Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 19, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

Lawsuit to Stop Glendale/Phoenix Coyotes Deal

  |   Video
  • The Goldwater Institute is seeking to invalidate the City of Glendale’s arena lease deal with a prospective buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes. Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren talks about the outcome of today’s hearing.
Guests:
  • Carrie Ann Sitren - Attorney, Goldwater Institute
Category: Law   |   Keywords: lawsuit, law, glendale, phoenix, coyotes, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A measure to continue Arizona's one cent sales tax increase could be in trouble. The Arizona Tax Research Association which opposes the measure found a mistake on petition sheets used to gather signatures for the Quality Education and Jobs Initiative. The mistake involves language describing the measure on the petition sheet not matching language filed with the Secretary of State's office. Secretary of State Ken Bennett says by law he can't accept any signature sheets with language that differs from those filed with his office. The Goldwater Institute scores a partial win in its effort to stop a deal to keep the Coyotes in Glendale. A Maricopa County Superior Court judge invalidated the ruling allowing it to go into effect immediately. The ruling now gives a chance for a deal to be challenged by a citizen’s referendum and a Glendale resident says he will do just that and is going to start collecting signatures tomorrow. The judge has yet to decide on the Goldwater Institute's request that the lease agreements be invalidated. With me now is Carrie Ann Sitren, she's the Goldwater Institute's lead attorney in the case. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. Is that what the judge ruled, no emergency clause? What does that mean for us?

Carrie Ann Sitren: The no emergency clause is very, very important for taxpayers. What that means is they now have an opportunity to refer this measure to the ballot. They have a chance to voice their opinion basically it reverses what the council has done.

Ted Simons: They said no emergency clause and you said no emergency clause because?

Carrie Ann Sitren: The council simply didn't have enough votes to pass. Under the city's own charter the city has to have at least five votes for something to pass with an emergency clause. The city only had four votes. But when the final ordinance was signed and sealed and stamped by the clerk, the emergency clause was still on the ordinance. We filed a lawsuit challenging that and a judge agreed with us today that that emergency clause should be taken out.

Ted Simons: Let's get a big picture thing here. Why are you guys suing Glendale?

Carrie Ann Sitren: Well, we of course are always interested in the taxpayer. We started our inquiry here a couple of years ago into the Phoenix Coyotes because we heard about possible transfer of public funds to the team. Of course we always look at those deals with an eye towards the gift clause. Now in this case we had a huge problem trying to get the public records from Glendale. That simply snowballed and snowballed over several years until where we are where we are today, which is basically the city taking every opportunity it can to shut doors on taxpayers. They tried to do that here again by trying to get the voters out of the process. We have assured that the voters will have a right.

Ted Simons: Some say the voters are involved in the process because this was their elected representatives giving the okay to this deal. How do you respond?

Carrie Ann Sitren: The voters still have rights. They have the right to speak with their council members. They have a right to see copies of whatever deal the council members are approving. Thanks to the judge's ruling today, they now have a right to refer what the council has decided to the ballot.

Ted Simons: You also had a problem with the idea of not having other arena operators bid for the job.

Carrie Ann Sitren: The city's own code requires that the city has to put out bids any time it's going to look at a major contract like this. The city simply did not do that in this case, and we don't know why. The city appeared to say, “Hey, this deal is just for Mr. Jamieson and no one else and that's the way he wants it and we're going to give it to him that way” while the competitive bidding law in Glendale expressly says, “No, you have to solicit bids. This is for the protection of the taxpayers.”

Ted Simons: Does the city manager, though, have discretion on something like this if it involves bypassing unnecessary costs, if it avoids delay, these sorts of things?

Carrie Ann Sitren: Absolutely the city manager has discretion. The city manager has to issue a written finding of his decision. Then that will allow voters to go to their council members before any decision is made and have some input on that decision. Here the the city manager did not make that written determination. So as far as we know there's been no determination. Taxpayers were not allowed to comment on it. We're looking at a deal without competitive bidding.

Ted Simons: I think some critics of the Goldwater's actions wonder how often you guys intervene in municipal bidding processes. Is this somewhat unusual? How often does this happen?

Carrie Ann Sitren: Well, we certainly have been very active with the city of Glendale more so than we had hoped, but only because the city has brought it on themselves. We really hope the city will be much more transparent in its dealings, especially when it comes to multimillion-dollar contracts and professional sports teams.

Ted Simons: You have a separate filing regarding Glendale in contempt of court I believe. Talk about that.

