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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.

The City of Tempe has still not announced a decision on the Coyotes’ response to their RFP. First they announced they would do so at the end of December, 2021. Then it moved to the end of January, 2022. Now, it’s crickets. To refresh your memory, in July, 2021, the city issued an RFP for “a mixed-use project incorporating a professional sports franchise and entertainment district for two parcels of city-owned land totaling 46 acres at the northeast corner of Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.” The Coyotes, as Bluebird Development, were the only entity to submit a bid on September 3, 2021.

The Coyotes want to build a $1.7 billion development with a 16,000-seat arena, hotels, apartments and shops on 46 acres near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway that the team said would be financed by private investors. The team wants to use a portion of city sales tax revenues generated on the site to help pay for $20 million in infrastructure and other costs to get the site shovel ready.

One obstacle to the proposal has been Sky Harbor Airport. It is concerned, as it should be, that this development will be 460 feet away from the end of one of the runways. It is also concerned about the height of the proposed apartment complexes and the arena itself as well as the intrusive lighting that has the potential to disrupt pilots.

Tempe is having an election to select 3 councilmembers who would be sworn in July of 2022. The city’s Primary Election is March 8, 2022. Usually, but not always, the Primary Election produces the winners as 50% plus 1 vote is all that is needed to have won the Primary. If the winners are not selected in the Primary, there will be a General Election on May 17, 2022.

At a January, 2022, Tempe candidate forum all candidates were asked to respond to the Coyotes’ RFP. They were asked whether they supported the plan and what it would take to get their support for the deal. This is the link to that forum: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/tempe-election-council-candidates-sound-off-on-coyotes-arena-deal-2020-election-at-republic-forum/ar-AASLpx2 . Apparently all are very good tap dancers for they certainly danced around this issue. It really is pretty simple. Either they support giving $20 million taxpayer dollars to a sports owner or they do not. That is acknowledged as part of the deal. Not much in-depth research is required on this deal point. Here are their responses:

John Skelton: A former Arizona Cardinals quarterback who operates an in-home senior care center in the East Valley, Skelton said the NHL team’s proposal appeared to be a “good deal” for Tempe, especially as that land isn’t currently generating revenue for the city. A development of that size could cause traffic issues and he said if elected he would want to look at what the city can do to alleviate congestion around the project.

Casey Clowes: An attorney and community advocate whose work focuses on environmental and social equity causes, Clowes said she grew up playing hockey and attending Coyotes games. If elected, she would look at the benefits and drawbacks of developing an arena as opposed to another type of development on that land. One deal point she would drill down on would be any financial incentives like property tax subsidies offered to the team, which she doesn’t support. She would also encourage the team to prioritize hiring Tempe residents, hiring companies that offer fair wages and hiring companies that use apprenticeship programs during construction.

Gina Kash: The project could help draw money for local businesses and she would support the arena, said Kash, a former top-level Republican caucus staffer at the Arizona House of Representatives where she started in 1998. She wants to see local businesses prioritized in the project and would want to have discussions with residents on whether tax dollars should be used in the deal.

Harper Lines: A member of the Tempe Arts and Culture Commission who oversees community engagement at the University of Phoenix, Lines said the city needs to weigh potential job opportunities and economic development benefits of an arena against transportation issues it could cause. The city also needs to consider the team’s rocky relationship with Glendale and reports of late rent and other payments to Glendale so that the city isn’t saddled with debt if it enters into a deal with the Coyotes.

Jennifer Adams: The only sitting council member candidate running who was first elected in 2018 said she is currently involved in negotiations and couldn’t comment on the question but that she “evaluates everything very carefully” to see if a deal is a right fit for Tempe.

Arlene Chin: Appointed by the council to fill a vacancy on the dais from May 2019 to July 2020, Chin, who works for the ASU Foundation and is active in city commissions and nonprofit boards, said overall she is supportive of bringing more investment to Tempe and of projects that could bring jobs and business development but it has to pencil out financially for the city. She raised concerns about the infrastructure needs to support such a large project, potential burdens it could put on city systems and the cost of moving a city operations yard that is on the site that would have to be moved before construction.

Berdetta Hodge: Hodge, who has long been involved in the local community, said she would support the project if it’s the right fit for Tempe. She is optimistic that a project of this magnitude could bring more jobs and commerce to the city but would want to make sure that traffic issues and neighborhood impacts are addressed. She wants the team to prioritize working with union contractors that provide prevailing wages, create partnerships with community groups and schools to provide opportunities for residents and support parks and neighborhoods. She wouldn’t support city funding for the project and said Tempe residents shouldn’t be taxed for it.

Current speculation is that there are 2 councilmembers who support the deal; 2 councilmembers who oppose the deal; and the rest are undecided.

Here’s my take. I have no insider knowledge and what I offer is pure speculation. While everyone waits for the RFP outcome, political leaders have realized that making a decision prior to the Primary Election on March 8th is not in their best interests. If those who are elected appear to support the deal, they will be comfortable in announcing the RFP’s acceptance. Obviously, the reverse is true as well. Depending on the results of the Primary Election, don’t expect Tempe to do anything until the candidate winners are announced.

You can be sure the Coyotes are putting substantial sums into the campaigns of those who support their RFP. I checked all candidates’ campaign filings of January 31st and there is nothing outstanding with regard to their campaign contributions. That is to be expected. Their next campaign filings will reveal who received money from whom.

However, money can only do so much. There are well organized groups of citizens who oppose this deal as well as the Council’s possible decision to give $20 million in taxpayer dollars to support a sports franchise. This has garnered the attention of the Coyotes who have called upon fans to start an email campaign and petitions in support of the Coyotes. The battle lines have been drawn. Let’s see who becomes the victor.

On a totally separate note and kind of related is the Coyotes/ASU deal that allows the Coyotes to play in a college facility for at least the next 3 years. I suspect all the owners within the NHL are spittin’ mad. The Coyotes’ owner is already financially subsidized in a league revenue sharing scheme. With even less revenue generated in this small facility, the other owners will take it on the chin by having to share even more revenue with the Coyotes. They cannot be happy at this prospect.

Bettman is also allowing the Coyotes to play in a 5,000-seat facility. The actual attendance will be even less than that as seats will be consumed for press and production uses. Yet when others sought temporary, smaller facility usage, historically they have been denied by Bettman. Why the discrimination in this case? I suspect Bettman will do anything to save face when he made his absolute declaration that hockey would stay in Arizona as well as his commitment to the southwest media market.

I wonder if Bettman and Daley have make the trek to Tempe to chat up councilmembers in an effort to shore up support for a positive decision on the Coyotes’ proposal?

