Posts Tagged ‘reno sparks convention and visitors authority’

RSCVA: Sparks City Council ‘far from expected’

December 1, 2009

By David Farside

Nov. 23rd, 2009

The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority thumbed its nose at the city of Sparks again. It adopted a new slogan to market the area and intentionally omitted the city of Sparks. The new slogan, “Reno Tahoe USA: Far from Expected,” was supported with a unanimous vote by the directors without any comment. I guess they think Sparks is not in the United States. Evidently, Sparks Councilmen Phil Salerno, representing Sparks on the board and the rest of the Sparks City Council, agreed not to have any standing or representation on  the official slogan.

The slogan itself is demeaning. What do they mean by “far from expected?” In its effort to attract previous visitors who have low expectations of the area because of past visits, we’re admitting to potential new tourists that we didn’t have a great place to visit in the first place.

That’s like inviting new friends to your home. They enter the front door, look around and say, “Wow! This is really far from what I expected.” Your comment would be, “What did you think? I lived in a two-room shack?” The slogan should have read, “Reno Sparks Tahoe … expect the best, get the best, we are the best in the USA.”

A few months ago, in a failed attempt, Sparks Councilman Ron Schmitt wanted to replace Salerno on the RSCVA board with Councilman Mike Carrigan. He claimed that Salerno did not fairly represent the city of Sparks. I informed Schmitt that by city ordinance, the council could direct Salerno to vote the majority will of the council pertaining to issues at the RSCVA. Schmitt welcomed the news and indicated he would remember that in the future. But it seems he forgot.

It was Salerno’s responsibility to make the rest of the city council aware of the new slogan. Obviously, the council, including Schmitt and Carrigan, agreed that Sparks should be omitted from the slogan. Because of their ties with the Sparks Tourism and Marketing Committee and wanting Sparks to have a greater voice on the RSCVA, you would think that at least Schmitt and Carrigan would have sent letters of concern to the RSCVA. I would like to think they did, but I haven’t seen any yet. Or better yet, they should have attended the RSCVA meeting and publicly demanded Sparks be represented in the new slogan.

And where was the mayor? The first time the big issue of Sparks not being included on the RSCVA logo occurred was when Tony Armstrong was mayor. I remember Armstrong standing at the RSCVA podium fighting and arguing for Sparks recognition on its logo. At the time, Sparks had a room tax that was 1 percent lower than Reno or Washoe County, giving John Ascuaga’s Nugget a booking advantage over Reno hotel casinos.  The RSCVA told Armstrong to “get your room tax” and we’ll discuss placing sparks on “our” logo. Armstrong didn’t get what he wanted, but at least he fought for businesses and the pride of Sparks residents.

As many times as former mayor Bruce Breslow and I crossed swords, Breslow was the first and only city councilman who supported my room tax initiative. He knew Sparks would never be treated fairly at the RSCVA without eliminating the bidding wars for conventions between properties in Reno and Sparks.

The room tax increase of 1 percent had to be approved by the Sparks City Council. They chose to protect the Nugget’s advantage, costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. Serving as Sparks mayor, Breslow withstood  the political pressure of John Ascuaga’s Nugget and separated himself from the rest of the city council, saying the room tax would be good for the city of Sparks. As chairman of the RSCVA, he argued for a logo that included the city of Sparks. The answer was the same: no room tax , no name recognition on the logo.

Breslow didn’t get what he wanted, but at least he, too, fought for the residents and pride of Sparks. My, how local politics have changed.

Finally, 10 years later the Nugget agreed to the room tax parody. Now the RSCVA has no excuse for eliminating Sparks from its logo.

But who knows what would have happened if our mayor and city council members stood up at the RSCVA podium and argued for the residents and pride of Sparks?

A city council that wouldn’t just roll over and thank the RSCVA for whatever advertising crumbs they can get, but actually fight in the political arena for equal national recognition and the pride of Sparks.

Talk about low expectations. For some of us, the council’s lack of collective political will leaves a lot to be desired and is far from what most of us expected.