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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 18 years and 49 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The City of Glendale received 3 bids to manage its arena. The bids were from AEG Facilities, Comcast Spectacor and SMG. All are extremely reputable, large national companies, experienced in operating venues throughout the country. After senior management reviewed all 3 bids it recommended AEG to the city council. All of the discussion with council was done in executive session and the public is not privy to those discussions. On January 2, 2016 in its executive session council approved AEG and directed staff to negotiate a final contract over the next 60 days.

It is a very positive development. AEG can add another premier venue to its portfolio that is sure to benefit Glendale when AEG negotiates packages of venues with performers. It had previous experience operating the Gila River Arena from 2006 – 2009 and during that period it acquired some major performers: one that comes to mind is Bruce Springstein. It manages over 120 facilities worldwide and the majority is located in the United States.

What does that mean for the Coyotes? I, and many others, remain hopeful that AEG and IceArizona can negotiate a deal that benefits both. That still is the best option for all parties: the city, IceArizona and AEG. Anthony LeBlanc, an owner of IceArizona and its spokesperson, continues to play poker when discussing the situation with such recent comments as, “The good news is that all of the discussions we have had have been pretty open as have other organizations — be it the city of Phoenix or Tempe or Arizona State. Everybody has been pretty open that we have had discussions with and they have all been positive (www.arizonasports.com, Rodney Haas).” If this is his attempt to raise the ante with Glendale or AEG it doesn’t seem to be working. One has only to look back upon his previous history of blustery statements that were found to be less than forthcoming.

If the Coyotes are serious about moving there are still major hurdles to overcome. A new facility would not be available for at least 3 years. No matter whether is it Phoenix, Tempe or Timbuktu, pesky voters will have to be swayed to support the construction of yet another sports venue. Voters are becoming more discerning and will question the value of diverting precious tax revenue away from community needs and to another subsidized sports facility. In today’s day and age, it is not an easy sell as it once was.

Then there is the issue of location…location…location. Larry Feiner, a Coyotes fan, recently tweeted the results of an informal poll he did about the difficulty of the commute. His responses were split right down the middle, 50/50. Those fans who live in the east valley consider the commute to Glendale a hassle. Those fans who live in the west valley consider the commute to the east valley a hassle. The question for the Coyotes is will the ticket holders they pick up from the east valley offset the losses of west valley fans? All of the good will created among west valley fans could be lost. That is a question only the Coyotes will be able to answer. For the past 10 years the Coyotes have had a home in the west valley and it has served them and their fans well. It is a wonderful facility build exclusively for hockey. It is not to be dismissed lightly in a pique of anger because the city is no longer subsidizing losses to the tune of $15 million dollars a year.

I remain positive and believe that a successful accommodation can be achieved between all parties. Can the Coyotes?

©Joyce Clark,2016  

  FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 18 years and 47 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On January 29, 2016 the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran a story about Jerry Moyes entitled When a CEO Borrows on his stock by Ted Mann, Robbie Whelan and Theo Francis. For those who don’t know or may have forgotten, Jerry Moyes is the founder, chairman and former CEO of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the United States. Moyes is also owner of the charter airline Swift Air and a marina at Lake Powell. Moyes is the controlling owner of SME Steel Contractors Inc., a steel erector company based in Utah. He was a majority owner of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League before he filed bankruptcy and the team was sold to the NHL in 2009, and the Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League. Moyes is also a limited partner in the Arizona Diamondbacks, and was once a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns.

Moyes is a Glendale resident best known for his bankruptcy filing of the NHL Coyotes in a failed attempt to sell the team to Jim Balsillie, one time CEO of Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry cell phone. As a result of these manoeuvrings the team was eventually sold to the NHL and then the NHL sold the team to IceArizona resulting in a $15 million dollar a year management fee paid by the City of Glendale until recently.

The story relates the fact that Moyes has borrowed heavily against his shares of Swift Trucking. Demands for additional loan collateral were made and three times Swift’s board has taken action beneficial to Moyes in dealing with his loans. The board policy had been that senior directors could pledge no more than 20% of their stock for margin loans. In 2013, the cap was lowered to 15% as of July 2014 and then lowered once again to 10% as of July 2015.  The board then amended the 10% limit from taking effect until the end of 2016. In 2015 Swift stock lost 52% of its value and as the stock value he had pledged as collateral declined he needed to pledge even more of his stock as further collateral.

