Grass roots, huh? Balderdash.
The petition drive to reverse the Scottsdale City Council’s Los Arcos Town Center subsidy agreement — which we agree with the city attorney is unqualified to reach the ballot — touted by supporters as a “grass-roots” effort of neighbors, small businesses and individual taxpayers, just made some room for corporate big shots at its table.
Major Valley grocery chains Fry’s, Bashas’ and Safeway have donated $12,500 to Business for A Better Scottsdale, which not only is chaired by a Fry’s executive, Ken Matz, but is funding the petition effort of Scottsdale Taxpayers Oppose Paying for Ellman’s Mistake. In light of this, STOP ’EM still was characterized in Friday’s Tribune by its chairman, Lou Schmitt, as “just ordinary Scottsdale people that had enough.”
In the lingo of the produce aisle, Mr. Schmitt, that’s a lot of lettuce from just a backyard garden.
By taking a five-figure sum from grocers — who do not want competition from the project’s major tenant, Wal-Mart Supercenter — Schmitt and his “ordinary Scottsdale people” just left the grass roots and now stand dwarfed in the Ponderosa pine forest of politics. So long as they keep and spend the grocery chains’ money, they cannot lay claim to fighting a David-vs.-Goliath battle against city leaders and Los Arcos developer Steve Ellman, but must admit to a Goliath-vs.-Goliath scenario.
Even as we are not supportive of the July 2 deal to subsidize Ellman, given that now the deal is done, we find it regrettable that the big grocers believe they should enter the Scottsdale political arena to thwart a competitor while elsewhere in the East Valley at least one of them is doing it the old-fashioned way: by competing.
Friday’s Tribune Business section tells of the first Fry’s Marketplace built from scratch just opening in Chandler. The Tribune’s Donna Hogan quotes Fry’s officials as saying this and planned Fry’s Marketplaces are designed to compete with Wal-Mart and Target’s recent forays into the grocery business.
Not in south Scottsdale, where the grocers choose instead to pump corporate bucks into a supposedly “grass-roots” campaign. We urge them to stand down and take on Wal-Mart in the commercial battlefield, where such wars should be waged.