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.