My final observation is that I am pleased the City of Glendale made the decision to sever ties with the Coyotes. Their history of ownership has been filled with unpleasant drama and financial issues. Hey, Tempe Councilmembers, those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Consider your RFP just the first chapter in your possible, drama-filled relationship with the team. It won’t be your last.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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 written for awhile simply because being a Glendale City councilmember is more complicated and busier than ever. It takes a minimum of 3 hours and often days to write, edit and publish one blog.  I miss writing and I need to make a concerted effort to carve out the time to do so. Be that as it may, there are many events of which to make note.  Most are not enough for a full blog on their own but should be recognized.

Arguably, the most important recent event is the Grand Opening of Heroes Regional Park Lake. While the celebration was occurring, people were already catching fish. About 100 residents came to the ceremony and many expressed their gratitude to see this wonderful addition to the park. Next up will be to get some sports fields constructed followed by the biggest, most expensive ticket item, the Recreation & Aquatics Center.

Inflation is killing all of us, including cities. Yesterday I filled up my car to the tune of $56. Before Biden that same tank of gas cost me about $25 or $30. My weekly grocery bill has increased by about 40%. Then there are supply chain issues. My local Safeway has had bare shelves, especially in the pasta and chicken sections. They haven’t had any chicken for the past 10 days.

This situation is rough on people on a fixed income, like me and obviously on the poor. From what we all hear it will continue throughout 2022 and we can expect prices to go even higher. The same holds true for cities. For instance, Glendale uses a lot of chemicals to treat its water supply. Those same chemical prices have risen about 30%. This same scenario goes for everything from copy paper, cleaning supplies to vehicle parts and maintenance. While Glendale is earning more revenue than ever before it is paying higher prices than ever before.

Development in the Loop 303 area continues to boom. Several new projects have been announced and there continues to be more in the pipeline. The industry has recognized that Glendale’s “New Frontier” is an established job corridor in the Valley.

Westgate continues to thrive with new development as well. After some internal delays on the part of the developer, Tiger Woods’ Pop Stoke will begin construction any day and is slated to be completed this fall. To the east of the AMC theater, a pickle ball complex complete with a restaurant and bar and rental facilities, ala Top Golf, is slated to start construction in the near future and is expected to be open prior to the Super Bowl. The Thirsty Lion, a 2-story restaurant and bar, situated between the arena and the Renaissance Hotel, is about to start construction as well. A new concept restaurant, exclusively serving some of the most decadent desserts you can possibly imagine, will take the place of the Saddle Ranch Chop House.

Let’s not forget the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort development. I continue to believe it is the most significant development ever to occur within Glendale. It is a mini-Disneyland without the $100+ a day charge per person to enter. Expect about 12 million visitors a year. It will contribute nearly $10M a year in sales tax revenue to Glendale. I expect it to draw visitors not just from the state or the southwest but nationally and even internationally. It’s a Saturday and I just checked their live camera. Earth moving equipment is busy today and the large crane was in use. If you would like to check it out, use this site: https://app.truelook.cloud/dashboard/553/923/live?code=15hm7ev0xey9jmgpfyf2jd9e0&fbclid=IwAR2VhkoN56nBnnmqMouCzAWFM9BHxtvSmNlj83REtd_D2fuA3g9vdeZ-SAY

One of the city services most loved by residents is sanitation. Recently our City Manager related that 44% of the sanitation drivers were out with Covid. Sanitation division managers and employees from other departments stepped up to fill the void resulting in no disruption in your service. Your trash was collected as usual and I bet you had no idea that Covid was crippling the department’s ability to service you. Yet I recently read that the same kind of situation occurred in Tempe resulting in a disruption of pick-up service for about a week. Two cities, two different ways to handle the problem.

At our next council voting meeting I will vote to approve a rate increase in sanitation. Sanitation is run by Michelle Woytenko, Director of Field Operations. Ms. Woytenko is one of the best Directors in the city of Glendale. She is no nonsense and provides excellent information and service to every resident. Our office has contacted her to report a citizen’s trash pick-up being missed and Ms. Woytenko will have someone picking it up the same day. Her explanation for a rate increase was logical and persuasive.

Speaking of money, in February the city council begins its annual budget oversight and preparation for the next fiscal year. We will begin with the Capital Improvement Program. This is the portion of the budget that lays out what infrastructure the city will build, rehabilitate, improve, or maintain for the next 5 years. It is one of the most important segments of the city budgetary process.

The city has completed its redistricting process and submitted its plan to the state and the feds for final approval. As of now, unless something dramatic occurs, the new city council boundaries are set not only for the next election in November of 2022 but for the next ten years until the next census.

There has been minimal accommodation for the tremendous growth occurring in the Yucca district. Instead of creating all districts with a population of about 41,000 the Yucca district will start with a population of 39,000. However, I contended that the accommodation is insufficient. I anticipate an additional 14,000 moving into the Yucca district in the next few years. I anticipate a population in the Yucca district of about 55,000. The Yucca district is the ‘gorilla’ of Glendale’s districts. It is the largest geographically; it accounts for about 80% of all recent and current economic development within the city; and will soon have the greatest population of all the districts. Much of the new population can be attributed to Stonehaven, a residential development between Camelback and Bethany, 83rd to 91st Avenues. At build-out it will contain 1,365 new homes. Another factor is the multitude of apartment complexes in the Westgate area. Westgate needs a mass of people living there to support all its retail and restaurants.

The eastern boundary between the Yucca and Ocotillo districts has changed. From Northern Avenue to Orangewood Avenue the boundary is 75th Avenue. The east side of 75th is in the Ocotillo District and the west side is in the Yucca district. At Orangewood Ave to Glendale Avenue the boundary is 71st Avenue. From Glendale Avenue to Bethany Home Road the boundary is 75th Avenue. Note that Independence Heights subdivision is now in the Ocotillo district. From Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road the boundary is 67th Avenue. Here is a map that shows the dividing lines between the Yucca district and the Ocotillo district:

Council is moving forward on remodeling the City Hall complex. It demonstrates our commitment to downtown Glendale. The exterior look of the buildings will be updated. The parking garage, long in need of major repairs, will be rehabilitated. The concept of offering free, live entertainment year round at the city amphitheater will continue in a newly reconfigured and updated area. Murphy Park will receive an update as well.

You may have noticed that I am the only councilmember to consistently vote ‘no’ on the city’s awarding of 5-year contracts to vendors of services and supplies. I do so for several reasons. A 5-year contract is longer than a city council term of office which is 4 years. That results in no continuity of oversight by the council. If a new councilmember comes in there is no knowledge of the existing contract or its terms or pricing. In addition, the contracts are often for ordinary goods or services and 5-year contracts for those items do not create a competitive atmosphere. Some say a 5-year contract is good because it locks in prices for 5 years even during inflationary periods such as now. Not so, quite a few contracts have come before us lately as amended seeking our approval for an increase. In all cases, the vendors are asking for increases to cover inflationary costs. So a 5-year contract does not lock in prices during the term of the contract. In addition, the same vendor who asked for a price increase, if prices decline, never, ever, comes back to offer the city an adjusted lower cost to reflect that decline. It’s all one way and always higher. I believe contracts should be no longer than 3 years and then put out for bid again.

