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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 my last blog I said that I would tackle General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds and Development Impact Fees (DIF). Both are complicated issues and I will do my best to explain their origin, purpose and use.

General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds and Development Impact Fees (DIF). These and many other funding mechanisms cities use were created by and are still regulated by the state of Arizona.

The city uses G.O. bonds to fund many large scale capital projects, in other words, it is a major component of its Capital Improvement Plan. Every city must pay the principal and interest on these bonds through its secondary property tax.

However, the state constitution specifically limits the amount a city can borrow for G.O. bonds to 6% or 20% of a city’s total assessed valuation. In Glendale 6% bonds may be issued for economic development, cultural facilities, government facilities and libraries. However, the state constitution allows one exception, granting cities the ability to issue 20% bonds in these specific areas: flood control, open space/trails, public safety and streets/parking. Generally, these are extraordinarily big ticket items. Hence the exception.

Glendale’s total assessed valuation as of June 30, 2016 was $1,174,931,000. Multiply this figure by 6% and we have a figure of $70, 496,000. That $70 million figure is the total allowable capacity in Glendale for 6% debt.  In other words, if Glendale had the ability through the collection of secondary property tax to cover the principal and interest on just the category of 6% debt, it could do so. Now multiply $1,174,931,000 by 20% and we have a figure of $234,986,000 as the maximum allowable in the 20% bond debt category.

OK, we have a maximum 6% debt capacity of $70+ million and a maximum 20% debt capacity of $234+ million. Then why doesn’t the city just issue bonds in these amounts and be done with it?

Because there are two other factors that govern how much debt a city can take on. One is the city’s ability to repay annual debt. State statute mandates the city must pay the principal and interest on G.O. bonds from the secondary property tax it collects. It is prudent for a city to be conservative and try to figure out how much it can pay on debt not just in good economic times but when the economy takes a nose dive as it did for 5 years during the Great Recession.

The other factor is based upon you, the voter. Just because a city has debt capacity that doesn’t mean it can use it. Every city must go to the voters in a bond authorization election and ask for your permission to issue debt in each category for a capped amount of money. The most recent city-wide bond elections were held in 1981, 1987, 1999, and 2007. I won’t go through the whole list and how much bond authorization was approved in each category in each of the listed bond elections. In the last election in 2007 voters approved the issuance of bonds for flood control for a cap of $20 million+); Parks and recreation for a cap of $16 million +; Public safety for a cap of $102 million +; and Streets and Parking for a cap of $79 million+.

Both of these factors determine how much debt a city could take on in a given year. Even if you, the voter, have approved a maximum amount of debt in a certain category, such as flood control, the city must then look at how much debt it can comfortably afford to repay in good years and in bad years.

Another component of the CIP is Development Impact Fees (DIF). For many, many years Arizona lived by the imperative that “growth pays for growth.” It meant that developers had to pay X amount per house and it went into a city’s DIF. It allowed Glendale and every other Arizona city to use DIF to fund new parks, libraries, streets, police, fire, sanitation, water and sewer. It was a good funding mechanism for cities. As new residential subdivisions came on board cities would get DIF funds from the developer that was used, for example, to expand or build a new park. Need a new fire station because of several new subdivisions? DIF was used to offset the cost.

But the developers were not a happy lot.  For you see, DIF was added by them to the price of each new home. They complained that DIF was making their homes cost too much. They lobbied the state legislature and in 2011, SB 1525 was passed. Under this legislation some categories eligible for DIF were eliminated. Others were severely restricted and the formulas for the amount of DIF that could be collected were reduced to make them almost meaningless. This bill restricted every city’s ability to collect a reasonable DIF that followed the mandate of “growth paying for growth.” The state legislature at the behest of the development industry’s lobbyists literally passed on the cost of growth to the cities. And why would legislators do so? It’s understandable.  Many members of the development community contribute serious money to their campaigns.

 Suddenly cities found that in many cases, they simply did not have enough money to pay for infrastructure needed because of new growth in their communities.  If I were to make an educated guess I would estimate that Glendale has lost somewhere between $5 and $10 million dollars in DIF annually. Oh by the way, did developers drop the price of their new homes because DIF was suddenly reduced considerably by their buddies down at the state legislature? The answer is ‘no’… but their profit margins did increase.

