Let Them Eat…Nothing

The official announcement is out: Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane’s annual “State of the City” address has been outsourced to the W Hotel.

When this was first mentioned in an obscure part of the Scottsdale Republic, eyebrows were raised. In years past (as long as I can remember) the State of the City Address was held at the city council Kiva or at the city-owned Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. One exception under Manross was her speech on public property at Southbridge where Marshall Way crosses the canal from 5th Avenue to the Fashion Square area.

By contrast, the W Hotel was the epicenter of noise complaints from the downtown bar district that resulted in an strategically watered-down bar district noise ordinance. W Hotel owner Shawn Yari sued downtown businessman Bill Crawford for sending to Crawford’s email list–among other things–an unflattering cartoon depicting Yari’s office building as a toilet. Ironically, Yari’s lawsuit resulted in thousands of times greater circulation of the cartoon.

There are many messages in Lane’s choice of venue. One of those messages is clear: Reciprocal support for campaign contributor Yari, the bar district, and the alcohol industry, over the objections of neighboring residents and concerned citizens. Another is: Bring a brown bag unless you want to give your lunch money to the Lane Cartel. $50 is the minimum price to eat.

Aside from these obvious observations, I also question use of taxpayer resources to promote what is legally a private event. The State of the City is a private event? The mayor’s chief of staff, JP Twist, says so:

The Mayor is giving a speech at a regular meeting of the SBDF [Scottsdale Business Development Forum, emphasis added] and the public is being informed of this fact.  Council members frequently speak at meetings and other events held by different organizations as part of their normal duties.  This one is a little different because it is the Mayor’s State of the City address, so we are doing a little more public outreach, but having him give the speech in conjunction with the SBDF meeting is a way of saving some taxpayer resources because a separate event does not have to be set up.  Invitations will be sent via email.

What is SBDF, you may ask? Interesting question. I’ll get into that in another article soon. Stay tuned.

It is an interesting notion that this is somehow going to save the taxpayers money. I’m sure the appetizers and soft drinks of past State of the City events amounted to a few hundred dollars, but at least everyone who wanted refreshments got them, with no out-of-pocket expense.

It is with only a little irony that I note the official invitation includes the statement: “Net proceeds to benefit Operation Fix It.” I’ll be curious to see how the SBDF calculates the “net” proceeds and how much of the funds collected by this event will go to replenish Lane’s campaign war chest. I’ll bet you lunch (not a $50 lunch at the W) that they’ll keep those calculations private. The irony? I doubt any of the recipients of Lane’s Operation Fix It generosity will be able to afford the $50 lunch at ‘his’ state of the city address.

It is also interesting that invitations are going to be sent by email. It will be curious to see if those emails are sent from city computers, by city employees. I have already been informed that a city employee has been assigned to coordinate reservations and RSVPs. If not, will the private email addresses of Scottsdale residents be shared with third parties? And what about Scottsdale residents who don’t use email?

Meanwhile, don’t forget to RSVP. It would be a shame to be turned away at the door for lack of seating. Which is to say, if they have seats for those who aren’t buying one for $50.

And feel free to have a couple of overpriced adult beverages while you are at the W. JP will have a pedicab waiting to give you a ride home so you won’t get a DUI. I hear he’s a frequent flyer.

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  1. Will the State of the City be televised? Will it be accessible via the City website? Are they emailing the entire city or will it be limited to the Zoning attorneys, developers, and commercial brokers on their most contacted list? What if I don’t get an invite? Do I not have an equal stake in the game as John Barry?..oh wait..I live here so I should be toward the top of the list, no?

    I got an email from a City employee in the Mayor’s office at the end of last year. The email was to let us know of a charity event at a bar that is adjacent to my neighborhood. She asked that I circulate an invitation to neighbors concerning the event. In her email she said it was a worthy event and didn’t think the bar was marketing it other than to have her send emails. This is the same bar, whose manager stood up at a City Council meeting and directly opposed our neighborhood in trying to keep the density of a zoning change to a minimum. I am sure the charity was a worthy one, but other than providing a special permit, the city should have declined to use it database to market the event.

    I wonder if the city charges a marketing fee for such a thing, or if that is a service that comes with a donation to Lane’s war chest.

  2. There’s just something inconguous about selecting a venue for a State of the City, that is private enterprise and that a developer who has influence derives a profit, whether Valet Park or more!

  3. Although I’ve attended several other such addresses, I wasn’t planning on attending Hizzoner’s ‘State of the City’ speech, but now just might….carrying a brown bag.

    I kinda hope that a lot of people do just that…bring their lunch in a brown bag…and don’t forget the bottled water. Best to keep hydrated. It’s a desert out there.

    A visual (and edible) sign of protest regarding the choice of venue…if nothing more.

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