Lastly, a few thoughts about the city owned Gila River Arena and the Coyotes. The city was not bluffing or positioning itself for a better lease deal with the Coyotes when it terminated the lease agreement. The city council has approved a contract with HKO to rehabilitate the arena. Deliberately moving from a sports venue to an entertainment venue requires a venue that is comfortable and welcoming to its attendees. After years of flaky ownership – Ellman, Moyes, LeBlanc, Barroway, etc., a consistently losing team and financial difficulties, it’s fair to say enough is enough. We wish the Coyotes well and harbor no ill will. It’s up to the Tempe city council to decide if they can do better. I would simply ask them to consider these questions: Does each member of the council believe there is a bond of trust between themselves and the current ownership group? Has Tempe’s staff done its due diligence, and can it demonstrate that the ownership group has the finances to invest into such a project? Will the ownership want financial contributions from the city of Tempe and does the city have the bond capacity for such a project? In an election year how will Tempe residents react to any deal that requires the city to spend taxpayer dollars for another sports arena in the Valley?

This new year will be interesting to say the least. Glendale is in the strongest financial position it has had for years. We will weather this inflationary period and come out on the other side, stronger and more resilient. We have the funds to expend on one-time projects that will benefit our citizens and create a better, more vibrant Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      

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 parts I and II we looked at the proposed Coyotes project and its funding as well as the stipulations that would be imposed by the FAA. In this part we look at the major hurdles to be overcome.

The first challenge for the Coyotes’ proposed development is that of the mechanism for the repayment of the 30-year, $200 million worth of bonds through a Community Facilities District (CFD) and Government Property Excise Lease Tax (GPLET) Both of these mechanisms are legitimate and have been used by cities throughout the Valley. The Coyotes have said the bulk of the repayment relies upon sales tax generated on the site. In the city’s negotiations with the Coyotes, just one of the issues to be resolved will be who pays any outstanding balance of the annual repayment of principal and interest on the bonds if the sales tax fails to generate the full annual amount needed. Will Muerelo cover it or will he expect Tempe to cover it?

The second challenge, and a major one at that, is the question of Tempe’s taxpayers’ support of the sales tax generated to be used to pay off bonds designed to support another sports venue in the Valley. The assumption by many is that Tempe taxpayers would rather see this development’s sales tax used for city uses that can be enjoyed the general public.

Data Orbital conducted a statewide poll on August 30-31, 2021. Here is the link to their findings: https://www.dataorbital.com/the-blog/taxpayers-icy-at-thought-of-paying-for-a-new-arizona-coyotes-arena . The results summarized are:

  • Voters support for funding a new Coyotes arena

No  47.7% / Yes  39.0% / Undecided  12.7%                                                                  

  • Voters support for using Covid relief funds for a new arena

Democrat:   No  84.4% / Yes  12.3%    Republican:  No   80.2% / Yes  17.0%    Independent:  No  79.0% / Yes  16.1%                                                                  

  • Voters support for elected officials who use taxpayer money for a new arena

Less likely to support  60.4% / More likely to support  29.1% / Undecided  9.6%

I happened to talk to a zoning development professional recently. This person held a meeting in Tempe to gauge neighborhood support on a project that had nothing to do with a new Coyotes arena. Even though the development had no connection to or relationship to the proposed arena, all the Tempe citizens wanted to talk about was their opposition to a new Coyotes arena. Admittedly, this is anecdotal, but it may very well express the level of support among Tempe residents.

The third major challenge is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) specific height limitations for the site as well as the city of Phoenix’s objection to the proposed residential apartment complexes planned to be built directly in the path of Sky Harbor’s runways. Historically, the FAA’s height limitation drove a proposed Cardinals’ stadium to seek another location. Could the same be true for the Coyotes?

If the Coyotes accede to the FAA’s requirements as well as Phoenix’s prohibition on residential for the site that would require the project to be redesigned as well as scaled back considerably. Does it continue to pencil out in terms of repayment of the $200 million in bonds? Keep in mind that the Coyotes said they anticipate the “bulk” of the bond repayment would rely upon sales tax. Tempe should take a very close look at this issue.

The fourth challenge is if Tempe decides to award this RFP to the Coyotes the arena probably won’t be ready until 2024 or 2025. In the meantime, where will they play? Obviously, it won’t be in Glendale. There has been a lot of speculation about using Phoenix’s Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

There is no way that Phoenix can craft an exclusive deal with the Coyotes. Keep in mind that this is a taxpayer funded, public facility. If I remember correctly, the state also has a financial stake in the coliseum. As such Phoenix would have to issue an RFP for the coliseum just as Tempe did for its vacant site. Rather than receiving only one response to its RFP as occurred in Tempe, expect multiple responses for the coliseum.

It would take time to do a thorough review of all responses before an award could be made. Could all of this be done by next season? Your guess is as good as mine but as the clock keeps ticking, it seems unlikely.  In addition, the coliseum would require major renovation plus chillers to make ice. All of the renovative work takes time and money. The best guess currently is that it would take about $40 or $50 million to renovate and at least 6 to 8 months to do so after any award is made. Add that to the Coyotes’ announced investment of $1.2 billion for its proposed development in Tempe.

So far, there has been no RFP issued for the coliseum.

 

 

 

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 this 3-part series of blogs I examine the Coyotes’ response to the city of Tempe’s Request for Proposal (RFP) in their effort to secure a permanent playing site in the East Valley.

On September 20, 2021, Pauline Pineda authored an exclusive look at the Coyote’s proposal. Here is the link:  https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/tempe/2021/09/20/arizona-coyotes-reveal-proposal-for-new-arena-entertainment-district-tempe/8376362002/ .

Let’s begin with the first fact. Ms. Pineda states the site is “46 acres on the south bank of the Salt River that previously were used as a sand and gravel mining operation and a dump.” In comparison, Glendale’s Westgate Sports and Entertainment district is a 223-acre site. The Coyotes’ proposed site is roughly 20% or 1/5 the size of Westgate.

The second fact is their proposal in Phase I calls for, “300,000 square feet of commercial space, 320,000 square feet of office space, 1,600 residential units and two hotels.” It includes a 16,000-seat arena, a 1,500-seat theater, a commercial district, a 200-room boutique hotel, offices, and a 12-story apartment complex of 180 units. Their Phase II includes more than 1,500 apartment units in three apartment complexes 12 stories tall, a convention-style hotel with 300 rooms and additional retail and office space.

