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home : opinions : columns November 20, 2014

4/11/2013 5:00:00 PM
TIMES EDITORIAL: DeConinck's decisions are good for his management pals, not so good for Blythe residents

The battle at the past two city council meetings over how the city should spend its $20,000 promotional fund was as comical as it was disappointing.

Theoretically, the council set up the fund to promote the city and get people to visit Blythe and spend money in town, therefore increasing the city's tax base and general fund. Councilman Joey DeConinck, who's best friends with City Manager Dave Lane and Police Chief Steve Smith, and acts as though he was elected to represent their interests instead of the people who voted for him, vehemently spoke out against paying for bands for the Blythe River Blues Festival, which is a fundraiser for the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce and the Joe Wine Recreation Center.

DeConinck argued forcefully that he did not endorse putting the $20,000 from the city's budget into a promotional fund and that any extra money the city might have should go toward the city's deficit.

At first glance it would seem that DeConinck has a good point. Unfortunately, in DeConinck's almost eight years on the Blythe City Council, he has wasted so much money on senseless projects that it would take 20 years of paying bands for future blues festivals to keep up with him.

Let's start with the $50,000 sign downtown that works sometimes but oftentimes doesn't work. The $50,000 just went to the cost of the sign, not the countless repairs made to it over the past couple of years. How did this sign benefit the residents and businesses of Blythe? No one on the freeway can see it. The only one it seems to benefit is Lane, who seems to always be tooting his own horn on it.

Next let's look at the nearly $800,000 being spent on a study to determine the feasibility of moving the Riviera Drive, I-10 off-ramp to build a $5 million Welcome Center that no one has the money to build. In DeConinck's financial world, it doesn't matter that the city has no money to build a Welcome Center, or to even move the off-ramp if that came to be.

DeConinck believes that with an $800,000 study on the shelves of City Hall, the city will be ready to build it in the future when the money magically appears.

It will be "shovel-ready" and sitting on the shelf, waiting for construction to start when money becomes available, according to DeConinck.

But we can only wonder if the Environmental Impact Report will still be valid when and if, and that's a big if, the city ever lands $5 million to pay for it. With every government agency in America having to cut back, who has $5 million to give to Blythe for an unneeded rest stop?

DeConinck's vision of people stopping and taking a picture of themselves at the Welcome to California sign does not benefit the residents and businesses in Blythe. It's a couple of miles from the closest gas station, hotel and restaurants and anyone who has traveled Hobsonway from the Riviera Drive off-ramp to Intake is in for a jolting and bumpy ride seeing the route is more potholes than road.

It's the same with DeFrain Boulevard, a well-traveled artery to Palo Verde College and the Mesa, where many snowbirds winter and golf. The Welcome Center study money originally was to pay for expanding and repaving DeFrain, part of the vision of a previous council and management that saw benefits in providing a safe passageway to an expanding community. DeFrain might be even worse than Hobsonway and we wouldn't advise anyone use it unless they want to risk damage to their vehicle.

But back to the promotional fund that DeConinck is so negative on, it's interesting that just minutes after voting against paying the bands, he voted to spend more than $6,000 of the promotional fund's money for his buddy Smith's police department to pay for a graffiti-tracking program, where police can now take a picture of local graffiti using a GPS camera and track graffiti vandals across the state. This after the department received an extra $200,000 in this year's budget.

He also voted to use the money for the fireworks show and the CWA's Farmer's Ball, after his wife spoke up in favor of it during the council meeting.

So it seems that DeConinck does not have a moral problem spending the $20,000 promotional fund - he just has a problem spending it on projects or personalities he disagrees with.

And seeing as he represents the city manager and police chief when he votes, that means the voters who elected him will always get the short shrift.

Let's hope that in November, DeConinck decides not to run and we can begin to start picking up the pieces of the disaster he has created in his eight years on the city council.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ lol lol

Should have known u were of the young generation - u have no idea how to start running things - otherwise u would not be taking your money to another town. The money spent on the sign won't even come close to opening a movie theater. Like was said earlier - start running the show and come up with some actual solutions instead of youthful wishes. My comment was deleted because I mentioned Standage tire service who locked down the walmart show with a lawsuit. The farmers aren't the ones holding back Blythe - it's the business people who are afraid of competition. Speaking of business - step up and start a business - show all us baby boomers how it's done. U probably dont know what a baby boomer is, u r probably a baby boomer, LOL, LOL

