Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Four Stooges

Rob O’Dell has an AZ Star story (6/24/09) that begins with:

City Hall and other Tucson facilities will be shut down for five extra business days over the next year so employees can be sent home without pay to help balance the city budget.

We also have the story where Clothmeisters decided to screw the Rialto Theater for nine or so months of "back rent" in a clear act of retaliation after their sweet cloth $Ka-Ching! fell through. This comes on top of learning that the city dropped $820K on a fourth rate 15 minute infomercial intended to uh, well, uh, impress someone TBD, and of course there’s the $250K TREO paid KMK consulting for a glossy pamphlet now unread for three years. Spring Training is soon to be history, the Gem Show is on thin ice, and Rio Nuevo is a fiasco.

Why does Tucson’s economic and downtown development read like a Three Stooges episode instead of the results occurring in Albuquerque, Portland, or other comparable cities? The answer: Cloth. Instead of producing results on par with these communities, Tucson’s economic (TREO) and downtown (DTP) development agencies squander community funds to serve themselves and their friends. Instead of generating real economic value, they fictitiously attach their budgets to the unrelated investments and expenditures of others in order to fabricate phony "return on investment" figures.

Sadly, local officials (Stooge Exhibit 1) swallow the numbers like babies at juicy nipples, hopelessly intertwined with corrupt government administrators (Stooge Exhibit 2) in a mutual love-fest with the Cloth agencies and consultants (Stooge Exhibit 3) to create a perfect bed where the Three Stooges can have their love fest in a sea of taxpayer dollars. Do I exaggerate? I apply the semantics of the word loosely. Speaking more rigorously, the stooges are the taxpayers (Stooge Exhibit 4). I mean no offense to this last group as until recently I was one of them.

Ask the council what budget cuts were faced by TREO, MTCVB, DTP, TCC, or the DDC. The Cloth budget exceeds $12 M and was not cut by a thin red cent. School districts and food banks will close and and city employees will be tossed in the street before the TREO or DTP budgets drop a dollar. DTP ousted a competent director to hire a loyal Clothmeister at TWICE the salary. With city council permission TREO padded its own cash reserves by stealing funds allotted for a Goodwill program for crippled youth.

UPDATE: Upon re-reading this post, I think I failed to make my key points clear. There are two fundamental ideas I am attempting to present.

1. The cost of the Cloth is real. It is not an abstract concept. The Fitz cartoon shows the extreme, but real damage has taken place. To fully grasp it requires one to have a sense of what the community COULD BE and COULD HAVE BECOME.
2. The damage continues and may be getting worse as programs and people providing genuine value get cut/fired/laid off/discontinued while cloth gigs remain essentially fully funded. The trend is negative. DTP costs more than the Alliance and does less.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your intentions may be clear, but you don't get what is really happening.

It is not nearly so much TREO and DTP as you think, but other entrenched power brokers like Diamond, Eckstrom, Click, and other established money interests that strangle this town.

In reality, x4mr, you actually flatter your foes Snell and Lyons as far more formidable than they really are.

I would not describe either as stooges, since they are well paid. I would describe them as convenient.

You're smart, x4mr, and you are onto something, but you miss the mark. Who is making money? Who is making the REAL money?

6/24/2009 9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make some good points Matt. There does need to be cloth accountability. But you are incorrect when you say the $12M budget for outside agencies was "not cut by a thin red cent." In fact, it was cut 10% across the board in FY '09 and 15.5% across the board this most recent fiscal year (FY '10).

6/25/2009 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

In some cases, though, the city found alternative ways of funding these agencies, which are essentially city departments unaccountable to open meeting laws, procurement laws, etc.

DTP was handed a management contract to oversee ParkWise, which has run just fine for several years. The "profit" off of that contract offsets its reduction as part of the 10% across-the-board cut that the city manager felt he could not spare them from, politically.

6/25/2009 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anon2 said...

Are you sure, Anon (12:08)? I know that in general there were across the board cuts, but TREO funding (from the city) remained the same at $1.2 M, and I don't think MTCVB or TCC were cut either.

To talk about the funding of some of these sharks, one needs a private investigator. The Partnership may or may not pull off a sweet deal to manage Rio Nuevo (which has not been cut), but it continues to try. It was given "$200K" of city staff, not that this is real money. I think the parking scam went through, where they get paid half a million to do what the vendor charges $300,000 to do, etc..

I think Matt is more correct than incorrect that real value is being slashed while the cloth remains virtually unscathed. LaSala is a good illustration. As others get laid off, he is paid $97,000 and has no duties.

6/25/2009 6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anon2 said...

Wow, that's weird. I thought I was the only one up this early. I am not the Anonymous 2 above, but he is saying essentially what I meant to say.

6/25/2009 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

The Cloth-watchers never rest!

6/25/2009 6:44 AM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

I believe the first Anon (9:24 pm) is correct. The Cloth are stooges for the Big-Money guys in town, some of whom were named in the first post. They keep their hands clean while their Boys are out front.

