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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 18 years and 110 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The Glendale city council workshop of April 5, 2016 had 3 major issues up for discussion and direction by city council: the temporary West Branch Library; the pavement management program; and an introduction to the proposed new city owned arena manager.

Since I brought up parking for Heroes Park in my blog of April 5, 2016 entitled Glendale…fix the parking problem you created, it was definitely a topic of discussion. Erik Strunk, Director of Parks and Libraries, stated that they are working on temporary parking. He did not address the issue of Park Rangers sending people to park in adjacent neighborhoods or the safety issue of people crossing Bethany Home Road or 83rd Avenue to get to the park.

The final direction of the city council was to move forward with a temporary, 7500 square foot modular building. This action, of course, removes all impetus to ever build a permanent library structure. So, we in west Glendale, once again, get less — a 7500 SF modular structure half the size of Velma Teague Library in downtown Glendale.

The second item for discussion and direction was the city’s pavement management program. Currently the city spends $10 million annually to repair and maintain the city’s streets. Staff requested an additional $5 million a year. Ms. Vicki Rios, Interim Finance Director, presented a series of slides during the discussion. I bring two of those slides to your attention. This first one shows the city’s current debt service. The red, dotted line is the city’s secondary property tax revenue that is used to pay this form of debt. Please note that as of this year’s (FY 16-17) budget there is new debt capacity available…perhaps to build the west branch library? The new debt capacity is the difference between the red, dotted line and the sold green block depicting debt payments.

Current General Obligation debt

Current General
Obligation debt

Not so fast. Look at this second slide. It depicts current debt plus new, proposed debt.

Current debt plus new debt

Current debt
plus new debt

Note the Series 2016 debt depicted by the brownish square in the legend. That Series 16 debt is the $32 million the city is issuing next week to pay for the land and to construct parking on it to satisfy the city’s obligation to provide adequate parking for Cardinals’ football games. The orange, olive and blue areas above the brownish parking debt represent $5 million dollars a year in new debt for the pavement management plan. Note the red, dotted line which are funds used to pay the debt. Now there is no debt capacity available until Fiscal Year 21-22. With council’s approval of two items: the issuance of $32 million in debt for Cardinals’ parking and the $5million a year ($15 million total) for the pavement management plan there is no debt capacity to do anything else including building a permanent west branch library. The significance of these decisions is that there will be no debt capacity to build a west branch library for SIX more years until Fiscal Year 21-22. We will have waited for the west branch library for 25 years. There is no word to describe this situation other than disgraceful.

The last item was a public introduction of AEG as the proposed new manager of the city owned Gila River Arena. There was no mention of the Coyotes who continue to declare that they will move to some magical, undefined new facility somewhere else in the Valley. The reality is that AEG, as arena manager, the Coyotes and the city will have to come to terms in the meantime. I continue to believe if the Coyotes and AEG can come to agreement for a few years, why not long-term?

Under council requests for future workshops only one councilmember spoke, Sammy Chavira. He requested that the city present its travel policy and compare it to other Valley cities. What was more interesting is that Sammy, largely invisible these days, was cornered by an Arizona Republic reporter and questioned about his trips. Sammy’s only response was, “I want to stick to the policy to find out from now on – so next time, if you look at your policy, if you see anything, that you know that’s what we’re adhering to. What I want to do is I want to put something in concrete.” Say what? What did he say? Here is the link to the full story in the Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/04/06/glendale-councilman-sammy-chavira-requests-review-travel-policy-after-council-trip/82631826/ .

I can see it now. Sammy’s defense is that he followed city policy. OK, so now it’s the city’s fault? Where is Sammy’s ethical and moral compass? In essence he is admitting that he took advantage of a policy. It’s the same as if there were a policy that said, thou shall not steal. Since the policy is so vague an argument could be there is no definition of the word “steal.” Sammy is playing word games but they won’t work this time. He is accountable for his actions. He should voluntarily reimburse the city for the nearly $25,000 he spent for trips to see the Pope, his buddy sworn into Congress, his excessive baggage claims and rebooked flights, and his two highly suspicious trips to California. Don’t hold your breath on this one.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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It has been 18 years and 75 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On February 26, 2016 Arizona Sports ran a story on Anthony LeBlanc’s reaction to Mayor Jerry Weiers’ remarks at his State of the City address. Here is the link:  http://arizonasports.com/story/566510/arizona-coyotes-ceo-glendale-may-want-us-to-stay-but-not-being-realistic/ .

In his prepared remarks with reference to the Coyotes the Mayor said, “I need to be clear about this. I want the Coyotes to stay in Glendale. The city wants the Coyotes to remain in Glendale. We have, since day-one, invited them to remain engaged in this process.”  In his recent remarks Mr. LeBlanc said this about the Coyotes’ refusal to engage in the bid process to manage Glendale’s arena, “…the team did not submit a bid to manage the arena because it refused to participate in a ‘flawed process’.” LeBlanc did not elaborate on his characterization of a “flawed process.”

