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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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It has been 17 years and 107 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

USA Today photo

Andrew Barroway, Anthony LeBlanc Courtesy USA Today

On December 31, 2014 we were greeted with an announcement released by Coyotes Co-Owner, President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc, “Today is an exciting day for the Arizona Coyotes and our great fans. The addition of Andrew Barroway to our ownership group further solidifies the Coyotes long-term future in the Valley. Our entire ownership group is excited about this opportunity to work with Andrew in taking this franchise to the next level. It’s a great day for hockey in Arizona!” Here is the link: http://heatwaved.com/2014/12/31/andrew-barroway-approved-buy-arizona-coyotes/ .

We were told that Andrew Barroway’s purchase made him majority owner of the team holding 51%. The deal was praised as a means of creating financial stability for the team and some of the money would be used to raise payroll. Barroway said, “he and the nine minority owners were committed to infusing $30 million back into the team, with up to $9 million going directly to upgrading the on-ice product through trades and free agency.” As majority owner, Barroway would be the team governor, current governor George Gosbee would be alternate governor, and Anthony LeBlanc would remain as chief executive officer.

Two days later, on January 2, 2015 Craig Morgan of Fox Sports News interviewed Barroway. Here is the link: http://www.foxsports.com/arizona/story/q-a-with-coyotes-majority-owner-andrew-barroway-010215 . Morgan asked Barroway how active he would be as the new owner. Barroway indicated that he planned to be an active owner and would take part in all major decisions regarding the team. Morgan also asked if there would be any major changes and Barroway responded that he didn’t expect any.

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Where’s Waldo?

That was 4 months ago. So where’s Waldo? Er, Andrew Barroway? Sources inside Glendale City Hall indicate that Barroway, as the  majority owner of the team, has not signed the lease management contract. At the very least, that should have occurred after the Board of Governors approved the sale to Barroway on December 31, 2014. Does Barroway’s absence from the team scene and Gila River Arena plus a lease management contract without Barroway’s signature signal trouble with the deal? At the last game of the season the Coyotes distributed their annual book replete with statistics, photos and bios of everyone (except God) including the owners minus any mention or photo of Andrew Barroway. It makes you scratch your head and ask what’s going on.

thDYDNS84PThere’s another Where’s Waldo moment…the failure of the Coyotes to submit a certified financial team audit to the City of Glendale as stipulated in the lease management agreement. It was due September 30, 2014…7 months ago. In anticipation of receiving the audit the city hired Tony Tavares in December of 2014 to perform the city’s audit.

Peter Corbett of the Arizona Republic in an April 17, 2015 article offered some very interesting comments from principals involved. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/04/17/glendale-arizona-coyotes-first-season-audit-drags/25922095/ . He reported that:

  • “Coyotes officials said the reports were late because it was the organization’s first year of operations under the new deal and more complications surfaced when a new majority owner acquired the team at the end of last year.”
  • “The financial-reporting delay has created tensions with Glendale officials who are frustrated that the team has not closed the books on its first season even as the second season wrapped up April 11 on the ice at Gila River Arena.”
  • “Ian Hugh, Glendale vice mayor, said the Coyotes must be held accountable for the money the team is taking from taxpayers. ‘I expect both sides to live up to our agreement,’ he said. ‘Our auditor is still trying to get information from the Coyotes’.”
  • “Jeff Shumway, Coyotes CEO from 2006-09, said that during his tenure the team typically completed its audits by November. The audit reports were public documents that were available to anyone who made a records request to Glendale, he said.”
  • “The current Coyotes arena-management agreement includes language that requires the city to protect the team’s proprietary information.”

What’s so “proprietary” about an audited financial statement of profit and loss submitted to the City of Glendale that shouldn’t be a public record? After all, Glendale’s taxpayers are paying $15 million dollars a year. You would think we would be entitled.

The team’s financial audit wasn’t “proprietary” when Steve Ellman and/or Jerry Moyes owned the team. Did LeBlanc fudge in his public statements about the team’s losses? Who knows? Apparently we, the public, the taxpayers of Glendale and the fans supporting the team with ticket sales, will never know the truth. Former President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” LeBlanc and company want all of us to trust but at the same time they don’t seem to want us to verify.

Questions remain unanswered…Where is Waldo? Where is Andrew Barroway and where is the certified team financial audit? There are answers but we are not getting them.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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 17 years and 100 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

shopping cart 2Broken windows remain a problem in so many Glendale neighborhoods, especially in south Glendale. There are many “Broken Window Neighborhoods” (BWN) in Glendale but they are especially prevalent in the Ocotillo, Cactus and Yucca council districts.

