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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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Who will be the gorilla?

Posted by Joyce Clark on April 1, 2013
Posted in City of GlendaleGlendale finances  | Tagged With: , , , | 1 Comment

budget 3The Glendale City Council typically meets in workshop session every two weeks on a Tuesday afternoon at 1:30PM. It is also televised on Glendale’s Channel 11, which only works if you have Cox cable service and live in Glendale. It is also available online at www.glendaleaz.com.

coins 1This is the busiest time of year for any city council as it decides where to allocate resources (revenues) for the coming year. Money in local government is power and each department fights to retain or grow its part of the pie(chart). It will be interesting to see who the gorillas are this year.

What can we expect this Tuesday? Several important items are up for discussion, some of which will be discussed inman money open session and some of which will be discussed in the non-public, executive session. First up in the open session will be the periodic legislative update. There should be discussion (I would hope) on the state’s attempt to take away cities’ construction sales tax. This issue is huge and if the state prevails, look for every city (including Glendale) to try to find ways to mitigate this loss which could be substantial.

firefighterNext up will be Council Items of Special Interest on the Police and Fire budgets. Making it to a workshopPoliceman agenda is interesting in and of itself. Last week Councilmember Chavira called for such a discussion and his suggestion met with deafening silence by the rest of Council. Yet here we are, a week later, and it has made its way to a workshop. Even more curious, at the previous council’s January 8, 2013 meeting, it was scheduled to vote approval to take actions to balance both department budgets. Instead a motion was made and approved by a majority of council (I was not one) to place all actions on hold until the appointment of a permanent city manager. There is no permanent city manager…yet…but like an unruly stepchild, the issue is before the new council. Hmmmm…

Then there are the six items listed on the council’s executive session agenda. Three of them are hot topics. One is consultation with the newly hired external auditor with a price tag of $200,000; another is that council is to give the contractCity Manager and City Attorney direction regarding arena management (don’t forget Beacon Sports’ fee of $100,000) and the Coyotes; and the last of the trio is to resolve the compensation package for the former City Attorney and I assume, the Acting City Attorney as well. The first two items deal with contracts and the third with personnel. All, unfortunately, are legitimate topics of private discussion.

It would be extraordinary if council resolved the Coyotes issue in Esession but, the NHL will first sell the team to whomever and then the council will decide if the Coyotes stay or go when it makes its decision about the arena management contract. Don’t expect any news on the Coyotes issue from Glendale today or anytime in the very near future.

On Monday, April 1, the city will host its first of two community meetings on the city budget. I plan to go and learn the “media line” that will be used to sell it to the community this year.

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Leblanc

Anthony LeBlanc

board-gosbee

George Gosbee

For the past few days there has been a flurry of media reportage on a new player in the ongoing Coyotes ownership saga. According to the media Anthony LeBlanc, a previously failed would-be owner of the Coyotes, has landed a “whale.” That, I have learned, is a term used to describe someone with oodles of money. That does describe George Gosbee, a very rich Canadian indeed.  You don’t become a very rich Canadian by being dumb. Mr. Gosbee’s background is finance and not hockey. Although it certainly is possible that he is a hockey aficionado. Mr. LeBlanc must have pitched a smokin’ return on investment (ROI) to Mr. Gosbee, et al. We can only guess as to the money making strategy proposed by LeBlanc to line up his investors but it must be a doosey!

Jamison

Greg Jamison

We know that Greg Jamison is still in the hunt and has been working quietly to reassemble an investment group. It’s no secret that I have championed the possibility of his ownership of the team because I know what he stands for and that is a long-term commitment to the team and Glendale. If he fails this time as well, I will welcome any ownership group that makes the same commitment and honors it.

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Darin Pastor

Now, like wild flowers springing up from the desert floor, another possible investment group led by Darin Pastor has surfaced and issued a March 29 Press Release announcing the formation of “an exploratory committee of seasoned investment bankers and other related sports entertainment advisers”  to purchase the Coyotes. This group, as well as all of the others, has proudly proclaimed their intent to remain in Glendale.

reinsdorf

Jerry Reinsdorf

There is also the possibly of Jerry Reinsdorf, with his Beacon Sports connections, lurking about like a Great White Shark, waiting to strike.

