Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guest View-Paul Emmert: Is A Government Bailout Good For Oro Valley?

Last week, the Public Policy Committee of the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce sponsored a public meeting to discuss the Town’s El Conquistador country club and golf course purchase. Town Manager Greg Caton, several staff members, and a Troon Management representative led the meeting. It was immediately clear that many of the attendees favored the purchase because of the golf course rescue.

At that meeting, participants were told that the golfing industry is turning around. Of course, this prognostication doesn’t comport with the data, but why concern ourselves with pesky statistics that can be manipulated? Further, we heard how the community center restaurant will offer one of the finest dining experiences available in Oro Valley,

The El Conquistador purchase is a government bailout.

Oro Valley Resident Paul Emmert
HSL Properties, knowing the depressed state of the golfing sport, is wisely trying to shed the golfing operation, while holding claim to being a golf resort. Meanwhile, you and I are assuming the ownership and risk, and will spend at least $10 million in the form of a 25% sales tax increase to support this bailout. These courses and the country club are losing money, and the Town is swooping in to save the day.

The U.S. federal government lost over $9 billon bailing out the American auto industry. Who is left holding that bag? You and I, of course. Then we have Oro Valley bureaucracy stepping in to assume ownership control of a failing business enterprise. The 2015-16 town manager recommended budget is rising 12% to accommodate this purchase.

Does this sound familiar? Are you confident that Oro Valley is any more capable than private ownership to return a business to profitability? Do you think the Town should be aiding private ventures, cloaked in the disguise of a “new” community center? I certainly don’t.

I’m a former Oro Vally small business owner. I know well the perils of private competition. Competing with government subsidized business is even more challenging. On the macro level, consider that Airbus and Boeing are the largest aircraft manufacturers on the planet, yet Airbus is subsidized by various European countries, placing Boeing at a distinct disadvantage.

Similarly, Oro Valley is stepping into private business with the singular aim of taking away customers from privately owned health clubs, golf courses, and restaurants. How is this remotely fair, on top of the fact that these businesses are now forced to collect additional sales tax to pay for their own competition? It’s a preposterous notion on its face.

Mayor Hiremath and his Council majority are singularly responsible for proceeding down this road. It’s the wrong path and poorly thought out. It stifles private competition and taxpayers are at risk too.

It’s time for change.
Raised in Southern California, Paul Emmert has always had a special fondness for the American southwest. Prior to moving to Oro Valley in 1997, Paul and his wife lived in Seattle WA, where Paul is presently based as a Captain with a major airline. He began his military flying career in 1979 after earning a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He flew C-130’s as an aircraft commander and instructor, flying tactical airlift missions worldwide. After serving 11 years on active and reserve duty, he began his civilian flying career and earned aircraft type ratings in the Boeing 727, 737, and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. During his tenure as a commercial pilot, Paul has also served in various leadership positions with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) - an internationally recognized labor union representing over 65,000 pilots worldwide. During this time, he participated in several successful collective bargaining agreement negotiations, seniority list integrations, and grievance settlements with airline managements. He currently serves as a member of ALPA’s Airline Merger Committee. Not satisfied with just airline related responsibilities, Paul has also co-owned and and managed a small boutique health club in Oro Valley.

Paul, his wife, and daughter enjoy all the things that Southern Arizona and Oro Valley have to offer. As outdoor enthusiasts, they enjoy traveling and RV camping. Paul is an avid runner and recumbent cyclist, with several full and half marathons to his credit. Paul is devoted to helping disadvantaged youth, raising money each year for Tu Nidito’s cycling Tour de Tucson fund raising campaigns. In whatever spare time remains, he also enjoys photography and radio controlled aircraft flying.

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