Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Goldwater Institute Files Conditional Objection to Coyotes Sale

Institute files objection to alert bankruptcy court judge to potential constitutional violation
Phoenix--Late Friday the Goldwater Institute filed a "Conditional Bid Objection" on behalf of Glendale taxpayers with the bankruptcy court handling the sale of the Coyotes hockey franchise. The Goldwater Institute's objection is based on concerns that Glendale officials may have offered unconstitutional taxpayer subsidies to a new potential owner of the team.

The brief was filed on behalf of eight Glendale taxpayers and asks the bankruptcy court judge to consider the unconstitutionality of any arrangement that provides taxpayer-funded concessions when determining if a bidder is an acceptable potential buyer. Reportedly, bidder Jerry Reinsdorf has asked for various subsidies totalling between $15 and $23 million annually.

Goldwater Institute attorneys have been unable to verify that any unconstitutional offers have been made by Glendale officials, since public records requested more than four weeks ago from Glendale still have not been provided. This is in spite of two court rulings instructing Glendale to turn over records related to negotiations between the city and prospective buyers of the team, with limited exceptions.

Instead, Glendale officials have provided the Goldwater Institute with irrelevant and heavily redacted documents that offered no insight into ongoing negotiations. The timing of the public records hand over was critical to the Goldwater Institute's taxpayer watchdog efforts, since the deadline to file any objections to the Coyotes sale in bankruptcy court expired July 31. As a result, Goldwater Institute attorneys were forced to file a "Conditional Objection" alerting the court to potential constitutional issues with any sale that includes public concessions.
"The judge considering our public records case clearly recognizes that the public has a right to know what deal Glendale is cooking up with taxpayer dollars before the City Council signs off on it," Goldwater Institute attorney Carrie Ann Siren said.

The judge ruled that some records related to the negotiations could be withheld, but must be released to the Goldwater Institute and the media as soon as an agreement is reached between the city and a buyer, and before the Glendale City Council votes to approve the deal.

The lawsuit over public records, Goldwater Institute v. City of Glendale, and the Conditional Bid Objection were filed by the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. For more information about this or any other Goldwater Institute lawsuit please visit http://goldwaterinstitute.org/litigation. The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog that develops innovative, principled solutions to issues facing the states and enforces constitutionally limited government through litigation. The Institute's work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

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