VSV Candidate Chat – The Challengers


What a great evening with the challenging City Council Candidates. Each candidate had plenty to share on topics such as doing business in Simi Valley, the Shop Simi Valley First program, City Council salary and benefits and more. I’m pleased to present the recorded playback of our live chat.

For more information about the candidates, see the following links:

In our 90 minutes of time, we did NOT cover all the topics I was hoping to touch on. Hopefully these candidates will return to cover some additional topics before the election.

My sincere thanks to the participants and for those of you who listened in. More to come, I hope!

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16 thoughts on “VSV Candidate Chat – The Challengers

  1. Just for a follow-up to the discussion…while I was listening to the answers to the question about the Shop Simi Valley question I got on the “Shop Simi” site; to my suprise my retail business was not listed on the site. I have been in business in Simi Valley for 4 1/2 years! That is money well spent? Mitch to follow up on your belief that additional business is directed by this site is a joke; take a look at how many businesses have reviews on the site, I couldn’t find ONE in hundreds of businesses I looked at. To think this site is helpful is a joke, and for you to waffle on the effectivness of Shop Simi is a joke! This is nothing more than a waste of money!! I am ashamed to think that our current council has voted for such nonsense, and if we look further my guess is the money is going to a campaign supporter.


  2. I listened in last night and it was really great, thanks Mike!

    I found it really hypocritical of the candidates to condemn the current council for not being accommodating enough to businesses that want to open up in Simi. Which, this may or may not be true, i haven’t opened a business here but would like to in the next 5 years and would like the process to be as easy as possible.

    That attitude did not carry over to the issue of the McDonalds on Galena, most of the candidates condemned the council for letting them go ahead with building it there. If the council had restricted the building of the restaurant wouldn’t that have been the exact thing the candidates were complaining about the current council in the previous topic? Not being easy to open business in Simi?

    I got a lot out of this and it really helped me put some ideas and people to the names on signs i been seeing around Simi.



  3. This is how Bob Huber started “Shop Simi Valley” in 1981. He had the City Council approve spending $665 to paint “Shop by Bus in Beautiful Simi Valley” on municipal buses, because he said according to The Enterprise “the subliminal message on the buses would eventually lead to more money being spent in Simi Valley.” It failed. When first proposed, even though people suggested it, Huber refused to let the Chamber be involved. He insisted on spending only taxpayer funds on it. Marketing 2.0, indeed.


  4. J McNulty,

    LOL – Attack Huber for a $665 expenditure almost 30 years ago because it didn’t include the chamber. How do you know it failed? Did you hire a professional telemarketing firm in another town to measure the awareness lift? I don’t remember the buses but I sure remember the bumper stickers. The bumper stickers made me think twice about leaving Simi for electronics, furniture and even the dentist. In fact I saw those Huber shop Simi Valley bumper stickers on cars well into the 90s. You’ve got your facts wrong if you think it wasn’t highly effective for $665 (based on your number).

    The new program is colluded with the chamber in it. Shop Simi Valley First appears to use the chamber members primarily in the directory. Many businesses are unfairly missing. Many in the new program website do nothing to generate sales taxes in Simi Valley?

    This is a city funded program and there are several sales tax generating businesses that are not a part of the SVCC. The program should focus on the highest NAICS classified businesses in Simi Valley generating local sales tax revenue. Many of the businesses in the Shop Simi Valley business directory generate little or zero sales tax.

    Voters must demand a detailed expenditure accounting on the current program? Do you agree with transparency in our government? You called out Bob on $665, isn’t it fair to see the city check register on this one?

    The best solution would be for the city to give the current chamber a one time grant (already spent) to get the wheels of shop Simi Valley rolling and turn the whole project over to them and wash their hands of it. I think this is similar to what Bob successfully accomplished. This is the model for modern web 2.0 highly effective SEO marketing strategy.


  5. I remember the bumper stickers. That’s when we had “What’s Doin Days” at Sycamore Plaza before Fishman built the “Pepto-biz-mall”. I think “What’s Doin Days” was the precursor to the Trade Fair, which later became the Street Fair which can now be moved inside the vacant Farmers Insurance building.

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane and thanks for proving my point about Bob’s leadership advantages for the future of the Shop Simi First Campaign. It’s obvious that his ability to evolve, learn and improve has manifested itself in a very evident cutting edge campaign web platform.



  6. The Shop Simi Valley First website does not consist of SVCC members only. Any business with a Simi Valley Business Tax Certificate can register on the site. The website interfaces a database of valid certificate IDs to verify that you are registered with the city. This allows the business owner to choose his/her appropriate business category(s) but also requires him/her to be proactive and register. If there is a significant SVCC presence on the website, it’s because the Chamber promotes the program with their members regularly, so their members have all eagerly registered.

