Tucson Chamber Wants Image Change: What Will Become of the ‘Old Pueblo’?

TucsonBreaking news on the front page of today’s Arizona Daily Star is a 20″ story about dumping Tucson’s “Old Pueblo” nickname. Leaders of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce think Tucson needs a new nickname that reflects our bustling, business friendly city– not a “dusty, old desert town”. From the Star

“Tucson has a choice,” the chamber’s board Chairman Kurt Wadlington and CEO Mike Varney wrote in the program for the chairman’s lunch.

“We can remain the ‘Old Pueblo’ or we can do whatever is necessary to propel ourselves forward to grow, prosper and compete with other cities and regions for the bounties of free enterprise,” the duo wrote. ” ‘The Old Pueblo’ is great for history buffs, but a new mind-set and attitude toward prosperity is long overdue.”

Most of the story  is dedicated to marketing and business types making the case for dumping the “Old Pueblo” because it’s an “archaic marketing motto”. More on the nickname controversy after the jump.

At the end of the story, the Star solicited opinions from Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Rothschild,the only pro-Pueblo voice quoted in the article, says the “The Old Pueblo is part of who we are”– kind of like thosehistoric homes that the business community also wants to get rid of. Huckelberry– in true bureaucratic form– says the old and new can co-exist

“We can embrace the historic nickname that has served us for more than a century while still energetically moving forward to promote prosperity and change,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “I am not particularly concerned about what we call ourselves. I am more interested in how we perform as a community.

“Old Pueblo, New Pueblo, Real Pueblo, Science Pueblo. Who cares as long as we are moving to expand our employment base, increase regional wage rates and respect our environment?”

TucsonI am not generally one to agree with the Chamber of Commerce or Huckelberry, but on the “Old Pueblo”… eh? In the past, I have complained about the old Metropolitan Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (now Visit Tucson) selling Tucson as cowboys, cacti, and sunsets and ignoring the art, music, culture, and progressive values our city offers. I’ve also suggested dumping our archaic logo– which, thank God, no longer has lasso around the mountains and the saguaro– but it’s still pretty stodgy and still has a saguaro.

I kind of don’t care about the “Old Pueblo” nickname, but I don’t support hiring a marketing crew and spending thousands of dollars to rebrand the city, and the idea of a community contest, as suggested in the article, is stupid. According to the Star, that’s how we got “The Sunshine Factory” as a nickname in the 1980s. Personally, my favorite nickname is “The Baked Apple”; it was often used by Tucson Weekly editorial writers in the 1980s.

I see Tucson as a progressive, quirky, artistic, urban hipster kind of place– which is why I like the “Baked Apple” as a nickname. (Seriously, think about it. Aren’t we sort of the opposite of the Big Apple? We’re not slick and flashy. We are dusty and hot– and proud of it. 100 days over 100– bring it on!)

But even with Tucson’s hipster edge, it is also as a place where history and culture are embraced– which is why I agree with Huckelberry.

The Star article ends with some past Tucson nicknames and slogans that have come and gone. The “Old Pueblo” outlasted all of the marketing-slogan nicknames. I think that is a message for the Chamber of Commerce.

8 thoughts on “Tucson Chamber Wants Image Change: What Will Become of the ‘Old Pueblo’?”

  1. They haven’t been debunked a all. The average comp level is the cost. These are enormously expensive pensions and taxpayers have to bear them.

  2. Thucydides, you’ve been drinking the Sal DiCiccio tea . . his ‘numbers’ re: City of PHX employees have been debunked time and time again. You do yourself no favors by posting inaccurate and skewed-to-your-own-end ‘studies’.

  3. Response to Movingforwardaz. In quality measures, only excellence counts. Phoenix is at 14 percent, the lowest excellence rating of any major city in Maricopa county. Same survey you are quoting. There is another word for the levels of service you are quoting: mediocrity. And, they are significantly short of being 100 prrcent mediocre.

    Response to Pamela. When you over compensate 14,000 employees by 20,000 per year, thats 280 million dollars. If tgey are overcompensated by 50,000 prr year, thats 700 million. Thats where all the money is. Think of the benefits to the community of 700 million well organized dollars.

  4. Are you kidding? Misrepresenting the facts to support RW rhetoric doesn’t fly here. This is not the comments section of AzCentral.com.

    Some numbers from the City of Phoenix survey (2012) to which you refer:

    “Overall, Phoenix is a good place to live.” 93% strongly agree/agree (Up from 91% in 2010)

    Overall satisfaction with city performance 87% very satisfied/satisfied (Up from 83% in 2010)

    Quality of life 69% excellent/good (Up from 64% in 2010)


  5. The Arizona Legislature withheld millions of dollars from Tucson and Pima County. That’s a fact. When your budget is arbitrarily reduced by that amount, it hurts… kinda like a slow starvation.

    I love how right-wingers deflect direct attacks on Republican lawmakers by beating up on workers. Can you spell “misplaced blame”?

  6. Cash starved cities? The typical employee moving from a state job to a city job receives a 40% raise. The City of Phoenix compensation package averages over $100,000 per employee for the entire city. You could run an excellent city with half that compensation package, literally. And, City of Phoenix does not run an excellent city. Only 14% (Behavioral Research Center) of Phoenix citizens give City of Phoenix services an Excellent rating.

  7. The surest way to kill a bad product is to advertise it. Only 7% of parents (National Research Center) rate Tucson an excellent place to raise a child. Since Tucson policy is set by Democrats, Tucson is a Democrat product. Phoenix isn’t much better (12%) but it has suburbs where 35 to 40 percent of parents rate their neighborhood an excellent place to raise a child. Tucson suffers from having a major research university. All such universities plague their local communities because professors like their governments fat and expanding. Professors are also curiously siloed, quite uninformed about what it takes to make government effective.

    When you drive into a city, you can immediate judge the effectiveness of a city government by examining the pavement as you drive. If city government is focused on the common good, it maintains its pavement fairly close to engineering standards, knowing that to fall behind on those standards is like borrowing from a loan shark at 24%. Tucson’s pavement condition is horrible, especially in its minority and low income communities. Drive down 12th avenue from 44th street to Irvington. What an embarrassment.

    You can also determine the quality of city government by how long the graffiti stays up. Graffiti doesn’t make nightfall in well run cities. Some Graffiti on the south side of Tucson has been up for years.

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