However, his use of his stock as collateral exceeded the board’s limits. Other investors including the Teamsters’ Union are concerned with the board’s actions and accused Mr. Moyes of, “using Swift as his personal bank.”

According to the WSJ, “Swifts’ board is unusually small, just six members. To analysts of corporate governance, boards size matters: While too-large boards can be unwieldy, too-small boards can turn into echo chambers and foster an eagerness among directors to get along in the face of tough decisions.” It goes on to say, “the Phoenix-based company has just four independent directors, as defined by New York Stock Exchange rules. And one of those deemed independent, Mr. Dozer, spent years helping run a business that was partly owned by Mr. Moyes, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mr. Dozer was the baseball team’s president from 1995 until 2006, and Mr. Moyes was a minority owner from 1996 until last year.” Hmm…It looks as if you own a company you can use it as your personal bank just a long as your close friends on a very small board approve.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 18 years and 46 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Light rail appears to be the most divisive issue in Glendale’s history. It appears to be more divisive than the Coyotes or the casino. If you look at the mini-poll to the left of this column you will see the respondents to the question are split 50/50. There is no clear public consensus. This will be an issue that city council will have to decide. No matter which way they go it is a sure bet that half of Glendale will be unhappy with their decision. For them it is a no-win proposition. Knowing that, they are charged with making the best decision possible for the city based upon knowledge they may have not generally available to the public. No matter how individual councilmembers decide it is incumbent upon each and every one of them to publicly share their rationale for their decision.

Valley Metro hosted a Glendale light rail meeting at the Glendale Women’s Club on January 20, 2016. A lot of Glendale residents attended (at least 100) signaling that there is a great deal of interest in the issue. When 100 people or more attend a Glendale public meeting it makes the city council sit up and take notice. For an apathetic Glendale demographic that is a lot of people.

Valley Metro is planning on scheduling further community meetings to explain their recommended concept and to gain further community input. The issue is scheduled to go before the Glendale city council in late March or early April for a vote. If city council rejects the recommended alternative Valley Metro has indicated it will continue to work on an acceptable solution with Glendale.

At the Glendale city council workshop meeting of January 19, 2016 council took up most of what could be considered light weight issues. How about the Jazz Festival and chickens? Council seems to be leaning on allowing any Glendale resident to have chickens. Currently the policy is to allow the fowl in agricultural zoning districts. The state legislature has a bill before it to allow chickens anywhere in any municipality. If it should pass it will become a moot point no longer requiring a council decision. Council has called for a series of public meetings to determine whether the fowl are welcome throughout Glendale. I can see it now… Arrowhead residents flocking to obtain chickens.

Another pressing issue of relative non-importance was council discussion of bringing back the Jazz Festival. It was cut out of the budget about 4 years ago when council was looking to pare down the budget and it learned that of all of the major festivals Glendale hosts; it was the one with the least attendance. It will cost a little over $200,000 to produce and earns about $60,000 in revenue to offset its costs. In terms of priorities and how $140,000 (net expense) could be used this doesn’t constitute a major priority. Perhaps that $140,000 could be used to restore some library hours or reinstitute some recreational programs for Glendale’s children. Surely there is a better use for the funds.

It appears that Chavira and Aldama are ready to jump into the festival business big time. In anticipation of council’s approval of the Jazz Festival resurrection Chavira and Aldama have taken it upon themselves to seek out sponsors for the event. Be wary. Remember Chavira’s and Aldama’s last festival fling? Dia de Muertos? Each contributed $2500 of their council budgets (taxpayer money) to support the event which turned out to be highly political by allowing various Democrat candidates to have booths at the event…a real no-no. To this day there has never been an audit of the event even though there have been repeated requests for it.

Add to that peccadillo Chavira’s involvement in a Hispanic Firefighters Association event that ended up costing said association a lot of money resulting in a move to boot Chavira from the organization. City Council should develop policy guidelines to address councilmember involvement in the city’s event business.

