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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.

No project as large in scope as this one is simple or easy to create. This project is wide-ranging and complex reflected by the fact that it has taken over a year to put all of the pieces in place. There are 5 different agreements:

  • Development Agreement with ECL Glendale, LLC. (approved by city council on Sept. 8)
  • Government Property Improvement Leases with ECL Glendale, LLC. (approved by city council on Sept. 8)
  • Purchase and Sale Agreement with ERD Glendale, LLC. to purchase approximately .2942 acres of city-owned land (scheduled to come before city council on Sept. 22)
  • Option Agreement to purchase real estate with ERD Glendale, LLC to purchase approximately 4.154 acres of city-owned land (scheduled to come before city council on Sept. 22)
  • Parking Agreement(s) (scheduled to come before city council on Sept. 22)

The Development Agreement acknowledges that this project qualified as a business expansion economic development project. The term of this agreement is 25 years. The agreement spells out the terms of a 25 year “partial” Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET). Under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S. 42-6208) a GPLET may be applied only to amusements and their related retail and restaurant concessions. It allows for a 25 year partial exemption of lease excise tax for recreation and entertainment uses. Once the project has completed all construction (October, 2022) the company sells the project to the city for a token amount. The city becomes the lessor (owner and landlord) exempting ECL from paying property tax.  ECL becomes the prime lessee (renter) paying the city a token annual rental payment and pays annual lease excise tax instead of property tax. After 25 years the GPLET terminates and cannot be renewed. At that time the project reverts back to ECL, becomes private property and pays property tax rather than a lease tax.

The Government Property Improvement Lease further refines the terms of the 25 year partial GPLET. The terms remain as represented above but they are spelled out in excruciating legal detail. It’s a 50 page document (yes, I read it all) that only an attorney would love. It even covers what happens if there is “an act of God” that destroys the project.  It’s a very detailed, boring, yet important document.

The company is obligated to operate and maintain the project for at least 25 years continuously. The company agrees to completion of construction of the entire project on or before October 31, 2022. The city recognizes the right of the company to develop, construct and use the property under its current Planned Area Development (PAD) zoning. The city will provide expedited plan review. The city will provide a Fee Waiver in the amount of $1M in permit, plan review and inspection fees but this waiver does not include Development Impact Fees (DIF) which is estimated to be a one time payment of $4.4M.

Purchase Sale Agreement for 0.29 acres allows ECL to purchase for $10 a square foot, totaling $126,000. This small sliver of city-owned land is situated on the southwest corner of Montebello Avenue and 95th Avenue. It enhances access to the project site.

Option for Purchase Sale Agreement for 4.15 acres allows ECL to purchase for $10 a square foot, totaling $1.8 M. This land would be used for water retention, employee parking and maintenance operations for the project.

Parking Agreement(s) provide for the project’s overflow parking needs at the city-owned Black lot on all days but football game days and mega events at the stadium (attendance must be 40,000 minimum). ECL will maintain the black lot and pay for all associated utilities. This agreement will also be approved by the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Cardinals. Additional agreements between the Bidwill family and ECL may provide alternate parking should the city decide to develop the Black Parking lot. Obviously, with this project and others within Westgate and Zanjero, at some point the Black Lot parking land becomes so valuable for development that its use as a parking lot no longer makes financial sense.

The Return on Our Investment (ROI) is substantial. Keep in mind the city always uses conservative figures and I think it is fair to assume the numbers provided could be higher. Over 25 years the county earns $60.4M or $2.4M a year; the schools earn $90.6M or $3.6M a year; and the state receives $309.3M or $12.3M a year. What does the city earn? Over 25 years $240.5M or $9.6M a year. During construction of the project the city earns construction sales tax of $5.9M; $1.8M for the sale of remnant land parcels; and DIF fees of $4.4M. I personally think the annual revenues will be higher, especially during and after the Super Bowl in 2023. This resort project is sure to be heavily promoted during the Super Bowl generating a ton of viewer interest and a spike in tourist visits to Glendale.

All of these revenues are generated because the city, in order to attract this project, was willing to forego $1M in fee waivers, agree to accept excise lease tax rather than property tax and already had an abundance of available overflow parking constructed. In return for which, the city will generate almost $10M a year in new revenue. The city did not have to pay a dime to entice the project. The city does not write a check as an incentive to the developer for anything. I think that it is a win-win for Glendale and ECL. That’s why it won my immediate and enthusiastic support from the time I first learned of the project.

There are cities across this country that will never have this kind of opportunity but Glendale has spent the past several years positioning itself to attract just such a project.  As I said in my last blog there are intangible benefits as well. This experiential retail, entertainment concept is a brand new concept and will be the very first anywhere in the world. It will claim the attention of both the retail and entertainment industries and provides a blueprint for marrying the two concepts together. Glendale was on the map as a host city for the Super Bowl and the Final Four but this project moves Glendale to a new level of prominence.