© 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, March 21, 2017 the city council had its first substantive discussion of the proposed Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget. It centered on its proposed Capital Improvement Program or CIP. What exactly is the CIP? Quite simply it allows the city to build things that include but are not limited to:

  • fire and police stations
  • libraries, court buildings and office buildings
  • parks, trails, open space, pools, recreation centers
  • water and wastewater treatments plants and their related infrastructure
  • roads, bridges, traffic control devices
  • landscape beautification projects
  • flood control projects
  • computer software and hardware systems other than personal computers and printers
  • major equipment purchases such as landfill compactors, street sweepers and sanitation trucks

There is specific council approved policy that dictates the determination of priorities within the CIP:  “City Council’s strategic goals and financial policies provide the broad parameters for development of the annual capital plan. For example, Council’s financial policies on Capital Asset and Debt Management state that the 10-year capital plan will address capital needs in the following order:

  • Improve existing assets
  • Replace existing assets
  • Construct new assets”

Additional considerations include but are not limited to the following:

  • “Does a project support the city’s goal of ensuring all geographic areas of the city have comparable quality in the types of service that are defined in the Public Facilities section of the General Plan?
  • Does the project prevent the deterioration of the city’s existing infrastructure
  • Does a project encourage and sustain quality economic development?” (From the city’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan budget, Fiscal Year 2017-18)

You get the idea. Things that are physical…things you can touch and see. I do have concerns with the last two items on the above listing of CIP examples – computer software and heavy equipment.

I went back through my stack of old budget books and the first time I could find the addition of computer software and hardware as part of any CIP was in my FY 2008-09 budget book…a mere 8 years ago.  Quite frankly, it was quietly added without any discussion at the time and I don’t remember me or any other councilmember back then questioning or even noticing its addition to the CIP. The same scenario occurred with the line item of major equipment purchases. It suddenly appeared in the CIP.

The city already has a Vehicle Replacement Fund (VRF) and a Technology Replacement Fund (TRF). This is where those two line items belong not in the CIP. If these funds need more money in them to cover these major expenses, then it’s time to allocate more revenue in each of these funds.

It causes me some concern because these big ticket items (major computer software and heavy equipment) could and often do compete for bond funding against the projects our citizens want and expect, such as libraries, recreation centers, adult centers, parks and pools. You know, the projects that maintain and upgrade our quality of life as residents of Glendale and make Glendale more attractive for economic development.

The total proposed funding for projects in the CIP for the upcoming fiscal year is $88,819,541. However, most of this money, $67,610,773 comes from Enterprise funding (water, sewer, sanitation and landfill) in addition to other, dedicated Transportation  funding, HURF (Highway User Revenue Funds) and a variety of grant funds.

The other monies to be used within the CIP are Bond Construction Funds made up of 6% or 20% General Obligation (GO) bonds ($14,994,708) and Dedicated Impact Fees (DIF) funds ($6,214,060).

I don’t want to get into the weeds on 6% or 20% GO (General Obligation) bonds or DIF (Development Impact Fees) in this blog. My next one will explain those items in more detail. For now is the take-away that the proposed CIP totals $88 million plus.

© 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.

For the next 6 weeks or so, the city council will be focused on Glendale’s budget. There will be a series of workshops devoted to it. The first one was held on March 7, 2017 and reviewed revenue projections, sources of the city’s revenues and the areas in which those revenues are spent. Keep in mind, per state law, Glendale and every other municipality must adopt a balanced annual budget. What does that mean?  That means the total of the city’s expenses must be shown to be covered by the revenues it receives.

There are 2 parts to the city’s budget: its General Fund budget and the Enterprise Funds’ budgets. The General Fund budget covers all expenses incurred by the city except for: Water, Sewer, Sanitation and Landfill. These 4 areas are called Enterprise Funds and they get their revenues from rate payers or users.

The pot of money for the General Fund has 2 components: all revenues and a fund balance (a rainy day fund). The money is paid out to 5 areas: expenditures, operating costs, the Capital Improvement Plan, our debt payments and a contingency fund. Except for debt payments which are a fixed cost, the other 4 areas compete against one another for the available money.

Where does the city get its money? From 5 sources:                                                                          

  • Sales tax                        44%                    
  • State shared revenue      26%                   
  • Other                             17%                  
  • Transfers In                    11%
  • Property Tax                     2%

There is one special note about the sales tax the city collects and that is, it no longer manages or collects it. A year or two ago, the state legislature, in its wisdom, mandated that it would collect every city’s sales tax and distribute those funds collected to each city. Now Glendale has to pay the state nearly half a million dollars to collect its sales tax…a new expense that Glendale never had before. To add insult to injury, this program rolled out completely in January of this year, 2017. To date, the state has only collected and dispersed approximately 66% of the money Glendale itself usually collected. I contend that in addition to our regular budget planning for next year, the city should be planning an alternate budget in case the worst happens and it does not receive all of the sales tax from the state to which it is entitled.  

There’s also another gimmick the state uses and that is with regard to state shared revenue. The largest component is state shared income tax. Every year we pay income tax to the state but cities do not get their share the following year. Instead the cities are paid two years later. That means the income tax you pay this year for 2016 won’t be seen by the cities until 2018. Think of the interest the state makes on millions and millions of dollars in income tax for that extra year until they disperse the money to the cities. 

