November 21, 2012
My prognosticator is obviously broken or at least damaged. Most of the readers of this humble space are aware there was a critical Glendale City Council workshop yesterday. It was destined to be interesting for anyone interested in the Coyotes and the Glendale / Hockey Partners lease agreement. While the drinking game I devised, a shot for every time the number “SIX” was mentioned, would have ended up with every participant becoming severely intoxicated, I was wrong about one facet and didn’t even see another one coming.
Up for discussion were, essentially, two things. The first was if the arena lease agreement that was published should be put to a vote on November 27. The second was to “go over the numbers” to determine the effect on the budget the Coyotes as the anchor tenant in the city owned arena would have under the agreement as proposed.
I expected, and predicted, a bigger push to delay the vote on the lease agreement back to when the new mayor and council are seated in January, 2013. By the time the dust settled at the end of the meeting, it seemed as if ONLY the mayor wanted to delay the vote. Even Norma Alvarez wanted the vote on November 27 to happen.
By the way, EVERY newly elected person that would be taking office in January attended this meeting except one. The same person that ALSO skipped the previous meeting. The same person that couldn’t be bothered to attend a neighborhood picnic in his district he was invited to attend. Who is that person? Sammy Chavira, of course. His constituents must be so proud of the way he is preparing himself so well for his upcoming job. I’m sure they’re happy that he had better things to do than educate himself about something that could affect his town for the next twenty years or so. “Right Priorities”, indeed.
The question in people’s minds is, does the decision to vote next Tuesday bode well for the Coyotes or does it mean they will, finally, have run out of options? Council Member Knaack is the person driving the decision at this point, and she isn’t telling. So, we all wait to hear the answer. I’m sure people working at the arena and for the Coyotes are wondering what their Christmas will be like this year.
In the meeting prior, people voted to table until “date uncertain” a vote on outsourcing janitorial jobs in Glendale to save some money. The logic was that the “new” council should have the opportunity to vote on such an important decision instead of the lame duck council and mayor. So, then, do those same people consider the vote on an agreement written to endure for at lease twenty years less important?
I couldn’t tell you, and I mistakenly predicted that several people (Scruggs, Alvarez, Knaack) would push the option to delay the vote, leaving it at a 3-3 deadlock. The deadlock is only possible because of the early disappearance of Phil Lieberman. Another matter for this workshop was to decide whether to seat the winner of Phil’s position early. The decision was to keep six members.
The real head scratcher of the workshop was Horatio Skeete denying the viability of the arena lease deal he negotiated, reneged on, then renegotiated with Hockey Partners. It is, frankly, amazing that Greg Jamison hasn’t YET told Mr. Skeete to pound sand and enjoy his empty arena.
When considering which side of the argument to believe, some facts carry more weight than others. We’ve reached the point in these blog entries where I have to begin saying things such as “multiple reliable sources inform me” once in awhile instead of simply stating who said what. I’m sure there are trolls that will continue to have a problem with that but, really, does anybody care about their inconsequential, uninformed and uninvolved opinion? Nope. Suffice it to say these people know of which they speak and will, in good time, back up my following statements.
Common Coyotes lore has Mr. Jamison approaching Glendale either unbidden on his own behalf or at the request of the NHL. Either argument makes sense, a proven hockey guy wanting to get back in the business or the NHL grabbing the best guy for the job to make their team a success in the Phoenix market. However, it’s not the case.
Ed Beasley approached Mr. Jamison after Mr. Jamison had decided that the Dallas Stars weren’t a team he would pursue. Beasley essentially told him he should look at the Coyotes and that the city would make it work. Beasley did this two weeks BEFORE Scruggs introduced Matt Hulsizer. We can assume Mr. Beasley offered similar assurances to Mr. Hulsizer.
So, can you imagine how Mr. Jamison feels today? How many of us would still be out there trying to make “it” happen in Glendale instead of taking the relocation road? Put yourself in his shoes:
- Greg Jamison watched a guy with no hockey team experience gain the upper hand over his group with TONS of hockey experience. Look at the San Jose Sharks.
- Beasley is long gone into a consultancy. He continues to take hits from the lame duck mayor every time she denies knowledge of the happenings, financial and otherwise, in the town she is charged with running.
- The deal negotiated between Ed Beasley and the Hockey Partners group over many months was voted on AND PASSED way back in June of this year, over five months ago.
- The deal survived a derailment referendum sponsored by Ken Jones and Joe Cobb with the lackadaisical and ineffective “support” of Goldwater Institute and the Glendale Tea Party “Patriots”.
- The deal survived a derailment initiarendum sponsored by out of town real estate and casino backing interests looking to kill the temporary sales tax and the ability of the city council to levy taxes.
- The deal survived the city reneging on their agreement while citing “unforeseen” expenses that they didn’t know existed. Again, fingers are being pointed at Mr. Skeete’s old boss Beasley.
- The deal was renegotiated by Mr. Skeete without Mr. Beasley, this most recent iteration is ALL Horatio Skeete’s handiwork. Significant concessions were made by Hockey Partners ALL aimed at reducing the near term commitment for the city so they could bail themselves out of their financial disaster.
- Skeete, last night, stated unequivocally that the long term outlook for his city was significantly, to the tune of $90M, better WITH the Coyotes than without. Using HIS OWN numbers.
- Skeete said, last night, that the cost for running the arena WITHOUT the guaranteed 40+ nights of hockey could run $10M-$12M yet $11M is too much?
- Skeete, last night, announced that he could not support the very arena lease deal he negotiated. He is the one that suggested the changes in the scheduled payments to Hockey Partners while knowing the budget he was dealing with, yet he still can’t support it.
Can I Have A Job Making Mistakes?
Ironically, Horatio Skeete is looking to be considered for the city manager job (he is currently Acting City Manager). He has been seen hobnobbing with mayor-elect Jerry Weiers, who has also expressed his desire to get his hands into negotiating the arena lease deal with Hockey Partners. I do not know what conversations Mr. Skeete has had with Mr. Weiers about anything.
In his statement last night, Mr. Skeete said that the negotiations he ran were “a job well done”. He also admitted that, in the long term (the lease deal spans a minimum twenty years) the Coyotes remaining as the anchor tenant at the arena was a MUCH better option than having them leave. Yet, he stated he couldn’t recommend the agreement.
Why? Skeete basically said that he didn’t want to have to lose 160 (there are currently 30 job vacancies) city positions over the life of the necessary budget cuts. Yet, 175 people work at the arena (number from Scruggs TV interview) and even more for the Coyotes, so the discomfort that Skeete admitted he would feel in letting those people go is the reason he couldn’t recommend his renegotiated agreement. Yet, HR has been Mr. Skeete’s responsibility for years, a fact mentioned by another council member when stating with disdain that Mr. Skeete’s continual assertions he knows nothing of “the numbers” is false.
The other “thing” that is now altering the balance of the Coyotes vote is that “numbers” have appeared recently through audits and other means. The mayor and others deny knowledge of these facts, as does Mr. Skeete in many cases. If we accept the fact that a half a BILLION dollar deal was negotiated by Mr. Skeete without knowing “the numbers”, can we then also accept the fact that he is looking for the SAME job on a permanent basis? Or, should he be dismissed immediately for poor workmanship?
I know which side of that fence I sit on.