Goldwater lawsuit claims Glendale violated own rules, court order in Coyotes deal

Luige del Puerto//June 13, 2012

Goldwater lawsuit claims Glendale violated own rules, court order in Coyotes deal

Luige del Puerto//June 13, 2012

Darcy Olsen, Goldwater Institute (photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

In a lawsuit filed today, the Goldwater Institute argued that Glendale is in contempt of court for approving a $325 million lease agreement that paves the way for the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes.

The conservative think tank claimed that Glendale failed to disclose all documents pertaining to the deal, which violates a 2009 court order requiring the city to do so.

View Goldwater Institute’s court filings here and here

Additionally, the city violated its own charter and purchasing rules in forging ahead with the deal, the Goldwater Institute claims.

The think tank is seeking to invalidate the council’s June 8 vote.

But in a statement, the city maintained it complied with the laws in approving the lease agreement.

“This agreement will provide the maximum benefit from the arena to the citizens of Glendale over its term,” the city said. “The arguments presented to the court by the Goldwater Institute and the other plaintiffs attempt to invalidate a decision by duly elected representatives of the citizens.”

In its contempt claim, the Goldwater Institute’s lawyers argued that the city failed to produce the complete lease agreement before the council voted to approve it.

Two documents, in particular, weren’t released until June 12, said the lawyers, who noted that a 2009 court order mandates the city send to the Goldwater Institute any tentative agreement and associated records relating to the city’s Jobing.com arena and its use by the Phoenix Coyotes.

The lawsuit, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, comes less than a week  after the Goldwater Institute failed to stop the city from voting to approve the lease agreement.

The court last week denied the Goldwater Institute’s motion for a temporary restraining order, saying it lacked the authority to stop a city council meeting. But it issued a warning that taxpayers would have little time to analyze and comment on the proposed agreement.

In today’s lawsuit, the lawyers quoted the court’s own concerns about public transparency.

“Despite this order, Judge (Edward) Burke’s fear became reality on Friday, June 8,” the lawsuit says.

“Although it issued a press release and emailed Goldwater a proposed deal on Monday that week, the document was incomplete and the associated records were not simultaneously produced,” the lawyers wrote, accusing the city of “shattering” the only opportunity for the Institute and the public to analyze the documents before the vote to see whether the deal would violate the Arizona’s constitution’s “gift clause.”

In a separate claim, the Goldwater Institute also said the city failed to adhere to its own rules in approving the June 8 deal.

The think tank said the council should have approved an ordinance and not a resolution, arguing that’s what required by its charter when it comes to leasing public property.

The complaint also claimed that the 4-2 vote to approve the lease agreement didn’t reach the 71 percent threshold for emergency measures based on the city’s charter.

The 4-2 vote meant the lease was approved by 67 percent of the council, the complaint said.

Additionally, the city also violated its own procurement rules because it authorized the lease agreement without complying with or waiving its competitive bidding requirements, the complaint further alleged.

Glendale’s approval of the Coyotes deal paves the way for a new owner to take over the team, which has been run by National Hockey League for about three years.

Former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison is poised to buy the team.