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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In November of 2000 voters approved the creation of the Tourism and Sports Authority (TSA) with their approval of Proposition 302. The TSA’s name was changed to the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) when it was discovered that it’s acronym was the same as one of the State’s transportation departments.

I thought it time to review the wording of Proposition 302 for exactly what it provides and doesn’t provide, especially with relation to Camelback Ranch, Glendale’s Cactus League Facility for the Dodgers and White Sox. What I discovered is that there is no obligation under Proposition 302 to reimburse Glendale.

The legal boundaries of AZSTA are any county in Arizona with a population of more than two million persons. Currently, it applies only to Maricopa County with a population of over 4 million. Pima County, location of Tucson, currently has a population of slightly over 1 million. AZSTA is an Arizona municipal corporation and is an Arizona tax-levying public improvement district. It has a 30 year lifespan beginning in 2001 and lasting until 2031.

It was specifically established for 4 purposes:

  • to promote tourism in Maricopa County
  • to develop a multipurpose facility in Maricopa County ( also to be used for the Fiesta Bowl; other sports organizations such as soccer, World Cup games and NCAA championship games; and for concerts and trade shows) now known as the University of Phoenix Stadium, host to the NFL Cardinals football franchise
  • to develop and renovate Cactus League baseball spring training facilities in Maricopa County with other governmental partners
  • to develop and improve youth and amateur sports facilities, recreational facilities and other community facilities in Maricopa County

The following is the exact order of priority for the expenditure of revenues collected:

  • The construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium for $335 million
  • Promotion of tourism allocating $4 million the first year and increases of 5% every year thereafter. The second year tourism receives $4,200,000 dollars and the next year it becomes 5% of that new amount. Conservatively, over 16 years the amount tourism receives annually is approximately $7 million a year and this amount will continue to grow exponentially. In 2016 the payment for tourism was $7.8 million.
  • Cactus League Baseball Spring Training in Maricopa County. Constructing new facilities or renovating existing facilities. There must be a county or city partner that contributes at least one-third of the total cost of the project.

TAKE NOTE OF THE FOLLOWING EXPRESSLY STATED IN PROPOSITION 302: “The development of a new dual-team facility (understood to be in Surprise) and the remodeling/rebuilding of three existing facilities (understood to be in Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix), all in Maricopa County…” There was no acknowledgement or promise in Proposition 302 to reimburse Goodyear or Glendale for their Spring Training Facilities. Ed Beasley, former Glendale City Manager, and Art Lynch, former Glendale Finance Director, were well aware that there was no provision within Proposition 302 to reimburse Glendale for Camelback Ranch. Yet they represented to the city council at that time that Glendale could expect reimbursement to begin in 2017.

  • Operating and Administrative Expenses of AZSTA is based on the adopted annual operating budget.
  • Youth and Amateur Sports and Recreation Facilities in Maricopa County. Must have a governmental partner (community organizations, school districts and municipalities) that contribute at least one-third of the cost of the project. The first year’s distribution was one million dollars and increases $100,000 in each subsequent year. That original one million dollars has now grown to a distribution of approximately $2.3 million in year 2016.

The primary funding sources for AZSTA are a car rental surcharge and a tax on hotels in Maricopa County. The car rental surcharge is 3.25% of the amount of each rental contract but in no event will it be less than $2.50 per rental contract. Taxes on hotels are 1%. In addition income taxes on professional football franchise and franchise employees are collected. Sales taxes on retail purchases, food and beverages, restaurant sales and tickets from the stadium also are revenues under Proposition 302. Private revenues come from users and/or lessees of the stadium, such as the Fiesta Bowl. Lastly, the Cardinals were required to contribute $85 of the construction and development costs of the stadium.