I thank ECL for choosing Glendale as its partner and for hanging in there for over a year to execute tedious, legal, governmental documents that can be frustrating at times. It’s a challenge for all concerned to bring a project such as this to reality. Kudos to Glendale and ECL for making it happen. I am very proud to welcome them as the newest member of our Glendale family and the Yucca district.

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

This is a blog I have been dying to write for the past year. I simply couldn’t wait to announce this project until tomorrow. So, I will write for a couple of hours and post it in the wee hours of tonight. In this first blog I will give you the big picture regarding the project and in my next blog I will go into detail for those of you who may be nerdy like me.

A year ago our City Manager shared with me that there was a possibility that a Crystal Lagoon project could be coming to Glendale and specifically to my district, the Yucca district at the southwest corner of Cardinals Way and 95th Avenue. I had no idea what the concept was so the first order of business for me was to do my research. What I learned made me anxiously hopeful that Glendale could land such a project. I was excited about the prospect and periodically asked our City Manager Kevin Phelps about the success of the negotiations always ending with, “Can I announce it yet?” For months the response was always, “Not yet.”

The concept was born with Fernando Fischmann, a trained biochemist and a real estate developer. His first project was in San Alfonso del Mar, Chile. The obstacles in the creation of a large lagoon as an amenity to his real estate development project were immense and frankly, solutions were non-existent.  At the time there was no cost effective technology available that could be utilized to maintain a large body of water.

He did what any other genius entrepreneur would do. He did the research himself by setting up his own laboratory to invent the technology needed for his project. He successfully patented his newly created technology allowing him to build major residential/lagoon projects worldwide. Today there are at least a 100 Crystal Lagoons throughout the world — in every South American country; southern European countries like Spain and Greece; the Middle East from Egypt to Jordan; Canada and dozens of lagoons in the United States. The list of projects is extensive.

But it was time to apply the concept to not just residential projects but to a commercial/retail/office/hotel concept.

One of the first such projects will be in Glendale. The developer is ECL Glendale, LLC.  The project site is 48+ acres and will host 9 complimentary components:

  • an 11 acre lagoon style water park planned to include scuba diving, windsurfing and water jet packs
  • 175,000 square feet of retail space
  • 130,000 square feet of office space
  • 3 hotels offering a total of 630 hotel rooms
  • amusement rides
  • family entertainment center
  • fly and 4D theaters
  • restaurants and bars
  • a performing arts and film venue space

There will also be the first ever “aero bar,” a 135 foot elevated bar in the middle of the lagoon with a 360-degree view. It also will include the world’s largest helium balloon. The balloon will be on a tether with a gondola that raises riders 400 feet in the air offering a bird’s eye view of the entire Valley. Some of the newest elements have yet to be announced and you will learn of them in the coming months.

ECL Glendale, LLC. plans to begin construction this year, probably late Fall with a target completion date of October of 2022. That gives them a few months of operation to work all the bugs out before the Super Bowl comes back to Glendale in 2023. It’s an ambitious schedule but as all elements will be constructed simultaneously, it is doable.

So, how much will this plethora of entertainment cost the visitor? I understand that an All Day Pass will be $20 per person. That seems to be a competitive price compared to other water venues in the Valley.

Why am I so excited about the project? It’s a one-of-a-kind attraction for not just the State of Arizona but for the entire Southwestern United States. But even more importantly, it forever ensures that Glendale is the premier sports and entertainment destination in all of Arizona. Now, all we need is basketball and soccer to capture the entire sports market. Maybe if the Coyotes Hockey team actually leaves Glendale as they have threatened to do for several years we could repurpose the arena for basketball? Or perhaps the property owners of the “Vision 4” properties on the west side of the Loop 101 might try to lure additional sports venues such as basketball and soccer to their site? Who knows?

This soon-to-be resort site compliments and adds to all of the existing and soon-to-be constructed development in the Westgate and Zanjero areas. It causes Glendale to become a year round tourist destination, similar to Disneyland or Disneyworld. It also increases Glendale’s viability as a host city for mega events such as the Final Four. Lastly, it will generate slightly less than $10 million a year in new revenue for the city and will create an estimated 1,800 jobs.

This was a difficult and complex project to bring to reality. It has a lot of moving parts and I will get into those moving parts in my next blog.

I don’t believe anyone else, other than our City Manager, Kevin Phelps, could have successfully concluded this project. He is a master at development and exactly what Glendale needs to become eminently successful in a highly competitive market as cities out bid and jostle one another to land mega projects. Mr. Phelps has also put together an outstanding team of senior management responsible for the success of this project. It includes Brian Friedman, Director of Economic Development; Lisa Collins, Planning Administrator; Vicki Rios and Jack Friedline, Assistant City Managers; and Craig Johnson, Director of Utilities. If I omitted anyone please accept my apology. Michael Bidwill, representing the Bidwill family, also contributed to the project’s success by working with ECL Glendale, LLC. to craft a parking agreement.