I think I’m beginning to see a pattern emerge. Color me paranoid or suspicious. That’s OK. Just take a moment to think about the current situation. We know of a minimum of three groups seeking to purchase the Coyotes. In the scenarios of previous years, the city waited UNTIL the NHL had given its initial blessing to any of the would-be owners and THEN began negotiations on a final arena management contract. If any of those negotiations had proven successful the new owners would have then finalized a sale with the NHL.

Bettman

Gary Bettman

This time it is different. It appears that the NHL will finalize a sale of the team FIRST and THEN the new owners will begin negotiations with the City for a lease management agreement. It certainly puts the ball in this new council’s court. From everything we have seen and heard to date, this is a council that wants a cheap arena management contract. They have simply not indicated a willingness to offer a deal similar to the one that Greg Jamison had. Yet Anthony LeBlanc has said publicly that any deal with the city must be very similar to the previous deal on the table with Greg Jamison.

So there may be an impasse and the new team owners and the city may not be able to craft a deal satisfactory to both sides.  If that occurs, we will have new team owners that can relocate the team and a city willing to let the team go and settle for an arena manager of the Phoenix Monarch Group variety.

question 2Under those circumstances, as a possible owner of the team, anyone would be more than willing to publicly state an intent to keep the team in Glendale long-term. It’s a good PR move and wins the hearts and minds of many. Then upon failure to come to terms with Glendale, saying with a straight face and convincingly claiming it was the city’s fault. The critical question that all should be asking, is not who will buy the team for I am convinced the team will be sold and soon. How soon? Who knows? Once again, we heard the magical phrase of “two weeks.” The critical question is, will Glendale come to terms similar to previous deals and finally acknowledge that the team as an anchor tenant at Jobing.com is indeed important to Westgate’s future? That’s the real sixty four thousand dollar (or $6M or $10M) question.

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Weiers

Mayor Weiers

On Wednesday, February 28, 2013, several Glendale elected officials made comments worthy of note. Mayor Jerry Weiers delivered his first State of City address at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Appreciation Dinner. His remarks were more notable not for what he said but for what he did not say.

He recognized the need for West Valley cities to cooperate with one another on regional issues and extended the proverbial “olive branch” to them. Since he was speaking before many business interests his announcement of a Mayor’s Business Advisory Council hit the right note with the group. He also indicated his desire to bring more major events to downtown Glendale.

The two most pressing issues facing this council – the budget and the Coyotes- were absent. His lack of commentary on the council’s upcoming budget setting for the next fiscal year was an elephant in the room ignored. I’m sure he has his own agenda regarding the city’s budget and his failure to speak publicly to the issue should be of concern.

Sherwood

Councilman Sherwood

The second veil of silence was placed over the Coyotes issue. On the same afternoon, hours before the Mayor’s speech, Councilmember Gary Sherwood was interviewed off-air by the principals of the Roc and Manuch radio show. He told them that they should expect the mayor to make a “positive announcement” about the Coyotes. Didn’t happen. Was Sherwood sandbagged by the mayor? Or did he assume the “positive announcement” was related to the Coyotes? Either way, it was the first step in the destruction of Sherwood’s credibility.

Has Beacon Sports been hired to negotiate with potential buyers of the Coyotes? We don’t know because the mayor was silent. Are there “mystery buyers” as the mayor has claimed? We don’t know because the mayor was silent. Does the mayor still want to issue 4 separate management contracts for the arena? We don’t know because the mayor was silent. Does the mayor want to keep the Coyotes in town? We don’t know because the mayor was silent. Is time of the essence to settle the Coyotes issue? We don’t know because the mayor was silent.

Knaack

Vice Mayor Knaack

Last, but certainly not least, was Vice Mayor Knaack’s reaction to the resignation of City Attorney Craig Tindall. Paul Giblin, in an Arizona Republic article, reported that Knaack said she had no warning of the impending action and was surprised. She felt Tindall was doing a good job and she was blind–sided by the mayor’s action. Giblin goes on to confirm what I had surmised – that this council is split right down the middle, 3 to 3. Look for polite warfare between Knaack-Sherwood-Martinez vs. Alvarez-Hugh-Chavira with Weiers playing both sides against one another to his delighted advantage.

