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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 on 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 (RFPs) 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 RFPs 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 its own facilities, etc? And what is the source of funding for those operating expenses?

And will the City acknowledge the Chamber currently offers its own RFPs for specific services, realistically reducing it 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… it is 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 the 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 daytripping, 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 babysitter 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 recently hired by the city of Sedona AZ as its Economic Development Director.

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

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 is 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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1,364 Comments

  1. mshobert says:

    Vote’m out. You whiners been screaming that for years.

  2. Jim D,Uptown Sedona says:

    “NO REAL Constructive Action” states Linda Nevins. That’s a matter of opinion, Madame. Quite possibly the SRO attendance at that controversial P & Z meeting and, in particular, the appx. 20 speakers going against the proposal to amend the Sedona Community Plan just might disagree.

    For those who might not be aware the developers of the Jordan Road property, Miramonte Homes, has withdrawn their application for the major CP amendment. But, of course, they still intend to build 84 apartments on the property they own on Jordan Road which, according to prevailing zoning, will allow this to happen. And the process will entail and invite even more opportunity for PUBLIC FEEDBACK!!

    One huge difference, however, will be the rules for doing so will be guided by existing city codes. This obviously will be a lengthier more inconvenient process for the movers and shakers (developers) in their questionable endeavor to solve Sedona’s “affordable” housing shortage. And, as a reminder, that “shortage” (which is real) would have greatly been alleviated over the years IF lodging and and other multi-unit complexes had been held to the original policy of providing a specified required number during the permit process.

    Oh, BTW, more great “free” publicity for Sedona was on a Phoenix news TV channel last evening. Drone photography of the controversial chicken-coop looking structures on W89. Other comments have been made about those on SE not necessarily flattering as was this novel reporting as stated something similar to being new lodging concepts to attract even more tourists!? Individual glass lodging facilities to encompass Sedona’s spectacular views while at the same time cluttering the once exquisite panorama view north to Sedona City Limits.

    Yes indeedy, those chicken-coop occupants will also provide view windows for all driving by to peek into their private lives since glass panes work both ways. Not to mention first hand observation of a potential for Sedona’s boating or rafting experience since that property lies smack in the midst of a known local flood plane.

    You just can’t make this stuff up, Linda Nevins. And keep in mind, although those at Sedona City Hall ignored protests from the public, at least the developer heard them even though taking a less creative way to achieve his goal. With the Community Plan still in tact the opportunity to allow this as routine practice has been delayed – temporarily that is!

  3. Eddie S. Maddock says:

    Sorry but it’s impossible to resist tossing in my two cents (or less) here.

    Thank you Jim D. Uptown Sedona (I don’t do the @ thing) for your comments and reassuring me there are others who will speak up. And not only on Sedona Eye but at City Council and Planning & Zoning Commission meetings.

    Only time will tell if current Sedona residents will have the intestinal fortitude to actually move forward and offer candidates who will be backed and endorsed by, perhaps, the silent majority? Only time will tell if and when Sedona voting citizens will stand up and shout: “We’re mad as hell and won’t take it anymore” as was echoed in an old, old movie.

  4. Linda Nevins says:

    I’m sure NONE of the usual complainers from this site were there!! More Hot Air from you Jim and others. Keep on yapping and the world keeps spinning as the site changes ZERO.

  5. Larry W. says:

    Wow @Linda Nevins. You come off as being one hateful person. Have you tried taking a hike and/or meditating? Your lack of compassion for those Sedona residents being abused is shocking. Well – maybe not – this IS Sedona 2021.

    Message to those who attended the P& Z meeting whether or not you read Sedona Eye: GOOD FOR YOU! Those judgmental P & Z Commissioners – except for two – George Braam & Lynn Zonakis(?) should be ashamed IMO. It’s good news the developer at least dropped his effort for the major amendment to the community plan.

  6. Warner Dahlquist says:

    That’s the beauty of it!

  7. LMAO says:

    It seems according to more misinformation (disinformation?) here, there, and everywhere (facebook, other methods of social media, and even a scathing editorial in a local publication) there’s substantial criticism of the Miramonte Homes developer for dropping the pursuit for the community plan amendment.

    Well guess what? Although it might mean they most assuredly can move forward with their multi-unit plans for the property on Jordan Road, at least for the time being increased density will remain restricted to that one specific location.