I don’t think I can express the momentous effect this project will have not just for Glendale and the Metro Valley but for the entire state. This project is in the forefront of a new type of retail. As was expressed today, people no longer just want to buy things. We are entering a new age where people want experiences…memories that are invaluable. That is the promise of this new concept for Crystal Lagoon and the new buzz words are ‘experiential retail.’

© Joyce Clark, 2020         

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.

Let’s face it. Downtown Glendale is not robust despite years of community stakeholders’ discussion and strategic planning. It’s time to think differently. One of the endemic problems continues to be that downtown property owners think their properties are worth more than the market will bear. As an example, a local restaurant is about to close because they can no longer afford to pay the rent. One would think the property owner would work with them to keep the property in use but that is not the case. After all, some reduced rent is better than receiving no rent at all. So the space will turn into another vacant store front for months, maybe even years.

A little history is in order.  In 2008 the city council began preparations to construct a new court house due to the inadequacy of space in the existent building. Workshops were held and in 2009 council hired the International Facilities Group (IFG) as Project Manager with Populous as the architect and New Construction-Arena as the builder to construct a new court house. The project cost was $42 million and it was supposed to be completed in 2010. Some initial underground work was done and then the project stopped. Why? The council realized the city saddled with debt, simply could not afford to build it. I was never very supportive of the project because the cost was exorbitant. I thought we were building a Mercedes when we needed a Ford. In other words I thought the initial cost was too high and as with most construction projects the eventual cost would have ballooned way above the original $42 million. In the past 10 years the court conditions have only become worse and the space they have is woefully inadequate. Here is the conceptual of the 2010 building. Grand isn’t it?

This year the city council is also dealing with the city prosecutors’ facility. They have been using a modular building that has seen better days and that was only supposed to be a temporary fix. The roof is a sieve and in the last monsoon work spaces and many important work documents were flooded. They have need of new work quarters as well. City council is considering moving them to the Sine building.

That got me to thinking. What could be done if we thought “outside the box” to address not only the court space issue and the prosecutors need for a new facility but create a major downtown revival as well?

Downtown Glendale needs a transfusion…in thinking. So here’s a radical proposal. We need to shake things up and rearrange the deck chairs. Let’s move the City Court, the Prosecutors’ Office, Police and Fire Administration into the current City Hall. There is enough room to co-locate a satellite county court into the building as well. There is already adequate parking to service the facility. It would remain a robust facility filled with workers as well as visitors.

Where would the current occupants of City Hall go? How about building a new City Hall? The city already owns land (approximately 14-20 acres) at the southwest corner of Cardinals Way (former Bethany Home Road) and 91st Avenue right next to the city owned Black parking lot. The Black lot was constructed to satisfy the city’s contractual obligation to provide parking spaces for Cardinals games. It would provide instant parking for a new City Hall as the Black lot is unused during weekly business hours. The new facility would not occupy all of that acreage and would provide much needed stimulus to create office development on the remaining acreage surrounding the new City Hall. Glendale is currently at a major disadvantage as there is no available office space in our town. With a location close to the Loop 101 a new City Hall would become more accessible to visitors and residents alike.

The city is currently planning to sell the Bank of America building. If the court, prosecutors’ office and public safety administration were moved into our existent City Hall, the city could also sell the city court building and the public safety building. While we are at it the city should also sell the Civic Center. The proceeds from these sales could pay off bonds issued for a new City Hall. These city owned downtown buildings should be sold only for commercial use that would immediately create a constant and reliable day time worker population for downtown and would in fact create more reliable revenue opportunities for downtown businesses.

Since the historical Sine Building would become vacant let’s consider turning it into a business incubator or museum or art space. How about linking up with the Smithsonian Museum and become eligible for their rotating exhibits?

While we are at it let’s relocate Velma Teague Library to the Bead Museum and bring this much loved library asset technologically into the 21st Century. Then sell or rent the vacant library space to perhaps a restaurant like Positano’s. Let’s remodel the amphitheater space and get programming in it as many nights a year as possible (200 nights?).

I have not articulated nor shared this vision for downtown Glendale with anyone until now. I am sure heads will explode all over the place. How dare she suggest a new City Hall or selling three major city buildings?

This may not be the perfect way to move the city’s deck chairs but I think these ideas could grow not just the daily downtown population but grow consistent evening traffic as well. Then perhaps the downtown merchants won’t have to rely on just a few major festivals every year to produce enough sales for them to keep them afloat. Keep in mind that people like to live close to where they work and this concept could stimulate the need for a downtown apartment building and begin to create permanent residential density that the downtown so desperately needs.

