Note: This editorial appears in the 5/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/6 issue of the Peoria Times
Have you ever read 100 pages about something and learned less? No? Then you should totally check out the transcript of the meeting between the City of Glendale and the Goldwater Institute. It’s chock full of nothing.
To recap the issue at hand: The City of Glendale reached a deal with businessman Matthew Hulsizer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes so that the team can remain in Glendale. The Goldwater Institute, which is an organization that does … something, is challenging the legality of the deal, stressing the risk to taxpayers. These two sides came together for a meeting two weeks ago in which the goal was, apparently, to pretend they didn’t despise each other and to eat cupcakes.
Indeed, someone brought cupcakes to the meeting, and the first few pages of the report detail this fact. I’m not sure why this needed to be documented, but it did lead to Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs posing the question, “What does ‘ooey-gooey’ mean?” which was the only question of the meeting that was actually answered, albeit inaccurately. “Ooey-gooey,” according to Starlee Rhoades, “is chocolate and more chocolate and peanut butter.” Hmmm. I thought “ooey-gooey” meant sticky and messy—a perfect description of these proceedings. But hey, whatever.
The Goldwater Institute had “seven questions” regarding the Coyotes deal which they wanted to outline and then discuss. Goldwater CEO Darcy Olsen planned to go over each question individually, but Mayor Scruggs wanted them all at once first, and then individually, so she could “write them down,” even though this whole thing was being mercilessly recorded. This battle of wills ensued for several pages. Also, the questions were never answered.
Part of the reason the questions were never answered was because Mayor Scruggs expressed her inability to answer the questions because it would violate the council-manager city charter. City Manager Ed Beasley, who was all over print and radio when council approved the deal originally and who could have easily relieved Mayor Scruggs of the heavy burden of public evasiveness, was not at this meeting because … I don’t know. Why would he be? He’s only the City Manager. Besides, in his stead: cupcakes.
Neither side thought an independent arbitrator would be necessary for this meeting. The result was an embarrassingly immature display of political posturing and ego wrangling in which people interrupted each other and challenged the most basic topics of discussion for no apparent reason. Take this exchange:
MS. OLSEN: Yesterday, (City Attorney) Craig Tindall told our attorneys that negotiations with Matt are ongoing and no contract has been finalized, but in an email –
MR. TINDALL: That’s not what I said. (Blah, blah, blah …) I said that the possibility is that we may need to negotiate in the future …
Good. Great. Glad we cleared that up. Can we proceed? No? You didn’t say what you just said? Okay, please continue. I am going to sit here and jam this pen into my thigh. This type of back-and-forth went on for 113 pages, by the way.
The Goldwater Institute has valid questions but questionable motives. The City of Glendale wants to keep its team but is being blatantly evasive. This meeting could have resolved, at least somewhat, this chasm. Instead it widened it.
A few people have asked me which side I rest on in the case of the Coyotes. I am on the side of a calm, reasonable solution by mature elected officials and professional human beings that has the city and team’s best interest at heart as opposed to its own political, corporate or personal worth. When that side emerges, I will let you know.
At one point during this epic fourth-grade debate team session, Tindall accused a Goldwater rep of “eye-rolling” as a result of something Mayor Scruggs had said. Ummm, Mr. Tindall, Goldwater Institute (tapping them on the collective shoulder)? It was me. It was us. At all of this.