The Broken Window Theory (BTW) is a result of a 1982 article by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. The Broken Window Theory states that signs of disorder, like graffiti, dirty streets, overgrown weeds, abandoned shopping carts, illegal dumping in vacant lots, etc., leads to social disorder…not just petty crimes but eventually more serious crimes such as robbery, burglary and murder. The authors of BTW offered that one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares and ignoring little problems creates a sense of irreversible decline that leads people to abandon the community (neighborhood) or to stay away.

A case in point is a Broken Window Neighborhood in the Ocotillo district in the area of 70th Avenue and Sierra Vista Avenue. The people who care in that neighborhood are frustrated and angry beyond belief. Over 6 months ago they contacted their council representative, Jamie Aldama. His response was to send them thank you notes for their concern and a promise that he would take action.graffitti Since then the neighbors contend that he has been AWOL. Their contention to Aldama, in part, remains to this day, Not only are things still not resolved, (some of them you claimed to already be working on prior to meeting with us), and some situations have become worse.  I have spoken with many City employees regarding the outreach you claimed to have been involved in to solve several of these issues.  No one has reported any interactions from you and/or representatives of your office.”

They feel it is almost a full time job for them to fight the City to take care of these issues. They recognize that city silence and its consequent inaction is acquiescence and they believe that is the root of the problems they have in their neighborhood.

This is an age old problem but perhaps it is time for this city council to take a fresh look at a cancer that can consume a neighborhood almost overnight.  Here are some initiatives that have been suggested over the years by neighborhood leaders fighting this persistent issue:

  • The action to save a neighborhood must involve all city departments, from the city attorney’s office to zoning. All departments must play a part in a concerted and targeted effort to revitalize a neighborhood.
  • For purposes of code compliance and action, legal or otherwise, a special zoning designation of “Broken Window Neighborhood” (BWN) must be created.
  • Within the BWN specific, targeted code enforcement and legal action will be allowed.
  • Any businesses within a BWN should be audited to make sure that they have a business license and are paying the required sales tax.
  • Multi-family within a BWN would be required to have its management take the city’s Crime Free program that targets apartment complexes.
  • Code compliance often falls back on rhetoric that they do not have the legal authority to enforce certain actions. It’s time they were tasked with creating innovative actions that would not only allow them to do so but would actively require such action.
  • City attorneys often do not take code infractions to court claiming that the case is not strong enough and therefore not winnable. It’s time that these attorneys worried less about their win-loss records in court and realized that making a bad actor go to court to defend irresponsible actions are in and of itself a deterrent to future bad actions.
  • Some specific codes will need review and reform. One that comes to mind is window coverage of a business. Have you ever seen a convenience store where nearly every inch of front window space is covered with ads? Not only is it a safety issue but it is one that contributes to visual blight. What about a business that puts 20 or 30 items out in front of its store? An example is a tire repair store with racks of tires in front of the business. More visual blight.
  • Codes relating to residences also need review but more importantly code compliance needs to be aggressively enforcing existent codes. If they achieve compliance without going to court, that is wonderful. But if the resident does not comply, the situation should not be allowed to fester for months and months.
  • While code compliance is working within the BWN, it requires the public works department to repair broken sidewalks, make sure all existent street lights are functioning properly, adding further lighting where necessary and applying resurfacing of streets where applicable. The fire department should be checking all fire hydrants in the BWN neighborhood and offering fire hazard education and smoke detectors. Even the police department has a role to play by intense patrolling of the BWN and enforcing even the most minor violation. Streets and transportation can check to see if there are streets that are more prone to speeding and following up with actions to decrease the activity. The water department can outreach neighbors whose yards are less than spectacular and work with them to install an irrigation system or to desert landscape. Sanitation can educate about the appropriate time to place trash receptacles on the street and can enforce existent law when some put out loose trash the day after it has been collected for the month. How about putting out a dumpster to encourage neighbors to clean up their properties and remove visual blight? What about using the Community Action Program to assist low income or seniors to get a house painted or a yard desert landscaped? When you start to think about it, there is so much that could be done that is not being done.
  • Other departments, such as media and communications need to join in the effort by preparing and distributing media that alert and educate a neighborhood to the action about to begin. The councilmember should hold a district meeting in the designated neighborhood to offer contact information and to educate. Even parks and recreation has a part to play by creating neighborhood activities for children that brings families together, introduces neighbor to neighbor and also becomes another catalyst for action and education. The point is, every city department has a role to play, working together to attack one BWN at a time.
  • All of the above should be applicable only within a specific, newly created zoning designation of Broken Window Neighborhood.