I certainly hope the downtown stakeholders read this blog and once they get over the shock of  the idea of radical transformation they will embrace the idea that we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again with exactly the same outcomes for that is the definition of insanity. My ideas may not be the exact way to go but I hope it provokes a real discussion for revitalizing downtown. I would love to get feedback on the concepts I have presented, especially from the downtown community. Perhaps a major change such as I envision will finally make the downtown owners have buildings that are really worth what they think, unrealistically, they are presently worth right now.

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

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.

This Monday, Feb.25th, the city held a naming ceremony dedicating a portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals way. I was honored to be able to speak at this event. The following are the remarks I delivered.

“As you may or may not know, I can be a trivia nerd. So I decided to find out how Bethany Home Road got its name.  Some streets in the Valley received their names because of their location, such as Central Avenue or Baseline Road. Others honor local or nation historical figures such as Washington Street or Thomas Road. Yet others are tied to various landmarks such as Camelback Road or Indian School Road.

“Bethany Home Road got its name because it was a recognized landmark one hundred years ago. Bethany Home was a tuberculosis sanatorium started by the Missionary Church Association. Bethany Home was established in 1908 by the church and dedicated to God. It was a Christian home for the sick. But how did the Missionary Church come up with that name?  They did some of their missionary work in what is now Israel in Bethany , an ancient town near Jerusalem.

“We are here to celebrate the renaming of a portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way from 83rd Avenue to 99th Avenue. It’s hard to believe but the Cardinals played their first game in Glendale on August 12, 2006, 13 years ago. As a member of Glendale’s city council back then, I voted for its approval, participated by signing a beam during the stadium’s construction and was there for opening day. The stadium has become a landmark for the West Valley. It can be seen far and wide… from Peoria to Avondale.

“By renaming Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way we recognize and honor a major economic driver of not just my district, the Yucca district, or even Glendale and the West Valley but of the entire Phoenix Metro area.

“Without the partnerships of long time Glendale farming families like the Roveys and Pendergasts willing to sell their land and the vision and the persistence of Michael Bidwill there would be no stadium in the Yucca district of Glendale. It’s time…it’s way past time… to recognize those efforts.

“We honor the Bidwill family and the Cardinals by renaming this portion of Bethany Home Road to Cardinals Way. But there are added benefits for it also enhances the marketing and branding of this area of my district. There are no homes or businesses along this stretch of road but in the future there will be commercial entities who will acquire the cache of a Cardinals Way address.

“As Vice Mayor, I thank Michael Bidwill and the entire Bidwill family for their decision to make the Yucca district of Glendale their home. I am honored to be a participant in the celebration of the Cardinals Way street naming. Thirteen years ago a partnership was born. I look forward to many more years of mutual cooperation that has benefitted all.”

© Joyce Clark, 2019         

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.

I haven’t opined on the Coyotes in a long time. It’s sad that they remain in limbo, still seeking the Holy Grail of a new location…in or out of Arizona. You’d think that Andrew Barroway, owner of the team, would take a reality pill and acknowledge that no one is going to build them a new arena and then subsidize the team to play in it. The fans deserve better. They deserve surety and the team stubbornly refuses to provide it.

I have only attended 2 or 3 games this season but from what I hear from fans this season’s performance was dismal. Out of the 8 teams in the Pacific Division they ranked dead last with 45 games played to date turning in 10 wins, 28 losses. While the brand new Vegas Golden Knights, number one in the division, turned in 29 wins and 10 losses. The Coyotes also rank dead last in the league standings.

Having no other place to go, the Coyotes silently did nothing in December of 2017 triggering an automatic lease renewal at Glendale’s Gila River Arena. Here is the link to Craig Harris’ December 19, 2017 story in the Arizona Republic: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2017/12/19/arizona-coyotes-staying-1-more-year-glendale-gila-river-arena/963379001/ .

Mr. Ahron Cohen, Coyotes’ Chief Operating Officer, is quoted as saying, “We are absolutely planning to play next season at Gila River Arena and are focused on building a winning hockey team, positively contributing to our community, and achieving success in all aspects of our business.”

Let’s take a look at the reality of that statement. Forbes magazine annually determines the worth of professional sports teams and it has valued the Coyotes at $300 million. It is the least valuable franchise in the 31-team NHL. The team lost at least $19 million last season.  Forbes stated the team’s debt ratio was 83 percent, meaning the franchise has very little liquidity or room to borrow money. In this financial atmosphere, it is painfully obvious that the team simply cannot afford to move – anywhere, in or out of the state. To date there has been no legislation offered at the state level to assist the team in some sort of relocation effort and it does not seem to be a viable option.

The Coyotes have the league’s lowest payroll of $54.8 million, according to the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Again, with an 83% debt ratio it’s no wonder that the team’s payroll is in the basement. Clearly with that kind of debt ratio the ability to build a winning team, as Mr. Cohen suggests, is unrealistic.

