It has been 17 years and 115 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
This series of blogs is an in depth look at the true costs to the City of Glendale to host the Fiesta Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl in 2015. This has been difficult to write. Not because the subject matter is difficult but because the city’s response was complex, in some cases non-resposive and much of the material they provided required extensive untangling. The city is to be commended on supplying the answers to my request in a very timely fashion. There is a disclaimer. Despite my desire to obtain complete information from the city, the city did not create a mechanism to capture all of the costs that could be attributed to any of these events. More about this later.
It has been widely reported that Tom Duensing, Glendale’s Finance Director, claimed the cost of hosting the 2015 Super Bowl at $2.2 million dollars. Yet the cost to host the 2008 Super Bowl to the city was $2.8 million dollars. How could hosting in 2015 cost the city less? The answer is…it didn’t.
Inflation alone would have made all costs for services and equipment rise. The average inflation rate per year from 2008 to 2014 was 1.97% or 13.4% for seven years (the amount of time between the two hostings). See this link: http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/historical-inflation-rates/ . Just to account for inflation added to the 2008 cost of $2.8M would drive up the 2015 cost to $3.7M. How does Mr. Duensing, with a straight face, claim a 2015 Super Bowl cost of only $2.2M? It’s quite simple…don’t count everything.
My Public Information Request to the city included:
- The cost attributable to each event of planning for, preparation for, game day hosting and after actions.
- A list of all departments that contributed, by event, in any way, including but not limited to Public Safety as well as any and all departments involved from the Attorney’s Office to Zoning (A to Z).
- The number of employees used for each event from all departments you list, including but not limited to consultants, contract employees or regular (salaried and at will) employees.
- The number of hours attributable to each event, by department, including but not limited to planning, preparing, action upon and after action review of each of these 3 major events.
- The total dollar figure for employee costs attributable to each event, including but not limited to straight time pay, overtime pay, special pay, time and a half pay. List of all employees by job title and department, dollar amount for each of those employees who received overtime pay, special pay, assignment pay, time and a half pay, bonuses, Police & Fire to include sworn and non-sworn administrative staff from those departments. Separate list for each of those three events.
- The total dollar figure attributable to each event for use of all equipment by department or rented from other sources from but not limited to vehicles to trash cans whether a city asset or rented.
- Total revenues earned by the City of Glendale directly attributable to each of the three events, including but not limited to sales taxes, fees, in-kind contributions and reimbursed costs.
Now that is a very, very specific and detailed Public Information Request. Here’s a secret. If ever you have occasion to request information from this city or from any other governmental agency for that matter, you must be very specific and very precise in your wording. Governmental agencies don’t want you, the public, to have information. Information in today’s world is power. They don’t want to cede their power. If you were to be made aware of the information, you just might question how and why monies were spent.
Let’s begin with my first question: “The cost attributable to each event of planning for, preparation for, game day hosting and after actions.” What do we learn from the city’s response to this question? First, that it did not provide a complete answer. The city’s convention bureau paid the Super Bowl Host Committee $72,000 in support of the Super Bowl. These were not city funds. At the city council meeting of December 10, 2013 council passed Resolution 4758 authorizing the use of funds received from the Arizona Office of Tourism under Maricopa County Proposition 302 to be paid to the Host Committee. The city was merely a pass-through. It received the $72,000 grant, gave it to the CVB, who then gave it to the Host Committee in two payments: one in 2014 and one in 2015.
In November of 2014 the city formed a Super Bowl Operational Planning Team consisting of 22 employees. Those employees came from the Fire Department, Police Department, Code Enforcement, Planning Department, Intergovernmental Relations, Marketing & Communications, etc. What we don’t get is information on how many times they met, for how long, what direction they gave to other departments. Did they meet for an hour, two hours? Once a week? Once a month? What about meetings outside of city hall, with the Host Committee or NFL agents?
Why wasn’t a special finance code number assigned so their hours could be tracked? This is over a year before the actual Super Bowl. The Finance Department had the time to set up a financial tracking system that would account for hours and salaries but they didn’t do it. The city then formed a separate Public Information Officer Distribution List comprised of 18 employees. A few were from the Operational Planning Team but a majority was not. This distribution list was to insure that all PIOs within the city received the same talking points if queried, about the Super Bowl. Again, we don’t know how much time these 18 PIOs spent on Super Bowl activities.
The city sent 7 employees to the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey. Four were from the Police Department and three were from the Fire Department. I would consider this trip as essential. Those 7 employees had direct responsibilities related to Glendale’s hosting of the Super Bowl. They learned current and valuable information. The cost of their travel was $18,639.10.
The city’s Code Compliance division created Clean Zone Enforcement Teams that operated from Saturday, January 24, 2015 through Sunday, February 1, 2015. This encompasses the period in which the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl took place. For 7 days out of that 9 day period teams of 2 code compliance officers were dedicated to the area of these events from 8 AM to 4 PM. On 2 Sundays during this period they worked from 8 AM to Noon. 8 full time employees (FTEs) were used for a total of 128 hours. There was no information provided relating to FTE costs associated with this effort.
What is learned from the city’s answers to this first question? The city and especially Mr. Duensing was very sloppy in tracking the costs of all three events distinctly incurred by other departments that were not attributable to Public Safety. Mr. Duensing was probably correct in using a figure of $2.2M for the Super Bowl but that figure appears related only to Public Safety costs and ignores the costs incurred by other departments.
For example, the Attorney’s Office spent time and personnel reviewing contracts associated with these events. The Building Safety division spent time and personnel inspecting temporary structures. The Sanitation Department made extra runs to pick up trash. The Streets division sent out street sweepers. The Transportation Department manned their transportation center to monitor traffic and hired a helicopter for their use to monitor traffic. They used man hours and FTEs making sure the traffic lights were synched properly. The Planning Department reviewed and approved plans for temporary structures. The Media & Communications Department and the Intergovernmental Relations Department also had duties related to these events. How many FTEs were used and how much time did they consume? How much of their salaries can we attribute? We don’t know because the city failed to track that information.
The hours and FTEs used for these events were enormous and placed a strain on the delivery of regular service to Glendale residents. Yet, unbelievably, the city created no mechanism to track the costs incurred by the many city departments tasked with contributing man power and time.
We know the city created an Operational Planning Team, a PIO team and a Code Compliance team but it can provide no costs associated with any of them. These were committees created a year before the actual events. There was time to create a method of tracking the time expended and costs associated but it was not done.
The only costs acknowledged by the city in answer to question #1 were the $72,000 grant passed on to the Host Committee (not city funds); and the $18,639.10 the city paid for public safety employees to attend the Super Bowl in New Jersey in 2014.
Next up…a look at Public Safety costs for each of the three events, the Fiesta Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl.
© Joyce Clark, 2015
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