    The website was also produced in 2005, when YouTube was just getting off the ground, Facebook was still run out of a Harvard dorm room and “social media” wasn’t yet a popular buzz word. I know this because I developed the first iteration of the website. It has since switched vendors and been redesigned.

    I don’t disagree with the notion of making it more modern, but the technology changes rapidly. It will become outdated just as quickly if it is redesigned. I’m not sure I could hold that against them.

    Lastly, I really don’t think $100K would be a significant annual investment if there were some way to measure the program’s effectiveness. I think it’s good the Chamber and City work together on the program because both entities benefit. For me, it really is a matter of not knowing what you’re getting for the price.


  7. The Simi Shopping promotion has been great for the store where I work. The city has done a great job up here at the mall to promote us. It makes a huge difference according to our geuests. They could easily go elsewhere.


  8. I had a customer as he was paying specifically say he was glad to be shopping in my store because it was leaving the sales tax here for the city to use for streets and police, instead of in Thousand Oaks or in the Valley. The message is resonating.


  9. I’m comfortable with you speaking candidly about the site design Ted. The current design was handled by a different vendor. Even still, if the design were mine, I’m comfortable with criticism when its constructive.

    I didn’t know you could now register without a tax certificate. That must be one of the new features of the latest design. When I developed the first site, that was a requirement and we tied it into a database of active tax certificates.

    Ted, how receptive do you think the city might be if I volunteered to revamp the SSVF website at no cost?


  10. This whole discussion centers on the “Ask what your City can do for your business,” instead of what any real business should be thinking regarding the Web, “What should I be doing for my business?” Shop Simi Valley First is a branding campaign to remind residents about why they should shop here. That’s exactly what it does; the website is merely a supplementary element of it.

    Using newfangled Web techniques to drive shoppers to certain stores, well, stores should be investing in their own websites, SEO, etc. You can try all you want to talk about a SSVF website to compete with the overload of information available out there, but you’re spinning your wheels.

    Ted, you do not live on our planet if you believe that Jane Simi will decide to eat at Red’s because she visited the prettiest SSVF website in the universe, with Web 2.0 bells, whistles and video all over it. She goes there because she already did in the past and likes it; a friend recommended it; she saw a print ad; or she has a coupon. Likewise if any of the above told her to go eat at Los Toros in Chatsworth. But if she learned from a SSVF ad in the Acorn that eating at Red’s helps fund the Police Department, hopefully she eats at Red’s. It’s not that complicated.


  11. Ted, I agree with Joe’s comment above on the purpose of the SSVF program. I think the only reason the researchers should talk to businesses is to get some sense of how effective the program is on raising local sales. I don’t believe it should be considered a marketing program for each and every business in Simi Valley.

    And if SSVF is a program that the electorate believes needs improvement, it should be discussed in this election. There’s no reason why our current leadership needs to be replaced in order for the program to be modified or enhanced. Maybe we just need new or additional people on the advisory board that manages the program. Why wait?


  12. Ted,

    So explain precisely who is going to write individual blog posts for the SSVF website for every business in Simi Valley all the time for things like this:

    “That did not cost Lost Canyons a dime. You want to see the daily traffic I get for article I have written on the dog park, Free movies at Regal etc?”

    That’s hand-to-hand combat for individual businesses (or sites such as the dog park). That’s pretty much a full-time job, maybe two or three, to write blog posts for every business in Simi Valley all the time. That’s not what SSVF is, really. I know it’s a broad concept, and you’re more into posting a blog and doing some SEO diddling and seeing something immediately. Branding takes time, and approaching marketing from multiple channels. The Internet is not the tell-all, end-all solution, regardless what you think.

    It is sounding more and more like you have sour grapes that you did not get hired as part of the SSVF campaign. Maybe you can volunteer your services! You know, give your time for your community.

    And E-Verify is not a “debacle.” All I see is a political opportunist. If it was a problem, someone would have spoken before the Council when it was on their agenda in April.


  13. Ted,

    Blog Talk Radio forces me to break for advertising. For continuity, I didn’t want to do that. I do make the recorded MP3 available for direct download and I’ve got the iTunes Podcast link in the right column on every page load. Consider it a work in progress.

    Regarding invites to advisory committees, I plan to make my presence known and ask for an invite rather than wait for one. It’s probably a natural assumption that a critic of the program wouldn’t want to be invited to serve on the committee. I think it would be hugely beneficial for me and would help me better understand the ultimate goal of the program. I’ve been operating under my own assumptions for the last several years.


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