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @lol lol

You comment was (deleted) the reason why Blythe does not grow is because the farmers do not want to see growth. Also, the money that is being spent on the sign that money can be used to buy the movie theater they don't need me spending money at albertsons to be able to build a water park or movie theater. I think the so called "baby boomers" are screwing everything up for the young generation and it is time for the young generation to step up and start running the show.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ lol, lol

FYI - Blythe used to be bigger than Havasu - probably before u were born, the reason why it grew was because of the London Bridge, AKA attraction. Yuma was smaller than Blythe as well - the reason why it grew was because of Walmart - AKA shopping. Why can't we get an attraction and shopping? Because of people like u who take revenue to another city - their revenue numbers go up and they get more investors - hello? Can u say "keep your $$ local and get business revenue up in Blythe" - maybe then we can attract investors to build an attraction (water park, moviehouse) and shopping. BLYTHE NEEDS TO RID US OF THE BUSINESS PEOPLE WHO ARE AFRAID OF BLYTHE GROWING TO THE SIZE OF YUMA. (deleted) That also goes to all the other business in Blythe who sabotaged the Walmart deal - we know who u are and if you go belly up - u can thank yourselves. If lol is soooo smart - why don't u come up with the right idea to get investors to build here, instead of saying "I'll continue to sabotage Blythe by going out of town".

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @Someone who cares

Although I agree with you about kids needing something to do, and it has been said many times, I have to say I don't believe our city manager gives one tiny hoot about them. They don't belong to his social group at the club. However, I also believe that city councils are not in the business of loaning money. That is for banks. We don't have any surplus funds. Besides, although we "hear" about us being in the "black", this is far from true, and Mr. Lane should be ashamed of himself for promoting this inaccuracy. I'll go with you all the way about the need of our kids.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: lol lol

Are you trying to compare Blythe to Lake Havasu?? That is the stupidest comment I have ever heard is Blythe going to get the london bridge next? The sign is stupid and a waste of money. The reason people do not shop in Blythe is because the prices are too high. I just spent 115 dollars at winco and have a whole pantry full of food. When albertsons can beat wincos prices than people will stay home. Yes you can say well you just spent all that gas money but you know what while I was out of town I also got to watch a movie and did a little shopping at the mall. When Blythe steps up to the plate and lowers costs and quits being greedy and builds a movie theater than I will shop in Blythe but until than I will continue to go out of town and have fun!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: From Someone Who Cares

Let me tell you this! Blythe needs the Farmers Ball or the Western Dance the chamber puts on. Instead of funding the scholarships, CWA Farmers Ball should be to raise money for promoting Blythe. The young adults need somewhere to go. CWA can borrow from the City fund, and pay back what was awarded to build the fund back up. Blues Festival should concur and anyone else who needs to borrow for the events to build our community. Some profits of the Fireworks show can put towards the fund too. Bring a Mariachi festival and the Hispanics will come. It will be Fun, Fun, and Fun for all. I remember the JC dances and river cruise I used attend and have a blast.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Get Real

How many people would come to Blythe to attend the CWA dance? Very few.
How many people would come to Blythe to attend a Blues Festival? Many, and they will stay the weekend and spend money. CWA has plenty of farmers who can support and attend the dance!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: @@@Buster Webb

The idea of the city helping to advertise Blythe is a good one. Yes, the primary job of the Chamber IS to advertise and promote our city. As has been stated, the council has in the past, helped a good deal. I can't object to their designating a line item for that purpose. As for the idea of a flood of requests coming from organizations like CWA, that will stop when the city reiterates clearly what this line item is for. And the council has to be diligent when selections for funds are made. Unfortunately, the CWA was simply low on cash for a party for themselves. The activity itself has no relationship to advertising Blythe. As to your remarks that PVVT selected the ONE person who spoke against the festival, that is pure nonsense and you know it. That ONE person has joined with Dave Lane in trying to shut Mr. Evans down from the beginning. I have seen the looks of smugness coming from Mr. Joey many times. He should be a bit more adult and disagree with anybody he wants to, but he and his buddy Lane ought to wash their dirty linen in private, rather than in public. It's not too adult, either, to play the blame game so popular in politics these days. Who "started it" is soooooo uncool! If people do unprofessional, vengeful, spiting, or just plain old stupid things, then they should not complain when they are shown by PVVT in public. That's an old, old story, man! Clean up YOUR act rather than complain when somebody shines the light on your motives and actions!