Carrie Ann Sitren: We have this ongoing public records lawsuit because we simply can't get the records from the city of Glendale. The judge made very specific orders that required the city to give us the records on certain schedules so that the public would have an opportunity to look at what the council is doing beforehand. They come in, prepare comments and they get to talk to their council members before a vote. The city simply did not follow that schedule.

Ted Simons: It sounds, though, like some folks at the city are saying those documents weren't even created when you guys were asking for them. Valid?

Carrie Ann Sitren: Well, as of today, from all we know there's one document that still has not been created, and that's part of the contract that the city council approved. Now, how the city council can approve a contract that doesn't even fully exist yet is certainly a question that we would like to hear answered.

Ted Simons: If the judge says and this is obviously hypothetical, the judge says, “I'm going to let this go through,” does Goldwater go ahead and look at the gift clause and file yet another suit trying to slow this process down?

Carrie Ann Sitren: Well, at this point our interest is not in slowing the process down. If there is a gift clause problem, we're going to look at it, and we would be prepared to make a challenge if the challenge is appropriate. As of now, we can't even make that determination because again, the city hasn't turned over the records yet.

Ted Simons: I think again, critics of the Goldwater Institute, they look at so much attention paid to this particular sports enterprise and this particular municipality, and they wonder where you guys are with other deals with other major sports operations and other major operations in town. They are curious as to why this has your attention over and over again. How do you respond?

Carrie Ann Sitren: We certainly distribute attention as far and wide as we can. We know in this case we have a lot of people out there in Glendale. This is a huge issue. This is a multimillion-dollar contract. And more importantly, the city has made it incredibly difficult to get information. We have not encountered that problem with other cities. Normally it's a pretty standard process to get the documents and analyze them. Here the city has made that extremely difficult. That is part of the problem here.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned you represent taxpayers in Glendale. Is it in the taxpayer's best interests for that arena to wind up being empty?

Carrie Ann Sitren: You know what? That's a question that I can't answer. I would assume it's not in the taxpayers' best interests for an arena to be empty, but I don't know what the options are. In fact, no one really knows what the options are because the city hasn't put it out to bid. We know, for example in Oakland three management companies are competing for the right to operate a county owned arena.

Ted Simons: Are they management companies that also are involved with professional sports teams?

Carrie Ann Sitren: You know, one of the companies is called SMG, and they manage a number of arenas. Some of them have professional sports teams, some of them don't. We know that's out there. We also have seen in other places that cities can actually make money off of these kinds of arrangements. In Glendale, we know we have only seen money going out of the city bank.

Ted Simons: Last question here, this is something that comes up a lot among your critics, the fact that there's so much attention on this team and this arena, the city, and they look at your board of directors and see the wife of the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks on that board and they are wondering, is there some funny business going on here and why is she on the board of a group that is just so headstrong against another sports enterprise? Is that a legitimate question, A, and B, what kind of influence are we looking at here?

Carrie Ann Sitren: That's a legitimate question and that just goes to prove that we are big sports fans at the Goldwater Institute from our board members all the way down and through and through. Our members are very supportive of sports. I personally want to see the Coyotes stay here. I have said it before and will continue to say it, but simply not on the taxpayer's dime. Our first principles are to protect the taxpayers and the constitution.

Ted Simons: You're saying if that arena stands empty those taxpayers will be protected better than if the deal goes through?

Carrie Ann Sitren: Well, I don't know. I can't say that, but certainly we know that that is not the only option. If this team leaves the city certainly will have other options other than an empty arena. We would like to see the city look into that.

Ted Simons: Alright, it’s good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Carrie Ann Sitren: Thank you.

Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Expansion

  |   Video
  • Officials representing the East Valley airport have announced plans to build a $1.4 billion passenger terminal that could include 60 gates.
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: mesa, gateway, airport, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Phoenix Mesa Gateway airport is planning a huge, 20-year expansion that will see the east valley airport go from handling 1 million passengers a year to 20 million. That's a lot of expansion for what was considered a very modest and small little airport in the east valley. Here to tell us more is Brian Sexton with the Phoenix Mesa Gateway. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. $1.4 billion we're talking?

Brian Sexton: Yes. At full build-out if the demand is there to require such a build-out. We have four phases. We're currently focusing on phase one, which would build a new terminal on the east side of the airport. That's $344 million, that number is a little easier to digest.

Ted Simons: Sure. How many gates are we talking about?

Brian Sexton: Initially we’re looking at 14 gates and a parking structure or parking lot which would accommodate about 4,300 cars. A little bit of interloop system that would connect the terminal building to the hog's road interchange off the San Tan 202. That would be the first phase. We would expect that to be open in 2017. Again, if that demand is there for that. We expect that our current passenger terminal will be at capacity within two years possibly if we continue to grow as fast as we have been.