shopping cartThe first BWN should be small as a pilot project to see what works and what doesn’t work. Make no mistake, so many of these neighborhoods have been ignored for years. Attacking a long festering problem is like guerilla warfare. It’s tough, brutal and takes no prisoners but many of these neighborhoods need the city’s attention with new and innovative strategies. They need city departments that say “I can” rather than “I can’t because…”.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Glendale created a model program that is emulated by other cities? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Glendale generated positive publicity about itself rather than having the world focus exclusively on its financial stresses? You bet it would.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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 17 years and 96 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On March 25, 2015 the Glendale Star ran a story on the elimination of the city’s General Fund debt payable to the city’s Enterprise Funds (water, sewer, sanitation and landfill). Here is the link:  http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_4fd7f4dc-d181-11e4-b56b-93c81bbb5cc5.html .

In an effort to buy additional time to secure a buyer for the NHL Coyotes who would pledge to keep the team at Glendale’s Gila River Arena, a previous city council approved borrowing $15 million from the city’s water and sewer funds, $40 million from its landfill fund and $5 million from its sanitation fund. The revenue was used to pay the NHL to manage the arena for two years while the process of finding a team buyer continued. At the time council also approved a repayment plan, using General Fund revenue to pay the Enterprise Funds back with interest. It was a solemn pledge and a commitment that the previous council never anticipated future councils would renege upon. The unthinkable is about to occur. At a recent workshop following the recommendation of Tom Duensing, Glendale’s Finance Director, a majority of council plans to do exactly that.

When Councilmember Tolmachoff asked what would be the consequences of such an action, Duensing replied, “You could do it a number of ways: you could do rate increases, you could defer maintenance, you could cut your operating costs.”

There were questions unasked that still demand answers:

  • While this action might make the general fund balance sheet look better, what impact does it have on the balance sheets of water and sewer, the landfill, and sanitation?
  • By recording the former “loan” to a fund transfer, doesn’t it reduce the assets on the balance sheets of those funds?
  • How does the reduction in financial assets impact the bond ratings of the water and sewer fund and the landfill fund?  While the proposed action may assist in the General Fund bond rating, doesn’t the converse action harm the Enterprise Funds ratings?
  • Doesn’t this action reduce the funds available to water and sewer for maintaining and upgrading the water and sewer systems? Duensing in his answer to Tolmachoff implies that it does.
  • If the Council approves this action, doesn’t that mean that a water and sewer rate increase will be necessary and supported by the Council? If a rate increase occurs, it looks like we can lay the evaporation of a pledge to repay the Enterprise Funds at the feet of retaining the hockey team as an anchor tenant at the city owned arena.

Duensing’s proposal is moving the pea underneath a different shell. It’s a magical, accounting trick designed to satisfy the rating agencies. The problem is that it sets precedent. Who, whether it’s a developer, a citizen or a company doing business with the city, will trust in the city’s word if it is willing to renege on paying a debt? If a water, sewer or landfill rate increase is proposed and adopted by this city council citizens will have every right to be angry for it will be driven by a broken promise to reimburse the Enterprise Funds. Glendale rate payers of the water, sewer, landfill and sanitation services will have every right to assume that any proposed rate increase is driven by money borrowed from these funds and paid to the NHL to run the arena for two years.

Duensing appears obsessed on building up the city’s reserve funds (contingency). While building the city’s reserve back up is necessary and critical his solutions are to keep the sales tax increase permanent and now, to raise Glendale’s property tax rate by 2%. He appears to have only two tricks in his bag.

Sterling Fluharty of the Glendale Star in writing an article entitled City decides not to cut taxes, in its online edition of April 6, 2015, reports, Glendale City Council had few objections two weeks ago when the acting city manager and financial director announced they were abandoning plans to lower the sales tax rate and making preparations for raising property taxes. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_b6c5e5e6-dc99-11e4-8961-4fb07a583a64.html#.VSNVhK1dGb8.twitter .