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: @ mike evans

The fact you are trying to bring something different to Blythe and you are putting your own time into it is great and should be recognized. No one is saying that what you are doing is a bad thing. The same can also be said for what the ladies of the CWA do. They also put their time, energy, and money into promoting a major industry in this town and raising awareness of its importance to people of all ages. To have anyone degrade their efforts and saying that scholarships are not as worthy as the rec center obviously does not have their priorities straight. Educating the resident and children of this town to create the future leaders and entrepenuers of this fine community is equally as important. To me both of these events are one and the same. They are both a pay to enter function that are not for the profiting of any one person but are a benefit to the community. I am sorry that we obviously do not see eye to eye about if paying for a band is promoting Blythe. To me it is not and should not be the purpose of the fund. My advice is that you get a head count and start a mailing list of all the out of towners that come to your event to promote next years festival and justify your need for the money. For what you have been given by the city I sure hope you make more than $5k because that would be abreak even. Hope your event is a great success and leads to great things in the future for the community.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Go Mike and Marty

Way to go Mike and Marty. CWA does good things with the funds they raise from the Farmers Ball. However, other organizations do not get funds from the City to help raise funds for their scholarships. City funds should not be spent on this. or an off ramp being moved. The River Blues Festival is for the Chamber, money should be given there. At least the Chamber is trying to promote Blythe the CWA does not.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Pros AND Cons

Theoretically, the council set up the fund to promote the city and get people to visit Blythe and spend money in town - so why not give a little to the CWA - we are a farming community from way back, there are good reasons to promote Blythe as a farming community why not give a little to the grafitti fund to eliminate the blite we all complain about, I for one will be glad to catch the creep who keeps painting my fence! Having said that - there is no good reason NOT to give money to the festival folks too? They ARE promoting Blythe through these concerts and deserve a chunk of money too.

There are also pro's & con's with the welcome center - one one hand town people say we need to build up the river, (water park, shops, dining, gas stations, welcome center) but then on the other hand when the time comes to investing in these very things - everybody gets in an uproar. The building block to getting our river up and fashionable LIKE HAVASU - is to get people to stop at our river. Isn't that what the festival people are trying to do???? Isn't that what DeConnick and Lane are trying to do??? Isn't that what the chamber is doing??? Wake up PVVT - u can do a better job of promoting Blythe as well by staying somewhat neutral on most issues, otherwise u get a reputation for being a "rag". The council does pick favorites and that has to STOP. Also the sign was to generate money by ADVERTISING. MR LANE - IS THE CITY PAYING FOR THE ADVERTISING THEY ARE DOING THERE??

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Mike Evans

For the record, Marty and I are VOLUNTARILY putting in many hours managing this event in partnership with the Blythe Area Chamber of Commerce and the Joe Wine Recreation Center (a city agency) both of which will split the profits. Last year the Blythe River Blues Festival raised $5,000 for the Chamber, which for years received a $35,000 annual subsidy until the city cut them from the budget the same budget cuts that almost forced the closure of the Rec Center. If you know the history of the Transient Occupancy Tax, you would know that its original intent was to be used to promote Blythe but instead the money is being used for general fund expenses. By the city making an investment in the bands, the goal is for the city to recoup its investment and actually have more funds to keep the Rec Center open. As for presenting a budget, the council did receive a budget prior to voting. I passed it along to each member of the council myself. As for advertising out of town, press releases have been sent weekly to newspapers, magazines and other publications in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Riverside, Palm Springs, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Francisco. If anyone from the community would also like to help with volunteering their time it would be much appreciated. This event and future events to come will help bring in additional revenue and promote our beloved town.
Thank you Blythe Citizens.
Blythe City Councilman,
Mike Evans

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Dee Coats

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. Personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: @ @ buster webb

This whole promotional fund is going to turn into a nightmare for the council. I thought that promoting Blythe was a function of the chamber of commerce. Spending money for anybodys bands is a waste of money. That money should be used to promote events not pay for the expenses. Make these groups come in with an advertising plan that shows how the money will be spent (ex.: advertising the event in outlying cities newspapers or radio stations). All the council is wrong on this issue and I happen to agree with Joey that the $20k could have been much better spent on items in town. The counil has set a horrible precedent as to how this money is spent and it will lead to everyone doing anything in this town coming to the council with their hand out. Lastly I find it disturbing that the PVVT singles out the one council member that spoke out against using the money for the blues festival that Mike Evans and the Editor of the PVVT Marty Bachman are heavily involved in. Makes it seem like this article is an act of revenge against Joey. Editorials like this are becoming way to commonplace whenever someone has a spat or disagree with staff at the PVVT.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: @Buster Webb

Waddayah mean - "pay off old debts"? He owes CWA a debt, so he wants to give them $4600 for a fancy ball? Get serious. That money was set up to promote BLYTHE, not socialites.

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