Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Cloth Curse

When it comes to economic and downtown development, Tucson appears to be suffering from some kind of curse that prevents sound thinking and energy genuinely directed towards improving the community. The well meaning and competent are destroyed, over and over again, while the self-serving, corrupt, or inept continue to be rewarded. At least when Robert Gonzales (and later, Steve Weathers) ran GTEC, its performance was reviewed and if it tried to take credit for the results of others, they were called on it. TREO could take credit for Obama stimulus funds and council members would smile and applaud. As bad if not worse, we have the devolution of the functional Downtown Alliance, a productive organization that generated numerous community events and other services, into a worthless crony capital for six figure do nothing Clothmeister gigs while it continues to connive to get paid more to do less.

Now we learn of the Downtown Tucson Development Company (DTDC) and its delicious scenario slated to occur via what has to be either corrupt or appallingly incompetent, or as the curse goes, both. ITB has the expected soft treatment piece, but the deal has all the stench of Rio Nuevo’s $9 M imaginary bridge.

Donovan Durband, Director of the Downtown Alliance before the Cloth boondoggled the place into the thrice budgeted nonperforming Lyons DTP, has a thorough and well written blog post via the new online Tucson Citizen, and the Star has an opinion piece suggesting, "Whoa!" to this deal, and for good reason.

Also crying foul, Rialto Theater President Michael Crawford wrote an email to the Mayor and Council pleading that they defer approval of the document implementing the deal until it is fully understood. What a concept. The Star piece referenced his email and clearly had a copy. Those interested in reading it verbatim can view a simple web page of Crawford’s Letter here.

I don't know why Tucson suffers from such a curse. The likes of Snell, Lyons, Barr, LaSala, and even Hecker are probably opportunists happy to inhale the greatest $Ka-Ching! possible when they see a butt bent over a railing. The causal elements are more likely to include names like Eckstrom. At any rate, Albuquerque, Portland, Austin, San Diego (the list goes on) provide examples of communities free of having their economic and downtown development efforts focused on funneling millions to a small group of anointed insiders. You do know the DTDC organized fundraisers for some of our city officials.


Anonymous Update said...

Council delays vote on Downtown project; developers say they're pulling out

Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.16.2009

The Tucson City Council has postponed action on a proposed development agreement for the east end of Downtown due to concerns the deal doesn’t do enough to protect the Rialto Theatre.

Following the 7-0 vote Tuesday night developers Scott Stiteler and Don Martin said they will pull the plug on further negotiations with the city, and on plans for immediate Downtown development.

6/16/2009 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anon Girl said...

Even from far away Kaintuck, x4mr captures the Tucson shenanigans perfectly.

6/17/2009 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Cloth only serve the Cloth. It is infuriating that other towns manage to obtain decent and competent professionals while Tucson seems to get nothing but worthless scum (Snell, Lyons, Shelko, ad nauseum).

What a shame.

Did TREO really shut down SAIAT just so it could steal its funding? SAIAT was actually doing something. I took classes there. Why did the town destroy a group like the Alliance? It was actually doing something. Why can't Rio Nuevo do ANYTHING?

They destroy what works and throw millions at what doesn't. Unbelievable.

6/17/2009 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Sad but true. They dropped $820K for a 15 minute video.

The same money, if I recall, would have funded SAIAT for four years, which would be tens of thousands of Tucson workers getting modern skills.

The city has no money for training, for city workers, for street repairs, but for the CLOTH, it has millions and millions and millions.

They pay Clothmeister LaSala's $100K salary for a job at DTP that DOESN'T EXIST.

6/17/2009 10:53 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

When I first read about the cloth in "Something Else" I laughed out loud and thought it was hilarious. X4mr had a line similar to, "I didn't understand the source of the confusion, but I suspected the cloth."

God, that was funny.

I don't think it's funny anymore. As this blog has deepened and refined cloth to where we know the names, faces, and obscene corruption, incompetence, cronyism and nepotism, and the extraordinary losses inflicted on the community, it is beyond infuriating.

The wasted Rio Nuevo millions and the continued funding of organizations like TREO and DTP are malfeasance. This is not a joke. This is actually happening. People belong in jail.

They shut down a training institute that trained thousands for only $200K/year, but they have $800 thousand for a 15 minute video. In front of everyone with complete immunity, they fire good people or shut down worthy programs to steal resources to inflate themselves or their friends at ridiculous salaries.


