Greasing the Skids

The latest Putzer Prize nomination goes yet again to the Scottsdale Republic’s opinion editor, Grant Martin, for his piece in today’s Scottsdale Republic that knocks new, populist councilman Guy Phillips. As much as Martin, et. al., have touted the search for “the next big idea” in Scottsdale, their enthusiasm for such appears to only apply when the ideas come from their cronies.

As an aside, I continue to be mystified as to why the online version of the Republic so lags the print edition, even after they instituted the paywall to bolster the bottom line. You won’t find (at least as of this writing) Martin’s editorial on AZCentral, otherwise I would have provided a link.

In short, Councilman Phillips recently expressed an outside-the-box idea to save the venerable and historic Greasewood Flat property in North Scottsdale from the developers’ bulldozers by locating the proposed Desert Discovery Center there.

In case you aren’t familiar with Greasewood, here’s a little description from their website:

Housed in a 130-year-old bunkhouse, Greasewood Flat was voted one of the “Oldest, Quirkiest and most Classic Bars” in America.  Since 1975, we have served up hearty burgers and wicked libations to cowboys, bikers, locals, and tourists alike!

Enjoy great food, cold drinks, music and dancing, cool nights, plus patio fires and authentic western atmosphere all in an outdoor setting at Scottsdale’s iconic old-west bar.  Visit Doc’s Barn or play a game of horseshoes.

We are located in the beautiful Sonoran Desert of North Scottsdale, 2000 feet above the Valley of the Sun. With seating for up to 1000 guests, Greasewood Flat has a variety of unique areas available for private parties, weddings, events and celebrations.

Greasewood has live music Thursday -Sun evening and Sat-Sun afternoons.

Gates open every day at 11 a.m. with food served until 10 p.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. You can contact us for more information via phone at 480-585-9430 or email us at

By the standards of the desert-busting crowd at the Chamber of Commerce, Greasewood is nothing special. However, it’s a living link to the history of Scottsdale, and a great place to enjoy food and drink with friends in a unique outdoor venue.

However, the heirs of Greasewood founder and Scottsdale icon Doc Cavalliere have said they are going to have to sell due to a large estate tax bill, since the current value of land in North Scottsdale is astronomically more than when Doc first bought it decades ago.

In a classic dichotomy, the Republic’s Martin acknowledges the importance of the establishment, but simultaneously dismisses the importance of keeping it.

If Cavalliere’s grandsons want to sell that land, they can. The matter is their prerogative, not our obligation. We would love for them to find a way to keep Greasewood Flat open in what­ever transaction they might make.

But if they don’t, and one of the Val­ley’s most revered establishments gets paved over, it’s because there were no apparent and reasonable alternatives to save it.

On the other hand, Martin seems to think the taxpayers are obligated to fund the Chamber of Commerce-supported Desert Discovery Center proposal, even in its current Disney-esque form:

For starters, the Desert Discovery Center already has a location. To move it away from its proposed home at the Gateway Trailhead to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve — a place at the very threshold of the city’s greatest asset, one which exhaustive studies have shown to be the most logical place for an attraction of that nature — is to needlessly reignite debate over a long­-dormant issue.

Maybe I missed the meeting where the “proposed home at the Gateway Trailhead” was approved by the City Council. Certainly, the taxpayers who will be forced (not asked) to fund the double-digit-million-dollar DDC never approved the concept, nor the location.

Perhaps even more importantly, it’s unclear how the city would even pay for the land. Its budget remains stretched tighter than a snare drum, its revenues still dragging well behind pre-recession levels.

It’s funny that Martin criticizes Phillips’s proposal for lack of funding mechanism. He’s never uttered a peep about how the city will pay for the DDC (staff is currently looking at a raid on Preserve land purchase funds and/or bonds). Martin has never reported on the most basic of funding issues: Scottsdale’s $8 million-and-growing deficit. The budget isn’t “stretched.” It’s broken.

Scottsdale gives millions of dollars every year to rich guys like Bill Banchs at the Scottsdale Cultural Council ($4 million annually), Phil Mickelson ($2.2 million last year), and the PGA’s TPC Scottsdale ($15 million last year and this year). I don’t think Martin, et. al., ever reported AT ALL on the TPC subsidy.

Phillips wants Scottsdale residents to approve it as part of a potential bond package this fall, but they made their attitude to­ward raising their property taxes abun­dantly clear in shooting down their school district’s budget-override re­quest last fall. But the key issue here isn’t that Scottsdale residents are unlikely to help finance this purchase — it’s that they simply shouldn’t have to.

Aside from Mr. Martin ending his paragraph with a preposition, it is preposterous for him to criticize Phillips’s proposal to include this in the bond package (which was clearly expressed just as one possibility) without criticizing any of the other items that are already included.

Most of them are either absolute garbage, or are items that should have been paid for from the Capital Improvement Projects Fund. Unfortunately, the CIP has been chronically underfunded by Jim Lane and the City Council for the last six or eight years, while they frittered away that money by giving it to their buddies.

Lane and the council are going to consider a $250 million bond package Tuesday night. That’s $250 million in debt that we, the taxpayers, will owe on top of the $1.3 billion in debt we already have. Debt service already consumes about 1/3 of our General Fund revenues.

Why don’t you editorialize about that, Grant?

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1 Comment

  1. The actual gift to the TPC Scottsdale is $21.97 million, according to staff’s latest estimates.
    The primary justification for floating the new bonds is that Scottsdale property owners are not “taxed enough” relative to property owners in surrounding towns. Scottsdale is thus forced to emulate the bad decisions of our neighbors. Eventually , we will find ourselves in the same predicament.

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