Goldwater Institute v. City of Glendale (public records in Coyotes negotiations case)

Posted on June 26, 2009 | Type: Case
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Hockey in the Phoenix desert has proved to be less than profitable. So it wasn’t surprising when the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team filed for bankruptcy in 2009. What was surprising was the lengths the City of Glendale would go to to keep potential team buyers from moving the Coyotes to colder – and more profitable – climes.

The Goldwater Institute began requesting documents related to potential buyers who were promising to keep the team in Arizona. Over the years, the city has frequently refused to turn over public documents, claiming that negotiations are confidential. A judge ordered Glendale to turn the records over to the Goldwater Institute, and if there were any records the City felt could harm its negotiations with a potential owner of the Coyotes, to turn those records over to the judge for an in-camera inspection. The City turned over some documents at first then many months went by without Glendale turning over any other records, even though it indicated to the Goldwater Institute that it had more documents.

What has emerged is that the City of Glendale intends to offer some form of taxpayer subsidy to a new owner of the Phoenix Coyotes as an incentive to keep the hockey team in Glendale. This is a potential violation of the Arizona Constitution's Gift Clause and puts taxpayers on the hook for city debt. And this after Glendale’s credit rating was recently downgraded.

The Goldwater Institute will continue to enforce public records laws and the judges rulings in court as necessary to make sure taxpayers are not kept in the dark and have an opportunity to analyze and comment on the City's proposed course of action before they are committed to a deal.

Quick Status >>     


Last step: Briefing complete on motions for Iafrate file and Jamison deal/contempt. City filed new motion for in camera review.
Next step: Await hearing date(s) on Iafrate file and Jamison deal/contempt. Respond to in camera motion.


Key Issues

  • Upholding the Arizona Constitution's Gift Clause.
  • Affirmation of Arizona's public records law.
  • Transparency in government.
  • Responsible use of taxpayer money.
  • Affirmation of sunshine laws.

Case Documents

Copy of Public Records Request Made to the City of Glendale
Glendale's Response to Goldwater Institute Public Records Request (6/24/2009)
Complaint (6/26/2009)
Motion on Glendale Public Notice Requirements (6/30/2009)
Response to City's Brief on Order to Show Cause (7/16/2009)
Redacted Public Records Released by Glendale
Judge Burke's Ruling (7/21/2009)
Public Records Released by Glendale--Second Disclosure (7/24/2009)
Response to Glendale's Motion to Delay (7/27/2009)
Judge Burke's Second Ruling (7/29/2009)
Public Records Released by Glendale--Third Disclosure
Motion to File Amicus Brief on Behalf of Glendale Taxpayers (7/31/2009)
Public Records Released by Glendale--Fourth Disclosure (8/20/2009)
Reply on Contempt (2/3/2010)
Supplemental Evidence on Contempt (2/8/2010)
Contempt Application (2/20/2010)
Combined Response for Deposition and Reply on Supplemental Evidence (3/4/2010)
Public Records--City Parking Analysis (Walker) (11/2/2010)
Public Records--City Parking Analysis (TLHocking & Associates) (11/22/2010)
Public Records--Financial Analysis of Deal Commissioned by City (1/3/2011)
Glendale Parking Agreement (1/25/2011)
Combined Motions (10/25/11)
Special Master Report No. 1 (12/22/2011)
Ruling by Superior Court of Arizona, Maricopa (4/20/2012)
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (6/8/2012)
Transcript from the June 8 Hearing (6/8/12)
Complaint (6/13/2012)
Motion for Contempt Exhibits (6/13/2012)
Motion for Contempt (6/13/2012)

Case Timeline

June 26, 2009: The Goldwater Institute files a complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court.
July 2, 2009: The Hon. Edward O. Burke ordered the City of Glendale to show cause why he should not order it to immediately disclose the requested public records to the Goldwater Institute.
July 20, 2009: Judge Burke rules Glendale must make records of negotiations public.
January 20, 2010: Goldwater Institute asks judge to hold Glendale in contempt for not following judge's orders to produce records.
February 12, 2010: Contempt hearing before Judge Burke.
April 22, 2010: Judge Burke denies Glendale's request for attorney's fees in contempt of court motion.
December 14, 2010: Goldwater Institute sends letter to City informing it that proposed lease agreement appears to violate Arizona's gift clause.
December 22, 2011: Court-appointed Special Master issues recommendation report.
April 20, 2012: Maricopa County Superior Court issues ruling on Special Master's order.
June 8, 2012: Goldwater Institute requests temporary restraining order to stop city's emergency meeting.
June 13, 2012: Goldwater Institute files complaint, motion for contempt
June 19, 2012: Judge Dean Fink will heard Taxpayers’ lawsuit.

News Releases

Glendale Sued for Denying Public Records Request (6/26/2009)
Judge Orders Glendale to Produce Public Records in Coyotes Sale Negotiations (7/22/2009)
Goldwater Institute Files Conditional Objection to Coyotes Sale (8/3/2009)
Goldwater Institute asks Judge to Find Glendale in Contempt of Court (1/20/2010)
Goldwater Institute Statement on Glendale Bond Issuance (2/10/2011)
Goldwater Institute to NHL Commissioner: Sports Franchises Not Above the Law (3/9/2011)
Goldwater Institute Announces Lawsuit against City of Glendale (3/15/2011)
A Brief Statement on the Rumored Coyotes Deal (5/7/2012)
Statement on Glendale's Proposed Coyotes Arena Deal (5/23/2012)

Media Coverage

No public money for the Coyotes!, KTVK-TV (6/22/2009)
Glendale, Goldwater, and Coyotes . . . oh my (8/10/2009)
Save the Coyotes? Not on the Taxpayers' Dime, Wall Street Journal (9/2/2009)
The Latest on Glendale and the Coyotes, KTVK-TV (9/29/2009)
A Critical Battle over the Sports Economics Model, Forbes (3/10/2011)
Darcy Olsen on Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, Fox Business (3/11/2011)
Illegal, Expensive Deal for Taxpayers Remains in Place, Arizona Republic (3/23/2011)
Darcy Olsen Interview on the Phoenix Coyotes, Fox 10 Phoenix, (4/3/2011)
Clint Bolick on The McMahon Group, AZTV (4/7/2011)
An Arizona City's Sports Mania Encounters a Hard Check, George Will (4/8/2011)
A Watchdog for Conservative Ideals, New York Times (12/25/2011)
Public Records Should Be Open, Arizona Republic (1/17/2012)
City in Penalty Box over Team Finances, Wall Street Journal (1/25/2012)
Goldwater Institute Ready to Scrutinize Next Shot at Phoenix Coyotes Sale, Phoenix Business Journal (4/16/2012)
Glendale's Public Hockey Project, Wall Street Journal (5/9/2012)
If Cops Can't Do It, Surely Hockey Owners Can't Either, Arizona Republic (6/7/2012)
Glendale Destroyed Trust with Rushed Vote, Arizona Republic (6/9/2012)
Taxpayers Take the Puck, National Review (6/11/2012)
Phoenix Coyotes Deal Debated in Court, KTVK-TV Phoenix (6/19/2012)
Interview with Carrie Ann Sitren, KAET-TV Phoenix (6/19/2012)

Legal Team

Clint Bolick is the Goldwater Institute’s litigation director. He has extensive success before trial judges and appellate courts. He was lead attorney for parents in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school vouchers were constitutional, and Kotterman v. Killian in 1997, in which the Arizona Supreme Court upheld private school scholarship tax credits under the Arizona Constitution.

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