Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Inland Empire

Tucson, Arizona. I met Augie Garcia in March of last year while I was still at SAIAT engaged in battle with cementheads. TREO had already torpedoed SAIAT and it was plummeting. I'd hired Carol Somers to perhaps salvage the wreck, and she knew Augie was pursuing the development of Tucson as an Inland Port. Augie came to SAIAT to talk about investments he was securing and other pieces he was putting together. We spoke of hosting an event at SAIAT to educate people about his efforts, progress, and upcoming developments. Two weeks later, I vanquished the cementheads and planned for my imminent resignation.

The next week, on March 28 after paying KMK Consulting $250,000 and spending over a year in countless meetings, TREO announced with great fanfare "Securing Our Future Now: An Economic Blueprint for the Tucson Region." Everyone clapped for what Teya Vitu noted was a "pamphlet pretty much describing what we all already know."

At the blueprint's unveiling, TREO announced it would take over the city's Puerto Nuevo efforts to create an Inland Port. I don't know who told Augie what. I resigned in May and enjoyed wicked serious food and drink at the Dish. In June they slit Augie's throat. His Puerto Nuevo office closed. TREO took over the development of the Inland Port. I don't know how much of the $270,000 Peurto Nuevo budget Snell got to inhale.

We know nothing replaced SAIAT when it closed. What replaced Augie's Puerto Nuevo efforts? Rather than build a facility or establish "something that would compete with the private sector" TREO has compiled (surprise) a database, you know, like businessLINC. Snell asserted, "We are a major player in the logistics game."

But wait, there's more. In addition to the database used daily by hundreds of businesses across the globe, we have a new organization, the Southern Arizona Logistics Education Organization (SALEO). For all I know founder John Brown is a terrific guy. John has created a blog, The Inland Port. He posted twice on January 24, the second giving his Facebook and mySpace information. (How old is John?) After four posts over three days, silence. Year to date comments: 1. Pardon my skepticism regarding the inland port efforts that replaced Augie.

Something concrete has occurred on the warehouse front. Target is building one. When asked about jobs, Jim Theusch, a Target senior corporate real estate manager (note - real estate manager), said they should open around the fall of 2009 and ultimately employ a few hundred workers. Jim would not offer a peep about wages. What's a person make moving and storing stuff in a warehouse? Well, stuff is not stuff. If it is vials of the ebola virus or weapons grade plutonium, I imagine the handlers make a decent wage.

Snell asked in a 1/11/08 article, "What does Target know that we don't know about Tucson?"

What is the what that Target knows and who is the we that don't know it? Is he saying Target knows something about Tucson that I don't? That you don't? That elected officials don't? Tucson is a perfect location for such a place. They can raid the call centers for all the cheap labor they want.

I swear I've heard a similar question. Didn't someone in the clothiverse ask that before, maybe Robert Gonzales or Steve Weathers? Maybe it was Duff Hearon. I remember many years ago when he (perhaps new to cloth methodology) shocked everyone after a GTEC retreat by declaring to the press, "We're actually committed to doing something substantive."

I'll bet his cloth mentor trounced him proper.


Blogger Dustin said...

my guess is that the wages for that warehouse will come in at around $10 or so an hour. I know that raytheon starts their beginning warehouse guys at 13 or so (at least they did when I was there). I don't imagine the wages for target being higher than that. Either way, the desert is a pretty good place for storing stuff, so I'm guessing your quip about call center raiding is tongue in cheek, or maybe not.

4/01/2008 1:53 PM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Dustin, I was going to say $9 and hour!
At Raytheon, you probably need a security clearance.

4/01/2008 2:32 PM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

What demonstrates the malice of TREO is that they destroy rather than modify. Along with elected officials, they could have met with Augie and discussed Peurto Nuevo.

They could have met with x4mr about SAIAT. The blog has noted several times that everyone told x4mr SAIAT was doing the right thing.

They didn't suggest Augie or x4mr modify objectives and tactics. They just shot Augie outright.

With x4mr and Herb, they set them up in financially impossible situations. They strapped Herb with an unbearable loan and hoped he could find a miracle. With x4mr, the slash was malicious and deliberate destruction.

