Sign Up Now for Your Corporate Welfare

These two announcements appeared in the Scottsdale Republic this morning.

Marketing dollars available

Scottsdale is inviting tourism-event producers to apply for marketing-sup­port funding.

A city program provides dollars for events that promote Scottsdale as an “up­scale leisure and meeting destination,” according to the city.

Eligible events must support tourism activities that attract visitors to Scotts­dale; provide exposure outside of Marico­pa County and enhance Scottsdale’s at­tractiveness to resort visitors; and gener­ate room nights in local hotels, the city said. Applications are due by June 24.

The Scottsdale Tourism Development Commission will evaluate applications this summer. The commission will make recommendations to the City Council for consideration in the fall.

For information contact the city’s eco­nomic development office at 480-312-7989 or go to scottsdaleaz.gov/economics.

As you know, I object to this program. It is merely a mechanism by which Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the City Council funnel taxpayer subsidies to their friends and campaign supporters. Recipients of this largess include the Super Bowl “host committee,” and a polo match promoted by Mayor Lane’s campaign PR manager, Jason Rose.

This is not what the taxpayers were told when they approved the Bed Tax which funds this corporate welfare. It’s a violation of the Arizona State Constitution’s ‘Gift Clause,’ as well as the Scottsdale City Charter’s anti-subsidy clause.

And the City Council majority’s attitude toward this is incredibly arrogant, as immortalized in the words of Council member Linda Milhaven: “This is not taxpayer money.”

I have news for you, Linda: If the city writes the check, it IS taxpayer money.

I also note for the record:

  1. The criteria for awarding these subsidies is so nebulous that they are subjective to the point of being arbitrary. As Mark Stuart has said, any business in Scottsdale (and some not in Scottsdale) can make the case that they, “…support tourism activities that attract visitors to Scotts­dale; provide exposure outside of Marico­pa County and enhance Scottsdale’s at­tractiveness to resort visitors; and gener­ate room nights in local hotels…”
  2. For the vast majority of businesses who do NOT receive such subsidies, the city is subsidizing their competitors…in essence picking the winners and losers in what is supposed to be a “free market.”

Of course, in any paradigm rife for abuse, inevitably abuse happens. One of the largest of those abuses by dollar-value is the city’s arrangement with the Tournament Player’s Club Scottsdale, a division of the Professional Golfers’ Association. Also from the same page in today’s Scottsdale Republic (ironically):

TPC Scottsdale lease review

The Scottsdale Audit Committee [of the City Council] will meet at 4 p.m. Monday to discuss, among other things, an audit report on the city’s lease with TPC Scottsdale.

In 1984, Scottsdale entered into the 50­-year agreement with TPC and the PGA Tour Inc. to operate the city golf facility and two courses, including one where the Waste Management Phoenix Open is played.

TPC Scottsdale paid rent of $970,181 in fiscal 2011-12.

A city audit, dated Friday, found that the TPC Scottsdale’s reported revenues were generally accurate [emphasis added].

However, the audit found possible un­reported revenue from complimentary golf rounds, some given to TPC employ­ees. The report estimated the value of complimentary rounds from 2011 through the first quarter of 2013 at nearly $2.1 mil­lion. The city would have received an esti­mated $239,000 from the rounds, which are not addressed in the lease agreement.

The Audit Committee will meet at 4 p.m. in the City Hall Kinda conference room, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

I note with some amusement the carefully-parsed language: “Generally accurate.” Just like with the word “unique,” something is either “accurate” or it is not.

A woman isn’t “generally pregnant.” It’s an either-or proposition. Either she’s pregnant or she’s not. The pregnancy may be “advanced,” but that describes chronology, not condition.

It was this same weasel language that allowed the aforementioned Linda Milhaven to declare last year that the Scottsdale Cultural Council (another icon of taxpayer subsidy) was “in compliance” with its city contract…in the face of audit findings to the contrary.

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1 Comment

  1. Simple question, why doesn’t anyone in the City Council or Mayor’s office EVER just think of returning some of the taxes to the Scottsdale Citizens, taxpayers who have paid and paid and paid year after year. Don’t these people have any respect or concern for the Scottsdale Taxpayers?

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