Weiers Auction

Courtesy@pjbreenphoto

By the way, the mayor at the end of the evening auctioned off Coyotes items. Wonder what they sold for? Let’s hope this does not portend the future of the team in Glendale!

For political junkies such as myself the mayor’s speech sent signals reverberating throughout Glendale. My advice is hang on. It looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

 

 

 

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Steak or hamburger?

Posted by Joyce Clark on February 28, 2013
Posted in BlogsCity of Glendale  | Tagged With: , , , | 4 Comments

steak 1Let me pose a hypothetical question. I will offer you two choices. I will give you a scrumptious steak dinner every day for one week. After that week I will give you nothing. You are on your own. Or I will give you a hamburger dinner every day forever. You will never have to worry about providing your food.

I think most of us would choose the certainty of knowing we would have an assured supply of food.hamburger 1 Of course, there will be the few who will choose the immediate gratification of that glorious steak dinner and worry about the consequences of that choice later.

Hockey fans are wonderfully diverse, men and women, toddler to septuagenarian, white to black, American to Canadian, Catholic, Jew and Atheist. They share one common theme and that is absolute devotion to the team of their choosing. In Arizona and beyond the team of choice is the Coyotes. The nearly four year saga to find an owner who is committed to keeping the team in Glendale has been trying for all and no more so than for its fan base.

The band of hockey brothers and sisters that fought off, as one cohesive group, a referendum and an effort to repeal a sales tax increase in Glendale has now dissolved into two groups of equally committed and passionate hockey fans. The steak and hamburger analogy is an apt way of describing the camps that have arisen. One group has decided on the steak, the other on the hamburger. The steak group wants the Coyotes to say, even if it’s only short term.  The hamburger group wants the assurance of permanency and wants the team for the duration. Is one group right and the other wrong? No, of course not.

I am in the hamburger group and I will tell you why after having been intimately involved as a councilmember from the time the decision was made to build the arena and the Coyotes played their very first game at Jobing.com arena until January 15, 2013, my last day as an elected official.

Jobing.com arena was built primarily, contrary to the former Mayor’s assertions, to host hockey. Of course there would be other non-hockey events held there as well. Witness the wonderful concerts that we have attended over the years. But its primary function was to serve as a hockey arena. History attests to the fact. Steve Ellman owned a hockey team and he was looking for a new home for the team.  Hockey is the lynch pin of Westgate. It attracted the UofP Stadium, Cabela’s, the Renaissance Hotel and a myriad of other commercial venues.

Courtesy Christopher B.

Courtesy Christopher B.

When it seemed as if the ownership issue was about to be resolved in 2012, a resurgence of Westgate development occurred with the opening of Tanger Outlet Mall, new restaurants like Chipotle arriving and Dignity Health Hospital’s decision to locate nearby. These development actions demonstrate that once permancey for the team as an anchor tenant is achieved, further development will explode – just in time for Glendale’s hosting of the Super Bowl.

Coyotes practice session

Coyotes practice session

Then there is the team itself. Imagine playing each and every game wondering if it’s your last in Arizona. As much as the General Manager, coaches and players try to ignore the implications, periodically another spate of media speculation ekes its way into their consciousness. No one can play their best under a perpetual cloud of uncertainty. This team deserves better. They deserve the assurance of knowing that this is their home not just for 5 years, only to relive today’s turmoil once again, but for the next 10-15-20 years.

Knowing that the Coyotes will remain for the long haul is so important for the team and for Westgate.  I choose hamburger forever.

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February 14…End of Day Comments

Posted by Joyce Clark on February 15, 2013
Posted in City of Glendale  | Tagged With: , , , | 10 Comments

Mike Nealy

Mike Nealy

Don Maloney

Don Maloney

Just listened to KTAR 620 radio interview with Mike Nealy, COO of the Phoenix Coyotes. He is a class act as is Don Maloney, General Manager and Dave Tippett, Head Coach. We are very fortunate to have these men running the organization. They are the right men for the right time.

Dave Tippett

Dave Tippett

 

 

 

Joyce1  B&W pixels Sept 1 2012Heard on some hockey board there are questions as to whether I am writing this blog and that perhaps it is being “ghosted.” For all those speculators out there, I am indeed writing this blog and couldn’t be happier in the freedom I now have to express myself…unfiltered.

 

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