The consultants offered rosy projections in terms of future, anticipated economic benefits but they never saw the Great Recession coming. They projected that:

  • Direct spending in Maricopa County over 30 years would be……………… $1.04 billion
  • Total economic output over 30 years in Maricopa County would be….. $1.95 billion
  • Jobs created in Maricopa County over 30 years would be…………………….16,430 jobs
  • Wages in Maricopa County over 30 years would be……………………………..$778 million

They went on to project the dollar amounts to be earned by each funding source over 30 years:

  • Car Rental Surcharge……………………………………………………$115,069,600
  • Tax on Hotels………………………………………………………………..$ 47,521,000
  • Income Taxes derived from professional franchise…….$ 34,097,000
  • Sales Taxes from the Stadium…………………………………….$  40,124,000
  • Cardinals contribution for construction……………………….$  85,000,000
  • User Lease Revenues……………………………………………………$   3,189,000
  • Interest Earned on Authority Revenues……………………….$ 10,000,000
  • Total Revenues                                                       $335,000,000                  (which happens to be the exact cost of stadium development)

But AZSTA (as well as the State of Arizona) has a big, big problem. The following is from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) Staff Report dated November 17, 2015. “In 2014, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that the use by AZSTA of the 3.25% excise tax on Maricopa County car rental revenues for purposes other than transportation projects violated the Arizona Constitution. An August 2015 ruling by another Maricopa County Superior Court judge stated that the State of Arizona must repay the car rental companies for prior payments. The Auditor General in its September 2015 audit reports AZSTA received $122 million in car rental surcharge revenues through June 30, 2014, though the plaintiffs’ attorney has reported that the refunds could total $160 million.” These rulings are currently under appeal and the final decision is not known at this time.

With the absence of the car rental tax revenues AZSTA will have to reduce funding for everything except payment of the debt service on stadium construction and a very lean operating budget. The loss of an estimated $13 million a year means that all other priorities, such as tourism, cactus league and youth sports would receive nothing. In addition, the State could and probably would withhold all payments to AZSTA with the exception of the debt payment and operating budget.

The bottom line is this — Proposition 302 did not contain a provision to reimburse Glendale for Camelback Ranch and even if there were such a provision, AZSTA may soon have no money due to Superior Court decisions if they are upheld.

For reference please refer to these documents:

Arizona_Proposition_302

AzSTAsummary 2015

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

If you haven’t seen any blogs lately it’s because I’ve been on a well deserved vacation. I’m back and recharged to once again explore the wonderful world of Glendale.

It’s no wonder we have trouble trusting our government today.  The 2017 Congressional Pig Book authored by the government watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), was released on Wednesday, July 19th. Congress has increased “earmark” spending (what many commonly call “pork”) by 33% over 2016’s total to a whopping $6.8 billion.

Over the years some of the most infamous earmarks included the $320 million Alaskan bridge to nowhere, $2.5 million for the National Science Foundation to study speed-dating, $23 million for abstinence education and $1.8 million to research pig manure.

Examples from this year’s report included $5.9 million for the East-West Center in Hawaii, championed by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). The mission of the public, nonprofit organization is to “promote better relations and understanding” with Pacific and Asian nations, according to its website.

It was established by Congress in 1960 with no congressional hearings amid objections by the State Department which has, for years, attempted to close the center through the annual budget process. Schatz defended his request for continued funding of the center in a prepared statement, saying it is “critical to our national security.”

Is it any wonder that we are close to 20 trillion dollars in debt?

From time to time I come across stories that just make you shake your head. One popped up from Toronto, Canada but it could have happened in Anytown, USA. Apparently some Toronto citizens requested that stairs be installed on a steep incline into a city park. Quite a few people had suffered injury by trying to navigate the steep incline. The Toronto city leaders were willing to pay an estimated $65,000 for what amounted to 8 steps and a handrail. A local Toronto man self-initiated and built said stairs for $550 saving the city $64,450. The city immediately taped the stairs off citing concerns about the construction — the handrail was not proper; the foundation for the stairs was absent; and the stairs were not absolutely level.

This story highlighted something we have all known for years and that is, cities are considered to have “deep pockets” and so bidders will charge whatever they think traffic will bear. Often the charges for work or material are outrageous. It’s like the infamous $12,000 toilet purchased by the defense department. Bureaucrats whether they are national or local, often forget that the money paid is taxpayer money…your money and my money…and sometimes their money as well.

