No Winners In Rodeo Suit


What a waste. Payson’s own little not-so-Pleasant Valley war appears settled — with news that the Rodeo Preservation Alliance has agreed to drop its lawsuit and let the Pro-Rodeo Committee take over the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

That’s good. Finally, something that makes sense.

We never did understand the logic behind the Alliance’s lawsuit — seemed more like a grudge than a plan. The Alliance was formed to run the 2009 rodeo on a one-year contract. It had the option of first right of refusal for future shows should the event owner, the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, decide it still did not have the manpower or expertise to produce subsequent events.

After some back and forth, the Chamber and Alliance boards decided they did not want to continue the relationship they had developed. Neither board liked what the other board was saying, which is the way some relationships go.

The Chamber notified the Alliance it would seek other buyers. No response from the Alliance.

The Chamber subsequently sold the rights of the Annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo to the venerable Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee for $20,000.

End of story, right? No way, hoss.

The Alliance then tried an unfriendly takeover of the rodeo by dropping the word “Annual” from the name and telling the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the rodeo sanctioning body, they in fact were the producers of the Payson rodeo.

When the Pro-Rodeo Committee objected, the Alliance sued the Committee and the Chamber for “wrongful interference with business relations.” Word on the street is that this “it’s not worth anything event” has cost those involved between $25,000 and $50,000 in attorney fees.

Fortunately, mediation this weekend resulted in an agreement that will give the Pro-Rodeo Committee ownership of the event.

One can only speculate as to the motive of the Alliance. But whether it had to do with hurt feelings, bruised egos or a scorned stock contractor, the result was a needless, ugly, wasteful fight. Only the lawyers win such pointless struggles — certainly it did the rodeo and this community no good.

A press release sent out by all the parties involved called the solution a “win-win” — we call it a “lose-lose.” The only winners were the attorneys, neither the Alliance, the Committee or the Chamber came out unscathed.

But at least it’s over now — so we can get back to the big job at hand, saving the best small-town rodeo in America. So it’s time for everyone to get behind the Pro-Rodeo Committee, an organization that has donated thousands of dollars to community causes since its inception.

Buy a ticket or two to the Pro-Rodeo Committee’s Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo this weekend. Support the Committee during the August rodeo with your attendance and sponsorship.

We’ve wasted enough time. Let’s all roll up our sleeves and pitch in.

Forest restoration: Do it right

Sometimes, you actually can do well by doing right. So please pay close attention to the latest study on the economic benefits of returning this region’s overgrown forests to healthy densities.

Turns out, spending $1 billion to thin some 1.7 million acres will not only protect forested communities, but will also generate 15,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in economic activity, according to a recent study by an economist from Northern Arizona University.

You can add another $1 billion to the benefits’ tally if you include the value of sharply reducing the threat of devastating wildfires — like the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire which inflicted $300 million in direct and indirect costs. Add another $1 billion or so if we’re far-sighted enough to offer reasonable contracts to a new generation of power plants and sawmills that can make money on a steady supply of the small trees now strangling our forests.

So: invest $1 billion, reap another $3 billion in benefits — while also boosting the region’s job base by about 10 percent for the next five or 10 years.

Makes so much sense, we’re hard-pressed to figure out how the federal government will screw it up.

Oh well, sorry. That’s harsh.

So we hope that the Forest Service will move as quickly as the behemoth agency is capable of to embrace these recommendations and start the massive work necessary to dig us out of a hole it took us a century to create.

Mostly, this will restore the forest. But it doesn’t hurt that it will also rehabilitate the region’s economy.


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