chamber.

    Grow up and move on. You don’t want to get me going. Keep me OUT OF your low life DRAMA. I am sick and tired of (Deleted by Editor).

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