One Ortega Disgraces Scottsdale: Will the Other Get Penalized as a Result?

Photo Credit: Twitter/ @KeInfoshop

For not actually hosting the game, the city of Scottsdale had an incredible amount of national attention last week. Between our fantastic restaurants and nightlife, the convergence of the WM Open, and the general infrastructure to entertain tens of thousands of tourists, the global media complex descended on our fair city. It was brilliant, save for one black eye…

You probably saw the news: Old Town business operator Gilbert Ortega Jr., whose business is known by the large “Gilbert Ortega” sign, got a whole lot of flack for being a racist idiot towards Native American performers outside of his business. The fact that his business SPECIALIZES IN SELLING NATIVE AMERICAN GOODS was an added head-turning “what the hell?” moment. This moment went viral and at least as of the time of writing was the singular black eye to what otherwise has been an excellent execution of Super Bowl festivities.

We shouldn’t need to state this, but just to start out the conversation: this was horrible, stupid, and an utter embarrassment. This was not only incredibly mean-spirited and unnecessary, this put a stain on our city as a whole. It’s one thing to sabotage yourself, but when you make our city look backward at an international level, that is something else completely. And that’s leaving aside the fact that you are mocking people WHOSE GOODS YOU SELL.

Back in 2008 there was a significant family fight over the business after the passing of the namesake and patriarch. In what seems to have been a contentious battle, Gilbert Jr. seems to have made some deals outside of the spirit of the desire of the will, and other family members quite presciently questioned his ability to run the business due to drug and alcohol problems. It’s unfortunate that said alleged malfeasance wasn’t dealt with previously. Gilbert Jr. has singlehandedly stained the family name and tanked the family business with one stupid action.

But the other story is the story of another Ortega…Mayor David Ortega.

We should make it clear that they are not related at all, so any name association is without merit. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. There is a reason why you don’t hear about people who share names of villains, well known felons, and other egregious folks running for office: how you feel about a name matters when you see it on a ballot. For those who don’t pay much attention, it matters.

Also, consider how the name Ortega combined with the city of Scottsdale is represented in search results at the moment, and may be for a while. If one were merely to search for “ortega scottsdale”, one would have a very negative search experience. And it’s not unreasonable to think that that is one way that Scottsdale voters would do their research.

There is plenty of time left to go, and a year from now this incident will be more in the rear view from a search engine optimization perspective, since recency bias does play into search results. But the Ortega name just took a very big hit in Scottsdale recently, and there will likely be some degree of bleed-over into the non-racist Ortega.