By way of comparison, Westgate currently has 8,000,000 square feet of mixed-use development that includes shopping, dining, entertainment, high-end condominiums, parks, and office space. Westgate has 5 hotels, convention space, 35 restaurants, and 3 apartment complexes. It has something else that cannot be replicated on the Coyotes’ proposed site…Tanger Outlets with nearly 80 retail shops. Their proposal sounds an awful lot like a mini-Westgate. No matter how much they try to stuff into those 46 acres, it will not generate the magnitude of sales tax generated by Westgate.

Here’s another fact to consider. There is a basketball arena that has just broken ground in Inglewood, California. It is where Steve Ballmer’s NBA Clippers will play beginning in 2024-25. It’s called the Intuit Dome and is expected to cost $1.8 billion to construct and you can be sure there will be cost overruns. To sweeten the deal, Mr. Ballmer will be donating $100 million to the city of Inglewood, funding job training, worker outreach, educational programs, and a rehabilitation of the Inglewood community center and library. It appears to be a project that Ballmer can easily afford (even with donations and cost overruns) as his net worth is pegged at $101 billion.

No one can guess at how successful Muerelo will be in obtaining additional investors. Keep in mind his net worth is reported to be $2 billion. It is certainly possible that he could end up using half of his net worth to develop his project. By way of contrast Bullmer can easily afford a $2 billion price tag to build new digs for his team and still have lots and lots of money left over. Bullmer is using his own money and Muerelo is relying on investor funding and sales tax to cover his proposed project.

 Fact number 3 looks at the proposed financial mechanisms for financing the project. What are the estimated costs for the Coyotes’ proposed project and how do they plan to pay for it? They are “proposing a $1.7 billion development in Tempe with a hockey arena, hotels, apartments and shops that the team says would be financed by private investors, although it wants to use a portion of city sales tax revenues generated on the site to help pay for $200 million in additional costs.”

They are asking Tempe to establish a “Community Facilities District, that would sell special assessment revenue bonds to raise $120 million for the east parcel and $80 million for the west parcel.  The bonds would be issued in phases to pay for projects as they get underway.”

“The proposal would repay the bonds over 30 years from three revenue sources:

  • A portion of the city sales taxes generated on the site and parking revenue. Tempe’s sales tax rate is 1.8%, with 0.6% designated for specific priorities such as art and transportation. The proposal is to use all but the designated sales tax funds generated on the site (1.2% of Tempe’s sales tax).
  • Up to a 6% surcharge on retail sales, including ticket, merchandise, and concession sales at the arena.
  • Real estate tax assessments on the property.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The team did not say how much each source would contribute to the bond repayment but said sales taxes would make up the bulk of the pot.”

Note that one of the repayment mechanisms proposed to pay off the 30-year bonds is real estate tax assessments on the property. Yet the Coyotes also seek a property tax abatement by transferring ownership of the land to Tempe and then leasing the land back for a fee through the use of a GPLET (Government Property Excise Lease Tax). The non-arena portions of the project such as the retail, office and apartments could have up to 8 years of property tax exemption. The arena and practice facility are allowed to have a longer tax exemption which is subject to negotiation. In essence, the real estate tax assessments would be negligible for a period of years.

No one knows what will be Tempe taxpayers’ appetite for using sales tax generated on the site.  After all, Tempe taxpayers will want whatever development that occurs on the site to generate sales tax to be used in their best interest not to help pay for yet another sports complex in the Valley. In today’s economy with inflation soaring, the very mention of using sales tax to help pay for a sports complex will not be an easy sell.

In part II of my blog we’ll take a look at how the Federal Aviation Administration may affect this proposed development.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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 want to emphasize that these comments reflect my position and do not represent the position of the city council as a whole or that of senior management.

I have received many queries about Glendale’s recent announcement and I wanted to take the opportunity of posting in my blog to share my position on the issue.

On Thursday, August 19, 2021, Glendale issued a Press Release announcing that it would not renew its year-to-year agreement for use of its arena by the Coyotes. Both parties have been operating under a year-to-year agreement for several years. Within the agreement is the stipulation that either party can decide not to renew the agreement for an additional year by providing written notice each year on or before December 31st. Glendale has provided notice to the Coyotes that it has declined to renew this year-to-year agreement. This means that the upcoming season will be the last in our arena, and they must vacate the facility by June 30, 2021.  As a courtesy the city provided notice before December to allow the Coyotes as much time as possible to realign their future.

I have been on city council for over 20 years, during the long and tortuous history of the Coyotes. I was there when the city built the arena. I was there when the city paid the NHL to manage the team for 2 years to keep the team in the state.  Over the years I have supported the Coyotes through 5 different ownerships because I believed they were necessary for the financial vitality of a fledgling Westgate area. I know that Glendale, time and again, took action that kept the Coyotes in Arizona for the past 18 years. Glendale has proven its historical commitment to the Coyotes.

For me, my reasoning is based on a sound, business decision. I am guided by what is best, at this time, for Glendale and its 253,000 residents. This impactful decision was not made hastily or in a vacuum. Input was sought from key stakeholders, the city’s expert economist and our arena management firm. In fact, there will be a positive budgetary impact to the arena and the city with no hockey team or hockey operations taking place.

I bear no animus toward the team or its ownership. In fact, I wish them good luck and much success in their future. They, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, have repeatedly said they have no future remaining in Glendale and I concur. They believe they will regain their financial health by playing somewhere other than Glendale. That is their belief and their choice.

Westgate has come of age. I believe the Westgate area is successful in its own right. There are limitless and wonderful opportunities for the Sports & Entertainment area turning it into an even greater powerhouse, unparalleled in the Valley. That is my belief and guides my choice.

In 20 years, the Westgate area has grown and matured, earning its present success. Westgate’s Sports & Entertainment District has never been more financially healthy than it is right now. More than a billion dollars of investment has occurred during the past three years. Witness the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort project, Tiger Woods’ Pop Golf project and Tesla’s project. Economic development is booming in the area at an unprecedented level. Over the next year, the city will be announcing many new projects coming to this area. In addition, long time commercial tenants in the area are planning on updating and refreshing their venues.  They know that Westgate is integral to their success. There is a tremendous sense of optimism throughout the area.

Westgate Entertainment District/Yam properties issued the following in support of Glendale’s decision, “The City of Glendale has been a great partner for us, and we support its decisions regarding the arena, said Dan Dahl, Director of Real Estate for YAM properties.”

It’s time to split the blanket. The Coyotes have wanted to do so for several years. Glendale now realizes that it is in their best business interest to agree.

In the coming week I will offer more commentary on this event. Stay tuned.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

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: I am presenting my views as a private citizen who blogs about Glendale issues. The thoughts and opinions expressed do not represent the Glendale city council or its leadership staff.

