Weeks after he launched recall attempts against Councilmembers Bart Turner and Lauren Tolmachoff, local resident Larry Feiner has pulled the petitions to send Vice Mayor Ian Hugh towards a possible March election.
Feiner and the sponsoring organization GlendaleFirst! now have until Nov. 3 to gather 1,804 signatures from registered voters in the Cactus district to get the question about Hugh’s recall on a March special election ballot.
The initial registration and recall petition, filed with the city clerk July 6, states that Hugh “has led the city in a disadvantageous position.”
The petition adds, “The reputation of Glendale as a good partner that will honor long-term binding agreements is tarnished. Mr. Hugh joined in a vote to hastily void an existing agreement for management of the city owned arena without a public plan to replace the manager or the missing visitors.”
Hugh said he is not worried and is ready for a fight.
“I think all of (the recalls) are unfounded and when they talk about the money we transferred, it was all to pay the National Hockey League $50 million in two payments in 2011-2012,” Hugh said during a July 7 interview.
GlendaleFirst! also points out in its recall statement, on the petitions being circulated, that Hugh was part of a budget that, “reclassified $39.5 (million) of inter-fund advances to a one-time transfer, thus converting $39.9 (million) of liability into a $39.5 (million) balance sheet windfall. This money was supposed to be repaid to the source enterprise funds. There is NO repayment required.”
According to Interim Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing, that statement is not completely true.
“First off, you cannot have a windfall on a balance sheet because it is not a cash transaction,” Duensing said. “That money was spent in 2011-12 and the reason for the transaction was a positive thing because it increased our general fund balance and we are still paying the enterprise funds, which we have been directed to do.”
Hugh and Duensing both said repayment was never required.
“What we did was, instead of repaying as principal and interest, it is now just a line-item transfer each year because the money was already spent,” Duensing explained.
“That money was used to pay the NHL $50 million in 2011 and 2012 to keep the team here,” Hugh added.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said June 30, 2013, that, “these transactions took as long as they did because of its complexity, and the fact that for two of the years the City of Glendale was subsidizing the operations (of the Coyotes). And to walk away from a city that’s prepared to do that isn’t something you take lightly.”
Hugh said that is part of the reason he, along with four colleagues on the city council, voted to cancel the arena management deal with the Coyotes.
“The commissioner says we subsidized the team and then we found out that they broke the law,” Hugh said. “That was why I voted to cancel the deal and the money (the recall groups) are talking about went to the NHL to subsidize their program and we got left with a bad deal. We have now taken a bad situation and are trying to make it better.”
Hugh pointed out that the city’s bond rating has improved and the general fund increased, which the city was directed to do.
GlendaleFirst!, on their website, says “it is the opinion of GlendaleFirst! that the recent actions of the Glendale City Council regarding their vote to cancel the arena management agreement with IceArizona (which owns the Arizona Coyotes) was hasty, ill-conceived, politically motivated and fiscally irresponsible.”
They also point out that they support the recall committees, stating that they feel the council acted inappropriately.
“We have not acted inappropriately, not true at all,” Hugh said. “The reason I voted to cancel the contract was based on us following state law and at the request of our city attorney. I do not regret that vote one bit. People try to convolute it that we just want to renegotiate or other reasons, but we are following state law, nothing else.”
The opposition also points out the city gave Craig Tindall, a former city attorney, a conflict of interest waiver, which they say undermines the claims the city is pursuing in court, in part because he left his employment with the city and went to work for the Coyotes.
“Any conflict of interest waiver does not supersede state law,” Hugh said. “Just as you can’t give someone a waiver for say, counterfeiting, it is still against the law no matter what kind of waiver you may have.”
Feiner did not respond to phone or email inquiries.