There are no certain figures for expenses within the General Fund budget for this year as we are in the process of crafting this year’s budget. In last year’s Fiscal 2016-17 General Fund budget, here were the areas of expense:

  • Police department                43%
  • Fire department                   22%
  • Other                                  16%
  • Non-departmental                  9%
  • Public Facilities, Rec & Events  6%
  • Public Works                          4%

Note that 65% of the city’s money goes to pay for Police and Fire. When you see the city’s total budget of approximately $500 million remember that only a portion of that is the General Fund Budget (should be an estimated $200 million).  The remainder (an estimated $300 million) is either Enterprise Funds or other special funds, such as the dedicated public safety sales tax or the transportation sales tax and as dedicated funds, cannot be used for any other purpose, such as the General Fund.

Out of a General Fund budget of approx. $200 million, 65% or approx. $130 million is for Public Safety (Police and Fire). That leaves about $70 million in the General Fund to pay for operating expenses (examples: all other employees’ salaries and benefits; our debt payments and our Capital Improvement Plan). Over half of the remaining $70 million (approx. $45 million a year) goes to pay the city’s debt service. That leaves us with an annual General Fund budget of $25 million a year.

As you can see, the city’s annual budget and the processes to create it are pretty complicated. It’s all in the numbers and a basic understanding of what numbers go where.

In Part 2 of Glendale’s budget 101 we will look at the proposed Capital Improvement Program or CIP. This is the budget portion that will be discussed by city council on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at its 9 AM workshop. This will be televised live on Cox’s cable channel 11.

© 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.

“It hasn’t been the easiest season for fans of the Arizona Coyotes. After poor on-ice performance, the departure of many beloved veterans, and the lingering sideshow of off-ice issues, the 2014-15 campaign has not been for the faint of heart.” This was written and published by Fiveforhowling.com three years ago during what was viewed as the coming “golden age” for the Coyotes under what was presumed to be a new era of stable leadership provided by IceArizona.

There is an old tale of an emperor in a parade. He was wearing no clothes. No one remarked upon this strange scene until the emperor passed in front of a young boy who blurted out, why is the emperor wearing no clothes? Suddenly it became acceptable for everyone to acknowledge that fact.

Under the ownership of IceArizona we experienced a similar situation with everyone fearful to state the obvious for fear of being ridiculed or worse. Glendale has pointed out that this emperor (IceArizona) is wearing no clothes and this concept is now acceptable to voice.

This is from a Dan Bickley Arizona Republic story(http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nhl/coyotes/2017/03/09/bickley-gary-bettmans-threats-backfiring-valley/98969022/ ) from 2 days ago, “But sports fans in the Valley are smarter than they look. The Coyotes have failed on their end of the bargain, running their franchise on the cheap while depending on handouts to survive. If this team had consistently exposed Arizonans to the majesty of playoff hockey over the past decade, this conversation would sound much different. Truth is, they haven’t done anything to warrant a second home on our dime.” He went on to say, “The Coyotes didn’t help matters in a press release blaming their current location for alienating their ‘premium ticketholders and ticket sponsors.’ What does that say to the people who currently show up to games with open minds and open hearts?” And open pocket books, I might add.

Even Craig Morgan, darling of the Coyotes organization and often perceived as its unofficial spokesperson, said this yesterday in his arizonasports.com article (http://arizonasports.com/story/1050773/morgan-coyotes-need-the-right-location-to-succeed-its-not-glendale/ ) “The hard truth for the team is that it has produced four winning seasons, three playoffs berths and two playoff series wins in 13 seasons in the West Valley location that welcomed it when nobody else would. Winning sells in any market, but it’s especially important in one as fickle as Phoenix. Repetitive losing is an unwise investment of fans’ dollars and emotions.” Morgan did acknowledge, “The Coyotes’ hirings, and their delay in releasing financial statements to Glendale per their agreement, raise questions about their commitment to the partnership…”

Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic in his story(http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/legislature/2017/03/09/glendale-fires-back-arizona-coyotes-glendale-arena/98967020/?hootPostID=19ace9c56558711ce78486b73ec4649f ) from March 9, 2017 weighed in with this, “The new arena managers run the facility for one-third the cost. The team’s claims that it can’t be successful in Glendale came after the city in 2015 stopped subsidizing the Coyotes through a $15-million annual arena-management deal. “

The mainstream media has finally been willing to acknowledge that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. Certainly it appears that the Arizona legislature realizes that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Sadly, the fans, always the last to give up their allegiance to a team are also beginning to see an emperor with no clothes.

In 2013, everyone rejoiced in the prospect of a new era with IceArizona. Celebrations abounded among Bettman, the new team owners and the fans. Then no one, not Bettman, LeBlanc or the fans, rejected the Glendale/IceArizona deal with commentary that heck, Glendale was a lousy location. How soon we forget. They had a home that they welcomed then. They have a home now… if they only choose to bury the hatchet.

The fans are weary of an eight year drama with seemingly the only end in sight possibly being the relocation of the team outside of Arizona. They are weary of belief in anything the team spokesperson, Anthony LeBlanc, says after a series of incendiary and sometimes misleading public pronouncements. How will they feel if the coming season turns out to be the team’s last in Arizona? Will they bother to attend games? This coming year’s attendance could prove to be the worst one yet. Perhaps ownership will hold off on dropping the bomb until after the next season is completed. Who knows?