Lastly council, quickly and without a smidgeon of discussion, nominated Cactus Councilmember Ian Hugh to another term as Glendale’s Vice Mayor. He was unanimously approved by council at its last formal meeting of January 26, 2016. Congratulations to Vice Mayor Hugh. He’s quiet and steady and will continue to serve well as Glendale’s Vice Mayor in 2016.

It was a far different scenario from last year when Chavira and Aldama backed the now recalled councilmember Gary Sherwood for the position. It demonstrates how quickly political dynamics can change. From a gang of three there is now a gang of two: Chavira and Aldama. The two are leaderless and now constitute a minority…an uncomfortable position for both of them. It shows the enormous amount of influence Sherwood had over his two buddies.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 18 years and 42 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

In reviewing documents related to the casino I came across an issue about which I had previously not paid much attention. In the transcript of the December 7, 2015 oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of State of Arizona vs. Tohono O’odham Nation the judge asked both sides a series of questions. Here is the link:  http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/media/2015/12/07/13-16517 .

At issue is the ability of the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON) to place all of its permitted casinos on unincorporated land (county islands) in Maricopa County. Pratik Shah, attorney for the Gila River Indian Community, said on page 4, “under their (TON) reading, they could simply move all four casinos to Phoenix because Phoenix is 50 miles outside of Tucson.”

On page 8 of the transcript Seth Waxman, attorney for the Tohono O’odham Nation (TON) stated, “Mr. Shah is quite correct that in general what the compact says is, the nation may game on any of its Indian lands including lands covered by Section 2719.”

Further evidence of the TO’s very likely intent to locate all of its casinos in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area can be found in the March 16, 2012 deposition of Daniel Quigley, a TON attorney who has represented either the TON or its entity, the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise, almost continuously since 1993. His deposition was taken with regard to one of the numerous lawsuits. In this case, it was the State of Arizona vs. Tohono O’odham Nation.

A small tutorial on lawsuits is in order. Attorneys for either side can file motions asking that something be included or excluded or for a continuance. Prior to the actual trial there is a discovery phase. Each side can request documents and take preliminary testimony from potential witnesses in the form of a deposition. The attorney representing the side that requested the deposition does the questioning.

Mr. Quigley negotiated the state gaming compact on behalf of the TO. Since 2003 he has been general counsel of their gaming enterprise entity. When he joined the law firm of Rushing Lopez & Lizardi, PLLC., the TON followed him and is currently a client of this firm. He is also the attorney for Rainer Resources, a wholly owned TO entity. It was Rainer Resources which bought the land in Glendale in 2002 and held it until the TO made their 2009 public announcement of their plans to develop a casino in Glendale.

Mr. Quigley grudgingly gave up information and often claimed attorney-client privilege. However, some of his answers were very telling. On page 19 he is asked if the TON owns other properties. Based upon the following line of questions it appears that the TON already does own additional properties. The 64 dollar questions are where? On county islands? How many? That is information the TON did not and will not give up.

  1. Q. “Other than what I’ve already asked you about,  are there any other fee lands that the Nation has an interest in?”
  2. A. “Yes.”
  3. Q. “What are those?”
  4. A. “I am aware of the property that we’ve been referring to as the West Valley Resort property in this litigation.”
  5. Q. “Anything else?”
  6. A. “I’m sure there are, but I’m not familiar with them.”
  7. Q. “How can you be sure there are if you don’t know specifically what properties they are?”
  8. A. “My best guess is that the Nation owns additional real estate beyond those.”
  9. Q. “And what do you base that on?”
  10. A. “I believe in the past, I’ve seen records of fee ownership of land.”
  11. Q. “How many additional pieces of real estate, approximately, do you believe the Nation owns?”
  12. A. “I don’t know.”
  13. Q. “How many have you seen records of?”
  14. A. “I don’t know.”
  15. Q. “Can you give me an approximate number?”
  16. A. “A couple.”

Another line of questioning on page 65 deals with the Tohono O’odham never specifically mentioning the possibility of acquiring additional land in the Phoenix metro area to be put into trust for the purpose of gaming during the time that voter approval was sought for the state compact.

