September 23, 2012
I’ve heard that the lame duck Mayor of Glendale, AZ has a bone to pick with the veracity of my blog posts. After the September 12, 2012 special City Council workshop we (Bea and I) attended, there was a brief executive session. Afterwards, a group of us thugs were milling around outside talking about what had transpired during the workshop when CM Lieberman drops by our group on his way to another meeting. Phil mentioned that our names (Bea’s and mine) were brought up in the session by Elaine Scruggs. When she was informed who we were (she couldn’t help but notice the dashing Pierce Brosnan lookalike in her field of view behind Mr. Skeete), she exclaimed that I couldn’t be used as a source of information because I had lied about a meeting held at CM Alvarez’s house with the Phoenix Monarch Group people in this blog post.
By the way, the Phoenix Monarch Group story is not over yet. I assume the Mayor will disavow all responsibility for not vetting a group she was willing to consider, in fact may STILL be considering, as a company to manage the city owned Jobing.com arena.
Now, while I’m flattered that the good Mayor is a faithful reader of my blog posts, I do take exception to being characterized as a liar in public. If you take the time to read the “A Muddy Tale Continues” post as Elaine Scruggs did, you’ll see the text she is objecting to and what she is using to exemplify my prevarications. It’s in the first paragraph where I’m describing a telephone conversation I had with CM Phil Lieberman regarding the Phoenix Monarch group. I’ll save you the energy, here is an excerpt:
“We had a good, friendly conversation (not our first with Phil) and agreed we’d get together for lunch one day next month. One bit of new information was that the aforesaid meeting in May was held at Ms. Alvarez’s house, not at City Hall as I had assumed all along.”
I am aware that my skills as a writer are flawed, I never claimed to be good. I am pretty sure, however, that anybody reading that first paragraph would understand that the information Ms. Scruggs is calling a lie came directly from Mr. Lieberman. I am also aware, and have written about (and provided documentation of) other meetings, Phil said, I believe, there were three in total including the one at Ms. Alvarez’s house. If that isn’t true, it’s not on me.
I submit that, if Ms. Scruggs has an issue with the truthfulness of the statement, that she speak to the source of that statement rather than blaming the messenger. If you continue reading that post, you’ll note that I describe my requests for further information made to both Phil Lieberman and Elaine Scruggs. I also explain in that same post that any request sent to Mayor Scruggs for information has gone ignored or has been blown off in a smug fashion while Mr. Lieberman responds in an intelligent and timely fashion to the exact same request. If the Mayor wishes to deny that fact and further characterize the statement as false, proof is available. So, Ms. Scruggs has had ample opportunity to dispel what she characterizes as misinformation from Mr. Lieberman and has chosen to ignore all of my attempts to gather information “straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak. Oh well, I understand I don’t have the street cred of a real reporter type, but deciding to skirt a Freedom of Information Act request is a bit foolish, especially in light of the current open lawsuit against the City for exactly that thing.
Mr. Lieberman, presented with the identical request for information about the meetings with Phoenix Monarch group, provided this eight page document versus a blank calendar entry from Mayor Scruggs that was such a lame evasion that we could almost hear the person at the clerk’s office rolling his/her eyes over the phone. Laughable, really.
Why You Hef To Be Mad?
So, one must wonder what brought on Ms. Scruggs mentioning a private citizen in an executive session of the City Council, one who has been looking into a few things related to the Coyotes deal and writing about them? My guess (note the word “guess”, implies not knowing fully and providing information based on the facts presented) is that Mayor Scruggs was feeling the residual effects of her raised voice outburst in the council workshop just prior to the executive session where she mentioned us. The outburst was in response to CM Clark reading an excerpt from a March 3, 2011 press conference at Jobing.com where the Mayor was extolling the virtues of the deal to sell the Coyotes to Matt Hulsizer. A deal, by the way, voted for by both Mayor Scruggs and CM Lieberman and voted AGAINST by Joyce Clark.
If you have Internet Explorer, you may go here for a video of the meeting in question. At about 1:41:47 in that video, Ms. Clark reads from a transcript of Ms. Scruggs’ statement at her press conference where she blames Goldwater Institute for meddling with and potentially (at that time the deal was still active) ruining the Hulsizer deal to purchase the Coyotes and to lease the arena. She goes on to make valid points about the importance of both the arena and the Coyotes to the economy of Glendale, stressing the importance of having that anchor tenant in Westgate. Here’s another excerpt:
“Glendale residents and our business community in all parts of our city benefit from revenues generated by the success of our arena, and the new agreement with Mr. Hulsizer will continue to help create jobs, increase Glendale’s tax base and stimulate additional development opportunities in the region.”
Remember, please, Joyce Clark did NOT support the Hulsizer deal and Mayor Scruggs did. It’s not really even that arguable that the Jamison deal is significantly better for the city in nearly every facet than was the Hulsizer deal, having been carefully negotiated to eliminate any possibility of Goldwater Institute unsheathing their favorit weapon “The Gift Clause”. The finances of the city have not changed for the worse, really, since Mayor Scruggs championed the Hulsizer deal. Yet, the Mayor’s reaction to being quoted was quite dramatic, enough to make one raise one’s eyebrows if not roll one’s eyes (jump to 1:43:15 in the video if you wish).
If I were to summarize Mayor Scruggs’ finger wagging table smacking comments, I would characterize them as shifting the blame for the economic missteps of her City from herself to the shoulders of the now retired city manager Ed Beasley, never mentioning him by name. She says “I will never say it was a mistake” repeatedly. She states that the difference between “now” and “then” is that now the City can’t afford everything “Mr. Jamison wants”. The fact of the matter is that the Hulsizer deal would have been significantly more expensive for the City, including floating $100M worth of bonds, than the Jamison deal. The fact of the matter is that the financial condition of the city “then” was essentially the same and, if it’s true Glendale can’t afford the Jamison deal, they certainly couldn’t have afforded the Hulsizer deal either. Yet, Mayor Scruggs supported that deal.
In her comments, Mayor Scruggs lays blame at the doorstep of the NHL and the prior owner who “thrust the team into bankruptcy”. She says the city was blackmailed into making unwise decisions and spending money they didn’t have. One word NOT used in her comments is “leadership”.
My guess is that Mayor Scruggs now feels the need to “fix” her legacy with Glendale. She will now do whatever it takes to remove the “stank” of the Coyotes and the arena she championed for so many years. The long term debt that she supported wholeheartedly is now coming home to roost as the property values in her town nosedived, removing significant revenue from her coffers. That, in concert with the potentially tortious interference of Goldwater Institute denigrating the current and future value of Glendale municipal bonds, has put Glendale in the difficult position of having to raise their sales tax for the first time in MANY years.
What’s a lame duck to do?
In the case of Elaine Scruggs, point a finger at poor old decrepit bloggers as liars.
In the case of Elaine Scruggs, blame “somebody else” for misleading her and leading her down the road to the perdition of profligate spending.
In the case of Elaine Scruggs, blame Jerry Moyes and the NHL for blackmailing the City into doing something they didn’t want to do.
In the case of Elaine Scruggs, remove support from and, in fact, criticize and attempt to sabotage two realistic and workable ways to resolve the budget disaster she, despite her protestations to the contrary, helped create.
What’s the fix? Well, the beauty of this particular problem for Glendale is that the fix is taking care of itself. The voters of Glendale will hopefully choose their next mayor wisely in the November general election.