Two unanswered questions remain. Has the team paid off the $70 loan from the NHL? And where’s Waldo…er…Anthony LeBlanc?

It’s been a rough season for all…

© 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.

In 2009 when Jerry Moyes put the Coyotes into bankruptcy NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was desperate to save the situation. His worst nightmare would have come true if Moyes had succeeded in selling the team to Jim Balsille and the team was moved to Canada.

Then, as now, someone or something, had to be thrown under the bus…because, of course, it’s never the League’s fault or a team’s fault when a team goes south. Back then, Jerry Moyes went under the bus but deservedly so. Mr. Bettman said at the time, “The team hasn’t been particularly well run.” This time, Mr. Bettman, has no problem throwing Glendale under the bus, undeservedly.

What a difference a few years can make. A 2009 Financial Post story said, “There is a brand-new building in Phoenix,” Bettman said of the Jobing.com Arena, the Coyotes’ home in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb. “There are people that are supportive of the franchise and want to keep it there.” Here is the link: http://www.financialpost.com/m/bettman+coyotes+situation+phoenix+fixable/1617384/story.html .

Bettman also said at the time, “What you don’t do is just abandon places to go somewhere else because somehow you think you have a divine right to a franchise in a particular place.”  Doesn’t that beautifully sum up exactly what IceArizona has been doing? That certainly has been IceArizona’s attitude and why? Because LeBlanc, et.al., became angry and vengeful when Glendale pulled the plug on their annual $15 million dollar subsidy. It was not a “divine right.”

I’m not sure the general public knows where Glendale’s annual $15 million payment went. The ink was not even dry on the Glendale/IceArizona contract when IceArizona sent a letter to Glendale directing that the $15 million be sent directly to Fortress Investment Group, a major entity that loaned IceArizona money to buy the team. Did you know IceArizona’s owners put relatively little of their own cash up to buy the team? Between the 10 or so investors they managed to raise $45 million toward the purchase price of $170 million with the balance of the purchase funded by two loans–one from Fortress and one from the NHL.

It is finally beginning to dawn on everyone, including the media, where the real problems lie and it’s not the location of the team. It appears as if the management (owners) has literally been systematically raping the team of all of its talent. This is reflective of a string of poor management decisions occurring over the last several years creating a poor product on the ice. This is not to demean the players for there are some very talented men on Gila River ice. However, collectively, they don’t appear to “jell.”

Perhaps the last straw was the recent trade of Martin Hanzal. Martin Hanzal and Shane Doan were buddies…more than buddies, like brothers. They worked the same line on the ice for the team for years. They were a team and could read each other’s moves instinctually. Trading Hanzal had to have been a major shock and wake up call for Doan, indisputably the icon and unique symbol of this franchise. No wonder he is reported to have said that if the right offer were to be made, he would have to give it serious consideration. If and when Doan leaves or retires, his loss will cause many fans to abandon the team.

What about IceArizona’s marketing efforts? Do you remember when they first took over the franchise, there were major media buys and you couldn’t go through a day without seeing at least one Coyotes TV ad, and often more. Today, I bet most of us cannot remember the last time we saw a TV ad for the team. They’ve disappeared from the media market. It is simply a symbol of the lack of time, money and talent being employed to advertise the team and grow the fan base.

Bettman’s ultimatum sent shock waves throughout the Valley. He angered long-term, committed fans who are now voicing remarks like, “leave” or “bye-bye.” He has created enmity where there was none and the actions and comments of IceArizona have split the Valley apart. They have created a bitter pill that no one wants to swallow.

© 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.

Has anyone else noticed that Anthony LeBlanc, presumably still CEO of the Coyotes, has been publicly missing in the latest Coyotes dust-up? Where is he? We’ve heard from the General Manager, the Public Relations people, even Gary Bettman and Andrew Barroway…but not a peep or sighting of LeBlanc? Has he been muzzled or given his walking papers? Hmmm…who knows?

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

It seems in the light of a new day NHL Commissioner Bettman is back peddling just a tad. Today, March 8, 2017 down in Florida he said the Phoenix area is a terrific hockey market. Yep, just follow the money, Mr. Bettman. Oh, again, by the way, has Ice Arizona paid the NHL the $70 million it borrowed to purchase the team, Mr. Bettman? Yet Glendale has proven its support with millions in cold, hard cash.

It seems you have drunk the IceArizona kool-aid and have joined in the mantra of blame Glendale for cancelling its long-term IceArizona arena management contract after 2 years. I guess you forgot about Craig Tindall and Julie Frisoni, City of Glendale employees who allegedly aided and abetted IceArizona while it was negotiating its management contract with the city. I guess you forgot that IceArizona allegedly represented that the city would recoup its $15 million a year payment by receiving “enhanced revenues” from parking fees, ticket surcharges, naming rights, etc.?