There is a lot of work to be accomplished by Mr. Barroway and his senior management to turn this team around. To accomplish that goal long term stability is required. Perhaps it’s time for him to create the stability of location, get serious and commit to a long term lease at the Gila River Arena. Once that issue is resolved and the distraction of seeking a bigger and better location (in their minds) is settled, they can focus on three major initiatives: The first and most important is ‘butts in seats’ despite the current quality of team play. It’s time to develop a major, effective marketing campaign to attract new fans. Get those ‘butts in seats’ to generate a greater proportion of revenue; the second is with better revenue comes the ability to pay for seasoned, successful players. Fans are fickle. They pay to see winners not losers. They cannot rely upon fan loyalty in the Valley. Just look at the Suns and Diamondbacks. Respectively their attendance is down and continues downward when they don’t make the playoffs; lastly it’s all about the fan experience these days. At the game I attended last week I witnessed a format that hasn’t changed since the team started playing in the arena, 15 years ago.

There are new strategies available to attract millennials and women. One has just to look at the Cardinals to notice what they have done to make the fan experience worth the price of a ticket. Their model remains successful as their season ticket holder base remains stable. Oh by the way, I haven’t heard the football fans that come from all over the state complaining that the venue is too far away. Yet Coyotes’ team management continues to point the finger at distance as a rationale for lousy attendance. When they were winning and made the playoffs there was no mention of distance. Come on, it’s time to bury the excuses, including this one.

The city and AEG would like to have the Coyotes stay at Gila River Arena. After all, it was built for hockey as its main tenant. The city has also learned that it should not be in the business of managing and that its arrangement with AEG is a winner. It has no intention of terminating the relationship for AEG has done an outstanding job in its first year of management.

It’s time for Barroway to stop playing games…off the ice. Commit to stay at Gila River and get to work on creating a better team performance and building a super fan base. Glendale has publicly offered to help but it will never go back to the old model of subsidizing the team. It’s time for Barroway to make a major effort to turn things around. Will he…or won’t he? That is the question.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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 seems whenever there is a city holiday I can play catch up and find the time to write. Monday, January 15, 2018 is MLK Day and a national holiday. Fortunately I’ve already received the material for our next council workshop scheduled for Tuesday, January 23rd and have done my ‘homework’. Please remember that now city council only meets two Tuesdays a month and they double up on the meetings that day. Now on those two Tuesdays council meets at 12:30 PM for workshop followed by an Executive Session if needed. Then on the same day it reconvenes at 5 PM for its voting meeting. Please note this is an hour earlier than previously scheduled. It makes it more difficult for the public to attend if they work and don’t get off until 5 PM.

The only workshop public agenda item is staff’s request for direction from city council regarding naming Bethany Home Road between 83rd Avenue and 99th Avenue as well as Loop 101 freeway signage as Cardinals Way. This is a Council Item of Special Interest (CIOSI) raised by Mayor Jerry Weiers.

The facts of the request include renaming 12 highway signs by the Arizona Department of Transportation at a cost of $75,000. Five Glendale city street signs would also be renamed at a cost of $5,000. The total of $80,000 would have to be paid by the city.

The Arizona Tourism and Sports Authority (AZSTA) has offered to contribute but they have not specified how much they would pay.

This is all of the information city council has received on the issue. So pretend you are a city councilmember and have to give direction (we don’t vote at workshops) to move forward or not to move forward and stop it. I’d be interested to see how all of you would weigh in if you were the decision maker. I’ve put a new poll to the left of this column. Please take a moment to cast your decision.

Last week the Arizona Republic published a story that APS is seeking approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission for a rate decrease. Who would have thunk?? Here is the link to the story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/energy/2018/01/09/aps-now-seeking-rate-decrease-thanks-federal-tax-cuts/1018865001/ . APS is seeking a cut of, “… about $4.70 from the average residential customer’s monthly bill thanks to the tax changes that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.” Unfortunately, SRP customers will not see a similar rate reduction due to the tax changes. It is an Agricultural Improvement and Power District, and does not collect federal income tax through its customers. Municipalities that provide water are not for profit and like SRP do not pay federal taxes. The expectation is other for-profit utility and water providers in the state and nationally may also offer rate reductions due to the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

© Joyce Clark, 2018                 

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 the wake of players’ refusal to stand for our national anthem it appears that two Congressional bills are picking up steam. The NFL backlash is just beginning. Fan ticket sales dropped by 20% last week. TV ratings are down by 18%. Now Congress is getting into the act having introduced a bill, Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act of 2017 (S. 1342), to hit the NFL where it hurts – in its pocketbook. Its purpose would be to treat any bonds as taxable regardless of who is providing the bonds.

Senator James Lankford, R-Okla., and Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J., have introduced a bipartisan bill that would prevent professional sports teams from using municipal bonds that are exempt from federal taxes. Representative Steve Russell, R-Okla., and Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., have introduced companion legislation in the House.

