The Worst Public Affairs Campaign Ever
Rotten Tomatoes is a popular television and movie ratings site. Millions of people participate and rely upon it when considering their entertainment choices. It’s a good thing it doesn’t rate former Arizona Attorneys General, consultants and public affairs efforts in Maricopa, Arizona. The review wouldn’t arise a rotten green tomato or tipped over popcorn bucket. It would most likely transform the ratings service into a scratch and sniff variety in order to properly capture the stench.
But first, let’s remind readers of the issue. It’s in Maricopa, a pleasant community south of the Phoenix metropolitan area in Pinal County, where a group of successful entrepreneurs has proposed a private motorsports park. Think of it like a golf country club, but for cars. Proposed for a plot of land well outside the city’s core not a single person had expressed opposition for the better part of its year-long application. In fact, the opposite was true. Community and business leaders expressed support and excitement about the use because it meant economic diversification and more tourism.
Then, one day, former Attorney General Grant Woods showed up spinning tales of how bad the project known as the Apex Motor Club would be for Maricopa. He did so at the Planning Commission which summarily rejected him by a unanimous vote. As did Mayor Christian Price and the entire City Council thereafter. Woods would never say, despite repeated questions, who was paying him to be there. It is widely believed to be a rival project.
Contemporaneous to the Woods’ tripe anonymous advertisements started to appear online on local cable channels. A Facebook page appeared too, all attempting to recruit what they clearly thought would be mindless Maricopans. One of the ads even invoked the possibility of “heart attacks” if the Club were allowed to proceed. That’s not a typo. Some consultant actually got paid to suggest that people would die if the proposal were approved. Other posts include citations of new companies and jobs being announced elsewhere in Arizona, asking why can’t Maricopa do such things rather automotive country clubs. As if they are mutually exclusive? As if that is not happening? It seems everyone can walk and chew gum except the gadflies and goofs of the opposition. A new level of hyperbole these items would represent if not for Woods’ hot air.
Public affairs is generally acknowledged as a practice whereby lobbying and political campaign tactics are used to get government to do something, or not. Judging from the miniscule “Likes” on its Facebook page and the effort’s categorical rejection by Maricopa officials there’s little doubt Rotten Tomatoes would rank it as one of the worst if not the worst public affairs campaigns in recent Arizona memory, were it not to win Worst Comedy.
But that’s not where the inanity of their effort ends. If the proposed Attesa track in Casa Grande is responsible for the blundering barrage, did whoever minds that store not understand it doesn’t have all the entitlements it needs, leaving the Casa Grande project without clothes, naked in the desert, subject to the same treatment it paid others?
All of this may be a moot point, as interrupting the public support in Maricopa is a fool’s mission and the approval Apex did receive was both responsible and restrictive. For example, no public event can occur at the private club without a special event permit. But at least we have the spectacle of a crash, not of the automotive variety, but a public affairs one that won’t soon be forgotten.