6/17/2009 1:20 PM  
Anonymous She's got to go . . . said...

"I am concerned about the future of the Rialto Theatre.

Tuesday, we had an opportunity to support a Development Agreement [DA] that’s been in the works for 6 months. It is important to note this was an Incentives agreement. The Developers already own the entire Rialto block except for the Theatre itself, which is owned by the City of Tucson through the Rio Nuevo Facilities District. This agreement was designed to get redevelopment of this block under way NOW, despite the dismal state of the economy, setting the stage for other developers to want to invest in the area without future incentives.

The Development Agreement included several important ‘gives’ on behalf of the Rialto:

§ The Developers would have given the Rialto Theatre a 1,000 sq. foot bay for new bathrooms;
§ The Developers would have given the Rialto Theatre 450 sq. feet at the northeast corner of the building to provide adequate space and a great entrance for the Theatre's own bar, downstairs.
§ The Developers would have provided $400,000 to the Foundation for development of the bathrooms and the bar. [This was NOT a loan! No repayment was required.];
§ The Developers would have installed an elevator that would have made the balcony of the Theatre handicap accessible for the first time. In exchange, the Foundation would have provided access so balcony patrons could go to the Developers’ bar upstairs before and after shows, with appropriate protections both to assure they’ve paid to enter the Theatre and that liquor law provisos are met."

[End of Part 1 from Thursday's Ward 6 Perspectives! E-newsletter]

6/19/2009 12:55 AM  
Anonymous She's really got to go . . . said...

[The conclusion of her comments in 6/18/09 Ward 6 Perspectives! E-newsletter] (I can't even say or type her name. I have to use pronouns.)

"There was intense pressure from the Rialto board that the Developers also had to give them the 2,500 square foot Green Room/Office space. The problem is the Developers have other plans for that building. But, I believe that issue was taken care of with this additional concession:

§ The Theatre would be given use of the Green Room rent-free guaranteed for 5 years. After that, a series of 5-year leases would be negotiated at market rate. When the Developers were ready to raze the Broadway building for redevelopment, Green Room facilities would always be made available to the Theatre on the Rialto Block at market rate rent.

There were many other elements in the DA, including incentives to move forward NOW with renovating the ground floor of the Rialto Block, bringing in a major art gallery and JANOS, in his important return to Downtown. Several small nonprofits would have received important funding support, including WAMO, Skrappy’s youth program and the new artist in residence program called ‘Distributor’, creating an important upgrade of one of the gateways to Downtown.

My motion to express strong support for the Development Agreement, just working to retool a couple of language points to clarify the deal, failed to gain support. Yes, there were a few changes needed, but I believe the basic framework was in place and felt we needed to confirm it since the deadline to which we agreed was June 17th (the next day). I believe we had a deal that would greatly benefit Downtown’s East End, the Rialto Theatre and Downtown revitalization as a whole. The developers would also reap benefits in the form of City property earned in exchange for their risking their cash redeveloping before the economy turned around. Instead, Council voted to delay the decision for three weeks so the parties could continue to talk and work out details.

The problem is, the Developers did not agree to such a delay. In fact, they weren’t even asked! So the current deal is likely dead. The biggest loser is the Rialto Theatre. Others include WAMO, Skrappy’s and Distributors. But really, we all lose.

Bottom line: I believe this multi-faceted development agreement was in the best interest of our community as a whole: it protected and strengthened an important City asset, the Rialto Theatre; it provided a necessary ‘push’ or incentive to getting this project moving quickly, providing a boost to other local restaurants, retail, commercial business, neighborhoods; and it gave the business community the confidence that the City would be a partner in getting our economy moving again.

My commitment to you … and our community … is to work hard to bring specific elements of this agreement back to life. I will push to make a deal to bring Janos and other businesses to the Rialto Block a reality. I will push to get at least the 1,000 square feet for expanded restrooms back on the table to strengthen our City- and Facilities District-owned Theatre. I hope we can still find a way to work with the Developers to improve our Sixth Avenue gateway into Downtown … and the nonprofits that are part of that corner. I don’t know how successful I’ll be, but those elements are all SO important for our community’s future.

I’ll keep you posted.


6/19/2009 12:57 AM  
Anonymous She's really, really got to go . . . said...

Art Jacobson is doing great work with his blog, "The Data Port" at TucsonCitizen.com, covering this Stiteler/DTDC issue.

Check it out:


6/19/2009 1:15 AM  
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