Why is it that the standard rate for consultancy of any sort these days paid by a city begins around $50,000? Why is a computer program of any sort worth $2 or $3 million dollars? Why does software support for such a computer program cost a million dollars a year? Because everyone knows a city has “deep pockets.” The fault is ours. Who bids on government contracts? We do.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, the Glendale City Council in a 5 to 2 vote approved changes to the original Stonehaven plan approved by this very same council last year.

Councilmember Ray Malnar did what a good councilmember does. I called him to thank him and to ask why he voted against Stonehaven. He explained that he waited to make his final decision until the night of the council meeting. He never declared his position publicly before the vote as others on council did. He listened to both sides on the night of the council meeting and he learned. In my call to thank him for his support he shared that it was the citizens and their comments that helped him to make his final decision. On behalf of all Yucca’s district residents, Thank you Councilmember Malnar.

I called one other councilmember because I really wanted to understand that person’s vote in favor of Stonehaven. The councilmember said that he could have voted either way. That person assumed a majority would vote for Stonehaven and decided to vote with the majority. I believe there was another on council that voted the same way. How’s that for reviewing and understanding the facts? Just put your finger up to judge the wind’s direction and vote.

So, what happened? Why were the Stonehaven proposed changes accepted on a vote of 5 to 2? I, obviously, in representation of my constituency, voted against it. Councilmember Ray Malnar voted against it for the reason cited above. Mayor Weiers, 3 weeks before the vote, publicly announced his support. Councilmember Bart Turner also supported Stonehaven by allowing his likeness and his “Barrel Bulletin” to be posted on the Stonehaven site. Two councilmembers voted for it apparently because they decided to join what they assumed would be the majority vote in favor. Only one vote remains inexplicable. However, it becomes a moot point for the die was cast and a majority had already come to a decision.

Most of us assume that each councilmember studies the facts of the situation, listens to all sides and then makes a decision based upon all of the readily available information. After all, that is what they tell you. I think it would come as no surprise to anyone that is not the case at all.

One factor determining their vote is that councilmembers, just like the rest of us, are shaped by our life experiences and make their decisions on issues in that context. They have their likes and dislikes and their internal prejudices. They swim in a sea of politics always trolling for support and donations for their campaigns and for their next bid for reelection.

Another factor that persuaded some to vote in favor was the “good ole boy” network comprised of long time residents with political ties to the now deceased John F. Long Sr. These are people who worked with Long Sr. – Diane McCarthy, former County Supervisor and founder of WestMarc; Greg Donovan, whose organization, WestMec, benefitted over the years from donations made by Long Sr.; and David Rosseau of SRP. In addition to the lobbying efforts of the Stonehaven applicants another component of the “good ole boys” network included downtown Glendale entities. Bill Toops, owner of the Glendale Star, and Robert Heidt of the Glendale Chamber, were very visible. All spoke before the city council and openly advocated for the Stonehaven changes and some called, and/or visited or lunched with various councilmembers.

Back in the day, in the early 1990s the “good ole boy” club ran Glendale. The councilmembers seated at the time represented this faction and the network wasn’t broken until Glendale residents voted for the district system of representation in 1990. It didn’t disappear until the district system was fully implemented in 1992. One might consider their current activism as their last hurrah…perhaps…we’ll see.

Not to be forgotten…they hope… were those former Glendale elected officials pursuing their own agendas while using this issue to keep themselves relevant. Former recalled councilmember Gary Sherwood appears to harbor the hope that he can be reelected. While former councilmember Yvonne Knaack appears to be clearly positioning herself for a run for mayor. Each publicly advocated for the Stonehaven changes.

Another factor, sad as it is, granted the Stonehaven proponents free access to the councilmembers. I saw Jacob Long and various members of his contingent frequently on the 4th floor of city hall arriving or just leaving after having visited one or more councilmembers. They lobbied the hell out of the city council. Because of the Arizona Open Meeting Law it never was a fair fight. I was not able to do what the Stonehaven proponents could do. I could not lobby the councilmembers because it would be a violation of the Open Meeting Law. It’s like fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

What can we expect as long term consequences of this sad and perplexing decision?

