In spite of controversy about the choice of venue, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane will deliver the State of the City address to a meeting of the Scottsdale Business Development Forum (SBDF) today at the W Hotel in the downtown bar district [12:45 for the no-lunch cheap seats: Let them eat…nothing].
What is the SBDF, you may ask? When the SBDF was first announced [Mayor’s panel gains traction] it was the,
“…Scottsdale Mayor’s Advisory Committee, which will showcase the city to potential investors without encroaching on the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce…”
…according to then-director Greg Patterson. You may recall Greg as a former AZ state legislator from the early 90’s, as well as an accountant, attorney, power industry lobbyist, media critic, and publisher of the, “Espresso Pundit,” conservative blog
The latter is no longer directly accessible having been shelved since Patterson’s appointment to the Arizona Board of Regents [but you can see some columns on TucsonCitizen.com]. Prior to that apppointment, Patterson had been an outspoken critic of the Arizona university system. Now as a member of ABOR, he’s got a direct hand in setting tuition and other policy matters. [Brewer picks surgeon, media critic; Patterson riles Dems, Brewer could do better, Patterson confirmed],
That’s a pretty important post for someone with no apparent credentials in higher education administration. I guess it occasionally pays to be a critic.
At the time SBDF was formed (March 2011), Patterson was the honcho of the Arizona Competitive Power Alliance, AzCPA:
The Arizona Competitive Power Alliance is a trade association established by independent power producers intent on serving the Arizona electric market. Since its founding in 2001, the AzCPA membership has expanded to include a wide array of energy companies representing various industries including: Transmission, Solar and Renewable Technologies, Liquefied Natural Gas and Retail Electric Competition. Meanwhile the AzCPA continues to maintain its original focus by working to meet the needs of Arizona’s wholesale power market.
Greg described himself on the AzCPA website:
Greg Patterson was raised in Arizona and graduated from the University of Arizona’s Accounting program in 1985. Greg is a CPA and worked for Coopers & Lybrand and as an accounting teacher.
In 1990 Greg was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives. He served on the Appropriations and Natural Resources Committees, and he went on to chair the House Government Operations Committee. He later Chaired the House Banking and Insurance Committee.
In 1995, Greg was appointed by then Governor Symington as Director of the Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO). In his capacity as RUCO director, Greg participated in over 100 rate proceedings before the Arizona Corporation Commission and negotiated the electric competition settlements on behalf of residential consumers.
During his RUCO tenure, Greg also worked as a consultant for the World Bank and The United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He lectured on various utility-regulation topics in Zambia, Tanzania and Albania and Egypt.
In 1999, Greg left RUCO and accepted a position as Chief of Staff of the Arizona State Senate. In 2001, Greg became the Director of the Arizona Competitive Power Alliance.
Greg has been married to Debbie Patterson for 21 years. They have 3 children.
Additional interesting information can be be gleaned from the membership of the AzCPA. But I digress. I’m not even sure Patterson is still involved with SBDF, so back to what I do know. The Republic article continues:
Saying the group [SBDF] is non-political, Lane rebuffed concerns that “we would use the money the same way as (the) chamber did in politicizing the use of money,” he said…
“The concern that somehow we would be using (funds) in the same way, talking about political influence, well, it’s not in our charter and not in our intent,” Lane said.
The group tentatively has tapped Silicon Valley as the first place to sell Scottsdale to potential investors and businesses who want to relocate from California, Patterson said.
With high-tech companies such as Jawa, an interactive media firm in north Scottsdale, the city is poised to recruit additional creative, technological and software-oriented businesses, said Patterson, a former GOP state representative.
Additional high-tech jobs would add to the “creative ambience [sic] and vibrancy” of Scottsdale’s economy, he said.
In the summer of 2011, SBDF put together a “summit” [Scottsdale mayor’s business development group to host summit] to, in Jim Lane’s words, “…assist us in being proactive in attracting businesses.” Which makes me wonder, what’s the job of our highly-paid Scottsdale Economic Vitality Department?
I also haven’t seen any indication that this SBDF group has actually done anything to advance their supposed goal of business development. In fact, I don’t see that they’ve done much of anything at all as a group. Perhaps a look at the directors of SBDF will be instructive:
- Phillip Bell, PB Bell Companies, and MT Builders, real estate development and apartment management with multiple properties in Scottsdale; president of the Arizona Quarter Horse Breeding Association.
- Patrick Van Den Bossche, chairman and CEO of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, LLC; recipient of massive public subsidy via auction-focused expansion of the remodel of the Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center at the city-owned Westworld facility.
- Angela Creedon, Community Development Manager for Arizona Public Service electric utility.
- Don Couvillion, vice president of real estate for the ASU Foundation [real estate investment arm of Arizona State University]; received massive public subsidy in the form of free land for ASUF SkySong, and recently got a favorable lease modification from the city.
- Mark Dewane, RBC Wealth Management in Phoenix, elected to Maricopa Integrated Health Systems.
- Mark Engstrom, executive vice president for acquisitions, Healthcare Trust of America real estate investment trust [REIT]; investors in medical office buildings.
- Steve Loy, Gaylord Sports Management, former ASU golf coach, and partner with Phil Mickelson in operating the City of Scottsdale-owned McDowell Mountain Golf Club (formerly Santuary); received $2.2 million taxpayer subsidy for new clubhouse and course improvements in 2012-13 [Mickelson, Taxes, and New Clubhouses: Par for the Course].
- Brad Wright, vice president of government affairs for Apollo Group (University of Phoenix, Western International University, online education), sought $20 million in tax breaks from the State of Arizona [vetoed by Gov. Brewer].
- Rick Smith, president of Scottsdale-based Taser International.
- Paul Messinger, founder of Messinger Mortuaries in Scottsdale.
From that list, SBDF mostly appears to be a mechanism for reciprocal back-scratching, between raising money for the Mayor’s political aims and creating leaks in the city treasury that trickle down into the pockets of at least some of the SBDF directors.
It was bad enough that the “openness and transparency” mayor wants to give the State of the City address in the bar district, but to use it in this manner is reprehensible.