Ted Simons: Why is this expansion needed at this rate, but it sounds like things really are growing.

Brian Sexton: Gateway Airport has exceeded all expectations including the airlines. There's a big demand for people to go into the smaller market cities that Allegiant serves. Spirit Airlines just started up service earlier this year, going to major cities like Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, so we're now branched into the major markets as well. Everyone is interested in an ultralow carrier that’s operating out of Gateway and is trying to save a buck. It's just booming out there at Gateway right now.

Ted Simons: Go back to the last question. What happened out there? I remember for years the conversation was, nothing is happening out there. This airport is not taking off, so to speak. Everyone was just waiting around. A lot of big plans a lot of big talk but nothing seemed to happen. Now all of a sudden was it just getting Allegiant Airlines in there? Was that the major catalyst?

Brian Sexton: That was a major catalyst, but there were a lot of things happening in advance of Allegiant starting up there. We were renovating the existing former air force base classroom facility into a passenger terminal. We were getting a roadway system in place. Those things take years of infrastructure development. On the outside it may look like nothing was happening but inside we were busy getting it ready for Allegiant to come on board. Once they came on board in late 2007 right away we knew within two weeks it was going to be a major hit. We had to build parking facilities or parking spaces on the ramp. We had to move airplanes out of the way and start putting cars on the ramp because they were wildly popular, more so than we thought they would be. Since then we have been playing catch-up. We’re going through a construction project right now. We're going from six gates to eight, next year that will be ten. That will be our capacity. We can't build any more on the west side of the airport. It's time to build something new on the east side.

Ted Simons: What about surrounding areas? Are there development plans, retail, hotel? These kinds of things is that in the works, in the far distance?

Brian Sexton: That's the exciting part of this plan we put together. Gateway 2030 we call it. It includes $1.4 billion in public monies, the FAA and revenue bonds and things of that nature but also about another $400 million in private investment which goes towards about $2.5 million in office space, hotels up to 600 rooms. All that depends on whether or not the demand is there the next 20, 30 years. Demand is almost there right now for phase one and that’s what we’re focusing on.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the FAA and such. How is all of this funded? Talk about the public funds. Ticket surcharges I would imagine. How about the area municipalities? How much do they contribute?

Brian Sexton: The FAA typically funds 90, 95% of these types of charges but also comes from revenue from the airport, public facility charges. Every time you and I buy a ticket it's $4.50. That money is earmarked towards capital projects at an airport. We would also look into revenue bonds built on the revenue producing POC’s. The member governments, which is owned by the airport is owned by five different municipalities, who also have a responsibility to pay in a percentage of that infrastructure as well.

Ted Simons: When it's all built out what kind of airport are we going to see? Home spun, small town, is it going to be a throw-back, modern, futuristic Jetsons activity over there? Similar to Sky Harbor, different?

Brian Sexton: I think at full build-out it might be similar to Sky Harbor where you have a two-tier terminal building like terminal three or four at Sky Harbor, but what we're trying to focus on is keeping costs low. Doesn't mean cheap. We want to have a nice building we're all proud of, but we're looking to have something that's financially responsible. We are stewards of the tax dollar. We want to make sure we're doing all we can to keep the costs low. That’s actually what we’re focusing on now. We have a $340 million phase one. We want to get that cost lower. We want to focus on how we can be the best stewards of that resource. I think you'll have an easy experience at Gateway whether it's today or five or 20 years from now.

Ted Simons: Alright, good to have you. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Ted Simons: Wednesday, is the state headed for a bright, robust future or an economic dead end? A panel will discuss the future of Arizona. That's Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," 5:30 and 10:00 right here on 8H.D. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Spanish-language Media: SB 1070 Education

  |   Video
  • Spanish-language media across Arizona are uniting as “Hoy Somos Arizona” (Today We Are Arizona) to present a 30-minute program designed to educate and prepare Latino viewers for the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on SB 1070. Abigail Duarte of “Mi Familia Vota” talks about the program that will be shown statewideJune 20th at 5pm .
Guests:
  • Abigail Duarte - “Mi Familia Vota”
Category: Education   |   Keywords: SB, 1070, SB1070, US, supreme, court, education, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Close to 2,000 Spanish media outlets will participate in what's being described as “roadblock programming” tomorrow afternoon. This to address concerns in the immigrant community regarding the possibility that the United States Supreme Court might uphold Senate Bill 1070. Joining us now is Abigail Duarte, Deputy State Director for Mi Familia Vota, which took the lead in organizing this media campaign. Thanks for joining us.

