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Too Good to Be True: Scottsdale and Privatization in the 1980s

by Paul Redvers Brown

Regular price$16.99 Sale price$19.99
ISBN: 9798755737678

Publication Date: 07 March 2020 | ISBN: 979-8614428273 | Pages: 306 | Hardcover 

This is the personal story of a very public project. In 1984, a respected Boston environmental engineering firm took on the industry’s biggest engineer-constructors to win the first municipal water treatment plant privatization project in the country. The City of Scottsdale, Arizona had embarked on the "untested" financing approach to take advantage of tax incentives that arrived with the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Because it was the first of its kind, and the water industry saw many more to come, this small project captured nationwide attention. As the City raced to build the treatment facilities needed to take long-awaited water supply from the Colorado River, a team of aggressive long shots took on the world of infrastructure development and finance. It’s a roller-coaster ride from big achievements to colossal blunders, seen through the eyes of an ambitious MBA, in way over his head. Ultimately, it's a cautionary tale for young professionals that there’s a lot to be gained by taking risks and even more to be learned from accepting defeat.


"Readers interested in large-scale construction and resource management projects will absorb Brown's thorough overview of the Scottsdale project, the wins and the setbacks, and the intricacies of tax rates and sales documents. Professionals in any field can apply Brown's information to a general business context, the enormous number of steps involved in corporate negotiations, and all the ways things can go wrong. This is useful and often gripping reading for MBAs and executives as well as urban planners and officials." — BookLife

"Brown finds high drama in unexpected places in a book that's part memoir and part corporate history. . . It was the middle of the Reagan decade, and he took on a central role in the development of a water treatment plant in Scottsdale, Arizona. He recounts the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of the years long process of getting the project approved, financed, and built, which was far more complex than uninitiated readers may expect. Those who are interested in the nitty-gritty of public-private partnerships will surely find much of interest here, as will those who are curious about life in the corporate trenches of the era. . . ." — Kirkus Review

"Brown's clear descriptions of the privatization process, from bidding to completion, should make satisfying reading for MBAs and corporate planners. . . . It's Brown's depiction of high-stakes business culture, however, that opens the book to a wider audience. Meetings take place in posh restaurants or established watering holes, which Brown describes with relish: 'Paul Shank's French Quarter restaurant and lounge attracted headliners from across the country.... [making] the French Quarter one of the classiest spots in the Valley -- the kind of class served up by cocktail waitresses in strapless corsets and black pantyhose.' " — BlueInk Review

"Brown does an excellent job of capturing atmospheres, so that you can almost feel the excitement or anxiety or disappointment of any given moment in the tale, even if the next chapter redirects you into a history of Scottsdale's settlement or a loving ode to a particular restaurant's zabaglione. Above all, this is an interesting primary-source look at 1980s American corporate culture, a historical moment in time captured in the course of one story that offers a clear and thoughtful perspective on the era's mood, its mistakes, and its lessons." - Catherine Langrehr, IndieReader

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