Did you know that IceArizona submitted its annual financial report to the city, kicking and screaming, at least 3 months after it was due? Did you know that while some of the financial numbers presented were audited numbers some of the critical revenue numbers the Coyotes claimed as proprietary and were not audited? Glendale was told trust us and don’t verify. As a result, each year of the 2 years the contract existed Glendale did not receive verifiable, audited numbers while it received revenues that never met the IceArizona representations…actually millions less than the represented numbers.

At what point did city council throw up its hands? After the alleged collusion between IceArizona and city employees? After it received revenues that in no way met the IceArizona representations? After the city’s inability to get verifiable, audited figures?

The city’s trust had been eroded by these alleged bad acts. Did you forget that these were the reasons why Glendale cancelled its contract with IceArizona? It’s so very convenient to point the finger at Glendale and say, it’s all your fault. You’re the bad guys because you cancelled the contract while conveniently ignoring or forgetting alleged prior bad faith acts on the part of IceArizona. And it’s so much easier to say that fans won’t come to games in Glendale.

How soon you forget. Remember the recent season the Coyotes made the play-offs? The arena was filled…it was magical…seas of white out shirts…fan excitement…distance to travel to a game didn’t matter to see a winning team. The real question to be asked by all is this…is this team now unprofitable because the product on the ice is bad and Valley fans are not motivated to go to the games anywhere they are held or is it, as you claim, because the East Valley will not travel to the West Valley to support hockey? I suspect it is the former reason.

Mr. Bettman, your ultimatum to the people of Arizona created a backlash that you cannot reverse or contain. You angered not just members of your fan base but the general taxpayer population as well. And guess what? You can’t put this genie back in the jar.

Here are just a few of the comments reported by the Arizona Republic’s Facebook page since Bettman and Barroway delivered their ultimatum of pay for a new arena or we leave:

  • ): “I have to say I am a huge coyotes fan. Every game I’m not at I’m watching. But I can tell you if you’re going to issue an ultimatum to the taxpayer to pay for your Stadium or you’re leaving. Then pack your bags and get out. You guys don’t put a winning product on the ice and you’re going to lose the face of the franchise as soon as you try to to trade him or he retires and that’s game over. So tired of sports teams thinking everything should be handed to them on a silver platter as if they provide some service to society that’s beneficial.”
  • “I’m a diehard hockey fan. However, I do not support tax payer funded playgrounds that billionaires benefit from. They make the money, we just pay for the playground and the. To also watch the games. There is not one instance where a publicly funded arena – for any sport – has left the municipality ahead. It is always to their detriment. Case in point Chase Field.”
  • “You might have a bargaining chip if you had a consistent winning team. People are drawn to winners. Start winning and more people will come. DO NOT blame your revenue problems on Glendale, when it is your own doing.”

Channel 12 TV news is running a current online poll with the question being, Has the time come to tell the Coyotes to leave Arizona?  Results as of this writing: Yes 67% and No 33%.

The Arizona Republic in a recent story cited the cost to taxpayers to have publicly funded the construction of sports venues in the Valley. The numbers are astounding and the total of $1.1 billion is just for the building of 4 existent sports venues:

  • Suns $90 M
  • Diamondbacks $354 M
  • Coyotes $220 M
  • Cardinals $455 M

The acknowledgement that IceArizona has lost millions annually does nothing, absolutely nothing, to convince taxpayers that IceArizona merits this kind of investment. Their losses do nothing to assure taxpayers that they can hold up their end of the bargain and will be able to invest $170 million of their own money, what money? into the deal.

To the team owners…it’s time for cooler, saner heads to prevail. Stop bad mouthing Glendale for your failures. Come back to the table. AEG stands ready to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement with you – one that is fair to all. That kind of arrangement will win the support of Glendale. It’s time to concentrate your energies on reviving superior management, a robust marketing strategy and a team that wins your fans back.

© 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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Today, March 7, 2017 NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman penned a letter of utter desperation to Arizona’s senate president and speaker of the house followed almost immediately by a statement by Andrew Barroway, Coyotes majority owner and chairman. Here is the link: http://www.abc15.com//sports/sports-blogs-local/nhl-commissioner-to-state-legislature-coyotes-must-have-a-new-arena?utm_source=SilverpopMailing .

Let’s think about Commissioner Bettman’s statement for a moment. In 2003 when the Coyotes played their first game in Glendale’s new arena, built specifically for them, Gary Bettman gushed about Glendale. He praised Glendale. He couldn’t heap enough praise on Glendale.

The original owner of the Coyotes, Steve Ellman, had no deal requiring the City to subsidize the team. Ellman, not only ran the team successfully, he filled the arena regularly and consistently with big ticket concerts. Then Ellman sold his interest to Jerry Moyes. Moyes appeared to have bled the team dry until like a sun-baked prune it had nothing more to offer to him…and so, in 2009 he went to Glendale and asked for an annual subsidy. Glendale said “no” and Moyes followed through on his threat to put the team in bankruptcy while trying to craft a side deal to sell the team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who wanted to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario. 

