Tomorrow, July 13, 2015 the Glendale city council will meet in executive session at 11 AM. What is the topic? Your guess is as good as mine. No one is talking and how could they? Senior staff has decided (perhaps wisely) that council will not know the subject matter of the e session until the actual meeting. The only other period of time staff went to such lengths was when Phil Lieberman was on council. It was suspected but never proven that he leaked e session material on a regular basis to Canadian folk during previous Coyotes’ buyer negotiations. This time the alleged leaker(s) may be Councilmembers Sherwood and/or Chavira spilling all to the owners of the Coyotes.
It may be that senior Glendale staff will present a Coyotes offer to the city council. There are events that hint that this may be the topic. Several councilmembers were scheduled last week for depositions with regard to the Coyotes law suit. Abruptly those deposition sessions were cancelled. Was it because the city’s attorneys were in talks with the Coyotes’ attorneys? The Coyotes payment of $1M bond and the city quarterly arena management payment of $3.75M are linked together and are to be paid concurrently. Neither has been paid to date.
If this is indeed what occurs tomorrow council will have several options. They do not vote in workshops or e sessions but do provide direction for staff. They can provide direction to: 1. Accept the offer; 2. Reject the offer; or 3. Send the offer back to the Coyotes with a counter proposal.
If you look at the council e session agenda for this meeting it is rather specific:
“A. The City Council will meet with the City Attorney for legal advice, discussion and consultation regarding the city’s position in pending or contemplated litigation, including settlement discussions conducted in order to avoid or resolve litigation. (A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(3)(4))
“B. Council will meet to discuss and consider records exempt by law from public inspection and are specifically required to be maintained as confidential by state or federal law. (A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(4))”
A.R.S. § 38-431.03 (A)(3)(4) is also pretty specific:
“(iii) discussion or consultation for legal advice with the city’s attorneys (A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(3));
“(iv) discussion or consultation with the city’s attorneys regarding the city’s position regarding contracts that are the subject of negotiations, in pending or contemplated litigation, or in settlement discussions conducted in order to avoid or resolve litigation (A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(4));”
It is possible that they will discuss the city’s current law suit with Vieste over recycling issues at the city landfill but it doesn’t seem probable based upon the events of this past week.
On another topic, the University of Phoenix Stadium hosted a soccer cup game today, July 12, 2015. A friend happened to have lunch at Westgate today. The friend related that the Westgate parking areas were jammed and they finally found a parking space literally in the “back forty” of one of the free lots. They almost decided to leave assuming that if the parking lots were filled, so were the Westgate restaurants. That was not the case. Their restaurant, as well as others, was nearly deserted. Who was parking in all of those free Westgate spaces? They learned it was the soccer game attendees at the University of Phoenix stadium.
The stadium has since its inception relied on Westgate parking spaces for football games and major events. Per the agreement with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) the city is responsible for providing 6,000 parking spaces for the football games and major events such as the Super Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. The city has always fulfilled its commitment to do so. Now AZSTA and the Bidwills are pressuring the city to build a $46M parking garage and the city is acceding to that pressure. Last fall senior staff brought forward a new capital improvement project – the infamous and very expensive parking garage at Westgate. Instead of building a library or a swimming pool as a capital improvement project Glendale taxpayers will be footing the bill for a Taj Mahal of a parking garage. You can count on its cost mounting. Don’t be surprised if the final bill is way north of $50M.
Glendale’s taxpayers are not happy about this. They ask why AZSTA and the Bidwills don’t build their own parking garage. They are the ones who need it. They are aware that the Bidwills sought and gained city approval for the development of Sportsman’s Park East and West. Those development plans include approval for several parking garages. Why don’t the Bidwills invest in a parking garage to meet the demands of their patrons attending their football games? Is it because they don’t want to pay for it? Is there a trigger threshold or event that requires the city to build this parking garage? What is it and has it occurred? Does the parking garage have to be as large and grand as staff presented or can it be scaled down to meet a minimal requirement? Can we wait until Glendale’s financial picture is stronger and can absorb yet another debt payment? When is the city going to prioritize the needs of its citizens first? So many questions – met with…silence.
© Joyce Clark, 2015
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