As I write this blog, news has just been issued that ASU has pulled out of the plan to allow the Coyotes to use property within their athletic district. Never the less, the information below may help shed some light on why legislation introduced on February 1, 2017 would not have passed. Here are links to stories just published: http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nhl/coyotes/2017/02/03/asu-pulls-out-plan-bring-arizona-coyotes-tempe/97460974/ and http://www.abc15.com//sports/sports-blogs-local/arizona-state-backs-out-of-tempe-arena-deal-with-arizona-coyotes?utm_source=SilverpopMailing

Don’t ya just love it? SB 1474 was introduced to the Arizona legislature this Tuesday, February 1, 2017. The media announced the proposed legislation today, Friday. Fridays are always good days to introduce anything controversial as this is sure to be. It gets buried amidst a weekend, filled with fun activities and is generally ignored by the media, much less noticed by the general public.

SB 1474 is a proposed amendment to well established state tax code. The amendment proposes the creation of a “community engagement district.” Here is the link to the bill’s full text:

https://apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/GetDocumentPdf/447123 .  Who introduced this bill?

  • Senator Kate Brophy McGee, Republican, representing District 28 in Phoenix
  • Senator Sonny Borelli, Republican, representing District 5 of Lake Havasu City
  • Senator Karin Fann, Republican, representing District 1 of Prescott
  • Senator Frank Pratt, Republican, representing District 8 of Pinal County
  • Senator Bob Worsley, Republican, representing District 25 of Mesa
  • Representative Douglas Coleman, Republican, representing District 16 of Apache Junction and Pinal County
  • Representative Thomas Shope, Republican, representing District 8 of Coolidge
  • Representative Bob Thorpe, Republican, representing District 6 of Flagstaff                                                                    

Please note that with the exception of Senator McGee (Phoenix) and Senator Worsley (Mesa), all of these legislators represent areas outside Maricopa County…hmmm.

It proposes the establishment of a “community engagement district pursuant to Section 48-3802.”  What’s in Section 48-3802? It sets the parameters under which this community engagement district may be established. Under A. it says, “The governing body of a city in which a university athletic facilities district has been established (read ASU’s district) pursuant to Section 48-4202, Subsection C may also establish a community engagement district in the city pursuant to this section if the governing body (Tempe) determines that the public convenience, necessity or welfare will be promoted by the district’s establishment…but must satisfy both of the following requirements:

  1. On the petition of the owner or owners of all of the real property on which a public facility will be located, the governing body of the city in which the property is located, on or before December 31, 2018, must adopt a resolution as described in this section.”

Most interesting is, “The district board of governors must have received, from the municipality in which the district is located (Tempe) or from any lawful nongovernmental source (ASU? Coyotes?), a financial commitment in an aggregate amount equal to or greater than the total amount to be distributed to the district under this section…” That aggregate amount has been stated publicly as $200 million dollars toward a $400 million dollar facility.

Lastly, the district will levy and excise tax on business activity in the district of no more than 2%. This is in addition to regular, state, county and city taxes.

I’m no lawyer but upon reading this proposed bill it seems to call for Tempe to pass by resolution a community engagement district since it is the jurisdiction in which the Coyotes arena would be built. Tempe must hold a public hearing on the matter. Bring your seat cushions because that promises to be one heck of a long public hearing.

Under this proposed legislation it appears that if Tempe creates such a district, “…that the establishment of the district may result in the levy of taxes to pay the costs of improvements constructed by the district and for their operation and maintenance.” It seems as if Tempe could have the authority to levy taxes upon every resident in Tempe if there is an annual deficit in revenues produced by this community engagement district. Beware of those bearing gifts in Coyotes’ clothing…the team sold Glendale by promising that the “enhanced revenues” it would receive would cover the costs to the city annually. Never happened.

The proposed bill also seems to require some entity to put up a bond (sort of) to be held in a separate account equal to the $200 million dollars the Coyotes want from the taxpayers…you. Well, we all know it won’t be the Coyotes. So that leaves Tempe or ASU to put up the money. Most likely ASU’s money would come from private donations rather than the annual public subsidy granted by the state legislature to all 3 of Arizona’s universities. I suspect private donors expect their money to go toward improving student education. I’m not so sure they’d be happy to learn that their money is actually going to guarantee the development of a private, for-profit entity such as the Coyotes.

I believe there is a good case to make for why the Coyotes belong in Glendale:

  • The Gila River Arena was built in 2003…specifically for the Coyotes.
  • The arena is 14 years old and is still one of the best, state-of-the-art arenas in the National Hockey League.
  • Glendale has proven its loyalty to the Coyotes by paying the NHL $50 million dollars to run the arena after Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. That act of loyalty nearly drove the city into bankruptcy. You would think that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would be loyal to Glendale and stand behind keeping the Coyotes in Glendale.
  • The Coyotes pay $500,000 in rent annually and have the use of the arena for all practice games. This is a unique to the Coyotes. Most NHL teams own and operate their own separate practice facilities at their own expense.
  • The Coyotes have the second sweetest arena deal in the entire Hockey League. The team gets 100% of the parking revenue, merchandise sales, concession sales and ticket surcharges as well as 80% of the naming rights.
  • Between 2015 and 2050, the West Valley will have an estimated population of 1.2 million; Phoenix will have an est. population of nearly 700,000 and the East Valley nearly 650,000. Between 2000 to 2010, the West Valley added about 300,000 people, Phoenix added about 125,000 people and the East Valley almost 250,000 people. MAG predicts future population growth in the West Valley will be nearly equal to the combined population growth of both Phoenix and the East Valley.
  • Well respected economic analyst Elliot Pollack predicted that Glendale will become the geographical center of the entire Valley
  • The new loop 202 bypass route known as the South Mountain Freeway will be completed by 2019 providing a significantly improved connection between the East and West Valleys

Anthony LeBlanc decided to teach Glendale a lesson when the city cancelled the contract that included a direct subsidy to the team. He is not acting in the team’s best long-term interests. While he gets short-term revenge, he fails to acknowledge and recognize the tremendous long-term growth of the West Valley and that is where his customers will come from. How long before he decides that the East Valley was a mistake because a booming West Valley customer base doesn’t want to commute eastward? After all, that is, in large part, his rationale for trying to move to the East Valley.

There have been many chapters written in the on-going Coyotes’ story. Some of those chapters were written by the National Hockey League; some of those chapters were written by the City of Glendale. But the latest chapters of turmoil and uncertainty about the Coyotes’ fate were written by the Coyotes themselves. The team attributes its lousy attendance to East Valley fans unwilling to commute to the West Valley. Perhaps they should acknowledge that the team’s performance is driving the lack of attendance these days.

There is no doubt that the Coyotes should remain in Glendale, Glendale has paid the price to keep them (something that the most rabid of Coyotes fans and LeBlanc fail to acknowledge). The Gila River Arena is a Class A hockey facility. The Coyotes have a very good revenue deal. With the explosion of growth occurring in the West Valley, this is the best location…for now and into the future.