Last December Duensing was still pitching lowering the sales tax rate. Fluharty in his article states,  Duensing published a five-year financial forecast that month (December, 2014) that assumed the council would approve annual reductions, making the sales tax rate 2.85 percent in 2015-16, 2.825 percent in 2016-17, 2.8 percent in 2017-18 and 2.775 percent in 2019-20.” What information does senior management and the council have (not shared publicly) to cause them to not only reject a reduction in the sales tax rate but now to increase the property tax rate?

Since the new council was seated in January, 2012, adopting Duensing’s recommendations it has:

  • Made the increase of 2.9% as a temporary sales tax increase permanent
  • Approved a management agreement paying IceArizona $15 million a year
  • Will approve construction of a parking garage at Westgate for $46 million + over 3 years
  • Will approve a 2% increase in property taxes

Where is the council commitment to cut expenses and to live within the city’s means? It seems their only solutions to solving the city’s ongoing financial problems is to keep the increased sales tax rate and now to raise the property tax rate.

Over the next 3 years the General Fund will have to absorb an additional $46 million plus as brand new debt. That figure does not include the ongoing debt for the baseball park, the Westgate Media Center and is parking garage, the Westgate Convention Center, the annual $15 million payment to IceArizona and the construction debt on the arena and the Public Safety Training Facility…as well as other debt I have failed to include.

During council’s discussion of a property tax increse while the sales tax increase does not diminish Mayor Weiers said, “At least we’re giving our citizens something, certainly in the right direction, anyway.” What exactly are the Mayor and council giving to its citizens? A screwing? It appears the right direction for Mayor Weiers and this city council is to raise yet another tax.

©Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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 17 years and 95 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

For 4 years, from the time Jerry Moyes declared the team bankrupt in 2009 until the end of 2012, as a councilmember I was part of the high drama surrounding the Arizona Coyotes and the arena, a city owned facility. Suitors to buy the team came and went with regularity. The city paid the NHL $25 million a year to manage the arena while everyone desperately hunted for a new owner. In 2013 a new city council was seated and promptly approved the current management agreement of $15 million dollars paid annually to IceArizona, the new owners of the team. If truth be told that $15 million goes directly to Fortress Lending and the NHL as interest payments on the IceArizona’s purchase debt owed by LeBlanc, Gosbee, and et.al. If you remember the cash raised for the team purchase was approximately $45 million. The rest of the purchase price of $170 million was strictly debt. Today Andrew Barroway is the majority owner (51%) of the team.

A recent article on March 30, 2015, by Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal entitled Could the Phoenix Suns, city build a new arena at Phoenix Convention Center site? It is intriguing to say the least. Sunnucks reports on speculation about where the Phoenix Suns will be playing its games in the future, “ ‘US Airways Center is owned by the city of Phoenix and the Suns lease doesn’t expire until 2029’, according to city spokeswoman Deb Ostreicher. The Suns could look to the city for renovations of the downtown arena or could look for a new home.” Sunnucks goes on to say, “One scenario being talked about — at least in real estate and downtown Phoenix circles — is a new arena being built where the current South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center is on Jefferson and Third streets. That is the oldest convention center building and is a block away from the Suns’ current arena.”

Granted all of this is extremely speculative but there is the possibility of the Phoenix owned US Airways Center becoming vacant if Phoenix and the Suns decide to build a new arena at the site of the south building of the convention center. Take it a step further and it is not outside the realm of possibility that Phoenix would attempt to lure the Arizona Coyotes to a newly renovated and vacant US Airways Center with better sight lines for hockey patrons.

Think about it. Since purchasing the team two years ago IceArizona has consistently lost money due to many factors. One of those factors has always been fan complaints about trekking out to Glendale for the games. Many in the East Valley as well as from other locations such as Tucson simply choose not to make the trip. A more centrally located arena in downtown Phoenix has a certain appeal for many.

One wonders if it appeals to Barroway. Today, 2015, the Glendale arena is 12 years old, having opened in December of 2003. In another 3 years, by 2018, the arena will be 15 years old and the Coyotes will have the available option of moving due to the opt out clause any time thereafter. One of Barroway’s imperatives is to keep the team viable over the next 3 years until some major decisions are made.

In 8 years, by 2023, the arena will be 20 years old and in need of major renovation and upgrades. In the meantime, if Barroway and the City of Phoenix worked out a deal regarding US Airways it could solve one persistent fan complaint by relocating to a more convenient and centralized location. It would certainly fulfill the owners’ mantra of “here to stay”…just not in Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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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