Mr. LeBlanc went on to say, “I think they do want us to stay, but I don’t think they’re looking through a realistic lens of what that means.” Translate this statement to read that in his view “a realistic lens of what that means” is the Coyotes would only stay if Glendale continues to subsidize a portion of their annual loss. LeBlanc, et. al., may have retired their Fortress loan by adding additional owners but don’t forget they still owe a boat load of money to the NHL for another loan that covered buying the team.

What governmental entity is not only going to build a new hockey arena but also subsidize the Coyotes’ annual loss? It’s Glendale all over again. Tempe? Scottsdale? Probably not. Phoenix? Perhaps it can bury its subsidization of the Coyotes within possible plans to build a new facility for joint use by the Suns and the Coyotes.

The Coyotes want to manage their own facility. Then they collect all of the revenue generated by non-hockey events and they can claim a management fee that not only covers their cost to manage but off-sets their annual loss.

LeBlanc praised a recently approved deal between Broward County, Florida and the NHL Florida Panthers. The deal allows the Panthers to get nearly all of the arena revenue and reduces any profit-sharing between the Panthers and the county. Since the Panthers first season in 1993-94 the Broward county’s public subsidy of the team has been $342 million (an estimated $14 million a year). It should be noted that the Panthers lost $36 million last year and another $27 million the previous year. Of course LeBlanc would think that’s a wonderful deal. Reality is that the majority of NHL teams can’t survive without public financial support. That has been the model for years but many governmental entities are under financial pressure and can no longer afford this type of model. It is a model destined to die in the future as the public clamors for sports franchises to pay their own way.

LeBlanc said three options are still being discussed. They are a shared arena with the Phoenix Suns in downtown, a partnership with Arizona State University or an arena in Scottsdale’s Loop 101 corridor. Hey, if the City of Phoenix wants to pony up and pay the Coyotes to play downtown, congratulations to all. Previously the Suns and the Coyotes shared an arena downtown and it was the fans who suffered with terrible sight lines while watching the games.

Is the Arizona State Legislature delusional? It has budget problems. Will it allow a portion of its allocation of state public money to be used to pay for a new hockey arena instead of educational purposes? It seems doubtful that Scottsdale will wish to pay the Coyotes to play in their town. It would be déjà vu as they refused to do so in 2001.

LeBlanc said if a new arena is built it will take at least three years. He went on to say they would “rather not move twice in five years.” Here is where the situation becomes problematical. Glendale and IceArizona currently have a two year agreement that allows IceArizona to manage the arena for $6 million per year. The first year of that agreement is nearly up leaving only one more year of IceArizona’s management. After that it is assumed AEG, the presumed new arena manager, and IceArizona will have to negotiate short-term tenancy for two more years. Will they be able to craft a mutually satisfactory tenancy arrangement? Then the question becomes if IceArizona can live with the deal for two years, why can’t it live with the deal permanently? Can LeBlanc and company afford to rebuild its fan base in another part of the Valley while it continues to rebuild the team?

No matter what the outcome I continue to have greatest respect and admiration for the players. They have endured a great deal since Jerry Moyes put the team into bankruptcy in 2009. They are a great group of men who certainly deserve more stability than they have had. They deserve better. Let’s see if cooler heads can prevail and a deal that benefits all entities can be achieved permanently. Isn’t it time?

© Joyce Clark, 2016

 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.

It has been 18 years and 53 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Otherwise occupied, I paid very little attention to the NHL hockey game until I checked Twitter later in the day and saw a friend’s tweet that said “Year of the outsiders #JohnScottMVP.” I was struck by that, called the friend and she shared her thought that John Scott was the sports equivalent of the current political scene of the outsiders.

It is undeniably the year of the “outsiders.” Let’s look at two: this one in the world of sports and one in the world of politics.

For many of you not familiar with the world of National League Hockey you will not have heard about the NHL’s most recent All Star game and the extraordinary events that occurred.

John Scott is an enforcer and was a player for the Arizona Coyotes hockey team. He’s the six foot eight inch designated guy to fight other players on behalf of his teammates. He’s never been a star and bounced around among four teams before landing with the Arizona Coyotes. I don’t know if he ever scored any goals in his entire professional career. He is not a star but a steady, constant player, devoted to the game and thankful that he is considered good enough to play in the NHL. He is like our mail men and women, invisible, delivering our mail daily without us giving a thought to their service.

The NHL All-star players are selected by the fans through voting. It began as a joke. He was nominated for the All Star game but a funny thing happened. Fans and his peers voted for him in overwhelming numbers. As we now know he was asked by the NHL to decline and he reluctantly did so telling the fans he wasn’t a star and they should select another. No one listened. The next thing he knew he was voted Team Captain and he would be playing for the Pacific Division in the All Star game. He was excited and proud. The NHL was not.