In 2009 in a desperate move to keep the team in Glendale, the NHL took over the team and charged Glendale $25 million a year to manage it. Bettman was Glendale’s partner, Glendale’s buddy. Again, he couldn’t say enough good things about Glendale and its willingness to work with him and to keep the team in Glendale…and Arizona.

Glendale invested $185 million in construction of the hockey arena with debt service over 30 years, the final commitment is about $325 million…cha ching.

Glendale paid the NHL $50 million over 2 years to manage the team and keep it in Glendale and Arizona…cha ching.

Glendale paid IceArizona $15 million a year to manage the arena, again to keep the team in Glendale and Arizona…cha ching.

And this is how Commissioner Bettman recognizes the city for its investment and loyalty. Pardon me…but what a crock.

Along comes Anthony LeBlanc and his merry band of Canadian investors. By the way, have the team owners ever paid back the $70 million they borrowed from the league to buy the team? LeBlanc, et.al., in a snit fit, have apparently chosen revenge against Glendale because the city council had the temerity to cancel the owner’s arena management contract and the lucrative subsidy it provided. Didn’t it bother you, Mr. Bettman, that the team couldn’t provide straightforward answers to the city regarding their finances? Didn’t it give you pause?

Glendale was golden, until now. You never wrung your hands about the Glendale arena when it was built in 2003 or when Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. You never wrung your hands up until now. Mr. Bettman, did the majority Canadian owners of the Coyotes threaten to leave Arizona and move to Canada? Is that the straw that caused you to send a last minute, begging letter to the Arizona legislature supporting the Coyotes’ attempt to extort money from the legislature to support construction of yet another sports venue on the backs of Arizona taxpayers? Is your desire to stay in Arizona at all costs founded on its lucrative media market and a move to Canada would eliminate that?

I’m sure the members of the Arizona legislature have wondered how the Coyotes ownership will come up with $170 million as their share of the funding that SB 1149 requires when the Coyotes admit to millions in sustained losses every year, over the last few years. Which city is willing to become the host city and pour another $55 million down what appears to be a rat hole? Certainly there is no support among Arizona’s taxpayers to shell out another $170 million in sales tax to support this scheme.

It simply flies in the face of logic to build another hockey arena in Arizona when there is already a wonderful facility built specifically for the Coyotes. The growth of the Metro Phoenix area is in the West Valley and believe me there are plenty of demographically affluent, potential fans here. Could the possibility of poor management, non-existent marketing and a lousy product on the ice be the reason for the free fall in attendance?

Shame on you, Mr. Bettman. Glendale has proven itself repeatedly to be a reliable and stalwart partner in your desire to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. Now you turn your back on the city. If that’s how you treat friends, I pity anyone on your enemies list.

© 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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On February 1, 2017 the Arizona Republic had a front page, above the fold story (meaning really important) on Phoenix’s lobbyists’ rule. Its lobbyist registration ordinance is not worth the paper it’s written on. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/31/phoenix-council-letterhead-revealed-toothless-lobbying-rules/96549540/ . The Republic story reports, “Phoenix’s law states that lobbyists must register and disclose their clients if they are paid to contact the mayor or council members to influence official decisions. Lobbyists must also report campaign contributions and money they spend on meals, gifts or other expenses that benefit elected city leaders, according to the ordinance.” One of many problems with Phoenix’s law is there are no penalties associated with any failure to follow their law.

The article goes on to say, A high-profile Phoenix law firm did not properly register as a lobbyist with the city for two years, and recently filed falsely dated documents that made it appear the firm had followed the law, according to the Phoenix city attorney.

But the city of Phoenix can’t do anything to penalize the firm or others that do not comply with its lobbyist regulations. That’s because the law is toothless and there is no way to enforce it, city officials said they realized last week.” It’s up to the Phoenix City Council to reform its lobbyist law.

If you are relying on the state to keep an eagle eye on lobbyists and their expenditures, forget it. Justin Price, for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting states, “Less than 14 percent of the roughly $333,000 spent to lobby Arizona lawmakers in the first half of 2015 identified who the money was spent on, continuing a trend of scant disclosure going back years.

“Since 2010, the portion of lobbying records that include beneficiaries has averaged about 12.5 percent. This is according to data maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and includes lobbying records for the first half of each year, which typically includes Arizona’s annual legislative session.

Lobbyists are required to report their expenditures in quarterly expense reports submitted to the secretary of state. But loopholes and minimal regulatory oversight leave room for lobbyists to spend without reporting who benefited, ultimately leaving the public in the dark about who is influencing the people they have elected to craft Arizona’s laws, budget and taxes. For 2015, lobbying records include a beneficiary for $1 out of every $8 spent.” Here is the link to Mr. Price’s research: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/11/23/arizona-lobbying-records-little-disclosure/76068724/ .

