March 16, 2005
Riverview at Dobson campaign information is now reaching Mesa residents by phone and mail as both sides vie for support less than a month before early voting begins.
But the information and methods being used has raised the ire of supporters and opponents, who claim their competition is misleading the public to further their cause.
The Riverview at Dobson shopping center opposition started a phone bank last week that uses the words "Wal-Mart" and "subsidy" and asks residents if they support tax giveaways. That’s led to accusations of "push polling," where callers spread inaccurate or misleading information under the guise of a legitimate poll or survey.
"The phone call is designed to mislead people," said Paul Bentz, a campaign spokesman for Riverview supporters. "This is clearly an attempt to characterize this election in an unfavorable light."
Mesa resident Terry Cross said the phone caller asked him what he thought about Mesa giving away $84 million in taxes.
"The questions were leaning against the project," Cross said. "They didn’t want it going in."
Jason Rose, the Riverview opposition campaign spokesman, said the phone bank is not a push poll, which the National Council on Public Polls has described as "political telemarketing."
"It’s not designed to be anything other than a phone bank to identify supporters, that is it," Rose said.
The Riverview at Dobson backers have sent out a campaign mailer touting Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World and Cinemark, as well as developer projections of $170 million in sales tax revenue for Mesa over the next 30 years, $4 million in annual property tax revenue and 5,000 new jobs.
Rose notes the flier makes no mention of a Wal-Mart Supercenter — which is expected to open in the "bigbox" portion of the project at Loop 202 and Dobson Road — or the estimated $80 million in economic incentives eligible for the developer.
"Riverview developers should just be honest with their voters," Valley Business Owners (And Concerned Citizens) member Fred Phillis said.
Bentz said Bass Pro Shops and Cinemark are mentioned because they are regional attractions, and the economic incentives are factored into the $170 million amount projected for Mesa.
"Everything we put out in all of our advertisements and the mail is the truth," Bentz said.
The election is set for May 17, with early voting starting April 14.