Travis (who is he?!) is of course correct that there's a lot of good effort and good intention in the mix, but there is also malice, greed, and dishonesty.

X4mr's successor shut the place down within months. The financial realities of the Fox theater have not changed. Without Herb, conditions will deteriorate. Whoever thinks he can do a superior job needs to pull his head out.

The Target warehouse is a perfect example of what is going to happen anyway by virtue of a growing population and the private sector conducting business. The same goes for the passport company.

Doing absolutely nothing, the town can expect the commercial real estate guys to score rather small shops (50-200 workers) for simple assembly, fabrication, and storage.

The deal occurs when certain disadvantages (tax, bad schools, etc.) are offset by climate (hot, yes, but heat doesn't close roads like snowstorms and floods), relatively affordable housing, and cheap labor.

4/01/2008 3:09 PM  
Blogger Robish said...

The only part about Cigar Man's otherwise dead-on analysis that I see differently regards the expectations of "they" for Herb. The "they" who set the Fox and its foundation up with impossible expectations WEREN'T hoping that Herb would find a miracle. They hoped he would fail, so that the city government could take over. Specifically, Rich Singer and the Tucson Convention Center's "management" team.

Rich is licking his chops, even as he piously tells the newspaper that he won't comment on personnel issues.

Having him and his "team" take over management of the Fox would be like Barney Fife taking over Miranda's job as the chief of police.

4/01/2008 8:28 PM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

I like the reference to the David Lynch film you praised so highly.

I watched Lake of Fire last week. That has to be one of the hardest hitting documentaries ever produced.

Snell's mission in life is Snell. He will stuff a nickel in his pocket at the cost of thousands to others. Devoid of conscience, he destroys others without remorse or hesitation. The sole and only purpose of Southern Arizona with all other priorities rescinded, is to provide him as much praise and pay as possible with complete freedom from the slightest accountability.

4/01/2008 8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy, when my federal government contract job ends at the end of the year, I can't wait to grab me a call center job or maybe haulin' stuff at the Target warehouse.

4/01/2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger Robish said...

I'd like to know more about Augie's project. Perhaps x4mr or others can illuminate this further. (John Brown's blog surely doesn't.)

How does all this Puerto Nuevo/Inland Port stuff relate to the much-discussed (at least a few years ago) intermodal center, where they move freight containers off trains onto trucks and vice versa?

Is that sort of thing the real substance of Tucson's inland port, transferring containers from one mode to another?

There is a private company that does that work in Tucson, right? Owned by the Levin brothers? Does its work compete with this idea of a publicly-owned inland port or intermodal center?

Isn't Alan Levin on TREO's board?

4/01/2008 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Augie is a class act, a gentleman,and a man with a moral compass, very unlike the culture of nothingness,and rationalized behavior ad infinitum at TREO. Since his days working for Governor Babbitt, Augie has been a loyal civic leader affording an image of professionalism and virtue. Only to be replaced with a culture of narcissism and entitlemnet. If this is Economic Development than I say it is right out of the Rolling Stones "Symphony For the Devil." Wait till Senor Glen Lyons discovers how we have treated some of his predecessors and he will be having second thoughts in next years competition for his position.

4/01/2008 11:17 PM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

First, I will concede to Robish about all Fox theater items. He has said enough to convince me that he is closer to that development than myself. If Herb was set up to fail from the beginning, all the more disgusting.

Rich Singer sounds like quite the character.

Anon is correct that Augie is a fine gentleman like the others who acted with commitment and moral conviction. Augie had Mexican connections and was working to create a physical facility, a true inland port connected to various businesses local and international.

Augie was about producing something real and genuine, and like x4mr and Herb, operated in an environment of constant adversity. All three faced bullets and arrows that gave them no chance.

4/02/2008 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

Dying to hear about Thursday's cloth-fest -- is anybody going to report on their experience?

4/05/2008 10:40 AM  
Blogger Policon said...

Isn't all of local govt an environment of constant adversity?

4/06/2008 8:09 PM  

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