Lobbying can be and is done by consulting firms and zoning attorneys advocating for a land project or the same entities may represent industries/interests seeking a specific law or project for which they are trying to attain passage for their client. Glendale, the state’s 6th largest city, has no lobbyist laws and it is way overdue.  It’s not just a matter of registering lobbyists who operate in Glendale, it’s also a matter of developing rules regarding the city’s hiring of lobbyists. In 2011, the city had a stable of lobbyists: Husk Partners, Inc.; Hyek and Fixx, Inc.; Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc.; and Policy AZ. They were hired while Ed Beasley was Glendale’s City Manager and paid a boatload of money to lobby on behalf of the city.

There is little to no transparency when it comes to lobbyists, what they do, how much they spend and which lawmakers receive their benefit. It’s not a problem just for Glendale and Phoenix but for the state as well. The state’s lobbyist laws are as meaningless as those of Phoenix.

It’s time for us, the citizens of the state, to know who is paying whom and who is supplying trips, gifts, meals and campaign contributions to all lawmakers…state, county and local.

© 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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Glendale is the 6th largest city in the state. Here is the ranking of the ten largest cities in the state:

  • Phoenix
  • Tucson
  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Glendale
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Peoria

Glendale has the lowest average median income of the 10 largest cities.

Glendale has the second highest poverty rate of those 10 cities.

Another media story shows that of the 25 wealthiest zip codes in Maricopa County Glendale has but one…85310…ranked 24th out of 25.

Glendale is a very diverse community:

  •     Caucasian                     50%
  •     Hispanic or Latino       37%
  •     Afro-American               6%
  •     Asian                                4%

Today we are going to examine why these facts drive development (or the lack of it) and also what needs to occur in order to improve or “upgrade” Glendale development to enhance our citizen’s quality of life and also make Glendale more competitive obtaining quality commercial/residential projects.

What can Glendale do to turn these numbers around? How does Glendale raise the average median income, lower its poverty rate and have more of its zip codes labeled as “the wealthiest”? It must embrace a new strategy toward future development and a new strategy to remediate some of its struggling neighborhoods.

So let us add some new facts and start to look for effective and reasonable solutions to Upgrade Glendale.

A square mile between Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road; 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue; in zip code 85301 is ringed by 10…yes, 10…low income multi-family apartment complexes? Were you aware that the density of package liquor stores and bars is the highest in zip code 85301? In an effort to upgrade south Glendale shouldn’t Council and the Planning Department be asking, when any developer or business seeks to locate in this area, does this project upgrade the area? Does it serve a family-oriented need? Does this project make the quality of life better for these neighborhoods or are we simply allowing more of the same because it’s easier not to fight the fight for quality commercial and residential development? If developers say they will walk away from a project because that is all that a certain area merits, perhaps the new Glendale paradigm is to let them. If we develop new standards of quality development and advise the development community that is what we expect and will allow, then that is what we will get.

The majority of Glendale’s residential base is comprised of starter homes and middle class homes. The home median value in Glendale is $183,300. Many new residential developments have a price point between $220,000 and $250,000. To some that may seem to be expensive but it is not in today’s market.

Where does one find big, beautiful, expensive homes on large lots? Why, zip code 85310. You can count on no more than two hands enclaves of large lot, expensive homes throughout Glendale. It is time to stop allowing the development community  build to the lowest common denominator of an area and demand that they build adhering to a philosophy of upgrading, not downgrading or adding more of the same in an area.

Glendale must stop allowing developers of infill projects greater and greater residential densities. I once learned that Glendale loses approximately $200 a year per home when providing basic services such as public safety, libraries, parks, streets, water, sewer and garbage collection. What that means is that Glendale spends more in services per home than that home earns in revenue for the city in terms of property taxes, sales taxes, etc. So, how is this imbalance made up? By commercial development with the property taxes and the sales taxes they pay to the city. I’m sure the figure has changed and I don’t know the current number however I plan on asking staff for a new current assessment.

Upscale businesses offering high paying jobs go a long way to offsetting the loss of revenue from the city’s cost of providing its basic services to homes. So how can we get the Intel’s of the world to locate in Glendale?

The quality of its workforce is the life’s blood of any major corporation. These corporations desire to locate where they can attract a highly educated, skilled employee base.

That’s where Glendale’s schools play a major role and unfortunately it is an area over which Glendale has no control. Many, not all, of Glendale’s schools have underperforming high school graduation rates with much of their student populations not moving on to college or technical training. Glendale’s primary and secondary educational system is failing to prepare students to become college or technically bound. They are failing to help the city to attract the quality work force needed to attract the Intel’s. The kinds of corporations we must seek to attract have employees who want to be assured that their children will have access to outstanding educational opportunities. These employees also seek quality, upscale housing with great quality of life amenities. They also require nearby access not just to fast food establishments but to upscale dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities. While a smattering of those kinds of quality of life issues are met in a few Glendale enclaves there is not enough of a mass to attract the kinds of employment providers the city seeks.

I contend a rising tide lifts all boats.