Then a not-so-funny thing happened. The NHL establishment didn’t want John Scott to play. After all, they had to preserve their image. It was not one of a 4th liner playing in the nationally televised All-star game. Once again John Scott was asked to state he was not playing but this time according to his very endearing written article ( Here is the link: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/a-guy-like-me/), he was asked if his children would be proud of him. Like other institutions the NHL showed the same tone deaf attitude having no clue what children mean to parents so from that moment on John Scott was determined to play.

The NHL establishment concocted a scheme apparently pressuring the Coyotes owners. After all, it was because of Bettman and a very large NHL loan they were able to buy the team. Don Maloney, Coyotes’ General Manager, became the establishment’s enforcer telling Scott that he had been suddenly and inexplicitly traded to the Montreal Canadians who immediately sent him down to minor league team in Newfoundland. There isn’t any NHL rule that says once a man has been demoted he can’t play in an All Star game but they figured they had sent the message to Scott…don’t play, don’t even think about it.

But Scott did think about it. Players from around the league told him, “You have to play.” So John Scott played.

It was both a time of magic for John Scott and a repudiation of the NHL by most fans and many players. He enjoyed a stellar day with his wife and two tutu/Coyotes sweater clad

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 20: John Scott #20 of the San Jose Sharks participates in the family skate during the practice day for the 2015 Coors Light Stadium Series game between Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks at Levi's Stadium on February 20, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

tiny daughters in attendance and scored two All Star goals that evening…Two. At the end of the game three names were tweeted by the NHL for the game MVP. None of the three names were John Scott. Online Twitter erupted with John Scott MPV hashtags and fans in the Arena began chanting Scott’s name for MVP. In five minutes the NHL establishment capitulated and John Scott was named the MVP of the2016 All Star game.

John Scott represents “everyman.” He represents the men and women on the assembly line, the invisible and silent workers that keep our country running. In this one extraordinary moment of time John Scott and “everyman” prevailed over the establishment. The “outsiders”…the John Scott caliber of player who ignored the establishment’s threats and intimidation and the fans who have silently in anger and frustration  watched game play diminish as it became buried in an avalanche of rules, regulations and insensitivity…made their voices heard. In sports John Scott epitomizes the common man’s disgust of the establishment’s unethical behavior.

Trump is the creation by an establishment that embodies a corrupt political system, a biased media and a Washington, D.C. awash in self-absorption and self-aggrandizement. Oddly, he too, speaks for “everyman.” He speaks for a shrinking middle-class that no matter how hard it works, no longer ever gets ahead and who fears its children and grandchildren will be left worse off. He speaks for the millions who are demoralized by a great county that is no longer respected by the world. He speaks for those who fear the possibility of catastrophic terrorist acts on our soil. He speaks for a county that is economically anemic and needs a transfusion not a “transformation”. His political incorrectness speaks against those in power who think they know better but have made things worse.

He says what he really thinks without the traditional political filter. Or any filter actually. Whether you think he is right or wrong it is refreshing. He offers hope to the silent majority that there is a chance to reclaim America, a great and prosperous and yes, entitled county; the county for which so many have sacrificed to get to its shores.

Deep down in the nation’s gut it is implicit that establishment politicians lie. They spoon feed their base what they believe they must say to remain popular and electable. However the national psyche is flexing its forgotten muscles. They are no longer silent while establishment politicians fail to serve the people but rather calculatingly work to retain their power and privilege. Trump has stripped away their politically correct veil. Every time he says something the establishment considers totally outrageous, sure to alienate all he defies their conventional wisdom and his poll numbers rise.

Trump has tapped a nerve, a sentiment, a longing. He has given voice to concerns too long unspoken. He is most certainly a political “outsider,” hated, admired or feared dependent upon one’s political persuasion. Can he win a presidential race or really change the country for the

Photo courtesy of sourcefed.com

Photo courtesy of sourcefed.com

better? Who knows? But to put it bluntly in the primary he is boxing the GOP establishment’s ears. Average folks are cheering him on with pleasure.

I chose these two men as the epitome of the “outsider.” In sports John Scott is symbolic of a true underdog who prevailed over an old, tradition riddled elitist establishment.

In politics Donald Trump is symbolic of a reactionary who has the potential to prevail over an elitist political establishment that will do whatever is necessary to preserve its power.

Let’s hear it for outsiders…#2016

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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.

It has been 18 years and 49 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

The City of Glendale received 3 bids to manage its arena. The bids were from AEG Facilities, Comcast Spectacor and SMG. All are extremely reputable, large national companies, experienced in operating venues throughout the country. After senior management reviewed all 3 bids it recommended AEG to the city council. All of the discussion with council was done in executive session and the public is not privy to those discussions. On January 2, 2016 in its executive session council approved AEG and directed staff to negotiate a final contract over the next 60 days.

It is a very positive development. AEG can add another premier venue to its portfolio that is sure to benefit Glendale when AEG negotiates packages of venues with performers. It had previous experience operating the Gila River Arena from 2006 – 2009 and during that period it acquired some major performers: one that comes to mind is Bruce Springstein. It manages over 120 facilities worldwide and the majority is located in the United States.

