At a restaurant, you expect to see a menu before you order--after all, you're the one paying the bill. The City of Glendale, however, doesn't care to follow that logic. Instead, City officials are refusing to disclose what deals they're cooking up during closed negotiations for the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes, or what will ultimately be put on the table for Glendale residents to eat--and pay for.
Rumors have been circulating for weeks that Glendale officials are discussing offering concessions and annual subsidies of up to $20 million to potential buyers of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team who would be willing to keep the team in Glendale. They need the team to stay because of the 30-year lease the Coyotes hold to play in Jobing.com arena, a venue built with $180 million provided by Glendale taxpayers. But since the team's owner filed for bankruptcy and potential buyers have discussed moving the team to Canada, taxpayers could be left with an expensive, vacant hockey arena, and no team.
This is why the Goldwater Institute filed a public records request for documents showing what Glendale officials are offering potential buyers of the Coyotes. Surprisingly, the City denied the request. The Goldwater Institute promptly filed a lawsuit demanding that the City release the records.
When taxpayers are footing the bill, they have a right to know where the money is going and what their elected officials are doing. At a time when families are pinching pennies, Glendale officials cannot be allowed to give away millions in secrecy. The judge is expected to decide within two weeks what records the City must disclose. At the very least, Glendale's taxpayers have a right to see what's on the menu before they pay the bill.
Carrie Ann Sitren is an attorney with the Goldwater Institute.