Interview: Geno Martini

Sparks mayor says if it’s done in name of tourism, it’s cool

RN&R: A local merchant told us that he has no problem competing with chains, but having his own officials bring chains in and give them taxpayer money is something else.

Martini: Well, you know, I think what we have to keep in mind here is the tourism we’re trying to develop. I think it’s a big issue. I mean, if Mark, Fore & Strike can bring in a lot of tourists like Scheels is bringing—or will bring—then we’d be willing to do the same thing [for them].

RN&R: You’re putting a burden on a local merchant to come up with the capital to compete with a chain. But the ones you’re giving the money to is the chain, not the local merchant.

Martini: Well, what’s your point?

RN&R: If either of them is deserving of a subsidy, it would be the local merchant.

Martini: Well, like I said again, Dennis, if the local merchant can prove that they—you know, this is a tourism issue here, it’s not just about a merchant. We’re looking to create tourism. Are we not a tourist economy here? And tourism is down. Are we not looking to create tourism?

RN&R: But that’s something that the private sector does for themselves [raise capital]. Why are you giving them taxpayer dollars to do it?

Martini: Well, that’s the way it [the state STAR bonds law] was designed to do and we’re looking to improve tourism.