Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cloth Featured on Television

Cloth Aficionado Jonathon Walker got to appear in the above television spot that specifically showed the 2008 tax return featuring the $3.2 M annual Ka-Ching! of the MTCVB salary and benefits slice of the Cloth kitty. $400,000 of that sweet fountain goes to two people, and the television piece shows which two.

Over 400 grand to two guys, and they do what?

Pay $2.8 M to another set of folks, and these folks do what?

Pay another $5 M to consultants, and these consultants do what?

1. Make pretty pamphlets
2. Make pretty web pages
3. Call local businesses

Call local businesses to do what? Ask for money. In exchange for what?

Advertising in the pretty pamphlets and web pages. And who actually reads the pretty advertisements?

The businesses that bought them!


Walker makes $230,000 a year with an assistant who makes $180,000. Think about that. Seriously.

Those interested can probably find a video of Walker performing ClothTalk before the Tucson city council this week. Expect to hear tourism numbers without supporting data and the false implication that said numbers are the result of a pretty web page. Hits to said page will not be disaggregated by viewer locale for fear of revealing most came from inside Tucson.

Meanwhile, the Rio Nuevo saga continues.

Up Next: The TREO Cubicle Farm - making millions taking credit for your business results since 2004!


Anonymous Another Anon said...

When is the "tomorrow" referenced in the news story (and I use "news" loosely -- it's FOX 11 after all..)?

12/07/2010 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

Johnny Walker and Rick Vaughan made their appearance at the City Council today. The Council voted to direct the city's citizen audit committee to review the performance of the MTCVB with the help of some industry experts.

Word is that Shirley Scott put up a fight against the audit, but was the only vote against it. Even Smilin' Bob reportedly voted for the audit, because he thinks his good buddies at the Bureau do such a great job they have nothing to fear!

Steve Kozachik and Richard Fimbres were the driving forces behind the Bureau scrutiny. Strange bedfellows.

12/07/2010 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who's been in the web page-making business for a long time, I'd love to be paid as much as the MTCVB web page-makers are.

12/08/2010 9:00 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

This is totally awesome. I never thought this sacred Cloth cow could possibly face scrutiny. Wow.

There's a whole set of obscenely overpaid, arrogant buffoons attached to this one. X4mr is right that at the end of the day, MTCVB hardly does a thing besides a publication no one reads and a website no one visits.

Have you seen their magazine? Do you know anyone who has seen their magazine? Ever? How many times have you been to their website in the last three years? How many tourists do you think read their website?

Tucson doesn't have money for police officers and fire departments, but it has $400,000 for a couple of egos that haven't made a difference for anyone, ever, except for the swine they've brought to the trough with them.

Just wait. Any day now Inside Tucson Business will write a glowing editorial about how wonderful MTCVB is and what a fantastic difference it makes for Tucson's vital tourism industry.

12/08/2010 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...


That editorial you were referring to, Cigar Man...

12/08/2010 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walker makes $230,000 and HAS AN ASSISTANT THAT MAKES $180,000?!!!

What the F***???!!!!!

The gall of these people is insulting and outrageous. If you check them for a pulse, you won't find one. These scumbags have no heart let alone a conscience.

12/08/2010 1:50 PM  
Blogger Travis said...

[Part 1 of 4 ('cause stupid Blogger restricts comment length, yet I still have things worth saying)]

Crap! I’m in a different place on this one. Well, torn, actually. May I ask some questions that clarify, but not necessarily defend?

x4mr’s usually intelligent postings feel here incomplete. Almost like things were trending toward mob mentality where otherwise poignant questions about the functions/finances of a community organization are free license to spray-paint the “cloth” on the doors and begin the lynching.

That “cloth” label is appearing more and more in the comments sections of our local news outlets. That might take away from its efficacy and the real understanding of the meaning x4mr originally gave it.

I’ve eagerly followed x4mr’s questioning/tear-down of TREO and Rio Nuevo largely because it was about damn time.

I was involved as a committee member with GTEC (TREO’s predecessor) and departed in disgust at the absolute bullshit happening there. The organization was clearly doing pretty much what x4mr accuses TREO of. There was no real plan of action, lots of justifying funding by trumpeting “successes” (businesses coming to town) they had no real part in. Overblown salaries, numerous international trips to “forge relationships”, and a hell of a lot of golf. All capped off each year with a nifty PowerPoint for a packed La Paloma ballroom annual meeting where everyone slapped each other’s backs and marveled at the emperor’s snazzy new suit.

A collection of Tucson’s sharper minds realized nothing was getting done, so they worked some board-level magic, folded the organization, and created TREO to get to the many hearts of the issue and revamp the whole economic development scene. I will maintain here that, as messed up as the politics of this are, there remain true leaders, smart individuals, and hard workers involved at all levels who endeavor to improve our city’s lot. Problem is, they have to deal with the “cloth”, too, as they sit right alongside them on the boards and the staffs.

This means that both the well-intentioned and the “cloth” also carried onto the new organization. You can’t have one without the other. (Maybe x4mr can give us a catching name for the well-intentioned. Then we could pit “well-intentioned” against the cloth and we’d have a true good vs. evil story to tell.)

As much as I cringe at the personality involved (brace yourself; the man is incredibly articulate), I once attended a presentation by Newt Gingrich. An audience member challenged him on the inefficiency of our government. Why is everything it does so convoluted, slow, shamefully expensive, and often way off target? Why didn’t anyone just clean house and reorganize it all to be really effective so that we could address languishing issues in education, poverty, and the economy?