  1. Q. “Because everybody knew that casinos had to be located on the Indian lands of the tribe, and the tribe had specific Indian lands in the vicinity of Case Grande, Florence, and Gila Bend. And I’m asking you, when you referred to each of those three areas, did you mean to be referring specifically to Indian lands that the tribe already had in trust?”
  2. A. “No.”
  3. Q. “How would somebody involved in those conversations have known that you were referring to something more broadly than those specific lands that the Nation already had in trust?”
  4. A. “Because the vast majority of the people who were involved in those conversations would have understood the ability to acquire additional Indian lands.”
  5. Q. “And how would they have understood about the ability to acquire additional Indian lands?”
  6. A. “Most of them would have read the IGRA (federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).”
  7. Q. “But that doesn’t—the IGRA doesn’t give anybody any specific right to acquire additional Indian lands. Right?”
  8. A. “No, it does not.”

On pages 87-89 the line of questioning corroborates the TON’s belief that it can locate additional casinos in the Phoenix metro area. Mr. Quigley asserts the same belief that can be found in the above reference to the judge’s questioning of the TON’s attorney Seth Waxman in December of 2015.

  1. Q. “Is it correct that under the Nation’s interpretation of the Gila Bend Act (IGRA) and the compact, it could, if it so chose, and if this made economic sense, close all of its existing facilities and locate four casinos in the Phoenix market?”
  2. A. “With the exception of the limitation on a fourth facility, if the Nation operates four facilities, the compact has no limitations on where the Nation’s Indian lands it can place its facilities other than the mile-and-a-half restriction.”
  3. Q. “So if – if, for example, the Nation were to acquire under the Gila Bend Act (IGRA) and have taken into trust parcels of land that were – it’s understood if they were taken into trust, they would be on unincorporated land on county islands or directly across the municipal limits of Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale, that would be acceptable under the Nation’s view of what the compact limitation are with respect to the location of facilities?”
  4. A. “What do you mean when you say ‘that would be acceptable’?”
  5. Q. That would be legally permissible. It’s the Nation’s position that that would be allowed by the compact?”
  6. A. “If the Nation acquired lands under the Gila Bend Act (IGRA) in the locations that you specified, and if those lands were taken into trust, and if those lands were eligible for gaming, then the compact, I believe would allow the Nation to conduct gaming on those lands, assuming they met the requirements of the mile and a half between facilities and the met the requirements for the fourth facility.”

Clearly both attorneys representing the Tohono O’odham Nation, Waxman and Quigley, hold the legal opinion and have counseled their client such that the TO can establish additional casinos in the Phoenix metro area. We know that the TO owns additional land in the area. We don’t know how much or where. It may just be a matter of time. If the TO prevail against the state in court and is granted a liquor license at the Glendale casino, katy bar the door…more casinos will come.

Did you know that there are approximately 200 parcels of unincorporated land (county islands) in the Phoenix metro area? The TO used a shell company to buy the land in Glendale and they could do the same to acquire additional parcels. Are you ready to have a casino near your neighborhood in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert or Mesa? It may happen.

The consequences of such action would be catastrophic. It would provide incentive needed by the state legislature to open gaming to non-Tribal entities. If they were to do so the state would receive sales tax, property tax, etc. from non-Tribal casinos. It makes the prospect very attractive at a time when revenues often times do not cover all of the state’s needs. Currently there is no tax per se paid by the Tribal casinos. Under the existent compact there is what is defined as “tribal contributions.” They are distributed as follows:

  • 12% distributed by the Tribes to the cities, towns and counties of their choosing for community services and public safety programs for local governments
  • The remaining 88% of the Tribes’ total annual contribution goes to the Arizona Benefits Fund on a quarterly basis and provides funding for the Arizona Department of Gaming and the Office of Problem Gambling. The remaining funds are distributed as follows:
  • 56% to instructional improvement for schools
  • 8% to trauma and emergency care
  • 8% to Arizona tourism
  • 8% to wildlife conservation

It would blow up the existent voter approved state Gaming Compact of 2002 and would make it very difficult to negotiate and to seek voter approval on a new compact as voters would be reluctant to rely on any public statements about its provisions. After all, it was sold to the voters with the promise that “there would be no new casinos in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.” As Mr. Quigley stated on page 177 of his deposition, “I do not think it would be a fair statement to say that one could rely on any statements in there (referring to the 2002 voter information guide) as necessarily being correct.” If the TO has a bridge to sell, would you buy it?

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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