6/25/2009 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Over the past year and a half or so as x4mr kept refining "cloth" and getting clearer and clearer about who was whom and the various connections, I kept asking myself, "Why is this going on?"

The question of who is really calling the shots has come up before, and like the Anon above (and others at earlier posts over time) I think the Cloth serves the real "fat cats."

But then I get confused. What exactly is the Cloth doing for the fat cats? WTF is Lyons doing, or Snell, that they are paying for? Then I answer my own question. The cloth provide a charade, a store front of "look good" bullshit to disguise the fact that nothing gets done except what the fat cats want, which is mostly nothing, because they have things exactly the way they want them.

Shelko was not ousted because nothing got done. Shelko was ousted because it got into the conversation that nothing got done. Snell does not have to produce any return on investment at all, but he MUST CLAIM that he is producing a huge ROI.

The name is perfect, x4mr, perfect. The cloth is what covers it all up.

6/25/2009 10:35 AM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Apropos of nothing in this thread, but the biopic about you which came out yesterday is getting roundly panned.

As for the post and thread, I tend to agree the cloth are there to screen our view of the folks behind the curtain. Unfortunately, this has been so effective for so long, I don't think Tucson can _ever_ become "what it might have been".

In software engineering, it's generally felt the cost of a bug when found early is orders of magnitude less (in money, in man hours) than the same bug caught late in the process. Applying that concept to Tucson economic development, we are way, way down the road in the process, and the bug still hasn't been fixed. The costs associated with eventually fixing it (if it's even still possible) just keep growing.

6/25/2009 12:44 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Biopic about whom?

6/25/2009 12:50 PM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Yeah, Sirocco. WTF? Do you mean x4mr?

The only thing I can think of that's less likely than someone writing a biopic of x4mr (no offense) is enough people paying attention to it to "roundly pan it."

Well, wait. Yes, I can think of something less likely: someone writing a biopic about ME that is then panned.

You owe us an explanation, Sirocco. What are you talking about?

6/25/2009 4:01 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...



That was too good! I think Christmas will arrive before Nav figures it out. I have to admit you had me scratching my head for awhile.


Returning to your comment regarding software, I think the analogy makes a lot of sense. It also applies to transportation in the town. Imagine if back in 1980 or 1975, we had made Kolb up from I-10 and then curving through Grant into an expressway. It would have made a beltway.

It doesn't just apply to software. In the IBM days (I was 90% hardware) a problem found early cost nothing compared to problems found later. A problem found after the product is populating the field?

Another way to frame Tucson's problem is that the various components are so obsessed with maximizing their own personal gain that they cannot do the "give" part of the "give and take" that allows for real progress.

6/25/2009 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I won't even try to decipher what goes on between Sirocco and x4mr about a biopic. It would take me longer than Navigator.

I think your last remark, x4mr, says it best The town is an immature collection of sophomoric "me first and only" characters so well exemplified by the recent ugliness about the Rialto Theater.

I think that captures what is going on better than your animosity towards "convenient" whores doing the bidding of the status quo.

I agree with the various anons that Snell, Lyons, etc., are not "meisters" of cloth or anything else.

They are well paid prostitutes.

6/25/2009 8:24 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

"It also applies to transportation in the town. Imagine if back in 1980 or 1975, we had made Kolb up from I-10 and then curving through Grant into an expressway. It would have made a beltway."

I remember a vote on this around 1980, when I was too young to participate, but being very opposed to the idea.

Ten or 12 years later, when I was both old enough to vote and to drive, I had a better appreciation of the issues and wished it had passed ... by then it was too late, though.

6/26/2009 6:39 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

All right, x4mr and Sirocco. WTF about the biopic!! I've googled the living $%#$ out of the various names for x4mr and biopic and press releases and kitchen sinks, and nothing, nada, zip.

So out with it!! What biopic??

6/26/2009 11:08 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

That's pretty funny, Nav. I suspect you could search forever and never figure it out. It took me some time, but the key clue in Sirocco's comment is "yesterday."

What motion picture came out on Wednesday? I think you can handle it from there.

6/26/2009 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey X4MR,

Didn't you identify Don Martin as a non-cloth performer of real deeds some months ago in the blog? Now that he's screwing over the Rialto, has he changed categories?

I think he's a greedheaded blowhard who has accomplished nothing downtown and now stands ready to destroy what little good has been accomplished with the Rialto.

6/26/2009 2:16 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Anon (6/26 - 2:16PM)
You almost certainly refer to posts of April 2008 when I was presenting the TIF for TAT chronologies of Rio Nuevo. In that context, Martin was part of the Congress Street Stakeholders, which I did present in a favorable light compared to what else was going on. The Stakeholders wanted to deploy TIF funds for quick revenue generating projects, not museums.

I didn't praise him specifically, although I may have said something like, "Martin proposed the good idea that.." Last I heard (and I think still the case) he's one of the top guys at Competitive Engineering.

My post was over a year ago about events one or two years before that. That said, I have seen enough to have confidence the man is not lacking in fondness for money. Recent events tend to support your point of view.

6/26/2009 3:44 PM  

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