He stood back for a second and smiled, the history teacher in him rising to the surface.

“That inefficiency we love to complain about—and I’m right there with you—is actually a gift from our nation’s founding fathers,” he said.

He went on to explain that our open form of government was specifically meant to be a mess because that’s what prevents any one person or group from gaining too much power. It prevents dictatorships. Historically, those regimes that do gain too much power are labeled so that even those with the vaguest knowledge of history can gain from the inherent warnings: Caesar’s Rome. Nazi Germany.

Short version: Our open form of government requires that everyone has a voice and can participate. It makes things slow, frustrating, and diluted. However it prevents the real nastiness of totally efficient governments while allowing for some things only a government can really pull off. Along with this nifty freedom of speech, don’t we really kind of appreciate the U.S. mail, the Interstate highway system, and FAA air traffic control?

Oh, and this Internet thing is kinda cool, too.


12/09/2010 3:39 PM  
Blogger Travis said...

[Part 2 of 4]

On the local level, we have the same thing. Everyone gets a voice/to participate in the government and community organizations/efforts like Rio Nuevo, GTEC/TREO, and the MTCVB. And this is prone to creating inefficiency and occasionally a clusterf***.

In addition to the GTEC/TREO destruction/rebuild, I sat in on a number of the early (wow, 10+ years ago) Rio Nuevo planning meetings. It was an exciting thing, the community coming together to finally get a handle on revitalizing downtown. There were smart, experienced, and well-intentioned leaders involved. But you could also see the influence of those with only self-interest creeping in. Sadly, no clear leader emerged who could corral all the cats, the self-interested pulled the thing in all directions, and we ended up with cluster****. But Tucson’s long been saddled with the same bad group-think. Think placement of the ballpark, the giveaway of land to developers, or the exceedingly long-term failure to assemble any sort of cohesive transportation plan.

At least the Fox Theater is nice. Oh, wait, that was a private party effort, not actually part of Rio Nuevo.

TREO I’m undecided on. I know great individuals on both sides of that coin and they both make excellent points. Maybe it’s just messy and prone to some really dumb moves, as it’s torn in all kinds of political directions. (x4mr = all-too-familiar with that.) But, really, name one similar organization anywhere that has singlehandedly been responsible for the kind of overarching economic development TREO is charged with/aspires to. How the hell do you measure for that?

That brings me around to the MTCVB.

Of all the organizations lumped under Tucson’s “economic development” umbrella, the MTCVB has long been the best organized and seemingly most effective. Because I was once a member—dating back to before the time that current CEO Walker was hired—I have some solid knowledge of their purpose and inner workings. My experience with those other “cloth”-infested organizations had me impressed with this one.

A few facts:

1. Tourism is one of Tucson’s top revenue-generating industries. That means it currently employs many, many people AND brings dollars to our community, both in business profits and tax revenues. Though it can’t really support a downtown hotel, it’s one of the big ones that is actually working for us on a large scale.

2. A significant portion of the MTCVB’s funds come not from our tax dollars, but from a “bed tax” paid by those who visit our community and stay in hotels. This tax was instituted specifically to support the tourism industry in Tucson through its own efforts. More tourism = more bed taxes = more budget with which to promote tourism to Tucson. We all voted for that, as it makes some sense. We don’t pay this tax unless we stay in our own hotels. However, we DO pay bed taxes in other cities when we stay in their hotels. Stick it to the tourists, man.

3. The MTCVB’s membership is less “cloth” oriented and more focused on its industry. That includes many small restaurant, hotel, and other tourism-related business owners. That’s you and me. (Though Humberto “give me money for my crappy hotel or I shut it down and maybe lose you the gem shows” Lopez is part of that circle, too.)

4. Within its field, Tucson’s MTCVB is highly-regarded. In fact, their originally foray into online marketing set the initial standards for their sister organizations around the nation. It’s more than a web site; it’s a whole email/database marketing system. It’s also very efficient, as they are able to market directly to specific interests/market segments (i.e. golf, ecotourism, regions of the country/world, and age groups). At the time, it was cutting-edge to the point that the Tucson firm that built it for them packaged the technology and sold it to many other CVBs nationwide. All their numbers are closely tracked, including the number of calls made to their various 800- lines and web traffic. But that’s key: there are real numbers to look at.


12/09/2010 3:40 PM  
Blogger Travis said...

[Part 4 of 4]

9. How overlapping are the leadership/boards (and look historically, too) of the MTCVB and the other certified-cloth organizations? While you’re sorting that out, how do you determine which individuals are “cloth” and which are true leaders/well-intentioned who have to operate in the same circles to get things done? This is politics, after all. Messy, messy.

10. How do the MTCVB’s budget, staff size, and activities stack up within their industry? When presented with what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, what do other CVB-type organizations react? They were (at least once) regarded as a shining star amongst this crowd. Still the case?

Cliché for my bottom line here: Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Let’s not just label everyone “cloth” just because they’re in overlapping circles. There are good people out there, too. People who are working to lead Tucson to better places. Ask better questions. Then, if things come up fishy, get out the torches and ropes. We are, after all, marketed as a true “western” town: cowboys, cactus, and the dusty boots of a sheriff’s posse. Tourists would probably love an old-style hangin'.

12/09/2010 3:42 PM  

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