Someone mentioned the “Canals of Scottsdale” project in a Facebook comment this morning pertaining to the Desert Discovery Center controversy. Boy, did that kick off a little trip down memory lane.
I moved to Scottsdale shortly after a grass roots effort had crushed this silly “Venice in the Desert” idea at the ballot. Here’s a little description from a New Times article I dug up just now:
Tourist-laden gondolas would ply the canals; there would be fine dining, public parks, the ritzy hotel, a city square, luxury condominiums, a multiplex cinema, high-end shopping (lots of high-end shopping), an 8,000-space parking garage (by comparison, the new garage across from Bank One Ballpark holds 2,700 cars), and the eighth-largest museum in North America, housed in the opulent husk of the Scottsdale Galleria shopping mall.
The price would be at least $654 million, and 30 percent of the total cost — however high it runs — would be paid with state and local tax money. Scottsdale Mayor Sam Campana, a major supporter of the proposal, says it would “bring a little bit of Venice to the Southwest.”
Well, lookie there, guess what the “Canals” project has in common with the DDC? Samantha “911 Sam” Campana was mayor, as well as chief cheerleader of the proposal.
DDC also has Fred Unger in common. In addition to being a promoter and chief beneficiary (by virtue of downtown real estate holdings) of the Canals project, Fred has the no-bid, exclusive marketing contract for the taxpayer-owned Westworld equestrian (and now car show) facility. Fred also has the exclusive food and liquor concession.
Fred has been a prominent promoter of the DDC. Wonder why? Maybe he’s planning to get the food and liquor contract?
And if you read all of David Holthouse’s article, you’ll see a scary number of parallels between the Canals proposal and the rhetoric being used to promote the DDC. This includes a number of pie-in-the-sky assertions about cost, revenue, and the use of a state “theme park” tax. Hmm. “Theme park.” Let that sink in. So to speak.
Aside from all that, you’ll also see Jason Rose mentioned prominently in the Canals discussion. If you don’t know who Jason Rose is, well, you aren’t a regular reader of ScottsdaleCitizen. For which I forgive you, and I will inform you that he is the public relations manager for the campaign of the embattled, incumbent, current Scottsdale mayor, Jim “Shady” Lane.
The same Shady Lane who was against a public vote on the DDC before he was in favor of it…in a remarkable flip-flop that clearly had nothing to do with the election that is six weeks away.
And Jason is the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies used to promote his polo matches and rugby extravaganzas…at Westworld, I might add.
Tangentially, I wonder if it was Jason who gave Shady Lane the bright idea to compare himself to Albert Einstein? But I digress…
Read the New Times piece if you want to get a sense of what’s wrong with this Desert Discovery Center project…that is to say if COMMON sense hasn’t already clued you in.