    Therefore the proposed development will proceed through the usual approval process as all such future endeavors must do instead of conveniently imposing a community plan amendment which would have allowed and made it easier for ALL Sedona properties to be considered for increased density.

    In other words, the little scheme to intrude on existing vacant land (or even redevelopment of properties) will not instantly become a slam-dunk for future money grabbers.

    Back to fact. If former developers of resorts had been held responsible for providing a certain number of “work-force” accommodations during the permit period, Sedona wouldn’t be facing the dire shortage that exists today.

    City leaders, stop encroaching on our properties and interfering with our own CC & R’s by plotting, conniving, and scheming with greed mongers behind closed doors at city hall. Kapeesh?

  8. @LMAO says:

    Wait you honestly think that hotels are the problem with workforce housing? Sedona has made workforce housing forced as far back as the Rouge addition!

    As I was no fan of the proposed 84 apartments and only a few to be affordable, Now that developer can come in and make it worse!

    Weeks before the RRN posted their opinion another developer warned what was going to happen, and it sure did!

    I bet your not aware all over VOC and Sedona companies are building enormous homes?….The one that was torched a few years back was a 8 bedroom Air B&B smack dab in a residential neighborhood!…They had 6 more on the books and some were 8 bed some were 10 room..

    That developer can now do the same thing….Im not sure whats wrong with most people in Sedona…I do know they dont pay attention till its to late, or are clueless of the local codes…

    So mark my words in 3 years what could of helped Sedona, will only make it worse on the Jordan road properties!

    And why you find it funny? We have a terrible problem and your laughing about it!

    Please go to any store or restaurant, and ask that person helping you, where they live? How do the live? And how much does it cost to put a roof over their heads!

    I will guarantee you will be shocked at how 80% or more struggle for a place to live!

    But like most people who live without empathy, you find in funny! JFC!

  9. Patricia, Uptown says:

    What dire shortage? There isn’t one. That statistic is flawed and the city knows it and get the emails from city hall that proves it. There isn’t any shortage of available lower income housing, the city likes the cash flow from Airbnb, VRBO and private property owners. If you can’t afford to live in Sedona, move. Plenty of housing you can afford about 15 – 20 minutes drive away. City hall and developers and ignorance make this town a laughingstock.

  10. Amen Brothers & Sisters says:

    @LMAO

    If former developers of resorts had been held responsible for providing a certain number of “work-force” accommodations during the permit period, Sedona wouldn’t be facing the dire shortage that exists today.

  11. Amen Brothers & Sisters says:

    @LMAO ” If former developers of resorts had been held responsible for providing a certain number of “work-force” accommodations during the permit period, Sedona wouldn’t be facing the dire shortage that exists today.”

  12. Jay says:

    Hey Patricia! Glad to see you think there’s not a shortage of affordable housing. You must have done great for yourself throughout your life!

    Here’s my two cents. I am a professional in the area. I have a decent salary. I just bought a house for $300k with no money down thanks to uncle Sam. My mortgage is less than a 1 bedroom apartment in Sedona.

    Sounds good, yeah? Well, it’s still way more than it should.

    Looking forward to watching you pull through the drive thru at McDonald’s with a $14 double cheese burger because that is what it will take for them to pay their employees a livable wage!

    I want to curse at you, call you names, but instead I’m just going to point out how disconnected to reality you are.

    Who will ring up and bag your groceries when nobody can live here?

  13. Carol, west Sedona says:

    To rich to ignore @Jay personal attack on Patricia, not an attack on her facts, but the shrill attack of a cornered hissing rat named Jay.

    BTW @Jay, you live in Sedona? Sedona restaurants are full of menus with $14 – $40 hamburgers in restaurants here and likely those restaurant employees don’t receive the McDonald’s benefit package – health care, school funding, sick leave, overtime, retirement, Social Security, workman’s comp, stock options, bonuses, and much more. Don’t degrade McDonald’s employees. Don’t underestimate McDonald’s wait staff. Quite likely they make more than you did at your first jobs. Quite likely they are better educated.

  14. Isabel George, Tucson AZ says:

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    Tuesday, November 16, 2021
    6:00 PM 8:00 PM
    Tucson, AZ (map)

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    LOCATION: TBD | DATE: November 16, 2021 | TIME: TBD (Sign up for our email list for updates.)

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