Something In The Air

February 27, 2013

It would take a real “The Who” aficionado to have the song from one hit wonder Thunderclap Newman anywhere near the front of their brains, and I’m not that guy. You have Google, check out the band it’s an interesting story and not a bad song. Said song is running through my head this morning in the original (not the Tom Petty cover) form. Why?

Despite the local (and Canadian) sturm and drang of how the “new council” was going to change the world as soon as they ascended to office, it’s been relatively quiet in Glendale other than some photo ops and rumor feeding from the self perceived top of that food chain. The quiet was broken yesterday (February 26, 2013).

The Setup

Yesterday, after some City Hall jockeying on Monday, a special Glendale City Council meeting was called for 5 pm in advance of the regularly scheduled 7 pm meeting to “DISCUSS AND CONSIDER THE PERFORMANCE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY”. Click here for the agenda. You know if you saw your name anywhere near the above “DISCUSS blah blah blah” you would be ready for some very not good stuff, right?

Craig Tindall

Craig Tindall

Craig Tindall was (spoiler alert with the tense) working for the city since 2001, according to his LinkedIn page. The last few years have been difficult ones, legally, for the City of Glendale. Mr. Tindall is partially, in my opinion, responsible for one of those issues stemming from an email he wrote regarding a public records request from Goldwater Institute in the summer of 2009. That case is STILL working its way through the system at cost to Glendale and the contributors to Goldwater. Other than that, Mr. Tindall has presided over the contentious and controversial litigation regarding the Tohono O’odham Nation and their desire to place a casino in Glendale near Westgate. He has also, of course, been involved in several failed negotiations with prospective suitors to purchase the Coyotes and relieve Glendale of the arena issues they find themselves saddled with.

The council met briefly. CM Hugh motioned to move to an executive session which was eventually seconded by CM Chavira. The council voted unanimously to move to yet another private executive session after Mayor Weiers offered Mr. Tindall (the city attorney) the declined opportunity to speak in the public meeting.

Executive sessions are closed to the public and participants are legally barred from discussing what happens behind those closed doors. That is the proper place for “performance review” and personnel matter meetings, yet this one seemed to be scheduled on an emergency basis.

There used to be fairly frequent E-session leaks, often immediately after the session, but those have diminished to nothing as have quotes in the Canadian papers related to Glendale E-sessions. So, everything that follows is pure conjecture on my part based on yesterday’s events.

Opening Gambit

Joyce Clark has mentioned the tension between Mr. Tindall and acting City Manager Horatio Skeete in her blog (click here). Both men wanted the acting city manager job after Ed Beasley left for more lucrative pastures. I believe the friction has caused problems with negotiations for the Coyotes and Jobing,com arena, perhaps serious issues with timeliness. I’m not pointing fingers at either gentleman, though. Since Mr. Skeete is the “acting” city manager and there is currently a search in progress for his position, it’s likely he is also uncomfortable about his future in Glendale.

Mr. Tindall was certainly involved in at least the contracts portion of the agreement with Hockey Partners (the Jamison group) while it appears that Mr. Skeete was in charge of the “negotiation” part. So, obviously, the two men had cause to work closely together as well as sitting feet apart at city council meetings.

The surprise performance review of Mr. Tindall was certainly orchestrated by Jerry Weiers. Personally, I would have expected Mr. Skeete to be the target of this sort of action by the mayor so it was a surprise to see the special meeting to set up the executive session. Given the subject, I am also surprised that, when given the opportunity to speak in the public forum, Mr. Tindall didn’t avail himself and offer some opinions of the process he found himself in the middle of.

We should assume, also, that Mr. Tindall was offered the opportunity to resign on Monday while having it made clear to him that it really wasn’t optional.

Troops Aligned

Dismissing Mr. Tindall “early” would require a majority vote of the council. That vote, as I understand it, can happen in an executive session rather than in the public eye. While this is the gracious and proper way to deal with personnel issues, it prevents the public from knowing which way the political wind blows regarding the person in question.

But I can guess.

My educated guess is that, based on Mr. Tindall’s immediate “verbal” resignation and following comments detailed in Paul Giblin’s brief piece last night, there was a 4-3 vote in the executive session. Weiers told Giblin that he had indeed requested Tindall’s resignation on Monday. He qualified the dismissal of Tindall as “moving in a different direction”, in my opinion a ludicrous explanation for the firing of the city attorney. What would be the “different direction” if the guy was tasked with legally representing the city?

The vote would have been to demand Mr. Tindall’s resignation or not. Voting “aye” (Tindall goes) were Alvarez, Chavira, Hugh and Weiers. The “nay” votes were Knaack, Martinez and Sherwood. Boom, you’re gone Mr. Tindall.

What About The Coyotes?

Most everybody reading this wants to know what that means for a successful resolution to the Coyotes in Glendale four year old fiasco.

It depends.

One of the things that MUST go, and it’s not related to Tindall in any way, is the “four way” arena management plan floated by Weiers. It’s harebrained at best and the only firms that would bid on those contracts would be third rate or inexperienced (or both) outfits. If that plan is still “mandatory” according to Weiers, it’s now clear that he has enough support on the city council to make it stick. So, if that’s the case, it’s fairly certain that retaining the Coyotes in Glendale is off the table unless someone decides to purchase the arena.

If, however, the mayor is willing to listen to more realistic offers that include keeping the Coyotes in Glendale, the exit of Mr. Tindall could be helpful simply because the Tindall/Skeete logjam is out of the picture for negotiations.

Listen to Jerry Weiers’ “state of the city” address tomorrow. If he doesn’t say anything about the Coyotes, I will be very surprised. Again.