Abigail Duarte: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Public awareness initiative. What are we talking about?

Abigail Duarte: Let me tell you how this started. We're talking about 23 media outlets that came together less a month ago. You can see it was a very quick initiative that started, and they started thinking, “Okay, we as individuals and also as media outlets we have a responsibility with our community to have them informed. What is the best way we can use our resources to actually make this happen?” So it was a consensus to make these programs, a 30-minute program, to be aired tomorrow.

Ted Simons: Was it difficult getting all these folks together? You're talking about a lot of competition.

Abigail Duarte: Actually it wasn't. We were very surprised that all the media outlets were very happy to participate. They were very open. When we asked them to come to the table, we were very surprised. We started talking to a couple of them, then we thought the meeting was going to be around 10 to 12 people and we had more than 25 people on the table.

Ted Simons: What kind of information will this program present?

Abigail Duarte: Well, like you were mentioning, it's a roadblock. It's going to be a 30-minute program. The 30-minute program will be aired on all the media outlets. The 23 media outlets that are participating including TV, radio, and also it's going to be live on the Internet. It includes information, a little bit of history about proposition 187, also how SB 1070 is now on the Supreme Court. What to expect with the decision. It also includes information about the four key sets of the initiative, of the law and what does that mean. Also includes a little bit of know your rights segment that a civil lawyer is going to be talking to them, letting people know what are their rights and what they can do. Regardless of what the decision comes out to. It also because of the Spanish media has been covering these things two years ago very closely, they have seen the effect it has on the Hispanic community, so they are doing an interview with a Latino family that has been affected by SB 1070. Finally we're having a live phone bank. We're very excited about it. We have trained volunteers that will be covering live the phone bank so we can answer questions for the community.

Ted Simons: I understand the goal here is to avoid panic in the community once the Supreme Court makes a decision if the Supreme Court goes ahead and agrees with the state. Is there a potential for panic? Among folks?

Abigail Duarte: Well, there is. People don't know what to expect with the decision. Obviously the decision hasn't come up yet, so people are a little bit afraid and there's uncertainty of what's going to happen. They wanted to address that as well. To give the community as much information as possible of what's going to happen, what could happen and what are their rights so there's no panic out there. 11

Ted Simons: And as far as the information is concerned, how did you figure out what to present? What are the most common questions broadcasters, you, anyone, what are you hearing out there? What's the major concern?

Abigail Duarte: People exactly don't know, don't understand the law, how it's going to work or how it's going to work. They don't know exactly what it says or how it's going to affect them. How it's going to affect their families. For example there's a person here undocumented but their family is a citizen or legal permanent resident they don't know how this law is going to affect the whole family.

Ted Simons: Is it presented in a way, you can talk about the fact there will be a phone bank and an interview and profile of a family, but is there dramatic acting here? Is it more like a news program? Is it a sit-down, different shots? How do you do that, A, and B, how do you do that to where it's good television and also good radio, different mediums?

Abigail Duarte: It was definitely a challenge, but everybody was very open to participate, so it covers different parts of the story. So with interviews it goes with segments giving out information, so it covers a lot. It's always repeating with the number that we're giving out for the phone bank is going to be repeating constantly so people listening to the radio can actually feel that they are watching live.

Ted Simons: And also get answers to their questions.

Abigail Duarte: Definitely.

Ted Simons: Yeah. Broadcast is tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.?

Abigail Duarte: Yes, from 5:00 to 5:30. It's going to be a roadblock. They can tune in either the TV, the radio, or it's going to be live as well on the internet at www.hoysomosarizona.com

Ted Simons: That’s hoysomosarizona.com right? Everything lives forever on the Internet as you all know so we can watch it. Last question. How will you know that this particular effort worked?

Abigail Duarte: Well, we have different organizations that are a part of the effort as well. Some of the organizations are going out into the community about the different issues. Encouraging people to get registered to vote, of course getting people out to vote. That's one of the things that we're going to be filling out the community by talking out to them. Obviously ratings. Obviously the phone bank. You can see phone bank how many people are watching or listening to the radio.

Ted Simons: But that's a good point. This is also a registration effort and a get out the vote effort.

Abigail Duarte: Definitely. The media has been very open. Since several years now they have been encouraging the community to be more active, to get if they are eligible to register to vote, to go out and vote. This message is obviously to give people all the information that they need to make the right decisions for their family and to have a united message.

Ted Simons: Very good. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Abigail Duarte: Thank you.

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