For years sports teams have used specially created tax breaks that allow the public to finance their very expensive arenas and stadia. The mechanism used is tax-exempt municipal bonds. These bonds were originally designed and reserved for public projects such as bridges, water systems and other municipal infrastructure projects. Ah ha…there is a loophole in the tax code that has allowed private stadia and arenas to take advantage of this tax break…and boy, have they ever. Very few major sports teams have used private money to construct their facilities.

Since 1997 twenty new NFL stadia have opened at a price tag of $4.7 billion dollars in taxpayer funds. Currently two new stadia are under construction in Atlanta and Minneapolis at a startling cost of $700 million dollars in taxpayer funds. You, the taxpayer paid for most of the University of Phoenix Stadium, home to the Arizona Cardinals, at a cost of approximately $300 million dollars.

Over the past 17 years, 36 professional sports stadia have been built or renovated by federal tax- exempt municipal bonds. The Brookings Institute reported that this has cost taxpayers $3.2 billion dollars.

It is estimated that the NFL, the most profitable sports league ever, generated $14 billion dollars in revenue last year (2016) with an estimated $1 billion dollars in profit. Everything about the NFL is pricey. It can easily cost a family of 4 at least $400 to attend just one game. The NFL teams sell $1.5 billion to $2 billion dollars worth of luxury and high-end club seats a year. Add in the fact that sponsors spend about $190 million dollars a year to the NFL for the right to cover a stadium with their company’s logo and other advertising signage. The NFL also receives much of its operational costs free of charge as a condition for the awarding of the Super Bowl to a community. Everything from player towels, to transportation to meals is free, comp-ed or discounted.

As Senator Booker said, “Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue. There’s no reason why we should give these multimillion-dollar businesses a federal tax break to build new stadiums. It’s not fair to finance these expensive projects on the backs of taxpayers, especially when wealthy teams end up reaping most of the benefits.”

You reap what you sow and the NFL is learning that has reaped the enmity of its fan base by becoming political. All that fans wanted was a break from all of the national bickering and strife for a few hours. They wanted to be lost in the fantasy of the game – not reminded that we are a country divided.

© 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.

Yucca district meeting went live. I have seen various online live videos on Facebook from time to time. A FB friend suggested that I use it to promo my district meeting last night, April 20, 2017. I decided why just use it for a promo? Why not try to bring the entire meeting online? It was our first try and sometimes the audio is not loud enough and we never thought to bring some kind of stand to place the IPad upon for steadiness. So there is some wobbling. And then I ran out of memory…I have no clue as to why. So we will work on those issues and when I have my next district meeting this Fall we will try it again. If you would like to take a look at my first try, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/joyce.clark.338/videos/1469350713087843/ .

Coyotes bill seems DOA. The Arizona state legislature’s adjournment is fast approaching. The tentative date was scheduled for April 22nd. Arizona senate bill, SB 1149, is for all intents and purposes dead. It would have created a special taxing district to enable the Coyotes to build a new arena…anywhere but Glendale. Governor Ducey has already signaled that even if the legislation is rolled into another bill, he will not sign. His reason? He said he would not approve taxpayers supporting the cost of yet another arena in the state. It is my hope that with Anthony LeBlanc gone (he has not made any public statement for the Coyotes in over a month and there have been rumors circulating that another investor has joined the ownership group) cooler heads within the Coyotes’ ownership will prevail and there will be a reconsideration of negotiating a long-term lease with AEG, manger of the city-owned Gila River Arena.

Glendale’s bond rating increases. You might be wondering why city officials are giddy over bond rating increases delivered this week by Moody’s and recently by Standard & Poor. Why the big deal? When a city’s rating is poor, it costs the city more money to borrow because the interest rate is high. When a city’s bond rating goes up, it costs the city less to borrow money as the interest rate drops. With the upgrade in bond rating, the city will be able to refinance a majority of its outstanding debt at a lower interest rate, saving the city (you, the taxpayers) money. It also increases the city’s capacity to issue debt and makes it more likely that the city will be able to begin new Capital Improvement Projects. These projects can focus in on amenity projects, like parks and libraries, that benefit the quality of life of all of Glendale’s residents.

Volunteers appreciated. On Saturday, April 15, 2017 the city held a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at the Adult Center to recognize and thank the hundreds of volunteers giving thousands of hours throughout our city’s government. Mayor Weiers presented a proclamation of appreciation. Accepting on behalf of all volunteers was Bobbie Garland. I have known Bobbie for over 20 years. I have seen first- hand her willingness to give of her time. There could not have been a more fitting recipient selected. Kudos to Bobbie and all those who have followed in her foot steps.

A new name for AZSTA’s football stadium. It was announced this week that the University of Phoenix is terminating its naming rights for the stadium located in the Westgate area of Glendale. Frankly, I suspect that this action brings joy to every Glendale resident. Calling it the University of Phoenix Stadium was an anathema to many. It also created a great deal of confusion as to its location. Was it in Glendale or Phoenix? We are confident that AZSTA and the Cardinals will choose its new naming partner carefully and hopefully with no reference to Phoenix.