What does that mean for the Coyotes? I, and many others, remain hopeful that AEG and IceArizona can negotiate a deal that benefits both. That still is the best option for all parties: the city, IceArizona and AEG. Anthony LeBlanc, an owner of IceArizona and its spokesperson, continues to play poker when discussing the situation with such recent comments as, “The good news is that all of the discussions we have had have been pretty open as have other organizations — be it the city of Phoenix or Tempe or Arizona State. Everybody has been pretty open that we have had discussions with and they have all been positive (www.arizonasports.com, Rodney Haas).” If this is his attempt to raise the ante with Glendale or AEG it doesn’t seem to be working. One has only to look back upon his previous history of blustery statements that were found to be less than forthcoming.

If the Coyotes are serious about moving there are still major hurdles to overcome. A new facility would not be available for at least 3 years. No matter whether is it Phoenix, Tempe or Timbuktu, pesky voters will have to be swayed to support the construction of yet another sports venue. Voters are becoming more discerning and will question the value of diverting precious tax revenue away from community needs and to another subsidized sports facility. In today’s day and age, it is not an easy sell as it once was.

Then there is the issue of location…location…location. Larry Feiner, a Coyotes fan, recently tweeted the results of an informal poll he did about the difficulty of the commute. His responses were split right down the middle, 50/50. Those fans who live in the east valley consider the commute to Glendale a hassle. Those fans who live in the west valley consider the commute to the east valley a hassle. The question for the Coyotes is will the ticket holders they pick up from the east valley offset the losses of west valley fans? All of the good will created among west valley fans could be lost. That is a question only the Coyotes will be able to answer. For the past 10 years the Coyotes have had a home in the west valley and it has served them and their fans well. It is a wonderful facility build exclusively for hockey. It is not to be dismissed lightly in a pique of anger because the city is no longer subsidizing losses to the tune of $15 million dollars a year.

I remain positive and believe that a successful accommodation can be achieved between all parties. Can the Coyotes?

©Joyce Clark,2016  

  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.

It has been 18 years and 47 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On January 29, 2016 the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran a story about Jerry Moyes entitled When a CEO Borrows on his stock by Ted Mann, Robbie Whelan and Theo Francis. For those who don’t know or may have forgotten, Jerry Moyes is the founder, chairman and former CEO of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the United States. Moyes is also owner of the charter airline Swift Air and a marina at Lake Powell. Moyes is the controlling owner of SME Steel Contractors Inc., a steel erector company based in Utah. He was a majority owner of the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League before he filed bankruptcy and the team was sold to the NHL in 2009, and the Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League. Moyes is also a limited partner in the Arizona Diamondbacks, and was once a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns.

Moyes is a Glendale resident best known for his bankruptcy filing of the NHL Coyotes in a failed attempt to sell the team to Jim Balsillie, one time CEO of Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry cell phone. As a result of these manoeuvrings the team was eventually sold to the NHL and then the NHL sold the team to IceArizona resulting in a $15 million dollar a year management fee paid by the City of Glendale until recently.

The story relates the fact that Moyes has borrowed heavily against his shares of Swift Trucking. Demands for additional loan collateral were made and three times Swift’s board has taken action beneficial to Moyes in dealing with his loans. The board policy had been that senior directors could pledge no more than 20% of their stock for margin loans. In 2013, the cap was lowered to 15% as of July 2014 and then lowered once again to 10% as of July 2015.  The board then amended the 10% limit from taking effect until the end of 2016. In 2015 Swift stock lost 52% of its value and as the stock value he had pledged as collateral declined he needed to pledge even more of his stock as further collateral.

However, his use of his stock as collateral exceeded the board’s limits. Other investors including the Teamsters’ Union are concerned with the board’s actions and accused Mr. Moyes of, “using Swift as his personal bank.”

According to the WSJ, “Swifts’ board is unusually small, just six members. To analysts of corporate governance, boards size matters: While too-large boards can be unwieldy, too-small boards can turn into echo chambers and foster an eagerness among directors to get along in the face of tough decisions.” It goes on to say, “the Phoenix-based company has just four independent directors, as defined by New York Stock Exchange rules. And one of those deemed independent, Mr. Dozer, spent years helping run a business that was partly owned by Mr. Moyes, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mr. Dozer was the baseball team’s president from 1995 until 2006, and Mr. Moyes was a minority owner from 1996 until last year.” Hmm…It looks as if you own a company you can use it as your personal bank just a long as your close friends on a very small board approve.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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.

It has been 18 years and 23 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Over the holidays there wasn’t much news about the Coyotes. Now that we are in a new year on January 7, Paul Giblin had a story in the Arizona Republic citing the results of a recent poll on the subject of a Coyotes relocation. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/01/07/poll-arizona-coyotes-should-stay-gila-river-arena-glendale/78314406/ . He reported, “Approximately 54 percent of frequent voters in Maricopa County surveyed believe the Coyotes should remain at Gila River Arena in Glendale, according to the poll that was conducted Dec. 29 for Phoenix-based public-relations firms MBQF Consulting and Marson Media.”