  • In a matter of a few years those 600 homes on 4,000 and 4,500 SF lots will become a sea of rental properties. Renters take no ownership in the community in which they live. Look for a rising crime rate, overcrowded schools and a local traffic mess. Never before in the history of Glendale development has there ever been such a major, intense concentration of small lot homes on such a large parcel of land.
  • The city council approval alienated many Yucca district residents questioning why they are not heard when north Glendale continually enjoys the support of council. This decision has created a great deal of anger and mistrust about local government among them.
  • Mayor Weiers may have lost tremendous support of Yucca district residents (the district of his residence) in his next reelection bid. This may become the fire union’s answer to a prayer as it supported Weiers’ opponent in the last election.
  • Bethany Home Road may be constructed earlier than expected but only if the city can find the money to pay the Long Trust $1.2 million for the north right-of-way plus the costs of constructing the north half. The city had planned to use Development Impact Fees paid by the developer per house in Stonehaven to cover the costs. Something else will have to be delayed or removed from the budget to cover the cost. However, even when completed, Bethany will not alleviate the traffic generated by Stonehaven.
  • The expectation that these new residents will be an economic boon to Westgate is misplaced and there was nothing substantial or factual offered to back up this assertion. Westgate, of its own making, has its own issues to fix to attract customers.
  • Expect to see more Yucca residents close to this project moving out of Glendale.
  • City Council, by allowing even more homes in Stonehaven, has created an ethical obligation to complete Heroes Park as soon as possible. With the lack of active amenities in Stonehaven and an estimated 1,362 families with at least 2,000 children arriving circumstances are more compelling than ever to complete this park.
  • There may never be a grocery store in the Stonehaven commercial center with Safeway and a WalMart Superstore within spitting distance. It is destined to become just another indistinguishable strip shopping center fading over time.
  • Lastly, Stonehaven does not contribute to Upgrading Glendale. Would a major corporate CEO or a Cardinals or Coyotes professional athlete live here? We all know the answer. Until Glendale takes the position that it is time to focus on residential development that will attract that kind of buyer, it will continue to remain a community of starter homes and will never be known as a premier community of choice. As one Glendale resident observed, “When you consider the income level of the folks buying these homes, they aren’t likely going to be big dollars spenders on a regular basis. This isn’t Scottsdale.”

The repercussions of this development will be felt for many years to come as it increases the demand for city services whose costs are never fully covered by its residents’ taxes. The social and economic effects will also be felt for many years.

Glendale had the chance to draw a line in the sand. It had a chance to signal the development community that it was no longer willing to settle for marginal development. This city council refused to stand up for the greater good of Glendale. For what? Money, power and privilege??

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I have not posted my “Autopsy of defeat” blog yet. I thought it would be instructive to share just a sample of the comments from Yucca residents after the vote. There were many more. I am not editorializing. That will come in my next blog.