It’s time for LeBlanc to make peace…not war…with the arena manager, AEG, and the City of Glendale. Glendale has proven its commitment to the Coyotes. It’s time for the Coyotes to prove its commitment to Glendale.

© 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.

An alert for residents living along 83rd Avenue and 91st Avenue from Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road regarding the Planned Area Development application called Stonehaven. The applicant has submitted a revised Stonehaven development plan and has scheduled a formal Neighborhood meeting:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Sunset Ridge Elementary School Cafeteria

8490 West Missouri Avenue, Glendale, Arizona 85305

The Glendale City Planner handling this case is the Glendale Planning Director, Jon Froke. He can be reached at 623-930-2585 or by email at jfroke@glendaleaz.com. Mr. Froke can answer your questions regarding the city review and hearing processes as well as the staff position once their report is complete. Below is a depiction of the Planned Area Development Land Use Master Plan. It is disappointing as the applicant is asking for more density while refusing to plan for large lots south of the Grand Canal and adjacent to Missouri Ranch (comprised of 10,000 SF lots). The largest lot size being proposed by the applicant is 7,000 SF. The applicant appears reluctant to listen to resident’s concerns about small lot sizes devaluing the property values of those who live near the proposed development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I urge you to attend this meeting especially if you live in Missouri Ranch; 8300 to 8600 W. Cavalier Drive; Pendergast Estates; Camelback Park, and all areas on the east side of 83rd Avenue including Orange Drive and Montebello Avenue.

Casino Issue not settled as U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) request that he rule in the tribe’s favor without going to trial. Judge Campbell said he needed more information about allegations of fraud on the part of the Tohono O’odham. The trial will be scheduled sometime between April and August of 2017 making it a full year since June of 2016 when the Tohono O’odham filed suit against the state for its refusal to grant the tribe a Class III gaming license.

In the meantime Governor Ducey attempted to settle the case out of court by proposing to grant the TO a Class III gaming license in return for its promise to build no new casinos in the Phoenix Metro area. That overture was rebuffed by the TO and seems to signal that the TO may have plans for another casino in the Phoenix area. Could they have once again purchased land secretly betting that they can get their Class III gaming license without promising to build elsewhere in the Valley? I would think any Valley city with county islands should be very, very nervous. Here is the link to a December 19, 2016 story in the Arizona Republic: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2016/12/19/dispute-over-desert-diamond-west-valley-casino-heading-to-trial/95634944/ .

Tax increment financing for the Coyotes new arena is by no means guaranteed passage in the Arizona Legislature. Rather than granting tax increment financing and incentives for the Coyotes the legislature would be well served to assist the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) in crafting new revenue streams for the sagging revenues it currently receives. The Authority has only paid out $49.2 million dollars in reimbursements toward a total of $220.7 million dollars owed to various Valley cities for their ballparks facility construction/renovation.  AZSTA has commitments to reimburse Surprise, Tempe and Scottsdale by 2007 and now estimates those repayments will not be completed until 2021. Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Glendale and Goodyear are not expected to receive their reimbursements until 2031 and beyond. Better the legislature develop a fix that enables AZSTA to meet its commitments for those facilities already constructed by a vast array of Valley cities struggling to find the money to pay off their debts for construction. Here is a link to the state’s latest audit of AZSTA: http://az-sta.com/downloads/files/financial/2015-special-audit-by-the-office-of-the-auditor-general-full-report.pdf . Below is a chart (page 23) from that AZSTA audit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony LeBlanc, CEO of the Coyotes, acknowledged that the legislature is “essential” for their plan. You can be sure they are already lobbying members of the state legislature. However, in past years Valley cities have also lobbied for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) only to be denied repeatedly. One of the plans floated last year by the Coyotes involved capturing portions of sales and/or tourism tax revenue in a tax district created in the area of their proposed arena. The Coyotes will have a difficult time pushing to the head of a line that relies on tourism sales tax revenues. The legislature would be well advised to create a financial fix for those facilities already in existence rather than diverting scarce resources to yet another new sports facility. The subsidization of sports teams and their venues is not a popular public topic when people are still hurting financially and have not derived economic benefits from the national recovery. Here is a link to a Mike Sunnicks article in the Phoenix Business Journal about the Coyotes plan to have the taxpayers and tourists subsidize their proposed arena: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2016/12/02/arizona-coyotes-arena-real-estate-group-eases.html

 © 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 NOTE: YOU WILL NOTE THAT I HAVE NOT PUBLISHED MANY BLOGS LATELY. I HAVE BEEN CONSUMED WITH A PERSONAL FAMILY ISSUE WITH MANY, MANY DOCUMENTS TO READ AND ABSORB. THE ISSUE SHOULD RESOLVE ITSELF BY THE END OF OCTOBER.

It has been 17 years and 281 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

It would appear so. Like a fall bonfire’s smoke, there is the smell of desperation in the air. His recall election is fast approaching and early ballots for Sahuaro district voters go out on Wednesday, October 7th. His campaign has been placing robo calls (one can assume the fire union is footing the bill) to voters in his district. In them, Sherwood apparently calls on voters not to believe all the lies being told about him and that they have been created by interests outside of Glendale. No one is buying his rhetoric. The “lies” Sherwood refers to are of his own making. He didn’t need help from interests outside of Glendale.

He had a district meeting (a rare event) on October 1, 2015. Isn’t it amazing that it was scheduled just before early ballots are mailed? There is something to be said for the power of an incumbent.  I know that when I ran for council there was a prohibition for councilmembers from using city resources for (if I remember correctly, for at least 60 days…it could have been longer). He has tried to explain away his lousy driving record with its array of suspensions and warrant for his arrest. His rationale? All those court documents he was receiving were just junk mail.

Sherwood’s history as the Sahuaro district councilmember is not a record of pride:

  • From the start of representation he has been arrogant about and dismissive of his constituents’ voices
  • He was frequently heard on the 4th floor of city hall crowing that he was the “real” mayor of Glendale
  • He followed his own agenda rather than that of his constituency
  • His extraordinary meeting with former City Manager Brenda Fischer and his advocacy for her hiring
  • His apparent alliance with Fischer and her inner circle, Frisoni, Tindall and Burdick leading to their favoritism and advocacy for his positions on issues such as the Coyotes deal
  • His rationalization for support for the casino seems to change on any given day but many continue to believe that he traded his vote of support for the casino with Councilmember Chavira’s vote of support for the Coyotes
  • His stance on Foothills Library closure and advocacy for Becker billboards was in direct opposition to the majority of his district residents’ wishes
  • As Vice Chair of the Valley Metro transit board he has, before hearing or considering the wishes of the people of Glendale, staked out a position not only in support of light rail in Glendale but that the route should be through its downtown
  • Lastly and perhaps most troubling, is his flaunting of the law. The most serious of which was his out-of-town car rental while his drivers license was suspended and he paid for the vehicle rental with a city ProCard. If there had been any kind of accident he would have subjected the city to tremendous liability. There is also the outstanding matter of Glendale taxpayers footing the bill for his illegal behavior

Unfortunately Sherwood has not lived up to his campaign billing, past, present and future. Sherwood’s and the fire union’s desperation are palpable. Apparently their polling is showing that Sherwood will lose his recall election by a vote of 3 to 1. So, they’ve put up campaign signs with every imaginable endorsement they can scrape up. For instance, now “education” supports Sherwood. Who in “education?” Do Sherwood and the fire union think voters are so dumb that they do not know that the city has no influence or control over local school districts? The city does not fund education in any way, shape or form. This is the same ploy both Chavira and Aldama used in their campaigns when they said they supported and were supported by “education.” It’s meaningless. Another favorite is Sherwood’s endorsement by “paramedics.” Which ones? Of course the firefighter paramedics are predominately union members and the fire union is underwriting the cost of Sherwood’s campaign.