The problem for any other governmental agency attempting to locate the Coyotes will be to garner enough public support to pay for yet another very expensive sports facility. Thirteen years ago, in 2002, the cost to build the Gila River Arena was about $180 million dollars. The cost today to build the same type of facility has exploded. It is expected that the cost would be in the $400 million dollar range. The sixty four dollar question is can enough public support be generated in some other Valley community to use precious and scarce taxpayer dollars?

Public support would probably be found if the economy was booming and world affairs were stable. That is not the case. The economy staggers along as the middle class continues its death spiral. The general public fears more ISIS inspired events on our soil as the Middle East explodes into further turmoil while China’s stock market takes a dive and North Korea’s bomb tests reminds us that we, as a nation, are vulnerable. This is not an environment that is conducive for public sentiment to use taxpayer dollars on yet another sports facility.

Anthony LeBlanc, one of the Coyotes’ owners and apparent Public Information Officer, has had to walk back some of his previous assertions about the Coyotes.  He has hired a sports consultancy firm to assist him in his quest for a new location. It seems likely that a location in any other Valley municipality will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. His only hope may be can he cut a deal for another new facility funded and built by the Gila River Pima Maricopa Indian Community? His refusal to bid for management of the Gila River Arena may come back to haunt him.

Which leads to another bit of recent news. The City of Glendale received 3 bids to manage its Gila River Arena submitted by AEG Facilities, Spectra by Comcast Spectacor and SMG. All three are “big guns” in the sports management business. All have the experience and knowledge required to successfully manage Glendale’s arena. Currently the bids are TOP SECRET. In the next few weeks Glendale’s senior management staff and city council will each receive separate briefings regarding the specifics of each proposed bid. This management deal is more complicated because the Coyotes will play in the arena for another season and it is expected the chosen management company contract would begin this July 1, 2016. That means that the preferred management company and the Coyotes would have to negotiate revenue streams for one year of Coyotes occupancy. There is always the remote possibility that a deal could be crafted comfortable enough for the Coyotes to create an incentive for them to stay at the Gila River Arena beyond their final year.

The city council may be ready to vote on an arena manager as early as February 9, 2016. If a vote is not taken around that date expect that one of the bids is in further negotiation before final acceptance. The public, as is the case with mushrooms, will be left in the dark and fed horse manure. There is no opportunity for public input in this process. While everyone understands the theory of representative government they also understand the theory of transparency. It seems that once again “father knows best” trumps the public’s right to know.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

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 go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 336 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

It seems that Thanksgiving got in the way of much blog writing recently. I hope your Thanksgiving Day with family and friends was enjoyable. I hope you ate too much, laughed too much and watched too much football.

It was announced that the Coyotes hired Mitchell Ziets, CEO of Tipping Point Sports, LLC, to assist in an exploration of options for the team including a move to another venue from the Gila River Arena in Glendale. Let’s explore the reality of this option.

In a November 2, 2015 story by Craig Morgan several possible venues are offered for consideration by the Coyotes. Here is the link: http://arizonasports.com/story/436156/coyotes-in-discussions-with-at-least-three-separate-groups-for-new-valley-arena/ .

In his story Morgan offers this comment from Anthony LeBlanc, “At some point you have to make a decision that you can’t continue to talk to a wall, Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said. You have to accept reality and look at what your alternatives are. That’s where we are right now.” From the time LeBlanc’s group, IceArizona, commenced its deal with Glendale for the use of its arena the Coyotes simply refused to talk to and to share information with Glendale. They were decidedly off the reservation. It has only been since the new, two-year deal was inked that IceArizona has decided to play nice with Glendale.

IceArizona may very well leave Gila River Arena in two years but options to play elsewhere in the Valley are more limited than current speculation would lead one to believe. LeBlanc admits to “conversations” with Phoenix about the possibility of a shared arena with the Phoenix Suns. Out of curiosity I checked the 2015-2016 playing schedules for both teams. Here are some comparisons:

                                                            Phoenix Suns                 Arizona Coyotes

Season                                                10/28/2015-4/13/2016     10/9/2015-4/13/2016

Number of total games                                     82                                        82

Number of home games                                   40                                        41

Out of the 40+ plus home games each team plays at its current venue, if they currently played at the same shared venue, 12 playing dates would conflict. That is ¼ or 25% of their home games. To be fair, we know that can be remedied by the leagues with a gnashing of teeth and the pulling of hair. It has worked before when the Coyotes and Suns shared a venue. One would think the Coyotes fans have warm memories of their experiences in sharing a venue with the Suns and are eagerly looking forward to do so again.

In a recent December 2, 2015 Paul Giblin story in the Arizona Republic, he cites issues that Phoenix would have to consider. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/12/02/arizona-coyotes-arizona-cardinals-wont-bid-manage-glendale-gila-river-arena/76564718/ .