© 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.

On Monday, November 14, 2016, the Glendale city council approved a Settlement Agreement with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Arizona Cardinals. Here is the link to the background material on the proposal: https://glendale-az.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2881276&GUID=C07EFD4F-664C-4A92-98FF-A23BF1C88B39&Options=&Search=&FullText=1 . Here is the link to the Settlement Agreement in full: final-settlement-agreement-11102016 .

The major points of the settlement are:

·       It settles an outstanding legal claim of $67 million dollars in damages initiated in 2012 by the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Cardinals by paying them jointly $14 million over the next 5 years.

·       It creates $3 million dollars of infrastructure to enable pedestrians to cross Bethany Home Road without impeding the traffic on Bethany Home.

·       It includes construction of 95th Avenue from Bethany to Camelback Road at a cost of $3 million.

If I were on city council I would have approved the settlement. Let’s look at it point by point. I want to make clear since my election was not funded by special interests, my prime directive, based on being fully informed of the pros and cons, is to make the best possible decisions that I believe are in the city’s best interests. This would have been one of them.

Over the weekend, I downloaded the entire proposed 135 page settlement agreement, read it, made notations, and then was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to sit down with the City Manager to get any and all of my questions answered. The current councilmembers have had the luxury of discussion and information about settlement negotiations for the past two months.

At first I was angry thinking here we go again, paying millions more to support sports in our town. Are we nuts? After I calmed down, I started to really think about it. Yes, we could reject the settlement and the $67 million dollar claim would have wended its way through the court system….for a year? two years? There is, of course, no way of predicting the outcome but I will say the city’s track record of late, has not been one to inspire confidence in a city win. If the city had lost, it would have had to pay out $67 million plus not just its attorneys’ fees but the claimants’ attorneys’ fees as well.

It’s also a matter of doing the right thing. The city had the obligation to live up to its contractual agreement of providing 11,000 parking spaces, per the Parking License Agreement and other documents from 2005, over a decade ago.

The $14 million in damages is, of course, an onerous pill to swallow but it’s better than $67 million. It is my understanding that this $14 million will be used for upgrades at the Stadium Plaza and the stadium interior. The city was also able to structure payments over the next five years making it fiscally manageable. The city is no longer obligated to construct a $50 million dollar parking garage… ever. This agreement settles all parking claims forever.

Why is an underpass under Bethany Home Road and bridges over the SRP Canal and the Grand Canal Linear Park necessary? When the stadium and transportation infrastructure was originally built the intent was to drive vehicular traffic from the west and the north toward the stadium. However, when the city has completed both parking lots (one east of the stadium and one south of the stadium), masses of pedestrians will be crossing Bethany Home Road. If they proceeded on the surface street, Bethany Home Road, the pedestrian traffic would essentially block all vehicular traffic. Now that a major portion of fans (6,000 parking spaces) will be parking south and east of the stadium it becomes a necessity.

Lastly, let’s look at 95th Avenue. Another city promise broken for over a decade. This arterial opens up land for commercial development, especially on the west side of 95th Avenue between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road. There will be new commercial properties locating along that arterial which, in turn, will generate more sales tax revenue for the city. It also puts to rest the alignment of 95th Avenue. It will now curve away from the Pendergast Estates neighborhood and will not connect to the neighborhood’s three interior streets of Missouri, Marshall and San Juan. For years as councilmember I advocated for just such a solution for this neighborhood. I am pleased to know the city has taken their concerns seriously and has devised an alignment to protect this neighborhood.

These reasons persuaded me that approval of the Settlement was the right thing to do: 1. fulfillment of the city’s long-standing contractual obligation; 2. avoidance of a possible $67 million dollar verdict; 3. mitigating pedestrian movement as a result of the installation of two new, massive parking lots; and 3. bringing closure and surety on the 95th Avenue alignment to the Pendergast Estates neighborhood.

What was city council’s decision? Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmembers Malnar and Tolmachoff voted in favor of the settlement. All councilmembers spoke before casting their votes and this majority of four recited variations of the reasons cited above. Councilmembers Turner, Aldama and Chavira voted against the settlement. They did not cite flaws in the settlement as their reason for disapproval. Why? Because even they know this settlement is acceptable. No, they used the theme of transparency and that the public was not given enough time to weigh in. It was, in all probability, a smoke screen so that they would have time to marshal their activist anti-settlement forces to march on down to council chambers.

While these three councilmembers  professed that they wanted to strengthen their relationships with the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority and the Cardinals, it had been circulated that Aldama and Turner refused to meet with AZSTA and Cardinal representatives. Instead they gave both organizations the back of their hands. Surprisingly, disgraced and recalled former Councilmember Gary Sherwood showed up to berate this council for lacking transparency while asking for more time for council’s consideration. It seems that he did not consider two months of negotiation to be enough. Rampant conjecture is that three of them (Turner, Aldama and Sherwood) are using issues such as this to raise their level of visibility in order to position themselves for a run for mayor four years from now.

