Desert Discovery Center opponent disputes Derouin statement of facts

I am one of the editors of the group NoDDC. Between our blog, mailing list and Facebook page we have almost 1,500 followers, and receive almost 10,000 engagements per week. We are the leading voice in opposition to the DDC.

Editor’s note: this commentary is in response to “Opinion: Desert Discovery Center facts misrepresented by opponents

The people who follow our sites do not want this government-funded project in the Preserve without a binding public vote prior to the 2016 Council election. The future of the DDC is currently the hands of Jim Lane, Virgina Korte, Suzanne Klapp and Linda Milhaven who have an unbroken track record of financial and legislative support for this unpopular project.

Jason Alexander

Jason Alexander

The voters do not trust Mr. Lane, Ms. Korte, Ms. Klapp and Ms. Milhaven’s track record. There has been no evidence or movement to contradict their voting records.

Mr. Lane has recently claimed to champion the people having voting control over this project, but he is disingenuous. He is promoting a discussion of a Charter amendment that he knows will never get to a vote, having said himself that there can be “no actionable vote” on this.

A little know fact, however, is that the DDC project can be terminated at any time by the city. From Page 4 of the city contract:

“3.2 TERMINATION Termination for Convenience: City reserves the right to terminate this Contract or any part of this Contract for its sole convenience with thirty (30) days’ written notice.”

James Derouin, you are completely wrong about every single one of your points. The DDC is commercial, it will be huge, it was never intended at the Gateway in this monstrous form, the planning process has been a series of covert meetings by campaign donors, and it is 100 percent against the Preserve ordinance.

The only fact that we can both agree on is that you are a campaign donor to Mr. Lane, Ms. Korte, and Ms. Klapp. I’ve seen all the campaign finance reports, including the many donations from the board members of DDCS to Mr. Lane, Ms. Korte and Ms. Klapp. Screenshots and the reports are available on our blog.

Your notion that it won’t be big or commercial is completely wrong. The DDC will be bigger than the Grand Canyon Visitors Center.

Verbatim from DDCS Statement of Qualifications, which got them their no-bid city contract:

“The DDC will require funding sources beyond admission fees, activity/event charges and memberships in order to reach financial self-sufficiency. Proceeds from food service retail, facility rentals and other sources, plus donations and grants all are vital for success. These must be allowed at the DDC,” page 13 of the document states.

“Like virtually every other similar facility, in order to be self-sufficient the DDC must offer a mixture of revenue-generating options to supplement entrance fees, memberships and donations. These include retail (a DDC shop and retail website), food service (a cafe or restaurant serving alcohol), rental space for meetings and special events including catering and other revenue-generating facilities and activities, such as fee-based educational offerings for children and adults,” page 14.

Verbatim from the DDCS contract with the city:

“The DDC will provide transformative experiences and appropriate amenities for residents and tourists. The DDC will be the focal point for local and global experiences, education, research and dialogue about human interaction with and sustainability in arid environments,” page 25 states.

“A global education and research destination attraction requires a comprehensive marketing strategy and clear brand recognition well in advance of opening. This task will begin in step 203 and expand here – building upon the vision, and pursued in parallel with the visitor experience, programming, exhibitry, and conceptual facility design.”

Both DDCS’ Statement of Qualifications and the city’s contract say it will be a global, commercial facility. Its impossible to reconcile these facts with any of the assertions the DDC supporters make about it not being commercial. Contracts don’t lie.

There have been no public changes to the DDC plan, no withdrawal of any proposal, and no new plan being prepared. That would be impossible and contradict the repeated statements from Sam Campana and Christine Kovach, Virginia Korte and Linda Milhaven that “we don’t know what its going to be yet.” Ms. Milhaven just reiterated this point in the Independent on August 16.

The discussion and planning was not open and transparent. It was driven by a select group of special-interests.

  1. 2013-15: DDCS\DDCAG worked with  City staff to tell them they believe the law allowed them to build Desert Disneyland
  2. DDC Advocated Group incorporated Jan 2015
  3. March 24: Council directs staff to issue RFQ
  4. May 13 2015: City staff created an RFQ and released it in
  5. July 16 2015 DDCSI is only bidder for RFQ.

Mr. Lane stated on July 12 at the MMR Community meeting that he is “not interested in it being off the Preserve.” (7:26). Mr. Lane and Ms. Korte need it in the Preserve, because they plan to build the DDC with the Preserve surplus, rather than approach the voters with a bond they will never approve.

We’ve had a Realtor analyze, and conclude, that the DDC will bring a $50 million loss to Wingate Ranch’s property values.

Mr. Lane has been censoring his Facebook page of opposing comments to this project.

Most of the DDC support is from special interests, or people like Mr. Derouin with clear allegiances to Mr. Lane, Ms. Korte and Ms. Klapp. We’ve uncovered professional public relations firms behind many of the pro-DDC voices purporting to be citizens.

Finally, I ask you to review my article in the Independent from earlier this summer, that addresses all the well-worn falsifications being told by the DDC supporters.

The Preserve Ordinance clearly prohibits the commercial DDC. The ordinance has been cited so many times by so many people, the unwillingness of Mr. Lane, Ms. Korte, Ms. Klapp and Ms. Milhaven to just unplug this project and recognize the rule of law is the greatest insult behind this whole thing.

The DDC is the epitome of bad government under Lane’s administration, it is the zoning exemption to end all zoning exemptions, a socialist giveaway of government funds, and corrupt from donations to Lane’s campaign from DDCS Board Members.

Editor’s note: Mr. Alexander is a resident of Scottsdale

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