Isn’t it time to upgrade every Glendale resident’s quality of life? Isn’t it time to provide our residents with an abundance of good paying job opportunities? Shouldn’t it be in safe neighborhoods? Shouldn’t it be with Class A dining, shopping, leisure and entertainment opportunities throughout all of Glendale? We can do that by insisting and conveying to developers of commercial and residential properties that whether it is an infill parcel or raw land, our expectations for development are stringent. That Glendale now demands a new forward looking vision.

In a coming blog we will examine how Glendale government can move past prior history, Glendale school districts may help both their students now and after graduation and residents can actively engage in this new vision.

 

© 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 the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

In the February 11, 2017 edition of the Glendale Republic a Letter to the Editor from Larry Johns of Peoria proposed an interesting concept:                                                              “As an 11-year ticket holder, I certainly have experienced highs and lows.     

“The recent plan to build a new home for the Arizona Coyotes with ASU in Tempe is dead. However, CEO Anthony LeBlanc still wants to ‘secure the future of hockey in Arizona.’ He also said that the team is ‘ready to invest more than $170 million in a new arena.’ Glendale still owns nearly $150 million on the Gila River Arena.

“My suggestion: LeBlanc and the Coyotes should offer to buy the GRA for $150 million and put another $20 million into repairs and upgrades. Glendale would be free of the remaining GRA debt payments; it would still have sales tax revenue coming from the use of the arena and could focus on paying down their other sports stadium obligations or improving Glendale’s infrastructure.

“The Coyotes would be free from their acrimonious relationship with Glendale, would have control of the arena and, most importantly, would remain in Arizona. Just a thought.”

Yes, it is just a thought but an intriguing one. As long as the Coyotes remain in their self-imposed limbo weekly rumors will continue to abound. This week’s crop related to a media report on Tuesday that the team had sent representatives to check out locations in both Portland and Seattle. Geoff Baker, a reporter for the Seattle times, tweeted, “Attendees at developer/owner #KeyArena tour by city 2 weeks ago shows no #arizonacoyotes reps among non-city staff/media. Coyotes deny going.” He backed up his assertion by posting the attendees sign in sheets for the tours.

Anthony LeBlanc, Coyotes CEO, was quick to deny the current relocation rumor with this Coyotes Press Release, “Recent reports by the Glendale Star that the Coyotes ownership group has explored arena options outside the Arizona market are completely false. The Star referenced an anonymous arena source and an anonymous Coyotes source, and these are a fabrication.” He went on to say, “Maybe a little less seriously because of the publication, but because it has gone national — which is disappointing — we take this seriously, as does the league.” The magic words in his denial are as does the league.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has already demonstrated his commitment to keeping the team in Arizona by having the NHL manage the team for several years after Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy of the team in 2009. The Phoenix Metropolitan media market is a highly lucrative one for the league. It’s a market the league does not want to abandon. Bettman’s other goal is to create a new franchise in the west.  I suspect after a conversation with Bettman, LeBlanc couldn’t get to the media fast enough to deny rumors of relocation.

Denying rumors of relocation by LeBlanc is needed to quiet the fan base as well. Since the purchase of the team by IceArizona, average attendance figures have dropped like the proverbial stone and the team has earned the distinction of being the second lowest in the league with an average of 12,841 for the 2016-17 season. Only the Carolina Hurricanes have a lower attendance figure of 12,204. It should also be noted that their marketing efforts this season have been minimal. How many TV ads do you remember seeing this season?

LeBlanc points to these attendance figures as the reason why the team must move

Coyotes play off game White Out

to the East Valley. I would remind everyone that when the team made the play-offs attendance figures were robust. History shows no one complained about coming to Glendale to watch a winning team performing in the play offs. It certainly has a lot to do with the product on the ice. When the product is good, people will come. It’s the same for any sports franchise. When the team is hot and fan expectations are high, people come out of the woodwork to attend and suddenly tickets become very pricey.

All of this circles back to Mr. Johns of Peoria and his thought. If the Coyotes really do have money to play with…why not buy the Gila River Arena and become masters of their own fate? They characterize Glendale as inhospitable. Why? Because the city council didn’t want to continue subsidizing the team’s operations while losing money every year? The council simply wanted to stop bleeding each and every year and work toward insuring Glendale’s financial stability. It wasn’t, as portrayed, because they disliked the Coyotes and wanted to get rid of them.  Keep in mind the city had its own problems in dealing with the ownership group which was often obstructionist, especially in sharing financial information.

If the ownership group really has $170 million dollars why wouldn’t it take the opportunity to buy the arena? Many suspect that the Coyotes really don’t have that kind of money without attracting a new crop of investors. Rumor has it that may be exactly what they are doing…seeking a new investor(s).

Can they strike a deal with Sarver? Doubtful. Can they strike a deal with the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community? Doubtful. The painful lesson LeBlanc, et.al., are learning is that no one is willing to pay them to play…anywhere.

© 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 tohttp://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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