The Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning seeking to invalidate last week’s Glendale City Council vote authorizing the city to enter into an arena management agreement with the potential buyer of the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes hockey team.
The Institute is representing two Glendale taxpayers who object to the illegal practices of the Glendale City Council.
In 2009, following Glendale’s repeated disregard for public records requests, the Maricopa County Superior Court ordered the city to disclose documents related to potential arena management agreements to the public.
At the time of the Council’s June 8 vote, the city had still not made public two critical exhibits referenced in the proposed deal that would commit the city to pay $425 million in taxpayer obligations over the next 20 years.
The court denied the Goldwater Institute’s motion for a temporary restraining order last week saying it lacked the authority to block a legislative body’s ability to cast a vote. However the court warned Glendale officials that the council’s pending vote would jeopardize the validity of the arena management agreement.
“I think sanctions are in order,” said Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper. “The Court couldn’t have been clearer back in July of 2009, with respect to when these documents were supposed to be disclosed.”
“We continue to hope that the city will construct a lawful deal that protects the interests of Glendale taxpayers,” said Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen. “Without seeing critical exhibits contained in the arena management agreement such as the arena annual budget or the arena management performance standards, it is not possible to determine the constitutional validity of the agreement.”
When Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs inquired at last week’s council meeting why these exhibits had not been made public, Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall replied, “If the documents do not exist, we cannot disclose those.”
“Arizona’s public records and open meetings laws mean nothing if the City of Glendale can get away with a $425 million deal without disclosure,” said Olsen.
The lawsuit filed by the Goldwater Institute also alleges that the city violated its own charter in casting a vote on a proposed arena management agreement without putting the arena management contract out to bid.
If the Goldwater Institute is successful, the City of Glendale will be required to pass any agreement only after fully disclosing the details to the public.