BY JOHN TRAYNOR | SEPTEMBER 29, 2010
Traynor on Carefree
When is -17.73 percent not -17.73 percent? When is a downward trend, not a trend? These absurdities can occur only when a Carefree P&Z council wannabe does the arithmetic.
Statements like, ‘around 15 percent’ are a tad less accurate and grossly misleading. My arithmetic clearly differs from that of the wannabe. Having been cast as a member of the ‘prophets of doom’ by that same wannabe, I am compelled to say that I take absolutely no delight in observing the obvious. I simply can do the arithmetic and I watch the trending.
Local sales tax revenue is an absolute indicator of the health of Carefree’s economic engine, our local businesses. To suggest a multi-year trend is not a trend is ludicrous. Whenever I have mentioned sales tax revenue, I have done so based upon current and historical fact. Seasonal variances tend to be similar from year to year, even with slight upward or downward ticks. Just like the stock markets, such movements do occur inside of a trend which is why a multi-year trend is far more accurate than a single period observation.
The fact remains that Carefree’s sales tax revenue has been trending downward since 2005, when the local sales tax jumped from 2 to 3 percent. Another fact is that July 2010 generated the lowest sales tax revenue of any July in the past six years. That wannabe is free to ignore real facts, and continue name calling, but neither will change those facts. The next time that wannabe quotes money in the bank, ask for the corresponding debt level (6 minus 7 is still minus 1).
If the most recent fiscal year did in fact end ‘in the black’ (unaudited), one must consider all the factors which led to that outcome. Left unchecked, the level of spending that took place in the first half of the year would have resulted in a much different outcome. Repetitive outcries from the council minority, the reality of a recall election, and the utter economic reality of what was unfolding forced a change – a real change.
Tower of Babel - 2010
If one chooses to read local information, there is an ample source of material about Carefree. Unfortunately you won't find it at the airport tourist information counter, where well over a hundred publications, all extolling the virtues of Arizona, greet visitors.
There is nary a scrap to lure potential visitors here.
Residents have plenty to read. Content quality, untainted facts, and simple reality are not always the norm. A few periodic publications provide coverage although one new entrant simply serves as the political propaganda arm for Carefree government. Another 'focus' publication doesn't have much focus but does cover area sports. The left-wing, valley-wide daily serves up its usual bias, providing less news and more slanted opinion than clear headed people should tolerate.
One remaining publication has received dozens of awards, yet some of its hard-hitting material apparently hits too close to home for some thin skinned Carefree residents. Instead of simply not reading Sonoran News this group chooses to intimidate local businesses that advertise in the paper. In these economically harsh times this rabble would rather destroy the economic life of a business than support it. Enough businesses are failing without their vendettas.
Local reading materials don't end there. Until recent political shenanigans by another councilman necessitated a change in distribution, Councilman Coady published 'Carefree Matters' immediately following each council meeting; he has done so for over 11 years. This straightforward e-mail informs residents of pertinent council activities, as well as important upcoming events. The same small group that grouses at Sonoran News continually attacks Coady, or his newsletter, because they dislike him.
The 'Tower' steps begin here. The town routinely distributes an e-mail within a few days of a council meeting. It highlights certain council activities, leaving out any controversial matters, and advertises events, like Kiwanis flea market, pancake breakfast, and the like. But the 'Tower' reaches its full dimensions when a member of the P&Z Committee, the single most well known Coady hater in the county, gets into the act.
An unending stream of e-mail from the 'Tower', feigning 'truth', bombards some residents. I'm told this version of 'truth' most often is simply an unbridled character assassination of Councilman Coady, with an occasional shot at Councilmen Stavoe or Koteas for good measure. Twisting facts and remanufacturing reality is the specialty of this 'Tower' unto itself. The intent, I suppose, is to appear reasonable, yet accuracy and fairness are the casualties. Regardless of the subject, Coady is generally the target of the 'Tower's' thinly veiled hatred.
And so this modern-day Tower of Babel continues a long standing tradition. Honest people who disagree with Carefree dogma are harshly labeled and publicly criticized. Some holier than thou folks tout their good manners and lecture others regarding acceptable opinions. But in the end, only the new 'Tower' can sow misrepresentations and hatred in electronically sized tablets. No extra charge for sugar-coating or hand crafted YouTube snippets.
John Traynor is a former Carefree Town Council candidate and has been a senior executive in the insurance industry. He is now a consultant.