  •  How much would a new arena cost? The Milwaukee Bucks’ planned new arena is pegged at $500 million.
  • How much would be privately funded? How much publicly funded? Would the public-funding source be municipal, state or some combination?
  • Can voters be sold on the idea of picking up any portion of the bill?
  • Where specifically would an arena be built?
  • When would it open?
  • Can the Suns and Coyotes work out an agreement to split revenues?

Let’s look at other possible venues. Tempe and/or Scottsdale are possible candidates. Would the voters of Tempe and/or Scottsdale approve the construction of a $180 million dollar building (cost of Gila River Arena construction in 2005) and agree to subsidize, year after year, a team that is not profitable? Remember those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. I would think many voters would be very aware of Glendale’s history and that could certainly cause them to think twice about such a proposal.

Arizona State University has been mentioned as well. ASU receives substantial funding from the Arizona State Legislature. It is conceivable that a majority of legislators may balk at the idea of state taxpayer money being used to subsidize a for-profit company.  If ASU can fund and subsidize such a project with new, private dollars and not divert private dollars already committed for existent programs then it is possible. But wait, didn’t ASU Hockey just commit to playing its games at Gila River Arena? If that is the case, wouldn’t ASU have to build a new venue?

The last location on the menu of possibles is Talking Stick. That is certainly do-able. An Indian reservation is not subject to federal, state, county or local laws. The tribe is free to build what it wants to build on reservation land.  One has to wonder if this tribe would be willing to invest in the construction of another major venue as well as subsidizing the team in perpetuity.

There was an interesting article published on October 20,2015 by the Flordia’s Sun Sentinel regarding the NHL Florida Panthers and a Broward County proposed deal. Here is the link: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-panthers-subsidy-debate-20151020-story.html .

In some ways their deal is like comparing apples and oranges for Broward County has a population of 1.87 million people and includes 24 cities. That in itself is much different from Glendale’s population of approximately 240,000 and the fact that it is one city having to deal with a hockey arena. Some elements of their proposed deal are eerily similar to the Glendale/Coyotes deal. As of this date their deal has yet to be approved but here are some of the deal points which would expire in 2028:

  • The Panthers would continue making $5.3 million annual debt payments toward the county’s $15.3 million obligation.
  • Receive $86 million from the county, or $6.6 million a year on average, but in a schedule of front-loaded payments that starts at $12 million a year. Of the total, $39 million must be used for capital expenses at the arena, $45.5 million for operating expenses like paying the electric bill or property insurance, and $1.5 million to lure a “high impact event.”
  • Provide an irrevocable letter of credit to protect the county’s financial investment if the team defaults, files bankruptcy or relocates.
  • Grant the county development rights on land surrounding the arena, where a mixed-use entertainment complex could be considered.
  • Share proceeds with the county if the NHL expands between 2015 and 2021 and gives teams expansion proceeds. After the Panthers’ losses are covered, the county would get the remainder of the one-time expansion payment.
  • Give the county 10 percent of profits if the team, made more valuable by this new deal, were sold.
  • Give the county authority to approve where the money for capital projects is spent, and authority to replace the Panthers’ Arena Operating Company with another arena manager if needed.
  • Allow the Panthers to get out of the contract in eight years if it’s not working out. They’d have to give a year’s notice, show losses of $100 million over seven years, and pay a termination amount. For example, if the Panthers leave in year 8, they’d pay back the full $72 million the county would have given them by then.

No matter where the Coyotes end up in the Valley, whether they remain in Glendale or move to another location, their quest to be subsidized by a governmental entity is surely a public policy question deserving of much public discussion. The people of any city have a right to weigh in on the question of their tax dollars being used to subsidize a private, for-profit company.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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It has been 17 years and 237 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Peter Corbett’s article in the August 21, 2015 edition of the Arizona Republic reports settlement of a 2014 law suit between the Coyotes and Jason Rose of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations firm. Here is the link:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/08/21/coyotes-settle-lawsuit-scottsdale-polo-event/32112415/ .

The Coyotes had hired Rose’s public relations firm to work to defeat a citizen referendum in Glendale designed to block the arena deal between the Coyotes and the city. The referendum was unsuccessful and the Coyotes subsequently owed the firm a base fee of $25,000 and a $250,000 bonus. To pay off the debt the Coyotes were supposed to sponsor the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships (Rose’s baby) to the tune of $55,000 annually and give two front row hockey tickets for 8 games a season for 5 years.

Then LeBlanc seems to have stiffed Rose. The public relations firm got its base fee of $25,000 and one year of sponsorship in 2013…not the $55,000 promised but only $25,000. After that the spigot closed and the Coyotes did not pay another dime.

The judge handling the case granted the public relations firm’s motion for a jury trial. Can you imagine? Another round of negative publicity from a jury trial for the Coyotes? You can be sure after that motion was granted the real negotiation for a final settlement began. Last week both sides finally settled.

What is in this final settlement? No one knows. The terms are undisclosed and no one is talking…not the Coyotes and not Rose. Rose probably got his pound of flesh or he wouldn’t have settled. LeBlanc probably shouldn’t have promised what appears he didn’t intend to deliver.