Many voters in the Sahuaro district recognize that Sherwood has not been on their side. It seems he has supported powerful outside interests in return for future financial campaign reelection support. For that reason alone it appears that his constituency is prepared to reject him and to elect and “outsider.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? We see the same sentiment on a national level with voters prepared to vote for “outsiders” on both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle.

Voters in the Sahuaro district do have a choice. Ray Malnar is running against Sherwood in his recall election. In the past day or two, the following message from Ray Malnar was forwarded to me and I am sharing it with you, the Sahuaro district voters:

Dear friends,

Early Ballots began going out in the Sahuaro District yesterday. At the same time, messages are being distributed by my opponent and his supporters which do not address the issues. I want to continue to stay truthful and honorable. In this, the eleventh hour of the election cycle, I am asking that you help share the facts about my experience, ethics and position on key issues with people you know, especially those who live in the Sahuaro District.

Here’s a link to the  Ray Malnar for a Better Glendale website which will clarify who I am, what I stand for and why we are in this Recall Election. Please type in : https://www.raymalnar.com/   Please send this link out to everyone you know who might have a connection in Glendale.

Thank you,

 Ray Malnar, Candidate

Glendale City Council, Sahuaro District

602-869-1160

ray.malnar@cox.net

© 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 ‘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 171 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I have not only read Glendale’s motion but printed it out. Here is the link if you wish to read the motion: City of Glendale motion June 18 2015 . I have read and reread the motion several times. I suggest that you pay particular attention to the footnotes. In some aspects they are as revelatory as the emails provided in the brief.

Glendale could not have chosen a better attorney to represent its interests in its decision to cancel its contract with IceArizona and subsequent litigation. Here is a link to Cynthia Ricketts’ biography: http://sacksrickettscase.com/our-team/cynthia-a-ricketts/ . She is well respected by her peers and has extensive expertise in the area of litigation that the city requires.

If you noted in state statute A.R.S. § 38-511 it refers to any person “significantly involved in initiating, negotiating, securing, drafting or creating of documents.” Many have focused on the word “negotiating” especially with reference to Julie Frisoni. Please go to Frisoni’s PR website (http://www.frisonipr.com/whoweare/). This is a direct quote from her site, “Crisis communications, including NHL Coyotes negotiations and the near bankruptcy of a city.” It appears that Ms. Frisoni can’t have it both ways. There seems to be a conflict (no pun intended) between her claim on her website citing experience in “NHL Coyotes negotiations” and her recent public denials that she was merely a Communications Director.

Based upon my personal experience as a councilmember from 2000 through 2012 Ms. Frisoni was a close confidant of Ed Beasley, former City Manager, and Craig Tindall, former City Attorney. I did not have a great deal of interaction with Ms. Frisoni for I lacked trust in her. While she may or may not have had a hand in direct, face-to-face negotiations of the currently cancelled contract it appears quite evident that she played an essential role in securing (and insuring) council approval of the contract.

Prior to the contract’s approval by city council, on June 26, 2013, she sent talking points in support of the contract to Councilmember Chavira. In fact, Councilmember Chavira, one of only 2 council votes (the other being Sherwood) that did not support the recent vote to cancel the contract, is using many of those same talking points in his current Glendale Today show on Glendale’s Channel 11. Frisoni also sent an email on June 30, 2013, to the four councilmembers in support of the contract with IceArizona: Councilmembers Sherwood, Chavira, Knaack and Martinez. She seems to have deliberately omitted those that did not support it. In that email she passes on Jeff Teetsel’s (Westgate manager) arguments supporting passage of the contract.

I am quite unhappy with the alleged actions of former city attorney Craig Tindall. When city council originally hired him I was quite pleased. He appeared to be competent and articulate. In 2011 I began to hear rumors that he was supportive of an outside group interested in buying the Coyotes. Back then no one could or would tell me who the group was. Reading the emails between him and Anthony LeBlanc, one of the current Coyotes owners, I was unaware of their obviously close relationship dating back to at least 2010.  Little did anyone know they were meeting at their “usual starbucks.” It is now very difficult to accept the current parsing of words in an effort to minimize Tindall’s involvement in negotiating the IceArizona contract. It appears he was involved up to his lips.

It made me recall an incident at the end of 2012. The city was in the process of negotiation with a Coyotes team purchaser, Greg Jamison. I called Mr. Tindall with some technical questions about the deal. Cryptically, at the end of our telephonic conversation he remarked that if the Jamison deal didn’t make there was another group waiting in the wings. When I asked who, he refused to respond. In hindsight it now makes perfect sense but it raises more questions for me. I remember Interim City Manager Horatio Skeete telling me that Tindall appeared to be stalling and would hold Jamison documents on his desk for days. Skeete would make repeated requests for them which eventually would be fulfilled. Did Tindall deliberately sabotage the Jamison deal in an attempt to make available the opportunity for LeBlanc, et. al.? I honestly don’t know. You will have to decide for yourselves.

Tindall’s seeming self dealing is quite disappointing. As far back as April of 2010 in an email exchange between Daryl Jones of Ice Edge (precursor to IceArizona) Jones says they enjoyed working with Tindall and Tindall responds with “Now that’s an offer.” Was that Tindall’s subtle signal that he was angling for a job with them? Who knows? You decide. Or what about Tindall’s March, 2011, email exchange with LeBlanc urging LeBlanc to take a look at investing in a local medical device company? That action would seem to reinforce the notion that they had a close relationship. Or how about LeBlanc’s asking Tindall in October of 2011 if it was time to have a “confidential chat with Ed” (Beasley) as well as an email exchange between Tindall and LeBlanc about LeBlanc’s May, 2010 meeting with Steve E(llman)? What were these all about? We now know that LeBlanc wanted to buy the Coyotes even before the Jamison offer. We now know through more emails of Tindall’s effort to break a roadblock on July 26, 2013 (after the contract is approved) regarding the city’s paying IceArizona’s lenders directly? He emailed the newly hired City Manager (now former City Manager) Brenda Fischer apparently asserting that it was a simple administrative matter and appears to be urging her to take action.