I do see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s time to bury the past. The city manager and a majority of the council are to be congratulated for having made decisions that are designed to position Glendale forward and to clean up Glendale’s sports deals with its decade-old refusals to live up to its commitments. Make no mistake, former City Manager Ed Beasley and former Mayor Scruggs were very much aware of these obligations and refused to make good on them. Minority councilmembers such as me and Councilmember Lieberman were simply not privy to their inaction.

With the announcement of the Coyotes entrance into negotiations for an arena in the east valley I think it is time to do another blog on what this might mean. Look for my next blog which will be devoted to this topic.

© 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.

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE CHAVIRA VIDEOS TO THE LEFT OF THIS COLUMN. EACH IS ABOUT A MINUTE AND A HALF IN LENGTH.

It has been 18 years and 190 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

June 24, 2016, marks another milestone of 350,000 reads of my blog since I began in February of 2013. That averages about 100,000 reads a year. I am pleased and very grateful to all those who have become faithful readers. Thank you. In addition, in 3 months, over 1,000 people have viewed my 3 Chavira videos. Again, thank you for taking the time to view them.

In Sammy Chavira’s latest weekly e-newsletter of June 24, 2016, he said, “After serving 17 years as a Phoenix firefighter and Glendale City Council Member, Chavira helped bring a Super Bowl to Cardinals Stadium.” Gosh, in addition to all his other misdeeds now we can add embellishment and exaggeration.

While Sammy may have served 17 years as a Phoenix firefighter, he certainly, thankfully, hasn’t served as a Glendale councilmember for 17 years. He has only served one term of 4 years. As for “Chavira helped bring a Super Bowl to Cardinals Stadium.” Really? And how might he have helped? The bid for a Super Bowl and the choice of the stadium for the last Super Bowl was made long before Sammy became a councilmember.

We have just another example of Sammy’s misdirection of the facts and an attempt to give himself recognition for something he did not do.  Add to his practice of embellishment, his lavish trips at taxpayer expense, his failure to attend council meetings and to hold district meetings and his failure to appear in court with a subsequent suspension of his driver’s license while he claimed it was “a minor glitch.”

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at some of the promises made by Sammy in the campaign mailings he sent to voters in his first run for office in 2012. In one campaign mailing Sammy said, “On the City Council, he’ll fight to protect funding for local schools and excellent, academically-enriched after school programs.” Or how about this from another campaign mailing, “Sam understands that good jobs and good schools go hand in hand. He will fight to fully fund Head Start, support education tax credits for our local schools, and make after school programs more curriculum based.” These statements represent one of two positions – take your pick. Fact: The Glendale city council has no authority over federal or local education policies, curriculum or funding. That is the responsibility of your district school board whether it is the Pendergast Elementary School District or the Glendale Elementary School District. Sammy either didn’t know the facts — which makes him ignorant or he knew the facts and he chose to be deceptive.

Here’s another promise from Sammy.2012. “Too many sweetheart arena deals for out-of-state corporations have left us deeply in debt. Sam will prioritize public safety, education and public libraries and isn’t afraid to say no to special interests.” Or how about, “No more sweetheart deals. The city needs to be a tough negotiator, making smart planning decisions that preserve Glendale’s future.” It would appear that Sammy never met a “sweetheart” deal that he didn’t like. He apparently traded votes with former Councilmember Sherwood, flip-flopping on his promise to protect taxpayers from exorbitant, $15 million dollars a year arena management fees with…you guessed it…an out-of-state corporation.

He seems to favor those who contributed large sums of money to his campaign such as Mark Becker of the Becker Billboard issue that surfaced in Glendale last year.

How has he “prioritized public libraries” by supporting a 7,500 square foot modular building as west Glendale’s branch library? It’s insulting that he thinks so little of his constituency that he throws them this kind of bone.

How has Sammy made “smart planning decisions?” By allowing a residential project like Stonehaven in the Yucca district? A residential project in which 43% of the homes will be on 5,500 square foot lots (smaller than that which is required by the city’s standard R1-6 zoning that requires a minimum of 6,000 square foot lots). That kind of “smart planning decision” devalues all of the homes that surround this project.

There’s more, so much more of Sammy’s deceptions…for another blog, I think. Sammy promised a lot and delivered…nothing. Sammy earns a fire fighter’s pay check as well as a councilmember’s pay check of $35,000 a year. Yet he has failed to do his job as a Glendale councilmember. He’s often absent from council meetings and can’t seem to find the time to reach out to, much less listen to, his Yucca district constituents or their concerns.  It’s time to let Sammy go back to being a fire fighter and not a double dipper. It seems as if he can handle only one job at a 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.

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