It raises an issue of concern. The city’s cancelling of the original lease management agreement was a wise move. What was LeBlanc failing to report that the city had no means to verify? If and when the city reenters negotiation with the Coyotes for another long term agreement hopefully the city will include protections and means of verification that were absent in the original agreement. However, it would be prudent for the city to wait until the RFP bids have come in. They will be very helpful in determining fair market values. This time around there are lessons to be learned from recent history. Let’s hope the city does its homework.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Read more

It has been 17 years and 230 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

NOTE: Many have taken the opportunity to email me and berate me because my blogs have not been as frequent as usual. Personal matters have had me traveling out of state on a regular basis and have not allowed me the opportunity to write about Glendale issues on my usual schedule. Hopefully the end of August will provide some relief and I will be able to resume my normal schedule of blogs.

On August 14, 2015, Glendale First! issued a press release saying in part, “Today Glendale First has officially abandoned and withdrawn our sponsorship of recall efforts against Glendale, AZ Councilmembers Hugh, Turner and Tomalchoff.

We are satisfied the city has endorsed a new short term relationship with the Arizona Coyotes that is currently in the best interest of all involved. We’re hoping sincere efforts result in a long term agreement being reached between the City and the Arizona Coyotes in the near future.

These recall efforts shined a bright light on actions by councilmembers that negatively impacted public safety budgets and that put at risk the City of Glendale’s relationship with the Arizona Coyotes. We applaud the unanimous action taken by City Council on July 24th. We thank both the Coyotes and the City for striking a suitable arrangement.

We hope the pledge of the City Council to examine the needs and deficiencies in the two public safely departments bears fruit in the form of reduced response times.”

I contend, as I did originally, that Glendale First! used a public safety issue as a smoke screen for their primary anger over the action taken by a majority of Glendale’s city council canceling the original lease agreement with the Coyotes’ ownership. If they were really concerned about public safety issues they would have continued their recall effort. In this press release their angst over public safety is almost an after thought, easily dismissed now that the Coyotes are staying for the next two years.

We can assume that the Coyotes’ ownership counseled Glendale First! to cut it out and to quit its puny attempt to unseat the existing councilmembers as ownership seeks to mend fences with the Glendale city council as it enters a period of renegotiation of a new, more permanent lease agreement.

The Glendale citizens who have contacted me via email, to a person, want the city to issue an RFP for the arena’s management. They believe the city may get a better deal. While they want the Coyotes as arena tenants in the light of past history, they are not convinced it is in the best interests of the city to use the Coyotes’ ownership group for the arena’s management. They want city council as President Reagan once said, “trust but verify.”

The best way to verify what is a fair market price for Glendale’s arena management is to solicit bids. If the Coyotes’ ownership wants to continue to manage the arena they can respond to the RFP just as any other company. Competition is good for a city’s soul and competition for securing an arena management company is a win proposition for the city and its taxpaying citizens.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 214 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On July 24, 2015 at a special voting meeting the Glendale City Council unanimously passed Ordinance 2949 and the First Amendment to AMULA Final. With these actions the city and Ice Arizona agreed to dismiss all lawsuits and also settled the issue of the million dollars sitting around in a special escrow account as a result of the 2009 bankruptcy filing.

Before the Kumbaya vote Anthony LeBlanc, spokesperson for the ownership group said, “We’re not going to renegotiate…never, never, never.” Oops. The afternoon of the fateful vote in a radio interview with Roc & Manuch, LeBlanc was heard to say, “We haven’t been open with them (the city).”And, “We haven’t been good communicators.” And, “They’ve done well for the taxpayers. They’ve got a win.” When asked if Ice Arizona would consider buying the city’s arena, LeBlanc said about arena ownership, “That’s not the business we’re in.” Should we believe him in light of his long history of “erroneous” statements?

Councilmember Gary Sherwood, IceArizona’s staunch advocate, in an earlier, same day radio interview (July 24, 2015) with Roc & Manuch, said that he had publicly staked out a position that “he was not going to vote.” We can assume his action was to be a public display of disapproval for council’s treatment of his good friends, the IceArizona owners. In his traditional flip-flop fashion, he reversed himself with a little help from his friends. He revealed that the night before the vote “he had discussions with ownership” (presumably Anthony LeBlanc). His remark is interesting in and of itself for the only meeting council had prior to the vote was an executive session on July 20, 2015.  Did he share the conversations and results of that executive session with his good friend LeBlanc? Sherwood went on to say that “ownership wanted a 7-0 vote in support of the new deal.” Always willing to oblige his friends, Sherwood did a 180 and not only voted but voted in favor and made sure his pal, Councilmember Sammy Chavira did as well.

There has been considerable opining in the news media and on social media as to whether this is a good deal…for anybody. I contend that it is a good deal for Glendale if for no other reason than a $197 million dollar liability is gone…poof! That action should warm the hearts of the bond rating agencies. That figure represents the annual lease payments for the balance of the original lease management agreement.