The email exchange between former Mayor Scruggs and former City Manager Beasley are revealing as well. It appears as if the mayor was determined to get LeBlanc’s Lakehead Yale Sports Holding LLC “Plan B” before the city council in March of 2012. Once again Tindall’s name comes up when she says, “I have checked with Craig Tindall and Mr. LeBlanc’s letter is eligible for discussion under the items as posted.” Tindall seemed to be advocating for any LeBlanc deal.

The emails provided in the city’s motion to modify the Temporary Restraining Order are troubling. They are facts. They are the words of the principals involved. They are damning and not easily explained away.

I end with excepts from an email memo to the entire city council dated June 25, 2013 (a few weeks before council approval) from then Interim City Manager Dick Bowers:

  • “Contrary to what might appear in the papers I don’t see this as a ‘done deal’. Far from it. Discussions continued over the weekend and we have come only slightly closer to comfortable than before. Gary B(irnbaum) has helped to illustrate to the Renaissance group’s (eventually IceArizona) attorney the concerns we have. I suspect this has given them a degree of discomfort.”
  • “Glendale cannot afford a failure. The potential of failure exists as a dark shadow in the absence of the investors standing by their own numbers with confidence enough to simply take them for themselves and do the deal for 6.5.”
  • “While there are many ways to describe the Renaissance’s reluctance I keep coming back to that same discomfort of Glendale having all the risk in this deal. My concerns could mean nothing or they could represent an existential question that must be considered. Will this work for the benefit of the City of Glendale and what makes us firmly believe that it will?”

Mr. Bowers’ crystal ball was certainly working that day yet a few weeks later, 4 councilmembers, Yvonne Knaack, Manny Martinez, Gary Sherwood and Sammy Chavira voted in favor of the IceArizona lease management deal. I can understand Sherwood and Chavira’s approval votes. They appear to have been blindly joined at the hip with each other as well as IceArizona. The pro votes of Knaack and Martinez are not so easily understood. Each cited the well being of Westgate as a motivator for their decisions. It is troubling that they appear to have put the well being of Westgate over the well being of the City of Glendale. Why did they not heed the words of Interim City Manager Bowers?

No matter. What’s done is done. The discovery of Tindall’s and Frisoni’s actions provide the city with an opportunity to rectify one source of its annual bleeding…whether one uses $15M or $8.7M a year as the loss figure for the city. Many point to the annual debt payment for the Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility (CRSTF). They say why focus on the arena when CRSTF is just as much of a financial drain. It is. I suspect in due time that financial albatross will be addressed. Development that should have occurred surrounding this facility never materialized as a result of the national recession. Without any promise of current economic development it is an issue the city must address in light of the fact that this council continues to fail to rein in city expenditures.

The pity of it all is the devastation caused to the coaches and players of the Coyotes team. They have been through so much since Moyes declared bankruptcy in 2009. None of it was of their making. They have become undeserved collateral damage. I hope and pray that their futures will once again become whole and they can take pride in playing under the Coyotes banner.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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Recently the Arizona Republic started a new item, West Valley Sound Off. They are contacting West Valley elected to get their positions on issues of the day. Their first foray question was, “Do you support the development of this proposed casino? Why or why not?” Those from Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, El Mirage, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Surprise, Tolleson and Youngtown declined to answer. Not so with our brave, intrepid leaders in Glendale. Three of them did respond.

Councilmember Manny Martinez has consistently opposed the casino since it was first proposed in 2009. He gets it. He said, “I do not support the proposed Tohono O’odham reservation and casino. I am very concerned for Westgate’s well-being if the casino is opened. How do casinos attract customers? Cheap booze, cheap food, and the cost of rooms are minimal. At Westgate, we have hotels and restaurants that pay taxes and help us pay off our debts. If the reservation and casino come in, as a sovereign nation, they would pay no federal, state, county or city taxes. Governor William R. Rhodes of the Gila River Indian Community said, ‘We believe the Tohono O’odham Nation, with the assistance of the federal government, has disrespected the rule of law, the balance so carefully struck among Indian gaming tribes, our community, Glendale and every Arizonan.”

Then we have words, signifying nothing, from Councilmember Chavira. He doesn’t get it and he is not representing the majority sentiment of the residents of West Glendale and the Yucca district, who will feel the direct impacts of the proposed casino. He mimics the same, old, tired rhetoric that the Tohono O’odham have used ad nausea, “Yes, I do support the development of the proposed West Valley casino and resort. The benefits of the development will be significant not only for Glendale, but for the entire West Valley. Positive economic impacts such as job creation and an additional tourist attraction in our sports and entertainment district are among the benefits.” I’m sure he knows, uhmmm, well, perhaps he knows…that 25% of the jobs must be filled with Native Americans.

Lastly, Councilmember Sherwood responded. This is a guy who, less than two years ago, ran on a platform of opposition to the casino. Now, not so much. He did a flip-flop at a very recent council meeting voting with Councilmembers Hugh, Alvarez and Chavira to reject U.S. Representative Franks’ HB 1410 and to begin negotiations with the Tohono O’odham (TO). Many suspect his affirmative vote was pay back to Chavira for Chavira’s vote in support of the arena management deal. “Neither – I will support the project if the Tohono O’odham Nation can be treated as close to a private entity as possible and having some form of revenue stream into the city’s general fund. Additionally, infrastructure including any street improvements, public-safety agreements, et al. would have to be included and enforceable in federal courts. Thus far, in fact-finding sessions, the Nation appears to be very amenable to this. Businesses such as Westgate, Renaissance Hotel, Coyotes and Tanger Outlets, to name a few, are also in support of proposed project. The sports and entertainment district could very well capitalize on a project of this size if it meets the city’s criteria.” He appears to be back-pedaling as he straddles a very narrow  fence, by adding his list of caveats. His declaration that,” Westgate, Renaissance Hotel, Coyotes and Tanger Outlets…are also in support” is downright laughable. There has never been a declaration of public support for the proposed casino from these entities. Have you seen it? I haven’t. Remember when the possibility of losing the Coyotes as an anchor tenant at the arena loomed? Bar and restaurant owners were beside themselves and declared without 40 nights of hockey games they couldn’t make it. They are not going to support a casino that will draw customers away from them knowing that potential consumers will spend disposable income on gambling, subsidized meals and booze and cheap room rates. If they are so willing to commit financial suicide, let’s see them do it publicly. Not one representative of these entities went to the last council meeting when TO negotiations was on the agenda and expressed public support of the project. Sherwood had no public letters of support from these entities that he could read into the record that evening. It’s time for Sherwood to cease making declarations that may not be accurate. Just because he said it, doesn’t make it true.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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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