If someone comes before the Scottsdale City Council and while making public remarks flat out misleads (to put it mildly) the community’s governing body, can they be trusted further? Should they? In matters big or small? In matters with the City Council or staff?
That’s a fair question to ask in the case of Mr. Joseph Zemaitis. He heads a FOR-PROFIT Valley swimming organization known as Neptune that is making a disingenuous yet voracious attempt to take lane time away from local, NON-PROFIT organizations that have embodied Scottsdale, nearly from its inception.
Most people would concur that the mission of public swimming pools around Scottsdale is to nurture youth and provide another recreational option for all Scottsdale residents, many of whom might not be able to afford other options. Scottsdale has done a great job of this, for many years, not only with its public pools but with all of its impressive parks and recreation programs and facilities. After all, not everyone can afford to swim or enjoy private facilities like those at The Village Health Club(s) or numerous country clubs around the city. And while it is nice to generate some revenue for the use of these facilities their primary purpose is not to serve as a cash cow for they serve a far greater good.
Yet, Zemaitis, not happy enough with his arrangement at The Village Health Clubs is now seeking to poach time away from non-profit organizations for his for-profit operation. That’s just not right. What’s next? Union Pacific taking over the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park?
Knowing this tough sell, Zemaitis has invoked threats such as bringing in the Goldwater Institute. For what? To help a for-profit group with far fewer Scottsdale residents than the other local organizations? To line his pockets at the expense of Scottsdale families? Nice try.
But that’s why Zemaitis is trying so hard to ingratiate himself to decision-makers in Scottsdale. On October 2nd he stood before Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale City Council talking about how he “lived” in Scottsdale. No he doesn’t. He’s close but when it comes to voting in city council elections he does that for Councilman Jim Waring.
We don’t know if Pinocchio was a swimmer. Probably not. His construction might have made that a little problematic. And so is the case with Zemaitis. It’s not the city’s problem that his for-profit organization is not better able to construct deals with The Village, country clubs or other private sector partners. But it does become the city’s problem, and duty to say no, when Zemaitis’s appetite means harming some of the city’s historic non-profit partners like the Scottsdale Aquatic Club and others. Indeed, the Scottsdale Aquatic Club is one of the city’s great secret gems, not just nurturing the community’s youth through its impressive programs but in fact training several who became future Olympians, making Scottsdale proud.
Here’s a novel idea for Zemaitis. Go build your own pools for your for-profit business. Don’t play games trying to set up some sham non-profit to get around city rules and regulations. Go do what batting cages do. Or gymnastics teams. Or many others do throughout the Scottsdale Airpark and the city for necessary facilities. Use your own money for your own purposes. Maybe even build in Phoenix or elsewhere. After all, that’s where you live and “elsewhere” is where most of your members live too. It ain’t Scottsdale.