The city gained in reducing the management fee to $6.5M from the original $15M annually. The actual language is: “10.1. Management Fee. Commencing on the Amendment Effective Date, and during the remainder of the Term, in consideration of the Arena Manager’s agreement to perform the management and other services set forth in this Agreement to pay all operating and maintenance costs associated with the Arena Facility (other than capital costs as provided herein), provided there is no breach by the Team Owner of the obligations under the Non-Relocation Agreement or a material breach by the Arena Manager of its obligations under this Agreement, the City shall pay to the Arena Manager, by wire transfer of immediately available funds to an account specified by the Arena Manager, the annual Management Fee in the amount of Six Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($6, 500,000), paid in quarterly (on a three calendar month basis) installments in arrears on or before each October 1st, January 1st, April 1st and July 1st during the Term.” The city was losing an estimated $8+M a year under the original lease agreement even with the shared revenue it received. This management fee is budgeted within the city budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16.

The city also won two important concessions. It now has its own “out” clause with this agreement which ends in two years, in 2017 with recognition that “19. Termination Date means June 30, 2017.”  It now has the freedom to choose its own arena manager in a year’s time as stated, “46. Change of Manager. Notwithstanding what may otherwise be proved in this Agreement or in this Amendment, the City shall have the option to replace the Arena Manager at any time after June 30, 2016…” Everyone hopes the city will craft an RFP immediately and put it out on the street in a time frame appropriate to exercising that option.

The city achieved what can be considered as payback. IceArizona will no longer use former City Attorney Craig Tindall or former Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni in any capacity including as a consultant. It is in #4 of the Settlement Agreement which states, “No Other City Employee Involved with Arena Agreement. The Parties represent and warrant that, as of the Effective Date, to the best of their individual and collective knowledge, information, and belief, no other former employees of the City, other than Craig Tindall or Julie Frisoni, have become consultants to or employees of IceArizona, in any capacity, since July 8, 2013. Ice Arizona represents and warrants that neither Tindall nor Frisoni has, in any way and to any extent, no matter how substantial or insubstantial, been involved in initiating, negotiating, creating, drafting, or securing the First Amendment. In reliance on these representations and warranties and those in Section 6, the City, City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney, collectively and individually, represent and warrant that they will never in the future seek to cancel or void the Arena Agreement of the First Amendment based o the involvement of Tindall or Frisoni, no matter how substantial or insubstantial, in initiating, negotiating, crating, drafting, or securing the Arena Agreement or the First Amendment on behalf of Glendale, so long as Tindall and Frisoni are not employed or retained as a consultant by IceArizona or any of its affiliates, divisions, parent entities, or subsidiaries.” The language is quite specific. That is just plain Karma for Tindall and Frisoni.

Did IceArizona get anything out of the deal? It stopped a lawsuit in which ultimately the city would have prevailed. Note that the new deal contains a lot of verbiage enjoining the city from suing IceArizona, ever, for any reason, regarding Tindall and Frisoni. The major gain was that it bought IceArizona time…time to decide its future. If the owners cannot put a decent team on the ice this year their future is bleak and they know it. It’s not a matter of distance that fans must travel to a game. That rationale has been over used. When teams win people will eagerly travel long distances to watch the winner. A team that is a contender also fills seats in suites and attracts more expensive advertising dollars…the lifeblood of any team. Each extra playoff game earns in the neighborhood of a million dollars and can spell the difference between a bottom line in the black and a bottom line in the red.

Another important issue finally resolved is that of distribution of the bankruptcy Operating Reserve Account as follows: “10. The Parties acknowledge and understand that in the Bankruptcy Settlement, subject to approval by the Court, the Bankruptcy Lawsuit (the “Bankruptcy Court”), the Operating Reserve Account shall be distributed as follows: $350,000 to the City, $10,000 to the David Reaves, Chapter 7 Trustee of the Arena Management Group, L.L.C., and $640,000 to Ice Arizona.”

In the same radio interviews, Sherwood stated that he wants “to see a new contract (with IceArizona) in 6 to 9 months, by April of 2016.”  LeBlanc stated IceArizona “wants a contract extension immediately” to bring “certainty.” Obviously it is an option both parties will need to pursue. Let us hope they can be successful in crafting a lease extension that is not build on the backs of Glendale’s taxpayers. No one can object to a lease agreement that is fair and equitable.

Be advised it doesn’t matter what the action or situation is, municipal governments do not move quickly. While an immediate contract extension is IceArizona’s goal, the caution is to not become frustrated if the action is not completed quickly. I learned this lesson the hard way. When I first joined city council I had ideas for projects in my district. I mistakenly thought they could be accomplished instantly. Not so. I became satisfied if a project could be completed within a year. It’s the very nature of government. All action is slow, overly deliberate, and far more complicated than it often needs to be.

Everyone appears to be relieved the issue is resolved for now. Let’s hope this positive action leads to further positive outcomes for both parties.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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