  • “It’s disappointing to know that the Glendale City Council can be so easily bought while practically, completely dismissing the district that will be most adversely affected by this. But, greed is a powerful weapon.”
  • “You have done an outstanding job of pulling the community together for a cause. Even in defeat, we are better for the experience of getting out and meeting our neighbors and talking about what concerns us as Glendale residents.”
  • “I feel compelled to believe that Stonehaven was going to happen regardless of how hard the fight was fought. Money talks and there are many seeking to leave their legacy in the marks left behind after they are long gone.”
  • Unfortunately, those who had the power to make this happen don’t have to live with the result. Stonehaven will be a decade long project that provides absolutely no guarantee to the city or surrounding neighborhoods. Traffic, construction equipment, dust, scorpions, and school crowding don’t affect Jacob Long. They don’t affect Mr. Weiers, the vice mayor or Ms. Tolmachoff either and it is an unfortunate fact that they have a say in the process when it is outside their district. As Glendale residents, we should all have a say in who represents the city not just the district.”
  • “In a city that cannot see fit to pave a street properly, or finish a park (Heroes) or develop a traffic plan for game days without stepping all over the local residents, I should have expected nothing less than Pulte and JFLP LLC getting their way. “People don’t want lawns”? I heard there were many condos over at Westgate that are for sale still for those who want small lots. Zanjero remains a thought as well. Glendale hasn’t delivered on promises for years.”
  • “That must have been some awesome pizza and ice cream.”
  • “As we know, Money talks.”
  • “They better finish Heroes Park. Stonehaven won’t have anything recreational for all of those people.”
  • “I hope everyone remembers this when the next election comes up for Mayor of Glendale. Like someone said, money talks. I think Stonehaven will end up being the downfall of the west side. It may take a few years but I believe it will happen.”
  • “Going into this we all knew it would be a battle. The decision was already made and that was that.”
  • “Just don’t be too surprised if a few years into this they don’t come back and want to create more 4000 SF lots out of some of the other larger lots. A precedent has been set, sadly. Also, not sure how many of you picked up on the verbiage of a couple other items. 1.) The builder left open the “option” of another builder possibly coming in or taking over or participating in the project. Meaning, all the fluff of Pulte Homes being a “Premiere Builder” could be all for naught if a lesser “quality” builder decides they want to participate or worse, take over. 2.) The little “carrot” the builder offered that was so eagerly accepted (except by Ms. Clark) was the, again “option”, to build Bethany Home Rd. sooner than originally offered. Meaning, they likely aren’t going to change a thing. So, that secondary vote was a complete joke and utter waste of time.”
  • “Time will tell. If everyone would look at the homes south of Camelback and 87th ave and also the new ones at Copper cove they will see how the Cookie Cutter homes will look on the small lots. If I lived next to that in Missouri Ranch or on 87th ave I would be OUTRAGED.”
  • “This has made us stronger as a district and a community . I hope we as a district stay involved.”
  • “I just moved into Missouri Ranch 2 months ago. Just bought my house so I didn’t understand what has been going on until now. I am absolutely outraged right now. I have a huge lot which was so hard to find. I definitely worry about the tons of people and the traffic. Why do they just stuff people wherever there is a crevice of land? Not happy!”
  • “I guess it doesn’t matter what the residents want. Money talks. I moved to the area for the great amount of space because the lots are huge. I don’t have a patio size backyard. All I can do is shake my head in disappointment.”
  • “Something else we can do is vote. Mr. Weiers’ days are numbered as mayor. He didn’t get my vote last time, he certainly won’t get it the next time around…if he even runs.”
  • “I had asked residents in the area to contact the mayor and council by email and phone for weeks but as you can see it did nothing for all our many hours we spent. Hopefully the homes they build will not be little cracker box homes, all 600 of them. You can see what it looks like on 87th ave where they all look alike. The builders love it because they make more money.”
  • “I wanted to chime in on behalf of Copper Cove… even we (as a neighborhood) aren’t a good example of what Stonehaven will ultimately look like. We have only a handful of “small” lots, and even those are larger than the 4,000 sq ft lots that will be built on there. Even the 6,000 sq ft lots aren’t comparable. While we are “cookie cutter” we are certainly more spaciously arranged (which is hilarious when you actually look at our neighborhood). I’m certainly not looking forward to this build and all the bait and switch crap that will very likely follow.”
  • “In Copper Cove the smallest lot is 5700 sq ft. Imagine what your neighborhood would look like with 4000 ft lots and 4500 ft — 600 of them. It will look like barracks buildings unless they get real creative.”
  • “We just didn’t need the extra 200+ houses, which equals another, at conservative minimum 400 more cars. Those 2 phases are going to be a hotbed of chaos and crime.”
  • “The crime will be there. It’s inevitable when you stick that many people in such a small area. And, I don’t think it’s going to be 10 yrs until it is built out. Based on the numerology of phases assuming they build in order my guess it will be within the next 2-3 yrs.”
  • “The good ole boy network is alive and well #Weiers, McCarthy, Donovan, Hugh, Rosseau.”
  • “What was the council thinking. I thought they represented all of the people in Glendale. Not just the north. South Glendale was ignored and dismissed.”

I encourage you to share your comments on the city council Stonehaven vote of Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

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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