Column: Welcome to Wal-Mart, AZ (formerly Kingman)
After several months of labor, weeks of worry, days of trepidation, the Kingman City Council this week gave birth to a baby Rattlesnake, when Mayor Salem signed the intergovernmental ransom ... er ... agreement with ADOT to secure our future.
The little cutie looks to be in fine health (the Rattlesnake, not Salem), so let's all just sit back now and watch our baby grow. What's that? The bill? It's HOW much?!!!! Unholy lord! Send it back, quick. Oh yea. The ran ... agreement with ADOT. The contract. Hmmm.
Alright, we can figure this out. Let's see, the city needs to raise roughly $22 million ... no, it'll be closer to $25 million I bet in the end, so let's use that. We'll send Council on a retreat to Bagdad (Yes, the Arizona one. Did I spell it right?) if there's any left over. Okay, I think there's like $2 million in the impact fees account, give or take. Council chose to keep impact fees in place, so no developer will probably sue the city, so that leaves $23 million.
Now think, Council. Is there anything that's not being used, something you could sell to the highest bidder. I got it! Councilman Kerry Deering's seat. He isn't using it. He hasn't shown up for a meeting lately. Quietly solicit bids, but be careful. You saw what happened to that Blagova guy. Call up Jim Rhodes or a Dunton, or better yet, give Wango Tango Bill Nugent a ring. I bet he'd fork over $2 million for it easy. So now we're to $21M. Wow. We got a ways to go, don't we?
No, stop it. We can do this. Think. I got it! Fill your open city jobs with retired folks in the community. They pay the city to be, say, Public Works assistant manager for a week or so. They can boss people around, decide which holes on the city streets will be filled that week, maybe you could let them drive a city truck or something. I know more than a few older guys who would jump at the chance. Let's say you can raise maybe $50,000 a year with that ... shoot! That's not gonna get us much.
Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to do what every other organization in town does when money needs to be raised. Car wash! Yup, you heard me. I know I would swing by the Taco Bell on Stockton if I saw Councilwoman Janet Watson and our beloved mayor elbow deep in suds. Still, though, $20 million and some change might be impossible to raise from car washes and spaghetti dinners. No, we need a quick fix.
I GOT IT!!!! Okay, hear me out before you pooh-pooh my idea. Now, every business in the world is struggling in this economy (President Obama says so) ... all except one. Wal-Mart. Yup. People are still going to Wal-Mart. They're still spending money there, the rich and the poor, the young and the old. It seems that everyone is going to Wal-Mart.
Get it? Everyone is going to Wal-Mart. So ... if we were Wal-Mart, then ... c'mon ... then everyone would come here. Bingo! We've found the way to pay for our Rattlesnake. We simply sell the naming rights of our town to Wal-Mart. Heck, owners of sports teams do it all the time. It's not forever. For $25 million, Kingman will become "Wal-Mart" for, say, five years. That's even a bit low, I would think. You might get them to pay double that by naming a few roads after Sam Walton or his kids. Maybe waive their impact fees on a Mormon temple.
We would be more than happy here at the newspaper to change our name to The Wal-Mart Daily Miner. Just think what the Chamber of Commerce could do with that promotion: "Come to Wal-Mart, Arizona. Always." We could station greeters at the edges of town, maybe have people pay their water bills at the McDonald's in Wal-Mart, have city staff wear blue aprons. We have to embrace this thing to make it work, don't you see? We have to become Wal-Mart. "Good morning, welcome to the Wal-Mart Kmart." It's got a ring.
Sure, some folks here, the ones who've lived here long enough to despise all "newcomers," will cry and moan about "ruining our history," but you have to stay strong. You have to convince them that the money we all will make is worth a few years of inconvenience. Lewis Kingman won't care. He's dead. We'll still keep the park in his name.
Think about it. If you're driving and you see Wal-Mart, Ariz., up ahead, you're gonna stop. You'll stop, and you'll spend your money here. You'll fill up the car with stuff you don't really need, then you'll leave. But you will want to come back. You'll have to come back. You'll say you're not going back to Wal-Mart, but you'll return again and again. And we'll be here waiting, day or night, to serve you.
Look. The city has a beautiful baby Rattlesnake. Our little guy will be the pride of the town, but he's going to be expensive. Besides the many businesses on Stockton and Andy Devine which will certainly close as our Rattlesnake grows, the bill for his birth has to be paid. We just can't let him die. C'mon, say it with me.
"Welcome to Wal-Mart, Arizona. How can we help you today."