Posts Tagged ‘mike carrigan’

Sparks ‘festival’ brand: The case of stolen identity?

March 19, 2009

By David Farside

As reported on June 19, 2008, Roger Brooks of Destination Development International presented ideas for future marketing of Sparks to local business leaders and Sparks city officials. He said DDI has conducted assessments for branding and marketing on 49 other communities in Nevada. I didn’t know we had 49 communities in Nevada large enough for marketing. He probably included such large populated areas like Roach, Tempiute, Hiko, Alamo, Pioche, Lamoille and Steptoe.

At the time, he tossed around a suggestion that the Sparks Marina be renamed “Sparks Lagoon Park and Beach.” Can you imagine attracting tourists from Oregon to the lagoon and beach and all they could find was Helm’s Pit, a playground for kids and a dog park? Asked how to market a new brand – including the lagoon – at a minimal cost, Brooks suggested the city and the Nevada Department of Transportation provide better signs on the freeways, seek community development block grants, local business participation and redevelopment money. Hmm! That seems like an innovative idea we’ve tried before.

He said the “10 by 10 by 10” rule would be helpful. That is, 10 places that sell food and beverages, 10 places offering entertainment after 6 p.m. and 10 destination-type retail stores all within a three-block area. And to think we only paid him $114,000 for that creative advice.

We all know that will never happen on Victorian Square. John Ascuaga’s Nugget already has the monopoly on entertainment, restaurants and gaming on old B Street and opposes any competition challenging the Nugget’s towering concrete teepee of power.

Currently, DDI wants “Nevada’s Festival City” as the new brand for Sparks. I wonder how they came up with that original idea or was it original? Maybe it’s “the case of stolen identity.”

Trying to locate one of the 49 metropolitan areas DDI claims to have made assessments on, I found the bedroom community of Las Vegas: Pahrump. I spoke to Lucy Ivans at the Pahrump Chamber of Commerce. She advised me the chamber had a $25,000 contract with DDI. She said she couldn’t say too much because of possible litigation involving DDI.

What I remember from the conversation is that one of the members of the Pahrump Tourism Advisory Board suggested using a festival to attract tourists. The chamber of commerce came up with the brand “Valley of Festivals” and suggested a festival once a month. Now there might be a lawsuit by the Pahrump Chamber against DDI for stealing their festival concept. So, it looks like DDI might have taken $25,000 from Pahrump, borrowed its festival brand and sold it to Sparks for a mere $114,000. I couldn’t reach anyone from DDI for a comment.

Now, regarding last week’s column, I mentioned that all the Sparks council members should have know about the overpayment received from the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. I may have been partially wrong.

If Councilman Ron Schmitt ignored the law as the chairman of the tourism and marketing committee and did not bring proposed recommendations for expenditures to the city council for approval over the last three years, all the council members may not have known about the overpayment. If, and I mean if, that is the case, then I apologize to:

• Councilwoman Julia Ratti, the newest member of the Sparks City Council who continues to be involved in outreach programs in Sparks.

• Councilman Phil Salerno, who has always represented the best interest of Sparks on the RSCVA, even though Schmittwants him replaced simply because he thinks we need a change..

• And Mayor Geno Martini, who continues to be a proud advocate for Sparks.

But I will not apologize to City Manager Shaun Carey, Councilman Mike Carrigan or Schmitt.

Carey testified in favor of legislation establishing the cap of RSCVA funding to the city. And as city manager it was his job to catch the discrepancy during examination of the budget. Where did he think more than $300,000 came from? How could he have forgotten his own testimony?

Carrigan was a member of tourmark for years. It was his job to identify and question the revenue sources for the agency.

Schmitt also testified in favor of the $200,000 cap. Doing so, he had to know about the overpayment. He had a fiduciary commitment to the taxpayers. As a trustee, he is responsible for knowing what the committee was legally entitled to receive and spend. He was trusted by the council to inform them of any overpayments or shortages caused by the RSCVA. Did he betray that trust?

In his letter to the editor on Sunday, Carey criticized the Tribune for publishing my opinion on the RSCVA’s overpayment of $436,000 and hopes the Tribune will take a “more professional approach in the future.” He minimizes his responsibility and the magnitude of the overpayment, saying it was just “an unfortunate oversight.” I hope Carey is held accountable for his lack of a professional approach regrding the overpayment. If Carey thinks because he earns more than $436,000 in three years it’s not a significant amount, he should know a minimum-wage earner living in Sparks would have to work more than 21 years or half of his life to earn that much income.

I received an e-mail saying, “People are more stupid than dishonest.”

I think the politically stupid should be publicly reprimanded. The dishonest should be replaced and DDI, along with its brand “Nevada‘s City of Festivals,” should be forgotten.